LABS GALLERY: Ubuntu Linux 9.10 Beta Provides Security, Web Integration Enhancements

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LABS GALLERY: Ubuntu Linux 9.10 Beta Provides Security, Web Integration Enhancements

by Jason Brooks

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Home Encryption

Ubuntu 9.10 will be the first Ubuntu Linux release to offer a file-level disk encryption option right from the system's default, LiveCD-based installer. This feature encrypts user home directories, along with the system swap partition.

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Alternate Installer Encryption

In previous releases, Ubuntu offered a block-level encryption option, but only from the distribution's text-based "alternate" install disc.

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Record Passphrase

After installing Ubuntu 9.10 with home directory encryption, the system prompted me to take note of my automatically generated pass phrase, which I'd need to decrypt my data manually. In typical usage, simply logging into the system with one's password is sufficient for decryption.

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AppArmor Policy for Firefox

Ubuntu 9.10 ships with an AppArmor policy (seen here) for constraining Firefox permissions. Rather than allow Firefox to access all resources available to the user who runs the browser—including sensitive data stored in user home directories—AppArmor can bolster security by helping to eliminate excessive rights.

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AppArmor Denials

With the Firefox AppArmor policy enabled, my attempts to access the contents of my test machine's SSH configuration directory were blocked, spawning these denial messages in my system log.

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UbuntuOne Preferences

UbuntuOne is a new synchronization service integrated with the Ubuntu desktop. The service covers file synchronization, and is expanding to take on certain application configuration and data sync duties.

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UbuntuOne File Sync

After signing up for the UbuntuOne service and installing the right client components, the contents of an Ubuntu One folder in my home directory stay in sync with a service online.

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UbuntuOne Web Interface

The synced files are accessible online, but the Web interface could use some work—note, for instance, the errant clouds in the middle of my file list.

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Tomboy Notes Sync

One of the first Ubuntu desktop applications to take advantage of UbuntuOne synchronization is the Tomboy Notes application.

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Tomboy Online

As with the file sync service, synced Tomboy Notes are accessible from the Web, albeit through a somewhat rough interface.

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Evolution Contacts

Evolution is another application that's starting to take advantage of UbuntuOne, with a desktop-based implementation of the open-source CouchDB project taking on a share of the replication load.

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UbuntuOne Sign In

Authentication for UbuntuOne is handled through the Ubuntu project's Launchpad system. Launchpad accounts are also used for filing bugs, signing on to Ubuntu forums and other sorts of participation with the project. It will be interesting to see whether the free 2GB of storage available via UbuntuOne will spur more Ubuntu users to increase involvement with the project.

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