Of Onions, Pods, and Hotties

Learn how to protect your identity, get thin, and find the best Penguin podcasts.

The State of the Onion

The Internet can be a dangerous place, so paranoid penguins are always looking for ways to protect themselves. Tor, a new tool supported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (http://tor.eff.org), provides something of a secret online identity.
Tor is an onion routing network open to the general public. Onion routing, which has been around in labs for a few years, routes network packets randomly through a series of onion servers (as opposed to traditional routing, where packets travel along a direct route). Each router, peeling off one “layer” at a time, knows only where the packet came from and where it should go next. The content, source, and ultimate destination of each packet remain secure at all points in the channel.
The goal of the Tor network is to help users protect both their identity and communications from possible eavesdroppers. The project itself is dependent on the open source community, since the security and performance of the network improves with each additional server.
Add a little “cloak and dagger” excitement to your Internet experience and join the Tor project today.

ThinLinX heats things up with Hot-e

ThinLinX (http://www.thinlinx.com), a new Linux company that offers hosted application services, announced their new thin client, the Hot-e. The custom designed Hot-e (pictured) accesses the ThinLinx network to run applications including database, ERP/CRM, groupware, and point-of-sale software.

The Hot-e, a tiny, alien green device powered by a 200 Mhz processor and 64MB of RAM, includes 2 USB ports, a CompactFlash slot, audio, Ethernet, and video. It’s powered by the 2.6.12 kernel and the Debian ARM filesystem, and both the Hot-e and the ThinLinX network use NoMachine’s NX caching software (profiled last month in “Product Picks”) to speed up X Window System performance. Once online, the Hot-e’s access Ubuntu desktops and application servers.
Devices like the Hot-e have the potential to succeed in a variety of environments due to their low cost, minimal configuration and management overhead, and small size. Is it just me, or is it Hot-e in here?

Podcasting Penguins

Podcasting — distributing media files via RSS — is all the rage at the moment. But you don’t need an iPod or even a Mac to tune in. Just point your browser to http://rootprompt.org/article.php3?article= 8913 and check out Noel Davis’s excellent guide to Linux and Unix podcasts. There’s a list of clients, sample podcasts, and other resources. Whether you’re a hardware geek or a software nerd, Noel’s directory has something for you.
Grab your headphones and start listening today. Even better, grab the microphone and start contributing. Let your inner penguin be heard!

Chatty Kathy, Meet Mr. Tux

Have a” chatty” teen at home? Want to free up that PC so you can do something important with it — like play Darwinia? Try out the Zipit (http://www.zipitwireless.com, pictured at right) from Aeronix.

Zipit is a pager-sized device that instantly supports several popular chat services. The wireless devices operates over 802.11 networks to free up a PC so the user can chat using AIM, MSN and Yahoo from anywhere in the house. More importantly, the Zipit runs Linux and the 2.4.21 kernel, and has already attracted its share of hackers, who praise it’s battery life and flexibility.
The Zipit costs $99, is available in an array of kid-friendly colors, and is available from Amazon.com and at major retailers, such as Target and Best Buy.
Frustrated parents, expect to get back online soon. And it makes a great Christmas gift — for you!

Hacker Project of the Month

Break out the hammer and the compiler! Time for another hacker home brew.
Maybe you’ve seen the Linksys NSLU2, a device designed to add network-attached storage (NAS) to a small LAN. OK, but now pay attention to it, because you can turn the tiny device into a Linux machine for under $100.
The NSLU2 is a stand-alone machine with a 133 Mhz processor, 32 MB of RAM, 2 USB ports, and Ethernet. It was designed to connect inexpensive USB drives to a LAN for extra storage. However, Peter Korsgaard decide to take things further and turn the little box into a server.
Adding to an already impressive list of Linux hacks (see http://www.nslu2-linux.org/), Peter provides instructions for installing and running Debian Sarge on the NSLU2. Visit http://peter.korsgaard.com/articles/debian-nslu2.php. With Sarge installed, you have the ability to run all sorts of packaged software on an inexpensive, small machine.
And why would you want to do this? Because you can!

Send your own product picks to Matt Tanase at class="emailaddress">tanase@qaddisin.com.

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