[ALUG] Building an (air gapped) offline Linux laptop as a newbie to Linux

Ian Henderson ian.henderson at hushmail.com
Wed Nov 2 09:09:14 GMT 2016

Hi, all,

I am new to Linux.

I'm porting over to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS with the Unity desktop from
Windows 10.  I want to keep things as simple (and hopefully therefore
as reliable) as possible, for home/office critical use.  I also want
to stick to the main and universe repositories.

Because prices were much lower for Linux-compatible laptops than with
Win 10 installed, I can afford two.  I plan to divide them into one
for critical offline-only use, and the other for universal online use.
 I will air-gap the two.  But it also means that I need to complete
the final build of the offline air-gapped laptop ahead of porting
data, after which it will not go online again (unless for a wipe and

For the offline-only laptop, I am looking at the following range of
apps.  Could I ask that you check my ideas, and offer suggestions and
advice, please.:-

1)  An office-like suite, for which I will be using LibreOffice, which
is installed by default.
2)  I need a whole-directory and free space overwriting utility, as
well as the means to securely delete individual files.  My
understanding is that shred and wipe are available by default.  I am
looking at bleachbit for the whole-directory and free space wiping. 
But the software centre says "sudo" for this app: does that mean it
has elevated privileges and is this a bad idea?
3)  GtkHash for SHA256 etc. cryptographic hashes, primarily to verify
4)  Can anyone suggest an archiving utility which also verifies the
files within the archive (I can then hash the archive file backup)? 
Archiving does not necessarily have to include compression.  Are any
installed by default?
5)  GnuPG.  I understand that this is installed by default?  Am I
correct that I can encrypt with password files if transferring on
FAT32 USB or CD/DVD with this?  Is it GUI?
6)  CD/DVD burning, including both copying using a single optical
drive, ordinary file burning and creating bootable CD/DVD from ISO
images.  I'm looking at Brasero for this.

Can anyone suggest any other apps I should include ahead of locking
off the build?

I'm also assuming that the default 16.04 LTS supports formatting USB
sticks to ext4, including encryption?

Also, anyone any thoughts on using live-CD version of Ubuntu for
online banking (in case the online unit got owned)?

Please remember that I am a complete newbie to Linux.  So please
remember if you start talking about OpenWTF 0.666.1066 I will have no
idea what you're talking about!  Not for some months yet, anyway. :)

Thanks for your help,

(C) Copyright 2016 by Ian Henderson.  All rights reserved.
 Do not pass on my email address without my prior written consent (if
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