Friday, June 10, 2011

Introducing BackTrack 5 'Revolution'

Released less than a month ago, BACKTRACK 5 is an up to date version of this impressive specialist distro. Aimed at security experts (but just as good is you an enthusiast getting into it), Revolution lives up to its name and introduces a few cool new features, as described in the official release announcement:

"Based on Ubuntu Lucid LTS. Kernel 2.6.38, patched with all relevant wireless injection patches. Fully open source and GPL compliant. Head down to our downloads page to get your copy now!"

A few more things worth noting:

- New Look&Feel
- KDE 4.6
- GNOME 2.32
- Firefox 4.0.1
- WiCD as default network manager
- KeepNote 0.7.1
- ZenMap


As I mentioned, BackTrack 5 is very much a specialist distribution, probably not the kind of distro you would use on your main desktop (that may apply if you are professionally dedicated to security, though). As a result, I think the most convenient way to experience this Revolution is to either run it Live or install it on a USB, which is exactly what I did. In case you want to do the same, you will find the necessary instructions in the BackTrack website (it's all very easy thanks to UnetBootin).

Once installed, the specialist vibe is made evident from the first minute, as Revolution boots to a command line by default. This is probably the best option for those experienced with the tons of tools included in the default image, but if you are new to BackTrack and its applications, it's probably best to start X Windows, as follows.

1.- Login as root using the provided default password (Change it to your own right after your first login!!).
2.- type startx to get to the GUI.
3.- Feeling right at home by now? ;-)


The default BackTrack 5 desktop was an interesting déjà vu experience for me. Even with the distro's own Look&Feel, the reminiscence to Old Ubuntu is more than evident. I wasn't uncomfortable with that, though, just switched to Faenza icons (so used to them by now...) and adjusted fonts to my liking.

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Other than that, I have to say I loved the default set of wallpapers (saved under /usr/share/wallpapers/backtrack/, in case you want to get to see them all) and icons. The overall vibe is serious and professional.

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The set of applications available for penetration testing activities is overwhelming. I was both smiling in awe and feeling a bit intimidated, to be honest.

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Categories include Information gathering, Exploitation tools or Forensics, to name about a few.

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Yup, you are right, these tools could potentially be used for some wicked ends on the wrong hands, but the distro is aimed at security experts and enthusiasts who need them to audit their systems. Use these tools responsibly!

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Some other applications include Firefox 4.0.1. One thing I missed myself when putting together this article, though, was the GNOME application to take screenshots. I found that odd, because I could see use for screenshots in the context of a distro of this kind.

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KeepNote is an interesting little application that does exactly what its name says, certainly handy in a distribution such as BackTrack.

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BackTrack 5 is a good specialized distribution, a great tool worth keeping around. I personally find it very interesting and want to keep using it to learn more about the whole security side of things, which I find fascinating, but I believe even experts will get a kick out of this latest BackTrack release.

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