My setup

Apr 6, 2016

I have spend many hours on the internet, discovering new technologies and comparing them to understand their assets and how they could help me on my projects.

During one of those explorations, I found, a website which to answer the question “What do people use to get stuff done?”.

I found a lot of great products and wanted to share mine as a student. A few years after I start working, I will update this.

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Mathieu Rousse, a student in micro-electronics and computer sciences at the École des Mines de Saint-Étienne campus Provence, near Marseille in the south of France. This is a very broad subject and I have decided to focus more on the security side of it. So I will be doing my third year at Télécom SudParis school in the south-east of Paris. I will be studying network security and software security there.

During the next 5 months, I will be working as intern on a high-performance computing framework using OpenCL and CUDA to analyze ultrasound data.

When I was 15 years old I discovered what were linux, a server, and how a misconfigured LDAP server could compromise all accounts from my accounts. At that point I also discovered what were the consequences of accessing a system I was not supposed to.

It was at this point I knew I would study security later. I kept practicing security since then and built my own lab. Eventually during LAN Parties I would try some new techniques when a game I already lost took too much time to end. (My very first DoS).

So I write programs, experiment server configurations, try to crack the crackmes and attend security conferences as much as I can.

What hardware do you use?

I have had the occasion to put my hands over a lot of hardware since I started. I played with several Cisco C2950, C3550 and C2960, all 48 ports. They were useless for a daily use, but handsome during LAN Party.

My everyday computer is a MSI laptop with a 15” i7 2.5GHz quad-core and 16G of RAM. I added 240G of SSD to complements its terabyte HDD. It is a little too powerful for my everyday use.

My personal Server is hosted by Kimsufi (OVH) in Canada, it has two gigs of ram and two threads at 1.86GHz for a 500G storage. It is more than enough to handle every experiments I may want to conduct.

My phone is a OnePlus One I bought by chance because a friend had an invite about to expire. It is surprisingly fluid and powerful. As for my laptop, it is maybe a little too powerful for what I using it for.

I also have a Raspberry Pi 1 version B. It is a very good toy, but lacks bluetooth/wifi by default and sometimes freezes when used as a network router.

I bought a Hercules XPS DJ Monitor set for my desk. It has dramatically changed the way I listen to music while working. They where quite expensive (80€) but they are absolutely perfect for my ears.

What software do you use?

My laptop runs with a dualboot Windows 8.1 (for work reasons, I had to downgrade from Win 10) with Debian 8. I worked during 6 years with Archlinux, which IS an excellent distribution. I chose to change in order to gain more experience with Debian.

My server is running under Archlinux since 2012. It runs my mails, web hosting (apache/mysql/php), my versionning (Gogs), and an owncloud instance that hosts my calendar, contacts and to share/backup files.

My phone runs under CyanogenMod 13, freshly installed. I had to reset it recently, and I decided not to download many useless apps. The main apps I use are Twitter, Whatsapp and Airdroid. I installed F-Droid to have access to open-source apps, where I got K-9 Mail, a cute mail client and the most important one : DAVDroid. It allows me to synchronize my contacts and agenda with my owncloud server.

I use daily Keepass to store all my passwords, Firefox, Thunderbird and the freshly installed as a text editor.

I am addicted to the Office Suite as it easily produce beautiful documents. I abuse OneNote synced with my phone to store every tasks and ideas I have.

And lastly, I use VirtualBox to launch my various virtual machines.

What would be your dream setup

My Raspberry Pi 1b lacks native WiFi/Bluetooth, which makes me connect two USB dongles which draws a lot of current and occupies the two USB ports. I would love to switch to a Raspberry Pi 3, first to be able to realize a network toolkit : I developed a simple application to connect to my RasPi over bluetooth with my phone, from which I can set a “mode” (Bridged AP, routed AP, MitM bridged with a USB-RJ45, capture over eth0, automated WiFi discovery/pentest, …).

The Office Suite being the most important thing that keeps me from having a full GNU/Linux computer, I need to learn LaTeX.

I finally set up my VPN to connect every gadget to an unique network where I could host my experiments and personal services. What I do lack now is a backup in the cloud. I spent a lot of time reading how the cloud could the best solution to store my backups, but I still am reluctant now. Having my files available with owncloud makes me confortable as I can get then whenever I want and I do know where they are stored. But with this setup, I can’t replicate them safely. After reading Daniel Miessler blog post “Why should you start backing up to the cloud”, I seriously considered moving my backups to the cloud. Now, all I need is to “Just do it”.

The blog of an IT and security enthusiast.