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RetroShare Chat Server Live CD


Use of this software indicates your acceptance of the following agreement:

This is experimental software. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. I or anyone else can not be held liable under any circumstances for damage to hardware or software, lost data, or other direct or indirect damage resulting from the use of this software. You are responsible for your own compliance with all applicable laws. If you plan to commercially use or distribute (and sell) the software, you have to acquire the necessary licenses and permissions from all software copyright holders of non-free software components, or remove these components before distributing the software.

Arrow You will need a BitTorrent client to download Arrow


The RetroShare Chat Server Live CD is a RetroShare Chat Server running on a customized Debian Wheezy GNU/Linux operating system from a live cd. The system features a LAMP software bundle to host your chat server's "Key Exchange" web page (more on that later).

(Click to enlarge)

Notes are included which will show you how to:

  • Run your own RetroShare Chat Server in a Desktop environment from a live session CD, USB stick or virtual machine.

  • Install the RetroShare Chat Server Live CD operating system on your computer's hard drive or a virtual machine disk.

  • Compile your own customized RetroShare Chat Server.

  • Install, backup and restore a Linux operating system.

  • Build your own custom Linux Desktop installation and live cd.

  • Create, backup and restore a multi-iso partitioned bootable usb stick.

The following PDFs are also included:

  • The Debian Administrator's Handbook

  • SANS Institute Linux Security Checklist



RetroShare can be used to chat and file share through a direct connection with your family and friends.

Organizations such as associations, clubs or groups can use RetroShare as a private "members only" network.

Communities can have local "neighborhood" RetroShare networks for events, ride sharing, yard sales, lost & found, crime watches and services such as daycare, a singles scene or seniors outreach.

At this time, businesses can securely hold group chat conferences and transmit documents with employees who work remotely. It's possible that RetroShare will provide video conferencing in the future.


If you've never tried Linux you can test run the operating system on your machine without having to make any changes to your computer.

You can explore Linux in a temporary environment called a "live session" where you will have the opportunity to learn about the operating system without being concerned about making a mistake.

You can "conquer the unknown" as you build your own installation with software to suit your needs. You'll become familiar with Linux "lingo" as you master backing-up and restoring your system.

And in the end, I am confident you'll discover you can be a Linux user too!



RetroShare is a free, open source, cross-platform, secure, decentralized communication platform.

Features include chat, file-sharing, messages, forums and channels which are encrypted by 2,048-bit SSL keys.

The network is serverless which means without any dependencies on central servers or companies like Facebook, Yahoo!, MSN or Google. It's called a friend-to-friend (F2F) network where you connect directly and privately with your friends.

RetroShare users become "friends" by exchanging PGP certificates (keys). Connections are then made using BitTorrent's Distributed Hash Table (DHT), a "Discovery" service in the F2F network or a Dynamic DNS service to locate your contacts.

The RetroShare Chat Server provides a web page interface where new users can make "friends" with your chat server. Once keys have been exchanged they will be able to connect to the network and access the chat lobby.

RetroShare does not require installation. For Windows there is a portable version which can run on a usb stick. Linux users can compile the source then place it on a usb stick. For more information visit the official RetroShare site:



Debian is a free operating system for your computer. The Debian Project began in 1993 and has grown over the years into an organization of around 890 Debian Developers.

Debian is known for its commitment to the Debian Social Contract which states that it will remain 100% free. Debian is currently the most significant distributor of Linux that is not a commercial entity.

As a result of its strictly guarded policies, a new distribution release for Debian tends to occur every one to two years. The strategy policies used by the Debian Project for minimizing software bugs has allowed it to remain one of the most stable and secure Linux distributions.

Debian is seen as a solid Linux, and as a consequence has been used as a base for dozens of other Debian derivatives such as Ubuntu and Knoppix.

For more information visit: Debian Wheezy from Discovery to Mastery:

LAMP (software bundle)


The acronym LAMP refers to the first letters of the four components of a solution stack, composed entirely of free and open-source software, suitable for building high-availability heavy-duty dynamic web sites, and capable of serving tens of thousands of requests simultaneously.

LinuxThe operating system
ApacheHTTP Server, the web server
MySQLThe database management system
PHPThe scripting language used for dynamic web pages and web development


A "live cd" contains an operating system that can boot without modifying any files on the hard drive.

A "live session" runs in a computer's memory, rather than from a hard disk drive.



alsa-baseALSA (sound)
apache2Apache Web Server
baobabGNOME disk usage analyzer
bleachbitDelete unnecessary files from the system
boot-repairGraphical tool to repair boot problems
etherapeGraphical network monitor
evinceDocument (PostScript, PDF) viewer
file-rollerArchive manager for GNOME
filezillaFull-featured graphical FTP/FTPS/SFTP client
fsarchiverFile system archiver
galculatorA GTK+ 2.0 based calculator
gdebiSimple tool to install deb files - GNOME GUI
geditOfficial text editor of the GNOME desktop environment
gimpThe GNU Image Manipulation Program
gnome-disk-utilityManage and configure disk drives and media
gnome-mplayerGTK+ interface for MPlayer (media player)
gnome-nettoolNetwork information tool for GNOME
gnome-search-toolGNOME tool to search files
gnome-system-monitorProcess viewer and system resource monitor for GNOME
gnumericSpreadsheet application for GNOME - main program
gpartedGNOME partition editor
gtkhashGTK+ utility for computing checksums and more
gufwGraphical user interface for ufw (firewall)
hardinfoDisplays system information
iceweaselWeb browser based on Firefox
keepassxCross Platform Password Manager
linux-image-3.2.0-4-486  Linux 3.2 for older PCs (single core processor with MAX-RAM of 4GB)
luckybackupRsync-based GUI data backup utility
lxde-coreLXDE core metapackage
lxterminalLXDE terminal emulator
meldGraphical tool to diff and merge files
mpg123MPEG layer 1/2/3 audio player
mysql-server-5.5MySQL database server binaries and system database setup
nautilusFile manager and graphical shell for GNOME
partimageBackup partitions into a compressed image file
pcmanfmExtremely fast and lightweight file manager
php5Server-side, HTML-embedded scripting language
phpmyadminMySQL web administration tool
printer-driver-allPrinter drivers metapackage
qbittorrentBittorrent client based on libtorrent-rasterbar with a Qt4 GUI
qmmpFeature-rich audio player with support of many formats
retroshareSecure communication with friends
secure-deleteTools to wipe files, free disk space, swap and memory
simple-scanSimple Scanning Utility
sylpheedLight weight e-mail client with GTK+
synapticGraphical package manager
sysv-rc-confSysV init runlevel configuration tool for the terminal
taskselTool for selecting tasks for installation on Debian systems
testdiskPartition scanner and disk recovery tool
ugetEasy-to-use download manager written in GTK+
unetbootinInstaller of Linux/BSD distributions to a partition or USB drive
wicdWired and wireless network manager
wpaguiGUI for wpa_supplicant (client support for WPA and WPA2 (IEEE 802.11i))  
xfburnCD-burner application for Xfce Desktop Environment
xfce4-mixerXfce mixer application
xfce4-screenshooterScreenshots utility for Xfce
xserver-xorgX.Org X server
xul-ext-adblock-plus"Adblock Plus" Advertisement blocking extension for web browsers

For a complete list of installed packages see: Linux-Reference > note > retroshare-chat-server-live-cd-packages


Processor Architecture: i386

Processor Speed: Minimum 1GHZ

RAM: Minimum 1GB

To install: Minimum 4GB disk space (recommend 12GB)

Note: The kernel is a program that constitutes the central core of a computer operating system. It has complete control over everything that occurs in the system.

The RetroShare Chat Server Live CD features a "486" kernel for use on older PCs with a single processor not supporting PAE. The maximum RAM capacity is 4GB. Note: This kernel can also be used with multi-core processors but will be limited to single core processing.

If you install this system on a disk, you have the option of installing the "linux-image-3.2.0-4-686-pae" kernel which is for use on modern PCs with one or more processors supporting PAE.





Once your computer has finished booting (starting) from the RetroShare Chat Server Live CD you'll see the "Desktop". There should be a Linux-Reference and a Readme link on the Desktop.

Note: If the screen is black you are in an "OpenBox" session.

  • Go to the Start Menu then select Logout.
  • Login: root
  • Password: password
  • LXDE

At the top and bottom of the Desktop are "panels" which contain a clock (top-right), the "Start Menu" (bottom-left) and icons for programs.

(Click to enlarge)

Hover your mouse over an icon to see a pop-up description. Some icons also have right-click menu settings.

And don't be afraid - if you're curious, click-it! You can't hurt the Linux file system while you're in a "live session" because everything will reset after you reboot. Well, almost everything...


!!!WARNING!!! I'd like to point out I said "you can't hurt the Linux file system". You can, however, destroy your Windows operating system and lose all the files on your computer! To avoid this catastrophe the word you need to learn is: mount.

Mounting is the attaching of an additional filesystem to the currently accessible filesystem of a computer. A device in a mounting context can be an entire hard disk or a partition, a CDROM, a USB stick or any other external media.

For example, if you mount your computer's hard drive you are making your physical hard disk accessible while you're in the Linux operating system. Anything you do to a mounted device is a "real" file system change. So if you delete a file from a mounted drive, even while you're in a "live session", the file will actually be deleted.

But not to worry, the RetroShare Chat Server Live CD does not "automount" (automatically mount devices) so your operating system and files are, by default, safe from accidental alteration or deletion.

The RetroShare Chat Server Live CD has four programs (that I'm aware of) which can mount devices:

  1. Start Menu > Accessories > PCManFM offers mount options in the left side pane.
  2. Start Menu > Accessories > Nautilus File Manager also offers mount options in the left side pane.
  3. Start Menu > System Tools > Disk Utility can create, modify, mount and delete partitions.
  4. Open a terminal window and run the mount command.

(Click to enlarge)

Recommended: (1) Avoid mounting devices until you have made a backup of your operating system (e.g. Windows). If possible, save the backup on another disk (just in case something goes wrong). (2) Familiarize yourself with the terms "partition" and "mount point".

You can start by reading:

Partitions: Planning Your Linux Installation see: Linux-Reference

Mounting Definition

Mounting can be confusing at first so, again, at least backup your files!

Another option to consider is running the RetroShare Chat Server Live CD inside of a "VirtualBox" virtual machine. By default, the virtual guest machine is not able to access the host machine's devices making it impossible to accidentally mount your computer's hard drive or USB storeage device.

  • To gain USB access additional software called the "Extension Pack" is required.
  • To gain access to your computer's hard drive "Guest Additions" is required.

For convienence, the RetroShare Chat Server Live CD has the Extension Pack preinstalled. However, the virtual USB feature is not activated until you enable a USB filter.

In my opinion, the best way to learn Linux is from within a virtual machine. The only change you have to make to your computer is to install the VirtualBox software. Once installed, you'll be able to run the Linux operating system just like any other program. And in the event that you make a mistake you can simply delete the virtual machine then create a new one. To learn more go to:


A period (.) preceding a name indicates a "hidden" file/folder.


/Represents the root directory (folder) of the filesystem
./Current working directory
../Parent directory
~/Abbreviation for your home folder


(Some phrases you'll be seeing in the notes)

"see: Linux-Reference"

There's a link on the Desktop to the Linux-Reference folder. Full Path: /root/Custom/Linux-Reference

"terminal window"

Go to the Start Menu > Accessories and select LXTerminal.


Copy the command then paste it into a terminal window. To execute the command press the "Enter" key on your keyboard.

"Navigate to"

One way to navigate is to go to the Start Menu > Accessories and select PCManFM.

  • At the top is a menu bar (File Edit Go...).
  • The second row is a navigation bar (with green arrows).
  • To the right of the blue "Home Folder" icon is the location bar.
Copy then paste the folder path into the location bar.

To execute press the "Enter" key on your keyboard.

(Click to enlarge)

"Navigate to" (alternative method)

Another way to navigate is to go to the bottom-right of the Desktop and click the "Directory Menu" icon (the folder with the magnifying glass).

A pop-up menu of filesystem directories will appear. To expand a directory hover over it with your mouse.

Note: Only directories will be shown - files are not displayed.


The default username is: root
The default password is: password

If you install this operating system on a disk you should change the default password. See: Linux-Reference > note > password



What I have included are my notes which should be enough to get you acquainted with a Linux operating system and get your chat server up and running. However, you may encounter procedures that do not work on your particular installation. My advice to you is "Don't give up!" The error may be caused by something as simple as a variation in a path (e.g. /media/ instead of /mnt/).

Errors can also be caused by not having the required packages installed for your system. One noteable example which I encountered with this build was MySQL. I had to use a "686" kernel in order to get a working "/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock". But then I had to remove the "686" kernel and replace it with a "486" in order to use this build in a virtual machine.

And of course, if a procedure fails it could be due to a human error in which I failed to include complete notes.

In any case, if you need assistance try the public RetroShare Chat Server:

It has been my experience that there is usually someone in the "Programming" lobby who is willing to help.



1) The retroshare-chat-server-live-cd.iso can be used to "burn" a cd that will boot your computer into a live session.

  1. Use disc burning software to "burn" the iso to a cd.
  2. Leave the disc in your computer then reboot (restart).
  3. Once the operating system has finished loading you should see a Linux-Reference and a Readme link on the Desktop.
  4. Note: If the screen is black you are in an "OpenBox" session.

    • Go to the Start Menu then select Logout.
    • Login (username): root
    • Password: password
    • LXDE (session)


If your computer is not setup to boot from a CD/DVD you'll have to change the BIOS settings.

As the computer is starting, you'll see the manufacturer's logo.

Press the key displayed underneath the logo to enter the BIOS setup menu.

The key varies by manufacturer. The most common keys are F2, F10, F12, and Del.

Once you're in the BIOS locate the boot menu then set your CD/DVD drive as the primary boot device.

When you're finished, save your changes and exit.

2) You can add the retroshare-chat-server-live-cd.iso to a usb stick then boot into a live session. See: Linux-Reference > note > boot-usb

(Scroll down to the "MULTI-ISO PARTITIONED BOOT USB STICK" section of the document)

3) You can attach the retroshare-chat-server-live-cd.iso to a virtual machine then boot into a live session.

To view the tutorial see: Linux-Reference > html > virtual-machine.html

4) If you're ready for a virtual machine that does not reset at every boot (as in a live session), then you're about ten minutes away from having the RetroShare Chat Server Live CD operating system installed on a virtual disk (assuming you already have VirtualBox installed and the iso downloaded). To view the tutorial see: Linux-Reference > html > virtual-machine.html

5) You can also opt to have the full power of your machine available by installing the the RetroShare Chat Server Live CD operating system to your computer's hard drive. See: Linux-Reference > html > squashfs

(Scroll down to the "INSTALL LIVE CD TO HARD DRIVE" section of the document)


You'll need a web page to direct users to your "RetroShare Chat Server Key Exchange" page.

Some free services which can help you accomplish this are listed in Linux-Reference > note > web-host


See: Linux-Reference > note > retroshare-chat-server-compile


See: Linux-Reference > note > install-backup-restore


See: Linux-Reference > note > create-boot-cd-from-custom-os


(Includes notes on how to create, backup and restore a multi-iso partitioned bootable usb stick)

See: Linux-Reference > note > boot-usb

LINUX (Extra)

Commands - see: Linux-Reference > note > linux-commands

Notes - see: Linux-Reference > note > linux-notes


This operating system has not been "hardened". If extra/extreme security is an issue please do a web search for: how to harden wheezy

Visit: Securing Debian Manual

Visit: SANS Institute Checklists and Step-by-Step Guides


I apologize for the inconvenience but at the time of this posting I am unaware of what is causing the bugs listed below. I will repost an update as soon as these issues are corrected.

Session: If you boot the computer and the Desktop is black you are in an Openbox session. Logout then login to an LXDE session.

rc-menu: If you right-click the Desktop and see a black menu you are in an Openbox session. Logout then login to an LXDE session.

File Managers: Both PCManFM and Nautilus close unexpectedly.

PCManFM: "Cut" only copies to other file systems.

PCManFM: May not update when file system changes are made. Logout then login to an LXDE session.


VOIP: Causes RetroShare to freeze.

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