Users Guide 2.x

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Installation and Initialization

Before you use PDS, please read this !

Preparing to Install PDS


The PDS application runs on Linux, Mac and Windows. It has even been used on other Operating Systems, including Solaris and the BSDs, though those OS's are not actively tested. To maintain this flexibility, it is expected that PDS will be configured appropriately.

Considerations include:

1) Will PDS be configured as a Desktop application?

2) Will PDS run from a USB flash drive?

3) Will PDS be configured as both a Desktop application and a USB application?

4) Which Operating System(s) will PDS need to run on?

The answers to these question will drive the installation.

Configuration State

As you would expect, the configuration state is persistent across different invocations of the application. A Desktop installation/instance always has its own persistent state. A USB instance of PDS can use either the Desktop's persistent state or its own persistent state.

When a USB instance of PDS starts, it first looks for its own persistent state; if that is not found, it searches for the Desktop's persistent state. For this reason, it is recommended that the USB instance be initialized first. Should you need to add a USB instance after configuring a Desktop instance, please see the Tips and Tricks section of this Users Guide.

The state is kept in an appropriately named dot file, .pdsState. A Desktop instance of PDS will save/locate the state file in the HOME directory. A USB instance will save its instance in the same directory as the executable Jar file, pds.jar; but it will also search for and use a state file in the HOME directory as well. Thus, when using both a Desktop and a Thumbdrive instance on the same machine, and you want different configurations, you need to configure the Thumbdrive when there is not a state file in the HOME directory.

As mentioned elsewhere in this Wiki, state is tracked on a per-Operating System basis. Whereas PDS 1 tracked paths in the same KeyStore Search Path, PDS 2 maintains separate instances of the KeyStore Search Path (as well as other settings) for each Operating System.

Which version of PDS should I run ?

PDS 2 is packaged into different versions for Linux, Mac and Windows. The Linux and Windows version are very similar and inter-operate seamlessly. While the Linux and Windows versions will function on Mac, they will not provide the Look and Feel of a Mac. Thus:

1. If installing a Desktop instance, use the OS-appropriate release of PDS.

2. If installing a USB instance, if Mac is one of the OS's that the USB instance of PDS will run on, install the Mac release of PDS to the USB drive. You can copy the OS-appropriate startup scripts, if desired, from the other OS release(s).

3. If installing a USB instance of PDS and 1) you will not be using Mac, and 2) you will be using Windows, install the Windows release of PDS to the USB drive. Note that the differences between Windows and Linux release are that you get a PDS icon for Windows, the startup scripts, and the formatting (LF vs. CR+LF).

Summarizing the Selection of PDS Releases

1. If you plan to use PDS on a USB flash drive, install and configure the USB instance of PDS first.

1.a. If you plan to use a USB instance of PDS on Mac, install the Mac version of PDS on the USB drive.

1.b. If you will not be using Mac on a USB instance of PDS, but you will be using Windows, install the Windows version of PDS on the USB drive.

2. After the USB instance of PDS is configured, install the OS-appropriate release of PDS to the Desktop.

PDS and Java

As PDS is a Java application, you will need to have a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed on your system to run PDS.

PDS has been coded to run using Java 6 (1.6) or newer. Currently, this includes Java 6, 7, and 8. For reasons including bug fixes, performance and security, we recommend using the latest Java SE release from Oracle.

Mac users: If you attempt to run PDS on a Mac without "Apple Java", the current behavior is to prompt you to install an additional (and required) instance of Java called Java for OS X. The benefit of installing Java for OS X is that you will be installing a Java Development Kit (JDK) that provides you the jarsigner and keytool commands to validate the PDS binary in a small footprint (~75 MB vs. ~300+ MB from Oracle). Though the Mac requires you to install the legacy Java for OS X, PDS will run inside the newer JVM you have installed.

Installing and Starting PDS

To install PDS, please follow these steps:

1. Download the application from

2. Extract the contents of the downloaded file; the result will be a new "PDS2" directory. Note that Mac may decompress the application as part of the download.

3. Move the PDS2 directory to:

   Linux:    /home/account/
   Mac:      /Applications/
   Windows:  C:\Users\Account\

Per the "Preparing to Install" section above, if you will be using both a USB flash drive and a Desktop instance of PDS on the same computer, you should configure the USB drive instance first. To configure the USB drive, copy the PDS application to your USB drive and start it first, as shown below. Once the USB instance is initialized, then start/initialize your Desktop instance of PDS.

4. Start PDS by executing (2x-clicking) either the startup script (Linux/Windows), the PDS Jar file (Linux/Windows) or the PDS Application (Mac):

   Linux:    /home/account/PDS2/ - or pds.jar
   Mac:      /Applications/
   Windows:  C:\Users\Account\PDS2\ - pds-startup.bat or pds.jar

Note that Mac may require you to approve PDS before it will run. If so, this may be done at via System Preferences -> Security and Privacy on the General tab.

For starting a Mac USB instance of PDS when running on Linux or Windows, please see the "Tips and Tricks" section of the Users Guide.

Fig 1. Application installed

Initial Configuration

On startup, PDS will confirm that you accept the End User License Agreement (EULA) (Fig 2). Check the "I agree" checkbox and click the "OK" button.

Next you will be prompted about the type of installation (Fig 3). You should select the current type of installation, remembering from above that it is recommended to perform the USB flash drive installation first. For this installation, the Desktop installation will be selected. Should you wish to configure PDS for use via a USB flash *after* configuring a Desktop instance, see the latter part of this Users Guide.

Fig 2. Accept the End User License Agreement
Fig 3. Initialization

The next dialog (Fig 4) seen at startup is the Welcome dialog. This dialog describes the current configuration and provides a reference to the QuickStart documentation within the application. It is recommended that you read the QuickStart after clicking the "OK" button to dismiss the dialog.

The final dialog (Fig 5) reminds you that PDS is "as provided", and because of that is limited to DES encryption. This dialog will be displayed during initialization as long as PDS is "as provided". Yeah, it's a nag. :)

To get you to the QuickStart document, see Help -> QuickStart from the drop down menus (Fig 6), or by clicking on the blue question mark. The footer on the main panel displays the security status.

Fig 4. Welcome dialog
Fig 5. Thank You!
Fig 6. Main PDS interface -> QuickStart

PDS Licenses

Obtaining a PDS license is an important aspect of using this application. By obtaining a license, you become licensed to access the secure (TDEA) and highly secure (AES) encryption algorithms to protect your data.

PDS was developed to contain the full functionality set when delivered, but with selected functionality disabled. By obtaining and subsequently applying your PDS license, the features you have requested will be licensed and enabled within the application. For example, without importing a secure or highly secure license, PDS will only support data encryption using the DES algorithm. You will be able to generate Keys using the AES and TDEA algorithms, but you will not be able to use those Keys to protect your data within PDS. As the DES algorithm has not been considered secure for quite a while, the application as delivered (Basic) is recommended for evaluation purposes only.

For a comparison between PDS versions (Basic, Secure and Highly Secure), please see the latest PDS Feature Matrix.

Should you choose to purchase a PDS license, you will need to select the type(s) of Operating System (OS) on which PDS will be used. PDS has been tested on Linux, Mac and Windows. The PDS license you receive will enable support for data encryption using the algorithms supported by the type of release (Basic, Secure and High Security) on the desired OS version(s).

To obtain a PDS license, please visit the license page. Once you have obtained a PDS license, use the instructions below to import the license into your copy of PDS.

1. From within the PDS application, select Options -> Import License. Select the file chooser and navigate to the directory where you have saved your PDS license. Select that file (Figure 7).

2. The next dialog (Figure 8) will present the license information (Name, Email) and type of license (Security Mode, Operating System) selected. Review the information, acknowledge the terms and conditions, and click "Ok".

3. The license will be imported and PDS will have the newly licensed functionality (Figure 9).

4. You are now ready to protect your data using the secure and/or highly secure encryption algorithms. Before you do, please select the About dialog (Figure 10) to verify the licensed algorithm(s) and Operating System(s).

Fig 7. Select the PDS license file.
Fig 8. View the registered ciphers.
Fig 9. Congratulations.
Fig 10. Verify the supported Algorithm(s) and Operating System(s).

Create a KeyStore

Having fully digested the QuickStart, and registered your copy of PDS, you're almost ready to start encrypting. The two steps remaining are creating your Encryption Key, and creating a secure store for your Key(s) - a KeyStore. Let's begin with the KeyStore.

Select KeyStore -> New (or click the KeyStore icon on the tool bar). The Create New KeyStore dialog will pop-up (Figure 11).

You'll need to provide the name of the KeyStore and a complex (defined in the QuickStart) passphrase. Then select Create.

Congratulations, you've created a KeyStore (Figure 12).

Should you wish to edit the passphrase of your KeyStore, the KeyStore -> EditPassphrase option allows you to do so.

Should you wish to view the objects in your KeyStore, the KeyStore -> View option allows you to do so.

Fig 12. Success creating KeyStore.
Fig 11. Create a KeyStore.

Create a Key

Now that we have a KeyStore created, it is time to populate it with an Encryption Key.

Select Key -> New (or click the Key icon on the tool bar). The Create New Encryption Key dialog (Figure 13) will pop-up.

Type in the Alias that will refer to the new Key.

Select the algorithm type (AES, 3DES, or DES) and size (in bits) of the new Key.

Type in a complex passphrase and confirmation passphrase for the new Key. Note that the Key passphrase may be the same as the KeyStore passphrase (and it is recommended; for simplicity, without loss of security).

Associate the Key with a KeyStore by clicking the File Chooser and selecting the KeyStore. Provide the passphrase for the KeyStore.

Set this Key as the Default Key. Having a default key simplifies the creation and encryption of files.

Select Create. Your KeyStore now holds one Encryption Key (Figure 14).

Select About. You now have defined your Default Encryption Key and KeyStore (Figure 15).

Fig 13. Create a Key.
Fig 14. Create a Key.
Fig 15. Default Key and KeyStore defined.

Creating, Viewing and Editing Notes

Part 2 - Creating, Viewing and Editing Notes

Encrypting and Decrypting Files and Directories

Part 3 - Encrypting and Decrypting Files and Directories

Customizing the PDS Application

Part 4 - Customizing the PDS Application

Verification, Configuration and Other Tasks

Part 5 - Verification, Configuration and Other Tasks


Part 6 - Troubleshooting PDS

(C) PDS Software Solutions LLC, 2016
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