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Upcoming Linux Channel Vids - Want Input

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#1

(Possible) Upcoming Content for Linux Fans

Let’s talk philosophy for just a moment. As others have stated more succinctly than I, if your expectation is that you would drop-in replace the desktop experience of Windows or MacOS with a Linux-based experience, you are going to be disappointed.

However, one thing Linux does well that many people don’t even realize they need is be log-lived and do ‘server’ and ‘cloud’ stuff for you. What do I mean by that? I mean that you don’t need to give up all of your data to Google or Microsoft to have a browser-based experience.

“So, what are the downsides?” you may be wondering. Well, there are quite a few. Some of the downsides are also why the “internet of things” is going to be an unmitigated disaster – maintenance. If you are going to run your own Linux Box that hosts everything, it would be irresponsible of me to give you that power without also imparting some understanding that what you are creating will require constant care, feeding and monitoring. You will have to help defend it from the internet as the internet is still the wild-wild west.

Learning the care and feeding of your systems is also an important first step if you want to learn to be a hacker – in the best meaning of that word. However, I believe that everyone that uses a computer extensively for work and/or play can benefit from getting their data under their control.

So what kind of content do I imagine would be good to do for Linux fans? Well, as it turns out, it is hard to distill down a lot of useful information into a short and/or interesting video. I would like to ask the community for help.

I am thinking of a few different video series, but I will need help and input from the community to make it happen. Thanks completely to our patreon supporters, we may be able to get some production help on these ideas.

Linux – Your Own Personal Cloud/Server Series
Introduction – Why do this?
Where to Host - Amazon EC2 “Free” tier, Linode VM, Host on Raspberry Pi2, Local Virtual Machine, etc.
What to Host On - Introducing Debian 8
Security – Fear Everything, especially the Reaper. Also more Cowbell.
What can we do immediately?
- Domain & DNS
- Email & Roundcube Webmail
- SSL with Let’s Encrypt (finally ready!!!)
-Introducing YUNoHost.org – managing that stuff made easy
- Owncloud – Dropbox Altenative for Music/Pictures/etc.
- Dokuwiki – Your own Personal Wikipedia
- Wallabag – Your own bookmarks sync/save-for-later app
- Zerobin – your own pastebin
- Searx – your own meta search engine
- OpenVPN – host your own VPN endpoint

Handling Backups – This is More Complicated than it should be
-Leveling Up – Doing stuff with Debian Under The Hood
-Leveling Up – Configure Debian for Automatic Updates, Better Firewall protection, Automatic Bans
-Leveling Up – Doing stuff YUNoHost doesn’t do – Packages like Kolab, Phabricator or Gogs for your own personal Github, etc.

I also really want to do the “How to be a Hacker” series with Eric Raymond. I think he’d have a lot of cool insight. The top priorities for me in the above list have been trying to present it in such a way that a neophyte can setup a reasonably secure system. That meant SSL – and before Let’s Encrypt free SSL that was problematic for a variety of reasons.

I think in the intro I need to talk about Dynamic DNS services, and how most ISPs do not like someone running a web server or mail server on a residential connection, in case someone wants to do it that way.

I also want to cover how someone can use a low-cost EC2 or Linode endpoint to “tunnel” all their traffic through a residential internet connection to actually host their own stuff on their own residential connection, even if they have very dynamic IP address and even if their ISP scans for open ports constantly.

I wanted to go with Debian because it has the best track record of not breaking anything when I have enabled fully automatic updates.

There is a philosophical component here, too, that I think is not often stated directly. For me Windows and MacOS is just sort of a transient experience. I use them, they do stuff for me, its okay. I really don’t spend a lot of time customizing or organizing those environments. Linux, on the other hand, I do spend a lot of time customizing. But in Linux I have 10 year old scripts I setup to save myself time or headache that are still valid/useful today. Is something I did for Windows 95 still relevant today? LOL no. So for me, for computing, Linux is like a faithful reliable lifetime companion that I can count on for the long haul.

I think I will tell people the price of admission—the best experience—is to just go ahead and purchase your own domain names. For these videos I am using my Wendell.tech domain name.

Questions for the audience:

Is there anything more newb friendly than YUNoHost that does what it does? I’ve been impressed with them, but I wish they had a better system for deploying packages and adding custom packages. The goal would be to guide anyone that is literate and that wants to move away from cloud services to be able to move away from the cloud for whatever they want.

My opinion is that the firewall gui on yunohost is not super robust. I will walk users through a more awesomer CLI firewall configuration?

Has anyone seen any kind of web-based "port knocking" script? If not I might write one. e.g. I know it is security through obscurity, but

Anyone want to volunteer to draft/help write the written parts of these guides? I will then adjust the guides to suit my own tastes and we will publish them here as wiki posts. The videos can serve as an overview/rough guide but I feel like we need step-by-step written instructions.

Or if anyone has any general comments/input?

73 Likes

What Kind of Linux Articles do You Want to See?
Some Thoughts on L1T
#2

I really like what you've got so far. A sample infrastructure would be great to see come together, as it's something that I want to do, just don't know how I want it to be set up or how it should be done.

Also, knowing what tools are best to use in the Linux world is hard for me to decipher and so someone like you and the Tek Syndicate community is a place that I usually fall back to for "standards."

The idea of "How to Hack" could almost turn into a mini-doc I feel like, if done in the right way, and would be really awesome. Not to mention, taking this as a chance to quill the notion that "hacking" is all bad when really it's just trying to figure out how things work at the end of the day.

This is some really cool content it looks like, and having my own domains, I think I'll have to play alongside the content.

2 Likes

#3

I'd like to see a video on various ways you can quickly jury rig something together to solve a problem.
like this beast of two minute's thought;
(while read line ; do xclip -l 1 -quiet <<< $line ; done) < /path/to/file

Or, build a machine with a zaphod display to upstage that linus video about two gamers one CPU with two gamers one OS.

Some "don\'t panic" videos might be an interesting idea. Where you mess up an install of linux really bad and then go thought a couple of steps to fix it.

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#4

General Comment here: All your suggestions look good and am looking forward to watching any Linux video you produce. Wendell for President

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#5

Love it!

I think the best would be as you described above, with a couple others thrown in aimed more towards linux home PC users. Most guides tell you in great detail how (and sometimes why) to setup a functioning Arch box, but there isn't much out there to keep the system light and manage updates and keeping the bloat away. Another one could be about bringing a system "back from the dead" when an update bricks it, graphics drivers get mangled, dependencies get somehow deleted, and rogue scripts start biting the hand that feeds them.

Look forward to seeing the new series in whatever manifestation we see it in...!

1 Like

#6

Hi @wendell I need to come back and re-read your post once my head stops spinning :( but If i could disagree with you on this point (slightly) I don't think id phrase this in this way.

If your looking for Windows on Linux yes, you'll be disappointed. If your looking to do the work you did on Windows on Linux as a Desktop, you wont necessarily be disappointed.

It comes down to what you are doing. Linux does many things as well and in some cases better than mac and windows. For example, if your wanting a 'drop-in' replacement for development work, Linux is perfect; 3d modeling and animation, Linux is perfect; Drawing and painting (e.g. illustrations, cartoons, comics, art), Linux is perfect (see Krita); General use (e.g. your granny), Linux is perfect.

There are areas where its not quite there, on the one hard, audio support on Linux is better than Windows, but music production programs from what I hear arent quite the best.

Video production / editing works but isn't great, though its improving. (actual tools for video processing are very good though).

Your manager must have MS modified "ooxml" and wont accept standard complaint ooxml, well your screwed. that said, your boss made everyone use office 365? Well that's just all online, so shove it through office online to get the formatting. That said, if you don't need to use Microsoft tweaked formats, document related work on Linux is great.

TL;DR, Linux can be an excellent replacement desktop, but it depends on your needs.


i think your idea for the series of videos is a good one, the focus on essentially building your own web services would be interesting and relevant, get people taking back control over their own data.

Since your on Debian 8 (maybe the leveling up will cover this) an intro to systemd what what it can do would likely be very useful, I don't think i've seen any video or proper introduction to what you can do with systemd and how you can use it to manage your system, with exceptions of the systemd for admins guides http://0pointer.de/blog/projects/systemd-for-admins-1.html

Off the top of my head I don't know if Debian has an equivalent of glsa-check but a good idea might be to show how to create a monitoring and alert system for system vulnerabilities that need to be patched that could email or possible text you.

It also might be worth going over maybe not necessarily specific howtos on locking down configs, but howto go about locking down configs. though im not sure how you would structure that in a way thats not to long and give the right info for people to be able to know how to lock down configs and not howto lock down that specific config.

Maybe you can pull some info out of him on whats exactly going on with the secrecy behind NTPsec :p

I agree with this, domains are really cheap and easy to get, you can literally collect change off the ground to pay for them.

I dont think ive seen anything better than yunohost yet.

As for the port knocking script, do you mean a web based front end to manage it? (ive no idea if one exists)

4 Likes

#7

I absolutely love the list of what's there. I'm glad you went to intermediate level stuff instead of starting at the way-more-than-overdone beginner stuff.

CLI configuration for that firewall is a definite yes. The CLI is much more complex and gives a greater range of flexibility.

I love that you've chosen Debian/Ubuntu for the bulk of your deal here as it can easily translate to instructions for the Raspberry Pi later on.

I know that Linux is software, but what about some more hardware oriented projects? Maybe some work with certain types of sensors (light, distance, movement) or moving hardware (robotics stuff).

Lastly, a bash scripting series would be awesome. I know there's a bunch of written resources out there, but a lot of it is simply manuals and there's not much content that's thorough enough in video, in my opinion.

1 Like

#8

Intriguing topics for sure... I would watch them!

I've dabbled in/out of linux for a long time now but still consider myself a novice. Here are some questions I need clear and concise answers to. (just giving feedback)

  • How to make the most of powerful shells like "zsh"?
  • How to watch your threads/processes and know what's what and how to clean run-aways, etc?
  • How to use package manager to clean up packages you don't use anymore? (how do I know I don't use them anymore?)
  • Best format and mounting arguments for SSD? (home pc use)

Most of these topics are only a few minutes long. Maybe you could infuse them into your bigger topics as you go along?

3 Likes

#9

I do not disagree with you, but I'm figuring the audience will mostly be as they have been the first few videos. I felt as though a lot of 'elders' with Linux knocked my approach of 'well, if you have to have it, here is how you run windows on linux' by showing passthrough and that kind of thing. I think those folks don't know the audience.

For the real audience, their perspective, I think they will see a lot of superficial defects in 'desktop linux' and their perception will probably not be super favorable on the desktop until they get used to it. My own personal opinion is that a lot more time does actually need to be spent on consistency and improved ux paradigms with either gnome or kde (or that those projects need to become insanely huge so that they have their tentacles in everything) to have a really polished desktop experience with Linux. The stability, succinctness and just plain elegance of CLI stuff and server stuff in Linux simply has no parallel on a desktop gui (unless you eschew the gui and go for a gui that's made for super power users then holy crap the desktop linux plugs me directly into the matrix).

So I see what you mean, and I don't disagree with you, but for people that are used to Windows and Linux I think stating it this way is probably the best way to communicate with that particular audience in a way they understand.

The main point will be more agnostic though -- these things linux powers on the internet or your home server and it doesn't have to be all-or-nothing like apple and to a lesser extent microsoft.

9 Likes

#10

I thought your previous videos well well constructed. Pass-through is a useful tool, and probably something I should really go an use instead of dual booting, I guess im just used to that way. Its a bit silly when people go the Linux or nothing argument, I mean id say Linux or nothing, but its perfectly acceptable and theres nothing wrong with using Linux for the things you can use it for and using Windows or Mac for the things your still need it for.

I see your point though, and for the direction of the videos you've planned its not the most relevant thing to go into at any length since the videos are going to be more service/server side rather than desktop. I think my main thought was that if you were planning to open on that, it might be worth phrasing it in a way thats not saying the Linux desktop cant but that it could, depending on your needs, but thats a whole other series of videos. If you get my point?

A good point to push though (which i think your last line is saying?) that you can run these things and use them on your windows box, as it powers the things your need, but doesn't have to be the front end machine.

2 Likes

#11

Just to be helpful, hopfully.

The package manager should do this automatically, you almost never need to do any cleanup. On rare ocasions the package manager will mark packages not used but not remove them and tell you this when your updating packages.

In Debian for example it will tell you the packages not removed and that they can be cleaned up using apt-get autoremove
Fedora is the same dnf autoremove but its rarely needed, and I tend to not use it in the very rare but off change it removes something I actually need.

Best format. Any file system you like, the main ones ext4 and btrfs both support ssds, and both will auto-detect the SSD and mount with the appropriate options. The only extra thing you may want to turn of its its not automatic its trim with fstrim.

1 Like

#12

I really like this idea. I think a lot of people just getting started with Linux feel helpless when something breaks. Trying to figure out your first steps when poo poo occurs can be very daunting. Especially when there are so many "talk out their backside" Linux experts out there. Overload of bad information from self righteous Linux hipster know-it-alls quickly turns people away when they get stuck at getting started.

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#13

Oh like when you accidentially created a ~ directory when copying files and though "you know what ill just go delete then" and went and ran rm -rf ~ and thought "...oh, should not have done that". Yup. Did that last week, im an idiot. Forgot to enclose it in quotes.

1 Like

#14

Perhaps a video on this topic -

I see a LOT of threads asking which Distrobution to use. Maybe a video explaining Linux is just Linux, and its predominantly the DE and Package managers that are different. Also a brief overview of the main DE's and Zypper, Pacman, DNF, and aptitude.

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#15

Especially if you only have one machine. First time I tries switching ttys, I tried it before reading how to get back. (took me a minute to work out I could alt+right my way back to the desktop)

That was very useful to know when the power died during an upgrade and I lost Xorg, and had to finish the upgrade "by hand"
Would have been better if I knew how to connect to a wireless network at the time.

add/replace the line alias rm='rm -I' to your .bashrc or .bash_profile in your home directory.
-I is a GNU extension to rm that's like -i but it only asks if it looks like you're doing something stupid.

1 Like

#16

This and the lack of free SSL certs has been the big holdups. My own personal boxes I have automated this and it is the coolest thing since pocket on a shirt. The last time I had a problem with my scripts was 2009. That said I do prefer selinux over appArmor but... meh. the closest glsa-check on debian is probably debescan (which.. appalingly.. is not available on ubuntu). But you can combine debescan, integrit and unattended-upgrades and apticron to:
1) Automatically pull security updates
2) deploy security updates
3) email the admin about changes in the system (pending and completed)
4) email the admin about any unexpected md5 changes

this general formula has been fine for a system that automatically updates as long as LTS is supported and is 99.999% guaranteed not to break stuff when you update. It doesn't mesh super well with yunohost because things like owncloud basically require incremental updates every-step-of-the-way but at least this plus yunohost webui will work.

It's not even super complicated to setup. You can also boobytrap wget for extra lulz. but thats a story for another time.

The port knocking thing is for the web. maybe you do a simple challenge/response on the web, then that unlocks ssh from that source IP? would be neat to do a video on that lol.

5 Likes

#17

Tie it to a ybikey or similar, that would be interesting.

I noticed owncloud changed something in there update process, though i don't know if that makes things better or worse. https://owncloud.org/blog/owncloud-8-2-2-8-1-5-8-0-10-and-7-0-12-here-with-sharing-ldap-fixes/

Its interesting the Debian doesn't have a dedicated security check process, one of the things I do like about Gentoo is the amount if tools available. Do you ever put your scripts online for others? Or do you keep them in your secret chest of awesome scripts :p

2 Likes

#18

For the newcomers to Linux I think it would be beneficial to have a video along the lines of "choosing the right distro for you". While, yes, people can quite happily download and install distros for free and do their own research it can still feel like telling a kid in a sweet shop to go pick one sweet so that little extra break-down could be handy, along with whether to go LTS.
It would also be good to see what sort of customisations that you make, akin to Logan's videos on his Gnome theme. I know that there's an existing video on installing Chrome for Netflix and Steam, etc so it'll probably be way down on the list of priorities (especially as there are forum threads) but it would still be good to see what changes a pro makes.

In regards to the hacking aspects, that's definitely something I'd love to see but would it sit well in amongst the Linux channel or would it be more like the enterprise channel? I'd assume that's more a Logan decision though.

For the ease of use systems, I haven't come across any simple systems like that but that could lead on to comparisons with big name web host systems like CPanel and Plesk or even something more basic like starting up a LAMP server(?)

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#19

@wendell I'm a good writer and Linux user. Keep me in mind if you when you need help with drafting those step-by-step guides. Feel free to contact me.

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#20

for me personally, I would much prefer to be educated on things that are readily available and while not essentially different than the defaults, but have X or Y feature that the defaults don't offer.

for instance, I saw a video series about how to customise Gnome, [by CodeCast if anyone's interested, it's very good.] and one of the topics was Fish shell, and how it has many plugins and easily installable themes, and how to change out Bash for Fish shell. does it do anything Bash doesn't? probably not, but I certainly didn't know about it, and it installed within 5 minutes including themeing.

Conversely, new things are always good too, as long as you outline what the cool aspect of setting up said things are, and how a user who previously hasn't heard of any of it, can benefit.

Basically, I want to learn. I will listen to most anything if it's explained well and what the goals of the project are, which you have been well known to do without making anything overwhelming.

2 Likes