A Brief History
Local Area Security is a project that was started in 2002 to research information security related topics. During that time there was no real live-CD toolkit focused on information security. So Jascha, the project founder built one from a stripped down version of Knoppix called Model-K. Both of which were built from Debian Linux.
Up until version 0.4 L.A.S. Linux was command line only. Which made it limited to some of the tools it could contain since many require a GUI. Or at least for many it is preferable to have one. So FluxBox was added as the desktop since it is light weight and very feature filled. It was during this time that Jascha came up with the idea of keeping the size of L.A.S. as small as possible, which lead to a target maximum size of 180MBs. The size of the original mini-CDs that were available at the time. This forced the selection of tools and features to be weighed heavily since unlike other live-CDs that throw in everything including the kitchen sink. L.A.S. was designed from the ground up to be a ‘tool’ not a all-inclusive grab bag of applications.
It was around this time that L.A.S. began to catch on and get some media attention. As well as many advances for live-CDs came about, such as ‘to-ram’ that allows booting a live-CD into the physical RAM of a computer. Which by chance L.A.S. was perfectly cut out for. With as little as 256MB of RAM people could boot L.A.S. and then free up their CD-ROMs for burring etc. For forensics this was a big plus, along with many other uses. Plus L.A.S. ran very fast in RAM which helped with running Nessus, Nmap, or other tools. When compared to full size (700MB) CDs which would require 1GB of RAM to use the ‘to-ram’ option, it was really no contest. This was of course when RAM was expensive compared to the 4-12GB of RAM you see in desktops now.
L.A.S. has been mentioned in many articles in many languages since its inception. Most recently L.A.S. was mentioned in the book Knoppix Hacks (see chapter 8, hack #86) .
Currently the project is not active being that live CDs are not the norm. Now it’s pen drives and virtual machines. I feel the focus now needs to be more in the direction of package management at the distro level and getting the more obscure security tools into the repos and maintained. I currently lack the time to manage such an undertaking as LAS Linux. Thanks to all who contributed to its success during the run.
If you are looking for an up to date infomation security related distribution have a look at BackTrack. It requires a DVD or very large USB drive so it is far from small, but it has all the security tools you may need.
http://liveusb-openbsd.sourceforge.net/ – a live USB project based on OpenBSD. Comes in numerous flavors and sizes to fit your needs.