Athena Unlocking The Next Level of Pentesting OS

Athene OS
Athene OS

Athena is a project intended to build a new concept of pentesting OS. The name of the project comes from Athena, the Ancient Goddess associated with wisdom, handicraft, and warfare.

The purpose of Athena project arises to offer a different experience than the most used pentesting distributions. These distros are mainly based on Debian, and they rely mainly on Debian or GitHub repositories for retrieving security tools that don’t store all security tools and are hard to maintain. Furthermore, these OSes come already with a big amount of tools and services of which a good percentage is never used by the average of users, and it becomes a space waste and could cause performance degradation.

Athena is designed from scratch, so already during the development phase useless modules and services have been excluded in order to improve performance and resource consumption. Furthermore, this design approach allowed to review in detailed manner each single package and component to include inside the distribution. It led the OS to build a user-friendly environment, despite based on Arch Linux.

Why Athena?

  • Pentesting: Athena can access to BlackArch repository, the biggest pentesting os tool warehouse.
  • User-oriented: if Arch is born for experienced users, Athena is conceived for decreasing complexity and improving user experience.
  • Lightweight: Athena optimizes the disk space consumption by retrieving the tools you need only when you use them. Tools you never use won’t be stored and the space is only used for what you really need.
  • Performance: Athena is based on Arch Linux so it is configured to load the bare minimum for its purpose. No useless services, no useless modules consuming your resources.
  • Flexibility: for its Arch nature, Athena is flexible and can easily evolve to the new needs of the users.

Cyber Security Roles

Select your favourite cyber security role among:

  • Blue Teamer
  • Bug Bounty Hunter
  • Cracker Specialist
  • DoS Tester
  • Enthusiast Student
  • Forensic Analyst
  • Malware Analyst
  • Mobile Analyst
  • Network Analyst
  • OSINT Specialist
  • Red Teamer
  • Web Pentester

The heritage of Arch Linux impacts positively Athena OS with respect to other pentesting Debian-based OSes:

  • Better performance: pacman is faster than apt
  • Focused: Athena can be developed and maintained down to the smallest detail
  • Much more security tools: Athena can rely on BlackArch repository, that contains much more security tools than Debian repositories
  • Freedom: during the installation, you can choose to build your Athena with any resource or service you need.
  • Documentation: Arch Linux is very well documented on Internet for any need

Athena’s environment is based on GNOME Wayland that provide exciting features the user can enjoy!

Athena OS Desktop Environment
Athena OS Desktop Environment

Desktop Environment

The environment is based on GNOME Xorg and Wayland for the following main reasons:

  1. Wayland is faster than Xorg
  2. Xorg is old but more stable than Wayland
  3. Wayland is more secure, since reduces the usage of root and isolating the input and output of every window.

In general Wayland has drawbacks with respect to Xorg, for example it has compatibility issues with several elements whereas Xorg is much more stable. Currently, Athena implements also XWayland in order to execute also those applications that run only under Xorg.

In Athena, GNOME Classic has been removed by renaming the related files in /usr/share/wayland-sessions and /usr/share/xsessions. In this way, when the user reaches the Login Manager, only GNOME (Wayland) and GNOME Xorg will be shown.

Some elements in GNOME environment are defined and set in dconf-shell.ini file. This file not only maintain configuration settings of the used extensions, but it defines which of them must be enabled or disabled.

From ISO of Athena the gnome package has been removed for two reasons:

  • Avoiding useless GNOME services and applications to be installed
  • Conflicting among mutter packages
  • For this reason, only the minimal GNOME resources have been installed.

Improving Performance

In order to increase the performance of Athena OS, several measures have been considered.

Athena is mainly based on Arch Linux, so it inherits all its benefits.

Compared to Debian-based systems, Athena uses pacman as Package Manager, that is faster than apt, and offers automatic dependency resolution and allows for more automated system upgrades.

Furthermore, it uses systemd as init framework. systemd performs tasks neatly and avoids all the UN-necessary delay.

Athena can afford a large array of binary package repositories as well as the Arch User Repository.

Athena aims to be a rolling release system, making packages available to the distribution a short time after they are released upstream.

As Arch, Athena provides more expedient support for building custom, installable packages from outside sources, with a ports-like package build system.

Athena uses lz4 for fast compression and decompression. It means higher speed at boot time. It is reached by editing /etc/mkinitcpio.conf and uncommenting #COMPRESSION=lz4.

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