Duplicity + Amazon S3 = incremental encrypted remote backup

August 11th, 2007

Update: I haven't really been using this, since the bandwidth required is a bit... excessive. I think I'll stick to duplicity + external hard drive.

Duplicity is a backup program that only backs up the files (and parts of files) that have been modified since the last backup. Built on FLOSS (rsync, GnuPG, tar, and rdiff), it allows efficient, locally encrypted, remote backups.

Amazon S3 is a web service that provides cheap, distributed, redundant, web-accessible storage. S3 currently charges only $0.15 per GB-month storage and $0.10 per GB upload. The API is based on HTTP requests such as GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE.

The following is a description of how I made use of these to back up my laptop, which runs Ubuntu Feisty Fawn.

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Bypass web filters through encryption

August 31st, 2006

Use the Tor network to hide your communications. Incidentally, this is particularily useful when certain file types have been blocked, such as torrent files. The following instructions are written for Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux users. Tips for other systems are welcome.

Edit: Be extremely careful when surfing over Tor. There are rogue Tor exit nodes that will attempt to steal your information (credit card number, password, etc.), so when using Tor you should enable and heed all of your browser's security warnings. When using Tor, only submit personal information from a secure page to a secure page. Remember that a page is not secure if your browser couldn't completely verify the security certificate. This is a very real threat. In summary, try to only use Tor for reading unless you're sure you know what you're doing.

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Installing JamSeeder on Linux

May 1st, 2006
Problem
Jamendo.com offers a program called JamSeeder that allows users with good bandwidth to seed album torrents. Unfortunately, the info page is hidden and there is little to no documentation, though the statistics page is referenced prominently on the main page. There is also no documentation on installation or usage.
Solution
  1. Download the tool from the project page on SourceForge.
  2. Install the RPM. On Debian-type systems (like Ubuntu), use sudo alien --to-deb --install jamseeder-0.9.1-2mdv.noarch.rpm
  3. Run the program using python /usr/share/jamseeder/jamseeder-gui.py
  4. Every time you change the settings, you will need to close and re-open the program.
Notes
Since JamSeeder uses the official BitTorrent client, which does not support encryption, users behind traffic-shapers or external firewalls will not be able to seed torrents well or at all.
Resources

Download a torrent from behind a firewall

April 17th, 2006
Problem
Is your ISP practicing traffic shaping so restrictively that you can't use torrents?
Solution
Use an encryption-enabled torrent client, such as Azureus.
  1. Get Azureus from azureus.sourceforge.net. (You need to have Java installed on your machine first.)
  2. Run and configure Azureus:
    • Skip any updates, because they rely on torrents.
    • Set your proficiency level to Intermediate, so you can change the encryption settings later.
  3. Go to Tools -> Options -> Connections -> Transport Encryption, and require encryption.
  4. Under Mode, set your proficiency to Beginner. (Beginner has all the options you'll ever need as a downloader.)
  5. Restart Azureus, and let it do any updates it deems necessary.
Explanation
Encrypting the transport layer prevents your ISP from determining what kind of traffic is passing through. If it can't tell it's a torrent, it can't slow or restrict it.
Notes
If you are only trying to avoid traffic shapers, set the minimum encryption level to Plain, which only obfuscates the packet headers. If plain encryption fails, Azureus will automatically escalate to RC4, which encrypts the entire packet. If you are also trying to avoid being caught downloading commercial music or software, you should probably use RC4 as the minimum. Actually, the best way to avoid being caught pirating is to use an extension like SafePeer. Encryption won't do anything, because your IP address is still visible.
Resources