Covenant Eyes for Linux?

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  • Updated 1 year ago
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Covenant Eyes for Linux - CE recently received a comment about the desire to have accountability software for Linux platforms. Here was our response. We invite more dialogue or thoughts about this.
The Post: http://www.covenanteyes.com/blog/2009...
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Luke Gilkerson

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Posted 9 years ago

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ansak

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I read the Linux user's post and I thought it was a rant. I'd like to see a Linux version, too, because I prefer to run Linux -- it's called wanting to be free (as in speech).

I'm also a software developer, mostly for Windows, so my Linux box has a VM that runs Windows inside it but guess where I do most of my browsing?

Now... I'm not in a position of "needing" your software mostly for my own sake: porn is not my besetting sin (yet let him who stands... and all that). I'm wanting to set up accountability with my teen-aged sons. But if they're mostly browsing in Windows and I'm mostly browsing in Linux then the mutuality of accountability is gone. (I got the idea of being accountability partners with my sons from Drew Marshall, by the way).

I'm a software developer and although the number one regret of my career has been not valuing the Four Freedoms enough, I understand the concerns of proprietary software vendors as essentially all my work has been outside the open source world.

I would be willing to inspect your system under NDA and suggest ways it could be implemented for Linux. Do you think that would be a way forward?

I am especially intrigued by your allegation that opening up the contents of the communications protocol between users of the software and your servers would pose a risk to your existing users. I am also a bit of a security wannabe, and I am struck by the possibility that there may be options here your team hasn't thought of. I have been a PGP user, for instance, since 1994 or earlier.

The fact that ultimately most Linux users can become "root" -- and tend to know more about what that means than Windows users who are almost all root by default without having a clue means that security-by-obscurity is not an option but you should be aware that it is not necessary to make your software opensource in order to be able to distribute on Linux. You have to be careful about all the licenses, but the GPL isn't some virus that will force you to disclose what you don't want to. There may be community pressure to do so, but the community tends to understand if you have some reason to follow your own path, just so's you read the terms of the different licenses and abide by them: LGPL, Apache and BSD are all quite easy licenses to live with and I suspect that those licenses would cover all or most of the bits that you would actually have to depend on.

cheers...ank
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Luke Gilkerson

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Official Response
@ansak - Thanks for your thoughts. We'll keep this in mind!
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andy.hofstedt

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I would love ce on linux. Being able to run ce on doze is the only reason that i changed back to windows! so please!!! ce on linux
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dhaartman

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A hearty amen to the above... I would also add that the folks who need accountability the most are software devs like ansak and me that know our ways around. For us, CE is an honor system not a padlock anyway, so please don't think Linux is somehow less secure than windows. (That's an irony to say the least.) If nothing else, open an API and let us write our own software, then you can borrow our work as open source.
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Steel

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This. So much this. I realize this comment was posted 3 years ago, but the truth stands.
CovEyes folks: I'd bet that if you reached out to your userbase and asked for linux-familiar individuals to assist in this, much in the same way the FOSS community asks for volunteers, you may have a surprisingly resounding "affirmative" response. I'm confident that your legal department would be able to work out NDAs, or whatever other material that needed to be a part of it... but consider that, please. There are some very, very smart people out here looking for accountability, and their smarts are probably a gift they would share to give themselves and others that accountability they long for.
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Timothy Masters

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Any chance of a linux version soon? I read the first google result and understand that it's a lot of work but I for one would find it helpful and my wife would find it reassuring

This reply was created from a merged topic originally titled
CE for linux.
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Alaina

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We do not currently have plans to work on a version for linux. If anything changes with that we will definitely post on here about it. Which features would you be looking for?
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dhaartman

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I'm a software developer, I commented above as well. Actually you would not need to develop a linux version at all. Just provide an API and let the open source community develop the linux version.
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John, UX Practitioner

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We actually do have an API now, most of the things a developer would need could probably be acquired. I am speaking a little out of turn here, but if you find someone interested in developing, we may be able to help.
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Alaina

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I can concur that we have been switching over to APIs, but by my understanding the infrastructure is not entirely in place yet to open them up for outside development. It is, however, something that we have discussed at length. We're just not quite there yet.
(Edited)
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dhaartman

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I am eager to know of it, when it's complete.  I'm one such person interested in developing. :)  I work full time as a systems integrator and backend web programmer in php, java, perl and some others.
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MalicLandrea

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Has there been any update on this? I am currently a Mac user looking to switch to Linux for price reasons, but at this point I don't feel comfortable not having the accountability.
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Jake, Employee

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Unfortunately, no. There are still no plans to bring Covenant Eyes to Linux. If that changes, you can be sure an official post will be made.
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Chance

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I use Net Responsibility for Linux. www.netresponsibility.com . Not quite as good as Covenant Eyes, but still works pretty well in my opinion.  Much easier to install on Ubuntu/Mint/Debian flavors, but I have gotten it to install on OpenSUSE with a little bit of work (you can build from source). 

I normally wouldn't plug other tools here, but I don't consider them a competitor to Covenant Eyes, since they run on Linux.
(Edited)
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Adrian Keister

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I emailed CE a while back concerning a Linux version, and they replied that CE has no plans to put forth a Linux version, presumably due to lack of market share.

However, I would claim the situation has changed. Net Responsibility, the only viable alternative to CE, if it continues along its present path, will be dead before long. You can install it on Ubuntu 14.04, but not 14.10, and the developer has no plans immediately to maintain the software so that it keeps working. To me, that spells software death.

So CE has an opportunity here for some business. There are a lot of people out there, I believe, who would rejoice in the existence of a Linux version of CE. I think, indeed, that CE might not have been thinking about the market completely correctly. What if there are a lot of people out there who would switch to Linux if there was a good CE software package for them? In other words, the market might be artificially low, because there isn't a great accountability package for them.

I would strongly urge CE to reconsider their decision not to have a Linux version. This could be the perfect time to debut a Linux version, with no other alternative available.

As far as I know, you can still install NR on Linux Mint, even the latest version. However, for a lot of Linux users, that might not be sufficient. Ideally, you'd have a .deb package for the Debian/Ubuntu/Linux Mint users, and an .rpm package for the Red Hat/Fedora/openSUSE/CentOS users. And even better would be the source code so you could compile the thing, but that might be asking too much.
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Philosophical Reflections

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I've never understood the Linux thing with source code.  You don't need that if the devs of the package are supporting it on their own terms.  And contrary to the apparently popular belief among Linux gurus that the average user likes compiling packages themselves.... umm.... no.  Just no.

The most annoying thing about using Linux for me so far is that applications I REALLY loved (such as XBMC) get abandoned by their devs!  But there's no chance of that happening with CE.  Because there's little chance of that happening to ANY software backed by the money of its users....

In any case, it would be totally awesome to have a CE Debian and RPM package (32bit and 64bit flavors).  I use Linux all the time by necessity, and while I don't have an addiction to porn, I do like having someone keeping tabs on all my web traffic.

Maybe you guys could just develop a box or some kind of hardware adapter for the router that grabs every detail about the package transfers into and out of the house.
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Adrian Keister

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No, I totally get the thing about the code. I find compiling to be tremendously frustrating - it hardly ever works right the first time. I also, incidentally, despise hunting down packages like I always seem to have to do for any .rpm-based distro. All I meant was that having the source code available could make CE available to more distros than the usual .deb/.rpm "hegemony". CE probably won't do that, though, because if there are any "trap doors" or loopholes, they would become known by making the source code available.

Cheers.
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dhaartman

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There's got to be a way to overcome the lack of Linux support.  Actually I've run a VM with Windows + CE + AnalogX proxy, and then pointed my linux browser to it, so that all my web traffic went through it.  It worked.  Of course it could be argued that circumvention is too easy, but the topology of such an arrangement is still valid. And if the client-side http proxy could be implemented as a kernel module (which runs in the security of root), then dad can at least protect kids who have non-root accounts.  Better than nothing.

One problem is that all the traffic through it would be under one CE user.  This is where an API would help, it could provide multiple simultaneous logins for different users on the network.

Regarding all the talk about source code.  CE does not need to open any source code.  There doesn't need to be any compiling by end users.  Just because something is linux doesn't mean the source code for it has to be available.  I use oDesk (now UpWork) and their closed-source time tracking tool has fantastic support for Ubuntu and Fedora.  All binaries, no source.  No problem.  Even with a hacked up distro and some unusual virtualization going on, it just sings along.

Another thing I've pondered is running as tiny an android emulator as possible (perhaps as root, to protect its process) and installing CE for Android on it, along with a proxy and kernel-level client proxying on the host system.  One thing I've come to appreciate is the seeming rock-solidness and speed of the Android client.  CE on windows, not as much.
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dhaartman

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I just thought of something.  Covenant Eyes for Android *is* a Linux port, because Android is Linux.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_(operating_system)
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Jon Wilkes

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A linux user looking for a porn filter may find http://www.pluckeye.net/filters.html?os=linux helpful.

Jon Wilkes (author of Pluckeye)
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Steel

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Good for you compiling a list like this - it would be more helpful if there were more transparent lists like this out there.
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Adrian Keister

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It's a bit out of date, unfortunately. netresponsibility looks like it's abandoned, pretty much. It has certainly not been updated for the latest versions of Ubuntu. The depressing thing about this list is that it confirms there are no accountability software options for Linux.
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Steel

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So update that, bro - IIRC, there's a green "contribute" button (or something like that).
Community!
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Adrian Keister

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@Steel: It's just a message-sending method. Which I've done, per your recommendation. I don't think the page can be edited by just anybody, though.

Cheers.
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Steel

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Well played then, sir. I hadn't tried an edit yet. /props for community editing.
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Jon Wilkes

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The depressing thing about this list is that it confirms there are no accountability software options for Linux.
Dear Reader, do not believe the above; there are some options for Linux.
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Adrian Keister

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Yes, well done, Jon! However, I can't help wondering how long NR is for this world. It has to be maintained, or it will die.
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Jon Wilkes

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Update: The url of the above page has changed.  It is now at
http://filters.pluckeye.net/?os=linux .
(Edited)
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singmajesty

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Sorry to drum up an old subject, but a minimal CE for accountability reporting only (no blocking) would at least be a great step in the right direction -- something that is not air-tight, but is electively used to help with accountability would really help!
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Annelise, Official Rep

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Hello singmajesty,

You are correct in that minimal CE for accountability would be a great step in the right direction. However, currently there isn't enough demand to warrant immediate development. We are looking to expand our software across additional platforms though. Thank you so much for your input and I will definitely pass your comments along!

Best regards,
Annelise
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Jason Greene

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Where are your "options for Linux"? I can't seem to find them.  Linux is "FREE" so you should and/or should have created your apps to function on Linux.

Please give me a link that positively speaks about your app and services on Linux.  
(Edited)
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Chance

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This comes across as demanding. Linux is free but development time and effort isn't. If you are interested in Linux accountability, check this out: https://netresponsibility.com . I don't know how recently it's been maintained though. 
(Edited)
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Adrian Keister

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Accountable2You runs on a number of different Linux distros, including Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Fedora, and Linux Mint. That's what I recommend if you need Linux. It's not bad accountability software. It doesn't run well on distros much removed from the above list, though. CentOS is out, for example, as is Peppermint. Probably RHEL is out as well, though I haven't tried that one.
(Edited)