Security features of Linpus Lite 1.4

Linpus logoLinpus Lite 1.4 is the latest update to the Linux distribution published by Linpus Technologies, Inc. of Taipei, Taiwan. Though designed for use on netbooks and low-power computers, it is one of the best distributions that I have reviewed for publication on this website. It boots up real fast and shuts down even faster. It features a slick installation program (see the screenshots) and a Simple Mode interface that would make it an ideal distribution for tablet computers.

With this article, I present all the physical and network security features available on this distribution. But before we get to the security features that it has, let me list the (security) features it should, but does not have. It is a very short list:

  1. Disk encryption – Sapphire, the installation program on Linpus Lite 1.4, does not have support for setting up disk encryption – at the partition level or full disk.

Ok, now to the available security features:

Password Protection for boot loader – GRUB Legacy (version 0.97) is the bootloader used on Linpus Lite 1.4. While it is possible to password-protect GRUB, the installation program and the bootloader management tool (accessible from System > Administration > Bootloader), do not have that feature. You can still set a GRUB password. You just have to do it from the command line. The instructions are the same for all distributions that use GRUB. If you are interested, read how to password-protect GRUB.

Why is it necessary to password-protect the bootloader? Two reason (source):

  1. Prevent Access To Single User Mode — If an attacker can boot into single user mode, he becomes the root user.
  2. Prevent Access To the GRUB Console — If the machine uses GRUB as its boot loader, an attacker can use the edit the command’s interface to change its configuration or to gather information using the cat command.

The graphical bootloader management tool

grubtool
Bootloader utility

Firewall – IPTables/Netfilter is the firewall application that lives in the Linux kernel. So all Linux distributions ship with a firewall. However, not all have the firewall enabled out of the box, and fewer still ship with a graphical firewall utility to manage it. If you use Linpus Lite 1.4 or intend to use it, you are in luck; it comes with the firewall enabled and a full-featured graphical firewall management tool. Out of the box, the firewall tool is configured to allow all outgoing connections and deny all incoming connections except those that have an entry in the state table, that is, those that are related to an outgoing connection.

linpusfirewall
Graphical firewall manager on Linpus Lite 1.4

The firewall manager allows you to specify what interfaces to grant full access to the system, that is, what interfaces to trust.

firewalltool
Trusted interfaces

It also allows you to set up Masquerading. If your computer is sitting behind a high-speed modem/router, this is one feature you will not need to worry about.

firewalltool2
Masquerading

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