Netrunner – The Best Distro You’ve Barely Heard Of


In my quest to find a professional and polished distribution of Linux that used KDE as the default desktop…I tried out quite a few flavors:  Kubuntu, Salix, Manjaro, PCLinuxOS and even OpenSuse.  All done in the past few weeks.

Each time I installed these distributions on this Dell Latitude D630 I pretended I had no idea how Linux was supposed to work.  I’d step through like a less than technical person would do.  How do I connect to wireless?  Is it easy?  Can I stream Youtube videos?  Will my mp3 collection play?  How do I manage that mp3 collection?  Will DVD’s play?  Do things ‘just work’ out of the gate?

I blogged about the beginning step in Manjaro Linux…it wasn’t as polished as I’d like.  I jumped next to Salix and found that Wicd, the default network manager…makes you jump through 9 different hoops to connect to a hidden network.  PCLinuxOS came next but it was so slow on this laptop that it lasted less than a day.  OpenSuse repeated the PCLinuxOS slowness.  Kubuntu was last and it was fine and polished…but once again, slow…random hangups when doing things like file browsing/web browsing.  Kubuntu was the closest I came to a great KDE flavored distribution…it stayed on the laptop for a couple of days.  So the question remained:  Can the distribution I am running be considered professional and polished while getting out of the way

The majority answer for most of these distributions is a resounding “NO”.

One distribution however, stood above the rest of them.  Instead of stopping on one of the above questions…I found myself having to create new and more intricate ones.  This distribution wasn’t holding me up…it was pressing me forward.  THAT is what a distribution of Linux should do.  It should be out of the way and allow you to get on with your business.  The distribution that does this the best out of that handful mentioned above is Netrunner.

The Hardware

I have an old Dell D630 Laptop which was a standard business line laptop from Dell circa 2007 or so.  It’s got an Intel Centrino and I loaded it up with 4 GB of RAM.  It has a 40 GB Hard drive in it and an Nvidia Quadro graphics card.  Overall, nothing special.  It’s very Linux friendly overall and I’ve used numerous distributions on this laptop since I picked it up at a liquidation sale.


netrunner2Netrunner uses the Manjaro installer.  Manjaro is based on Arch Linux.  Normally when people think of Arch Linux, they think of a very technical distribution that is only for the Linux elite.  The installer for Netrunner shuns the idea that you need to speak binary to install it.  Simple choices are laid out for you…I was able to encrypt my hard drive and didn’t need to know how to partition anything to get it moving.  The wizard was, simply put, phenomenal.  It was a well put together and excellent installer.


Day to Day Use

I’ve found Netrunner to really and truly be out of my way.  I don’t have to think to use it.  I open up music and play it.  I watch movies with no issues.  I browse Youtube videos without a thought.  Flash video just works.  When I pop in a USB Drive, it detects and mounts like I’d expect it to.  Overall, the operating system gets out of my way.  I normally use Openbox for my Linux laptop and I’ve actually gotten used to using KDE because of how polished Netrunner rolling is.

One of my favorite things about Netrunner rolling was Octopi, the graphical front end for pacman.  This tool allows you to manage all the packages on your system and to search out new ones.  It also allows you to manage AUR packages as well.  While this might not be something the average user would dive into right away…having been an Arch and Manjaro user before…I found it fantastic to have a “one stop shopping” experience via Octopi.

The overall speed of the distribution is fantastic.  I found none of the slowness that plagued the laptop during the testing of other distributions.  Things were quick and crisp when opening.  The only time I experienced slowness was when I had about 15 browser tabs open and was trying to open GIMP (I also had KDE Telepathy, Konversation, and dolphin open in the background).  Overall, I’ve found the speed quite acceptable.


My overall conclusion with Netrunner Rolling is that there is no better Arch platformed Linux distro with KDE as the default environment out there.  It just works.  It gets out of the way and it gives the end user a clean, crisp and efficient desktop right out of the gate.  You don’t have to know binary to get it installed, updated, and running.  You don’t have to sacrifice a goat to Cthulhu (I’ve heard that comes later?) to have a pleasing KDE experience for your desktop.  I keep saying this, but it just works.

I found it really odd that I hadn’t heard very much about Netrunner in the past but I readily admit that I hadn’t kept up with KDE based distributions in the past few years due to my fascination with Openbox.  Netrunner has won me over though…I will definitely be paying attention to this fine distribution in the future as it has taken its place as the top KDE distribution I’ve ever tried.  I hope you’ll give it a try in the future (if you haven’t already) and kudos the developers and community of Netrunner!


2 Amazing Google Reader Replacements You Haven’t Heard Of

It’s that time my friends.  Time for us all to shuffle ourselves off of Google Reader.  I’m very sad because I’ve used it every single day since it was offered to Google users.  It replaced BlogBridge, my favorite RSS client due to its lightweight server side always-available-on-every-platform appeal.  But it’s shutting down within the next few weeks.  These are sad times my friends.

We’ve all seen the discussions on sites like Lifehacker, PCWorld, and TechCrunch all claiming that there are multiple replacements and/or alternatives.  I’ve cycled through the gamut of them and found two relatively unknown gems I’d like to share with you.  I’ve used both of these for a couple of days and I can honestly say…depending on your focus when using a reader, they’re quite nice and can replace Google Reader completely for you…and chances are you haven’t heard of them.

Let me start by saying if you’re a fan of magazine style flipboard readers, nothing beats Feedly.  However, I don’t really think Feedly fits exactly with what Google Reader did.  So while I don’t mind using it for say, things to post on Pinterest…it’s not exactly what I need to get through tons of news quickly.  I find the magazine style pictures distracting when I attempt to make it through hundreds of feeds daily with a focus on news reading.  If you’re not like me, Feedly will work fine for you.  If you are like me, read on and I’ll show you 2 fantastic Reader replacements that you probably haven’t heard of.

InoReader, the Best I’ve Found

Let’s start with the best reader I’ve found to replace Google Reader…InoReader.  InoReader is a free online reader that allows unlimited feeds with a nice, minimalist UI.


I can’t find anything wrong with the look and feel…it’s very comforting since it is very Google Reader-like.  There are some amazing options available…for instance, if you care little for social networks, you can disable anything social from appearing in your feeds:


Other options you might be interested in is the ability to eliminate double posts.  This means that if you have a couple of feeds that feature redundant posts, this will eliminate one of them.  Handy if you read tons every single day:


I’ve found the speed of displaying feeds to be fantastic…it’s every bit as fast as Google Reader was.  I’ve also found keyboard shortcuts to be functional and fast.  There are 2 feed layouts available and that is full articles (expanded view) and lined articles (list view).  This is perfect for someone with as many feeds as I have.

Do you want statistics?  InoReader has them.  It’s very comparable to Google Readers Trend section.

Inoreader StatsAll in all, I’ve found InoReader to be EXACTLY what I need in a Google Reader replacement.  I’m sure some people will find small, niggling things that stick out for them…but for me, it does everything I need it to.  I was able to import my Google Reader subscription file from Google Takeout in a matter of seconds…this in itself is head and shoulders above another reader I tried called “The Old Reader” which took 2 weeks to import my feeds.

InoReader also has a mobile version of its website that autosyncs with my feeds in the browser which is nice when I’m using my tablet or phone.  While there is no Android application as of the writing of this article, the mobile site is quite nice and simple and allows me to do everything I need to do and looks very similar to Google Reader’s mobile site.  There is a Chrome App also available in the Chrome Web Store.  Add things in like ability to search through your feeds, multilanguage support, as well as Pocket and Instapaper integration and you’ll understand why I think that this is the best Google Reader replacement available.

Final Verdict? It’s going to be sticking as my reader for a very long time.

Pros:  Fast, simple, good mobile experience, Android App due for release in July, Standalone login or Google authentication, uses own engine to drive feeds, sound alerts, desktop notifications, ability to change skins/themes.

Cons:  No tags yet (planned for later), Reordering of feeds not yet available (also planned), a few other small things detailed here.


Red Tree Reader – Beauty in Simplicity

Maybe InoReader has too much going on for you.  If that’s the case, you’ll love the minimalist approach of Red Tree Reader.  Please be aware that Red Tree Reader is DEAD simple…as in, there are absolutely NO distractions or features that get in the way of your feeds.  The news is front and center.

red tree readerWith both whole article view (expanded) and a compact view (list) you can cycle through news quite quickly.  Red Tree Reader supports the same keyboard shortcuts you’ve come to know and love in Google Reader.  It’s creators GUARANTEE it is bug free…and you can read more about this nice minimal reader here.

If you’re looking for a reader that matches Google Reader but doesn’t attempt to plug into every social network on the planet while implementing whiz bang bells and whistles that you’ll never use or want to use, Red Tree Reader is for you.  I tried the mobile site in my phones browser and found it functional but all together NOT ideal.  If mobile RSS is your thing, give it a go and see what you think…I think this would work better on a tablet than on a phone.

My final verdict on this reader is that it will find a home with those of us who hate fluff and think content is king.

Pros:  Lightweight, fast, support for keyboard shortcuts, minimalistic, imports feeds quickly and imports google feeds in seconds, quick feed displays

Cons: Not for social network people, very plain and thus not for people who want anything flashy, can’t reorder feeds, no feed icons, mobile site isn’t the best feed experience at all but works.



These 2 RSS readers have a lot going for them and I haven’t seen any of the big tech news websites say anything about them.  This is really a shame because they’re two of the best ones I’ve found over the past few months since I started looking.  I hope this post helps you make a decision in your quest to replace Google Reader.  If you have further questions about these readers, I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments.  Thanks for reading!

Foresight Linux and KDE 4.2

UPDATE:  Foresight Linux 2.0.6 has recently updated the stable branch with python 2.6.  Therefore, much of this post is not needed to get Foresight KDE 4.2 running.  I’ve crossed through the portions not needed.  Thanks for reading!

I’ve been working with a lot of different distributions out there the past few days and haven’t found one that I like that has KDE 4.2 packages.  Experimenting further brought me back to my old friend Conary and Foresight Linux.  For those of you that don’t know what Conary is, I’ve written a Part 1 (I never finished Part 2 as I changed jobs and haven’t found the motivation) on what Conary attempts to accomplish and a bit of background on how it does things.

When I think of Foresight and rPath Linux along with Conary, I come to a direct comparison to Arch Linux…because pacman is quite similar.  The main difference is that Foresight does a lot more for you out of the gate than Arch does…and arch is quite a bit faster than Foresight.  Still, I decided to give KDE 4.2 a go on Foresight to see how it’s been progressing.

 The first thing I needed to do was to change from the 2 branch of Foresight to the 2-qa branch.  The reason for this is that 2-qa houses python 2.6, which is needed for KDE 4.2.  Until python 2.6 is pushed into the stable branch of Foresight, you’ll need to move your installation to the 2-qa branch.  First, using your favorite text editor, edit /etc/conary/config.d/foresight file.  Inside that file, you’ll see next to the line InstallLabelPath the following:


change this to the following:


or you can substitute 2-devel there if you’d like to move to the 2-devel branch:


Now, let’s migrate the system.  Migration to a different branch will result in moving your system to become EXACTLY like the branch you’re migrating to.  That means that any custom applications you have installed may be removed…conary will make your system become EXACTLY what 2-qa says it should.  This is the reason I recommend performing these tasks with a fresh install before customizing.

Change with the following command:

sudo conary migrate group-gnome-dist=@fl:2-qa --keep-required --resolve

Don’t worry, 2-qa is not as unstable as it sounds…the most unstable branch of Foresight is 2-devel.  To compare these branches to Debian, 2-qa is like testing while 2-devel is like unstable. 

I installed Foresight Linux 2.0.6 Gnome using a DVD on a Dell D630 Latitude.   Next, I like to uninstall the stuff that is extra in Gnome that I don’t use (you could say, I strongly do not like these):

sudo conary erase transmission f-spot evolution evolution-exchange tomboy banshee

With those packages out of the way, I did a full update.

sudo conary updateall

Some early Foresight 2.0.6 kernels cause random disconnects for my wireless chipset on the Dell Latitude D630 (Intel Pro Wireless) but after the upgrade this symptom isn’t present.  The default kernel made way for the and it seems to work for me quite nicely.  I did notice that the kernel had some sound abnormalities for me with the Intel HDA sound card…so I rolled back to the and things worked great.  See this issue for more information on this sound issue.

Now we have a completely “useable” Gnome system on our hands…but we can’t have that unusable system now can we? (easy Gnome supporters…tis only a joke).  Let us get a real desktop like openbo…er…KDE on there!  Before I got too far though, I wanted to make sure I could play mp3’s and other restricted format items so I installed the codecs needed:

sudo conary update group-codecs

Once this has finished, let’s get KDE 4.2 up and running.

sudo conary update

Once that command has completed, you should be able to logout and log back in to KDE 4.2.  The most recent builds of KDE 4.2 include python 2.6…something that Foresight Linux has been slow on the uptake with due to conary being written in python.  I’m still working on testing everything…I’m not sure how well this newest build works.  Look for a status update in a few days on this…

YALB – Now Brought to you by Evolution Studios

Some of you may  have noticed a few blips in RSS feeds during the last month or so.  The blips were caused by two things..

  1. I switched from Serendipity Blogging Engine to WordPress
  2. YALB gained a sponsor for hosting

Now, I’ve been running the new blogging engine and software for over a month now so that I could form an opinion on both of these items.  I’m happy to say that WordPress fits the bill quite nicely (more on that in later posts)…but that my host is the BEST part of the changes that have happened.

Evolution Studios offered me some server space on their servers…Linux of course…and not a moment too soon.  My old account was beginning to crawl with latent page loads and the service had grown latent as well.  Evolution Studios stepped in and made me a great offer and asked that I evaluate things and post my honest opinion (whether good or bad) of how the transition went and how well the service is.

Just some background on Evolution Studios:  They power all of the media behind and (yes, THAT Chris Pirillo).  Those two sites alone generate a huge amount of traffic and have elected to go with to be their media workhorse.

I can honestly say that both the transition and service went beyond my expectations.  Not only did I have one of their engineers helping me every step of the way, I was able to approach that engineer with all of my questions being answered in REAL TIME…which was fantastic.

So why all the hoopla?  Why would I go out of my way to give these guys a “thumbs up”?  One word…or URL rather. is one of their clients.  I use on a daily basis…it allows me to make one post to ALL my social networks via Instant Message or igoogle page widget.  It’s fast and easy.  And all of their media is powered by Evolution Studios.  So, despite having HUGE customers like Chris Pirillo and which both have millions of users on a daily basis…they still found the time to hold my hand through the migration and bent over backwards to make my hosting experience BEYOND EXCELLENT.  I think these guys will continue to grow and will continue to bring on like minded individuals who are courteous and professional…and I think their clients will benefit.

I asked Evolution Studios if they were having any specials this week so that I could tell everyone that reads my blog about them and they wanted to offer readers here a deal.  The first 100 users referred through Yet Another Linux Blog will receive a $20 coupon to go toward any hosting plans purchased.  If this sounds like a good deal or you just want to check the host out, visit Evolution Studios today.  The coupon code is “devnet“.  Remember, that’s the first 100 openings so space is limited!  Let Evolution Studios show you what EXCELLENT products and services are all about 🙂

Hosting like it should be...

Blogbridge, Simply the Best RSS

I’ve been asked by various people how I keep up to date with technology news, research, and the latest reports…mainly because I’m never at a loss for words when discussing something (big mouth much?). Of course, many people haven’t heard of RSS at all and don’t know that one can have a program to read multiple sites in a short amount of time. I previously used Sage reader as an extension in firefox and exported my OPML list (which I kept on a thumbdrive). This allowed me mobility…I could check the news on just about any feedreader or use portable firefox and sage to get things moving. I could edit my OPML list quickly and easily.

Despite the luxury this bought me…I found myself missing out on many big stories. Let’s face it, not everyone knows how to title and tag their blog entries (current company INCLUDED) to correctly reflect what the subject matter is. Since RSS readers only get a small synopsis of the head of an article, it’s difficult to find out if you want to read the article or not. I found myself missing some key phrases that I normally wouldn’t miss (like FOSS, FLOSS, and OSS) mainly because I wouldn’t see those in the third sentence of the synopsis when I was quickly scanning my feedlists. So, I searched for something that was better than those I had used: Pluck, Sage, Owl, Sharpreader, Wiz. I found it. And to my delight, it’s a cross-platform, GPL Licensed, Feed-synchronizing one that delivers unparalleled functionality and options. There’s nothing like it on the planet. If your interest is peaked, you’re in for a real treat if you keep reading.

Continue reading “Blogbridge, Simply the Best RSS”

ClarkConnect – Enterprise Linux for Your Home

Ever wonder how you could get a solid Security Enhanced Enterprise Grade Linux Router/Server with ftp, apache, traffic shaping, pop-up blocker, content filter, intrusion detection/prevention, and other nice handy tools that every robust server should have…and here’s the kicker…installed and running in about 30 minutes in your home? I know quite a few friends of mine that went out and bought routers from brand names like Linksys, Dlink, and Netgear and then bragged about how cool their new router was (especially concerning ‘gaming routers’. Good lord that’s a con). I then showed them that their router was hackable within a few minutes because most of them didn’t change their default password. It’s interesting also that their routers didn’t do a whole heckuva lot other than route traffic…without throttling or intrusion prevention/detection. On those that were wireless…after some intense packet sniffing, I logged into their network and began surfing the web.

The bottom line is…most routers, if not configured correctly and used to full potential, are wide open and provide only a few functions. If you’re like me, this just won’t do. To combat this in the past, I used to use Red Hat 7.2 on a PI 75Mhz like an appliance to provide DHCP addresses for the LAN and a tidy firewall via ipchains and later iptables. Now there is a Linux distro that is more robust, more organized, and much more dynamic than most Linux router/server configured systems and it provides MANY functions. That distro is ClarkConnect. Today, I’m going to take a look at ClarkConnect 3.2 and show you how you can secure your network using its web interface and excellent administration tools.

ClarkConnect is based on CentOS 4.X and offers a very robust set of tools organized into easy to navigate administration pages. The administration pages are very similar to those that you would find with IPCOP and Smoothwall. However, ClarkConnect throws in extras such as the ability to use Samba and set it up as a PDC (Primary Domain Controller), 2 click updates, a caching dns server, a transparent proxy to speed up web surfing, a pop up blocker built into the proxy, dansguardian with blacklisting, online log viewer…there just is a list of features WAY to long to list here. So I’ll link to the features page and you can read a few more things for yourself. Also, if you’re wondering Point Clark Network’s take on community and open source, please read this page. They’re committed to community AND open source.

I started using ClarkConnect at version 2.0. Back then, they used Red Hat Linux as their base. Today, they’ve ported over to CentOS packages…which are Red Hat Enterprise Linux binaries repackaged by the CentOS project. All in all, I’ve been extremely pleased with the performance and handy web interface ClarkConnect provides which enables me to monitor my home network from afar. One thing that truly impresses me is that the home version remains free and open source despite the rise in business that ClarkConnect is currently enjoying. The people at Point Clark networks have a strong sense of community and they are continuously helping in the forums. They are to be commended for keeping this version available to home users! Any problems you might have with CC can be and will be addressed in the community forums. If you get lost or need to understand something better at anytime, please check the userguides at You can also download the Quickstart Guide to get things rolling as well.

You can download and burn the 3.2 Home version of ClarkConnect (or CC as it is commonly referred). When installing, you’ll be greeted by a variation of the old Red Hat Anaconda text installer. It’s relatively easy to follow and hardware detection is superb…although I’ve found some older computers (think 266Mhz 🙂 ) do have a bit of trouble with the newer kernel (2.6 branch). I’ll assume that you can get it installed and up and running. Please be advised that in order to route traffic on your LAN, you’ll need at least two Network Cards in the computer you’ll be installing ClarkConnect on (see requirements)…one for internal and one for external traffic. Please also be advised that if you do install ClarkConnect onto a computer, it will wipe the entire hard disk of all operating systems. After installing, point your browser in a computer on your LAN to the IP address you assigned CC during install (should be an internal IP address). So you’d point your browser to https://192.168.1.X:81. The port number 81 and https are important…81 isn’t a standard web port and https means this is a secure transaction of information.

You should be greeted by the dashboard screen. –>

The dashboard tells you what your two (or how ever many you have) interfaces are (LAN and External Internet, DMZ, whatever) as well as gives you the opportunity to set languages, set system time, and see a quick overview of current intrusion attempts. Navigating to other areas is a snap with the menu bar at the top of the screen.


First, let’s move over and update the system. To do this, we’ll have to register with Point Clark Networks (who develop ClarkConnect) using their built in registration. Registering gives you a dynamic domain name ( but hey, it’s automatically configured and allows you remote access to your box from the outside world). You can also piece together other services should you decide to purchase them. Of course, since I use the home version, I choose only the dynamic DNS service which is free so that I can connect from work to my box at home. So, back to updating the system. After you register, click on the sidebar item “Critical Updates”. Any updates that are critical to the system, including kernel patches, will update themselves here. To install the updates, turn off your popup blocker for this site, toggle the checkmarks, and click “go”. A window will pop up and show you apt-get progress. Close it when it states it is done. Feel free to browse other updates and install them at any time.

It’s important to note that all updates are pushed through this interface. This includes major updates to new versions as well. Updating to new versions is therefore extremely easy. The upcoming ClarkConnect 4.0 release is currently in beta and ClarkConnect is looking to release this in the very near future. Look for some new packages including Horde Webmail, Kollab groupware, ClamAV, and others.

Another handy thing that ClarkConnect does is keep track of those patches you’ve installed (as long as you go through the services tab on this webconfig). You can also update via apt and the shell (soon to be yum with the next release 4.0)…I use putty to connect via SSH to the box and update from time to time. You can cycle through other updates as well and even see some of the handy community contributed modules. Install any you’d like and head to the various resources that clarkconnect has to get you started such as the forums, the newbie guide, and Ya-FAQ.

To take a look at the users present and to have control over whether or not your users have shell accounts available, etc. Head over to the users tab. Here you have ultimate control over all the users on your system. This makes it handy in situations where you’d like to setup a user for VPN but don’t want that user to have a shell account (for security reasons). I leave one user and make the password as complex as I possibly can. I also change the password about once every 3 months to keep things secure. Whatever your security policy is, the web interface makes things easy to administer and easy to use.


Now that we previously updated the system, let’s take a look at the overview of all hardware. Click on the reports tab and make sure “current status” is selected. This gives us a graphical overview of all hardware and current performance. As you can see from the screenshot, you don’t need a fast computer to power your ClarkConnect install (pictured is my emachines Celeron 900). I’ve had over 194 days of uptime with this current install of ClarkConnect (version 3.2). I don’t see any reason why it won’t continue other than a hardware fail. Overall, ClarkConnect is stable, secure, and the most handy server distro I’ve ever used. I trust it so much after using it these years as my main workhorse server that I’m prepping to start a side business installing and configuring ClarkConnect boxes for small businesses. Point Clark Networks is doing a great job helping small businesses have the functionality they need at an affordable price. Anyway, back to the review.

Back to the reports tab; In reports, you’ll be able to check out all the logs on your server. This makes reading logs less of a hassle and something you can do without cracking the shell.


Click the services tab. In this view, we should be defaulted to “Running Services” which is the handiest page in the admin section. Here you will find a service listing of all the system services/software that can be toggled “on” the CC box. You can start, stop, enable at boot, or disable at boot any single service you see in this view. The color scheme will tell you what is enabled (Green) and what service is disabled (red). Take a look to make sure you have running what you need to have running…since CC defaults are safe, we can leave everything as it is or turn on whatever it is we need.


Next, let’s make a quick backup snapshot of all our settings. You can do this by staying in the services tab and clicking “backup/restore”. From there, you can backup all your settings in CC. This is handy if, like me, you’re thinking of starting a business. One click snapshots means less configuring. It also makes things nice if you are planning on reinstalling. You can take this backup snapshot you’re creating and upload it to a fresh install to restore settings. Please be advised though that this backup is configuration files only (in /etc and /usr) and only for CC default apps. If you install something else, CC won’t backup that install without hacking.

Proxy Server

How about setting up a transparent proxy server to speed up your web browsing? Point Clark and CC have you covered in a couple of point-clicks. Head over to the Software tab. Select “Web Proxy” on the left side menu. From there, select the proxy to auto start if you’d like it to start at boot, then select to start the service. You can setup cache space, enable download size limits, and set maximum object size. Let’s set all to defaults for now…just make sure that if you plan on downloading larger files to set the maximum download file size to Unlimited. Also, if you want to use content filtering along with our transparent proxy, select “transparent + content filter” in the selection box titled “Transparent Mode.” You can clear your proxy out anytime by selecting “Reset Cache.”

Pop-Up Blocker

Now that you have the web proxy setup, let’s put the pop-up blocker on and look at content filtering. Select “Banner/Pop-up Blocker” from the menu on the right. Start it up by clicking on the links (Autostart if you choose). That’s it! Pretty simple eh? Let’s move over to content filtering. Click on “Content Filter” on the left side menu.

Content Filter

Now CC will automatically update your blacklists for content management for you. However, you’ll have to upgrade to one of the service levels to do so. Since I’m a home user and someone who’s run DansGuardian (the content filter system they use) for quite some time…I do my updates manually and pass on the upgrade in service. Point Clark networks has no problem with this, they simply have this in place to cater to their business clients to provide no-hassle management of their servers. Let’s get our update in place. Head over to the folks at, specifically their download section. Download the bigblacklist.tar.gz. This is a one time free download for personal use. This is an up to date blacklisting that we can drop into our dansguardian directory to make sure that it is running with the latest and greatest. Drop all the contents of bigblacklist.tar.gz inside the /etc/dansguardian/blacklists directory. Remember, you will need to either purchase a subscription through dansguardian,, or go with purchasing the personal gateway service through clarkconnect to have a completely updated dansguardian blacklist. I’ve found that I don’t really need an up to date box…it does quite nicely on it’s own and I can add and remove sites as I see fit. Plus, you can do well to check out dmoz and their urlblacklists for squidguard which translate nicely into dansguardian (for advanced users only). You can enable dansguardian with a couple of clicks and set options for it on the Software Tab >> Content Filtering Menu.


Now that we’ve seen some of the wizbang features built into ClarkConnect, let’s take a look at the rest of the tabs. You can see from the screenshot to the left of this paragraph that there is plenty other software that you can configure in CC, but let’s move over to the other tabs to show you just what you can control using the web interface. Click on the “Network” tab. ClarkConnect can operate in gateway mode (which is ‘router’ style mode with ipmasquerading, etc.), DMZ mode if you want to have a DMZ (demilitarized zone), standalone with firewall, and standalone without firewall. You can set these anytime you’d like to and control all of your network interfaces here. You can also go straight to DHCP configuration which will allow your CC box to give computers connected behind it a network address.

One thing that is a definitive plus for CC is the firewall manager. You can control incoming, outgoing, and port forwarding all from the web interface. I specifically like the group manager. Why? Because it is handy if I want to use torrents, I setup a group to open up ports 10000-60000 and forward to my desktop behind my CC box. When I’m done, I turn it off by disabling that group of rules. Handy eh?

Intrusion Detection/Prevention

Also contained in the network tab is intrusion detection and intrusion prevention. I enable both of these but will enter into the intrusion prevention exempt list my work IP address and all the addresses of my LAN. That way I don’t have my CC box thinking that I’m trying to break in and dropping my connections to it as I test things or connect to it using various methods (ftp, ssh, web, vpn, etc). Intrusion detection rules can be updated through Point Clark Networks by upgrading to gateway service level to SOHO which is around $10 USD a month. I just enable mine and let it go :D. Seems to do a fine job using the default rules and as long as I keep a watchful eye on my firewall rules, I’m just as safe as if I had a Security Enhanced Linux Fedora box running things. To read your intrusion detection and prevention logs, head over to your reports tab and then select the appropriate area on the left.

Bandwidth Management

One other area of interest here in the network tab is bandwidth management. Select “Bandwidth” from the left menu area. In this menu, you can enter in upload and download limits for bandwidth and take control of your network. Very handy if you have a multiple computer LAN and a teenager that downloads EVERYTHING. Play around with the settings and when you’re satisfied, let’s cinch things up with samba, ftp, and webserver.


CC comes ready to operate as a PDC (Primary Domain Controller) for your LAN. If you only operate a small LAN (1-2 computers) having a PDC is really for bragging rights only. Instead, you might want to configure your samba shares using CC’s handy web interface. Head over to the “Software” tab and click “Windows File Sharing”. ClarkConnect has common shares already in place for you. You can enable these or disable them. You can even add your own. It’s up to you. Starting samba is once again just a point click away. There is also an advanced setup option for those of you who are a bit more experienced with samba.

Personally, I don’t use the samba interface from ClarkConnect. I instead use Network Attached Storage which automatically is detected on my network by all my desktops (easy as connecting to another PC) so I haven’t found the need to implement samba on my CC box. In the future, when I expand to include a computer for my son, I will implement a PDC with roaming profiles so that all settings are backed up to ClarkConnect. Thus, if a computer fails, I still have all settings saved server side.

We’ve covered a varying amount of information in this review and I won’t cover everything that CC has to offer either. But two other areas I wanted to discuss was ftp and webserver. CC uses proftp for their ftp server and apache 2 for their webserver. One thing I’ve found of value for the webserver (which I’ll discuss first) is their virtual host creator.

FTP and Webserver

The webserver interface is handy. Very handy. You can enable SSL for Apache by toggling a setting. You can setup a virtual host by typing in the webaddress. Dead easy. I’ve found that setting up virtual hosts via this interface is better than doing so through webmin because it configures all defaults for you a bit better than webmin does. No idea why, but I’ve had trouble with webmin in the past with vhosts. I usually create a vhost with CC on their web server interface…such as shown in the picture. This was my old blog location when I hosted it at home (2004 with CC 2.2 I think). I now have a virtual host setup so that all requests for go through my CC box…I’ve written a rewrite rule to forward all traffic from the old blog to this current blog. Handy and easy with ClarkConnect. Like I said, I create the vhosts with CC and then hand them off to webmin for more detailed configuration. It’s important to note that you can install webmin through your “services” tab.

If you notice in the picture in the previous paragraph, I have as a virtual host. I use the no-ip service I previously blogged about to register this name. If you plugin the topic to that article with a ClarkConnect install…you can see that they’d be a fine fit together and that you can have your own webserver running in a matter of minutes. Put that together with Gallery, which CC is bundled with, and you’ve got yourself a family photo album!

Lastly, let’s look at the ftp server in CC. Click on the “Software” tab and then select “ftp server” from the menu on the left. You are a few clicks away from having a fully operational ftp server. Change the details you’d like to using the form provided by the web interface, then click to start and autostart the service. By default, CC shares /var/ftp. It is also open to anonymous connections. You’ll have to edit /etc/proftpd.conf to your liking to get your ftp server up and operational for other directories and users. Please see the proftp homepage for more details.


We’ve taken a semi-detailed look at ClarkConnect Home Edition 3.2 and how you can benefit both from the vast amount of software/programs already enabled on it and the ability to have an up and running router/server in as little as 30 minutes. Combine this with my previous article on using a no-ip domain and there isn’t any reason why you shouldn’t be able to show off a gallery or ftp server to your friends and relatives. If you have any problems, please head over to the ClarkConnect forums and ask…but not before using their search tool to see if the topic has been covered. As previously stated, there are two websites you can also connect to Ya-FAQ and the Newbie Portal. These two sites can provide you with good info as well as How-Tos made by the community.

I’d also like to take the time to let everyone know that I am in NO WAY being compensated for this article. I’ve used the software for quite some time and felt that I might be able to repay the people at Point Clark Networks by giving them props through this review. Whenever a new user is looking for a quick server oriented distribution, I always point them to ClarkConnect. In my opinion, it is the best distro out there to have for your home LAN. Hopefully, you’ll give it a test drive and come to the same conclusion.

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