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Engels started playing with Linux® in 1991 and obtained his Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE), Red Hat Certified Instructor (RHCI), and Red Hat Certified Examiner (RHCX) certifications in 2002. He is in charge of Bluepoint's Total Linux®, Linux Kernel Internals®, Perl & Python Programming, and Extreme PHP curriculum and instruction development.
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Richard Keech, RHCE, RHCX conducted my RHCE, RHCI, and RHCX training & certification in his capacity as Red Hat Asia-Pacific's Chief Instructor. Before we parted ways, he congratulated me for becoming the first Filipino RHCX. I told him that I was trained by the best.
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In loving memory of CPT Mario B. Mortega Sr., USAFFE, VET (1920-2004)
Nessus Closes Source
Wednesday, Oct 5, 2005, 2:44 PM
Just got the following heads-up from Fyodor via the nmap-hackers mailing list:

Date: Wed, 5 Oct 2005 14:43:55 -0700
From: Fyodor <fyodor at insecure.org>
To: nmap-hackers at insecure.org
Subject: Nessus closes source => How to help open source projects

Nmap Hackers,

In the last Insecure.Org Security Tools survey, you guys proudly voted Nessus #1. It complements the functionality of Nmap by going further to detect application-level vulnerabilities. Then in February of this year, Tenable changed the Nessus license to further restrict the plugins and require that you fax them a permission request form before you use Nessus for any consulting engagements. Renaud wrote to this list on Feb 8 (http://seclists.org/lists/nmap-hackers/2005/Jan-Mar/0001.html), explaining that their new slogan ("the open-source vulnerability scanner") was accurate because the engine was still open source.

Today, their slogan has changed to "the network vulnerability scanner", and you can probably guess what that means. In the announcement below, Renaud announces that Nessus 3 (due in a couple weeks) will be binary only and forbid redistribution. They say it will be free, for now, if you use the delayed plugin feed. They have also announced that Nessus 3 will be faster and contain various other improvements. They promise to maintain GPL Nessus 2 for a while, but I wouldn't count on that lasting long.

I am not taking a position on this move, but I do feel it is worth noting for the many Nessus users on this list. Tenable argues that this move is necessary to further improve Nessus and/or make more money. Perhaps so, but the Nmap Project has no plans to follow suit. Nmap has been GPL since its creation more than 8 years ago and I am happy with that license.

When asked why they are making this change, Renaud replied to the Nessus list today that open source hasn't really worked for Nessus because "virtually nobody has ever contributed anything to improve the scanning _engine_ over the last 6 years." This may be the most important and useful point we can take from this change. Open source really is a two-way street. The only way we (open source projects) can seriously compete with projects staffed by dozens or hundreds of paid full time developers is by having hundreds or thousands of volunteers each contributing a little bit part time. So if you are a heavy user of open source software, please think about how you can help out. Here are some ideas:

o If you are feeling ambitious, write and distribute your own little program to solve a problem you are having or otherwise makes your life easier. It doesn't have to be anything big or fancy at first. Nmap started out as a little 2,000-line utility published in Phrack magazine. Post your creation to Freshmeat, or to nmap-dev if it relates to Nmap in some way. Hmm, I think there is a current vacuum in the open source vulnerability scanner field .

o Or take a more active coding role for an existing open source project. In the Nmap world, former Google SoC students are developing three promising projects: NmapGUI and UMIT are new GUIs and results viewers for large Nmap scans, and Ncat is a powerful reinterpretation of the venerable Netcat. Working code for all three of these is available if you join the Nmap-dev list (http://cgi.insecure.org/mailman/listinfo/nmap-dev) and I'm sure the respective authors (Ole Morten Grodaas, Adriano Monteiro, and Chris Gibson) would appreciate help, feedback, and testing.

o Find a bug in some open source software? Try to reproduce it with the latest version of the software and do some web searching to see if it is already known/fixed. If not, report it with full details about how to reproduce it and the platform and software version of the software you are running. It is even better if you can submit a patch which fixes the problem.

o Join the relevant mailing lists for the project and help out new users. Maybe you can write or translate some documentation, such as a tutorial for using the product or a HOWTO for using it to solve a common need.

o The Nmap Project does not accept financial donations, but many other projects do. If some little project does exactly what you need and saves you half a day of work or makes it into your regular-usage arsenal of tools, consider kicking the author back $5 or $10. Not only will it help defray costs of the project, but it shows the author that users really appreciate his/her work and thus makes a newer version more likely. Similarly, if you see an ad on the project web site that interests you, click on it and spend a couple minutes checking the product out.

o Spread the word! Commercial software houses pay to spread the word about their product in magazines, web sites, TV, conferences, etc. Open source projects such as Nmap can't. So if you find a project useful, don't hesitate to post a link on your web page and mention it (including the URL) on mailing list, newsgroup, and web forum posts.

Those are a few ideas, and I'm sure you can think of more based on your experience, expertise, and available resources. Rather than mope over the loss of open source Nessus, we can treat this as a call to action and a reminder not to take valuable open source software such as Ethereal, DSniff, Ettercap, gcc, emacs, apache, OpenBSD, and Linux for granted.

Cheers,
Fyodor

PS: Here is the Nessus announcement:

----- Forwarded message from Renaud Deraison <rderaison at tenablesecurity.com> -----

Date: Wed, 5 Oct 2005 12:16:45 -0400
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.734)
From: Renaud Deraison <rderaison at tenablesecurity.com>
To: nessus at list.nessus.org, nessus-announce at list.nessus.org
Cc:
Subject: [Nessus-announce] Nessus Roadmap / Nessus 3.0.0rc1 testers wanted

Hi everyone,

We are a few weeks away from releasing Nessus 3.0.0, and I'd like to take some time to explain our roadmap in this regard.

Nessus 3 / Nessus 2 Roadmap

Nessus 3 is major enhancement of the key components of the Nessus engine - the NASL3 intepreter has been rewritten from scratch, the process management has changed to reduce the overhead of executing a plugin (instead of creating NxM processes, nessusd now only creates N processes), the way plugins are stored has been improved to reduce disk usage, etc...

Nessus 3 also contains a lot of built-in features and checks to debug crashes and mis-behaving plugins more easily, and to catch inconsistencies early.

As a result, Nessus 3 is much faster than Nessus 2 and less resource intensive. Your mileage may vary, but when scanning a local network, Nessus 3 is on average twice as fast as Nessus 2, with spikes going as high as 5 times faster when scanning desktop windows systems.

Nessus 3 will be available free of charge, including on the Windows platform, but will not be released under the GPL.

Nessus 3 will be available for many platforms, but do understand that we won't be able to support every distribution / operating system available. I also understand that some free software advocates won't
want to use a binary-only Nessus 3. This is why Nessus 2 will continue to be maintained and will stay under the GPL.

To make things simple :

- Nessus 2 : GPL, will have regular releases containing bug fixes
- Nessus 3 : free of charge, contains major improvements

The two versions can share most of their plugins -- we intend to maintain backward compatibility whenever possible for most vulnerability checks. Some checks will only work on Nessus 3 (ie: we
are about to release a set of plugins to determine policy compliance), but the huge majority will work on either platform likewise.

Finally, the Nessus GUI has been split in a separate project (NessusClient) which is released under the GPL. The 'nessus' client in Nessus3 is CLI only, as it will be in Nessus 2.4.x. For a GUI, use NessusClient.

Testers needed

That being said, we are looking for experienced Nessus users who would want to try Nessus 3.0.0rc1. For the sake of simplicity, we would like users running on Red Hat ES3 or ES4 platforms or compatible. We are looking for people scanning big networks, mostly to collect performance information. Keep in mind that Nessus3 is CLI only, so you'll have to use NessusWX or be familiar with the CLI.

If you are interested in testing Nessus 3.0.0rc1, please drop me a line at (no @gmail/@hotmail/@anonymous accounts please).

Thanks,
-- Renaud
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