Which Linux client is best for full encryption on a limited platform?

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Atom processor
Encryption
Linux
Linux desktops
Linux Distributions
Linux encryption
Netbook
Okay, I realize "full encryption" might be interpreted in different ways – and my intention is not to start a Linux flame war – but I was hoping to hear some opinions on which Linux clients perform best on limited platforms with full-time data encryption. Two questions: 1) If 256-bit encryption of all data, including temporary data, were a prime concern – which Linux distros would be on your short list? I don't wish to be stuck with a boutique Linux with a short life – but I'd be willing to investigate less popular distros, if the security features had merit. 2) Would a limited platform such as a Atom Netbook be able to perform reasonably well with this level of encryption? Yeah, I know, "reasonably well" is another relative term. Obviously, no heavy lifting with the Netbook but I do wish everything encrypted. Just looking for thoughts and opinions. Thanks! I'm a long-time Mac/PC user and have never (gasp! choke!) never gone down Linux Lane. So maybe I'm going about this all wrong. Maybe any popular Linux would do and there is some wonderful encryption tool that fits the bill instead? The main thing is a Netbook with total encryption that is not bogged down beyond use. Thanks.
ASKED: May 29, 2009  4:59 PM
UPDATED: March 18, 2010  2:36 PM

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I think your first option should be to find a distribution that you’re comfortable with first. A lot of users these days like and recommend Ubuntu, but there’s literally hundreds of choices besides that.
PCLinuxOS, Suse, Redhat, etc etc.

Your’e going to get a heavy user support group with Ubuntu, and for some money you can get corporate support from Redhat if not mistaken. All the others fall somehwere in between those two options.

After you find a distribution you like.

<a href=”http://www.truecrypt.org/”>http://www.truecrypt.org/ </a>

Some guys consider truecrypt “shady” because so little is shared about it. It doesn’t have the big name attention of PGP for example. But its full disk encryption, 256 bit variation, it works, and it has other features that some call impressive, and others call skirting laws on encryption.

I personally think its a fabulous piece of software.

If you’re running on a netbook, I would honestly suggest going with Ubuntu + Truecrypt. It might not be the fastest, but there’s a certain piece of mind I have recommending the combination to you.

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  • BrentSheets
    Stiltner, thanks for that thoughtful response. I will definitely check out Truecrypt. Funny you should mention Ubuntu, as I am seriously looking at that one - seems a good choice for a Netbook. My problem is there are a gabillion (gabillion and one?) distributions and adherents seem to delight in trashing all others - so it's difficult to determine the BS factor - at least for me with my limited Linux knowledge at this point. I'm going to keep looking into this and appreciate any other comments or opinions. Thanks again.
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  • BrentSheets
    I usually use DistroWatch as my source for finding linux distributions. Here's a list of the top 10 distros - so I would recommend using a recognized encryption product on one of these distros. The BSD distros may be the stronger encryption distros due to their background.
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  • BrentSheets
    Hey there, Troy. I had visited that website a few times in my Linux research meanderings - but hadn't browsed the "Top Ten" list you provided. Good stuff. Thanks.
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  • Stiltner
    To further expand. I'm going to assume you have a single application use/need for this. As you mentioned Netbook as the hardware platform. Is this going to be a desktop that needs to run everything, or just a specific application or possibly two. If your needs are not catch all, the distro you go with can probably be very stripped down and non bloated, allowing to really make the Netbook shine, and allow more flexibility while still meeting your needs. Most netbooks shipping today have a variant of Ubuntu on them, hence why I leaned that way. I figure if the mfg is comfortable enough with it, you should be also. They don't want to support more than necessary in regards to OS questions. And yes, there's a certain segment of any OS that has a snobby appeal for its own product. Some call them zealots others call them fanboys. I call them detrimental to the project, but to each his own I suppose. I've never ran any distro that came across to me as overly complicated. I've never had to build one from source, nor do I want to. Another option for you Brent, test the ones that have "LiveCD" variants. These are boot and run in memory, or inside of Windows, Linux distro's, they give you a comfy feel for what is and isn't in the OS, whats easy to start you off and whats going to make you want to pluck your hair out.
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  • BrentSheets
    Yeah, no heavy lifting with the Netbook. Just want a very secure mobile platform for email, Internet, OpenOffice and maybe a few other non-intensive apps. The thing you said about seeing Ubuntu installed on Netbooks is probably what caught my eye originally. Probably a good idea to get it original - as I see many forums with people pulling their hair out trying to get a full version of Ubuntu running on Netbooks that originally came with another OS. And thanks for the "LiveCD" advice. I use both Macs and PCs and the Mac OS X install disk is live (as far as being a bootable OS) - but I never thought about running a Linux LiveCD to check it out that way. Good idea. Thanks.
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  • Mfrizzi
    I think an Atom notebook would be fine, but it depends on what encryption software you plan to run. I think the quality of that is actually more relevant than the particular distro you go with. Pick the one that works best for you, and then choose an encryption solution.
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