Tag Archives: linux

After XP: what is a linux distro?

distro is short for distribution.  Sometimes users call it a flavor, a spin, a version.

The idea is central to how linux is different from Windows.  Linux is free (as in “free beer”) and free (as in “freedom”).  Basically what this means to the non-technical end user is you can do what you want with it.  

Including repackaging/retooling/mutating/stripping the software and source code and making your own version called “Happy Holstein Linux”.  And giving it to your friends.  Or the world.  Or selling it.  Redistributing it.   See?  If you tried to do that with Windows you’d find yourself in a sharkpool of lawyers and/or prison.

Distros are intended by their creators to fill certain needs.  If they were trucks some would be stripped-down fleet trucks.  Some would be dualies.  Gas vs. Diesel.  2wd and 4wd.  Some are fully loaded Lincoln Blackwoods (shudder).  Different tools for different jobs.  

The job we address in this series is moving as painlessly as possible from Windows XP to Linux.




Thoughts on reducing the keyspace of the 2WIRE default WPA key

I visited my daughter recently and she gave me the (unchanged default) key  to her 2WIRE so I could use wifi on the Kindle.  


The key was 10 digits, which got me thinking.  10 alpha-numerical-special chars are impractical to brute force, but 10 digits are not.   It’s only 10 billion combinations, about 5 weeks to exhaust the keyspace on an old computer like mine.  Since we are resigned to checking all the keyspace what if we did it in an optimal order?  For the purposes of this discussion I will assume you have permission to analyze the router in question.


I have read that in some cases the the default key is the serial number of the device.  The serials are numerical like the default key.  Hmmmm…  I have also read that the nnn in the 2WIREnnn ESSID is the last three of the serial number.    Put these two things together and we can check for this default by doing something like:

# final $ anchors the expression to the end of the line, and the -v looks for inversion.
# so "dike out any string that ends in nnn"
seq --equal-width 0000000000 9999999999 | grep -v nnn$
and piping that to the input of your favorite analysis tool (cough aircrack cough).

which reduces this set to 1mil or about an hour.  No joy?  Fine, let’s plod on.


There are also cases of using the customer’s phone number for the default key.  Hmmm, fully-qualified tel numbers are 10 digits, too.  To use the Greater Dallas area as an example one might do something like:

for AREACODE in 214 469 817 903 972
    do         seq ${AREACODE}0000000 ${AREACODE}9999999 | \             # your tool here!     done

Check the exit codes upon each iteration (or code in a pause) to make sure you see the output.  Or maybe output could be redirected into a log or something.

Further gains could be made if the 2WIRE serials were in some known space, like 8nnnnnnnnn or whatever. 

After we’ve checked the easy stuff we can do the rest of the keyspace:

# build the egrep regex using the ${AREACODE} var above?

# drop anything that starts with an areacode or ends with the ESSID suffix.
seq --equal-width 0000000000 9999999999 | \
      nice egrep -v '(^214|^469|^903|^972|${ESSID}$)'

and pipe that to your analysis tool for the long haul.  Or give up on it as counterproductive and move to the next.


Anyhow, those are some rough first thoughts. 






AOSP Ice Cream Sandwich experiment over

I ran with an AOSP ROM for the HTC Inspire for a couple of months and have returned to CyanogenMod 7.2.

My longer-term thoughts on the AOSP build:

Pro —

  • Very clean / vanilla.  No crap.
  • Configuration sliders started to grow on me
  • Automagic attempts to pair with BT devices, presumably using the 0000 and 1234 default codes.

Con —

  • Good battery life for the most part, but rarely it’d get into something and blow through the battery in a few hours.  I didn’t see anything obvious in Better Battery Stats.
  • I did miss a couple of CM features, like the integrated phone blacklist, additional configs (and those configuration options in sensible places)
  • ICS doesn’t work with all my default apps (or vice versa)

The beauty of third-party recoveries (like ClockworkMod) is you can bop back and forth between ROMs with little trouble.