Post Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:51 pm

My Dream Machine

I am not sure how many reading the forums are interested in this, but I thought I would share my personal set up on my laptop.  I have done a lot of experimenting over a long period of time of what works best for me when conducting a pentest.

In reality, we are confined to using laptops for the most part. The laptop has been the hackers tool of choice since they first came on the scene. Thank god they are finally making some laptops with some real power. 

As far as hardware goes, right now I am really leaning towards Intel. AMD was traditionally the hacker’s choice, but now I have to say those energy efficient dual core cpus that Intel makes for laptops are really awesome.  Get the most powerful CPU you can afford and get at least 1 gig of ram if not more.  Don’t waste money on a gaming laptop even if they do look powerful from their specs.  Those are usually battery hogs and you really want one that has some ability to live off the battery.  There are times when you might not have access to a wall socket. I always have an extra battery in my case. Whats really nice is that now linux has so much driver support, your on board wifi should work with little problem whereas just a few years ago it was a real challenge to find any distro that would work with a Dell wireless mini wlan card.

On my laptop I triple boot.  On the first partition I use Windows XP pro. The second partition I have BackTrack 2 final and on the third I have installed Ubuntu.  I actually use two laptops when I am performing a pentest and they both have the same set up. That is, they both have 3 partitions with the same 3 operating systems on board. This works well because I can now have whatever combination I like. I can have XP running on one laptop while I have Backtrack running on another. Or say Ubuntu on one and Backtrack on another, etc… Now I could just use VMware to accomplish a similar set up, but I really don’t like to do that for what I call a “hardcore hack”.  I get faster results by not hogging the CPU and other resources on a single laptop by using this dual set up.  If you have not tried this, I recommend it highly and I am sure you will see the difference.

Setting up your laptop this way is not difficult. First install Windows. After that you can either make your other partitions with an app like Partition Magick or use Qtparted on the Backtrack live CD.  If you use Qtparted, make sure you use the umount command to unmount the partition before attempting any changes. A simple thing , but people tend to forget that I have noticed. 

After you have made your new partitions, install BackTrack.  Earlier I made a post concerning how to install Backtrack 2: ... ic,1433.0/

Just remember to change any commands that involve the partition to specify the partition you want to target. For instance, if sda3 is your target for BackTrack, then make sure you change Sda or sda2 in your commands to sda3, including where to write the MBR.  Simple enough. 

Finally install Ubuntu to your final partition.  After that, attempt a boot up and you should see the Grub boot loader. You should see all 3 choices available to boot. Windows will boot fine and so will Ubuntu, but not Backtrack. You will need to boot to Ubuntu and make some changes to the Grub menu.  Once there, change the script to  read :

title BackTrack
rootnoverify (hd0,3)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz vga=791 root=/dev/hda4 ro

After that, just reboot and you should be fine.

If anyone else here wants to share their idea of the perfect set up, please do so.
Last edited by Kev on Thu Jun 28, 2007 4:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.