If you’ve been an EDGE user in the past few weeks, or following our Roadmap items for the upcoming 10.1.2 release, you may have noticed a number of new security and privacy related items. I wanted to take a moment to clarify what some of these new features are and what they will do.
— PersonaCrypt —
The first of the new features is a new CLI utility called personacrypt. This command will allow the creation and usage of a GELI backed encrypted external media for your users $HOME directory. We are using it internally to keep our user profiles on USB 3.0 – 256GB hybrid SSD / flash memory stick (Coarsair flash Voyager GTX specifically). This is tied into the PCDM login manager, and user manager, so when you create a new user account, you can opt to keep all your personal data on any external device. The device is formatted with GPT / GELI / ZFS, and is decrypted at login via the GUI, after entering your encryption key, along with the normal user password.
Additionally, the personacrypt command uses GELI’s ability to split the key into two parts. One being your passphrase, and the other being a key stored on disk. Without both of these parts, the media cannot be decrypted. This means if somebody steals the key and manages to get your password, it is still worthless without the system it was “paired” with. PersonaCrypt will also allow exporting / importing this key data, so you can “pair” the key with other systems.
— Tor Mode —
We’ve added a new ability to the System Updater Tray, so you can with a single-click, toggle between running in Tor mode, and regular “Open” mode. This switch to Tor mode, will do the following:
1. Launch the Tor daemon, and connect to the Tor network
2. Re-write all the IPFW rules, blocking all outgoing / incoming traffic, except for traffic to and from the Tor daemon
3. Re-route all DNS / TCP requests through Tor using its transparent proxy support
This allows applications on the system to now connect to the internet through Tor, without needing explicit SOCKS proxy support.
Obviously this alone isn’t enough to keep your identity safe on the Internet. We highly recommend that you read through their excellent FAQ and wiki articles on the subject.
— Stealth Mode —
One of the features we just added to personacrypt is something we are calling “stealth” mode. It is integrated into PCDM, and does the following:
During the login, if stealth mode is selected, the users $HOME directory will be mounted with a GELI backed ZVOL with GELI’s onetime key encryption. This $HOME directory is setup with the default /usr/share/skel data, and is pretty much a “blank” slate, allowing you to login, and run apps as if on a fresh system each time. At logout the dataset is destroyed, or should the system be rebooted, the onetime key is lost, rendering the data useless. Think of it as a web browser’s “private” mode, except for your entire desktop session.
— LibreSSL —
We’ve made the switchover to convert our ports to use LibreSSL by default instead of the base systems OpenSSL. (Thanks to Bernard Spil for his work on this). Our hope is that LibreSSL will help make the system security better, and reduce the number of OpenSSL exploits that our packages may be vulnerable to.
— Encrypted Backups —
The Life-Preserver utility has had the ability for a while now to replicate your system to another box running FreeBSD, such as FreeNAS. This backup is done via ZFS send/recv using SSH, but the data on the remote end was stored un-encrypted and could be read by whomever was administrating the remote box. To provide an extra measure of security to backups, we are in the process of adding support for fully-encrypted backups, using GELI backed iSCSI volumes. This allows us to use ZFS send/recv over the wire, with all the data leaving the box already being encrypted via GELI. Your data on the remote side is fully-encrypted, and only accessibly with the key file you have stored on the client side. This is still in active development and should show up in the EDGE repo in the upcoming weeks, along with some additional details on usage.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this sneak-peek of whats happening with PC-BSD development right now. As always, we love people to test these features in our EDGE repo, and let us know of issues via our bug tracker:
The next version of the Lumina desktop environment has just been released! Version 0.8.2 is mainly a “spit-and-polish” release: focusing on bugfixes, overall appearances, and interface layout/design. The FreeBSD port has already been updated to the new version, and the PC-BSD “Edge” repository will be making the new version available within the next day or two (packages building now). If you are creating/distributing your own packages, you can find the source code for this release in the “qt5/0.8.2″ branch in the Lumina repository on GitHub.
The major difference that people will notice is that the themes/colors distributed with the desktop have been greatly improved, and I have included a few examples below. The full details about the changes in this release are listed at the bottom of the announcement.
Reminder: The Lumina desktop environment is still considered to be “beta-quality”, so if you find things that either don’t work or don’t work well, please report them on the PC-BSD bug tracker so that they can get fixed as soon as possible.
Changes from 0.8.1 -> 0.8.2:
New Utility: “lumina-info”
- This utility provides basic information about the current version of the Lumina desktop as well as link to various information online (source repository, list of contributors, bug tracker, etc…).
- New Color Scheme: PCBSD10-Default (the default for new PC-BSD users)
- Lumina-[Red/Green/Gold/Purple] color schemes updated.
- “Lumina-Default” and “None” theme templates updated significantly.
- Make it easier for a distributor to set a default theme/color by just supplying the name instead of the full path (since paths can be different on different OS’s)
- Fix issue with some fonts not loading properly.
- Distinguish between “Save” and “Apply” in the theme template editor (“Save” to update the file but keep the editor open, “Apply” to update the file and close the editor). This makes it much easier to test changes to the current theme template as you don’t need to close/re-open the editor to try it out.
- Add the ability to distinguish between transparent/opaque desktop plugins in the theme template.
Configuration Utility Changes:
- Add a new dialog for selecting plugins of all kinds. This makes it easier to browse through and read the descriptions of the plugins before actually selecting one.
- Re-arrange the interface quite a bit. Now the general page arrangements make much more sense (Appearance [wallpaper/theme], Interface [desktop/panels], Applications [auto-start/file defaults], Shortcuts, Session [general options/window system] )
- Add the ability to set your preferred time/date format(s) in the general session options.
- Add the ability to reset your preferred file manager/terminal/web browser/email client back to defaults.
Insight File Manager Changes:
- Make all the file operations happen in a separate thread (does not lock the UI any more).
- Clean up the detection routine for Qt-editable files (for rotating images in the slideshow in particular).
- When removing a file in the slideshow, make it simply go to the next/previous image instead of the beginning of the list.
- Make the ZFS snapshot search functionality a lot faster if just refreshing the current directory.
Desktop Session Changes:
- For vertical panels, have the clock plugin try to use vertical space instead of horizontal.
- Clean up a few desktop plugin stability issues.
- Streamline the session cleanup functionality.
- Fix some issues with 2nd panel functionality.
- Reduce the number of backend filesystem watchers (only one per session instead of one per screen now).
Lumina Search Changes:
- When searching for files/directories, make the initial starting point user-configurable as well as add the ability to exclude directories from the search routine (also configurable by the user).
There will be a FreeBSD booth during SCALE, to be held at the Hilton LAX in Los Angeles from Friday, February 19 to Sunday, February 22. This event has a small entrance fee and registration is required. The FreeBSD booth will be next to the OpenBSD booth. As usual, we’ll be giving away cool swag, PC-BSD DVDs, FreeNAS CDs, and brochures and accepting donations for the FreeBSD Foundation.
There will be several BSD-related talks at this event. Dru Lavigne will present “What’s New in FreeNAS 9.3″ at 13:30 on Saturday, Brooks Davis will present “Booting FreeBSD on BERI” at 14:30 on Saturday, and Michael Dexter will present “FreeBSD Virtualization Options” at 16:30 on Saturday.
The BSDA certification exam will be available at noon on Sunday. You can register and pay for the exam here.
Check out Luke Wolf’s take on the future of PC-BSD and its rapid feature development at the link below:
Kris just announced on the mailing list that new current images are now available! Check out the info below!
The PC-BSD project is pleased to announce the availability of our first
images based upon FreeBSD 11.0-CURRENT!
WARNING: These images are considered “bleeding-edge” and should be
treated as such.
The DVD/USB ISO files can now be downloaded from the following URL:
We hope to continue rolling these -CURRENT images as a way for testers
and developers to tryout both FreeBSD and PC-BSD bleeding edge features,
often months before a planned release. These images include a full PKG
repository compiled for that months image. Users of this system will
also be able to “upgrade” when the next monthly image is published.
— Reporting Bugs —
This is a great way to test features and report bugs well before the
release cycle begins for the next major .0 release.
For bugs in PC-BSD, please report to:
For FreeBSD / Port / Kernel / World bugs, please report to:
ITwire.com just published a new interview with Kris! Check it out at the link below!