With the evolution of the
personal computer, we are seeing the changes in networking grow exponentially.
A network enables the user to share files and devices like printers, external
zip or other drives with other computers on the network. As more people
acquire computers, the need to have the computers communicate with one
another is growing rapidly. Networking used to be beyond the price range
for the average person. With the change in technology and drop in cost,
most everyone has two or more computers and can now have their own network.
The network can range from Ethernet to token ring to wireless. The most
common as of this writing is Ethernet.
With the reasonable priced, High speed Internet connections that are
available, the inexperienced user now has a new set of hazards that must
The first priority after connecting to a High speed Internet connection
should be a firewall to protect the computers that are always on and connected
to the Internet. Firewalls protect the computers from hackers. This can
be accomplished with a hardware firewall device or software that is loaded
on the computer.
The second dilemma is connecting all the computers, in the building
or house, to a network system that allows the computers to access the same
Internet connection. The newly created network brings its own additional
problems that require attention. The remaining sections of this article
address those concerns.
I would like to discuss the advantages of using networking tools designed
for Unix that will run on the Linux operating system. These tools will
make it possible for a User to trouble shoot network problems and carry
out an overall review of computer security.
When networking computers together, you have additional layers of potential
problems that could and will occur. One has to either hire someone to come
in and troubleshoot the network or else the user develops the necessary
skills and troubleshoots the problems themselves. Although Windows provide
tools to address the troubleshooting process, there are more powerful tools
available elsewhere on the Internet to help a user analyze what the problem
is. This is where the basis of the matter appears.
Most networking tools for the Unix platform are freeware or shareware.
However, the freeware or shareware tools that can be used on a Windows
system are becoming readily available on the Internet, but still lag behind
most of the Unix tools in versatility and robustness.
Unix tools have not been ported to the Windows environment. I am specifically
speaking of tools that assist a user to pinpoint a problem within a network
or security system or on a specific computer. I am also referring to tools
that are freeware or shareware. There are tools for the Windows environment
that the user could purchase, but most are rather expensive. The tools
that I have come across seem to be more specific in nature and not multifunctional
and this singularity adds to the purchase cost.
Unix OS dates back to the late sixties. Some of the first networking
tools developed were for Unix platforms. The only way to take advantage
of these tools is to run Unix. This is where Linux comes in. With the development
and release of Linux, this enables the non-Unix user to employ these very
powerful tools since Linux is based on Unix.
As Linux grows, the operating system is becoming friendlier to the average
user. It is fast approaching to the point of being a system that the average
user can load and start using with very little training or reading. The
Linux community is achieving great progress in the development of the operating
system. They are working hard to make the system more user friendly. This
is going to allow the operating system to grow and become more easily accepted.
The system engineers are working to integrate Linux within a Windows network
environment, and are exceeding very well.
Since Linux OS is an open source code system, all the tools I have found
are either freeware or shareware. To locate the tools on the Internet,
open a search engine and type in the type of tool that you need.
That is the easy part. The hard part is determining where to trouble
shoot your problems.
You will need to have a basic knowledge of networking and understand
the flow. Both Linux and Windows have available the basic tools to get
you started in troubling shooting your network. If your problem is not
a basic TCP/IP related or related driver then you will require tools to
help you in defining the problem and the method to fix it.
One of the most difficult problems is pinpointing a bad network card.
The card from hell is the one that demonstrates connectivity but doesn’t
function as it was designed. Locate the tool that can look at packets and
the flow of packets. Also having a program that can measure TCP/IP throughput
is also quite useful. Ideally, you want a program that does both. Qcheck
is such a program that will work on the Windows operating system and does
both. There is talk about porting it to the Linux platform. This is the
foundation to trouble shooting your TCP/IP connections.
Security is the other shoe that I am going to drop. One could be reminded
of the saying, fight fire with fire in describing the following
advice. Keep in mind that most of the hackers in the world are using some
version of the Unix operating system. Hacker sites are the best places
to obtain additional necessary tools and to keep up with the cyber-criminals.
Be aware that when you go to a hacking Web site you are entering the devil’s
den. I would suggest using a computer that has no important information
on it and will not hurt you if it is crashed by the hacker. I realize this
is a big risk, and this is something you will have to consider. If tugging
the devil’s beard is not your cup of tea, then the software security industry
has something just for you.
A software tool with an attitude is called SATAN. It was written
by Dan Farmer and Weitse Venema. It is designed to scan hosts on an IP
network and report about well-known security vulnerabilities. It is one
of the most helpful tools that a system administrator can use in securing
I have touched on just one area a user is going to have to face when
upgrading to a high speed Internet connection. Nevertheless, one of the
best defenses that a user can do is to “network” or reach out to other
users. Employ all the resources that you have available to you. One place
is the Alamo PC Organization. Avail yourself of the talent concentrated
there and don’t hesitate to ask questions. By speaking with other club
members you may discover ways to avoid mistakes that others have made.