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Asterisk is an open-source voice-over-IP (VOIP) platform. With Asterisk, administrators can turn any computer into a communications server such as IP PBX systems, VOIP gateways and conference servers. Sponsored by Digium, the software appliance is available as AsteriskNOW and there are a number of vendors that sell Asterisk-based appliances.

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Untangle Gateway Platform

The Untangle Gateway Platform is a network gateway that provides multiple applications to secure the network, including anti-spam, content filtering, antivirus, anti-phishing, intrusion prevention, firewall, OpenVPN capabilities, router and Web cache software. Untangle is available as both a software platform as well as a hardware appliance with the software already pre-installed.

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Damn Vulnerable Linux

The name is correct and a pretty accurate description of the product. As the distribution's Website clearly states, DVL "is everything a good Linux distribution isn't." The operating system has broken, ill-configured, outdated and exploitable software such as old versions of Apache and unpatched SSH software that would make the system vulnerable to attack. These factors make it an excellent training platform for software developers and security specialists who want to learn how to fix broken software and how to avoid building security flaws into their products.

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Aimed at embedded systems such as routers and other networking hardware, Zeroshell provides network services such as load balancing and automatic management of encryption keys. The distribution can be installed on a server, run live from a CD or launched from a compact Flash image on a USB storage drive. The Web-based interface also allows administrators to handle failover of multiple Internet connections, set up a RADIUS server for secure authentication, create a wireless access point, define static or dynamic routing and run a HTTP proxy server.

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Another networking distribution, Vyatta transforms standard x86 hardware into an enterprise-class router or firewall. The software is bundled with commonly used network interfaces and industry-standard routing protocols. The Debian-based distribution is available as both a free version as well as a paid one that includes maintenance, upgrades and support.

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Astaro Security Gateway

Astaro focuses on doing one thing well, and that's work as a firewall. The hardened operating system that is available on the companys line of open source unified threat management appliances can handle stateful packet inspection, content filtering, including antivirus and Web scanning, and application proxies. It can even serve as an IPsec-based VPN. Sophos acquired Astaro in May 2011.

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Gparted Magic

Administrators who like the Gparted Live CD may like this distribution, which handles a myriad of day-to-day system administration responsibilities. The customized distribution offers Gparted, which can create and resize partitions on the hard disk, Clonezilla, partition and disk cloning software similar to Norton Ghost, TrueCrypt, an on-the-fly disk encryption software and similar tools. Parted Magic runs on x86 hardware, can be launched from a live CD or installed on a USB drive.

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BackTrack Linux

BackTrack Linux provides system administrators with security and forensic tools to examine the existing installation, determine the holes, and then lock it down. The dedicated penetration testing distribution allows administrators to try to crack the target system. It can be installed onto a server or run from a live DVD or a thumbdrive.

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Ubuntu Studio

This Ubuntu-based distribution is designed to make multimedia editing, especially music and audio, easier. The specially configured kernel can easily handle resource-heavy image editing jobs in Gimp and the specific configuration of audio drivers transforms the desktop into a virtual recording studio. There are full audio, video and graphic production tools, as well as extensive format and codec support.

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This Debian-based distribution delivers digital forensics tools that help IT administrators assess the damage to a network after a security breach. CAINE (Computer Aided INvestigative Environment) offers a complete forensic environment for the investigator by capturing images of a compromised system for analysis. The operating system includes TheSleuthKit, Autopsy Forensic Browser, steganography tools, and utilities for wiping hard drives. It is available as a Live DVD distribution.

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