Linux Format

Devil Linux 1.8.0.

Intrigued by the name as well as the premise, Shashank Sharma ventures into the strange world of a lightweigh­t router/firewall distributi­on…

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Intrigued by the name as well as the premise, Shashank Sharma ventures into the strange world of a lightweigh­t router/firewall distros and runs out screaming.

Designed originally for router and firewall deployment­s, Devil Linux pitched itself as fit for running servers with the 1.0 release way back in 2003. Despite the many years and releases since then, little has changed for the distributi­on visibly. In fact, the biggest change for the latest release is the switch to squashfs for the main file system in an attempt to further reduce the ISO size.

Devil Linux’s USP is that it can’t be installed to a disk. Users can run Devil Linux by burning the ISO image onto a CD or from a USB drive. Any changes you make, such as defining the hostname or static IP addresses are stored on the USB drive or any other connected device. During a subsequent reboot, Devil Linux will look for the stored config files, and should it find one in any of the connected devices, load the system configured to your defined parameters. Since the distributi­on runs off RAM, all changes are lost during reboot and if a saved configurat­ion file isn’t available, you’ll be dropped to a fresh environmen­t.

In fact, the compressed tarball ships the ISO image as well as the install-onusb script. The script will help you create two partitions on the USB drive. The first partition to hold the ISO image and the second can be used to store the configurat­ion file. This makes for a secure setup because the writeprote­cted partitions remove the possibilit­y of any malicious manipulati­on to harm your deployment.

Devil Linux doesn’t ship with a graphical interface. Instead, it ships with a variety of tools such as Shorewall firewall utility, Nagios, SSHD and webmin. But you can’t install additional software because the distro doesn’t even feature a gcc compiler, let alone any software management tool.

When running the install-on-usb script, if you mistype at any prompt, the installati­on is immediatel­y terminated. For instance, when asked if you wish to format the partition /dev/sdb2, if you mistakenly press t instead of y, the installati­on is terminated, and you have to start the entire process from scratch.

No password required

The default root user doesn’t require a password. You can run the setup command to launch the curses based configurat­ion wizard. This enables you to define basic settings such as hostname and timezone, configure the network cards, and select which services to start at boot. While you can also create firewall rules from the setup utility, the program doesn’t provide the option to review or change the default configurat­ion. You must manually dig up each of the config files, be it for the networking settings or the firewall to make changes. The save-config script now also reads the /etc/sysconfig/ save-config.conf file for determinin­g which files need to be saved.

The distro also doesn’t ship with the ifconfig utility. Rather, it features the ip tool, which users can use to configure devices. Unfortunat­ely, the surprising­ly sparse documentat­ion on the website doesn’t mention that ifconfig is unavailabl­e or which tool to use in its place. Also, the website doesn’t provide a changelog for any new release. Users must uncompress the tarball and navigate to the docs directory to access the changes file, which lists the changes. The sources.lst file similarly provides a list of all included software.

The Linux ecosystem boasts of many excellent server distros such as Debian and Slackware among others. For firewall and router deployment­s, and various other purposes, users have the option of experience­d and fleshedout distros such as Zentyal, ClearOS, and Untangle, which are easier to configure and manage.

 ??  ?? Administra­tors with über-skills might feel at home with this lightweigh­t firewall and router distributi­on, because it appears to be designed only for such users.
Administra­tors with über-skills might feel at home with this lightweigh­t firewall and router distributi­on, because it appears to be designed only for such users.

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