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Article from Issue 228/2019
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The New Kali Linux Is Here; exFAT Is Coming to Linux; Knoppix 8.6 Released; openSUSE Board Gets a New Chairman; Bluetooth Vulnerability Makes; Spying Easy; Open Source Webmin Had Backdoor for More Than a Year.

The New Kali Linux Is Here

Offensive Security has announced the release of Kali Linux 2019.2 (https://www.kali.org/releases/kali-linux-2019-3-release/). Kali Linux is one of the most popular and widely used penetration testing Linux distributions.

The release is based on Linux kernel 5.2.9, and includes new features across the board with NetHunter, ARM, and packages, as well as the normal bug fixes and updates, according to the project's announcement page.

According to Softpedia, "The Kali Linux NetHunter project for running the OS on Android devices has been updated as well in this release with support for new smartphones, including LG V20 International Edition, Nexus 5X, Nexus 10, and OnePlus 7, the latter being Offensive Security's new flagship device for Kali Linux NetHunter."

To speed up delivery of the distro and subsequent updates, Offensive Security has partnered with Cloudflare to use its content delivery network (CDN) to mirror its repositories.

Users can download Kali Linux from the official page.

exFAT Is Coming to Linux

exFAT is one of the most popular file systems used on external devices like SD cards and Flash drives. Microsoft collects license fees from the vendors that use exFAT in their products.

In an unexpected move, Microsoft made two decisions that make exFAT an "open" (but not open source) file format that anyone can use (https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/opensource/2019/08/28/exfat-linux-kernel/).

First, Microsoft is contributing all exFAT patents to OIN, which will allow its members to use exFAT without any legal threat from Microsoft.

Second, Microsoft has published the technical specification of exFAT that the Linux kernel community can now use to write exFAT drivers.

"It's important to us that the Linux community can make use of exFAT included in the Linux kernel with confidence. To this end, we will be making Microsoft's technical specification for exFAT publicly available to facilitate the development of conformant, interoperable implementations. We also support the eventual inclusion of a Linux kernel with exFAT support in a future revision of the Open Invention Network's Linux System Definition, where, once accepted, the code will benefit from the defensive patent commitments of OIN's 3040+ members and licensees," said John Gossman, Microsoft Distinguished Engineer and Linux Foundation Board Member.

There already is an exFAT driver available as an external module, which users can install on their systems. Because of patents, the driver could not be included in the kernel. The announcement from Microsoft changes that.

The only issue with the existing exFAT driver is that it is based on code that was leaked from Samsung's implementation of exFAT back in 2013. The kernel community could not touch the code because of patent issues, so it is not currently up to community standards.

Now the kernel community can take a stab at the existing code and clean it for the kernel. Soon, Linux users will have native support for exFAT.

Knoppix 8.6 Released

Klaus Knopper has announced the release of the latest version of the Knoppix Live GNU/Linux distribution (https://news.softpedia.com/news/knoppix-live-gnu-linux-system-is-now-based-on-debian-gnu-linux-10-buster-527047.shtml). Knoppix is a classic Live Linux that is often used to repair and restart downed Linux and Windows systems.

Version 8.6 of Knoppix is based on Debian/stable (buster), with some packages from Debian/testing and unstable (sid) for newer graphics drivers or desktop software packages. Knoppix uses Linux kernel 5.2.5 and Xorg 7.7 (core 1.20.4) for supporting current computer hardware.

Knoppix is suitable for both new and old hardware. "Both 32-bit and 64-bit kernels are included for supporting both old and new computers; the 64-bit version also supports systems with more than 4GB of RAM and chroot to 64-bit installations for system rescue tasks. The bootloader will start the 64-bit kernel automatically if a 64-bit-capable CPU is detected," according to the release notes.

The latest Knoppix comes with a boatload of packages pre-installed, including the GNOME 3 and KDE Plasma 5 desktop environments and the Wine 4.0 compatibility tool for supporting Windows applications.

Knoppix 8.6 is available for free download (https://www.knopper.net/knoppix/knoppix860-en.html).

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