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HTMLfixIT Archive for the ‘Operating Systems’ Category

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007 by Don

Are you one of the lucky one’s getting a new computer for the holidays? Are you treating yourself? If so you need to decide what is needed to get the new machine up and rolling.

1. Do not just move files across wholesale! Some techs suggest in fact that you do. They suggest that you use the Apple service or Windows Easy Transfer to just move all of your files from an old computer to a new computer. This is not the best solution. It just means that you lost a great “disk cleaning” opportunity.

2. You need to decide if you are keeping your old computer. In most cases it makes sense to keep it in the basement on a dry shelf with a cord to it and fire it up when you need a file. If you are going to sell it, you will get very little for it and worse yet, may be handing over confidential information, even if you attempt to wipe the drive.

3. If you cannot keep the old computer handy, then consider getting an external drive and make a complete back-up and test it before getting rid of the old computer.

4. It is easy to move files back and forth with a simple network cable ($20 bucks or less if you don’t already have one), or these days with a usb thumb drive which have become very cheap!

5. No matter what you do, go buy archive quality cd’s or dvd’s and burn copies of your photos, critical documents and videos. A hard drive failure could be catastrophic otherwise. Also consider putting photos on snapfish or the equivalent.


Sunday, December 9th, 2007 by Franki

Microsoft risks alienating web developers with their unwillingness or inability to conform to standards and their secrecy surrounding Internet Explorer 8. I must admit to some amazement that they got to version 8 without web developers realizing that this is SOP for Microsoft and something they have done from the beginning. It seems that the only time you can really expect any openness, is when they are coming from behind and need some traction. When defending monopoly market share, they don’t seem to be able to do more than talk about interoperability, standards and the like. (ODF anyone?). Luckily for us, due to the ongoing success of Apple Safari & Mozilla Firefox, not to mention the growing range of Linux PC’s and laptops sold by giants like Asus and Walmart, Microsoft’s monopoly of the web browser is rather quickly being whittled away. That is great news as the Internet was designed to be useful to everyone, not to be held hostage by a commercial entity seemingly concerned with nothing but their own profits. (There is nothing wrong with being concerned about profits, as long as the actions stemming from such concern doesn’t prevent everyone else from striving to the same position.)

In other Microsoft news, apparently their hardware is just as vulnerable as their software has proven to be over the years. Using a Microsoft wireless keyboard can get your machine and all passwords used on it handed over to people some distance from you. Worse your machine need not even be connected to any network to be vulnerable. Apparently all you need do is use a Microsoft wireless keyboard and you are vulnerable.

In hardware news, Western Digital has released a fashionable range of external (and NAS) hard drives called “My Book”. They look cool, but apparently Western Digital has assumed that you want to pay them to police your files on your network. The client software (WD Anywhere Access) for the drives will not let you share a wide range of multimedia files on your network. Apparently you are to pay them handsomely for the privilege of the software you purchased presuming you are a criminal.

Lastly, could this finally be the time for of Desktop Linux getting widespread adoption? First we had Tivo running Linux, now we have a range of Linux PC’s showing up in huge shopping chains, then Google makes a bid to have Linux become the standard in mobile communication Operating Systems. Linux seems to be popping up everywhere. The majority of the top 500 super computers are running Linux (including #1) and now it’s going for the low end as well. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of Windows, Linux or Apple, this is good news, because it means that Microsoft and possibly Apple will have to lower prices and compete when Linux gains widespread acceptance from the newbie crowd. In addition, everyone is looking to a future where software runs over the Internet, and for the underlying Operating System to be less and less significant. For that to happen no one company can be allowed to steer the direction by using existing market share. The rise of Apple, the growth of Linux and the innovation of Google are going to see that the future of personal (and mobile) computing is not steered by any one company.


Thursday, November 29th, 2007 by Don

Microsoft is the target of new Mac commercials and frankly they are not only funny, but true. Upgrade from Vista to XP goes the theme — I know I sure have. Vista offers little advantage and is so slow. Even XP has it’s share of problems however. Today Microsoft Update says get the latest and greatest .net framework upgrade. Why do I need it? They never bother to explain.

List of bugs that are fixed in the .NET Framework 1.1 Service Pack 1 (SP1)

Do I use the .net framework? For what? Or are they again clogging up my machine with stuff I just don’t need and use?

No Comments »

Thursday, November 1st, 2007 by Franki

Having used Linux on servers for many years now, I’m always keen to see if it has progressed enough for me to use as my “daily driver” desktop/laptop OS.

The test this time was on a NEC Centrino Laptop (1.6gig, 1 gig of ram 64MB Intel Video.) Could I get Linux installed and use it for both work and home and completely exclude Windows without making myself less productive in the process. The answer sad to say is no. But it was a really close thing and only one area really let the side down, but I’ll get to that in due course. I’ve been a big fan of CENTOS for my servers and since it’s an rpm based distro, I figured I’d stick with a desktop OS that has as much in common with CENTOS/RHEL as possible. To that end I’ve based this on Fedora Core 7.

1. Installation: Awesome, Better than Windows by far. If I had to pick anything wrong with it, it would be the partitioning tool. Except for the really basic stuff, it is very “non obvious”. Mandriva makes a far better GUI frontend tool for partitioning, it’s a shame that they don’t co-operate since it’s all OSS anyway.

2. First boot: Excellent ran me though all the usual for setting up network email etc. No complaints here.

3. General usage: Very nice, everything worked well and as expected. I updated Firefox to the latest. (It annoys me that this is easier in Windows than it is in Linux. I found myself having to edit symlinks.) Openoffice, The Gimp all the usual suspects were there and in fine form. Very impressed up till this point and as a desktop OS, it was looking like I could personally leave Windows XP totally behind and work just as well or better.

At work I used Linux GUI tools to connect to a Microsoft PPTP VPN, take over Windows machines via rdesktop, copy files to and from SMB shares on a domain and basically do all the things I’m required to do, that up to this point had been done on a Windows machine. I was stunned with how much better things had gotten since I last tried. Windows was easier in some respects, (like the VPN) but only because they had dumbed their tools down and limited their abilities. I was however still required to know a fair bit about networking, routing and VPN’s to get usable PPTP connections though. Once setup however, everything just worked, every day without fail. My personal feeling is that setup wizards would help newbies make full use of the tools available.

My biggest complaint is wireless. This NEC is a true Centrino in that it has the lousy Centrino 802.11b Intel IPW2100 wireless card, which while limited to 11mb, worked flawlessly in Windows. My daily travels involve me connecting to at least 3 different Wireless networks. My home network has WPA with hidden SSID, and two at work have WEP with differing settings. No GUI Wireless tool I tried in Linux would consistently work with all of them. If I was prepared to mess around for 10 or 15 minutes each time I could usually get it working, but that wasn’t the point of the exercise, doing so would have made me less productive than Windows. For the record I tried the Redhat Wireless tool, then wifi-radar, then wlassassistant and then I got desperate and tried anything else I could find. The problem seems to be that these tools hand off to other apps for different things, and none of them do it flawlessly. WPA, DHCP etc etc, the result being that I couldn’t go from one AP to the next without issues. On all three of the wireless networks I was required to connect to used DHCP, and Fedora only scored an IP address wirelessly once in every 10 or so attempts, and thats regardless of what I set the timeout to. I plan to change the Intel IPW2100 with a different chipset (non Intel) and try again before I write off Fedora Linux’s wireless ability, but I’ve got to say I’m not hopeful. If however, you just connect to one wireless network, then there really isn’t a problem as the Redhat tool will do that just fine, but I’d really hoped for better. Sad to say it but Microsoft XP SP2 Wireless tool is surprisingly good and better than anything I’ve seen in Linux thus far. Ditto with Intel’s wireless tool that comes with their Windows drivers. (Wouldn’t it be great if they ported it to Linux and released it OSS?)

To get a bit more cutting edge, I then swapped to KDE, installed the kde-redhat groups updated KDE packages, and then headed over and grabbed the latest Compiz-fusion stuff. This laptop had a 64MB 3d video card so while it wouldn’t do much with Vista, it did some amazing stuff in Linux with Compiz-fusion. I was blown away with the 3D eyecandy that this old laptop was capable of. Especially after seeing what is required to get a good Vista 3d performance.

Is Linux ready for the desktop? Yes, it is for all the usual everyday stuff, if your needs are more complex, like you need to connect to a Microsoft network via VPN, it can do the job, but don’t expect to get out of it without learning about routing tables and the like.

Is Linux (fedora at least) ready for the laptop? No, I don’t believe it is, GUI Wireless is frankly far behind Windows and I also had several other issues that may have been specific to this laptop, but googling shows not. I was required to install 855resolution in order to get my screens native resolution. (a bug of Intels not OSS, but Fedora could have detected the problem and loaded 855 resolution for me.) In addition, I had a massive key bounce problem with the touchpad that I did eventually solve, but not without much gnashing of teeth.

Fedora annoyances:
1. No centralized control center. I’ve been spoiled by Mandriva in this respect I suspect. Redhat hasn’t had a centralized unified control center since Linuxconf went away. It isn’t a huge thing for me, but I think it would be to those still learning the ropes, and I must admit I did find it annoying when I didn’t know what tool I needed and had to google to find out rather than looking in a central control.

2. This one is more about KDE/Gnome than Fedora. Why can’t they work together? Neither has a total “better” experience, both do different things better than the other. But since they compete rather than co-operating, you get two lesser experiences as a result. Sad really since we’re essentially on the same side. I’d love to see some sort of system that allows Gnome apps to fully integrate into KDE when run from within it, and vice versa with KDE apps in Gnome. That way we could actually get some consistency in form and function and allow the best of each to compliment the other for the betterment of all.

3. This one is touchy from a security perspective, but on a desktop machine, I hate having to enter the root password to start networking tools, to start wireless tools and other stuff of that nature. I know why it is the way it is, but on a desktop it isn’t good enough. I know there are ways around it, like sudo for example (which I did make some use of) but none of them were setup that way out of the box, and thats annoying because real people like to burn CD’s and join wireless networks and most of them won’t want to have to start them as root to do so. I am not suggesting we get as lax as Windows, but we need to find some middle ground here because in an average morning on my Linux desktop, I’d have entered my root password at least a dozen times. (And since I’m paranoid, my root password is traditionally quite long and convoluted. By the end of the second day, I was considering making my root password a couple of characters long to speed things up and that is even more unacceptable.)

4. Wireless, for people with a wireless lifestyle, Linux GUI is not gonna blow their socks off. It’s on again off again performance was a surprise and a disappointment as it was a deal breaker for me at this stage. If I can’t consistently connect as I need to in Linux, I have to use Windows, simple as that. Before I give up, I’m going to change the MiniPCI from IPW2100 to something non Intel to see if it makes any difference, but as I said earlier, I’m not overly confident that it will change anything. One of the big Linux guns like Redhat or Novel really needs to take Wireless in hand and come up with something as good as or better than XP’s tool, because the current setup is a mess. I actually find myself missing UnitedLinux for the idea if not the result. WLassisstant and Wifi-radar are both better in look and usability than Redhat’s tool, but their lack of functional consistency lets the side down badly. We need to help these guys build on what they have and get it right.

5. Wired networking. While I had no problem at all with Ethernet networking, I must say I was surprised that there isn’t some sort of hotswap system in place with it. Everytime I unplugged/re-plugged the Ethernet, I had to restart networking or do the old ifdown/ifup eth0. In Windows it detects/recreates the connection it all by itself. I was surprised that something so simple hadn’t been addressed yet. It isn’t a big thing, but on a battery powered computer, it’s definitely nice to not have to open a root terminal and re-establish your network connection

There is no doubt at all that Linux has come leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. But anyone that tells you it’s all the way there yet is deluding themselves. In many cases it can be a useful and productive replacement for Windows on the desktop but in just as many cases, it can’t. I know the *nix ideal of each tool doing one job really well, and I agree on servers, but it just doesn’t work on the desktop unless all the parts seamlessly work together to create the whole. Being a huge supporter of Linux and OSS, I really wanted to only have good things to say here today. But failing that, honestly is the only way the issues will get addressed and so I’ve not held anything back. I haven’t gone entirely back to Windows on that machine, but I am dual booting it now.

Anyone who has suggestions of other Linux wireless tools to try should comment below and I’ll give it a shot.

1 Comment »

Friday, October 12th, 2007 by Don

I really don’t like AIM and I don’t like Facebook, but others do. So what are you going to do? If the people you need to talk to say to use a tool, then well, you have to use it to continue the relationship. So I occasionally use AIM as it is the best way to get a hold of several people, including a couple of family members. If you use AIM, it will on start-up self load a “portal site” called AIM Today.

I find it annoying, not to mention that because it is tied to your user name it is fully tracked when you visit it, and where you go from it. Now this is not unique as many other sites do the same thing (including Google when you are logged into your gmail account for example), however most of the others all require you to initiate the process. Not so with AIM, it just starts for you when you access the messenger function. So how do you stop it?

It is actually pretty easy to disable. All Windows computers have a host file buried in them somewhere.

It will have this line somewhere in it:

#              # x client host

Simply add this line to your host file and re-save it:              # remove aim today boot up daily

In my case the host file is located here:

Keep in mind that it is a “hidden” file and so you have to view hidden files and open it with a plain text editor. Note also that it has no extension. It is not a .txt file, so do not add an extension. On some editors you will have to save as “hosts” using the quote marks.

No Comments »

Saturday, September 15th, 2007 by Don

Our stats show this today (9/15/2007):
OS Statistics
Windows Vista 7.5%
Windows 2003 1.16%
Windows XP 71.6%
Windows 2000 3.2
Windows NT4 0.03%
Windows 98/ME 0.88%
Windows 95 0.26%
Linux/UNIX/BSD 6.34%
Mac OSX 7.41%
Mac Classic 0.02%
Misc 1.5%

Seventy one percent are using XP — seven percent are on Vista, most because they had to buy a computer with it on it I suspect. After six months the move isn’t happening. I would be tempted to buy XP if I had to buy a computer with Vista on it. I did buy one with Vista and I hate it. Slow and cannot run things. Cannot find drivers. My son just bought a new laptop and he went out of his way to find one with XP on it. The only person I know who loves Vista is … well actually I don’t know any come to think of it.

Is there something you really like about Vista that I should know about?


Tuesday, August 28th, 2007 by Don

I really don’t like Microsoft. I was working on a website the other day, (that broadcasts local sporting events in west Michigan like high school and college football games — and I do like them) in an effort to improve the usability of their site. As a result of using that site to listen to a broadcast, Windows Media forced me to update. So I did … and then before installing it required me to phone the mother ship (not literally but via the web) to authenticate my copy of Windows XP (thankfully I am not yet forced to use the lousy new Windows Vista). It finally gave me the green light and then … it tried to change my defaults all over the place to “use Windows Media Player 11”. They were kind enough to give me a select all button so I could wreck my experience universally, but didn’t bother to give me an unselect all button so that I could affect as little as possible. Common courtesy dear Microsoft programmers says any time you add a select all, you add the opposite toggle for unselect all. That is why I dislike you: you always try to force content on me.

Windows Media Player 11 Lacks Unselect All Feature


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Browser Statistics
Internet Explorer 85.88%
IE 717.63%
IE 62.3%
IE 50.00%
IE other8.6%
Moz Firefox 3.x3.03%
Moz Firefox 2.x0.18%
Moz Firefox 0.x/1.x26.65%
Netscape 8.x0.00%
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Moz Seamonkey0.00%
Netscape 4.x0.00%
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Opera 8.x0.00%
Opera 7.x0.42%
Opera 6.x0.00%
Opera other0.42%
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Safari Windows25.2%
Google Chrome1.51%

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1024 x 76836.55%
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1280 x 8540.00%
1280 x 102417.01%
1400 x 10500.00%
1600 x 12001.02%
1920 x 12007.11%
2560 x 10240.00%

OS Statistics
Windows 741.55%
Windows Vista2.4%
Windows 20033.91%
Windows XP20.86%
Windows 20000.36%
Windows NT40.05%
Windows 98/ME0.05%
Windows 950.00%
Mac OSX8.03%
Mac Classic0.00%

New Windows Virus Alerts
also by sophos.

17 Apr 2011 Troj/Mdrop-DKE
17 Apr 2011 Troj/Sasfis-O
17 Apr 2011 Troj/Keygen-FU
17 Apr 2011 Troj/Zbot-AOY
17 Apr 2011 Troj/Zbot-AOW
17 Apr 2011 W32/Womble-E
17 Apr 2011 Troj/VB-FGD
17 Apr 2011 Troj/FakeAV-DFF
17 Apr 2011 Troj/SWFLdr-W
17 Apr 2011 W32/RorpiaMem-A

For details and removal instructions, click the virus in question.