Tool Tips

Cryptsetup 1.7.1

Function: Encrypting partitions


License: GPLv2

Alternatives: LUKS, Dm-crypt

Most solutions for encrypting partitions and containers are very powerful, but they do not exactly impress with ease of use. Cryptsetup offers a comfortable interface to use Loop-AES, in addition to Dm-crypt and LUKS, as well as TrueCrypt with the VeraCrypt extension.

On the project page and in the man page, the developers strongly recommend the use of LUKS. This de facto standard on Linux offers many useful features. For example, users can assign up to eight keys to a device, and revoking keys and passwords is also easy. To encrypt a device, partition, or container with LUKS, you call cryptsetup luksDump <devicefile> and then follow the instructions shown by the tool.

If you use a keyfile instead of a password, you can specify it following --key-file. Other parameters determine which cryptographic algorithm is used or how often users may enter incorrect passwords. Once the device is encrypted, cryptsetup open opens it so that the user can install a filesystem and integrate it into the directory tree. The status and luksDump commands give insights into the current configuration of the device; luksHeaderBackup and luksHeaderRestore take care of backing up and restoring the header information.

(5 Stars) Cryptsetup is a reliable helper for users who want to encrypt partitions or containers.

Netjukebox 6.09.2

Function: Manage and stream media


License: GPLv3

Alternatives: Edna, Ampache

Many users nowadays collect their music in digital form. If you want to listen both locally and on other devices on the network, you need a streaming server such as Netjukebox. The tool cuts a fine figure on LAMP or XAMP servers. The PHP program not only organizes your collection of music but also manages video files, maintaining the metadata in a MySQL database and relying on the music player daemon (MPD) for playback.

According to the instructions, you simply need to unpack the Netjukebox archive located in the document root of the web server and edit the include/ file in the text editor. Then, enter the media directory and point to the database that you created previously with MySQL on-board tools. You then install the data structure with the sql/netjukebox_46.sql script.

The web interface is found at http://<hostname>/ netjukebox; the username and password are admin. In the config area, you can change the administrator password and set up user accounts. Here you will also find a function for updating the database. After that, there is nothing to interrupt your listening pleasure. Netjukebox displays album art, has search and filter functions, and lets you create playlists and download the data to your own computer.

(4 Stars) Netjukebox manages digital music and can be used as a standalone player or streaming server on the network. The configuration is somewhat clumsy – but operation is child's play.

Pass 1.6.5

Function: Password management for the shell


License: GPLv2

Alternatives:, Steel

Pass is a powerful password manager for the console that not only handles the process of creating and storing passwords but can also synchronize them with multiple machines with the help of Git. In the background, the shell script relies on tools such as GnuPG (for encrypting passwords), tree (tree view on the console), pwgen (password generator), and Xclip (Clipboard).

To create a new safe, you call pass init followed by your GPG key ID. The key information as well as the passwords are stored in the folder ~/.password-store. Using pass insert adds a new password. If you lack ideas for strong passwords, the pass generate option gives you access to the support of pwgen. Optionally, users can specify the length of the password and a number in the command.

When called with no parameters, pass shows you a tree view of all password files that exist; pass find <term> allows you to search explicitly for a password. If you need to read a password, pass needs this identifier. The -c option tells the tool to copy the password directly to the clipboard and keep it there for 45 seconds. The pass tool also supports the options rm, mv, and cp. And, pass git converts the safe into a Git repository; a look at the man page explains how this works.

(5 Stars) Pass does not attempt to reinvent the wheel but instead relies on proven tools and combinations of them. The teamwork with Git is particularly useful.

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