Geeks meet in Luxembourg for Pi and More 4

Lead Image © Josef Prchal , 123RF.com

More Pi and More

The fourth incarnation of the Pi and More conference brought Raspberry Pi fans together for a day of lectures, workshops, ideas, and experiences.

The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a small country with a big vision. Despite only 500,000 residents, Luxembourg is a center for banking and commerce, and it serves as the European headquarters for international companies, such as PayPal and Amazon.

For the first time, the Raspberry Pi Jam known as Pi and More [1] took place in Luxembourg on November 9, 2013. The three previous Jams had all taken place in Germany.

CIRCLean

The first lecture of the conference introduced the CIRCLean Project [2] from the Computer Incident Response Center of Luxembourg (CIRCL). This project increases system security when USB sticks from potentially unsafe sources are plugged into a computer. According to the presenters, antivirus programs have at best a 60 percent success rate for recognizing relatively new viruses. If a virus has been programmed to carry out this type of attack, it usually will not even be recognized by the heuristics engine of the AV scanner.

Here is where the CIRCLean Project comes into play. It makes a special image file available to boot a Raspberry Pi. During bootup, the Pi starts an environment in which it mounts the SD card in read-only mode and then launches some scripts. Next, the user can connect the untested USB stick in the upper Rasp Pi USB port and a place a second, empty stick in the port below. The Pi then makes a modified and secure copy of the foreign USB stick.

The software responsible for making the copy performs several conversions. For example, it translates PDF and Office documents into HTML, and it alters the file name extension of Windows binary files. Additionally, the software carries out some further changes. Once subjected to a sequence of processes like this, any files that could potentially contain harmful code become practically innocuous. When the scripts finish, a musical tone sounds, telling the user that the stick with the secure copies can be removed and placed into another computer.

OpenMePi

The next lecture introduced the OpenMePi project [3], which is still in the planning phase. The goal is to create a door opener and alarm system controlled by a Raspberry Pi.

This endeavor originated in the Hackerspace syn2cat [4] and is meant to replace the current OpenDuino project, which is being used in the Hackerspace building. When the building is open to the public, visitors can use a smartphone app via a token to open the doors as long as the phone is connected to the local WiFi network. Control over the alarm system works the same way, as will the regulation of the lighting system in the future. Moreover, the system implements the Space API [5], by which Hackerspaces worldwide can post various status reports to apps and browser plugins. Among these will be information on whether the local Hackerspace is open.

Maintenance for OpenDuino has proved impractical; until now, it has been purely Arduino based, and the requirements are continually increasing. The Rasp Pi-based successor OpenMePi now being planned is intended to provide some welcome relief.

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