Friday, September 30, 2016

Gigastrand Small Business Server

Gigastrand Small Business Servers provide essential services to the client PCs on your network. File and print services, web server, and other network services can be handled without the expense of purchasing additional modules or per seat access licenses. It is the secure and affordable solution for your small business needs.

  • Quad Core AMD Processor

  • 16Gb Memory

  • 120Gb solid state Main Drive

  • Continuous Backup (via mirrored RAID) Solid State (SSD) Storage

  • Gigabit network

  • 2u Rackmount case

  • Keyboard and mouse

  • No per seat license

  • Gigastrand OS 3

  • Gigastrand Lifetime Hardware Warranty

  • 1 year labor warranty

  • Lifetime Upgrade Guarantee


Gigastrand Small Business Server

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Gigastrand NVR Can Record Your Phone Camera

Gigastrand NVR can record IP and web cameras at megapixel resolutions. With the help of an app, you can now record your phone camera using the Gigastrand NVR.

How did we do it?

First, you have to install a program called IP Webcam from Google Play. There is a pro version that removes ads, etc. but, for testing, we went with the free version.

After that, we configured a few things, played with some settings, but we essentially just pressed start. The video url was http://IP.ADD.RE.SS:8080/video.

We will post this information on our NVR IP Camera Compatibility page.

Neat, huh? Why would anyone do that?

For several reasons.

1. Automatic pictures. Let’s say you want pictures of a particular landmark. You can set the NVR on snapshot mode and take 1 picture every second from your phone and send it to your desktop.

2. Personal security. With the help of a proxy like the DynDNS client, you can walk around and capture video of a place you are visiting. If you are the victim of a crime, your phone can be a silent witness.

3. Phone security. If your phone gets stolen, you will have video of who stole it.

4. Dashcam anyone? No need to buy a separate device. Capture your road trip or commute. If your phone is lost or damaged in an accident, you will still have documentation of the crash.

5. No more missing out. No more “Man! I wish I had my camera!” moments.

6. Baby monitor or home security. No need to buy a camera. Just use an old android device.

I am sure someone can think of a few more uses, but that should about do it.

Gigastrand NVR Can Record Your Phone Camera

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Installing Kodi in Gigastrand OS 3

Gigastrand OS 3.0 removed XBMC from its pre-installed software list because at the time, customers were reporting that they weren’t really using XBMC as the repositories at the time were for Ubuntu and didn’t have an updated version for Gigastrand OS.

According to Kodi’s website, Debian now provides the packages via Jessie backports. With new Gigastrand OS set-top boxes just around the corner, we figured it was time to renew our familiarity with this powerful home theater software.

Here is an excerpt from the Wiki:

2.1 Debian

The installation if you are using Debian (Jessie), you can use the debian-backports repository.

Add the following lines to your /etc/apt/sources.list file, as superuser (sudo)

# kodi repos
# starting with debian jessie, debian provides kodi via its backports repository
# remember: those packages are not supported by team kodi
deb jessie-backports main

And then, update APT and install.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install kodi

In Gigastrand OS, the above instructions will work, however, if you are more comfortable using a point-and-click method, the following instructions might be more to your liking:

  1. Open Computer

  2. Click on root (the red folder on the left side)

  3. Double-click etc then apt

  4. Right click on sources.list

  5. Go to Root Actions>Open as Text

  6. The file will open in Kwrite. Add the following line to the end:
    deb jessie-backports main

  7. Save and close

  8. Open Apper (On the taskbar, or Go>Settings>Apper)

  9. Double click Updates

  10. Install any found updates

  11. In the search bar, type in kodi.

  12. Click the install button then apply.


Kodi will install under Multimedia category in the Go menu. These apt modifications will be installed in the next minor revision of Gigastrand OS (v3.4). This means you will simply be able to install from Apper (step 11).

Installing Kodi in Gigastrand OS 3

Video Security and Patient Privacy

There are many laws both local and national governing where you can and cannot place video security cameras. Virtually nothing is said about video security when it comes to patient privacy and with the ubiquity of video security cameras in hospitals, nursing homes, and even doctor’s offices is there cause to be worried?

The answer is both yes and no.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not specifically mention video security in its protections for patient records, however, most hospitals choose to treat video records of patient visits as a patient record.

Information gathering depends on location of cameras and capabilities of the system. So, let’s take a look at what patient information can be gleaned from video security footage.

Who: Obviously, it provides picture of the patient, however, it does not give a full name or other identifying information.

What: Unless the reason for the visit is visible, it provides little else.

When: Video is time-stamped so date and time can be determined.

Where: Video is at a specific location but, unless there are identifying items in the video, someone unfamiliar with the location may only know it is a medical facility of some kind.

The information you can glean from a properly installed system is limited, nevertheless, it should be treated with care. Let’s go through some examples of how this has been done at some facilities.

Most hospitals will air-gap video security systems or use a virtual network (VLAN) to protect DVR systems from outside attack. This virtually eliminates internet-based attacks.

Modern video security systems will overwrite and destroy recorded information automatically after so many days on the system. After so many days stored video will not be a concern.

Archive video – that is, video taken of a specific incident and stored – might be depend on where the archive is. Most places will store it on removable media. Usually the incidents worthy of archiving are of major events. When this is done at a medical facility, it should be as secure as patient records. It should never be stored on any device that will leave the facility.

If you are thinking of installing a video security system at a facility governed by HIPAA, here is what you should do.

  • No cameras looking at computer monitors. This can be the source of a dangerous information leak.

  • Cameras in common areas only. Cameras are not allowed in patient rooms already, however, keep them out of anywhere that a patient is escorted. This will help ensure patient privacy. 

  • Air-gap the machines when possible. This is the best defense against hacking attacks.

  • If remote access is required, use a secure connection like a VPN. Gigastrand can help with that.

Gigastrand has experience dealing with camera installations at HIPAA compliant facilities. Contact us for a free consultation.

Video Security and Patient Privacy

Monday, September 26, 2016

User installed malware found on non-Windows machines.

In recent weeks, Gigastrand has seen 2 instances of browser extension malware installed by unwitting users on Safari in Mac OS and Chrome in Gigastrand OS v3.

This discovery makes a change in operating system ineffective when it comes to security. Malware seems to be targeting Internet browsers with the OS being a secondary consideration.

However, this is easily mitigated if users pay attention. These extensions generally require user permission to install – a fairly standard security precaution in browsers. Once installed, they can be easily removed from a browser by removing them in the extensions or plugins page for the browser. In extreme cases, the browser can be uninstalled and reinstalled.

One word of caution, browsers like Chrome will re-install an extension upon login. There is a narrow window of time between login and when the extension is reinstalled to be on the extension page.

A few pieces of advice to prevent this from happening.

  1. Don’t install plugins or browser extensions from outside sources.

  2. Read the prompts that popup on a website. Do not agree to install anything unless you know what it is.

  3. Watch the prompts for software carefully. Do not install programs that install 3rd party software as well.

Paying attention to what your computer tells you can prevent a lot of this from happening no matter what OS you use.

User installed malware found on non-Windows machines.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Gigastrand successfully tests first High Definition IP camera with NVR

It is a fairly inexpensive high definition camera that initially seemed incompatible. It is a Dlink DCS-935L that can push HD video at 1280×720. On paper the camera looked compatible but the RTSP video streams could not be read by the software.


Today, Gigastrand re-tested the camera using the still frame URL of the camera. Not only was it viewable in live view, it also displayed and recorded high definition video.

This is a major breakthrough for the Gigastrand NVR. The method can be applied to other cameras thus opening up additional compatibility with HD cameras and resolutions. While this method works in the main NVR software, the Advanced Live View NVR (ALVN) is another matter.

This method is not compatible with ALVN. When the still frame URL is entered into ALVN, a single frame is rendered and doesn’t change until the page is reloaded. This will be resolved in a later version.

ALVN can display some video streams that the main software cannot handle. You can set up ALVN to use a streaming URL instead of the still image URL. Keep in mind that the still image URL might look different from the streaming URL.

Gigastrand will continue to test additional cameras and re-test cameras for enhanced capabilities.

Gigastrand successfully tests first High Definition IP camera with NVR

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Video Security: 4 things to avoid and what to look for

In 2001, I got my first real-world experience with installing security equipment. It was an all-in-one gizmo that was supposed to provide some kind of alarm and video from a couple of cameras. The customer bought it off the shelf from a wholesaler. It was such a giant piece of junk that pieces started to fail as we installed them. That experience led us to avoid security for nearly 10 years.

Video security has not always been a major part of Gigastrand but we have seen how small companies and box stores are able to sell cheap, prepackaged CCTV systems at ridiculous markups. For us, that has never sat well.

Folks aren’t video security experts, however, and are not likely to become so just to purchase a system.

So, what do you look for and what do you avoid? We have compiled a list of some of the pitfalls customers have faced with other systems.

Look out for narrow lenses

This piece of advice only applies to the actual “eye” of the system: the camera. Regardless of the type of video system you are trying to install, as any photographer will tell you, the lenses are the most important part of any camera.

Most camera lenses are measured by focal length in millimeters (mm). The higher the number, the more “zoom” the lens has. This might sound good, but on a video security system you want as wide of a shot as you can get to get the most out of each camera.

Cameras with varifocal lenses (lenses that can zoom in and out) from 2.8 – 12mm are the best, but most low cost cameras come with a fixed focus lens. These are also less expensive – which is ok if you know what to look for.

For nearly all applications, you want a focal length of 3.6 or below. This will give you 80 – 90 degrees of view. Avoid lenses that have a fixed focus of 4mm or more, unless you want to shoot down a long hallway or over a field as they excel at a distant, level view.

Why is this so important? A 2.8mm lens can cover 2x the area of a 6mm lens in the types of shots customers want to see. This means a 2.8mm camera will be more valuable in an install and you could potentially use fewer cameras.

Can’t find the focal length? Avoid the camera and any system it comes with.

Thin wires

This applies mainly to analog CCTV systems. Off-the-shelf systems will very often come with a very thin coaxial (coax) and power wire in one. This wire is complete garbage. It breaks easily and when it does break, it can’t be repaired. Customers have often thrown away cameras because they think it is the problem. Professional installers use a thick version of this wire that doesn’t lend itself to breakage and can be repaired easily.

One way to tell what kind of wire is packaged with the system is the size and weight of the box. If the box is fairly small and light (or even the same general size and weight as all the rest of the systems on the shelf) it probably has this thin wire.

Avoid appliances

So, pretty much just leave the box store stuff alone and avoid installers trying to sell you stuff that kind of looks like it. On average, things start to fail on those small boxes after only a year. You might be lucky to get 3 years of use on an appliance type system.

Appliance (often called embedded or standalone) systems can’t be upgraded, and the software to view them is usually of poor quality or won’t keep up with your technology. In some cases, you never even know they have failed until it is too late. They continue to run despite a failed hard drive.

Specialty Analog

This tale starts with a story. A few years back traditional analog solutions started to be left behind in favor of IP/network systems. Companies who were used to selling and installing analog systems struggled with the network technology required to run the new, megapixel cameras.

So, the industry responded with something called High Definition Composite Video Interface (HDCVI). High resolution cameras that work over that work over existing analog lines.

Up until this point, this has been a critique of the technology itself. HDCVI is a fine technology that delivers what is says it does. However, it is a stop-gap technology and not an industry standard like analog or network based systems. If you need the resolution, go with a network video security solution like the Gigastrand NVR. If not, stick with standard analog and upgrade the DVR. It will often be less expensive and the right DVR will improve the look of your cameras.

Recommendations for HDCVI

While we do not strongly recommend it, if you do decide to go with this type of system, make sure that it is backwards-compatible with existing analog technology so you don’t spend a ton on replacing perfectly working equipment. This is often referred to as bi-mode or tri-mode. If you can, get a system that will also do a couple of IP cameras as well (tri-mode systems will often have this capability).


Video Security: 4 things to avoid and what to look for

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Complete Escape Room Management System

Are you looking to setup your own escape room? Want to monitor your haunted house? Look no further!

  • This single system can monitor and interact with your players / victims!

  • Easy to use software custom-designed for escape room management

  • Completely plug and play. No setup or configuration necessary!

  • Remotely accessible with Gigastrand Remote assistance software (internet connection required).

  • Records and monitors cameras. Up to 16 cameras can be connected per system!

  • Camera can connect wirelessly. No need to run cables.

  • Additional cameras can be purchased from Gigastrand. Purchase them with the system, and Gigastrand will configure the cameras for the system at no additional charge!

  • Includes a 7″ Android tablet to interact with your escapees pre-loaded with all the necessary software.

  • Includes 1 camera with audio monitoring* pre-configured to connect with the rest of the equipment.

  • Includes a Gigastrand 16ch NVR with all software loaded and configured.

  • Includes a pre-configured wireless router

Gigastrand NVR Specifications

  • Dual-core processor

  • 60 Gb Solid State hard drive (20Gb recording space will give a few days of video)
    • Record the experience for your customers to a flash drive and make extra $$ on your room

  • 4 Gb DDR-3 1600 Memory (max 32Gb)

  • AMD Radeon HD graphics

  • PCI express expansion

  • 4x USB 3.0, 4x USB 2.0, 8x USB total

  • VGA, HDMI, and DVI connectors

  • 6 ch audio

  • Gigabit network card

  • Wireless keyboard and mouse

  • Modular design allows nearly unlimited upgrades.

  • USB Recovery Software
    • Gigastrand OS v3.2 with Gigastrand NVR v1.4 software

    • Free NVR 1.x software updates

  • The only video surveillance recorder in the world that:
    • Is based on the stability and security of the Gigastrand OS

    • Can be fully installed with cameras over the Internet!

    • includes a Limited Lifetime Hardware Warranty!

    • Includes 1 hour of installation support!

  • 90 Day labor warranty

  • Lifetime Upgrade Guarantee
    • This system will grow with your needs!

Gigastrand recommends 1 recorder per escape room.

*Note: Live audio monitoring is part of this system but audio recording is not. Video will be recorded without audio.

Complete Escape Room Management System

Executing .jar files in Gigastrand OS

Executing Java ARchive ( .jar ) files is not something that you will need to do everyday. However, if you are distributing executable archive content – say from a executable Ark file – the jar file is the only way to go.

From Wikipedia

In software, JAR (Java Archive) is a package file format typically used to aggregate many Java class files and associated metadataand resources (text, images, etc.) into one file to distribute application software or libraries on the Java platform.

In Gigastrand OS, .jar files are not associated with the installed Java Runtime Environment (JRE) 7 automatically. This is partly for security.

If you need to execute .jar files we will use the following example with KouChat.

  1. Right-click the .jar file and select Open With…

  2. In the top line, type in /usr/bin/java -jar

  3. Check Remember application association for this type of file

  4. Click OK

jar files example

Now you will be able to execute Java Archive files using the built-in java runtime.

Executing .jar files in Gigastrand OS

Friday, September 9, 2016

Never looking back: Why customers stay with Gigastrand

Gigastrand OS measurable recidivism rates are less than 3%. Which means people tend to stick with Gigastrand OS. Obviously, we are very happy with those numbers but wanted to find out what it was that our customers liked so we could keep doing it.


When the idea for Gigastrand OS was revived back in 2012, we tried to explain it to the Linux community as a “transitional Linux distribution”. Something to ease people into the Linux and safer computing. We were pretty clear that while our goal was to make a very good, well-supported OS, the target market wasn’t people who were already running Linux.

Today, we have stayed the course. The whole point of Gigastrand OS is to make it as easy as possible for someone to move away from other systems.

Less Support Required

When we incorporated Gigastrand OS into our business, support was a top priority after developing the OS itself. What we discovered was that people rarely needed support after converting to Gigastrand OS.

The average user will only seek help every 3 to 6 months for computer problems. This was also true of some Gigastrand customers, however, the average per-incident support cost went from $60 down to $15. The reason for this was the problems are easier to fix and far less severe on Gigastrand OS as compared to Windows PCs.


When we took into account all of the other users who did not call into tech support, we found they were not having any issues. Users reported that there was no strange behavior, no slowdowns, no pop-ups, and whatever minor problem they did run into fixed itself after a restart – which they didn’t have to do very often.

Simple and Straightforward.

Gigastrand uses an older style menu that people have been using for decades. The main difference is that Gigastrand categorizes the programs instead of sticking them under a single subheading.

While most users admitted to only using a couple of programs, those that explored some of the other programs the OS has pre-installed said that they had no trouble finding and using them.


Users have reported being happy with the overall performance of the system, despite all of the pre-installed software that would normally bog down a system. Users with Gigastrand PCs, overall, felt the performance exceeded their expectations.

It does what users need and want it to do.

Gigastrand has worked very hard to do everything customers need and want it to do. Even on the rare occasion where it doesn’t do something the user wanted, that something is usually minor.


Even those who use Linux and try out new distributions regularly (sometimes known as “distro hoppers”) are impressed.

“It is a really good OS,” remarked one such individual. Though, then promptly explained that it wasn’t “technical” enough for him.

That’s ok, though. If people can recognize the quality of the product even if it isn’t specifically designed for them, we’ll take that.

Never looking back: Why customers stay with Gigastrand