Kogaion and Argent OS: the interview - Part 1

Nov 03, 2015 by BogdanD

A few weeks back we wrote about a Romanian team of developers from Cluj-Napoca, namely RogentOS, who decided to give something back to the community by developing GNU licensed OS-es for home and public administration use.

Given their goal, we decided to talk to Stefan Brindusa (their Lead Developer and Main OS Designer) for a little Q&A on the team's goals and products. This is what Stefan had to say:

SBP: The idea of developing your own OS is surprisingly common in development circles, believe it or not. However, you're the first Romanian group to actually invest in such a project and see it to the end. Can you share with us the motivation behind your accomplishment?

Stefan: Well, it's important to mention that I have a Gentoo Linux background, so I do know the powerful advantages this OS has over its competitors. So my personal motivation was to create an improved OS version that covers the gaps that I've seen in the Romanian's markets. More precisely: at first, I've tried to give this new OS the shapes that I've envisioned, and then I've went to identify within the IT circles in Romania what are the main gaps and the needs that were not being covered by the existing OS. It's important to add that I've targeted the public institutions (such as Defense institutions) - which are spending high amounts of money on pieces of software that don't actually fulfill their needs.

Stefan goes on to describe his early attempts at single-handedly tackling both OS development and distribution, plus tech support back in 2011-2012. As he puts it:

Stefan: After a few failures, I've realized that I can't actually do much without proper marketing or a team, so I've started creating the first version intended for desktop usage called RogentOS, and at the same time creating a team. Some aspects were a mess, for example: initially, my target was the usual Linux user, which I've come to realize that it was wrong.

Nevertheless, Stefan stuck with the project and soon enough, community support started rolling in, as well as a team of Linux enthusiasts:

Stefan: That was the day everything changed - we dropped the old OS (RogentOS), took all the sources from Gentoo, modified everything we could, so that it suited our purposes, and started to write our own automation tools, scripts and minor programs, so that the project and the development infrastructure can become self-sustainable. We've succeeded... and that's how Kogaion and Argent were born.

SBP: In recent articles, you claimed that the Argent Server OS offers greater security (as its desired purpose is, after all, to be used within governmental institutions). Can you share with us some details of the security features and upgrades that would set Argent apart from similar market products?

Stefan: For the moment, Argent Linux has only a sample ISO on the alternative download links. The security measures we're going to take are:

  • full UEFI support
  • full hardened + / or pax security support for the whole infrastructure
  • fully automated customization of Argent for the needs of every company / security institution
  • the "red button" which comes with Argos Box itself: a sort of security measure when Argos Box tells the Argent server to shutdown its services in case of a full and penetration attack from outside the Argos Box

The Argos Box is the future Raspberry PI + Argos + an algorithm created by Ionut Indre, that will repel all attack types. It will also give you Internet if you plug the network cable. That would be the main idea of the project.
The automated customization of Argent can bring higher security, binaries and all sorts cannot be interpretable by attackers, and cannot be injected or so on. Together with the new security features from Linux Kernel 4.2 ( in the future, of course ), we'll bring both performance and security, Gentoo being one of the fastest systems on earth.

Another server feature included in Argent is quickpkg, something that the Linux community will surely appreciate having.

This little and powerful program creates a package from the installed system with all your custom configurations. That package can be copied in any other Argent system, and installed with its version, revision, dependencies and configurations that you've already made. This means that you can have identical packages with identical data in dozens of Argent servers, without thinking about safety, stability and performance issues that you had on the old server with the same configuration.

Even more, this feature can include all packages from your system. So this is definitely a good business feature for companies with huge data and important programs, right? All you need to do is to perform this on multiple servers, and everything is set in the database while installed, so there's no need for docker (or other mystical automation-like cloning programs ), to copy paste the whole machine in dozens of other places :-)

Also, we will try to introduce Smart Card authentication within the next few years for higher security within the Argent infrastructure, however that's a different idea, for a different time. For now, we're fully focused on the features that I've described above... and this is only the beginning, there are more to come :)

That's it for Part 1 of the interview, but stay tuned as Stefan will reveal more about adoption rate, their plan to release an ARM based OS for mobile devices, public administration and more in Part 2.

Update: Part 2 is here! :)

Tags: Interview  OS  Romania 


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