DEFCON 16

Finnix, the LiveCD for system administrators

Finnix 92.0 DC16 CDs.jpg

Who are you? What's Finnix? How did I get here?

My name is Ryan Finnie, and I've been attending since DEFCON 10. Flag me down and we'll have a beer.

Finnix, simply put, is a LiveCD for system administrators. It's got a long and colorful history, is updated regularly, and is available for multiple architectures. From the main page:

Finnix is a self-contained, bootable Linux CD distribution ("LiveCD") for system administrators, based on Debian testing. You can mount and manipulate hard drives and partitions, monitor networks, rebuild boot records, install other operating systems, and much more. Finnix includes the latest technology for system administrators, with Linux kernel 2.6, LVM2, encrypted partitions, etc. And above all, Finnix is small; currently the entire distribution is over 300MiB, but is dynamically compressed into a bootable image under 100MiB. Finnix is not intended for the average desktop user, and does not include any desktops, productivity tools, or sound support, in order to keep distribution size low. Finnix is freely distributable under the terms of the GNU General Public License.

There are many other LiveCDs out there. You could use something like Knoppix for system administration tasks, but when you have an emergency and no tools around you, do you want to be downloading 700MB or 100MB? (Plus, Finnix includes many utilities not found on "general-purpose LiveCDs".)

Do you expect me to boot a CD that I found on a table/some stranger handed to me? At DEFCON of all places?

No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to use common sense. The Finnix 92.0 release notes page is a read-only page that includes GPG signatures of the ISOs. Verification is as simple as copying the signature to your computer, and verifying the CD itself:

$ sudo gpg --verify finnix-92.0.iso.gpg /dev/hdc
gpg: Signature made Sun 15 Jun 2008 01:32:12 AM PDT using DSA key ID 203ECA25
gpg: Good signature from "Ryan Finnie <ryan@finnie.org>"
gpg:                 aka "[jpeg image of size 4022]"

New for this year, I have added my photo to my key. Your favorite keyserver should have the update to 203ECA25, but if not, pgp.mit.edu defintely has it. To verify the photo:

$ sudo gpg --verify --verify-options show-photos finnix-92.0.iso.gpg /dev/hdc

Be sure to disable any autorun mechanisms your OS may have first. The Finnix CDs don't include any autorun files, but you don't know that for sure until you insert the disc.

Whether you trust the Finnix project itself is another issue. I'd suggest doing some Googling.

I have a (PPC) Mac, are you giving out Finnix-PPC CDs?

I'm not bringing any pre-printed Finnix-PPC discs with me to the conference, but flag me down and I'll burn you a copy.

I connected my Windows laptop to the conference wireless network, and got hax0r3d. Will you fix my computer?

No.

Party at Pool 2!!!

You're a few years late on that one.

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