protonic.tutorials has an ever growing library of tutorials on a variety of computer, computing devices, phones, etc.

For your convenience, each tutorial can be printed and / or viewed on its own page, once you login to your account.

Please select from the following topics:

Android  -  Apple  -  General  -  Hardware  -  Linux
Malware  -  Networking  -  Windows  -  All Tutorials

All Tutorials...Click the Title to view the Tutorial. (Click "Title" again to collapse text.)
Click preview to view the Tutorial in a popup window.    

   preview   How to format an SD card in Linux -- March 3, 2017

This command line tutorial will help you to format a Micro SD card, SD card and any USB storage device with fat32 partition.

So here is how you format an SD card, USB drive or Micro SD card with fat32 file system from the command line in Linux.

1. Plug in your removable flash drive and run the ‘lsblk’ command to identify the device.

Here is the output of the 'lsblk' command on my system where ‘sdb’ is the removable flash storage:

sdb 8:16 1 3.8G 0 disk
├─sdb2 8:18 1 2.4M 0 part
└─sdb1 8:17 1 1.5G 0 part /media/sandisk

2. There are many command line tools to do the job, but lately I started using 'parted' more, so that’s the utility I will be using for this tutorial. Run the 'parted' command with the name of the block device that you want to format. In this case, it’s ‘sdb’. (Be careful with the name of the block device because you might end up formatting the wrong drive.)

3. Exchange ‘sdb’ with the name of your block device in the following command:

sudo parted /dev/sdb

4. It will ask you to enter the password for the user and you will notice that parted replaces the username and $ sign, which means you are running the parted utility. First, let’s create a partition table. In this case, we are using MBR:

(parted) mklabel msdos

5. Once the partition table is created, you can create partitions on the drive. We will be creating just one partition:

(parted) mkpart primary fat32 1MiB 100%

6. Then set the boot flag on it:

(parted) set 1 boot on

7. Exit the parted tool:

(parted) quit

8. Now we need to format this partition as fat 32. First, check if the partition has been created successfully. Just run the 'lsblk' command and verify a new partition on ‘sdb’.

9. Now format it as fat32:

sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdb1

Just exchange ‘sdb1’ with the partition of your drive. Make sure to format the ‘partition on ‘sdb’ and not ‘sdb’ itself.

That’s how you format external storage devices on Linux. Now you can go ahead and start using the removable drive.

This story, "How to format an SD card in Linux" was originally published by


Looking for laptop overheating solutions in Linux? Trust me, you are the not the only one facing laptop overheating issue in Linux. As the mercury rises in the summer season, the fan speed of the computer goes nuts. If you are using a laptop, it becomes unbearable to use it in your lap for its bottom is too hot to handle. You might wonder if there is a way to prevent overheating of laptops and I am going to tell you several ways to prevent laptop overheating in any Linux distribution, if not eliminate it entirely (which is almost impossible).


We will see various tools that you can use to control CPU temperature, monitor apps and their effects on hardware temperature, daemons which you can install and forget along with best practices you should follow to reduce overheating of laptops. The tips stated here should be applicable to all Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, Arch Linux, elementary OS etc. It should also work for all kind of laptops i.e. HP, Acer, Dell, Toshiba etc. I have used them with Ubuntu installed on an Acer laptop.


1. TLP

TLP is my favorite power management tool in Linux. It’s a daemon that is pre-configured to reduce overheating as well as improve battery life. You just need to install TLP and restart your system. It will be auto-start at each boot and keep on running in background. I have always included installation of TLP in top things to do after installing Ubuntu for its simplicity and usefulness.

To install TLP in Ubuntu based Linux distributions, use the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw
If you are using ThinkPads, you require an additional step:

sudo apt-get install tp-smapi-dkms acpi-call-dkms
Restart your system after installation. Check this page for installation instructions in other Linux distributions.

You may start to feel the difference in few hours or in couple of days. To uninstall TLP, you can use the following commands:

sudo apt-get remove tlp
sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:linrunner/tlp


Developed by Intel’s Open Source division, Linux Thermal Daemon (thermald) is a tool that monitors and controls the CPU temperature, resulting in reduced overheating. Thermald is available in Ubuntu repositories and can be installed using the following command:

sudo apt-get install thermald

It should be available in repositories of other distributions as well. As per the users’ feedback, thermald and TLP do not conflict with each other so you can install both of these together. According to WebUpd8, thermald. You can read about how to enable intel p_state here.


Laptop Mode Tools is a laptop power saving package for Linux systems that allows you to configure it in several ways to get more battery life. You might be wondering why am I talking about extending battery life when we are aiming to reduce overheating? The reason is that running your laptop in power save mode does reduces overheating. So, this Laptop Mode Tools will help you get extended battery life as well as reduce overheating to an extent. Unfortunately, Laptop Mode Tools and TLP doesn’t go well together therefore you need to uninstall TLP before you go on installing Laptop Mode Tools.

You can use the following PPA by WebUpd8 to install Laptop Mode Tools in Ubuntu based Linux distributions:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/unstable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install laptop-mode-tools
It also has a GUI that let’s you easily configure the tool. You can start the GUI using the command below:

gksu lmt-config-gui

With CPUfreq, you can choose the mode you want the laptop to run in. There are three modes, performance, on demand and power saver. Running the laptop in Power Saver mode reduces overheating. The tool is easy to use thanks to its indicator applet in Ubuntu. To install CPUfreq in Ubuntu based Linux distributions, use the following command:

sudo apt-get install indicator-cpufreq
When installed, just choose the power saver mode from the indicator applet.

Install cpufreq in Ubuntu 13.04

Last I know, CPUfreq doesn’t conflict with TLP. I think it should not conflict with thermald and Laptop Mode Tools as well (if you install them as well).

Out of the four tools mentioned, which one should go with?? Answer differs from person to person. I usually install TLP along with CPUfreq. But you can try each one of them one by one to see which one works the best for you. It will be easier to see the performance of these tools if you monitor your computer’s temperature. We are going to see next on how to monitor hardware temperature.


If you are planning to install or already installed one (or more) of the above tools, try to see the difference between temperature before and after the installation of the tool in similar working condition. Monitoring hardware temperature is also helpful in diagnosing if there is a particular application that consumes too much of CPU resulting in overheating of computer. At times, some applications consume too much of CPU. Getting rid of such applications may also result in overheat reduction.

To monitor hardware temperature, we will be using Psensor. Psensor is a GUI tool that allows you to monitor CPU, GPU, hard disk temperature along with fan rotation speed. It provides a real time graphical way to show the requested data.

psensor in Ubuntu

Before you install Psensor, you need to install a few more things to make it work. Use the following command first:

sudo apt-get install lm-sensors hddtemp
Then start the detection of your hardware sensors:

sudo sensors-detect
Once everything in place, use the following command to install Psensor:

sudo apt-get install psensor
In Ubuntu, Psensor also has an indicator applet for quick access to the monitoring information.

show temperature in psensor ubuntu

Read this article on hardware monitoring with Psensor in Ubuntu to learn more on how to configure Psensor.


Sometimes, a single program or process might start to consume too much of CPU. When your CPU is 100% utilized, this results in overheating of the processor and you can actually hear fan blurring and loud noise from the system.

The culprit could be anything. For example, a web browser tab that is running a script that is consuming way too much resources or an applet that has gone rogue. If your laptop is suddenly gets too hot and starts making noises, it is a good indication that there is a culprit application that has caused it.

Open a terminal and type the following command:


This command gives a real-time list of the most CPU intensive tasks on the system. So, you will see the process that consumes the most of the CPU resources on the top. All you need to see if there is a process that is consuming 60-100% of CPU.

For example, in the screenshot below, Firefox is consuming 250% of CPU. This is unusual.

Find overheating application and kill it to cool down your laptop

If there is such a process, get its Process ID and kill it. You can use the kill command in the following fashion:

sudo kill -9 pid_number

You can read his post on how to find the PID of a process and kill it.

If a program repeatedly consumes excessive CPU, you might want to uninstall it and use an alternative. It could happen that a certain version of he application has memory issues or some other bug. An update on the application may fix the issue, but till then, you can choose to not use it.


If your laptop is slightly on the lower end of hardware, there are chances that it might be struggling to keep up with the performance demand of newer desktop environments such as Unity and GNOME. Quite obviously, if your CPU is always worked up, it will result in overheating. I am not a fan of this solution but if you could, try to settle for a lighter desktop environment such as LXDE or XFCE.

To install Ubuntu version of XFCE, use the following commands:

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop
To install LXDE, just look for it in Ubuntu Software Center. For other Linux distributions, check the Wiki and help forums of your distribution to find the installation instructions. Once you install a desktop environment, log out and change the desktop environment from the login screen:

Change desktop environment in Ubuntu 14.04


So far we have talked about soft(ware) way of dealing with overheating issue. Let’s take the hard(ware) road. There are few general practices and things to keep in mind while using a laptop that should prevent overheating.


laptop bottom overheating

I understand that a laptop was intended to use in lap but it often creates problem. If you turn over your laptop, you’ll find that the bottom of the laptop is elevated slightly at the corners on the edges with the help of wedges (see the white squares in the above picture). This is designed in such way because laptop sucks air from the bottom to keep its cool. When you use it in your lap or any other uneven surface, the passage of air is blocked. Result is overheating.

If you use your laptop in your bed on your quilt (comforter), it is even more harmful. This way not only the air vent is obstructed, laptops also suck some cotton or fur that gets stuck in the air ducts and fan. This adds up to the overheating trouble you are already facing. What can you do in such case?

If you ask me, I always use a hard plain surface under the laptop, no matter where I am using it. It’s actually a big cardboard calendar which I got from my company. Works quite well for me. If you could shell out a few bucks, try to buy a laptop cooling or thermal pad. It could help to reduce overheating. Refer to this article for more tips to know what sort of cooling fan to buy.


dusty laptop linux

As we discussed in the above section, if your laptop’s air ducts are jammed with fabrics and dust, your laptop will have a persistent overheating problem. Just look at the bottom of your laptop and look closely in the places where there are opening for air. Is it jammed up? How does the fan of your laptop sounds? Is it too noisy? If yes, it might need some cleaning.

Now this the hard part. If you are an experienced one with enough confidence, you can fetch a screw driver and start cleaning your laptop to make some room for passing air. But if you not confident enough, don’t try on your own, you might end up damaging the laptop. In such case, I’ll suggest to take help of a professional. Look for a professional computer service person in your area who could do clean up your laptop. Such clean up once a year keeps the laptop healthy and cool. If you are willing to do it yourself, you can refer to this article to know how to clean laptop fan.


Software and hardware. You can use a mix of both tricks to keep the cool of your laptop. As stated previously, it won’t eliminate overheating entirely but it will reduce it considerably. So now you know what to do when your laptop is overheating.

   preview   HOW TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE 32 BIT OR 64 BIT COMPUTER IN UBUNTU -- May 24, 2016

Do I have 32 bit system or 64 bit system? How to tell if my computer is 32 bit or 64 bit? How to find out if my system is 64 bit capable or not? Am I running 32 bit Ubuntu or a 64 bit Ubuntu? Am I running 32 bit Ubuntu on a 64 bit CPU?

These are some of the common questions that a user often wonders about.Finding out if a computer is 32 bit or 64 bit is fairly simple. Before we see how to tell if Ubuntu is 32 bit or 64 bit, first let’s see the difference between the two systems.


Processors in the early 1990’s used 32 bit architecture. This means that their data bus has the capacity to handle 32 bit at a time. As the technology grew, 64 bit processors came into the scene.

These newer processors had a data bus width of 64 bit. This means they were at least twice as fast to their 32 bit counterparts. To utilize the capabilities of 64 bit processors, operating systems released their 64 bit versions.

One thing to remember is that a 64 bit processor can support both 32 bit and 64 bit OS but a 32 bit processor can only run 32 bit OS.

If you have bought your computer in last 7-8 years, you should have a 64 bit system. Don’t worry, I won’t forces you to dig up and see when you bought your computer.

Read more about 32 bit vs 64 bit here.


If you are using Ubuntu, it’s very easy to find out if your system is 32 bit or 64 bit. Mind that we are talking about the processor here, not the OS itself.

Open a terminal and run the following command:

You should see a result like this:

find out if ubuntu is 32 bit or 64 bit

Architecture: x86_64
CPU op-mode(s): 32-bit, 64-bit
Byte Order: Little Endian
CPU(s): 4
On-line CPU(s) list: 0-3
Thread(s) per core: 2
Core(s) per socket: 2
Socket(s): 1
NUMA node(s): 1
Vendor ID: GenuineIntel
CPU family: 6
Model: 69
Model name: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-4210U CPU @ 1.70GHz
Stepping: 1
CPU MHz: 1694.812
CPU max MHz: 2700.0000
CPU min MHz: 800.0000
BogoMIPS: 4788.66
Virtualization: VT-x
L1d cache: 32K
L1i cache: 32K
L2 cache: 256K
L3 cache: 3072K
NUMA node0 CPU(s): 0-3
Flags: fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall nx pdpe1gb rdtscp lm constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good nopl xtopology nonstop_tsc aperfmperf eagerfpu pni pclmulqdq dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx est tm2 ssse3 sdbg fma cx16 xtpr pdcm pcid sse4_1 sse4_2 movbe popcnt tsc_deadline_timer aes xsave avx f16c rdrand lahf_lm abm epb tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority ept vpid fsgsbase tsc_adjust bmi1 avx2 smep bmi2 erms invpcid xsaveopt dtherm ida arat pln pts

You need to look for the line that starts with CPU op-mode. As you can see in the above result, my CPU can support 32 bit and 64 bit. This means I have 64 bit CPU.

If you see only 32 bit under CPU op-mode, you have a 32 bit system.

Note: if you are using Windows, check this article to find out CPU architecture in Windows.


So, we just saw how to tell if system is 32 bit or 64 bit. But how to know if the Ubuntu you installed on your system is 32 bit or 64 bit?

I mean that the 64 bit system can support both 32 bit and 64 bit OS. So, if you have a 64 bit system, it is better (and recommended) to install a 64 bit OS.

To check if the installed Ubuntu OS is 32 bit or 64 bit, we will use the same command we used in the previous section:

In the result, look for the line with Architecture. With this, you can know the OS architecture from it.

x86, i686 or i386 -> it means 32 bit Linux
x86_64 , amd64 or x64 -> it means 64 bit Linux
In my case, I had x86_64 in the result, which means I have 64 bit Ubuntu installed.

Alternatively, you can use this command that we saw in an older article about finding Ubuntu Unity version:

uname -m
Result will be x86, i686, i386, x86_64, x64 etc. And you can easily guess the OS architecture from it.

   preview   Cleaning Up Your Linux Startup Process -- May 23, 2016

The average general-purpose Linux distribution launches all kinds of stuff at startup, including a lot of services that don't need to be running. Bluetooth, Avahi, ModemManager, ppp-dns… What are these things, and who needs them?

Systemd provides a lot of good tools for seeing what happens during your system startup, and controlling what starts at boot. In this article, I’ll show how to turn off startup cruft on Systemd distributions.

View Boot Services

In the olden days, you could easily see which services were set to launch at boot by looking in /etc/init.d. Systemd does things differently. You can use the following incantation to list enabled boot services:
systemctl list-unit-files --type=service | grep enabled
accounts-daemon.service enabled
anacron-resume.service enabled
anacron.service enabled
bluetooth.service enabled
brltty.service enabled
And, there near the top is my personal nemesis: Bluetooth. I don't use it on my PC, and I don't need it running. The following commands stop it and then disable it from starting at boot:

$ sudo systemctl stop bluetooth.service
$ sudo systemctl disable bluetooth.service
You can confirm by checking the status:

$ systemctl status bluetooth.service
bluetooth.service - Bluetooth service
Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/bluetooth.service; disabled; vendor preset: enabled)
Active: inactive (dead)
Docs: man:bluetoothd(8)
A disabled service can be started by another service. If you really want it dead, without uninstalling it, then you can mask it to prevent it from starting under any circumstances:

$ sudo systemctl mask bluetooth.service
Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/bluetooth.service to /dev/null.
Once you are satisfied that disabling a service has no bad side effects, you may elect to uninstall it.

You can generate a list of all services:

$ systemctl list-unit-files --type=service
accounts-daemon.service enabled
acpid.service disabled
alsa-restore.service static
alsa-utils.service masked
You cannot enable or disable static services, because these are dependencies of other systemd services and are not meant to run by themselves.

Can I Get Rid of These Services?

How do you know what you need, and what you can safely disable? As always, that depends on your particular setup.

Here is a sampling of services and what they are for. Many services are distro-specific, so have your distribution documentation handy (i.e., Google and Stack Overflow).

accounts-daemon.service is a potential security risk. It is part of AccountsService, which allows programs to get and manipulate user account information. I can't think of a good reason to allow this kind of behind-my-back operations, so I mask it.

avahi-daemon.service is supposed to provide zero-configuration network discovery, and make it super-easy to find printers and other hosts on your network. I always disable it and don't miss it.

brltty.service provides Braille device support, for example, Braille displays.

debug-shell.service opens a giant security hole and should never be enabled except when you are using it. This provides a password-less root shell to help with debugging systemd problems.

ModemManager.service is a DBus-activated daemon that controls mobile broadband (2G/3G/4G) interfaces. If you don't have a mobile broadband interface -- built-in, paired with a mobile phone via Bluetooth, or USB dongle -- you don't need this.

pppd-dns.service is a relic of the dim past. If you use dial-up Internet, keep it. Otherwise, you don't need it.

rtkit-daemon.service sounds scary, like rootkit, but you need it because it is the real-time kernel scheduler.

whoopsie.service is the Ubuntu error reporting service. It collects crash reports and sends them to You may safely disable it, or you can remove it permanently by uninstalling apport.

wpa_supplicant.service is necessary only if you use a Wi-Fi network interface.

What Happens During Bootup

Systemd has some commands to help debug boot issues. This command replays all of your boot messages:

$ journalctl -b

-- Logs begin at Mon 2016-05-09 06:18:11 PDT,
end at Mon 2016-05-09 10:17:01 PDT. --
May 16 06:18:11 studio systemd-journal[289]:
Runtime journal (/run/log/journal/) is currently using 8.0M.
Maximum allowed usage is set to 157.2M.
Leaving at least 235.9M free (of currently available 1.5G of space).
Enforced usage limit is thus 157.2M.
You can review previous boots with journalctl -b -1, which displays the previous startup; journalctl -b -2 shows two boots ago, and so on.

This spits out a giant amount of output, which is interesting but maybe not all that useful. It has several filters to help you find what you want. Let's look at PID 1, which is the parent process for all other processes:

$ journalctl _PID=1

May 08 06:18:17 studio systemd[1]: Starting LSB: Raise network interfaces....
May 08 06:18:17 studio systemd[1]: Started LSB: Raise network interfaces..
May 08 06:18:17 studio systemd[1]: Reached target System Initialization.
May 08 06:18:17 studio systemd[1]: Started CUPS Scheduler.
May 08 06:18:17 studio systemd[1]: Listening on D-Bus System Message Bus Socket
May 08 06:18:17 studio systemd[1]: Listening on CUPS Scheduler.
This shows what was started -- or attempted to start.

One of the most useful tools is systemd-analyze blame, which shows which services are taking the longest to start up.

$ systemd-analyze blame
8.708s gpu-manager.service
8.002s NetworkManager-wait-online.service
5.791s mysql.service
2.975s dev-sda3.device
1.810s alsa-restore.service
1.806s systemd-logind.service
1.803s irqbalance.service
1.800s lm-sensors.service
1.800s grub-common.service
This particular example doesn't show anything unusual, but if there is startup bottleneck, this command will find it.

   preview   MAIL HACKED? WHAT TO DO. -- April 21, 2016

… what should I do?

If the hackers didn't change you password so you could still access your account. They sent an email to everyone in your contacts list with a dangerous web link.

Google's system blocked the Gmail account due to the suspicious activity – logins from different countries (including Nigeria) in quick succession then sending out a large number of emails. Warning emails where sent by Google to the owners alternate email and texts to the phone (one reason why setting up those alternates is a good idea).

Our suggestions for immediate action:

Change the Gmail or other mail host password. Make sure the new password is strong with a mix of upper & lower case letters, numbers and special characters.

Change your password on other important web sites; banks, other mail accounts, Paypal and other sites which store your credit card or bank account details.

Email an explanation / apology to everyone who may have received the bogus email. Recommend that they delete the message. If they've clicked on the link and, perhaps, entered detail into a web page they should change their main passwords.

You may need to send the messages from another email address if the hacked email account is still limited.

There's a lot of focus on strong passwords for banking and online shopping which stores your credit card details, and those sites are important. But email accounts are the vital key to your digital world. If someone can access your email account, they can see what other web sites you have, your bank accounts, online shopping etc. – all from past emails.

Worse still, they can change passwords on other accounts because the lost password verifications go to your email address.

The above are some first steps to take. Beyond that, there are preventative measures to make sure you don't get hacked again. If your mail account is successfully attacked once, the baddies are more likely to try again.

Also online at

   preview   How to avoid potentially unwanted programs -- March 19, 2016

If you’ve ever downloaded software onto your computer, chances are you’ve unknowingly cluttered your machine with PUPs. Here’s what you need to know about these sneaky programs.

What are PUPs?

If you're thinking baskets of doe-eyed baby dogs, then you're sadly mistaken. PUPs is the acronym that stands for Potentially Unwanted Programs. Also called bundleware, junkware, or PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications), PUPs are software programs that you likely didn't want installed on your computer. Why not? Here are a few things that PUPs can do:
  1. slow your computer down
  2. display numerous annoying ads
  3. add toolbars that steal space on the browser
  4. some collect private information
PUPs often come bundled with software that you did, in fact, want to download. By swiftly clicking through an installation, it’s easy to miss the fine print and “agree” to these extra applications.

So why aren’t PUPs simply called malware? The makers of PUPs felt that since they included the information necessary for consent in the download agreement, they shouldn’t be lumped in with other malicious programs. (‘Cause everyone reads download agreements, right?) So cybersecurity company McAfee came up with the softer, less mal-sounding term “Potentially Unwanted Programs.”

What makes a program a PUP?

In order to determine whether an application is a PUP, security engineers examine a list of bad behaviors. Some apps are classified as PUPs because of multiple small transgressions. Others because they had one serious violation. PUP criteria includes advertising no-nos such as obtrusive pop-ups, web infractions, such as altered search results or bookmark insertions, or download offenses, such as pre-populated check boxes or the liberal use of “recommended” next to an option. So how do you go about avoiding PUPs? Here are a few tips to keep your computer PUP-free.

Recognize dark patterns

Dark patterns are user interfaces that are deliberately designed to trick people. For example, a newsletter that makes it difficult to find the unsubscribe button or a website whose customer service contact information is obfuscated—that’s a dark pattern. Here are some other dark patterns to look out for:

Pre-populated check boxes (Software programs such as Unchecky scan third-party software agreements and uncheck options that result in PUPs, but they may not catch everything.)
Adding an unofficial "seal" as a credibility indicator
Emphasis of a desired path (gray out the "skip" button, use bright color for "next" button)
Misdirection: companies may try to hide free or cheaper options.
Read through install wizard instructions carefully

When you download a piece of software, you’ll be directed through the install process by an installation wizard. The install wizard, or setup assistant depending on which operating system you use, is a series of dialog boxes that helps you through the installation process step-by-step. PUPs can openly hide in the install wizard, as their makers understand that most users tend to fly through the steps in order to launch their intended program. In order to catch PUPs in the act, you should:

Read the information in the top navigation bar of the install wizard to catch names of unwanted programs.
Do not accept standard, express, default, or other installation settings that are recommended. Always choose custom. Install wizards may call this out as "advanced" in parentheses but that's actually a dark pattern. Custom settings are not advanced.
Read through EULAs carefully

EULAs are the End User License Agreements that come standard with any download. They are legal contracts between you and the makers of the software programs you’re downloading. EULAs go on forever and are full of legalese, which is why most people skip right past them to the “I accept” button. However, EULAs are where the makers of PUPs can legally slip their programs onto your computer. In order to avoid that:

Don't accept terms of use that are for bundled programs. Read the top title above the fine print to be sure the EULA you are accepting is only for the program you originally downloaded. If it isn't, you can decline and still move forward in the install process.
Level up on security

While vigilant scrutiny of software downloads is your best protection against PUPs, cybersecurity programs can give you some valuable assistance. Installing some additional layers of defense can help stave off RAM-hungry PUPs. You might want to purchase or download the following:

ad blocker/pop-up blocker

At the end of the day, one of the best ways to keep PUPs out of your system is the same advice we offer to anyone who wants to stay on top of cybersecurity: stay vigilant. If you use your newfound knowledge to critically review your software downloads, you’ll be a true PUPs master.

   preview   How To Install Cinnamon In Ubuntu 14.04 -- February 16, 2016

Cinnamon is the default desktop environment of Linux Mint. Unlike Unity in Ubuntu, Cinnamon is more traditional but elegant looking desktop environment with bottom panel and app menu etc. No, you don’t need to install Linux Mint just for trying Cinnamon. In this tutorial, we shall see how to install Cinnamon in Ubuntu 14.04.

Install Cinnamon in Ubuntu 14.04

There used to be a-sort-of official PPA from Cinnamon team for Ubuntu but it doesn’t exist anymore. Don’t lose heart. There is an unofficial PPA available and it works perfectly. This PPA consists the latest Cinnamon version 2.8.

Open a terminal and use the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:moorkai/cinnamon
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cinnamon
It will download files of around 130 MB in size (if I remember correctly). This also provides you with Nemo (Nautilus fork) and Cinnamon Control Center. These bonus stuff gives a closer feel of Linux Mint.

Using Cinnamon desktop environment in Ubuntu 14.04

Once you have installed Cinnamon, log out of the current session. At the login screen, click on the Ubuntu symbol beside the username:

Change desktop environment in Ubuntu 14.04

When you do this, it will give you all the desktop environments available for your system. No need to tell you that you have to choose Cinnamon:

Install Cinnamon in Ubuntu 14.04

Now you should be logged in to Ubuntu with Cinnamon desktop environment. Remember, you can do the same to switch back to Unity. Here is a quick screenshot of what it looked like to run Cinnamon in Ubuntu 14.04:

Cinnamon in Ubuntu 14.04

Looks completely like Linux Mint, isn’t it? I didn’t find any compatibility issue between Cinnamon and Unity. I switched back and forth between Unity and Cinnamon and both worked perfectly.

Remove Cinnamon from Ubuntu 14.04

It is understandable that you might want to uninstall Cinnamon. We will use PPA Purge for this purpose. Let’s install PPA Purge first:

sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
Afterward, use the following command to purge the PPA:

sudo ppa-purge ppa:moorkai/cinnamon
In related articles, I suggest you to read more about how to remove PPA in Linux.

   preview   10 things the “Average Joe” won’t know about Linux -- January 11, 2016


 How easy is it for someone to become familiar with Linux? Is there enough information to get started? 
This article is therefore written for people that have heard the term Linux and wants to know a bit more but doesn’t know where to begin. 

1. What is Linux?

Lots of people have chosen to make the move from Windows to Linux but how many other people have given up long before even understanding what Linux is. 
You may have seen the term Linux used in the media or on television. You may also have seen Linux highlighted in big bold letters on the magazine shelves. What you may not know is what Linux is or you may have a skewed view believing it to be the plaything of geeks and nerds.
Reading Wikipedia may not help you. The first paragraph alone would be enough to make a lot of people’s brains explode.
Linux ( i/ˈlɪnəks/ LIN-əks[5][6] or /ˈlɪnʊks/ LIN-uuks)[7][8][9] is a Unix-like computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. The defining component of Linux is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released 5 October 1991 by Linus Torvalds.[10][11]
I will therefore try and define Linux as simply as I can. 
On your computer at the moment you will probably have the Windows operating system. There have been a number of versions of Windows over the years starting at version 1 and going all the way up to Windows 7 (with 8 on its way). 
Windows as you may know is an operating system. What is means to you though is that using a series of menus, icons, windows and applications you can do things like browse the internet, watch videos, play games and create documents. Lurking within Windows is something called the Windows Kernel or the Windows NT Kernel. I dare you to search for the Windows NT Kernel on Wikipedia. 
The architecture of Windows NT, a line of operating systems produced and sold by Microsoft, is a layered design that consists of two main components, user mode and kernel mode. It is a preemptive, reentrant operating system, which has been designed to work with uniprocessor and symmetrical multi processor (SMP)-based computers. To process input/output (I/O) requests, they use packet-driven I/O, which utilizes I/O request packets (IRPs) and asynchronous I/O. Starting with Windows 2000, Microsoft began making 64-bit versions of Windows available—before this, these operating systems only existed in 32-bit versions.
Without going to deeply into what the Kernel is it is basically the engine for your operating system. From the Windows NT Kernel multiple versions of Windows are formed including the home, professional, ultimate editions. All of these are different versions of the same operating system running off the same Kernel. 
There is a common misconception that Linux is an operating system. Linux is the engine that spawns a whole host of different operating systems known as distributions. 

2. What is a distribution (distro)?

When browsing the computing magazine section at your local news agent or supermarket you may have seen the Linux magazines. On the front of the magazines there are often free disks attached to the front. 
In big bold writing on the front of the magazine it will say “Ubuntu 12.04 reviewed” or “What’s new in Linux Mint 13?”.
Linux Format magazine is currently giving away 2 disks with 15 distributions on it. People new to the Linux world may not have a clue what a distribution even is. 
The distribution is the actual operating system. So you could look at it like this. There are various Windows distributions including Windows Home Starter, Windows Home Premium, Windows Professional and Windows Server. Each distribution of Windows has a different target audience. 
Linux is the same. There are multiple distributions each aimed at a different target audience. The difference between Linux and Windows is that there are hundreds if not thousands of choices of Linux distributions. 
The other big difference between Windows and Linux is that the majority of Linux distributions are free. 

3. How do I know which distribution is right for me?
There is no easy answer to know which Linux distribution is right for you. It basically comes down to personal preference. 
The best way to find out is to dive right in and try a few of them out. The great thing is that a lot of distributions provide live CDs which makes it possible to insert the CD into you CD drive and restart your computer and it will boot straight into the Linux distribution. You do not have to worry about messing up your Windows installation. Simply try out all the functions the Live CD has to offer and if you like it you can then install it. If you don’t like it take the CD out and restart your PC and boot back into Windows. 
Now blindly downloading distributions is a bit of a scattergun approach to finding out whether Linux is right for you. If you are completely new to Linux then you probably would not want to face the daunting task of installing Slackware. 
Fortunately help is at hand. Visit This site is an invaluable resource. 
First of all there is a list down the right hand side showing the top 100 distributions. There is also a fantastic search facility. You can use the search tool to search on the distribution type. For example if you are new to Linux you might want your first foray into the world of Linux to be with the easier to use distributions. The plus side of these distributions is that most things work straight away and the menus are easy to navigate. 
If you have an older computer then it makes sense to run a distribution that is kind to resources. In this instance searching on “older computers” provides a list of distributions that run well on older computers. 
If you are heavily into gaming there are distributions for gamers. If you want a distribution for educating your children you can search on education. 
Even after running a search you may still find that there is a list of about 20 distributions to choose from so how do you then know which one to try first. Each distribution listing on distrowatch has a description which states the major goals of the projects. You can also see screenshots and read reviews. 
Each Linux distribution will come with different desktop environments and choice of installed software. Ultimately as you become more accustomed to using Linux you will know which desktop environment suits you best and which applications you prefer to use. 
For people wishing to use Linux for the first time I personally would recommend Ubuntu, Linux Mint or Zorin OS.

4. What is a desktop environment?

In graphical computing, a desktop environment (DE) commonly refers to a particular implementation of graphical user interface (GUI) derived from the desktop metaphor that is seen on most modern personal computers.[1] These GUIs help the user in easily accessing, configuring, and modifying many important and frequently accessed specific operating system (OS) features. The GUI usually does not afford access to all the many features found in an OS. Instead, the traditional command-line interface (CLI) is still used when full control over the OS is required in such cases.
Wow! That paragraph was taken straight from Wikipedia. 
Think of the desktop environment as the series of menus, taskbars, windows and keyboard shortcuts that you use to start and run applications. 
If you look at Windows 7 the desktop environment consists of a taskbar at the bottom. The taskbar is split between the Start icon, quick launch icons, opens applications (tasks) and the system tray which includes the clock. When you click the start button a menu appears and you can search for programs or you can use the menus to navigate for the programs you wish to run. 
In addition to the menus and taskbars there is the desktop itself which has icons, a background, context menus that can be pulled up by pressing the right mouse button and of course you can add widgets to display things like the weather. 
The one thing you will quickly learn about Linux is that there are lots of choices for everything and there is an abundant choice of desktop environments. The main desktop environments in use are Unity, Cinnamon, Mate, Gnome, KDE, XFCE and LXDE. If I started a debate as to which is the best one then I would have pages upon pages of comments declaring allegiances to one or another. At the end of the day it is down to choice. Really the only way to decide is to try a few out and best way to try a few out is to try different distributions that implement different desktop environments. 

5. Where can I get Linux distributions?

First of all you can get most distributions for free. Visit and search for the distribution you are interested in and click the download link. 
Some distributions make it more complicated than others when choosing what to download. For example visiting the Linux Mint site you will see a table showing all the possible downloads and what they consist of. This is fairly simple. Ubuntu is even easier because there is only one desktop choice (Unity) and so you simply get the choice to download a 32 bit version or a 64 bit version. 
Other distributions make it a little bit more complicated. PCLinuxOS for instance has a load of text with some small links at the bottom of the page. They should put the links at the top and the text underneath. They are not the worst though. For some distributions you will get to a folder with 20 or 30 links showing different versions some with source code, some with documentation and it will say x86, x64, i386 etc and it just isn’t clear which version it is you should download. 
Of course if you have read this entire article thus far you will also realise that you can buy Linux magazines which often have a variety of different distributions on the cover disk to the magazine. Along with the cover disk there will be a review of the distribution in the magazine so you can make an informed decision as to which one is best for you. 
Now whilst Linux is free you might not want the hassle of downloading the ISO image to burn to CD/DVD and you might not want to spend £5.99 on a magazine just for one disk that you may or may not like. 
In this instance you can visit a site like where you can choose the version of Linux you would like to try and it will be sent to you on a CD or DVD for just a small fee. 

6. How do I install Linux but keep Windows?

Most people when they first look at using Linux aren’t ready to give up Windows. 
Firstly I would recommend trying out the live CD first. 
Some Linux distributions can run from inside Windows or as well as Windows without affecting the Windows install at all. 
Ubuntu has the Wubi installer which runs Ubuntu from inside Windows. Now you can try all the features of Ubuntu and use it in its entirety without worrying about losing your Windows data. 
Puppy Linux on the other hand runs from a CD or USB drive and the save file is stored as a file on your Windows drive. It is basically a file like any other file and so again does not affect your Windows operating system. 
Other distributions whilst not running from within Windows enable you to install the Linux distribution alongside Windows so that when you boot your PC you can choose whether to use Windows or whether to use the Linux distribution. All the major Linux distributions make this part of the installation process. It really is a case of checking boxes. 
If you have ever installed Windows by yourself then in the majority of cases you will be able to install Linux. Most distributions have a graphical installer which provide a series of questions to answer such as where you are located, which users you want to create and which applications to install. 

7. Can I still run my Windows applications?

There are two answers to this question. The simple answer is yes you can. The real answer though asks another question why? 
If you want to run Windows software there are multiple ways to do it. One way is to install a program called WINE. This software enables you to install Windows applications within the Linux operating system and run them straight from within Linux. Now this software is very good and works incredibly well but there are some Windows programs that just won’t run properly using WINE. The other option is to install VirtualBox. This enables you to install a copy of Windows within a virtual machine whereby you can install the Windows applications you wish to use. 
As mentioned previously Linux gives you choice and an incredible amount of it. To this end there are thousands upon thousands of applications that can be installed and in the majority of cases you will find an application that does exactly the same as the Windows application you currently use. 
As an example of this if you want to read your emails in an Outlook style application there is an email client called Thunderbird. ( If you are not sure it meets your needs then there is a Windows version that you can try first. 
For office tasks such as word processing, spreadsheets and presentations there is LibreOffice. Again you can download a Windows version of this software from 
For watching videos there is VLC player (again there is a Windows version). For music Rhythmbox or Banshee can be used. They are both similar to Windows Media Player. 

8. Is my hardware supported by Linux?

Yet another common misconception in Windows land and by the media is that Linux doesn’t support hardware very well. 
Whilst this used to be true support for hardware has come on leaps and bounds over the past 5 years and I haven’t got one device that doesn’t work fully under Linux. 
For instance I have a Sony Walkman and Rhythmbox and Banshee both pick up the Walkman as a device and make it easy to synchronise my laptop with the Walkman. 
My printer and scanner both work very well and I have a blaze ultimate portable game console which I can connect with Linux to copy games to and from the device. You can even use an XBOX controller as a joypad for playing games. 
The best thing to do is to try the live version of a distribution out first and test all your hardware. 

9. How do I get support for Linux?

This is a very important topic. Everyone knows a guy that can help them when their Windows goes wrong. Not many people would know a Linux guy that can help if Linux doesn’t work. 
Again there are two main points to make here. When Windows goes wrong it usually goes spectacularly wrong. 
The most common reasons for Windows to go wrong are: 
  • Viruses/Malware
  • Forgotten Windows passwords on a single user machine
  • Corrupt registry
  • Cannot connect to the internet
Yes I get asked questions about other things that happen on Windows but 99% of the people that ask me for help are for these four things. 
Linux nearly never goes wrong for me. Most of the time I need Linux support for things that I want to try out but just don’t know how to. 
Help is not far away. The major distributions have forums that you can go to for help. Most of the people are friendly and will do their utmost to help. If the forums don’t work then there are the ICQ chat rooms. Now the Ubuntu guys bend over backwards to help people. I sat with a window open to the ICQ chat room and watched as a Ubuntu expert dedicated 3 hours of his life sorting out a troublesome router problem for a new user. 
If you cannot get help in the forums then there is of course Google. My view of Google is that if you cannot find the answer to a problem then you probably just haven’t used the right search term yet. 
The best site for help however has to be Youtube. Often seen as a place for watching jackass type videos or kids playing pranks this is the one platform that has helped me the most in the past few years. People dedicate a large amount of time recording video tutorials showing you how to achieve what it is you want to achieve. It was Youtube that helped me solve my son’s Tekkit problem. Currently Youtube is the most educational tool on the internet. 

10. Why would I want to use Linux instead of Windows?

You know the answer to this question might be that you wouldn’t You might be perfectly happy working away in Windows land and if that is how you choose to use your computer then that is fine. 
You might consider leaving Windows for the following reasons however: 
  • You need a new computer and you don’t like the look and feel of Windows 8
  • You are using Windows 7 but keep getting viruses
  • Your machine is running very slowly running Windows
  • You are fed up with constant updates for not just Windows but Antivirus software, firewalls, java, adobe products etc
  • Your machine is getting older and can’t upgrade from XP to Vista/7 or 8.

It may be that when you buy your next PC it comes with Windows 8. (This will depend upon when you read this article, at the moment it hasn’t been released). You might not like Windows 8 at all. If you have an XBOX or a Windows phone then the interface will probably be familiar to you but it is a personal preference as to whether you like it or not. You might consider at this point trying Linux to see if it works better for you. 
If you keep getting viruses then I would consider a number of things. Firstly update your anti-virus software and firewall. Secondly be more cautious when downloading files from the internet and also be careful about which websites you visit. Moving to Linux will give you a level of protection against getting viruses and you will feel more secure. However, of course this does not mean you should throw caution to the wind. There has been the odd isolated incident within Linux regarding viruses. 
If your machine is running slowly or it is getting older then you might not be able to upgrade to a later version of Windows. Staying on the current version of Windows is an option but support will be faded out and there is every chance that security holes will be found and not plugged. Moving to a version of Linux that is designed for older computers will give you peace of mind that you are running on an operating system designed for you. It will be actively supported by the developers. You will not be considered a second class citizen running on an old version of an operating system but as a key user for a currently supported and developed operating system. 
Finally you might move to Linux because you gave it a go and because like many before realised that Linux is brilliant and not just for geeks after all.

   preview   How to create a bootable Linux Mint USB drive using Windows -- January 11, 2016

1. Download Linux Mint

The current version of Linux Mint is version 17. 

To get Linux Mint 17 visit

There are a number of download options available and the one you choose to download will be based on the specifications of your host machine.

If you have a new and modern computer then click on the link for Cinnamon. If you have a 64-bit computer click on the 64-bit link otherwise click the 32-bit link.

If you have an older computer then click on the link for MATE. Again if you have a 64-bit computer click on the 64-bit link otherwise click the 32-bit link. 

Ignore the links with no codecs and the OEM versions.

When you get to the download page click on the link of the server that is closest to you.

The download of the Linux Mint ISO should start and depending on your speed can take some time. 

2. Create a bootable USB drive

Insert a blank USB drive into your computer.

To create a bootable USB drive the tool that I advocate using is the Universal USB Installer from
Follow the above link for pendrive Linux and scroll half way down the page until you see the "Download UUI" link. Click on the download link and wait for the program to download.

When the download has completed double click on the executable.

When the license agreement screen appears read it and then click "I Agree" if you accept the license.

Creating the drive is fairly straight forward.

The first thing to do is choose your distribution of choice, in this case Linux Mint, from the dropdown list.

Click on the "Browse" button. Find the downloaded Linux Mint ISO.

Select your chosen USB drive letter and make sure that the "We will format" option is checked.

At this point you can create the USB drive so that it persists data. This makes it possible to install software when using the live Linux Mint version and it will still be available the next time you boot from the USB drive.

Click "Create" to continue.

A summary screen will tell you what is about to happen.

Basically your USB drive is about to be completely wiped and Linux Mint is about to be installed as a live image to it.

If you are happy to continue click "Yes".

You will now see a progress bar showing how far through the process the installer is and how long it is expected to last.


Reboot your computer and Linux Mint should now boot from the live USB.

   preview   How to create a bootable USB stick on Ubuntu -- January 11, 2016

To create a USB stick from which you can install Ubuntu, you must first

download Ubuntu

Then, follow these instructions:

  1. 1

    Insert a USB stick with at least 2GB of free space.

  2. 2

    Open the dash and search for Startup Disk Creator.

  3. 3

    Select the Startup Disk Creator to launch the app.

  4. 4

    Click 'Other' to choose the downloaded ISO file.

  5. 5

    Select the file and click 'Open'.

  6. 6

    Select the USB stick in the bottom box and click 'Make Startup Disk'.

  7. 7

    That’s it! When the process completes, you’ll be ready to restart your computer and begin installing Ubuntu.

We hope this will be of help into your foray into Linux

   preview   Tips for Securing your Home Network with Linux and Open Source -- December 21, 2015

Security is at a prime and that’s not going to change in the unforeseeable future. With more and more people taking advantage of technology in nearly every aspect of their lives, it’s now time for people to get serious about security.

That includes your home network.

But, outside of simply using Linux to increase the security of your data (which helps a great deal), what can you do? Can you just demand that everyone in the house switch to Linux? In a perfect world, that would be ideal—however, we do not live in a perfect world and some users won’t want to leave behind their platform of choice.

With that in mind, I’ve gathered up a few suggestions that can help you gain the extra security your home network needs. Some of these suggestions are fairly simple to implement, whereas others will require considerable further reading. With that said, let’s dive in and see how Linux can beef up your home network security.


Let’s start at the heart of your network—the router. Most likely your ISP handed you a modem/router combination that does its job. You’ve probably noticed, however, that the router leaves a lot to be desired in terms of options. Your best bet is to consider that piece of equipment nothing more than a modem and deploy your own, Linux-powered, router.

There are a few ways to go about this. DD-WRT is an open source firmware that can be flashed to many commercial router hardware devices. You could go the easy route and get a router pre-installed with DD-WRT (e.g., the Buffalo line of routers), or you can go through the process of flashing the DD-WRT firmware onto a supported router (check the list of supported devices).

Once you’ve done that, check out the collection of tutorials DD-WRT has for subjects like Access Restrictions, Firewall, Easy SSH Tunnels, Port Blocking, OpenVPN Remote Access by Static Key, and more.

Make sure, when you setup your wireless router, that you use very strong passwords for both the SSID and admin access into the router.

The Production Machines

I’m talking about the desktops and laptops. There’s much to be said here, and what is said depends upon the platform being used. I’ll first make mention of Windows. Because Windows is the platform most vulnerable to attacks, you’ll need to spend a bit of extra time with it. You’ll need to install anti-malware and antivirus tools immediately. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an open source anti-malware-specific application on the market. You will, however, be happy to know there is an open source antivirus tool in ClamAV, which also happens to detect both viruses and malware—so this should be installed on all Windows machines within your home network. If you have OS X machines, you should install ClamXav as your antivirus/anti-malware solution. I also highly recommend you not use the default Windows web browser (Internet Explorer). Instead, download Firefox or Chromium.

If at all possible (and with the way the average user works today, it is very possible), I would recommend not allowing Windows machines on your home network. Insist on users work with Linux desktops, Chromebooks, or OS X for everyday work and dual boot into Windows for games (if necessary).

I would also very strongly suggest you not share out folders from within Windows. If you must share out folders on the network, do so from either a Linux machine or a dedicated NAS (more on this in a bit).

As for the Linux machines on your network? Do not assume they are invulnerable. If they are online, they can be had. To that end, make sure you get to know your distribution’s firewall tool. Most end users won’t have to dive deep into the heart of iptables, because most modern distributions work with the much simpler UFW—which is a front end for iptables that goes a very long way toward making the tool accessible to the average user.

Your distribution most likely includes a front end (for more on UFW, read “An Introduction to Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW)”). Also, make sure every user with a Linux account on a machine creates strong passwords for their account. This should be considered a must.

On all platforms, always make sure to do regular updates. Do not let these sit idly by; otherwise, your desktops, laptops, and servers will be vulnerable. Check daily and, if updates are available, install them.

Sharing Folders

You’re probably used to sharing out folders on your company network. The one thing you must remember about this is that your company probably has shelled out quite a lot of money for security appliances (e.g., Cisco) that allow you to safely share all those folders on your Windows machine without the slightest concern for security. The thing is, without that hardened security, your best bet for sharing out folders is either from a Linux machine or from a NAS. If you want to share out from your Linux desktop, it’s quite easy, because most desktop distributions include the ability to share folders with a few quick clicks (see Figure 1 above).

If you don’t want to share your folders out from a Linux desktop, you can always go with a NAS solution. If you opt to build a NAS on your own, I highly recommend FreeNAS as the platform of choice. FreeNAS not only allows you to set up a powerful network attached storage solution, but a multi-media streaming solution as well.

If you want more of a cloud solution, you can always roll your own internal cloud with ownCloud. Not only can you easily share your data within your home network, you can also set up streaming media, a shared calendar, and even collaborate...all without having to reach beyond your LAN.

Content Filtering

Not all nefarious doings occurs from the great beyond. You, or anyone on your network, could navigate to a site containing any number of malicious software or code (this is especially important when Windows machines are involved). To avoid this, I highly recommend making use of a content filtering system like Dans Guardian. NOTE: I will be writing a much more in-depth article on this system very soon. Once setup, you can download extensive blacklists (from the likes of URLBlacklist) and even create your own.


If you have a need to get into your home network from outside, you most likely will want to set up a VPN. Yes, you can SSH into your network, but that’s not nearly as user-friendly as being able to access that LAN as if you were inside your home. If you’re looking for such an addition to your LAN, look no further than OpenVPN. For more information on setting up OpenVPN, take a look at this older piece “Install and Configure OpenVPN Server on Linux” to give you an idea where to start. For more up to date VPN information, give the “Setting up VPN on Linux” a try (this will set up a VPN using PPTP).

Test your Network

For those that really want to ensure the security of their home network, there is no better path to success than to actually test your network. For that, you’ll need a penetration testing distribution like Kali Linux. With this distribution, you can run tests for information gathering, vulnerability analysis, wireless attacks, web applications, exploitation, forensics, stress testing, sniffing and spoofing, password attacks, access attacks, reverse engineering, and hardware hacking.

When using a massive toolbox like Kali Linux, you’ll probably find your home network far less secure than you originally thought. The good news is that you now know exactly where to begin to lock it down.

Your home network does not have to fall prey to malicious software or external, nefarious users. With just a little extra work, and plenty of open source, your home LAN can become nearly as safe as the network you use within your company.

   preview   How to: Reset Windows 10 Password -- December 18, 2015

There are two ways you can reset your Windows 10 email password; one involves resetting your email password by phone (if enabled), or by computer. The other involves converting your resetting the password using a password reset trick using a USB or DVD drive.

If you're not using an email address to login to Windows 10 (and you're using a local account instead), you can also reset your password using the password reset trick. I'll describe both methods below.

Option #1: Reset Your Windows 10 Password (via Microsoft's website)

If you created a Microsoft account and are using an email address to login to Windows 10, then you can reset your password using another machine (or smart phone) via Microsoft's Windows Live password reset page. This is the easiest way to reset your Windows 10 password. If this method does not work for you, proceed to Option #2.

Option #2: Reset Windows 10 Password: Using the Password Reset Trick

Alternatively you can reset your Windows 10 password using the 'password reset trick'. This involves the following:

Use either a Windows DVD or Hiren's Boot CD to gain access to Windows
Enable the Administrator account
Use the Administrator Account to convert your Microsoft Account to a local account, so you can change the password locally.
This password reset trick works with Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10 and allows you to reset any user account password (and not just the one you forgot). I've spent much of this morning amending the article to work with Windows 10 as well as additional instructions using Hiren's Boot CD if you don't have a Windows DVD available.

   preview   Keep your data safe by following the Password Commandments -- December 17, 2015

Your first--and sometimes only--line of PC defense is your password. Even the most carefully crafted password can be rendered useless if you don't keep it secret. This is not such an easy thing to do, especially considering all the clever tricks data thieves have come up with to grab it, with or without your knowledge. More dangerous is the lackadaisical approach many people take to creating, using, and protecting their passwords. Here are 10 ways to use passwords to best effect.

1: Don't write it down. Ever. Either it will be so easy to find that you might as well not use any password at all, or you'll forget where you put it and somebody else will find it and use it to access your system. You may think your password is safe on that sticky note inside the third appendix of "Mastering OS/2, Second Edition," but that's the first place your larcenous pet walker will look (apologies in advance to all pet walkers for disparaging their noble profession).

2: Devise a password-creating system that's all yours. There are dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of Web pages and other resources offering advice on how to craft strong passwords. Of course, these are the first places the people in the business of cracking passwords look for tips. It's not difficult to come up with your own system that combines a variety of methods. One possibility is to start by reversing an inactive phone number from your past, then convert the numbers to letters, so "213-555-1212: would become "bm-eee-ll" (remove the hyphens, if you wish). Make it even stronger by adding the street name of your childhood home converted from letters to numbers, which would change "Maple" into "13-1-15-12-5". Now really mix things up by placing the numbers inside the letters: "bme13115125eell".

The benefits of having your own system over using a random password generator is memorability: If you remember your system, you'll look at the above sequence and see the phone number and street name, not just the actual letters and numbers. No, I won't tell you the password-creation system(s) I use, but they don't have anything to do with old phone numbers or street names. Honest.

3: Don't send your password via e-mail or give it out over the phone. OK, there are exceptions to this "rule," such as when your company's help-desk staff are troubleshooting your system over the phone, but even in those rare instances, it's a good idea to change your password immediately after you give it out (see more on changing your password below).

4: Disable AutoComplete for user names and passwords. Yes, this feature of Internet Explorer, Firefox, and other browsers can save you time when you're online, but it also lets anyone who gains access to your Windows login, or to your PC when you're logged in but away, to visit all the secured sites in its database, change the passwords, and otherwise act in ways you may not appreciate. To disable this feature in IE, click Tools > Internet Options > Content, and choose the Settings button in the AutoComplete section. Uncheck User names and passwords on forms (you may also want to uncheck the other two AutoComplete options: Web addresses and Forms). Click OK, and then choose the General tab, and click Delete > Delete Passwords (and any other options, or Delete all to wipe your browser clean). Click Close and OK.

Uncheck User names and passwords on forms in Internet Explorer's AutoComplete Settings dialog box.
In Firefox, simply click Tools > Clear Private Data (or press Ctrl-Shift-Delete), check all the items, and click Clear Private Data Now.

Mozilla Firefox's Clear Private Data dialog box
Erase personal information from the Mozilla Firefox browser by checking items in the Clear Private Data dialog box.

5: Change your password often. Even if you haven't had reason to share it recently (as mentioned above), get into the habit of refreshing stale passwords. The more important the data your password protects, the more often you should update it. One way to force yourself to change your Windows login password is by using the password options in Local Security Policy (it's called "Local Security Settings" in Windows XP). In XP, click Start > Run, type secpol.msc, and press Enter. In Vista, press the Windows key, type secpol.msc, and press Enter. In both versions, select Password Policy under Account Policies. Double-click Maximum password age in the right pane, enter the number of days you want to go between passwords, and click OK. The other options in this dialog box let you enforce password history, set a minimum password age or length, require that the password meet Windows' complexity requirements, and store encrypted passwords.

6: Clear the cache after using a public PC. If you log into a Web site from a PC other than your own, make sure you wipe out all traces of your use by deleting the browser's personal data. See the steps described in "Disable AutoComplete for user names and passwords" above.

Note that many public PCs reset to the defaults as soon as you log out, but don't trust them. In fact, it's good practice to change your passwords whenever you use them in a public setting, even on your own laptop after attending a conference or other event, for example. Snoops love to hang out at such places, whether using a keystroke logger, or simply looking over your shoulder as you log in.

7: If it's too valuable to lose, don't keep it on your PC. If you just discovered the secret to changing marshmallows into gold, you may not want to trust the formula to any hard drive, whether or not it's password-protected, or connected to a network at all. In addition to the threat of data-crackers, the drive could fail, leaving your fate in the hands of some data-recovery service. If you have to store a digital copy of some important file, place it on an optical disc designed specifically for archiving, and store that disc in a safe place, such as a bank deposit box. And--of course--make a copy that you store in a separate, secure location. When optical drives are replaced by some new-fangled storage medium, copy the data to a secure version of that medium, but you probably don't have to worry about this for at least a couple of years.

8: Create a password-reset disk. It doesn't have to be a floppy, which is a good thing since few new PCs even have floppy-disk drives. But a reset disk is the best protection against a bad memory--yours more likely than the computer's. Log into the account you want to protect, open Control Panel's User Accounts applet, select the account, and in XP, click Prevent a forgotten password in the left pane. In Vista, click Create a password reset disk in the left pane. Step through the Forgotten Password Wizard, selecting the removable medium of your choice when prompted. Label the removable device appropriately, and store it somewhere safe but easy to remember. It's one thing to forget your password, but quite another to forget where you put your password reset disk.

9: Use a password-management utility. I hesitate to rely on a third party to protect my passwords, but one that has been around for a long time is RoboForm, which comes in free and $30 Pro versions.

10: Ask for some help to reset your password. If you've forgotten your password and don't have a password-reset disk handy, log onto another administrator account on the system, open the User Accounts applet in Control Panel, click Change an account in XP, or Manage another account in Vista, select the account, and change the password.

   preview   9 Killer Tips To Speed Up Ubuntu -- December 16, 2015

This article was originally written for Ubuntu 13.10 but it is equally applicable for Ubuntu 14.04 and 15.04.

Whether you have a fresh install of Ubuntu 14.10 or upgraded to it, you might have experienced that after using Ubuntu for some times, the system starts running slow. In this article we shall see several tweaks and tips to make Ubuntu run faster.

Before we see how to improve overall system performance in Ubuntu 14.04, first lets ponder on why the system gets slower overtime. There could be several reasons for it. You may have a humble computer with basic configuration. You might have installed several applications which are eating up resources at boot time. Endless reasons in fact.

Here I have listed several small tweaks that will help you speed up Ubuntu a little. There are some best practices as well which you can employ to get a smoother and improved system performance. You can choose to follow all or some of it. All of them adds up a little to give you a smoother, quicker and faster Ubuntu.

Tips to make Ubuntu 14.04 run faster:

I have used these tweaks with Ubuntu 13.10 but I believe that the same can be used in older Ubuntu versions as well as other Linux distributions which are based on Ubuntu such as Linux Mint, Elementary OS Luna etc.

Reduce the default grub load time:

The grub gives you 10 seconds to change between dual boot OS or to go in recovery etc. To me, its too much. It also means you will have to sit beside your computer and press the enter key to boot in to Ubuntu as soon as possible. A little time taking, ain’t it? First trick would be to change this boot time. If you are more comfortable with a GUI tool, read this article to change grub time and boot order with Grub Customizer.

For the rest of us, you can simply use the following command to open grub configuration:

sudo gedit /etc/default/grub &
And change GRUB_TIMEOUT=10 to GRUB_TIMEOUT=2. This will change the boot time to 2 seconds. Prefer not to put 0 here as you will lost the privilege to change between OS and recovery options. Once you have changed the grub configuration, use the following command to make the change count:

sudo update-grub
Manage start up applications:

Overtime you tend to start installing applications. If you are a regular It’s FOSS reader, you might have installed many apps from App of the week series. Some of these apps are started at each start up and of course resources will be busy in running these applications. Result: a slow computer for a significant time duration at each boot. Go in Unity Dash and look for Startup Applications:

start up application Ubuntu 13.10

In here, look at what applications are loaded at start up. Now think if you there are any applications which you don’t require to be started up every time you boot in to Ubuntu. Feel free to remove them:

change start up applications Ubuntu 13.10

But what if you don’t want to remove the applications from start up? For example if you installed one of the best indicator applets for Ubuntu 13.10, you will want them to be started automatically at each boot. What you can do here is to delay some the start of some of the programs. This way you will free up the resource at boot time and your applications will be started automatically, after sometime. In the previous picture click on Edit and change the run command with a sleep option. For example if you want to delay the running of Dropbox indicator for lets say 20 seconds, you just need to add a command like this in the existing command:

sleep 10;
So, the command ‘dropbox start -i‘ changes to ‘sleep 20; drobox start -i‘. Which means that now Drobox will start with a 20 seconds delay. You can change the start time of other start up applications in similar fashion.

Edit start up applications to make Ubuntu 13.10 run faster

Install preload to speed up application load time:

Preload is a daemon that runs in background and analyzes user behavior and frequently run applications. Open a terminal and use the following command to install preload:

sudo apt-get install preload
After installing it, restart your computer and forget about it. It will be working in background. [Read more about preload]

Choose the best mirror for software updates:

It’s good to verify that you are using the best mirror to update the software. Ubuntu software repository are mirrored across the globe and it is quite advisable to use the one which is nearest to you. This will result in a quicker system update as it reduces the time to get the packages from the server.

In Software & Updates->Ubuntu Software tab->Download From choose Other and there after click on Select Best Server:

Change mirrors to speed up Ubuntu 13.10

It will run a test and tell you which is the best mirror for you. Normally, the best mirror is already set but as I said, no harm in verifying it. Also, this may result in some delay in getting the updates if the nearest mirror where the repository is cached is not updated frequently. This is useful for people with relatively slower internet connection. You can also these tips to speed up wifi speed in Ubuntu.

Use apt-fast instead of apt-get for a speedy update:

apt-fast is a shellscript wrapper for “apt-get” that improves updated and package download speed by downloading packages from multiple connection simultaneously. If you frequently use terminal and apt-get to install and update the packages, you may want to give apt-fast a try. Install apt-fast via official PPA using the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:apt-fast/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install apt-fast
Remove language related ign from apt-get update:

Have you ever noticed the output of sudo apt-get update? There are three kind of lines in it, hit, ign and get. You can read their meaning here. If you look at IGN lines, you will find that most of them are related to language translation. If you use all the applications, packages in English, there is absolutely no need of a translation of package database from English to English.

If you suppress this language related updates from apt-get, it will slightly increase the apt-get update speed. To do that, open the following file:

sudo gedit /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/00aptitude
And add the following line at the end of this file:

Acquire::Languages "none";
speed up apt get update in Ubuntu

Reduce overheating:

Overheating is a common problem in computers these days. An overheated computer runs quite slow. It takes ages to open a program when your CPU fan is running like Usain Bolt. There are two tools which you can use to reduce overheating and thus get a better system performance in Ubuntu 13.10, TLP and CPUFREQ.

To install and use TLP, use the following commands in a terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw
sudo tlp start
You don’t need to do anything after installing TLP. It works in background. To install CPUFREQ indicator use the following command:

sudo apt-get install indicator-cpufreq
Restart your computer and use the Powersave mode in it:

CPUFREQ Indicator Applet

Tweak LibreOffice to make it faster:

If you are a frequent user of office product, then you may want to tweak the default LibreOffice a bit to make it faster. You will be tweaking memory option here. Open LibreOffice and go to Tools->Options. In there, choose Memory from left side bar and enable Systray Quickstarter along with increasing memory allocation.

Improve Libre Office performance

You can read more about how to speed up LibreOffice in detail.

Use lighter alternatives of different applications:

This is more of a suggestion and liking. Some of the default or popular applications are resource heavy and may not be suitable for a low end computer. What you can do is to use some alternates to these applications. For example, use AppGrid instead of Ubuntu Software Center. Use Gdebi to install packages. Use AbiWord instead of LibreOffice Writer etc.

   preview   Most Effective Ways To Reduce Laptop Overheating In Linux -- December 16, 2015

Looking for laptop overheating solutions in Linux? Trust me, you are the not the only one facing laptop overheating issue in Linux. As the mercury rises in the summer season, the fan speed of the computer goes nuts. If you are using a laptop, it becomes unbearable to use it in your lap for its bottom is too hot to handle. You might wonder if there is a way to prevent overheating of laptops and I am going to tell you several ways to prevent laptop overheating in any Linux distribution, if not eliminate it entirely (which is almost impossible).

Reduce overheating of laptops in Linux

We will see various tools that you can use to control CPU temperature, monitor apps and their effects on hardware temperature, daemons which you can install and forget along with best practices you should follow to reduce overheating of laptops. The tips stated here should be applicable to all Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora, Arch Linux, elementary OS etc. It should also work for all kind of laptops i.e. HP, Acer, Dell, Toshiba etc. I have used them with Ubuntu installed on an Acer laptop.

A. Tools you can install to prevent overheating of laptops in Linux

1. TLP

TLP is my favorite power management tool in Linux. It’s a daemon that is pre-configured to reduce overheating as well as improve battery life. You just need to install TLP and restart your system. It will be auto-start at each boot and keep on running in background. I have always included installation of TLP in top things to do after installing Ubuntu for its simplicity and usefulness.

To install TLP in Ubuntu based Linux distributions, use the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw
If you are using ThinkPads, you require an additional step:

sudo apt-get install tp-smapi-dkms acpi-call-dkms
Restart your system after installation. Check this page for installation instructions in other Linux distributions.

You may start to feel the difference in few hours or in couple of days. To uninstall TLP, you can use the following commands:

sudo apt-get remove tlp
sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:linrunner/tlp

2. thermald

Developed by Intel’s Open Source division, Linux Thermal Daemon (thermald) is a tool that monitors and controls the CPU temperature, resulting in reduced overheating. Thermald is available in Ubuntu repositories and can be installed using the following command:

sudo apt-get install thermald

It should be available in repositories of other distributions as well. As per the users’ feedback, thermald and TLP do not conflict with each other so you can install both of these together. According to WebUpd8, thermald works a lot better with intel_pstate. You can read about how to enable intel p_state here.

3. Laptop Mode Tools

Laptop Mode Tools is a laptop power saving package for Linux systems that allows you to configure it in several ways to get more battery life. You might be wondering why am I talking about extending battery life when we are aiming to reduce overheating? The reason is that running your laptop in power save mode does reduces overheating. So, this Laptop Mode Tools will help you get extended battery life as well as reduce overheating to an extent. Unfortunately, Laptop Mode Tools and TLP doesn’t go well together therefore you need to uninstall TLP before you go on installing Laptop Mode Tools.

You can use the following PPA by WebUpd8 to install Laptop Mode Tools in Ubuntu based Linux distributions:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/unstable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install laptop-mode-tools
It also has a GUI that let’s you easily configure the tool. You can start the GUI using the command below:

gksu lmt-config-gui

4. CPUfreq

With CPUfreq, you can choose the mode you want the laptop to run in. There are three modes, performance, on demand and power saver. Running the laptop in Power Saver mode reduces overheating. The tool is easy to use thanks to its indicator applet in Ubuntu. To install CPUfreq in Ubuntu based Linux distributions, use the following command:

sudo apt-get install indicator-cpufreq
When installed, just choose the power saver mode from the indicator applet.

Install cpufreq in Ubuntu 13.04

Last I know, CPUfreq doesn’t conflict with TLP. I think it should not conflict with thermald and Laptop Mode Tools as well (if you install them as well).

Out of the four tools mentioned, which one should go with?? Answer differs from person to person. I usually install TLP along with CPUfreq. But you can try each one of them one by one to see which one works the best for you. It will be easier to see the performance of these tools if you monitor your computer’s temperature. We are going to see next on how to monitor hardware temperature.

B. Monitor hardware temperature

If you are planning to install or already installed one (or more) of the above tools, try to see the difference between temperature before and after the installation of the tool in similar working condition. Monitoring hardware temperature is also helpful in diagnosing if there is a particular application that consumes too much of CPU resulting in overheating of computer. At times, some applications consume too much of CPU. Getting rid of such applications may also result in overheat reduction.

To monitor hardware temperature, we will be using Psensor. Psensor is a GUI tool that allows you to monitor CPU, GPU, hard disk temperature along with fan rotation speed. It provides a real time graphical way to show the requested data.

psensor in Ubuntu

Before you install Psensor, you need to install a few more things to make it work. Use the following command first:

sudo apt-get install lm-sensors hddtemp
Then start the detection of your hardware sensors:

sudo sensors-detect
Once everything in place, use the following command to install Psensor:

sudo apt-get install psensor
In Ubuntu, Psensor also has an indicator applet for quick access to the monitoring information.

show temperature in psensor ubuntu

Read this article on hardware monitoring with Psensor in Ubuntu to learn more on how to configure Psensor.

C. Try a lighter desktop environment

If your laptop is slightly on the lower end of hardware, there are chances that it might be struggling to keep up with the performance demand of newer desktop environments such as Unity and GNOME. Quite obviously, if your CPU is always worked up, it will result in overheating. I am not a fan of this solution but if you could, try to settle for a lighter desktop environment such as LXDE or XFCE.

To install Ubuntu version of XFCE, use the following commands:

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop
To install LXDE, just look for it in Ubuntu Software Center. For other Linux distributions, check the Wiki and help forums of your distribution to find the installation instructions. Once you install a desktop environment, log out and change the desktop environment from the login screen:

Change desktop environment in Ubuntu 14.04

D. Best practices to prevent laptop overheating

So far we have talked about soft(ware) way of dealing with overheating issue. Let’s take the hard(ware) road. There are few general practices and things to keep in mind while using a laptop that should prevent overheating.

1. Don’t use laptops on fabrics directly

laptop bottom overheating

I understand that a laptop was intended to use in lap but it often creates problem. If you turn over your laptop, you’ll find that the bottom of the laptop is elevated slightly at the corners on the edges with the help of wedges (see the white squares in the above picture). This is designed in such way because laptop sucks air from the bottom to keep its cool. When you use it in your lap or any other uneven surface, the passage of air is blocked. Result is overheating.

If you use your laptop in your bed on your quilt (comforter), it is even more harmful. This way not only the air vent is obstructed, laptops also suck some cotton or fur that gets stuck in the air ducts and fan. This adds up to the overheating trouble you are already facing. What can you do in such case?

If you ask me, I always use a hard plain surface under the laptop, no matter where I am using it. It’s actually a big cardboard calendar which I got from my company. Works quite well for me. If you could shell out a few bucks, try to buy a laptop cooling or thermal pad. It could help to reduce overheating. Refer to this article for more tips to know what sort of cooling fan to buy.

2. Get your laptop cleaned from time to time

dusty laptop linux

As we discussed in the above section, if your laptop’s air ducts are jammed with fabrics and dust, your laptop will have a persistent overheating problem. Just look at the bottom of your laptop and look closely in the places where there are opening for air. Is it jammed up? How does the fan of your laptop sounds? Is it too noisy? If yes, it might need some cleaning.

Now this the hard part. If you are an experienced one with enough confidence, you can fetch a screw driver and start cleaning your laptop to make some room for passing air. But if you not confident enough, don’t try on your own, you might end up damaging the laptop. In such case, I’ll suggest to take help of a professional. Look for a professional computer service person in your area who could do clean up your laptop. Such clean up once a year keeps the laptop healthy and cool.

   preview   Tips and Tricks to Get the Most out of Your Linux WiFi -- December 14, 2015

Regardless of your operating system, wireless can sometimes be a headache. Either you drop a signal, your wireless connections flakes out, your connection is slow, or your wireless device winds up MIA. Either way, there are times you’ll wind up having to troubleshoot or tinker to get the most out of that connection.

Everyone using Linux knows that wireless problems aren’t limited to our favorite open source platform. As with printers, all operating systems can succumb to the woes of wireless. Fortunately, with Linux, there are plenty of ways to prevent or fix the problems.

For those that like to eke out the most power and functionality from their system, I will provide a few tips and tricks specific to wireless connectivity. Hopefully, one of these tips will be exactly what you need to get the most out of your own wireless connection.

I will be demonstrating these tips using Ubuntu GNOME 15.10 and elementary OS Freya. If you’re using a different distribution, you’ll only need to make minor alterations to the command structure for this to work (such as, su’ing to root instead of using sudo).

Increase Wireless Signal Strength

Believe it or not, you can actually strengthen the signal of your wireless card. It’s not very hard, but it does require the use of the command line. What this tip does is increase the TX (or transmit) power of your wireless card. For those that don’t know, the TX power is the broadcasting power of your transmitting antenna. Typically, the TX power is set to 20 dBm, but can be set to significantly higher values. Here’s what you need to do:

Open up a terminal window

Issue the command ifconfig

Determine the name of your wireless card (mine is wlp4s0)

Install wavemon with the command sudo apt-get install wavemon

Run the wavemon command and notate the TX value under Statistics

Bring your wireless connection down with the command ifconfig wlp4s0 down

Set the wireless regional setting to Bolivia (where they allow the use of 1000 mW tx-power) with the command iw reg set BO

Bring the wireless connection back up with the command sudo ifconfig wlp4s0 up

Rerun the wavemon command and take note of the TX value

After switching the regional setting on my card, the TX value saw a significant increase. Check out the values of the post-configured TX settings (see Figure 1 above).

There are some caveats to setting such a high TX:

You might find your wireless card getting a bit too hot, which can lead to data errors

Excessive power usage, which can heat up the board surrounding the wireless chip

If you start seeing errors associated with wireless, or your machine reboots or shuts down for no reason, you should set the TX power to a lower setting. If that’s the case, you can always set a specific TX rating with a command like:

iw wlp4s0 set txpower fixed 30mBm
That would set the TX power to 30 (as opposed to the usual default of 20). This is a decent increase that won’t have the added effect of possibly overheating your chip.

Disable Power Management

Some wireless cards support power management. This feature can sometimes get in the way of the card’s connection quality (which also affects connection speeds). If your card happens to support it, you can turn off the power management feature with a simple command:

iwconfig wlp4s0 power off
The problem with the command is that, as soon as you reboot, it will reset to the default on setting. To get around this, you’ll have to create a short script that will run the command at boot. Here’s how:

Create the script (we’ll call it wifipower) with the following contents (you will substitute the name of your wireless card where mine says wlp4s0):

/sbin/iwconfig wlp4s0 power off
Save the script and give it executable permissions with the command chmod u+x wifipower. With the permissions in place, move the file to /etc/init.d and issue the command update-rc.d wifipower defaults. Now the power management feature will turn off at boot. The only caveat to this is ensuring your card supports the feature. If it doesn’t, the power off command will report back to you that the feature isn’t supported.

Set the BSSID

Did you know that the Linux Network Manager rescans the network every two minutes? This can actually cause problems with your wireless connection. If you happen to work with your wireless in the same, familiar locations, you can set the BSSID to the MAC address of your router which will prevent Network Manager from scanning for access points on that particular wireless connection. Here’s how:

Open up the Network Manager (usually found in the system tray of your desktop)

Select the wireless connection you want to work with

Click Edit

In the Wi-Fi tab, click the drop-down associated with BSSID (Figure 2)

Select the MAC address for your router (if it does not appear, you’ll have to locate it on your router and enter it manually)

Click Save

More info and images at

   preview   Windows 10... Information, Problems, Solutions, Options, etc.? -- March 13, 2016

We have noticed a great many people are having problems with the FREE update to Windows 10. This is especially true if you have an older (a computer that came with Windows 7 or earlier). It might be incompatible software, hardware, or any number of things that you don't like or does not work correctly. Also no amount of researching or setting change seems to solve the problem. Reverting back to your OLD OS may be the best (or only) solution until Windows 10 gets more mature and all the bugs worked out.

Many people do not know that you can UNDO the Windows 10 "upgrade". If you want to go back to your old Operating System the item below: How to revert to the previously installed OS (Windows 8.1 or Windows 7). should be of GREAT help.

NOTE: Reverting from an "upgraded" OS (back to your previous one) can only be CLEANLY done within the first 30 days after the upgrade. Once those 30 days are up then you will be forced to reinstall your OLD Operating System using the tools that came with your older Operating System or computer, or YOU MUST reinstall Windows 10 from scratch.

We have provided this page to help you with this. It contains much more additional information about Windows 10 including Tips, Installation instructions, What to do if you have problems, Other options do you have, etc. (scroll down for more). We at hope you will find it helpful

 Must I upgrade to Windows 10?

You DO NOT have to "upgrade" to Windows 10.

Though many laud Windows 10 as revolutnary and when it installs well on a newer computer it will boots faster and runs better than ever, many reviewers rate Windows 10 as "UNFINISHED" or a Beta software release. Many advise people to wait for a few months before you Upgrade. OR... Use the OS you have

For instance Windows 7 is supported until 2020 and Windows 8 until 2023. To get a good idea of when various versions of Windows will be at their end of their support life, check out the Microsoft page: Windows Lifecycle fact sheet.

 Things to keep in mind BEFORE you upgrade!

Does my computer's manufacturer support upgrading it to Windows 10? You MUST check if this upgrade is able to be installed. As a "rule of thumb" any computer that came with Windows Vista or earlier is UNLIKELY to be able to run Windows 10. This is one of the MAIN reasons it is a FREE upgrade for ONLY Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Computers built before Windows 7 was released may have hardware that is incompatible with many Windows 10's features. This is not well documented by Microsoft. Even though it is marketed as able to be run on many older computers, it runs best on Windows 7or Windows 8.1 computers. Even some of these will not upgrade well. At the very least you should check the Compatibility report for Windows 10. It may just open your eyes on whether or not you should even attempt the upgrade.

Do I have a way back to where I was with all of my data and software intact? Downgrade. This is covered under "Clean Install" on this page.

Do I realize I have a choice and Windows 7 is fine. It may be better than Windows 8.1 for me; so how to I stop or block this nonsense because by 2020 I may be dead. See the Tip on how to stop Windows have it covered.

Do I want to invest the time and energy resources in figuring out and troubleshooting problems that have no precedent or documentation?

How will I continue to work on a production machine [printing included]... Is it 100% possible that my printer and speakers and graphics card, etc. are not Windows 10 ready or if Windows 10 fails on my older hardware?

What is my backup plan?.. How will I continue to produce and consume if Windows 10 fails?

If after thinking this through, you still decide to upgrade BE SURE you have a FULL BACKUP of your present system should you be "underwhelmed" and want your old system back. You can use the Windows 7 Backup program (part of Windows 7 and 8 / 8.1). Any other backup program you may have or one of the free backup programs from the Internet. Personally many of us like the FREE program "EaseUS Todo Backup Free".

 How to revert to the previously installed Windows OS (Windows 8.1 or Windows 7).

1. From the Windows 10 Menu Icon go to "Settings / UPDATE & SECURITY / Recovery".

2. Look for the "Go back to Windows 8.1 (or 7)" entry.

3. Click on "Get started" and follow the prompts to go through the restore process.

Once it is complete you will find yourself in the familiar old OS and everything should be copasetic.

NOTE - If you previously cleaned up after your Windows 10 install by using the "Disk Cleanup tool" and removed the "Windows.old" folder this option will not be available. You must instead do a "CLEAN INSTALL" install instead.

This process is the same for Windows 7 except the entry will say: "Go back to Windows 7".

NOTE also: Remember... To Revert to your former Operating System you MUST do it within the first 30 days of the "upgrade". If you do not you MUST do a "CLEAN INSTALL".

 30 days have passed and I want to go back... WHAT NOW?

Microsoft has you covered (sort of) but it is NOT easy. Their page at This Link, though completely correct and helpful leaves you with "less-than-optimum" solutions:

  1. Restore from a system restore point.Reset your PC.

  2. Go back to your previous version of Windows

  3. Use a recovery drive to reinstall Windows.

  4. Use installation media to reinstall Windows.

Unfortunately option 1. requires you to have made a "Restore Point" PRIOR to the upgrade. This is very unlikely to work since a "Restore Point" does not restore the previous OS but just its settings. Option 2. Requires you to have updated installation media. This is not too likely if you have a Windows 8.1 computer since it did not come on a disk.Option 3. Also requires you to have Installation Media or a Restore partition on your computer. This is the same with option 4. and option 5. So, after 30 days, you really do not get back your old system with all programs intact.

 Doing a CLEAN Install of Windows 10

Doing a clean install is quite simple, as long as you make sure you have a valid license. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Back up all your data first! Doing a clean install erases everything on your hard drive: applications, documents, everything. So, we do not recommend continuing until you have backed up any and all of your data.
    1. A Good FREE program you can get to do this "EaseUS Todo Backup Free". (through cNET) (or directly from "This Link").

  2. If you bought a copy of Windows 10, you will have a license key in the box or in your email. Grab this license key and have it on hand. If you were previously a Windows 7 or 8 user, you are eligible for a free upgrade. However, according to Microsoft, you have to upgrade an existing computer to do so. So, even if you want to do a clean install, wait for the Windows 10 update to hit your computer, then install the upgrade first. It feels like a waste of time, but it is the only way to ensure you get your free license. Once you have done so, you will not need a key... Windows will just "know" your computer from then on, even if you erase the drive. Just skip any prompts for license keys, and after installing Windows 10 it should activate itself automatically.
    1. When Windows 10 is installed it creates a NEW license key. You can use a tool like "Belarc Advisor" (FREE version) to find the NEW key. Once found WRITE IT DOWN... You may (probably will) need it in the future.

    2. Another VERY GOOD FREE Key finder is "ProduKey". It has the capability to recover keys for "1000+ major programs" (according to their web site).

  3. Once you have either got your license key or installed the free Windows 10 upgrade, head to this page and download Microsoft's "Media Creation Tool". Once it downloads Launch it.

  4. Select the "Create installation media for another PC" option and click "Next" (even if you are using the computer on which you are installing Windows 10).

  5. Choose your language and edition of Windows. If you bought Windows 10, it will say which edition you have on the box or in your email. If you upgraded from Windows 7 or 8, you can check which version you have under "Control Panel > System and Security > System".

  6. Choose what kind of media you want to create. We recommend using a USB flash drive.

  7. The "Media Creation Tool" will download and burn the installation files for you. When it is done, restart your computer, keeping your flash drive plugged in.

  8. Boot from your flash drive. You can usually do this by pressing "F12" (or a similar key) at startup, then choosing your flash drive from the list that appears. If that does not work, read this article for more options.

  9. You should be greeted with the Windows 10 installer. Follow the initial prompts and, when given the option, choose "Custom: Install Windows Only".

  10. Select the hard drive you want to install Windows 10 on. If you are not sure which drive or partition it is, look for the largest one, or the one that says "Primary" in the right column... That is probably it (but make extra sure before continuing, because you will erase that hard drive!)

  11. Click the "Format" button. (If the Format button is grayed out, click "Delete", then click "New".) Press "Next" to install Windows 10 on that drive.

  12. Allow the installation wizard to guide you through the rest of the process.

Once you have installed Windows 10, just grab all your favorite apps from our "Download center" (you will have to login to your FREE account to do so or register for a free account) and enjoy setting up your fresh machine!

Remember... Windows 10 is Microsoft's foray into subscription ware. Their plan is that Windows 10 will be THE LAST version of Windows. However it will be constantly upgraded and improved with new features added on an on-going basis. As such there will be NO MORE "Patch Tuesdays" for Windows 10. Patches, updates, features, and upgrades will be issued on a constant basis. If you own Windows 10 Home Version you WILL NOT be able to choose when these are installed. Windows 10 Pro (and above) WILL BE ABLE to defer these updates BUT it is STRONGLY suggested that you install them as they are issued.

(As it sits now and is open for modification... People who get the free upgrade WILL NOT have to subscribe but will have lifetime upgrades gratis. People who purchase Windows 10 after the one year free upgrade window WILL have to subscribe on a yearly basis.)

 Worst Case scenario -- Your C: drive (Boot drive) becomes corrupted.

Two very good tutorials on how to fix this relatively common problem when performing a CLEAN install of Windows 10 are:

  1. The article: How To Fix A Corrupted Windows NTFS File system With Ubuntu. This is NOT for the "faint heart" and you WILL have to make a bootable CD / DVD or Thumb drive. If you carefully follow the instructions however, you will be rewarded with a functioning C: drive. Be careful to NOT USE THE EASILY FOUND LINKS on the top of the page, but rather use the links under the heading: "Download, Install & Boot Ubuntu" THIS DIRECT LINK" where it describes how to use UNetbootin to make a CD or USB thumb drive to make a Ubuntu rescue disk. (Again be sure to use the CORRECT LINK on that page.)

  2. Perhaps your upgrade or Clean Install went to the wrong drive, Repartitioned your C: drive, Installed onto the recovery partition (rather than C:), or a plethora of other problems occurred during the install. The article: To make one big fresh partition (deletes all data on your filesystem) explains how to completely refresh your C: drive removing ALL partitions (optionally including the recovery partition - you decide) and any other partitions on your Physical C: drive. This is a "LAST RESORT" but I (the author) have had to do it on one of my systems. It too is NOT for the "faint of heart" but if done carefully will work very well.

 Official Microsoft support

Recognizing that there is a GREAT deal of work to do on and many problems with Windows 10 and offers a great deal of help on their Need help with Windows 10? pages. There you will find mainly help with how to use Windows 10 and is light on solving Windows 10 problems.Microsoft also offers an Answer Desk where you may find some additional help in the form of Phone support, Online Chat, or Phone Back support.

   preview   Wipe vs Shred vs Delete vs Erase: What's the Difference? -- November 22, 2015

You can delete a file without erasing it, erase a drive without wiping it, shred a file without deleting it, and wipe hundreds of files at once... that were already deleted.

Confused? I'm not surprised! These four terms - wipe, shred, delete, and erase - might sometimes be used interchangeably but they shouldn't be.

Each word implies something different being done to a file, folder, or even space that looks empty, on a hard drive, flash drive, or some other storage device.

Here's how these concepts differ and why it's important that you understand exactly how they do:

Delete: "Hide Me, but I'll Be Here If You Really Need Me"

The word delete is one we use a lot. A coworker asks if you still have that document on your tablet and you say "I deleted it" or your friend asks if you've "deleted" that photo of him from the party last night.

It's even entered the common lexicon - my son told me once that he "deleted" his gum wrapper. I'm serious (he had thrown it away). It's synonymous with "get rid of" but in reality, that's anything but true.

Here's the truth: when you delete something, be it on your computer, smartphone, digital camera, or anywhere else, you don't remove it from existence, you just hide it from yourself. The actual data that makes up whatever you deleted is still there.

Deleted files, especially ones that were recently deleted, are easy to get back with data recovery software, much of which is freely available online. That's great news if you've made a mistake, but a big problem if you really, truly did want that file gone.

If you want to truly erase data, you'll need to actually erase the data.

Erase: "Are You Sure? You'll NEVER See Me Again!"

The term erase is what most of us are probably after when we get rid of, or try to get rid of, files.

Erasing something, at least in the technology world, implies that it's gone for good.

There are three generally accepted ways to erase data: wipe or scrub it using a special program designed to do such, disrupt the magnetic field of whatever thing is storing the data, or physically destroy the device.

Unless you never want to use the hard drive, memory card, flash drive, or whatnot again, the first method - wiping or scrubbing the data - is what you'll want to do.

In summary: when you erase a file, you make it impossible to get back.

In many ways, wiping data and scrubbing data are identical ways of erasing data. The main difference between the two is the scope of the erasing...

Wipe: "I'm Going to Erase EVERYTHING"

When you wipe a hard drive, or some other storage device, you erase everything that's currently on it, as well as anything you've previously deleted that might still exist.

Programs that can wipe entire drives are often referred to as data destruction software programs. They work by overwriting every divisible part of the drive, used or otherwise, via one of several data sanitization methods.

In summary: when you wipe a drive, you completely and permanently erase everything on it.

Since a wipe erases everything on a drive, it's usually something you do with a storage device once you're done with it or when you want to start over from scratch.

See my How to Wipe a Hard Drive tutorial for a full walkthorugh of this process, something I recommend you do before you sell or give away your computer or hard drive.

Shred: "I'm Going to Erase This, and Only This"

When you shred a piece of data, usually one or more files or folders, you erase whatever it is you selected, and only those items.

Shredding individual files, like wiping entire drives, erases data by overwriting the space with some pattern of 1's and 0's. Programs that do this are called file shredder programs and there are many free ones available.

In summary: when you shred files, you completely and permanently erase them.

Because shredding is something you can do whenever you want to, on a small collection of files, file shredder tools are often installed and used on a regular basis as way to really erase whatever it is you'd otherwise delete.

What About Formatting? Does it Delete or Erase Data?

If you've ever formatted a drive before, you might have been under the impression that it's one way to truly erase a drive. That may or may not have been the correct impression.

In any version of Windows, a quick format is always a fancy way of deleting - not erasing - the files on the drive. That's part of the reason it's so fast!

In Windows XP, the format process, no matter how you do it, is just a whole-drive-delete. The reason a normal format takes so long is because it's checking the drive for issues.

In Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista, a normal (non-quick) format automatically does a one-pass, write-zero overwriting of data - a very simple wipe, and probably just fine unless you work for the NSA.

   preview   An Introduction to Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW) -- November 3, 2015

One of the many heralded aspects of Linux is its security. From the desktop to the server, you’ll find every tool you need to keep those machines locked down as tightly as possible. For the longest time, the security of Linux was in the hands of iptables (which works with the underlying netfilter system). Although incredibly powerful, iptables is complicated—especially for newer users. To truly make the most out of that system, it may take weeks or months to get up to speed. Thankfully, a much simpler front end for iptables is ready to help get your system as secure as you need.

That front end is Uncomplicated Firewall (UFW). UFW provides a much more user-friendly framework for managing netfilter and a command-line interface for working with the firewall. On top of that, if you’d rather not deal with the command line, UFW has a few GUI tools that make working with the system incredibly simple.

But, before we find out what GUI tools are available, it’s best to understand how the UFW command-line system works.

Working with the Command

The fundamental UFW command structure looks like this:

ufw [--dry-run] [options] [rule syntax]
Notice the --dry-run section. UFW includes the ability to include this argument which informs the command to not make any changes. Instead, you will see the results of your changes in the output.

As for working with the command, UFW can be used in two ways:

Simple syntax: Specifies a port and (optionally) the protocol

Full syntax: Specifies source, destination, port, and (optionally) the protocol

Let’s look at the simple syntax first. Say, for example, you want to allow traffic on port 22 (SSH). To do this with UFW, you’d run a command like:

sudo ufw allow 22
NOTE: I added sudo to the command because you must have admin privileges to run ufw. If you’re using a distribution that doesn’t take advantage of sudo, you’d first have to su to root and then run the same command (minus sudo).

Conversely, say you want to prevent traffic on port 22. To do this, the command would look like:

sudo ufw deny 22
Should you want to add a protocol to this, the command would look like:

sudo ufw deny 22/tcp
What happens if you don’t happen to know the port number for a service? The developers have taken that into consideration. UFW will run against /etc/services in such a way that you can define a rule using a service instead of a port. To allow SSH traffic, that command would look like:

sudo ufw allow ssh
Pretty simple, right? You can also add protocols to the above command, in the same way you did when defining a rule via port number.

sudo ufw allow ssh/tcp
Of the available arguments, the ones you’ll use the most with the ufw command are:





status: displays if the firewall is active or inactive

show: displays the current running rules on your firewall

reset: disables and resets the firewall to default

reload: reloads the current running firewall

disable: disables the firewall

If you want to use a fuller syntax, you can then begin to define a source and a destination for a rule. Say, for example, you have an IP address you’ve discovered has been attempting to get into your machine (for whatever reason) through port 25 (SMTP). Let’s say that address is (even though it’s an internal address) and your machine address is To block that address from gaining access (through any port), you could create the rule like so:

sudo ufw deny from to port 25
Let’s look at the limit option. If you have any reason for concern that someone might be attempting a denial of service attack on your machine, via port 80. You can limit connections to that port with UFW, like so:

sudo ufw limit 80/tcp
By default, the connection will be blocked after six attempts in a 30-second period.

You might also have a need to allow outgoing traffic on a certain port but deny incoming traffic on the same port. To do this, you would use the directional argument like so. To allow outgoing traffic on port 25 (SMTP), issue the command:

sudo ufw allow out on eth0 to any port 25 proto tcp
You could then add the next rule to block incoming traffic on the same interface and port:

sudo ufw deny in on eth0 from any 25 proto tcp
GUI Tools

Now that you understand the basics of UFW, it’s time to find out what GUI tools are available to make using this handy firewall even easier. There aren’t many which are actively maintained, and many distributions default to one in particular. That GUI is…

Gufw is one of the most popular GUI front ends for UFW. It’s available for Ubuntu, Linux Mint, openSUSE, Arch Linux, and Salix OS. With Gufw, you can easily create profiles to match different uses for a machine (home, public, office, etc.). As you might expect from such a tool, Gufw offers an interface that would make any level of user feel right at home

Some distributions, such as Ubuntu, don’t install Gufw by default. You will, however, find it in the Ubuntu Software Center. Search for gufw and install with a single click.

The UFW GUI tool found in Elementary OS Freya.

If your distribution happens to be Elementary OS Freya, there’s a new front end for UFW built into the settings tool that allows you to very easily add rules to UFW (). You can learn more about the Elementary OS Freya UFW front end from my post “Get to Know the Elementary OS Freya Firewall Tool.”

You might also come across another front end called ufw-frontends. That particular GUI hasn’t been in developed for some time now, so it’s best to avoid that particular app.

For most users, there is no need to spend the time learning iptables—not when there’s a much more user-friendly front end (that also happens to include solid GUI tools) that’ll get the job done. Of course, if you’re looking for business- or enterprise-class firewalling, you should certainly spend the time and effort to gain a full understanding of iptables.

Which is right for your needs, UFW or iptables?

   preview   How to update your Android OS -- December 26, 2015

Whether you're finally ready to update your Android device to Lollipop (5.0) or getting ready for the imminent Marshmallow (6.0) release, there are a few things you need to know before taking the leap. How you can access OS updates will vary, and you should prepare your phone or tablet in a few ways before you start downloading. The newer your phone is, the sooner you'll receive updates from your carrier, while Google issues updates directly to its Nexus line of Android devices.

Check your version
  • First, you should check which version of Android your device is running, by going into settings; for most smartphones, you'll find this under "About phone." The latest version, as of September 2015, is 5.1.1, also known as Lollipop.
    • (Android has a full list of OS names and version numbers online.)
  • Also in the "About phone" section of settings is your phone's model number, which can also help you figure out how to update your device. Check the manufacturer and carrier websites to find out how software updates work for your specific device.
  • If you own a Google Nexus device, you probably already know that your device receives updates directly from Google with no carrier intervention. In this case, you will be alerted to updates within the first few days of an OS release.
  • Otherwise, if you own a newer non-Nexus device, you'll be first in line when your carrier starts rolling out OS updates. The older your device, the longer you'll have to wait.
  • And if its particularly old, you may not receive updates at all. The same applies if you have a lower-end device; again, check with your manufacturer and carrier to find out their policy. For most Android smartphones, you can check for system updates by going into settings. This includes both OS releases and security updates, such as the recent Stagefright fix.

Back up back up back up
  • Before you proceed, be sure to back up all of your data, just in case something goes wrong with the update. You should be backing up your information regularly. There is a multitude of backup apps available out there from carriers, manufacturers, and third parties. Download and use one now.

Check your space
  • While you're backing up your phone's data, check to see how much space is available on your device. You may have to offload some of your apps, pictures, and other files to make room. Android outlines how much space you need in order to download an update, which you'll probably want to do over Wi-Fi, if you don't have an unlimited data plan.

Rooting is always an option
  • If you want the latest OS as soon as it's available, you can always choose to root your phone, which enables you to access updates when you want them. That's just one of the many benefits of rooting your Android device. You'll also be able to access features not yet available to unrooted Android smartphones and tablets, and you'll have more control over your device to boot.

   preview   How To Install Ubuntu Linux On Windows 10 In 24 Steps -- October 16, 2015


This guide will show you how to download and install Ubuntu Linux on Windows 10 in such a way that it won’t harm Windows.

The upside to following this guide is that Ubuntu Linux will only run when you tell it to and it doesn’t require any special partitioning of your disks.

The method used to install Ubuntu is to download a piece of software called Virtualbox from Oracle which allows you to run other operating systems as virtual computers on top of your current operating system which in your case is Windows 10.

What You Will Need

In order to install Ubuntu Linux on Windows 10 you will need to download the following applications:

Oracle Virtualbox
Virtualbox Guest Additions

Steps Required To Run Ubuntu Linux On Windows 10

1. Download Oracle Virtualbox
To download Virtualbox visit and click on the large download button in the middle of the screen.

Is My Computer 32-Bit Or 64-Bit.
2. 32-Bit or 64-Bit
To find out whethe you are running a 32-bit or 64-bit system click on the Windows start button and search for PC Info.

Click on the link for “About your PC”.

The screen that appears tells you lots of useful information about your computer such as the amount of RAM, the processor and the current operating system.

The most important part however is the system type which as you can see from the image shows that my system is 64-bit. Using the same technique you can work out which system type your computer is.

Where To Download Ubuntu Linux.

3. Download Ubuntu
To download Ubuntu visit

There are two versions of Ubuntu available:

Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS
Ubuntu 15.04 (soon to be Ubuntu 15.10)

Ubuntu 14.04 is for people who don’t want to upgrade their operating system every 6 months. The support period has a number of years to run and therefore it really is a case of installing it and getting on with your life.

Ubuntu 15.04, 15.10 and beyond are the latest releases and have more up to date developments which aren’t available in 14.04. The downside is that the support period is much shorter at just 9 months. The upgrade process isn’t a big deal but obviously requires more effort than just installing 14.04 and leaving it.

There is a big download link next to both versions and it is up to you whether you want to install 14.04 or 15.04 and beyond. The installation process doesn’t really change.

4. Download Virtualbox Guest Additions
The guest additions makes it possible to run the Ubuntu virtual machine in full screen mode at a suitable resolution.

To download Virtualbox Guest Additions visit

When the next page opens click on the link for VBoxGuestAdditions.iso (There will be a version number as part of the link i.e. VBoxGuestAdditions_5_0_6.iso).

Click on the link and let the file download.

Install Oracle VirtualBox -

5. How To Install VirtualBox
Press the start button and search for “Downloads”. Click on the link to the “Downloads” file folder.

When the downloads folder opens click on the Virtualbox application file you downloaded earlier on.

The Virtualbox setup wizard will begin. Click on “Next” to start the installation.

Choose where to install virtualbox -

6. Where To Install Virtualbox
The next screen lets you choose the Virtualbox installation options.

There is absolutely no reason not to choose the defaults unless you want to choose a different installation location in which case click on “Browse” and navigate to where you want to install Virtualbox.

Click “Next”to continue.

Creating Virtualbox Desktop Icons.
7. Create VirtualBox Desktop Icons
You now have the option to create shortcuts, either on the desktop and/or the quick launch bar and whether to register file associations such as VDI files to Virtualbox.

It is up to you whether you want to create shortcuts. Windows 10 is really easy to navigate with the powerful search button so you might decide not to bother creating either of the shortcuts.

Click “Next” to continue.

Virtualbox Network Interface Warning.

8. Virtualbox Warns About Resetting Your Network Connection
A warning will appear stating that your network connection will temporarily be reset. If this is a problem to you right now then click “No” and come back to the guide at a later stage otherwise click “Yes”.

Install VirtualBox.
9. Install VirtualBox
You are finally at the point of installing Virtualbox. Click the “Install” button.

A security message will appear asking whether you are sure you wish to install Virtualbox and halfway through the install you will be asked whether you want to install the Oracle Universal Serial Bus device software. Click “Install”.

Create A Ubuntu Virtual Machine.

10. Create A Ubuntu Virtual Machine
You can start Virtualbox simply by leaving the “Start Oracle VM Virtualbox after installation” checked and clicking “Finish” or for future reference click the start button and search for virtualbox.

Click on the “New” icon on the taskbar.

11. Choose The Type Of Virtual Machine

Give your machine a name. Personally I think it is a good idea to go for the Linux distribution name (i.e. Ubuntu) and the version number (14.04, 15.04, 15.10 etc).

Select “Linux” as the type and “Ubuntu” as the version. Make sure you choose the correct version based on whether you have a 32-bit or 64-bit machine.

Click “Next” to continue.

Set Virtual Machine Memory Size.

12. How Much Memory Do You Give Your Virtual Machine
You now have to choose how much of your computer’s memory you will assign to the virtual machine.

You cannot assign all of your computer’s memory to the virtual machine as you need to leave enough for Windows to continue running as well as any other programs that you have running within Windows.

The minimum you should consider assigning to Ubuntu is 2 gigabytes which is 2048 MB. The more you can give the better but don’t go overboard. As you can see I have 8 gigabytes of memory and I have assigned 4 gigabytes to the Ubuntu virtual machine.

Note that the amount of memory you set aside is only used whilst the virtual machine is running.

Slide the slider to the amount you want to assign and click “Next”.

Create A Virtual Hard Drive.

13. Create A Virtual Hard Drive
After assigning memory to the virtual machine you now have to set aside some hard drive space. Select the “Create a virtual hard disk now” option and click “Create”.

There are a number of different hard drive types that you can choose from. Choose “VDI” and click “Next”.

There are two ways to create the virtual hard drive:

Dynamically allocated

Fixed size

If you choose dynamically allocated it will only use space as it is required. So if you set 20 gigabytes aside for the virtual hard drive and only 6 is required then only 6 will be used. As you install more applications the extra space will be allocated as necessary.

This is more efficient in terms of disk space usage but isn’t so good for performance because you have to wait for the space to be allocated before you can use it.

The fixed size option allocates all the space you request straight away. This is less efficient in terms of disk space usage because you may have set aside space you never actually use but it is better for performance. Personally I believe this to be the better option as your computer generally has more disk space than memory and CPU power.

Choose the option you prefer and click “Next”.

Set Size Of Virtual Hard Drive -

14. Set The Size Of Your Virtual Hard Drive

Finally you are at the stage of setting how much space you wish to give to Ubuntu. The minimum is about 10 gigabytes but the more you can spare the better. You don’t have to go overboard though. If you are just installing Ubuntu in a virtual machine to test it out go for a smaller amount.

When you are ready click “Create” to continue.

Select The Ubuntu ISO.

15. Install Ubuntu On Your Virtual Machine
The virtual machine has now been created but it is like a computer that doesn’t have an operating system installed yet.

The first thing to do is to boot into Ubuntu. Click the start icon on the toolbar.

This is the point where you need to choose the Ubuntu ISO file you downloaded earlier. Click on the folder icon next to the “Host Drive” dropdown.

Navigate to the download folder and click on the Ubuntu disc image and then on “Open”.

Install Ubuntu.
16. Start The Ubuntu Installer
Click on the “Start” button.

Ubuntu should load into the little window and you will have the option to try Ubuntu or install Ubuntu.

Click on the “Install Ubuntu” option.

Ubuntu Pre-requisites.

17. Check Your Virtual Machine Meets The Pre-requisites

A list of pre-requisites will be displayed. Basically you need to make sure your machine has enough power (i.e. plug it in if you are using a laptop), has over 6.6 gigabytes of disk space and is connected to the internet.

You also have the option of downloading updates whilst installing and to install third party software.

If you have a good internet connection check the download updates option otherwise untick it and leave the updates to install at a later point post installation.

I recommend checking the install third party software option as it will allow you to play MP3 audio and watch Flash videos.

Click “Continue”.

Choose The Ubuntu Installation Type.

18. Choose The Installation Type

The next step lets you decide how to install Ubuntu. As you are using a virtual machine select the “Erase disk and install Ubuntu” option.

Do not worry. This will not erase your physical hard drive. It will just install Ubuntu in the virtual hard drive created earlier on.

Click “Install Now”.

A message will appear showing you the changes that will be made to your disk. Again this is only your virtual hard drive and so it is safe to click “Continue”.

Choose Your Location -

19. Choose Your Location

You will now be required to choose where you live. You can either select the place on the map or type it into the box available.

Click “Continue”.

Ubuntu Keyboard Layout Selection -

20. Choose Your Keyboard Layout

The penultimate step is to choose your keyboard layout.

You may find that the correct layout has already been chosen but it isn’t try clicking on the “Detect Keyboard Layout” option.

If that doesn’t work, click on the language for your keyboard in the left panel and then choose the physical layout in the right pane.

Click “Continue”.

21. Create A User

The final step is to create a user.

Enter your name in to the box provided and give your virtual machine a name.

Now choose a username and enter a password to associate with that user. (repeat the password as required).

The other options are to log in automatically or require a password to log in. You can also choose to encrypt your home folder.

As it is a virtual machine you may as well go for the “Log in automatically” option but I usually recommend always selecting the “Require my password to log in”.

Click “Continue”.

Ubuntu will now be installed.

When the installation has finished click the File menu and choose close.

You have the option to save the machine state, send the shutdown signal or power off the machine. Choose power off the machine and click OK.

Add An Optical Drive To Virtualbox.

22. Install Guest Additions

The next step is to install the guest additions.

Click on the settings icon on the VirtualBox toolbar

Click on the storage option and then click on IDE and choose the little circle with a plus symbol icon which adds a new optical drive.

An option will appear asking you to choose which disk to insert into the optical drive. Click on the “Choose disk” button.

Navigate to the downloads folder and click on the “VBoxGuestAdditions” disc image and select “Open”.

Click “OK” to close the settings window.

When you are back at the main screen click the start button on the toolbar.

Open The Virtualbox Guest Additions CD Folder -

23. Open The VirtualBox Guest Additions CD In Ubuntu
Ubuntu will boot for the first time but you won’t be able to use it full screen until the guest additions are properly installed.

Click on the CD icon at the bottom of the launcher panel on the left and make sure there are files for VirtualBox Guest Additions.

Right click on an empty space where the list of files are and choose open in terminal.

Install Virtualbox Guest Additions.

24. Install Virtualbox Guest Additions

Type the following into the terminal window:

sudo sh ./

Finally you need to reboot the virtual machine.

Click on the little cog symbol in the top right corner and choose shutdown.

You will be given the choice to restart or shutdown. Choose “Restart”.

When the virtual machine restarts choose the “View” menu and select “Full Screen Mode”.

A message will appear telling you that you can toggle between full screen and windowed mode by holding down the right CTRL key and F.

Click “Switch” to continue.

Your machine is now ready to use.....

   preview   Computer Memory Upgrade Guide -- October 16, 2015

One of the easiest ways to boost performance for an older PC is to add memory to the system. But before you go to get that memory upgrade, be sure to gather information about your computer to ensure you get the right memory for your system. It's also useful to know how much would be beneficial without overspending and getting too much.

How Much Memory Do I Have?

Find out how much memory is in the computer by examining the BIOS or operating system.

For Windows, this can be located by opening up the System properties from the Control Panel. In Mac OS X, open up the About This Mac from the Apple menu. This will tell you the total memory but not necessarily how the memory is installed. For this, you might need to open your computer and look at the physical slots.

How Much Do I Need?

Check your operating system and application programs. Often they will have a printed "Minimum" and "Recommended" memory listing somewhere on the package or in the manual. Find the highest number out of "Recommended" section and try to plan on having this much or more memory by the time you are done upgrading your system memory. I have found that 8GB seems to be the best amount for laptops and desktops. More than this is only useful if you are using very demanding programs.

Desktop Memory Buyer's Guide

Laptop Memory Buyer's Guide

What Type Does Your Computer Support?

Look through the manuals that came with your computer or motherboard. Included in the documentation should be a listing of the specifications for the memory supported.

This is important because it will list exactly the type, size and number of memory modules that are supported. Many retailers and memory manufacturers have this information in case you can't find the manuals. Most systems use DDR3 now and either 240-pin DIMM for desktops and 204-pin SODIMM for laptops but use the manuals or a memory configuration tool from a memory company to double check.

How Many Modules Should I Buy?

Typically, you want to buy as few modules as possible and buy them in pairs for the most efficient performance. Thus, if you have a PC with four memory slots of which just a single one is used with a 2GB module, you can purchase a single 2GB module to upgrade to 4GB of total memory or buy two 2GB modules to go to 6GB of memory. If you are mixing old modules with new ones, try to match their speed and capacity to try and allow dual-channel memory if your systems supports it for best performance results.

Memory Restriction

Laptops generally have two slots available for memory modules compared to four or more in desktop systems. This means that they are more limited in the amount of memory that can be installed. With current memory module technologies for DDR3, this restriction generally comes to 16GB of RAM in a laptop based on 8GB modules if the laptop can support them. 8GB is the more typical limit at this time. Some ultraportable systems are even fixed with one size of memory that cannot be changed at all. So what is important to know when you look at a laptop?

First find out what the maximum amount of memory is. This is generally listed by most of the manufacturers. This will let you know what upgrade potential the system has. Next, determine how the memory configuration is when you buy the system. For example, a laptop that has 4GB of memory can be configured as either a single 4GB module or two 2GB modules. The single memory module allows for better upgrade potential because adding another module you are gaining more memory without sacrificing any current memory. Upgrading the two module situation with a 4GB upgrade would result in the loss of one 2GB module and a memory total of 6GB. The downside is that some systems may actually perform better when configured with two modules in dual-channel mode compared to using a single module but generally those modules need to be of the same capacity and speed rating.

Self-Install Possible?

Most laptops today have a small door on the underside of the system with access to the memory module slots or the entire bottom cover may come off. If it does then it is possible to just purchase a memory upgrade and install it yourself without much trouble. A system without an external door or panel typically means that the memory cannot be upgraded at all as the systems is probably sealed. In some cases, the laptop may still be opened by an authorized technician with specialized tools so that it can be upgraded but that will mean a much higher expense to have the memory upgraded than just spending a bit more at the time of purchase to have more memory installed when it was built.

This is especially important if you are buying a laptop and intended to hold onto it for some time. If the memory cannot be upgraded after purchase, it is generally advisable to spend a bit more at the time of purchase to get it at least to as close to 8GB as possible to offset any potential future need. After all, if you then need 8GB but only have 4GB that can't be upgraded, you are hampering the performance of your laptop.


   preview   Trying Linux for the First Time: A Beginner's Guide -- March 19, 2016

You're probably familiar with Windows and/or Mac OS. But they aren't the only operating systems available. A popular alternative is Linux. In this article we introduce Linux and what you need to know to give it a try.

Linux penguin

we are constantly surprised by people who tell us they'd like to try Linux, but think it's "too hard".

There seems to be a common misapprehension that Linux is "for geeks". Certainly, this was once the case: dedicated users compiled their own kernels, and it wasn't for the faint-hearted.

But Linux has come a long way since those days. So, if you've never tried it, or tried it many years ago and gave up, we'd encourage you to think again.

Choose Your Flavor

Linux comes in many "flavors" or "distributions" normally referred to as distros. Some of these are aimed firmly at a mainstream audience, and we'd suggest using one of these to get your feet wet. The best known of these is possibly Ubuntu, which is the one many of us use and the one we'll concentrate on here. Linux Mint is also popular, but there are many more.

Difficult or Not?

So is it difficult to use? Not in our experience. The first thing we noticed when we switched to Ubuntu was the sudden reduction in the number of distress calls we received from our computer users. They seemed to experience fewer problems using the system than they had on Windows XP, and also seemed to feel more confident about trying things for themselves, rather than panicking that they might "break something".

We also set up a Xubuntu system for an elderly Client who had never used a computer of any kind, and she rapidly got to grips with it.

What Are the Benefits?

For many people, cost will be a consideration. Most popular Linux "distros" and their associated software" are free to download and use. For others, the open-source nature of the OS appeals.

Linux is also far less susceptible to viruses than Windows. The main reason for this is simply that most viruses are designed to target Windows machines and will have no effect on a Linux system. It's not true that Linux systems are immune to viruses, but they are very rare.

This added security is one reason we chose it for our elderly Client. Although Linux viruses are rare, ClamAV is free and helps ensure you don't inadvertently download and pass on viruses to friends with Windows.

Will Linux Be Compatible with My Hardware?

Linux will run well on most PCs, although if you have the very latest cutting-edge technology, you may find it's not immediately supported.

On the other hand, installing Linux can be a great way to breathe new life into old hardware. Some distros are designed to be lightweight such as the Ubuntu variant Xubuntu, and will perform well on systems with limited resources.

It's also possible to run Linux on a Mac, although I have no experience of this. The Ubuntu Forums, a great source of help and support, have a dedicated section for Apple hardware users.

How to Choose a Distro?

The easiest way is simply to try one and see if you like it. This isn't nearly as radical as it sounds.

Many distros are free to download, after which you can burn them to DVD. They can then be run as a "live" CD or DVD. In other words, you boot your system from the DVD, or a USB drive, and run the OS from there. It doesn't have to be installed, and nothing is written to your hard drive, although you should be able to access files on your hard drive while in Linux.

This is a great way to get a feel for the distro at no risk, and it also lets you check there are no problems with your hardware. The Ubuntu site provides very clear tutorials for getting all this done.

Ubuntu options

A word of caution, though; running from a live DVD is noticeably slower than running from a hard drive, so you should make allowances for this. Also, should you decide to stick with Linux, you may find extra proprietary drivers to improve the performance of graphics and other hardware.

How Do I Install It?

Again, this is a simple process. The "live" CD/DVD includes options to install the system, should you choose to do so, and will walk you through the process.

You can choose to install alongside another OS, either on the same drive or a separate drive, and run a dual-boot system. This allows you to use either system. You can also run it in a VM.

If you decide to install Ubuntu or its variants, either as a dual-boot or standalone system, the process is as simple as answering a few questions and then sitting back while the system does the work. If you're installing alongside an existing OS on the same drive, Ubuntu will take care of partitioning it. If you have a broadband connection, you can choose to download and install updates as part of the process.

Be warned that Linux uses a different file system to Windows. While Linux will be able to read and write to a Windows partition, Windows won't read the Linux partition. If you're dual-booting and need to access files from both systems, ensure you save them to a partition formatted as FAT or NTFS.

My own experience of this as a first-time Linux user was not quite straightforward. I added a second hard drive for Ubuntu and the installation went smoothly. Afterwards, I booted into Ubuntu and everything was great, until I tried to boot WinXP and found I couldn't.

After a brief panic, I headed off to the Ubuntu Forums, where somebody patiently walked me through a couple of possible solutions until we found one which worked for my system. That was seven years ago, and the only time I had an issue like that. We are sure you will have the same experience if you ever need help.

What About Other Software?

This is probably the ultimate determinant of whether or not Linux is for you. On the one hand, you have access to a great deal of free, easy-to-install software; on the other, many popular commercial applications are not available for Linux.

You can, of course, run a Virtual Machine, or an alternative is to use Wine, which is a kind of translation layer for Windows software. The Wine website maintains an Application Database that gives guidance on how well each application runs under Wine. Often this can vary greatly, depending on the version of the software, as in these results for Photoshop:

I've had good success with old games and smaller apps, but generally speaking, I use native Linux alternatives.

LibreOffice (a fork of OpenOffice) comes installed as standard, as does Firefox. Chromium is the native Linux version of the Chrome browser and supports many of the same extensions. GIMP is a near replacement for Photoshop, although opinions vary on how well it compares. In addition to the bundled applications, other software is easy to install from the repositories.

Ubuntu now comes with the "Ubuntu Software Center", which is a graphical interface that lets you find software by category and see ratings: Ubuntu Software Center.

We tend to prefer the older Synaptic Package Manager. You can search for an application by name or keyword, and look through suggested results: Synaptic Package Manager.

What About Updates?

Updates are notified automatically and installed with a single click. It's rare to have to restart the system, except for updates to the kernel itself: Ubuntu Automatic Updates.

New releases of Ubuntu are made every six months, but you can opt to use a "Long Term Support" (LTS) version. These are released every two years. Installed applications will receive updates, but will generally not upgrade to a newer version until the next Ubuntu release. So if you like to run the latest version of things, the LTS version won't be for you.

So What Are You Waiting For?

This was never intended as a "how to" guide, but just as an overview to whet your appetite and encourage you to try Linux for yourself. Hopefully I've succeeded, and you're now off to download your very first distro!

If you'd rather dip your toe in an even gentler way, without even burning and booting from a DVD, the Ubuntu site offers a virtual tour of the operating system that you might enjoy. It gives you a taste of the look and feel of Ubuntu, including a glimpse of the main apps that come with it.

Lastly, if you've already taken the plunge and installed Linux, and you're a web developer, here's some advice on setting up a development environment in Linux.

If you have any questions or experiences to share, please do so in the comments.

   preview   Use Time Machine to back up or restore your Mac -- October 16, 2015

Time Machine backs up all of your files to an external hard drive so that you can restore them later or see how they looked in the past.

Set up Time Machine
Time Machine is the built-in backup feature of OS X. To use it, you need one of these external storage solutions, sold separately:
External hard drive connected to a USB, FireWire, or Thunderbolt port on your Mac
Time Capsule or OS X Server on your network
External hard drive connected to the USB port of an AirPort Extreme (802.11ac) base station on your network
When you connect an external hard drive directly to your Mac, you might be asked if you want to use the drive to back up with Time Machine. Click “Use as Backup Disk.” If you select the option to encrypt, your backups will be accessible only to users with the password.

If Time Machine doesn't ask you to choose a backup disk:
Open Time Machine preferences from the Time Machine menu Time Machine icon in the menu bar. Or choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Time Machine.
Click Select Backup Disk.
Select an external hard drive, Time Capsule, or other storage solution from the list, then click Use Disk.
After you choose a backup disk, optionally click “Add or Remove Backup Disk” to add more backup disks for extra security and convenience.

Time Machine preferences

Back up using Time Machine

After you set up Time Machine, it automatically makes hourly backups for the past 24 hours, daily backups for the past month, and weekly backups for all previous months. The oldest backups are deleted when your backup drive is full.
To back up now instead of waiting for the next automatic backup, choose Back Up Now from the Time Machine menu Time Machine icon.
To stop automatic backups, turn off Time Machine in Time Machine preferences. You can still back up manually by choosing Back Up Now from the Time Machine menu.
To pause a backup, choose Stop Backup from the Time Machine menu. To resume, choose Back Up Now.
To check backup status, use the Time Machine menu. The icon shows when Time Machine is backing up In progess, idle until the next automatic backup Idle, or unable to complete the backup Can't backupCan't back up.
To exclude items from your backup, open Time Machine preferences from the Time machine menu, click Options, then click Add and select the item to exclude.

Your first backup may take a long time, depending on how many files you have. You can continue using your Mac while a backup is underway. Some Mac computers make backups even when asleep. Time Machine backs up only the files that changed since the previous backup, so future backups will be faster.

Restore from a Time Machine backup

Restore specific files:

Choose Enter Time Machine from the Time Machine menu Time Machine icon, or click Time Machine in the Dock.

Find the files to restore:

Use the timeline on the edge of the screen to see the files in your Time Machine backup as they were at that date and time. The timeline may also include local snapshots.
Use the onscreen up and down arrows to jump to the last time the contents of the window changed. You can also use the search field in a window to find a file, then move through time while focused on changes to that file.
Select a file and press Space Bar to preview the file and make sure it's the one you want.
Click Restore to restore the selected file, or Control-click the file for other options.

Restore everything:
To restore everything in your Time Machine backup, use OS X Recovery.
To copy the files, settings, and OS X user accounts in your backup to another Mac, use Migration Assistant.

   preview   If a flashing question mark appears when you start your Mac -- October 16, 2015

If you see a flashing question mark on your Mac's screen at startup, it means your Mac can't find its system software.

If the question mark appears for only a few seconds

If your Mac displays a flashing question mark for a few moments but then continues to start up, you might need to reselect your startup disk in System Preferences.

Choose System Preferences from the Apple menu.
Click the Startup Disk icon in the System Preferences window.
Click the icon of the volume you normally use to start up your computer (usually named "Macintosh HD").
Close the System Preferences window.
Your Mac should now start up without the flashing question mark.

If your Mac doesn't start up
If your Mac starts up to a flashing question mark but then doesn't continue starting up, try these steps.
Turn off your Mac by pressing and holding the power button for a few seconds.
Press the power button once to turn your Mac back on. When you hear the startup sound, immediately press and hold the Command and R keys on your keyboard to start your Mac from OS X Recovery. Keep these two keys held down until you see an Apple logo or globe appear.
If prompted, select a Wi-Fi network to connect to the Internet as part of startup.
After the Recovery screen appears, click the Apple menu and choose Startup Disk.
Select your startup disk, then click Restart.
If you don't see your startup disk listed in the Startup Disk window, close the window and try the next sections of this article.

If you don't see your startup disk

If you don't see your startup disk in the Startup Disk window, use these steps to see if your startup disk needs directory repair.
Open Disk Utility from the Recovery window.
In the Disk Utility window, select your startup disk (usually named "Macintosh HD") from the left side of the window.
Click the First Aid tab.
Click the Repair Disk button to verify and repair any issues with your startup disk.
After your disk is successfully repaired, quit Disk Utility.
Click the Apple menu and choose Startup Disk. Select your startup disk, then click Restart. If you still don't see your Startup Disk, try reinstalling OS X on your startup disk.

If you don't see your built-in startup disk in the Disk Utility window, or if Disk Utility indicates there's a hardware issue, your Mac might need repair. Make an appointment with an Apple Genius or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for more help.

If Disk Utility can't repair your startup disk
If Disk Utility finds issues with your startup disk that it can't repair, you might need to reformat it. You should back up any important data on your startup disk before erasing it. Erasing your startup disk deletes everything stored on it, including items in your home folder like your documents and items on your desktop.

Back up your data
If you don't have a recent backup of personal data that's stored on your startup disk, use these steps to try to back up your data.
Connect an external USB, Thunderbolt or FireWire drive to your Mac. The drive needs to be the same size or larger than your current startup disk. It also needs to be a drive that you can erase.
Use OS X Recovery to erase the external drive, then install OS X onto the external drive. Make sure that you select the external disk as the one you want to erase. Don't select your built-in startup disk (usually named "Macintosh HD").
After installation is finished, your Mac automatically restarts from the external drive. When Setup Assistant appears, select the option to migrate your data from another disk. Choose your built-in startup disk as the source to migrate your data from.
When migration is done, complete Setup Assistant. After the desktop appears, confirm your data is present on the external drive.

Reformat your built-in startup disk

After you back up your important data, use OS X Recovery to erase your built-in startup disk and reinstall OS X. Make sure you select the built-in startup disk as the one you want to erase. When installation is finished, your Mac automatically restarts from your built-in startup disk.

If you're unable to erase your startup disk or reinstall OS X, your Mac might need repair. Make an appointment with an Apple Genius or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for more help.

Restore your data

After you erase your startup disk and reinstall OS X, your Mac automatically restarts and Setup Assistant appears. To copy your personal data back to your startup disk, select the option in Setup Assistant to migrate your data from an existing Time Machine backup or another disk. Choose the external drive as the source to migrate your data from and complete Setup Assistant.

   preview   What to do before selling or giving away your Mac -- December 26, 2015

Learn how to back up and remove the data from your Mac before selling or giving the computer away
When preparing to sell or give away your Mac, you may want to erase some or all files from its hard drive. But first determine whether you should back up your computer and disable certain features and services. These steps show the recommended sequence of actions:
  • Deauthorize your computer from iTunes, if applicable.
  • Back up your data using Time Machine or other backup methods for OS X Mavericks or Mountain Lion.
  • If you use Find My Mac or other iCloud features on this Mac, complete these steps:
  • Back up your iCloud content.
  • Choose Apple Menu () > System Preferences, then click iCloud
  • Deselect the Find My Mac checkbox.
  • Sign out of iCloud. When you sign out of iCloud, you're asked whether you want to remove iCloud data from your Mac. Removing iCloud data in this way makes sure that the data isn't also removed from any of your other devices that are using the same iCloud account.

If you're using OS X Mountain Lion v10.8 or later, sign out of iMessage:

  • In the Messages app, choose Preferences > Accounts.
  • Select your iMessage account, then click Sign Out.

Reformat your hard drive and reinstall OS X. Follow the appropriate instructions

After you reformat your hard drive and reinstall OS X, the computer restarts to a Welcome screen and asks you to choose a country or region. If you want to leave the Mac in an out-of-box state, don't continue with the setup of your system. Instead, press Command-Q to shut down the Mac. When the new owner turns on the Mac, the Setup Assistant will guide them through the setup process.

   preview   How to reinstall OS X on your Mac -- October 16, 2015

If you've erased or replaced your startup disk, you can use OS X Recovery to reinstall OS X.

You might need to reinstall OS X for these reasons:
You see a prohibitory symbol at startup.
You inadvertently installed a version of OS X that's older than what came with your Mac.
You erased your startup disk, or are setting up a new startup disk.

You don't have to reinstall OS X for these things:
If you want to update or upgrade OS X, use the Mac App Store to install updates or to install a newer version of OS X while leaving your personal data intact.
If you see unexpected behavior that happens only in one user account on your Mac, you likely don't need to reinstall OS X to resolve the issue. Try starting your Mac in Safe Mode, or search Apple's support site for the specific symptom or message you're seeing instead.

If you need to reinstall OS X, you can use one of these methods:

Reinstall OS X from Recovery
If have a recent Mac, you can use OS X Recovery to reinstall OS X.

Turn on your Mac.
Immediately after you hear the startup sound, hold the Command and R keys on your keyboard.
Release the keys after the Apple logo appears.
If prompted, select a Wi-Fi network, or connect your Mac to the Internet using an Ethernet cable.
After the Recovery menu appears, select the option to Install OS X.
Follow the onscreen prompts to select your destination disk and install OS X.
These steps reinstall the latest version of OS X that you previously had installed on your Mac. If you want to reinstall the version of OS X that came with your Mac, hold Command-Option-R at startup instead. This starts your Mac from Internet Recovery.

Restore from a Time Machine backup
If you have a backup of your system that you created with Time Machine, you can Restore from a Time Machine Backup to reinstall OS X and your personal files. Selecting this option erases the drive you're restoring to and restores the version of OS X that was installed at the time you created the selected backup.
Restart your Mac. Immediately hold down the Command (⌘) and R keys after you hear the startup sound to start up in

OS X Recovery.
When the Recovery window appears, select the option to Restore from Time Machine Backup.
Select your Time Machine backup disk.
Select the Time Machine backup you want to restore.
Click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions to reinstall OS X and your backed up files.

Erase your drive and install OS X
Generally you don't need to erase your startup disk to reinstall OS X. The OS X Installer is designed to allow you to perform an install in place over the same version or earlier versions of OS X. If you're transferring your Mac to a new owner, you might want to erase your built-in startup disk before reinstalling OS X.
Important: Before you erase and reinstall, back up your important files. If you’re using a MacBook, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro, make sure the power adapter is connected and plugged in while performing these steps.

You can use these steps to erase the files on your startup disk and install a new copy of OS X:
Before you begin, make sure your Mac is connected to the Internet.
Restart your Mac. Immediately hold down the Command (⌘) and R keys after you hear the startup sound to start up in OS X Recovery.
When the Recovery window appears, select Disk Utility then click Continue.
Select the indented volume name of your startup disk from the left side of the Disk Utility window, then click the Erase tab.
If you want to securely erase the drive, click Security Options. Select an erase method, then click OK.
From the Format pop-up menu, select Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Type a name for your disk, then click Erase.
After the drive is erased, close the Disk Utility window.
If you’re not connected to the Internet, choose a network from the Wi-Fi menu.
Select the option to Reinstall OS X.
Click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions to reinstall OS X.
Additional options
If you want to reinstall the version of OS X that came with your Mac, or if you need to reformat your entire startup disk, hold down Command-Option-R at startup instead. This starts your Mac from Internet Recovery.
If you have more than one partition (like Boot Camp) and you want to erase the entire startup disk, you can use Disk Utility to remove partitions or repartition your drive. Start your Mac from Internet Recovery, then use Disk Utility to repartition your startup disk before you erase it. Make sure you back up any important data from all partitions before repartitioning a drive.

   preview   Upgrade to OS X El Capitan -- December 31, 2015

Use the Mac App Store to install OS X El Capitan on Mac computers that meet the system requirements.

Can your Mac use El Capitan?

OS X El Capitan requires one of the following Mac models and versions of OS X. It also requires at least 2GB of memory and 8GB of storage space
  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, Early 2009, or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)
  • OS X Yosemite v10.10
  • OS X Mavericks v10.9
  • OS X Mountain Lion v10.8
  • OS X Lion v10.7
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard v10.6.8
To find your model, memory, storage, and version of OS X, choose About This Mac from the Apple menu.

Upgrade to El Capitan from the Mac App Store
  • Before upgrading, it's a good idea to back up up your Mac. Then open the Mac App Store and follow these steps:
  • Search for El Capitan on the Mac App Store, or go directly to the El Capitan page.
  • Click the Download button for El Capitan. After downloading, the installer opens automatically.
  • Click Continue and follow the onscreen instructions. 
If you quit the installer instead of clicking Continue, you can open it later from your Applications folder. During installation, your Mac might restart several times. It then performs some initial setup tasks in the background. While those tasks are underway, activities such as using Spotlight or Mail might not seem as fast as they were before.

Don't have the Mac App Store?

If you're using Snow Leopard, check for software updates by choosing Software Update from the Apple menu. After installing all Snow Leopard updates, you'll have the Mac App Store.

If you're using Leopard, upgrade to Snow Leopard, then use the Mac App Store to upgrade to El Capitan.

Learn more

To get versions of OS X that you previously downloaded from the Mac App Store, click Purchased in the Mac App Store toolbar.

To reinstall OS X after erasing your startup drive, use OS X Recovery

   preview   How to get software updates for your Mac -- December 26, 2015

Update OS X and apps that you got through the Mac App Store or from Apple.

Use the Mac App Store
  • Open the App Store app on your Mac.
  • Click Updates in the toolbar.
  • Update each app individually, or click Update All to install all available updates.
  • To find software upgrades instead of updates, use Search in the upper-right corner of the window. An upgrade is a major new version of the software. For example, OS X El Capitan is an upgrade from OS X Yosemite or earlier.
Or use Software Update
  • The Mac App Store is included with OS X Snow Leopard v10.6.6 and later. If you don't have the Mac App Store, choose Software Update from the Apple menu, then follow the onscreen instructions. Some software updates are also available from the Apple Support Downloads site:

    Safari is included with OS X. To get the most recent version of Safari, upgrade to the most recent version of OS X.

   preview   How to Install and Use Wine to Run Windows Applications on Linux -- October 16, 2015

Back in the mid 90s and early 00s, Linux, being a fledgling operating system, suffered from a severe lack of useful applications. This issue was especially critical in the world of business ─ where Windows desktop applications could make or break productivity. To overcome this weakness, a compatibility layer called WINE was created. The name originally stood for Wine Is Not an Emulator (because everyone mistook the tool for a Windows emulator). The name is now simply Wine.

Effectively, what Wine did was to allow Windows applications to run on the Linux platform. It wasn’t perfect, and the supported apps were limited. If you wanted Notepad, Calculator, or Solitaire…you were good to go.

But then something interesting happened. Over time more and more applications were supported until Wine became a must-have tool for many users and businesses (and especially Linux gamers). To date there are thousands of fully supported applications that now run on Wine (check out the application database for a full list) and that list is ever growing. Granted most of the Wine work is focused on games, but you’ll still find a healthy list of productivity apps available.

You might think, because of the complexity of bringing such a tool to life, that Wine would be complicated to install and use. That assumption would be incorrect. In fact, the developers of Wine have gone out of their way to make the compatibility layer as user-friendly as possible. What exactly does that mean? To make this easier, let’s walk through the process of installing Wine and then installing and running a Windows application with the tool.


If you are running an Ubuntu derivative, you’ll find Wine located in the Software Center. Chances are, however, that version is outdated. Because of that, we want to avoid installing the “out of the box” version offered. To do this, we must add the official Wine repository. This can be done one of two ways, via command line or GUI. Since our goal is running Windows applications, let’s use the GUI method.

Here’s how:

Click on the Applications menu

Type software

Click Software & Updates

Click on the Other Software tab

Click Add

Enter ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa in the APT line section (Figure 2)

Click Add Source

Enter your sudo password

Click Authenticate

Click Close

When prompted, click Reload

Open the Software Center

Search for Wine

Click the Wine entry and then click Install

Allow the installation to complete.

That’s it. Wine is now ready to help you install and run Windows applications. Remember, however, that not every application will work. Most will, but if you’re looking to get your in-house, proprietary solution up and running, you might hit a few snags.

Installing and running an app

Let’s install a very popular programmers notepad—Notepad++. You’ll want to download the file from a location that doesn’t include third-party app install options (which can cause the application installation to fail). To be safe, download the Notepad++ installer from Filehippo. You will find .exe file for Notepad in your Downloads directory. Right-click that file and select Open in Wine Windows Program Loader

Upon first run, the Wine configuration for ~/.wine will be updated. This can, depending upon the speed of your machine, take a bit of time. Allow this to finish and then the all-too-familiar Windows installation wizard will start up and walk you through the installation of Notepad++.

Click Next and walk through the installation process. When the second screen pops up , you will notice a rather un-Linux Folder path.

Linux doesn’t contain a C drive as does Windows. Is this wrong? No. If you look in the ~/.wine folder, you will notice a folder called drive_c. Within that folder lies three familiar sub-folders:

Program Files



As you might expect, this is your C drive. All of that is to say, leave the Folder path as-is during installation.

You will eventually come to the Choose Components section of the installation (Figure 5). Here you can select options for the installation. If your particular desktop environment allows desktop icons (and that is your preference for launching apps), you might want to select Create Shortcut on Desktop (to make the launching of the newly installed app easier—more on this in a moment).

The installation will complete and present you with the Finish screen. Leave the Run Notepad box checked and click Finish. Notepad++ will run

What happens, if you didn’t add the app icon to your desktop, when you want to run the software again? This is one issue that can easily trip users up. Remember that Program Files sub-directory? If you venture into that folder, you’ll see a folder for Notepad++ which contains the notepad++.exe file. Guess what? Right-click that file, select Open in Wine Windows Program Loader, and Notepad++ will run.

Notepad++ is a simple example of how Wine works. When you dive into more complicated applications, your results may vary. The best thing to do is to go back to the Wine application database, locate the app you want to install, click on it, and check the current app status. You will find every app lists the version of Wine tested, if it installs, if it runs, and gives it a rating. There are:

Platinum: Applications which run flawlessly out of the box.

Gold: Applications which run with some modifications necessary.

Silver: Applications which run with minor issues that do not affect usage.

You will also find some apps listed as Garbage, which means they won’t install and/or run.

If you have a Windows app that simply doesn’t have a Linux equivalent, never fear ─ Wine is here to assist you. Even though not every Windows app will run under Wine, the collection of apps that do is seriously impressive. And considering most everything we do nowadays is handled within a web browser, with a little help from Wine, you should be covered from every angle.

   preview   Things to Do After Installing Linux Mint 17.2 -- October 16, 2015

The latest version of Linux Mint is out and it's a major improvement over the previous releases (see my recent review). Linux Mint developers do a lot of additional work, on top of its Ubuntu base, which leaves users with comparatively less work to do after installation. For example, Linux Mint comes pre-loaded with restricted drivers and codecs. It also comes with VLC so users don't have to worry about media playback.

That said, like any other operating system, depending on your needs, you may have to do some extra work to get your Linux Mint system ready. While some of the changes in this article are optional, a few are mandatory: such as keeping your system up-to-date.

Here are some things to do after you install Mint 17.2.

First of all you need to update the system

Even if you downloaded the brand new Linux Mint, from the time it was packaged and uploaded to the server and you downloaded it a lot of Open Source code has been written. The first thing you must do is run a system update before installing any new package. There are two steps involved with a system update: first, you refresh the repositories so they can pull information about the latest packages and then upgrade any package. You can do so by running this command (you must refresh your repositories before installing any package):

sudo apt-get update
Once all the info is refreshed, run the update:

sudo apt-get upgrade
I would also recommend running "sudo apt-get dist-upgrade" which can upgrade packages that the simple 'upgrade' command can't (you can read more about the difference between two commands here).

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
Install additional drivers

Ubuntu based systems have made it really easy to manage drivers (both open source and non-free) for various hardware. Open the Driver Manager tool which will scan your system and detect the supported hardware which may need non-free drivers. It will then offer appropriate drives for it and you can install the desired drivers for your hardware.

Install Google Chrome?

Looking at the vulnerabilities that Adobe's Flash player has (one was disclosed and fixed this week), I would suggest staying away from the Flash plugin and instead use Google Chrome which comes with Flash support. You can download Google Chrome from their site and install it the way you would install any binary package, just make sure to choose the right architecture (32bit or 64bit for Ubuntu). There are additional benefits of using Chrome: it will also allow you to access services like Netflix which are not available for Firefox. On top of that, you will also gain access to the supported Chrome Apps from the Web Store.

Install Cloud services

Google Drive is still not available for Linux, but there is a third-party solution called inSync which can be used to integrate Google Drive with your Linux Mint system. It's a nifty solution which, unlike Google Drive, does have a one-time fee. You can easily install inSync by downloading either the binary or by adding its repository to the system from the official download page. I would strongly suggest to never install any software from unofficial or third-party sites.

These are not the only solutions for Linux users. Almost all major cloud services (except for Microsoft OneDrive) are available for Linux users. You can easily install Dropbox, ownCloud or Seafile on your system by downloading the binaries from the official sites.

Change search engine to Google

The Linux Mint team has commercial deals with several search providers which share revenues with the project. These search engines have been integrated with the Firefox browser, Yahoo! being the default one. That doesn't mean you are locked into the default search engine Yahoo! which is powered by Microsoft Bing.

In my experience I found that the option to switch to Google has been buried down deep, making it a tad difficult for a new user to switch. After struggling with it for a while I settled down with an easier solution and that's what I would recommend others. Open Firefox and visit ''; you will notice a blue ribbon offering to change your search engine to Google.

lm google
A blue ribbon in the browser offers to change your search engine to Google.

Click on 'Yes, show me' from the ribbon. Next click on the + icon on the search box and add Google.

Adding Google as your default search in Firefox
Click on the + icon on the search box and add Google.

Then click on 'Change Search Settings' and choose Google from the list.

Step 3 in changing your default search to google.
Click on 'Change Search Settings' and choose Google from the list.

You may also want to un-check 'provide search suggestions' so that your search box is clean and clutter free.

Now all your searches belong to Google.

Sync and protect your password with Firefox

There is now a built-in feature of Firefox which can save your passwords (and much more) securely on their servers so you won't have to write them down or remember them. Open Firefox and then click on the three bars on the right.

Open Firefox and then click on the three bars on the right to sync and protect passwords.

There you will see the option 'sign in to sync'. Follow the instructions and you are all set. You can choose what kind of stuff you want to be synced, which includes passwords, bookmarks, Tabs, History, Addons and preferences. The good news is you won't have to reinstall all add-ons and change preferences when you change OS or move between systems. Once you log into the Firefox account, everything will be synced across machines.

Use Thunderbird Profile

I am a heavy Thunderbird user and use it to its full potential; thanks to add-ons like calendar. One of the lesser known, but most interesting, features of Thunderbird is the ability to easily change the location of data on the system. Now the question would be: why would I need it? I multi-boot with different distributions and it's a waste of time to set-up Thunderbird in each distro and then waste precious space on the 'home' of each distro, only to have multiple copies of the same data on the same system.

I keep all of my data on a separate hard drive, outside 'home' directories. This drive is accessible by all distros, which makes it easier to work on the same files irrespective of the OS I am currently running. And that's where I keep my Thunderbird data; so the same data is accessible across all distros eliminating duplication.

I use the 'Profile' feature of Thunderbird to achieve this. It also comes in handy when you hop from one distro to another as you won't have to reconfigure your Thunderbird on each new distro.

It's recommended to setup profile before you run Thunderbird for the first time. To configure Thunderbird Profile, open Terminal and run this command:

thunderbird -p
You will be greeted by this window.

Linux Mint's Thunderbird profile window.

Click on 'Create Profile ', give it a name and then 'Choose Folder'. This will be the directory where all of your Thunderbird data will be saved. Once done, click on 'finish' and you are set. Next time when you boot into another system, run the same command, create the profile and then point it to the folder you created previously. All your email accounts, settings, and add-ons will be there, automatically. If you run multiple distros, just create a profile on each distro and point it to the same directory.

Setting up Trackpad

I did find it a bit frustrating to connect the Magic Trackpad to Linux Mint 17.2. Linux Mint asks you to enter a PIN when you try to connect devices like Trackpad; a task you can't perform from a trackpad. What you need to do is choose the PIN option and try with '0000' which 'might' connect the device. I had to make several attempts because the moment the device was detected it would switch to the default 'enter PIN' option. I think Linux Mint and should make it easy to connect such devices. When I tried it on Mac OS X, it detected that it was a Trackpad and instead of offering to enter PIN defaulted to '0000' and paired with the device immediately.

Configuring the trackpad

Another issue I faced with Trackpad was that scrolling was not working out of the box. To enable that, open System Settings and go to TouchPad settings and select 'vertical Scrolling' (it should be selected by default).

Once you enabled that, you find that it's not working on Firefox. To get it to work, open a Firefox browser and type 'about:config' in the address bar. Firefox will throw a warning at you – ignore it and proceed. Then search for 'gesture.swipe' and you will come across four results. Click on each, one by one, and delete the 'value' field; scrolling will start working on Firefox.

How to upgrade from the previous version

If you are still on Linux Mint 17.1, then you won't have to re-format your system and run a fresh install of Linux Mint 17.2. Now you can easily upgrade between major releases. Before running such an upgrade make sure to back-up your data so that, in case of a failed update, you don't lose it. Run a system update to ensure all your packages are up-to-date. If there are applications that you don't need, uninstall them to keep your system lean and mean.

Let's start the major upgrade: Open 'Update Manager', refresh it, and install all the checked packages there.

Open 'Update Manager', refresh it, and install all the checked packages there.

Once everything is up-to-date, click on the 'Edit' menu and choose the third option (if available) to upgrade to the next release.

Click on the 'Edit' menu and choose the third option (if available) to upgrade to the next release.

Then just follow the instructions and enjoy the latest version of Linux Mint.

That's pretty much all that you need to do on Linux Mint to get most out of this great Linux distribution. There used to be a long list of things 'to do' after installing Linux Mint, but these days most things, such as configuring printers, work out of the box.

   preview   Live Booting Linux -- October 16, 2015

“I’d like to give Linux a try, but I’m not sure how.”

I’ve heard that statement so many times over the years. During that period, my pat response has changed from something akin to “It’s worth the effort” to “It’s incredibly easy.” Linux is, actually, the single most easy operating system to “try out.” How is that possible? Two words… live booting.

For those of you who are familiar with Linux, this is not only old news, it’s also very basic:

Download an ISO

Burn the ISO to disk

Boot your computer with the newly burned disk

Try out the live distribution

For those not so familiar with Linux—but very much interested in giving the platform a try—I want to introduce you to the concept of live booting. Because most new machines don’t ship with optical drives, you will also learn how to create a bootable live USB flash drive (so you can carry Linux with you all the time).

What Is Live Booting

The concept of live booting is actually quite simple. With a live Linux distribution (not all distributions come in “live” flavors), you can boot your machine from either a CD/DVD disk or from a USB flash drive and choose to try out the operating system without making any changes to your hard drive.

How this works is by running the entire system from volatile memory (RAM). The operating system and all programs are usable, but run from memory. Because of this, you can boot the live system, test/use it for as long as you need, and then reboot the system (remembering to remove the live media) to return to your original system.

Live distributions can be used for several purposes:

Testing a Linux distribution: This is the best way to see if Linux is for you.

Testing hardware: If you’re unsure if your hardware will work with a Linux distribution, run it live and find out.

Kiosks or cafes: If you need a machine that can be booted fresh each day, a live linux distribution might be the solution for you.

Live distributions also form a collection of very important tools that handle crucial tasks, such as:

Data recovery

System recovery

Rescue and repair

PC Forensics

Boot repair

As I mentioned, not all Linux distributions offer a live solution. Here is a complete list of distributions available as live releases.

What Do You Do With That Downloaded File?

This is the crux of the issue. For live booting, you will have downloaded an ISO image (the file will end in the .iso file extension). What you have to do next is burn that file to a disk. If you’re burning the disk from within Windows, all you need to do is locate the downloaded file and double-click it to begin the burning process. However, as I mentioned earlier, many newer PCs do not ship with optical drives. If that is the case, what do you do?

You turn to the tried and true USB flash drive.

Once upon a time, you would have had to manage the creation of a bootable USB flash drive with the Linux command line. Now, however, there are plenty of tools available for just that purpose. One such tool is called UNetbootin. This easy to use app can create a bootable USB flash drive from a downloaded ISO file or can even download the necessary ISO file for you. UNetbootin is available for Windows, Mac, or Linux and can, within a few short minutes, have you booting a live Linux distribution.

Creating a Bootable Live Distribution on a USB Flash Drive

Let’s walk through the process of creating a live USB flash drive with UNetbootin. Download and install the application on your platform of choice (Windows, Linux, Mac) and grab a USB flash drive large enough to hold your distribution (4GB USB flash drive should accommodate most distributions).

With everything ready, here are the steps to creating a bootable USB flash drive with UNetbootin (from a downloaded ISO file from your distribution of choice):

Insert your USB flash drive

Launch the software (you’ll need administrator privileges)

Check the box for Diskimage

Click the browse button (indicated with three dots)

Locate the downloaded ISO images

Select USB Drive from the Type drop-down

Select the location of your USB drive from the Drive drop-down

Click OK

Allow the creation of the live USB drive to complete

Click Exit (not Reboot), when the process completes

Figure 2: Creating a live USB drive from within Ubuntu.

If you happen to have a Ubuntu system handy, you can create a bootable flash drive without installing third-party software. To do this, follow these steps:

Download your desired ISO image and save it to ~/Downloads

Insert your USB drive

Open the Dash

Type startup

Open the Startup Disk Creator

Select your downloaded file from the list

Click Make Startup Disk

When prompted, enter your admin password

One of the options available on the Ubuntu Startup Disk Creator is the ability to include extra space on the USB drive. This space is used for saving files—so you don’t lose everything when the system is rebooted. By doing this, you effectively create a portable Linux system that can be carried with you wherever you go.

Booting the USB Drive

With the live USB drive complete, you now need to insert the drive into the target computer (the computer to be used to run the live image) and boot up. If your machine doesn’t automatically boot from the USB drive, you may have to go into your machine’s BIOS and set the boot order such that external devices boot first (how this is done will vary, machine to machine).

In most cases, you will be greeted with some form of the “Try” screen (Figure 3). To run the distribution as a live instance, click Try NAME (where NAME is the name of the distribution) and allow the desktop to load. Once the desktop is loaded, you’re ready to go.

Caveats to Running Live

One of the biggest issues people face with running live instances of Linux is insufficient RAM, which can cause the system to run slowly. Remember, this will be running completely from memory, so chances are it won’t run as smoothly as if it were installed on the hard drive. However, if your system contains 2 GB or more of RAM, you’ll find the live instance runs fairly well.

Another caveat you must understand is that the second you reboot, all is lost. Just because the system is running from memory, doesn’t mean you cannot install applications or save files. But, unless you’ve saved files to an external drive, as soon as the system is rebooted, everything you’ve saved (installed or configured) will be gone.

You now have all the power necessary to test and run Linux without making a single change to your machine’s hard drive. Linux is an incredibly powerful and flexible platform… live booting is just one way to experience and even share the flagship open source operating system.

   preview   How to Install Linux on a Windows Machine With UEFI Secure Boot -- April 14, 2016

First something about "Newer computers" and Microsoft's attempt to "lock them down":

When Windows 8 launched, Microsoft did its best to enforce a protocol known as Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Secure Boot. This was to be a modern replacement for the aging BIOS system and would help ensure boot-time malware couldn't be injected into a system. For the most part, Linux has overcome those UEFI hurdles.

This BIOS replacement, UEFI, caused some serious problems with "alternative" (read this as "non-Windows") platforms. For some time, it was thought UEFI would render Linux uninstallable on any system certified for Windows 8 and up. Eventually Microsoft saw fit to require vendors to include a switch that allowed users to disable UEFI, so that their favorite Linux distribution could be installed. And then some Linux distributions set out to fully support Secure Boot (Red Hat, Ubuntu, SUSE, to name a few). This was accomplished by these particular companies purchasing digital key that would then allow their bootloaders to pass the UEFI firmware check. With that, those distributions have no problems dealing with Secure Boot.

So what are you to do when you have a new system and you want to install Linux? The answer isn't always simple. This isn't going to serve as a definitive how-to on booting Linux with UEFI Secure Boot. Because every distribution and every piece of hardware is different, your mileage will vary. This will, however, give you enough information that should start you off on the right foot with Linux and Secure boot.

Your best bet

There is one sure-fire way around this issue and that is to simply disable certain components within your BIOS. From within the BIOS, you will want to disable the following:

  • Quickboot / Fastboot
  • Intel Smart Response Technology (ISRT)
  • FastStartUp (if you have Windows 8).

With that done, you should be able to boot your distribution without problems. If, however, you get a Secure boot or signature error, it's time to disable Secure Boot. If your machine has Windows 7, you can simply enter the BIOS in the standard fashion (by hitting the proper keyboard key associated with your motherboard BIOS settings) and disable Secure Boot (You may have to consult your computer's manual about how to do this) . If, however, your machine runs Windows 8, getting to the Secure Boot toggle isn't quite that simple. To do this you must:

  1. Boot Windows 8
  2. Press the Windows+I keys
  3. Click Change PC Settings
  4. Click General and then Advanced Startup
  5. Click Restart now
  6. Click UEFI Firmware settings.
  7. In Windows 8.1, do the following:
  8. From the left sidebar, go to Update and recovery
  9. Click Advnced startup
  10. Click Restart now.
  11. The machine should then reboot and enter the BIOS where you can disable Secure Boot.

NOTE: Some BIOSes are equipped to run in what is called EFI or "legacy" mode. If your BIOS does allow this mode, set it and you should have zero issues with Linux. Certain motherboard manufacturers label this as Compatibility Support Module.

With Secure Boot off, run your live disk and see if the boot issue has vanished. If so, install Linux and do your happy dance.

The next simple solution

If disabling Secure Boot isn't an option for you, the next easiest route to success is to choose a Linux distribution that fully supports Secure Boot. If you're using Ubuntu >= 12.04.2 (or any of its official "flavors") or Linux Mint >=16, you can rest assured these distributions support Secure Boot because both distributions (and their "flavors") share a legitimate Intel UEFI/SecureBoot code. As well, both enterprise-ready distributions Red Hat and SUSE have paid the piper to gain access to an official key. With these particular distributions, Secure Boot should not be an issue. I've booted plenty of Secure Boot-enabled machines with Ubuntu and had nary an issue.

If you have a particular Linux distribution that you are fond of, and you are having trouble getting around Secure Boot, contact the developers of said distribution and see what they recommend.

Dual booting

But what about dual booting Windows and Linux? Considering Windows makes use of Secure Boot, won't that hamper your ability to boot both platforms? Not if you're using Windows 8 or 8.1. With these particular iterations of Windows, you can actually disable Secure Boot and still boot the OS. There is one major glitch in this approach.

Say you have Windows 8, you disable Secure Boot, and then you install your favorite flavor of Linux for dual booting purposes. One day you boot up Windows to discover the 8.1 update is available. You install it and reboot to discover Linux is no longer an option. What do you do? The easiest solution for this problem is to upgrade Windows to 8.1 before you install Linux. Once that update is complete, then install Linux as a dual booting solution and you should be good to go. If, however, you've already installed Linux and your Windows partition upgrades to 8.1, you'll need to boot from your Linux live disk and run its boot repair tool. The repair should fix the issue and dual booting will return.

The Windows 10 problem

This is where it all gets a bit frustrating. Microsoft has announced that, with Windows 10, they will no longer require manufacturers to include the ability to toggle off Secure Boot. This means PC vendors will have the power to further raise the hurdles for alternative operating systems to be installed. The official decision has not been handed down yet. Even if it does take effect, this will not cause problems with older systems. And even if it does become a reality, distributions such as Ubuntu, Fedora, Red Hat, and SUSE won't have any issues as they are already using official digital keys to meet the UEFI requirements. For smaller distributions (created by developers who cannot afford to purchase the keys), this could be a big issue.

Fortunately, it's not totally insurmountable. How? Because there are vendors out there selling modern hardware that is specifically geared toward Linux. System76 has grown into one of the biggest vendors of Linux desktops and laptops. ZaReason is another, similar solution. Both companies not only offer outstanding hardware, they give back to the open source community and serve as a means for Linux users to always have hardware that will work with Linux. Besides, supporting companies that are geared specifically for Linux and open source software is a win-win on every level.


   preview   Linux Mint 17 - The most complete and easy to use operating system -- October 16, 2015


Linux Mint 17.3 is on the way and the best gets better...

This review is aimed at people who have heard of Linux Mint but who haven't yet given it a go.

If you are a Windows user and you are indecisive about whether Linux is really for you then this review might help you in your decision making process.

I am advocating that you replace Windows right now with Linux Mint 17 as you would be better off you would have a supported operating system for years to come.


Click on our guide showing how to create a Linux Mint bootable USB drive.

For those of you wondering how difficult it is to install a new Linux based operating system I would just like to say that anyone can just do it...

Within 20 minutes you can successfully installed Linux Mint 17 and was connected to the internet.

Navigating around Linux Mint a breeze and planning to install it in place of Windows 7, 8, and 10 on your own laptop is so easy.

Look and Feel

The version of Linux Mint that is covered is the lighter MATE desktop as opposed to Cinnamon.

If you have a newer computer and want the whizzbang graphics then you will probably prefer the Cinnamon desktop.

If you have an older computer or just prefer a lighter, less resource intensive experience then the MATE desktop is great.

If you are a Windows user (pre-Windows 8) then you will find the layout fairly familiar regardless as to whether you choose Cinnamon, MATE, KDE or XFCE as the desktop environment.

You will be greeted initially by a welcome screen with links to useful resources. You can visit these resources or if you prefer you can uncheck the

   preview   How to find out if your PC is compatible with Linux -- October 16, 2015

Can your PC run Linux? Probably. But here's how to find out for sure

Original Item -

Chris Hoffman | @chrisbhoffman PCWorld

Linux’s hardware support is better than ever, but you still can’t take it for granted. Not every laptop and desktop you see at your local computer store (or, more realistically, on Amazon) will work perfectly with Linux. Whether you’re buying a PC for Linux or just want to ensure you can dual-boot at some point in the future, thinking about this ahead of time will pay off.

Give Linux a spin if you already have the hardware
If you already have the PC available to you, you probably shouldn’t spend much time researching how compatible it is with Linux. Instead, just give Linux a test run on that PC and see for yourself.

Live CDs or flash drives are a great way to quickly determine whether or not a Linux distro will run on your PC.

This is quick, easy, and safe. You can download a Linux ISO in a few minutes, flash it to a USB drive, reboot your computer, and boot into a live Linux environment running off the USB drive. If it doesn’t work well enough, you can just reboot your computer, go straight back into Windows, and forget about Linux on that hardware.

Check hardware compatibility databases

There’s a lot of information out there about whether specific computers are compatible with Linux. Much of this is in dedicated hardware compatibility databases. Canonical provides a Ubuntu desktop certified hardware database that lists hardware guaranteed to work with Ubuntu, for example. If you’re looking for a list of individual components instead of full laptop and desktop PCs, try the Ubuntu component catalog. These aren’t exhaustive lists—in fact, they’re very minimal lists of only hardware manufacturers have gone out of their way to certify.

A simple Google search like "GeForce GTX 980 Ti Linux support" can often let you know if specific PC components work with Linux.

Linux-Drivers lists a wider variety of individual databases. For example, many Linux distributions provide their own hardware compatibility database websites, including openSUSE, Debian, and Linux Mint.

You could also just perform a web search for a model number of laptop—or a specific hardware component, if you’re building your own PC—and “Linux support” to see how well it works on Linux. A simple web search can often pull up a wealth of information.

Just buy a PC designed for Linux

But let’s back up. You don’t need to dig through hardware compatibility databases to buy a PC you know will be compatible with Linux anymore. Many PC manufacturers offer laptops and desktops with Linux preinstalled. This means that those PCs are guaranteed to work properly with Linux. You can often even save some money when buying these—a Windows license isn’t included, so you’re avoiding the “Microsoft tax” you usually have to pay when buying a PC for Linux.

Dell offers a line of Linux PCs, from affordable sub-$300 Inspiron laptops all the way up to the XPS 13 ultrabook and Precision M3800 MacBook Pro-competitor. Dell’s Linux laptops are nothing to sneeze at, either; the XPS 13 is one of the best lightweight laptops you can buy.

System76 is well-known in the Ubuntu community and sells a variety of laptops and desktop PCs with Ubuntu pre-installed. (The laptop at the top of this page comes from System76.) ZaReason offers a similar line of Linux PCs with a choice of Linux distribution—or none at all. Linux Mint is partnering with a hardware manufacturer to sell a “MintBox Mini” PC. You can install your favorite Linux distribution afterwards, of course. provides a more comprehensive list of other manufacturers offering Linux PCs and where they ship to around the world. In the past, Linux geeks could only dream of having so many options.

Useful Links

Linux Drivers

Debain Hardware

Linux Mint


linux preloaded

   preview   Introduction to the Linux Desktop -- October 16, 2015

This section of the guide will focus on the technologies and the tools that are specific to Linux Mint and provide information on some of the applications and technologies included by default in the Edition.

The Linux Desktop

The “desktop” is the component of the operating system which is responsible for the elements that appear on the desktop: The Panel, the Wallpaper, the Control Center, the menus…etc.

The Cinnamon Edition of Linux Mint uses the “Cinnamon” desktop which is both intuitive and powerful.

The Mate Edition of Linux Mint uses the “Mate” desktop which is both intuitive and powerful.

There is very little to choose between the 2.

Desktop Settings

“Desktop” is a menu which allows you to rapidly configure the aspects of your Linux Mint Desktop that you will use the most.

Launch it by clicking on “Menu” (in the bottom-left corner of your screen), then select “System Settings” and click on “Desktop”.

Getting to know the menu

Linux Mint comes with the default menu.

To open the menu click on the “Menu” button at the bottom-left corner of your screen or press CTRL+SUPER_L (“Super_L” is the left Windows key on your keyboard).

Getting to know the menu

The “Places” menu

When you choose the section called “Places” then you will see five entries. These entries give you quick access to the most important places within your Desktop.

The “Computer” Place shows you the storage volumes present in your computer. If your partitions are already mounted and “Desktop Settings” is set to show “Mounted Volumes” on the desktop, then you probably don’t need to access this Place very often. However, if
you choose not to show the mounted volumes on your desktop, or if you need to mount a partition which is not mounted by default, this Place can prove very useful.

In contrast, the “Home” Place is one of the menu buttons you’ll probably use the most. If you’ve used Linux Mint before, you’re probably used to clicking on the “Home” icon placed on the desktop. When windows are opened and when the desktop is not completely visible, the menu can prove useful by providing you with a way to quickly access your “Home”.

• Your “Home” folder exists to give you a place to put all of your personal data.

• The “Desktop” folder corresponds to what is shown on your desktop, so placing a file here will also place it on your desktop. The same effect can be achieved by simply dragging the file onto the desktop.

• The “Network” Place simply shows you the other computers, shared services, domains, and workgroups present on your network.

• The “Trash” Place is where files end up after you delete them.

When you right click on a file you can either “Move to Trash” or “Delete”. If you choose to “Delete”, the file will be permanently deleted and you normally won’t be able to recover it. If you choose “Move to Trash” it will be moved to the “Trash” Place, which is accessible from the menu. From there you will be able to drag and drop it somewhere else if you want to restore it, permanently delete one or more files, or select “Empty Trash” if you want to permanently delete all items from the Trash.

The “System” menu

There are a number of system-choices in the menu. These provide quick access to important features of the system. Often you need to enter your password so unauthorized use of these options is not possible.

The “Software Manager” button launches the Linux Mint Software Manager. This program is the recommended way to install software in Linux Mint.

For security you have to enter your password in order to gain system rights.

The “Package Manager” button launches an application called “Synaptic”. The purpose of this application is to manage the packages that are installed on your computer and the packages that are available in the repositories.

The “System Settings” button launches the control center. This application lets you configure every aspect of the Cinnamon desktop and of the computer in general.

The “Terminal” button launches an application called “Terminal” which lets you enter commands directly using the keyboard. If you’re used to Microsoft Windows you may think that this is old hat, because in Windows the command line hasn't progressed much further than the “DOS prompt” and is hidden away in an accessories menu. One of the ways in which Linux systems differ from Windows systems is that the terminal is quite important in Linux, as it is often used as a way of getting more direct control over one's computer. We’d probably agree that the Terminal isn’t the most visually appealing application included in Linux Mint, but it is worth knowing that it is by far the most
powerful, and once learned it’s actually not very hard to use. In fact, it is worthwhile understanding that every command that you execute using a graphical desktop environment goes through the Terminal. When you click on an icon on the menu, for example, you are instructing Cinnamon to pass a textual instruction to the Terminal. As an instructional exercise, if you right click “Menu” on the bottom left of the
desktop, choose configure, click “Open the menu editor” and navigate to any of the application menus, pick an application, and click on the properties button, you will see in the “Command” field the text command that is passed to the system when you click on that application's entry in the menu. In other words, you have already been using the Terminal for some time, perhaps without realizing it. All that was different was that, instead of you typing out the commands, your desktop was doing it for you

Sooner or later, though, you will probably have be in a situation which causes you to use the Terminal directly, either to access commands that are not available through any GUI, or to get a job done more efficiently. Yes, you read that right! It can be more efficient to type a single command, for certain tasks, than to open up lots of windows to achieve the same thing. The more you use it, the more you’ll come to actually like it. Remember how you didn’t like certain things when you were a kid and how you couldn’t do without them now? Terminal is one of these things. In a few weeks, you’ll be completely addicted to it. You'll begin to feel in complete control of your computer. There will be times when you won’t even have to use the Terminal, but you will anyway, because for some tasks it’s faster, more accurate, more versatile and actually simpler to use than equivalent graphical interfaces. And anyone watching you will think you're a complete pro.

The “Logout” button launches a dialog which lets you logout or switch users.

The “Quit” button launches a dialog box which lets you choose what you want to do:

- “Suspend” saves your session to RAM and your computer goes to sleep until you press a key.

- “Hibernate” saves your session to your hard drive and your computer shuts down.

- “Restart” restarts the computer.

- “Shut Down” turns the computer off.

Note: It is also possible to lock the screen by pressing CTRL+ALT+L.

The “Applications” menu

The Linux Mint DVD is compressed and actually contains about 3GB of data. The applications that are included by default when you install Linux Mint are said to be part of the “Default Software Selection”.

Since one of the purposes of Linux Mint is to be easy to use and to work out of the box, a collection of software is included by default in order to let you achieve common/ important tasks.

In the right-hand section of the menu, you can see all installed applications. They are organized by categories. The first category is called “All applications” and, as you probably guessed, it shows you a list of all installed applications.

The last two categories, “Preferences” and “Administration”, show you the tools and applications provided to configure and administrate Linux Mint. We’ll focus on these applications later on, as they are also present in the “Configuration center”.

The categories in the center provide most of the applications you’ll use on a daily basis. As you install new software, new categories might appear.

In “Accessories”, you can find the following software:

Archive Manager Tool to view, create or extract archive files (zip, tar, ...)

Calculator A calculator

Character Map A tool to easily copy and paste special characters (accentuation for instance)

Disks A tool which shows you how your hard drives are partitioned.

Document Viewer A tool for viewing PDF's and other documents

Files A link to open the home directory in Nemo (File manager)

Font Viewer A tool to look at available fonts

Screenshot A tool to take screenshots. You can also launch this with the “Print Scrn” key on your keyboard to take screenshots of the desktop, or with “ALT”+”Print Scrn” to take screenshots of the current window.

Terminal The Terminal

Text editor Gedit, a text editor

Tomboy Notes An application to take notes

USB Image Writer A simple tool to write an iso to a usb drive

USB Stick Formatter A simple tool to clean and format a usb drive

In “Graphics” you can find the following software:

GIMP Image Editor An application that lets you modify, convert or even create pictures. The best Linux equivalent to Photoshop.

gThumb An application to manage your photos

Image Viewer The Gnome Image Viewer

LibreOffice Draw Part of the LibreOffice suite of applications.

Simple Scan A tool to capture images from a scanner

In “Internet” you can find the following software:

Firefox Web Browser A Web browser

Hexchat An IRC chat program. It is configured by default to automatically connect you to the Linux Mint chat room (very useful if you want to talk to other Linux Mint users).

Pidgin Internet Messenger An Internet Messenger (compatible with AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google-Talk, GroupWise, ICQ, IRC, MSN,
MySpaceIM, QQ, SIMPLE, Sametime, XMPP, Yahoo and Zephyr)

Thunderbird Mail An Email application

Transmission A Torrent client.

In “Office” you can find the following software:

LibreOffice A general starter for this office suite

LibreOffice Calc A spreadsheet application (alternative to Microsoft Excel and compatible with XLS)

LibreOffice Draw Part of the LibreOffice suite of applications.

LibreOffice Impress A presentation application to make slides (alternative to Microsoft Powerpoint and compatible with PPT)

LibreOffice Math A tool to create and edit Math formulas

LibreOffice Writer A word processor (alternative to Microsoft Word and compatible with DOC.)

In “Sound & Video” you can find the following software:

Banshee A music application to play online radio, stream music from the Internet and online music services and to listen to your collection of music files (alternative to iTunes). Banshee also manages podcasts, portable players and can rip CDs.

Brasero A CD/DVD burning application. Brasero can also make audio CDs from multimedia files.

Videos Totem video player

VLC A video player, notorious for being able to play most video files available on the Web.

The “Search” field

If you can’t remember how to find a particular application within the menu or if you want to get quicker access to it you can use the search feature. Simply click on “Menu” in the bottom-left corner of your screen and start typing the name or a description of the application you’re looking for. As you’re typing, only the applications matching your search will stay visible within the menu.

Define your favorite applications

You’ll use some applications more than others, so you’ll quickly find that you want fast access to the applications that you’re using the most. The menu lets you define “favorite” applications and keep them on a special menu for easy availability.

Right click on an application of your choice with the menu and select “Add to favorites”.

In the same way you can also choose to “Remove from favorites”. Your favorites will be shown in the left of the menu.

You can also reorganize these applications. By dragging and dropping you can change the order.

Make your own shortcuts

If you don’t like the idea of having “Favorite” applications, you can simply use your panel or your desktop to achieve similar results, (namely, giving yourself quick access to your applications). Simply right click the application of your choice from the menu to
and choose “Add to panel” or “Add to desktop”.

Change the appearance of the menu

You can customize the menu in many ways. Right click on “Menu” and select “Configure”.

The configuration tool for the menu appears. Here, you can modify some aspects of the Linux Mint menu.

Restore the default settings

If you want to revert to the default settings, in the configure-menu click the button to the right of “Remove” and choose “Restore to defaults”.

Launch applications automatically when you log in

Under Preferences you can find the application “Startup Applications”. You can add an application here. The right information for the application you want to add can be found in the menu editor, which was mentioned before when talking about the terminal. The
application will then be launched automatically each time after you log in. This can be disabled by deselecting the application.

Software Management

Package Management in Linux Mint

If you have installed Linux for the first time, then you may not be familiar with the concept of organizing software into “packages”. You will soon become familiar with package management and appreciate the advantages it offers in terms of security, control and ease of use.

They have tried to make it so that all or most of your hardware was detected and drivers were installed automatically so that your computer would work out of the box. They have also tried to make it so that you could do many of the things you want to without having to look around for third party software on websites. You may have noticed that your Linux Mint installation already has a full office suite, a professional-quality imageediting solution, an IM and an IRC client, a disk burner, and several media players (as well as many other basic accessories). Relax, it's okay! You haven't stolen anything! This is what free software is all about! And the truly great thing about package management in Linux Mint and generally is that you should never need to look far and wide for extra software, even when the time comes that you do want more functionality from your Linux Mint system.

This section is intended to explain how this works and the advantages that it can bring to you. It's a bit long, but hopefully it will provide you with a good understanding of the philosophy behind package management and why it is considered a Good Thing (a phrase commonly capitalized by Linux users to mean that something is squarely in the category of good).

The problems with browsing software vendors' websites and downloading and installing the software they offer are many:

• It is difficult or impossible to find out if the software has been tested to work with your operating system

• It is difficult or impossible to know how this software will interact with the other software installed on your system

• It is difficult or impossible to know if you can place your trust that software from an unknown developer software will not cause any harm, willful or negligent, to your system Even if you know about a specific piece of software and its developer, you cannot be entirely sure that you are not downloading an executable that has been swapped out by a malicious third party for some type of malware.

Furthermore, a problem with downloading and installing multiple different programs, from multiple different developers, is that there is no managerial infrastructure. Before you say “big deal”, consider how you are going to keep all these different pieces of software up to date. If you get tired of a program and want to remove it, how do you know how to achieve that? The program in question might not have come with a removal option, and even if it did, much of the time this will fail to remove the software cleanly and completely. In a very real sense, when you ran that installer program, you gave up some of your control of your computer to a program written entirely by a complete stranger.

Finally, software which is distributed in this way is often, by virtue of necessity, “static”. This means that not only do you need to download the program itself, but also all of the data libraries that are required for it to run. Since a third-party software developer cannot know which data libraries you may already have available on your system, the only way that they can guarantee it will run on your system is by supplying all of the data libraries it needs along with the program itself. This means bigger downloads, and it means that when the time comes to update a given library, it needs to be done separately for all those programs using it, instead of just once. In summary, the distribution of static software results in the unnecessary duplication of a lot of work.

Package management in Linux Mint, and GNU/Linux operating systems in general, has been established for some time and is the preferred method for managing software as it avoids all of these issues. We've been safely and automatically installing our software since the early 1990s.

Software is first written by a developer, as you might expect, and this end of the production chain is known as “upstream”. As a user of a Linux distribution, you are referred to as being at the furthest point “downstream” (unless you're an admin, in which case your users are the furthest point downstream, but you knew that because you're an admin). Once the developer is happy with the program or the update to the program they have written, they will release the source code for it. They will also communicate in their documentation which data libraries or other programs they took advantage of when they were writing the program. They have been doing this for some time and there are
standardized and venerable ways for them to do this. Note that, with a few exceptions (usually either hardware manufacturers who release drivers for Linux, like nVidia or ATI, or certain major companies like Adobe, who we can trust) they release the actual source code for the program, that is, the list of instructions in that program in a human readable form. This has a number of implications, but most importantly for this discussion it means that they are willing to have their software peer reviewed by anyone and everyone with an Internet connection. It's awfully difficult to sneak spyware into your program when you're letting everyone see what you've written!

The software now moves down the stream to package maintainers, who are either volunteers or paid employees working for a Linux distribution. It is their responsibility to compile the source code for the software, test it on the distribution to make sure that it works, resolve any problems that they encounter and finally package the compiled (i.e., machine-readable) software in a convenient format. This package contains the executable program(s), their configuration files, and the instructions the package management software needs to successfully install it. Note that it won't ordinarily contain any static libraries, since it doesn't need to – the libraries are provided by other packages, and are therefore known as shared libraries. Your package management software will know if that a particular package requires another package to be installed first (like a shared library), because, as you will remember, the data libraries and related packages needed for the software to work were declared further upstream and that information is included in the package. The instructions are sufficiently detailed that even specific versions of other packages can be requested to ensure interoperability. The finished package is then uploaded to a special file server, which is called a software repository.

It is from that single location that you are able to download and install the software you need. You will know that the location is bona fide, because it is signed with a certificate that your package manager will check. You will also know that each individual package that you install is secure, because each package is itself signed by a GPG key, which your package manager will also check. Your package manager will even run an MD5 sum on each package to make sure that nothing went wrong when it was downloading, just like we did before with the LiveDVD iso. Notice how it's doing all of this for you. You're just sitting back, sipping a martini, and chatting in #linuxmint on xchat. The package manager has downloaded the packages you have selected, it will follow, to the letter (computers are fastidious in following instructions), the instructions in the package to perfectly install your software, and all of its dependencies, in the right order. There is no space for human error – if the package worked on the maintainer's computer, then it ought to on yours because the package manager will follow exactly the same procedure. When it comes time to check for software updates, your package manager will automatically compare the software version that you have against what is available in the repository, and do all the necessary work to keep your system running smoothly and securely. So, if version 2.4 of BestSoft is uploaded to the repository, and you have version 2.3, the package manager will compare those version numbers, and offer to install the latest version, taking care, of course, of all the dependencies for the newer version of the software.

Sounding good yet? It gets better.

Humans err where computers don't and from time to time something may go wrong in this process. Perhaps you will, by accident, install hardware drivers for the wrong piece of hardware and this might break something. We've all done that. Or perhaps there's a bug or your favorite feature was removed by the program's developer for some reason. These problems demonstrate, paradoxically, the strength and security of package management. Because your package manager keeps fastidious records of everything it ever does, it is able to reverse installations, cleanly and completely. It will make sure that removing one package doesn't break any others, and you can even tell it specifically to do things like not automatically upgrade certain packages, because you like them the way they are, or to revert to an earlier version. Finally, the whole process is very heavily peer-reviewed.

Because you are part of a large community of Linux users, all using the same repositories to obtain their software, if anything goes wrong you can be absolutely sure there will be a big fuss about it, and that the problem will be resolved quickly! In this way, software distribution in GNU/Linux distributions is very much based on trust, from the moment the original developer displays their source code for all to see, to the open discussion on the distribution's website. You can be confident in the software you obtain, not only because of the security protocols already mentioned, but because if anything does go wrong everyone will be talking about it!

A final word. You may have been subjected to rumors to the effect that Linux isn't finished yet, or that if you use Linux then you are a beta-tester, or that Linux software is unstable. These are all half truths. “Linux” will never be “finished”, any more than any other major operating system can be considered “finished”. From the Linux kernel to the artwork on your screen, all the elements of your operating system will always be under some kind of development. This is because programmers are working hard to keep us up to date with the latest developments in programming and hardware technology. This does not mean that the software available for you to use is of bad quality. The base system at the core of Linux Mint has been under heavy development for about two decades now, and is very mature, stable, and proven. While there are definitely unstable versions of most of the software on your operating system, you won't be using them because you're not a beta tester. You know you're not a beta tester, because you're reading this. The software available to you on the repositories you use will always be stable and well tested, unless you change those repositories to the ones used by the testers (in which case
congratulations, you've just become a tester). It's a bit of a no-brainer, really. So, to summarize with an example, when you install Opera, Real Player or Google Earth in Linux Mint, these applications do not come from their original developers (Opera, Real and Google). Of course the upstream application comes from these developers, but only after they’ve been properly packaged and tested do they become available for you.

So, in other words, you should never need to go and browse the Internet to look for software, as everything you need is available and already tested for you and for your system by the Linux Mint and Ubuntu teams. All you need to do is choose what you want
to do.

Linux Mint will update itself automatically through a tool called the Update Manager, which will update not only the base operating system, but all the software installed on your machine as well.

It's that simple. Whew!

Some of the most popular applications that are not installed by default in Linux Mint are Opera, Skype, Acrobat Reader, Google Earth and Real Player.

The Software Manager

The easiest way to install software in Linux Mint is to use the Software Manager. It is built on top of the package technology we discussed earlier, but makes things easier to understand, as it allows you to install programs rather than packages (though, remember, it is still using the package system in the background, so it still has the same benefits).

Open the menu and select “Software Manager”.

The Software Manager lets you browse the software made available for Linux Mint. You can browse by category, search by keyword or sort the software by rating and popularity.

Using the Update Manager

Linux Mint comes with a tool called the Update Manager. It gives more information about updates and lets you define how safe an update must be before you want to apply it.

It looks like a shield and sits on the bottom-right corner of your screen.

If you place your mouse pointer on top of it, it will tell you either that your system is up to date or, if it isn't, how many updates are available.

If you click on the lock icon, the Update Manager opens and shows you the updates that are available. The interface is very easy to use. For each package update you can read the description, the changelog (this is where developers explain their changes when they
modify the package), and eventually if Linux Mint assigned warnings or extra information about the updates. You can also see which version is currently installed on your computer and which version is available for you to update to. Also you have a symbol showing if it's a Package update or a Security update.

Finally, you can see the stability level assigned to the package update. Each package update brings improvements or fixes security issues but that doesn’t mean they’re riskfree and can’t introduce new bugs. The stability level is assigned to each package by Linux Mint and gives you an indication of how safe it is for you to apply an update.

Of course you can click on the columns to sort by stability level, status, package name or by version. You can select all updates or unselect all of them by using the “Clear” and “Select All” buttons.

Level 1 and Level 2 updates are risk-free and you should always apply them. Level 3 updates “should be safe” but, although we recommend you take them, make sure you look over them on the list of updates. If you experience a problem with a particular Level 3 update, tell the Linux Mint development team so they can take measures to make that update a Level 4 or a Level 5 so as to warn or even discourage others against applying it.

If you click on the “Preferences” button you should see the screen above. By default the Update Manager tells you about Level 1, 2 and 3 updates. You can decide to make Level 4 and 5 “visible”. This will make more updates appear in the list. If you want to you can even make Level 4 and 5 updates “safe” (although this is not recommended). This will cause them to be selected by default within the Update Manager.
The Update Manager only counts “safe” updates. So when it tells you your system is up to date, it means there are no updates available assigned with a level that you defined as being “safe”.

The Update Manager only shows “visible” updates in the list.

For example, if you made all levels “visible” and only Level 1 and 2 “safe”, you would see a lot of updates in the list, but the Update Manager would probably tell you that your system was up to date.

The “Auto-Refresh” tab allows you to define how often the Update Manager checks for updates.

The “Update Method” tab lets you define how the Update Manager checks for new updates.


There's a lot more to learn about Linux Mint and about Linux in general. This guide was just an overview of some of the aspects related to your desktop. By now you should feel more comfortable with using it and you should have a better understanding of some of its
components. Where are you going to go next?

Extracted from the user guide at

   preview   Introduction to Linux Mint -- October 16, 2015

Linux Mint is a computer operating system designed to work on most modern systems, including typical x86 and x64 PCs.

Linux Mint can be thought of as filling the same role as Microsoft's Windows, Apple's Mac OS, and the free BSD OS. Linux Mint is also designed to work in conjunction with other operating systems (including those listed above), and can automatically set up a “dual boot” or “multi-boot” environment (where the user is prompted as to which operating system to start at each boot-up) during its installation.

Linux Mint is a great operating system for individuals and for companies.


Linux Mint is a very modern operating system; Its development started in 2006. It is, however, built upon very mature and proven software layers, including the Linux kernel, the GNU tools and the Cinnamon desktop. It also relies on the Ubuntu and Debian projects and uses their systems as a base.

The Linux Mint project focuses on making the desktop more usable and more efficient for everyday tasks performed by regular users. Underneath the desktop the operating system also provides a huge collection of available software and a very well integrated set of services.

Linux Mint saw a rapid rise in popularity and more and more people use it every day.


The purpose of Linux Mint is to provide a desktop operating system that home users and companies can use at no cost and which is as efficient, easy to use, and elegant as possible.

One of the ambitions of the Linux Mint project is to become the best operating system available by making it easy for people to get to use advanced technologies, rather than by simplifying them (and thereby reducing their capabilities), or by copying the approaches taken by other developers.

The goal is to develop our own idea of the ideal desktop. We think that it is best to make the most out of the modern technologies that exist under Linux and make it easy for everybody to use its most advanced features.

Version numbers and codenames

Version numbers and codenames follow a unique logic in Linux Mint:

• Codenames provide a way to refer to versions of Linux Mint that is more familiar than using a version number.
• Since version 5, Linux Mint has followed a 6 months release cycle and uses a simplified version scheme. The version number simply gets incremented every 6 months.
• If revisions are made to a particular release (a bit like Service Packs in Windows) its version number gets a minor revision increment. For instance “3” becomes “3.1”.
• Codenames in Linux Mint are always female names ending with “a”. They follow the alphabetical order and the first letter of the codename corresponds to the index of the version number in the alphabet.

So far Linux Mint has used the following codenames:

1.0 Ada
2.0 Barbara
2.1 Bea
2.2 Bianca
3.0 Cassandra
3.1 Celena
4.0 Daryna
5 Elyssa
6 Felicia
7 Gloria
8 Helena
9 Isadora
10 Julia
11 Katya
12 Lisa
13 Maya
14 Nadia
15 Olivia
16 Petra
17 Qiana


An Edition is a release of Linux Mint which is customized to address a certain set of needs. Here are some of the most popular

• Cinnamon Edition (uses a Cinnamon desktop)
• Mate Edition (uses a Mate desktop)
• KDE Edition (uses a KDE desktop)
• Xfce Edition (uses an Xfce desktop)

If you don't know which edition to use, choose the MATE Edition. It's not as popular as the Cinnamon Edition but it is compatible with a wider variety of hardware specifications.

Where to find help

The Linux Mint community is very helpful and very active. If you have questions or a problem related to Linux Mint, you should be able to get help from other users online.

First, make sure to register with the “Linux Mint Forums”. This is the very first place where you can find help:

Linux Mint uses Ubuntu repositories (more on what this means later) and is fullycompatible with it so most of the resources, articles, tutorials, and software made for Ubuntu also work for Linux Mint. If you can’t find help on a specific subject, make sure to search on the same subject for Ubuntu.

Note: Ubuntu is another operating system based on GNU/Linux.

Note: A repository is an online service by which software is stored and made available for the operating system to install and update from. Most operating systems based on GNU/Linux use repositories and connect to them via HTTP or FTP to install and upgrade their software.

Extract from Linux Mint user guide

   preview   Supercharge your PC's storage with a RAID setup: Everything you need to know -- September 3, 2013

Ah, storage. Every PC needs it it, but your standard PC storage solutions suffer from two glaring frustrations.

First off, storage performance tends to be one of the main bottlenecks in a typical PC, although the situation has vastly improved with the advent of solid state drives. (Yes, it’s probably your hard drive holding back your high-end PC from even greater glory.) Second, drive failure can lead to the loss of valuable data, and no one wants that.

Thankfully, there’s a way to help mitigate both of these problems using a feature that’s supported on virtually every modern computer system: RAID.

RAID was originally an acronym for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks, but that has since morphed into the more commonly accepted Redundant Array of Independent Disks. As its name implies, RAID is a way to pair multiple drives together to improve performance, redundancy, or both.

RAID storage arrays make multiple drives work together in concert.

RAID used to require expensive hardware purchases and was sometimes difficult to configure. Now, though, all but the lowest-end desktop systems (and even some laptops) feature integrated drive controllers with RAID support built right in. Most operating systems—including Windows—also give users the ability to configure what’s known as software RAID. Expansion cards are available too, which can add RAID support to any system with an open PCI-E slot.

Setting up a RAID array is easy in most cases. Typically, the process requires little more than installing some drives, attaching them to a RAID or drive controller, and stepping through a simple wizard that’s either embedded in firmware or available within your operating system.

When to use RAID
Budget permitting, there are many good reasons to use RAID.

Today’s hard disks and solid state drives are far more reliable than their predecessors, which make them perfect candidates for RAID. As we’ve mentioned, RAID can increase storage performance or offer some level of redundancy—both things most PC users want.

Common RAID modes
Choosing the right RAID mode is paramount. Over the years, many RAID modes, or levels, have been defined. On most of today’s desktop systems, however, only a handful of modes are typically supported. Here are the ones you'll see in the PC space.

RAID 0 – Striping:

RAID 0, or striping, distributes data among the drives used in the array. And because the workload is parallelized and spread across the drives, read and write throughput in many circumstances is improved. RAID 0 requires a minimum of two drives and the total capacity of the drives in the array are combined into a single volume, due to the way data is distributed. Two 1TB drives paired together in a striped RAID 0 configuration, for example, will be recognized as a single, 2TB volume. RAID 0 does not mirror or store any parity data though, so the loss of a single drive will take down the entire array.

Configuring SSDs in RAID 0 can result in some truly jaw-dropping transfer speeds. More on that at the end.

RAID 1 – Mirroring:

RAID 1, or mirroring, also requires a minimum of two drives. But instead of striping data, the data stored on the drives in the array is duplicated across all the hard drives. RAID 1 offers a level of data redundancy, and the array can be rebuilt in the event of a drive failure without any loss of data.

Performance can also be improved somewhat, at least when using hard disk drives, since any drive in the array can be accessed to read data, and one drive may offer lower seek or rotational latency due to the position of its drive heads. Write performance is usually lowered, however, because data is mirrored to all of the drives in the array. The total capacity of a RAID 1 volume will equal the capacity of a single drive on account of the redundancy: If two 1TB drives are used, the total capacity of the RAID 1 volume will still be 1TB.

RAID 5 – Striping with Parity:

RAID 5, which requires a minimum of three drives, improves performance by striping data like RAID 0, but it also offers a level of redundancy in RAID 1-like fashion by storing parity data across the drives in the array.

In a RAID 5 setup, a single drive in the array can fail without any loss of data, but performance will be degraded until the bad drive is replaced and the array rebuilt. Depending on the capacity of the drives used, rebuilding a RAID 5 array can take some time, so it’s usually recommended for smaller volumes. Also note that the total capacity of a RAID 5 setup will be the sum of all of the capacities of the drives used in the array, minus the capacity of one. Three 1TB drives used in RAID 5, for example, will offer a total capacity of 2TB.

JBOD – Just a Bunch Of Disks:

Technically, JBOD is not RAID, since it doesn’t offer any sort of redundancy, but it is a mode supported by most drive controllers. JBOD gives users the ability to link multiple drives together to create a single, larger-capacity volume. There is no performance improvement nor data protection though. JBOD is used to simply increase the capacity of a volume; when one drive in a JBOD array is filled, data spills over to the next drive, and so on.

Prepping for RAID
There are a few things to keep in mind before setting up RAID on an existing system. If you’re starting fresh with a new PC, there’s no preparation needed short of making sure you’ve got the drives connected to the right ports on your motherboard or RAID card/controller. But on an already-configured system, there are many, many considerations.

As ever, back up your data before fiddling with your storage.

The first thing we’d recommend is backing up all of your data. Ensure that all of the data on your existing drives is backed up and that you’ve taken a fresh image of your OS installation. (This guide has nitty-gritty details on how to do just that.) If something goes wrong and you lose data, you’ll be happy to have a backup in place. And if setting up RAID somehow mangles your OS, having a fresh image on hand will help you recover in no time.

Note, however, that if you plan to migrate an existing OS installation that resides on a single drive to a new RAID volume, the configuration changes necessary to set up RAID may cause problems with the OS and render it non-bootable. It’s best to install a fresh OS onto a new RAID array whenever possible.

RAID hardware considerations
The vast majority of motherboards sold today have built-in support for RAID. The drive controllers integrated into Intel’s and AMD’s chipsets offer RAID (as do most other lesser-known chipsets) and many motherboard manufacturers often integrate additional RAID controllers, from companies like Marvell, onto their boards as well. It’s common for on-board RAID controllers to support RAID 0, 1, 5, and JBOD, though some also support RAID 10. Keep in mind though, that even on the off chance your motherboard doesn’t have built-in RAID support, software RAID is still most likely possibly, provided the board has a couple of open SATA ports to connect additional drives.

All but the most basic of today’s motherboard have built-in support for RAID.

Though the RAID controllers integrated into most motherboards should be adequate for the vast majority of users, higher-end add-in solutions are also available. Typically, inexpensive add-in boards (think under $150) feature the same basic standalone controllers found on many motherboards, but some higher-end offerings like those from Areca, LSI, or 3COM offer true hardware RAID, with dedicated storage processors and cache memory.

Setting up hardware RAID

Add-in RAID cards can be used to add RAID capabilities to a system or to leverage a true hardware RAID configuration.

Configuring an array with a hardware RAID controller is fairly straightforward. If you’re using an add-in board, the first step is to actually install the card. Power down your system, insert that card into an available PCI-E slot, power up the system, and install whatever drivers are necessary for your OS. Installing a RAID controller card is really no different than any other add-in board.

If you’re planning to use your motherboard’s on-board RAID controller, the first step is to enter your system BIOS/UEFI, navigate to the integrated peripherals or SATA menu, and enable RAID, since most of today’s motherboard default to legacy IDE or AHCI modes.

After entering the RAID option ROM, choose the option to create and array and follow the on-screen instructions.

Once RAID support is enabled (or your add-in card is installed), the next step is to physically connect your storage drives. Mount the drives into any available bays in your system, connect their power and data cables, and that’s basically it. When you boot your system with RAID enabled, you’ll see a prompt to enter the RAID controller’s option ROM, usually by pressing CTRL + I or CTRL + S.

After entering the RAID controller’s option ROM, you’ll be presented with a menu with the RAID management tools. It’s here where you can create an array, name it, select the drives and RAID mode, and configure options like the stripe size or total capacity. The exact steps will vary from controller to controller, but the process is usually quick and easy.

When you’ve completed configuring the array, save your changes, and it should be ready to use.

Setting up software RAID

The first step in setting up software RAID is selecting a drive. Right-click on an available drive and select New Striped, New Mirrored, or New RAID-5 volume (if available) from the menu.

Using Windows’ built-in support for software RAID is simple. Assuming you’ve already got your drives connected, launch the Disk Management utility by right-clicking in the low-left corner of your screen (Windows 8/8.1) and select Disk Management from the menu. In Windows 7, click your Start button, right-click on Computer, choose Manage from the menu, and in the window that opens, click on Disk Management in the left column.

If your drives are brand new, you’ll be presented with the option to initial the drives. Do so and you’ll be brought to the main Disk Management menu, where all of the drives are listed.

To configure a software RAID, right-click on one of the drives you’d like to include in the array and select the option to create a new Striped (RAID 0), Mirrored (RAID 1), or Spanned (JBOD) volume. RAID 5 may also be an option if you’ve got at least 3 eligible drives installed. After selecting the volume type, a wizard will launch to walk you through the rest of the steps.

When you’ve completed all of the steps in the wizard, Window’s Disk Management utility will color code the drives in the array and list then as dynamic disks.

In the second part of the wizard, you’ll be asked to select the rest of the drives to include in the array. The drive you originally selected will already be added. To add more, simply highlight them in the left pane and click the Add -> button.

Once you’ve added all of the drives and continued through the wizard, you’ll be asked to select a drive letter and format the array. After it’s formatted, the array is ready to use.

Side note: Windows 8 also has a feature dubbed Storage Spaces that allows you to pool multiple drives into a single large volume, complete with some optional resiliency features. It's kind of like RAID light and is dead simple to set up.

OS installation considerations
If you’re planning to create a new RAID array to install a fresh OS, follow the steps outlined in the hardware RAID section and then begin your OS installation as normal. Windows may recognize the array without any intervention because Microsoft includes drivers for many RAID controllers, but if the Windows installer doesn’t find your storage, you'll have to install your RAID controller drivers manually.

To install Windows (or many other operating systems) to a RAID array, you may have to manually load drivers for the RAID controller.

During the initial part of the OS setup phase, there will be a button to load drivers. Place the drivers for your RAID controller on a flash drive, optical disk, or external HD, connect it to your machine, and browse to the drivers during the installation. Once the drivers are installed, you should be able to select the array as your Windows installation destination and continue on as you would with a single drive.

The final word
If you've got the cash (or the spare drives), setting up RAID is quick and easy. And if you decide to configure RAID on your PC, you’ll either enjoy the peace of mind that comes with redundancy or reap the benefits of additional performance.

To give you an idea of what a two-drive RAID 0 array can do with a pair of Intel 730 SSDs, consider this: A single Intel 730 series SSD offers approximately 536MB/s and 483MB/s read and write bandwidth with large sequential transfers. Pair up two drives in RAID 0, however, and those read and write numbers jump to an insane 1061MB/s and 924MB/s, respectively.

Now that’s face-meltingly fast storage. Be sure to back up your data regularly in case one of the drives fails though!

   preview   Free up space on your hard drive using your cloud storage's selective sync option -- October 16, 2015

Running out of hard drive space on your PC used to be a problem. It usually meant you had to get a new PC, or offload some files onto an external hard disk, or upgrade your internal drive. All three options were pretty much a pain.

Cloud storage services haven't solved these hassles completely, but they are making it easier to clear up some space on your hard drive.

Google Drive and Microsoft's OneDrive drive are offering ever increasing amounts of free (and free-ish) storage. New Google Drive users start off with 15GB, as do OneDrive users. If you happen to be an Office 365 subscriber you get unlimited storage on OneDrive as part of your subscription.

Dropbox is still comparatively stingy with 2GB of free space, but most users quickly bump that up to 5GB or more with various giveaways and incentives from the company, which leaps all the way to 1TB with a $10 per month or $100 per year subscription.

All three services let you get selective about which files you bring down from the cloud to your desktop. That means you can leave some stuff in your cloud drive and only download it when necessary. Let's explain how to do that, and considerations to keep in mind before you start stashing your valuable files on third-party servers alone.

***** OneDrive
Keeping stuff in OneDrive and not on your Windows 8.1 desktop is as simple as a right-click.

For Windows 8.1 users, keeping stuff up in the cloud with OneDrive is fairly easy. Open OneDrive in Windows Explorer. Anything under the category heading Availability (in Details View) that says Available offline is stored on your hard drive. If it says Online-only it's in the cloud, which is the default.

To switch anything that's on your hard drive to online-only, just right-click it and select Make available online-only. The file will disappear from your hard drive, but remain available for downloading from the cloud via Windows Explorer any time you need it.

Online-only files will still appear when you open the OneDrive folder in Windows Explorer, but the icons are just small 'pointers' to let you know they're available in your cloud storage space. Opening an online-only file will download a local copy of the file and open it.

***** Google Drive
Google Drive lets you selectively sync folders.

To do the same in Google Drive, click the upward facing arrow in the lower right corner of the taskbar. Find the Google Drive icon, right-click it, and select Preferences... Under the Sync options tab check the box that says Only sync some folders to this computer. Then click the folders you want to keep on your hard drive and click Apply changes. The rest will again be gone from your hard drive, but still available in the cloud.

***** Dropbox
Click Dropbox's Selective Sync... button to move folders off your hard drive.

Finally, Dropbox. Go to the same spot in the taskbar as in the Google Drive example, only click the Dropbox icon this time. (On some PCs, the Dropbox icon may appear next to the upward facing arrow on the taskbar.)

Click the settings cog in the upper right corner of the pop-up window that opens and select Preferences...

Another window will open. There click on the Account tab and choose Selective Sync...

Yet another window opens with a list of folders on your PC. Just de-select the folders that you don't want to keep on your hard drive and click Update, then OK.

In the case of both Dropbox and Google Drive you can always access files not on your hard drive by visiting the website for each service.

***** What to put in the cloud:
Now that you know how to leave your files up in the cloud, the question is what should you leave up there?

If you have a large amount of cloud storage the easiest option is to offload large files that aren't used very often, such as videos or pictures. Those with less storage may have to be more selective, possibly even choosing a mix of documents, photos, and videos.

***** Other considerations:
It's unlikely that your files will disappear from the servers of Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, or any other well known cloud storage provider. Nevertheless, it's still wise to make your own backup of cloud-stored files on an external drive in your own home or, at the very least, with another cloud storage or cloud back-up provider.

Also, keep in mind that once you start depending on the cloud to be your primary storage for personal photos and documents, it pays to maintain the best security you can. Dropbox, Google, and Microsoft all offer two-factor authentication. Make sure you use it. Your password should also be at least 10-12 characters long and completely random. Use a password manager like KeePass or LastPass to store your passwords if you're worried you'll forget it.

Other than that there are also the privacy implications of storing personal data in the cloud. But you've probably already considered that since you're using cloud storage to begin with.

   preview   How to Reset Internet Explorer -- October 16, 2015

1. Close all Internet Explorer and Explorer windows that are currently open.
2. Start Internet Explorer.
3. On the Tools menu, tap or click Internet options. If you don't see the Tools menu, press Alt.
4. In the Internet Options window, tap or click the Advanced tab.
5. Tap or click Reset. If you're using Windows Internet Explorer 6, click Restore Default.
6. In the Reset Internet Explorer Settings dialog box, tap or click Reset.

Select the Delete personal settings check box if you also want to remove browsing history, search providers, Accelerators, home pages, Tracking Protection, and ActiveX Filtering data.

7. When Internet Explorer finishes applying default settings, tap or click Close, and then tap or click OK.
8. Exit and then start Internet Explorer.


If you are running Windows 8, start Internet Explorer for the desktop. Changing your settings will affect both Internet Explorer and Internet Explorer for the desktop.

If you close all visible windows, but still get an error message when trying to reset, you might have programs running that are not visible. Restart Windows, start Internet Explorer, and try resetting again.

If you cannot start Internet Explorer, you can open the settings window by pressing Windows Key + R, typing inetcpl.cpl in the Run box, and then pressing Enter. After the window is open, follow step 4 to step 8.

   preview   How to Reset Chrome Browser Settings -- October 16, 2015

Google Chrome gives you the option to reset your browser settings in one easy click. In some cases, programs that you install can change your Chrome settings without your knowledge. You may see additional extensions and toolbars or a different search engine. Resetting your browser settings will reset the unwanted changes caused by installing other programs. However, your saved bookmarks and passwords will not be cleared or changed.

Reset your browser settings:

1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
2. Select Settings.
3. Click Show advanced settings and find the "Reset browser settings” section.
4. Click Reset browser settings.
5. In the dialog that appears, click Reset.

Note: When the "Help make Google Chrome better by reporting the current settings" checkbox is selected you are anonymously sending Google your Chrome settings. Reporting these settings allows us to analyze trends and work to prevent future unwanted settings changes.

Resetting your browser settings will impact the settings below:

Default search engine and saved search engines will be reset and to their original defaults.
Homepage button will be hidden and the URL that you previously set will be removed.
Default startup tabs will be cleared. The browser will show a new tab when you startup or continue where you left off if you're on a Chromebook.
New Tab page will be empty unless you have a version of Chrome with an extension that controls it. In that case your page may be preserved.
Pinned tabs will be unpinned.
Content settings will be cleared and reset to their installation defaults.
Cookies and site data will be cleared.
Extensions and themes will be disabled.

   preview   How to Reset Firefox Browser -- October 16, 2015

The Reset Firefox feature can fix many issues by restoring Firefox to its factory default state while saving your essential information. Note: This will cause you to lose any Extensions, Open websites, and some Preferences.

To Reset Firefox do the following:

Go to Firefox > Help > Troubleshooting Information.
Click the "Reset Firefox" button.
Firefox will close and reset. After Firefox is done, it will show a window with the information that is imported. Click Finish.
Firefox will open with all factory defaults applied.

What does the reset feature do?

All of your Firefox settings and personal information are stored in your profile folder. The reset feature works by creating a new profile folder for you while saving your most important data.

Firefox will keep the following data:

Browsing history
Open windows and tabs
Web form auto-fill information
Personal dictionary

The following items and settings will be removed:

Extensions and themes: Although they can be incredibly helpful, some extensions and themes can cause problems.
Site-specific preferences, search engines, download history, DOM storage, security certificate settings, security device settings, download actions, plugin MIME types, toolbar customizations and user styles.

Note: After the reset is finished, your old Firefox profile information will be placed on your desktop in a folder named "Old Firefox Data." If the reset didn't fix your problem you can restore some of the information not saved by copying files to the new profile that was created.

   preview   Toshiba Satallite Laptop Reset -- October 16, 2015

Using Partitioned Recovery Method (Free Recovery)

Most Toshiba laptops with come with the factory software recovery image stored in a special hidden partition on the hard drive of the laptop. The factory software recovery image allows the user to recover the laptop to its factory fresh condition as when it was new.
This partition may also be referred to as the Partitioned Recovery Method or Free Recovery option.

IMPORTANT: The recovery process deletes information stored on the internal storage drive. Be sure to save your work to external media before executing the recovery.

Make sure the computer is turned off ("Shut-down" from the Windows Start menu).

Remove any peripherals such an external mouse, keyboard, monitor, USB flash drive etc.

Make sure the AC Adapter is plugged in and working.

On machines with the F key numbers on the top edge of the keys and in White:

• Press and hold the 0 (zero) key and power up the laptop.
• Release the 0 (zero) key when the recovery warning screen appears.

On machines with the F key numbers on the bottom edge of the keys and in Gray:

• Power up the laptop.
• When the initial TOSHIBA screen displays, press the F12 key to enter the boot menu.
• Use the arrow keys to select the HDD Recovery option and press the enter key to begin.

The TOSHIBA recovery wizard warning screen appears stating that when the recovery is executed all data will be deleted and the original factory software image will be rewritten. If the recovery process offers a choice of Operating Systems, select the appropriate one for you.
After you are sure you have everything you want from the laptop saved, click Yes.
When the Toshiba Recovery Wizard opens, the default and recommended option is "Recovery of Factory Default Software".
After selecting your desired recovery method, select Next.
On the next screen you may have recovery method options. The default and recommended method is to Recover to Out of Box state.
Select next to continue.
Follow the on screen instructions as you navigate through the system recovery steps.
The laptop will restart multiple times and install the needed components.

   preview   How to scan your computer with TDSSKiller -- October 16, 2015

Use TDSSKiller to remove rootkits that block other malware scanners (i.e. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware) from running.

TDSSKiller is a tool to remove specific types of malware/rootkits that block the use of other malware removal tools and/or Windows processes.

What is a Rootkit?

A rootkit is a type of malware that embeds itself into the operating system's files and processes making it harder to detect and remove.

Once a rootkit has infected a system it can disable anti-virus scanners, prevent malware scanners from running, and can change Windows account permissions, which can make it difficult to regain control of Windows.

A rootkits primary mode of transmissions is through unpatched security holes in Windows. For this reason, it is important to regularly install Windows updates.

To download and install TDSSKiller, do the following:

1. Download TDSSKiller from here: Save the file to your desktop.
2. Double-click the TDSSKiller.exe to start the installer.

To scan your computer with TDSSKiller, do the following:

1. Double-click the TDSSKiller icon to run TDSSKiller.
2. TDSSKiller will open to a Ready to scan window.
3. Click Start scan.
4. When the scan is finished, it will display the results with options next to each item found. These options include Skip, Copy to quarantine, and Delete/Cure.
5. Click Delete/Cure for each item found.
6. TDSSKiller might require a reboot of the computer to complete the cleaning. If you are prompted to restart your computer, do so.

   preview   Getting Rid of Spyware -- October 16, 2015

This tutorial will demonstrate how to find and remove spyware on your system.

What is spyware? As the name suggests, spyware is something that spies on you. It is actually a generic term used to describe various types of potentially “malicious” software. Spyware usually collects information about your web browsing habits, which is then used to target advertisements at you. For example, if you love looking at car web sites, you would suddenly find that advertisements would also be car related. While this may seem useful, there are bad points. First of all, the spyware is using bandwidth, which you paid for, to transmit this information to the advertising companies. Secondly, it uses up system resources, which you could be using for other programs and last, you have no real control over what information they are collecting. They may, for example, log all keystrokes, so when you type a web site address into the address bar, they will know what web sites you went to. It may also log any user names/ passwords, chats, and emails that you type. This is a huge privacy risk. There is no easy way to determine what a particular piece of spyware is transmitting, so the best way to protect yourself is to make sure there is no spyware on your system.
The most common way to get spyware is by downloading shareware or ad supported software from the internet. One example of a useful program, which installs spyware, is Gator, available from

Gator is pretty upfront in telling you outright that it monitors what you do. Here is a direct quote from their website:
“This software also occasionally displays pop up ads on your computer screen based on your online behavior.”
Gator basically fills out online forms and remembers passwords, which is very useful. However there are many alternatives which contain no spyware, such as Roboform, available from
If you know that a piece of software that you installed is spyware, simply uninstall it, and find a spyware free alternative. Note that even after uninstalling it, you should still scan your system for spyware, as the spyware is not always removed. This will be demonstrated later in this tutorial.

Before installing any program, go to and type the name of the program into the search box. It will tell you if the program contains spyware or not.

How to remove spyware:
1. Uninstall the program in question, if you know what it is.
2. Scan your computer using 'Spybot Search and Destroy' and AdAware.

Installing and Using 'Spybot Search and Destroy'

Spybot is free and can be obtained from Once you install it, double click on Spybot (Easy Mode). The first thing to do is to check for updates, as new spyware is being found daily. So click on “Search for Updates”. Spybot will then check to see if there are any updates. When Spybot is updated, the red question mark will change to a green tick.

Now that the program is updated, we need to scan for spyware on our system. So click on the “Search & Destroy” icon on the top of the menu on the left hand side. Then click on “Check for Problems” in the main screen. Spybot will then search your hard drive for known spyware.

Here are the results of one of my searches:

Perhaps Spybot is reporting that the file 'H@tKeysH@@k.DLL', is actually a key logger. A key logger is a program that records what keys I press on the keyboard, so it is capable of capturing passwords and whatever else I type, making it a potential hazard. Its best to double check what Spybot finds, so go to and do a search for that file name. The second search result ( gives me an explanation as to what that file is. It turns out that it is actually a trainer, so that I can use cheats in certain games. Why does Spybot call it a key logger? Well, to enable cheats in the game, I need to press a certain key combination. The trainer monitors all key strokes until I press the ones that enables that cheats. When it detects the correct key strokes, it enables the cheats. So in this case, I won't let Spybot delete this file. If however I had come across some real spyware, I would simply click on “Fix Selected Problems” and let Spybot delete it.

If you delete something, and suddenly find that a program doesn't work, you may need to restore the files. To do this, click on the “Recovery” icon, select the files you need to recover, and click on “Recover Selected Products”.

Unfortunately, Spybot fails to detect every piece of spyware on a computer, so in addition to Spybot, it is necessary to run a program called AdAware which is available for free from

Just like Spybot, it is necessary to ensure it is up to date, by clicking on “Check for updates now”. In the window that pops up, click on the “Connect” button. If there is an update, it will ask you to download and install it, so just click OK.

On the main screen again, click on the “Scan Now” button.

Make sure that “Perform smart system-scan” is checked, and that “Activate in-depth scan” is enabled. When you click on Next, AdAware will scan your computer. Below is a screen shot, showing the results of a scan:

All of the items found were actually put there by the popular file sharing program, Kazaa. If I remove them, Kazaa will stop working so the best thing to do is to uninstall Kazaa, find a spyware free alternative and scan my computer again to make sure all of the above are gone.

When spyware is found, you can either quarantine it, or delete it. To quarantine it, simply select the item, and click on Quarantine. Type in a descriptive file name for the quarantined file(s) so you will recognize it again. If you ever need to restore these files, run AdAware again, and on the main screen you will find an option that will allow you to “Open quarantine list”. This allows you to restore any deleted files.

If you just want to delete the files without quarantining them, then click on the Next button, and click OK.
Note that performing the above will clean your system of the majority of spyware that exists; however it won't clean everything. If you still are experiencing problems, e.g., you can't change home page, unusual internet activity, etc., consult your tech, who will give you more advanced instructions.

   preview   How to install Linux Mint on your PC -- October 16, 2015

Installing Linux Mint on a Windows 8.x or windows 10 PC with Secure Boot on can be a pain, but on an XP or Vista system it's easy. So, if you're considering switching out XP or Vista for Linux Mint , here's how you'd go about it.

Trying Mint:

If your PC can boot from a USB drive, you should get a program that will let you run and install Linux from a USB drive. My particular favorite for this job is pendrive for Windows. Other worthwhile choices are LinuxLive USB Creator and UNetbootin. All of these programs are free.

Given a choice between a DVD disc and a USB stick, I'd go with the USB option. Mint, and any other operating system, will install and run much faster from it.

Windows XP and Linux Mint: Brothers at the interface

Once you have a burning program, you'll need to download a copy of Linux Mint. You'll find more than half-a-dozen different versions, but the one you want is the first one listed: Cinnamon. The Mate version works better on older machines and if you are not sure - go for that version) If you have a 64-bit PC, download the 64-bit edition. Not sure? Just download the 32-bit version, it runs on both 32 and 64-bit computers.

When you get to the Mint download page, you'll see a selection of download mirrors. Pick the one that's closest to your location and start your download. In the top section, entitled "Information about this edition," you can also choose to get a copy of Mint via BitTorrent. The ISO image file you'll be downloading is about 1.2GB in size, so if you have a slow Internet connection, you might as well get some lunch while waiting for it to arrive.

Once you have the file in hand, use your burning program to burn the ISO image to your disc or USB stick. If you're using a DVD—Mint's too big to fit on a CD—use the program to check your newly burned disc for errors. As the years have gone by, I've found that more problems with running Linux and installing Linux from DVDs have come from bad discs than all other causes combined.

Next, place your disc or USB stick into your PC and reboot. Do not simply let it reboot. You're going to want to stop it during the boot-up process and get to the BIOS. What method your PC uses to do this varies. Look for a message as the machine starts up that tells which key or keys you'll need to press in order to get to the BIOS. Likely candidates are a function key or the Esc or Delete keys. If you don't spot it the first time, don't sweat it. Just reboot and try again.

After you get to the BIOS, look for a menu choice labeled Boot, Boot Options, or Boot Order. If you don't see anything with the word "boot" in it, check other other menu options such as Advanced Options, Advanced BIOS Features, or Other Options. Once you find it, set the boot order so that instead of booting from the hard drive first, you boot from either the CD/DVD drive or from a USB drive.

That done, insert your DVD or USB stick and reboot. Then, select Start Linux Mint from the first menu you see. Your machine should soon be running Linux. In this mode, you haven't installed anything on your PC yet. Use this opportunity to play with Mint to see if you like it at all.

Using a DVD drive it will run slowly, but it will run quickly enough to give you an idea what it's like to use Mint. With a USB stick, it will run fast enough to give you a much better notion of what working with Mint is like. Indeed, some people carry Linux with them on USB sticks and use that as their walk-around operating system for hotel, conference, and library PCs.

Installing Mint

Like what you've seen so far? Then you're ready to install Mint. First, make a complete backup of your Windows system. Installing Linux in the way I'm going to describe shouldn't hurt your Windows setup in the least, but why take any chances?

Next make sure your PC is connected to power—you do not want to run out of battery power during an operating system install!--and that you have an Internet connection and at least 7.8GBs of free drive space.

That done, reboot into Linux again. Once you have the Mint display up, one of your icon choices on the left will be to install Mint. Double-click it and you'll be on your way.

You'll need to walk your way through several menu choices. Most of these decisions will be easy. For example, the language do you want Mint to be installed in and the time zone are you in. The one critical choice will be how to partition your hard drive.

Partitioning a hard drive can become very complicated, but fortunately, there's an easy choice that will let you dual-boot both XP and Mint. Simply pick the first option on the Installation Type menu: Install Linux Mint alongside them.

This procedure will install Linux Mint next to your existing Windows system and leave it totally untouched. When I do this, I usually give half the drive, or half the remaining drive space to Mint.You'll be asked to choose which operating system you want do boot by default. No matter which one you pick, you will also have a few seconds to decide to boot into the other operating system.

You will also be required to give your system a name, pick out a user-name for yourself, and come up with a password. You can also choose to encrypt your home directory to keep files relatively say from prying eyes.

Once the entire installation process is done, you can choose to boot into Linux Mint. The first thing you'll want to do after that is to update your system to the latest software. Unlike Windows, when you update Mint, you'll be updating not just your operating system but all the other programs you've installed on your system. To do this, click on the shield icon in the menu bar. By default, the bar will be on the bottom part of the screen and the icon will be on the right. It will then prompt you for your password and then ask if you really want to update your system. Say, yes, and you'll be ready to give your brand new Mint system a real try out.

   preview   Basic Mac Troubleshooting -- December 26, 2015

While Macs tend to be very reliable and require little maintenance things can sometimes go awry. This guide aims to provide some basic steps to resolving the more common problems we see at Mac-Forums. While this guide is by no means comprehensive, hopefully one of the methods below helps to get your Mac back on the right track.

  • Restart your computer 
    • This may seem obvious, but many times we’re so used to just letting our computers sleep when we’re not using them, we don’t think much about the occasional need to do a full reboot. Sometimes simply shutting the computer down, turning it off and bringing it back up after 30 seconds is enough to solve a problem.
  • Run Software Update 
    • Apple regularly releases patches and new features through the Software Update system. If it’s been awhile since you’ve run it, now might be a good time.
  • Clean Your Caches 
    • There are several free tools that will do this for you – the most often recommended on Mac-Forums is Onyx. For those who prefer a simpler interface the creators of Onyx have a simplified version they call Maintenance. Even if you don’t have one of those you can still do it manually. Just delete everything in the folders Library/Caches and in Users/*Your User Name*/Library/Caches. When finished reboot.

  • Delete the .plist file
    • If it is a particular program that is giving you problems delete its preferences (.plist) in ‘Your User Name’/Library/Preferences
  • Uninstall and then reinstall the offending application 
  • If it is a particular program that is giving you problems and deleting the .plist file didn’t help, then uninstall and reinstall the application.
    • Important – If the application came with an Installer, it may also have an uninstaller. In these cases, you’ll want to avoid just deleting it or using a third-party removal tool. Often that uninstall utility will have been contained in the original DMG file that the program came packaged in. If you don’t have the original DMG file, it may be a good idea to re-download the program.

  • Repair Disk Permissions
    • Go to Applications -> Utilities and find Disk Utility. Select your system drive (usually called “Macintosh HD”) in the left window pane. Click the First Aid tab in the right pane. Click “Verify Permissions” and then “Repair Permissions” if needed.
  • Run Disk Repair
    • This can either be done from the First Aid tab in Disk Utility (as described in step 6), but in some cases may need to be done by booting from your System Discs.
  • Turn your computer on and hold down the Option key. This will bring up the boot menu. Insert your Mac OS X system disc and after a few seconds, it should appear as a boot option. Choose it and the system should boot from your disc.
    • When the Mac OS X installer screen appears, click through it until the Menu bar appears. In the Utilities menu, you should find Disk Utility. Once Disk Utility opens, select your system drive (usually called “Macintosh HD”) in the left window pane. Click the First Aid tab in the right pane. Click Verify Disk and then Repair Disk (if needed).
  • File System Check
    • Start with the computer powered off. Turn it on and immediately press and hold Command + S. This starts the computer in “single user mode”, which is text-based. When the text stops scrolling down the screen, type:

      /sbin/fsck -f
      …and then press the Enter key.
      The process should show any corrections it made. If it does find problems, run the command again until it comes up with no further problems. When finished, type exit and the computer should restart.

  • Reset the PRAM
    • Start with the computer powered off. Turn it on and immediately press and hold Command + Option + P + R. Continue holding until you hear the system chime three times.
  • Reset Non-volatile RAM
    • Start with the computer powered off. Turn it on and immediately press and hold Command + Option + O + F and wait for the command prompt. Type:

      …and press the Enter key.

  • Search Mac-Forums
    • Mac-Forums has accumulated a wealth of knowledge over time. Chances are that if you’ve run into a problem, someone else has run into that same problem in the past.
    • From the main forum window, you’ll find the Search button at the upper-right corner. Simply enter a few keywords (or even an error message) into the search field and you should come up with some results.
    • You can further refine your search by using the “Search this thread” button within a particular thread
  • Search the Apple Support Knowledge Base
  • If none of the previous steps have helped, try browsing over to Apple – Support.
    • Once there, you can either browse to look at articles specific to your model, or do a search for keywords to see if there are any articles specific to your problem.

  • Run the Apple Hardware Test
    • If you’ve made it this far without resolution, it may be helpful to rule out hardware problems (like a bad hard drive or memory) before taking more drastic measures. The Apple Hardware Test is run in two different ways depending on the type of Mac you have:
  • Before you consider reinstalling the operating system
    • Mac OS X, like many UNIX-based operating systems, rarely requires a complete reinstall. Those of us that are accustomed to Windows may find this unbelievable, but the truth is, OS X simply doesn’t allow the user to make major modifications to it. Most changes are confined to your “Home” directory.
    • So before you try to reinstall the operating system, try creating a new account for yourself. You don’t need to delete the old one just yet – see if a new account still encounters the same issue. If it doesn’t, you can copy over the data from your old home folder and then delete the account.

   preview   Clean your Windows PC (short form) -- October 16, 2015

Surfing the Internet can leave all kinds of unnecessary files on your computer that take up space and slow down performance. Windows includes a system tool that you can use to delete unneeded files and keep your computer running optimally. You can access the Disk Cleanup tool in your computer's Accessories folder.


1 Click the "Start" button.

2 Click "All Programs," "Accessories" and then "System Tools." Click "Disk Cleanup."

3 Click to select My Files Only or Files From All Users on This Computer. The program will determine how many files it can clean. This process may take a few minutes.

4 Click to check the boxes for the files you want to delete from your system. Click "OK."

5 Click "Delete files" when asked to confirm. The program will remove the files you selected.

   preview   How to Install Linux Ubuntu Operating System -- October 16, 2015

Download Ubuntu Desktop
Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS
The Long Term Support (LTS) version of the Ubuntu operating system for desktop PCs and laptops, Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS comes with five years of security and maintenance updates, guaranteed.

Recommended for most users.

How to burn a DVD on Windows

To install Ubuntu on a computer that currently runs Windows, you need to download the installation file and burn it onto the DVD, which you can then use to install Ubuntu. Once you’ve downloaded the file, follow the instructions below to burn your DVD, depending on which version of Windows you are currently using.

Windows 7 / 8

1 Right-click on an ISO image and choose 'Open with > Windows Disc Image Burner'.

2 Select a disc burner (drive) and choose 'Burn'. If you check 'Verify disc after burning', it will confirm that the ISO image has been burned correctly.

Windows 95 / 98 / ME / 2000 / XP / Server 2003 / Vista7

1 Download and install Infra Recorder, a free and open-source image-burning program.
2 Insert a blank DVD in the drive and select ‘Do nothing’ or ‘Cancel’ if an autorun dialog box pops up.
3 Open Infra Recorder and click the 'Write Image' button in the main screen. Alternatively you can select the 'Actions' menu, then 'Burn image'.

4 Select the Ubuntu DVD image file you want to use, then click 'Open'.
5 In the dialog box, click 'OK'.

How to create a bootable USB stick on Windows

To run Ubuntu from a USB stick, the first thing you need to do is insert a USB stick with at least 2GB of free space into your PC.

The easiest way to put Ubuntu onto your stick is to use the USB installer provided at You’ll need to download and install and follow the instructions.

Download Pen Drive Linux's USB Installer ›

1 Select 'Ubuntu' from the dropdown list.

2 Click 'Browse' and open the downloaded ISO file.

3 Choose the USB drive and click 'Create'.

Install Ubuntu

Using a DVD?

It’s easy to install Ubuntu from a DVD. Here’s what you need to do:

Put the Ubuntu DVD into the DVD-drive

Restart your computer. You should see a welcome screen prompting you to choose your language and giving you the option to install Ubuntu or try it from the DVD.

If you don’t get this menu, read the booting from the DVD guide for more information.

Using a USB drive?

Most newer computers can boot from USB. You should see a welcome screen prompting you to choose your language and giving you the option to install Ubuntu or try it from the USB.

If your computer doesn’t automatically do so, you might need to press the F12 key to bring up the boot menu, but be careful not to hold it down - that can cause an error message.

2 Prepare to install Ubuntu

We recommend you plug your computer into a power source
You should also make sure you have enough space on your computer to install Ubuntu
We advise you to select Download updates while installing and Install this third-party software now
You should also stay connected to the internet so you can get the latest updates while you install Ubuntu
If you’re not connected to the internet, we’ll help you set up wireless at the next step

3 Set up wireless

If you are not connected to the internet, you will be asked to select a wireless network, if available. We advise you to connect during the installation so we can ensure your machine is up to date. So, if you set up your wireless network at this point, it’s worth then clicking the Back button to go back to the last screen (Preparing to install Ubuntu) and ticking the box marked ’Download updates while installing’.

4 Allocate drive space

Use the checkboxes to choose whether you’d like to Install Ubuntu alongside another operating system, delete your existing operating system and replace it with Ubuntu, or — if you’re an advanced user — choose the ’Something else’ option

5 Begin the installation

Depending on your previous selections, you can now verify that you have chosen the way in which you would like to install Ubuntu. The installation process will begin when you click the Install Now button.

Ubuntu needs about 4.5 GB to install, so add a few extra GB to allow for your files.

6 Select your location

If you are connected to the internet, this should be done automatically. Check your location is correct and click ’Forward’ to proceed. If you’re unsure of your time zone, type the name of the town you’re in or click on the map and we’ll help you find it.

TIP: If you’re having problems connecting to the Internet, use the menu in the top-right-hand corner to select a network.

7 Select your preferred keyboard layout

Click on the language option you need. If you’re not sure, click the ’Detect Keyboard Layout’ button for help.

8 Enter your login and password details

9 Learn more about Ubuntu while
the system installs…

…or make a cup of tea!

10 That’s it.

All that’s left is to restart your computer and start enjoying Ubuntu!

This guide is available with images at

   preview   How can I tell if my computer has a virus? -- October 16, 2015

Windows 7 and other versions

If you can answer "yes" to any of the following questions, your computer might have a virus.

Is your computer running very slowly? A common symptom of a virus is much slower than normal computer performance. However, there can be other reasons for slow performance, including a hard disk that needs defragmenting, a computer that needs more memory (RAM), or the existence of spyware or adware. For more information about spyware, see How to tell if your computer is infected with spyware.

Are you getting unexpected messages, or are programs starting automatically? Some viruses can cause damage to Windows or some of your programs. The results of this damage might include messages appearing unexpectedly, programs starting or closing automatically, or Windows shutting down suddenly.

Is your modem or hard disk working overtime? An e‑mail virus works by sending many copies of itself by e‑mail. One indicator of this is that the activity light on your broadband or external modem is constantly lit; another is the sound of your computer's hard disk continually working. These are not always symptoms of a computer virus, but when combined with other problems, can indicate a virus infection.

To check for viruses, scan your computer with an antivirus program. New viruses appear every day, so keeping your antivirus program updated is important. For more information about computer security, go to the Security at Home page on the Microsoft website. To learn how to remove malicious software (malware) from your computer, go to the Microsoft Safety Scanner webpage.

   preview   How to set up a Home Network Part 2 -- August 9, 2015

Home networking explained, part 2: Optimizing your Wi-Fi network

Home networking explained
Part 1: Here's the URL for you
Part 3: Taking control of your wires
Part 4: Wi-Fi vs. Internet
Part 5: Home router setup
Part 6: Securing your network
Part 7: Powerline explained
Part 8: Cable modem shopping tips
Part 9: How to access your home computer remotely

How to have the best Wi-Fi coverage at home and avoid "dead zones." With that in mind, here are a few thing you can do to make sure you get the best out of your Wi-Fi network.

Let's start with the ways that probably won't cost you anything, other than a little bit of time.

1. Placement Location

A wireless router (from here on in this post, it will be addressed as "router" for short) broadcasts Wi-Fi signals away from it in all directions. Think of the signal coverage as a globe with the router being right in the center. Outside of this globe, clients won't get a signal. This globe, however, is not exactly spherical; one of the reasons is because the signals are generally turned to go out more horizontally than vertically, and like all radio signals, they tend to spread laterally and downward the farther they are from the broadcaster. That said, the best place to place your wireless router or access point is in the center of your home and elevated.

To take advantage of this, use the telephone jack (or coax cable outlet) at or near the center of the house, preferably on the upper floor when applicable, to connect to your modem and then your router. If need be, hire an electrician to create a new outlet in the right place. If it's not possible to move the phone jack or run coax cable to where you want, use a long network cable to connect the router to the modem, leaving the modem where the jack is and the router/access point at the center of the house. (In my experience, it's actually quite easy to run cables above the ceiling, or under the house).

Surroundings: A wireless signal works best outdoors in an open environment. Since it's not possible to have that indoors, you can improve the signal a great deal by making sure the immediate surroundings of the router/modem are clear, especially in the directions you want the signals to reach. This means you don't want to leave the router in a closet, or put it between a big TV and a wall. The best place to leave the router is in midair, but since that's quite hard to do, the second best thing is to put it on the surface of a desk, or mount it on the wall when applicable. Generally, all physical objects, such as walls, glass doors, and so on, weaken Wi-Fi signals, some more than others.

Antenna positioning: With a router that comes with external antennas, you can slightly tweak the above-mentioned globe of coverage. Generally you want the antennas to stay vertical if you want the signal to go wide (which is the most popular usage). If want the signal to go deep into the basement and up to the top floor, set the antennas to stay horizontal. Note that this only works relatively, and with some routers, you might not experience any difference at all whichever way you set its antennas. If the antennas are detachable, it's likely that you can replace them with high-gain antennas (most of the time this means bigger ones), which noticeably helps increase coverage. (You might also be able to increase the power of the antennas, hence the range, by attaching to it a piece of aluminum foil curled up into a parabolic shape.)

For routers with an internal antenna design, there's nothing you can do. Modern routers, especially N750, N900, and 802.11ac routers, however, generally come with very powerful and smart antennas that essentially increase their power toward the direction of connected clients automatically, using a technology called beamforming.

2. Equipment

Now that you have placed your router properly and still don't find enough improvement, it's time to check the equipment. Get ready to spend some money.
Router: Ideally you just want to have one wireless broadcaster at home and for most homes, a single router is good enough. That said, if you have a small house and the router (put in the middle) can't cover every corner, it's time to consider replacing it. I'd recommend one on these lists.

Access point: A separate access point is an ideal solution for a large and sprawling home, one that you can't put the router in the center, or one with a deep basement, with an existing router. Basically, you want to put the second access point at the location where the signal of the existing router can't reach or gets really weak. A typical example of this setup is where you have the main router in the living room and the second access point in the basement.

Now the trick is to connect the access point to the router. Ideally, you want to run a network cable from the router to the access point (you want to connect the access point's LAN port to one of the router's LAN ports). If this is too much of a job, you can resort to power-line networking.

Note: Many routers can also work as an access point and will indicate this in its list of features. In this case the router's WAN port will work as a LAN port. In fact, for the secondary access point scenario, it's best to use two identical routers, one as the main, and the second as an access point for the far side of the house. This way you don't have to learn about two different devices.

Power line: A power-line adapter basically turns your home's electrical wiring into network cables; this is more clearly explained in Part 1. In the case of the separate access point scenario above, you can use a pair of power-line adapters, such as the D-Link DHP-510AV. Connect one of the adapters to the router and the other to the access point, using network cables. After that, if you want to make your home network seamless, name the Wi-Fi network (or SSID) of the access point the same as that of the existing router. In this case, make sure you use the same security settings (encryption key, method, and so on). Or you can also keep them as two separate Wi-Fi networks for easy management.

There are also power-line adapter kits with a built-in access point, called power-line range extenders, such as the Netgear XAVNB2001. In this case, you don't need to get the second access point/router.

In addition to power line, you can also opt for a pair of MoCA adapters. MoCA stands for Multimedia over Coax Alliance, and similar to power line, turns coax cables (those used by cable TV) into network cables. MoCA adapters are great solutions for homes with multiple cable outlets in different rooms. I don't have a lot of experience with MoCA, however, since it's not possible to test those at my office.

Range extender/repeater: These are wireless devices that can connect to an existing Wi-Fi network and then rebroadcast that same network's signal farther. Most of these devices support Wi-Fi Protected Setup and can connect to the existing router with the push of a button; after that, you can just put one at the edge of the existing network's Wi-Fi range and have that range increased.

I am not a fan of this type of device because of a few reasons:

First, it's hard to gauge their effectiveness; you need to put a range extender/repeater relatively close to the existing router for it to have a good connection with the main network, but at the same time far enough for it to really extend the range. It's very hard to find the sweet spot for it to be effective both in terms of range and connection quality.

Second, the repeater basically duplicates the existing Wi-Fi network with one of its own, and as mentioned above, Wi-Fi signals are broadcast in all directions. This means devices in the area where the two networks overlap have to deal with interference and signal saturation. This is especially bad for the 2.4Ghz band.

That said, a range extender/repeater is still the fastest way to relatively extend a Wi-Fi network's coverage.

3. Settings
One of the problems with Wi-Fi networks is the risk of losing your bandwidth to unauthorized users. This part helps you secure your network and optimize it for speed. Note that it's slightly more advanced and might seem intimidating to novice users. But you will be a novice no more if you go through with it. This part is only recommended for those interested in learning more about networking.

Rule of thumb: Make sure you back up the router's configuration settings before making changes. This allows you to restore it to previous settings in case something goes wrong.

With the exception of networking products from Apple, most, if not all, other routers and access points on the market comes with a Web interface. This means that from a connected computer, you can open up the router's management Web page by going to its IP address. Unless you have changed it, the default IP address is generally printed on the bottom of the router, or on its user guide, and tends to be in this format: 192.168.x.1.

It's easy to find out your router's IP address; here are the common steps to get to any home network's router's Web interface:

Step 1: From a connected computer (running Windows Vista or 7), click on Start button, type "cmd" in the search area, then press Enter. (If you use Windows XP, you can navigate the Start Menu and run the Command Prompt item.)

Step 2: Now in the black command prompt window, type in "ipconfig," then press Enter. You will see lots of information displayed in the window. Find the string of number after Default Gateway, that's the router's IP address.

Step 3: Type that IP address in the address bar of a browser, such as Firefox, and press Enter; now you are at the router's Web interface. You will have to log in with an account. The username is almost always admin; for the password, check the router's manual or ask the person who first set up the network for you.

On the Web interface, the following wireless settings will help your network stay safe:

Network name and password: Most if not all routers come with a default Wi-Fi network name (or SSID) and password; you won't want to use those. This is mostly because that reveals to advanced users which router you have and that, well, you don't know much about networking. Changing the SSID and password to your liking also helps you remember them better.

Hide your SSID: By default all routers broadcast the Wi-Fi network name. This makes it convenient since clients can "see" them. Hiding the SSID makes your Wi-Fi network invisible to others. The only drawback is that you have to manually type it in when you want to connect a new client to it. There's a trick for it: turn the SSID on briefly when you want to connect a new client, once that's done, hide it again. Note that hiding your network's name doesn't help much against advanced hackers, however, since there are tools that help you easily circumvent this.

Use WPA 2: Using the WPA 2 encryption method helps both increase the security and the speed of the Wi-Fi signal. The only catch is that WPA 2 might not be compatible with older clients. Most new clients released in the past few years support WPA 2, however. You can try using WPA 2 first and if some of your clients are unable to connect, switch it back to WPA.

In addition, once you have accessed the router's Web interface, there are many other settings that you can try. For safety, there are also MAC address filters, Internet filtering, and so on. Note that a router generally takes about a minute to restart to apply new settings.

   preview   How to set up a Home Network Part 1 -- August 9, 2015

Home networking explained, part 1: this is the place.

A typical wireless router with LAN ports for Ethernet-ready devices and antennas for Wi-Fi clients.

Home networking explained
Part 2: Optimizing your Wi-Fi network
Part 3: Taking control of your wires
Part 4: Wi-Fi vs. Internet
Part 5: Home router setup
Part 6: Securing your network
Part 7: Powerline explained
Part 8: Cable modem shopping tips
Part 9: How to access your home computer remotely

1. Wired networking

A wired local network is basically a group of devices connected to one another using network cables, more often than not with the help of a router, which brings us to the very first networking term.

Router: This is the central device of a home network into which you can plug one end of a network cable. The other end of the cable goes into a networking device that has a network port. If you want to add more network devices to a router, you'll need more cables and more ports on the router. These ports, both on the router and on the end devices, are called Local Area Network (LAN) ports. They are also known as RJ45 ports. The moment you plug a device into a router, you have yourself a wired network. Networking devices that come with an RJ45 network port are called Ethernet-ready devices. More on this below.

Note: Technically, you can skip a router and connect two computers together using one network cable to form a network of two. However, this requires manually configuring the IP addresses, or using a special crossover cable, for the connection to work. You don't really want to do that.

LAN ports: A home router usually has four LAN ports, meaning that, straight out of the box, it can host a network of up to four wired networking devices. If you want to have a larger network, you will need to resort to a switch (or a hub), which adds more LAN ports to the router. Generally a home router can handle up to about 250 networking devices, and the majority of homes and even small businesses don't need more than that.

There are currently two main speed standards for LAN ports: Ethernet, which caps at 100Mbps (or about 13MBps), and Gigabit Ethernet, which caps at 1Gbps (or about 150MBps). In other words, it takes about a minute to transfer a CD's worth of data (around 700MB or about 250 digital songs) over an Ethernet connection. With Gigabit Ethernet, the same job takes just about 5 seconds. In real life, the average speed of an Ethernet connection is about 8MBps, and of a Gigabit Ethernet connection is somewhere between 45 and 90MBps. The actual speed of a network connection depends on many factors, such as the end devices being used, the quality of the cable, and the amount of traffic.

Rule of thumb: The speed of a single network connection is determined by the slowest speed of any party involved. For example, in order to have a wired Gigabit Ethernet connection between two computers, both computers, the router they are connected to, and the cables used to link them together all need to support Gigabit Ethernet. If you plug a Gigabit Ethernet device and an regular Ethernet device into a router, the connection between the two will be capped at the speed of Ethernet, which is 100Mbps.

In short, LAN ports on a router allow Ethernet-ready devices to connect to one another and share data.

In order for them to also access the Internet, the router needs to also have a Wide Area Network (WAN) port. On many routers, this port may also be labeled the Internet port.

Switch vs. hub: A hub and a switch both add more LAN ports to an existing network. They help increase the number of Ethernet-ready clients that a network can host. The main difference between hubs and switches is a hub uses one shared channel for all of its ports, while a switch has a dedicated channel for each of its ports. This means the more clients you connect to a hub, the slower the data rate gets, whereas with a switch the speed doesn't change according to the number of connected clients. For this reason, hubs are much cheaper than switches with the same number of ports.

However, hubs are largely obsolete now since the cost of switches has come down significantly. The price of a switch generally varies based on its standard (regular Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet, with the latter being more expensive), and the number of ports (the more ports, the higher the price).

You can find a switch with just 4 or up to 24 ports (or even more). Note that the total of extra wired clients you can add to a network is equal to the switch's total number of ports minus one. For example, a four-port switch will add another three clients to the network. This is because you need to use one of the ports to connect the switch itself to the network, which, by the way, also uses another port of the existing network. With this in mind, make sure you buy a switch with significantly more ports than the number of clients you intend to add to the network.

Wide-area network (WAN) port: Also known as the Internet port. Generally, a router has just one WAN port. (Some business routers come with dual WAN ports, so one can use two separate Internet services at a time.) On any router, the WAN port will be separated from the LAN ports, and is often distinguished by being a different color. A WAN port is used to connect to an Internet source, such as a broadband modem. The WAN allows the router to connect to the Internet and share that connection with all the Ethernet-ready devices connected to it.

Note: Since most Internet connections are slower than 100Mbps (a fast cable connection, for example, is about 50Mbps down and about 6Mbps up), an Ethernet-rated WAN port is sufficient in most cases. However, Gigabit Ethernet routers tend to also come with a Gigabit WAN port. That said, switching from an Ethernet router to a Gigabit Ethernet router generally doesn't translate into faster Internet speeds; it usually just helps devices within your local network (LAN) to connect to one another faster.

Broadband modem: Often called a DSL modem or cable modem, a broadband modem is a device that bridges the Internet connection from a service provider to a computer or to a router, making the Internet available to consumers. Generally, a modem has one LAN port (to connect to a router's WAN port, or to an Ethernet-ready device) and one service-related port, such as a telephone port (DSL modems) or a coaxial port (cable modems), that connects to the service line. If you have just a modem, you'll be able to connect just one Ethernet-ready device, such as a computer, to the Internet. To hook up more than one device to the Internet, you will need a router. Providers tend to offer a combo device that's a combination of a modem and a router or wireless router, all in one.

Network cables: These are the cables used to connect network devices to a router or a switch. They are also known as Category 5 cables, or CAT5 cables. Currently, most, if not all, CAT5 cables on the market are actually CAT5e, which is capable of delivering Gigabit Ethernet data speeds. The latest network cabling standard currently in use is CAT6, which is designed to be faster and more reliable than CAT5e. The difference between the two is the wiring inside the cable and at both ends of it. CAT5e and CAT6 cables can be used interchangeably, and in my personal experience their performance is essentally the same, except CAT6 is more expensive. For most home usage, what CAT5e has to offer is more than enough. In fact, you probably won't notice any difference if you switch to CAT6, but it doesn't hurt to use CAT6 if you can afford it.

Now that we're clear on wired networks, let's move on to a wireless network.

2. Wireless networking: Standards and devices

A wireless network is very similar to a wired network with one big difference: devices don't use cables to connect to the router and one another. Instead, they use radio wireless connections called Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity), which is a friendly name for the 802.11 networking standards supported by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Wireless networking devices don't need to have ports, just antennas, which sometimes are hidden inside the device itself. In a typical home network, there are generally both wired and wireless devices, and they can all talk to one another. In order to have a Wi-Fi connection, there needs to be an access point and a Wi-Fi client.

Access point: An access point (AP) is a central device that broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal for Wi-Fi clients to connect to. Generally, each wireless network, like those you see popping up on your smartphone's screen as you walk around a big city, belongs to one access point. You can buy an AP separately and connect it to a router or a switch to add Wi-Fi support to a wired network, but generally, you want to buy a wireless router, which is a regular router (one WAN port, four LAN ports, and so on) with a built-in access point. Some routers even come with more than one access point (see discussion of dual-band routers below).

Wi-Fi client: A Wi-Fi client or WLAN client is a device that can detect the signal broadcast by an access point, connect to it, and maintain the connection. Most, if not all, laptops, smartphones, and tablets on the market come with built-in Wi-Fi capability. Those that don't can be upgraded to that via a USB or PCIe Wi-Fi adapter. Think of a Wi-Fi client as a device that has an invisible network port and an invisible network cable. This metaphorical cable is as long as the range of a Wi-Fi signal broadcast by an access point.

Note: The type of Wi-Fi connection mentioned above is established in the Infrastructure mode, which is the most popular mode in real-life usage. Technically, you can skip an access point and make two Wi-Fi clients connect directly to each other, in the Ad hoc mode. However, as with using a crossover network cable, this is rather complicated and inefficient.

Wi-Fi range: This is the radius an access point's Wi-Fi signal can reach. Typically, a Wi-Fi network is most viable within about 150 feet from the access point. This distance, however, changes based on the power of the devices involved, the environment, and, most importantly, the Wi-Fi standard. A good Wireless-N access point can offer a range of up to 300 feet or even farther. The Wi-Fi standard also determines how fast a wireless connection can be and is the reason Wi-Fi gets complicated and confusing, especially when the Wi-Fi frequency bands are mentioned, which I just did.

Frequency bands: These bands are the radio frequencies used by the Wi-Fi standards: 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 60GHz. The 2.4GHz band is currently the most popular, meaning, it's used by most existing network devices. That plus the fact that home appliances, such as cordless phones, also use this band, makes its signal quality generally worse than that of the 5GHz band due to over-saturation and interference. The 60GHz band is used only by the 802.11ad standard (more below) and not yet popularly available.

Depending on the standard, some Wi-Fi devices use either the 2.4GHz or the 5GHz band, while others use both of these and are called dual-band devices. A few tri-band devices also support the 60GHz band. The following are the existing Wi-Fi standards, starting with the oldest:

802.11b: This was the first commercialized wireless standard. It offers a top speed of 11Mbps and operates only on the 2.4GHz frequency band. The standard was first available in 1999 and is now totally obsolete; 802.11b clients, however, are still supported by access points of later Wi-Fi standards.

802.11a: Similar to 802.11b in terms of age, 802.11a offers a speed cap of 54Mbps at the expense of much shorter range, and uses the 5GHz band. It's also now obsolete, though it's still supported by new access points for backward compatibility.

802.11g: Introduced in 2003, the 802.11g standard marked the first time wireless networking was called Wi-Fi. The standard offers the top speed of 54Mbps but operates on the 2.4GHz band, hence offering better range than the 802.11a standard. It's used by many older mobile devices, such as the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 3Gs. This standard is supported by access points of later standards.

802.11n or Wireless-N: Available since 2009, 802.11n has been the most popular Wi-Fi standard, with lots of improvements over the previous ones, such as making the range of the 5GHz band more comparable to that of the 2.4GHz band. The standard operates on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and started a new era of dual-band routers, which accommodate two access points, one for each band. There are two types of dual-band routers: selectable dual-band routers that can operate in one band at a time, and true dual-band routers that simultaneously offer Wi-Fi signals on both bands.

On each band, the Wireless-N standard is available in three setups, depending on the number of spatial streams being used: single-stream (1x1), dual-stream (2x2), and three-stream (3x3), offering cap speeds of 150Mbps, 300Mbps and 450Mbps, respectively. This in turns creates three types of true dual-band routers: N600 (each of the two bands offers a 300Mbps speed cap), N750 (one band has a 300Mbps speed cap while the other caps at 450Mbps) and N900 (each of the two bands offers up to 450Mbps cap speed).

Note: In order to create a Wi-Fi connection, both the access point (router) and the client need to operate on the same band, either 2.4GHz or 5GHz. For example, a 2.4GHz client, such as an iPhone 4, won't be able to connect to a 5GHz access point. If a client supports both bands, it will use only one of the bands to connect to an access point at a time, and when applicable it tends to "prefer" the 5GHz band to the 2.4GHz band, for better performance.

802.11ac: Sometimes refered to as 5G Wi-Fi, this latest Wi-Fi standard operates only on the 5GHz frequency band and currently offers Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1,733Mbps when used in the quad-stream (4x4) setup. The standard also comes with three-stream, dual-stream and single-stream setups that cap at 1,300Mbps, 900Mbps and 450Mbps, respectively. (Note that the single-stream setup of 802.11ac is as fast as the top three-stream setup of 802.11n.). Currently, 802.11ac is the first Wi-Fi standard that can realistically operate with more than three spatial streams and might even go higher in the future.

Technically, the 802.11ac standard is about four times faster than the 802.11n (or Wireless-N) standard, and therefore is much better for battery life (since it has to work less to deliver the same amount of data). In real-world testing so far, I've found that 802.11ac is about three times the speed of Wireless-N, which is still very good. (Note that the real-world sustained speeds of wireless standards are always much lower than the theoretical speed cap. This is partly because the cap speed is determined in controlled, interference-free environments.) The fastest real-world speed of an 802.11ac connection I've seen so far is around 75MBps (or 600Mbps), which is close to that of a Gigabit Ethernet wired connection.

On the same 5GHz band, 802.11ac devices are backward-compatible with Wireless-N and 802.11a devices. While 802.11ac is not available on the 2.4GHz band, for compatibility purposes, an 802.11ac router will also come with a Wireless-N access point. That said, all 802.11ac chips on the market support both 802.11ac and 802.11n Wi-Fi standards.

600Mbps 802.11n: As mentioned above, the top commercial speed of 802.11n is 450Mbps. However, in June 2013, Broadcom introduced a new 802.11ac chipset with TurboQAM technology that raises the speed of 802.11n to 600Mbps. And also for this reason, 802.11ac routers now are generally marketed as AC2500, AC1900, AC1750, or AC1200. This designation basically means it's an AC-enabled router that offers a combined wireless speed on both bands equal to the number. For example, an AC1900 router is capable of providing up to 1,300Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 600Mbps on the 24GHz band.

That said, let me state the rule of thumb one more time: The speed of a single network connection (one pair) is determined by the slowest speed of any of the parties involved. That means if you use an 802.11ac router with an 802.11a client, the connection will cap at 54Mbps. In order to get the top 802.11ac speed, you will need to use a device that's also 802.11ac-capable.

AC3200: As stated above, the the fastest wireless router on the market is one that supports the quad-stream setup of 802.11ac to offer up to 1,733Mbps on the 5Ghz band and 600Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band (and is designated as AC2500). So what's the AC3200 designation?

In April 2014, Broadcom introduced the 5G XStream Wi-Fi chip that allows for a second built-in 5Ghz band on the three-stream 802.11ac and ushers in a new type of tri-band routers. This means that, unlike a dual-band AC1900 router that has one 2.4Ghz band and one 5Ghz band, a tri-band router -- such as the Linksys EA9200 , or the Netgear R7500 , or the Asus RT-AC87U -- will have one 2.4Ghz band and two 5Ghz bands, all of which operate at the same time. In other words, a tri-band router, for now, is basically an AC1900 router with an additional 803.11ac access point. With two separate 5Ghz bands, both high- and low-end clients can operate in their own band at their respective top speeds without affecting each other. On top of that, two 5Ghz bands also help reduce the stress each places on the band when there are many connected clients fighting for router's bandwidth.

However, when discussing the top speed of a single Wi-Fi connection, currently an AC2500 router is faster than an AC3200 router.

802.11ad or WiGig: The 802.11ad wireless networking standard recently became part of the Wi-Fi ecosystem at CES 2013. Prior to that, it was considered a different type of wireless networking.

802.11ad uses the 60GHz frequency band to offer a data rate of up to 7Gbps (about seven times the speed of wired Gigabit Ethernet), but it has much shorter range (about 30 feet) than other Wi-Fi standards. On top of that, it generally requires a clear line of sight, meaning no obstacles between devices, to work well. 802.11ad, by itself, is not backward-compatible with any existing Wi-Fi standards and is designed not to replace but to coexist with them.

3. More on wireless networking

In wired networking, a connection is established the moment you plug the ends of a network cable into the two respective devices. In wireless networking, it's more complicated than that.

Since the Wi-Fi signal broadcast by the access point is literally sent over the air, anybody with a Wi-Fi client can connect to it, and that might pose a serious security risk. To make it so that only approved clients can connect, the Wi-Fi network needs to be password-protected (or in more serious terms, encrypted). Currently, there are a few methods used to protect a Wi-Fi network, called "authentication methods": WEP, WPA and WPA2, with WPA2 being the most secure while WEP is becoming obsolete. WPA2 (as well as WPA) offers two ways to encrypt the signal, which are Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The former is for compatibility, allowing legacy clients to connect; the latter allows for faster connection speeds and is more secure but only works with newer clients. From the side of the access point or router, the owner can set the password (or encryption key) that clients can use to connect to the Wi-Fi network.

If the above paragraph seems complicated, that's because Wi-Fi encryption is very complicated. To help make life easier, the Wi-Fi Alliance offers an easier method called Wi-Fi Protected Setup.

Wi-Fi Protected Setup or WPS: Introduced in 2007, Wi-Fi Protected Setup is a standard that makes it easy to establish a secure Wi-Fi network. The most popular implementation of WPS is the push-button. Here's how it works: On the router's (access point) side, you press the WPS button. Then, within 2 minutes, you must press the WPS button on the Wi-Fi clients, and that's all you need to do to connect to the access point. This way you don't have to remember the password (encryption key) or type it in. Note that this method works only with devices that support WPS. Most networking devices released in the last few years do, however.

Wi-Fi Direct: This is a standard that enables Wi-Fi clients to connect to one another without a physical access point. Basically, this allows one Wi-Fi client, such as a smartphone, to turn itself into a "soft" access point and broadcast Wi-Fi signals that other Wi-Fi clients can connect to. This standard is very useful when you want to share an Internet connection. For example, you can connect your laptop's LAN port to an Internet source, such as in a hotel, and turn its Wi-Fi client into a soft AP. Now other Wi-Fi clients can also access that Internet connection. Wi-Fi Direct is actually most popularly used in smartphones and tablets, where the mobile device shares its cellular Internet connection with other Wi-Fi devices, in a feature called personal hotspot.

4. Power line networking

When it comes to networking, you probably don't want to run network cables all over the place, making Wi-Fi a great alternative. Unfortunately there are some places, such as that corner of the basement, that a Wi-Fi signal won't reach, either because it's too far away or because there are thick concrete walls in between. In this case, the best solution is a pair of power line adapters.

Power line adapters basically turn the electrical wiring of your home into network cables for a computer network. You need at least two power line adapters to form the first power line connection. The first adapter is connected to the router and the second to the Ethernet-ready device elsewhere in the building. There are some routers on the market, such as the D-Link DHP-1320, that have built-in support for power-line connections, meaning you can skip the first adapter. More on power line devices can be found here.

Currently there are two main standards for power line networking, HomePlug AV and Home Plug AV2. They offer speed caps of 200Mbps and 500Mbps, respectively.

That's it. Now if you haven't found your questions answered. Want to learn more about how to best optimize your Wi-Fi network? Check out Part 2.

   preview   How troubleshoot your CD / DVD drive. -- July 8, 2010

CD problems can be very hard to solve. Troubleshooting usually involved the Hardware, Drivers, and Software. Here are a few scenarios and some possible fixes:

The cd drive somehow got lost:

1. Clear the CMOS and auto-detect the drives.

2. Look in Device Manager and determine if the CD has a drive letter assigned to it, if it does not assign a valid drive letter.

3. Boot to safe mode and look for multiple instances of the CD. If there are, delete all instances of the CD and allow the system to redetect the drive.

4. Verify that the drive has been jumped correctly. It is best to place the drive on the Secondary drive controller and jumper has Master or Cable Select if the only CD in the system. Make sure the drive is at the end of the cable. (This assumes that you have your hard drives on the Primary controller.

5. Disable the screen saver and boot into safe mode, run scandisk and defrag in case there are cross-linked or fragmented files.

6. Try the CD in another computer, if it works replace the cables in your original system when re-installing it.

7. If this fails, try re-installing the OS and all drivers on type of the existing system. Reboot after each installation testing the CD each time. This might identify a conflicting driver or .dll file.

8. Wipe the PC and install the OS and all drivers from scratch.

9. Re-flash the BIOS. If this fails, you probable have a bad motherboard.


This sometimes works with controller problems:

First right click on "My Computer" and choose "Properties" from the menu. This should give you the "General" tab of the "System Properties". Please click on "Device Manager" tab. if you see yellow "?"s or red "x" on primary /secondary IDE controllers continue if not skip the rest of my post. If they are splatted (the tech term for the yellow "?" OR red "x") you need to pull a key in the registry... make certain you have a backup done. Navigate using "Start | Run" REGEDIT (press "OK") to :HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINEEnum" select and delete the mf key. Close REGEDIT and restart the computer "Start | Shutdown" and then "Restart"). When you reboot new hardware should be located. If it is Windows may suggest that you need to reboot to continue setting up changes SELECT "NO" when you are all the way up into Windows restart as above this may take up to three restarts.


*** CD Won't read:

Examine the CD and clean it, if necessary, with a soft, clean, lint free cloth or use a CD cleaning kit. If the problem only happens with one particular disk then it may be that the disk is damaged.

If the CD is not a store bought CD then it may have been written on a machine that is "incompatible" with yours, often these disks will read fine on another machine. If the disk is software or music from a store then it may be your drive at fault but if that is unreadable on another machine then it is the disk itself. If you find that a recently bought disk is at fault then take it back and ask for another copy.

If you cannot read any disks then clean the disc drive using a CD-ROM or DVD drive-cleaning disc if you have one. If you do not have one you can get hold of one from hi-fi, electronic shops, music stores and some supermarkets. They range in price from cheap to ridiculous so shop around for one.

*** Can you now read the CD drive?

If "NO", then press CTRL+ALT+DEL to display the "Close Program" window. If any program other than "Explorer" is listed, click it, then click Remove. Repeat this step until all programs except "Explorer" have been removed. "Explorer" is the Windows user interface and you need these to continue running correctly.

*** Can you now read the CD drive?

If no then if you have Windows 95 or Windows 98, make sure that you are using protected mode (32-bit) drivers for your CD-ROM or DVD drive. To do this, follow these steps:

Click "Start | Settings | Control Panel | System".

On the "Performance" tab confirm that the "File System" entry is "32-bit". If the File System entry is "Some drives are using MS-DOS compatibility MODE" you are using MS-DOS disc drivers (real mode or "16-bit" drivers) and you may not be able to read certain files on the CD-ROM since some programs only work correctly with protected-mode drivers. To obtain protected-mode drivers for CD or DVD drives.

See the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:


Click "OK", and close the Control Panel

Reboot and try accessing the drive again, if still unsuccessful then, if you are using Windows 98 or Windows Me, change the UDF setting thusly:

Click "Start | Run" type MSCONFIG in the box, click "OK"

Click "Advanced"

Click the "Disable UDF File System" option, click "OK".

When prompted to restart your computer, click "OK", click "Yes"

When your computer restarts, UDF support has changed. If this makes no difference, change the setting back and reboot.

* NOTE : Generally, UDF should be enabled. However, some drives do not support UDF. For these drives, UDF should be left disabled. These drives will not be able to be read discs that only use the UDF file system. DVD-ROMs require the UDF file system, unless they are a UDF Bridge disc (mastered for both ISO 9660 and UDF).

Can you now read CD's? If NO then continue

Next disable DMA for the CD-ROM or DVD drive:

Click "Start | Settings | Control Panel".

Double-click "System | Device Manager | View Devices By Type".

Click the plus sign (+) next to "CDROM" to expand the branch.

Click the CD-ROM or DVD drive that you want to change

Click "Properties" Settings tab, click to clear the DMA check box, click "Close".

Close "Control Panel" and restart the computer.

Can you now read CD's? If no then reduce CD-ROM or DVD drive caching,

Click "Start | Settings "Control Panel | System | Performance " File System"

On the "CD-ROM" or "DVD" tab, move the Supplemental Cache Size slider to the "Small" position.

In the "Optimize Access Pattern For" box, click "No Read-Ahead", click "OK", click "Close".

When prompted, restart your computer.

Can you now read CD's? If NO then try disabling your "Auto-Insert Notification", (your programs will no longer start automatically if you disable this but carry on....)

Click "Start | Settings | Control Panel | System | Device Manager"

Click the (+) next to "CDROM" to expand the branch, click your "CD-ROM" or "DVD" drive, click "Properties".

On the "Settings" tab, click to clear the "Auto Insert Notification" check box. Click, "OK", "OK", close the "Control Panel" and restart the computer.

Still no success?

Remove any duplicate CD-ROM or DVD drives being loaded by Windows.

Click "Start | Settings | Control Panel | System | Device Manager"

Click "View Devices By Type".

Double-click the plus sign (+) on your "CDROM" or "DVD" branch to expand it.

Note the "Properties" for each device listed in the branch by clicking a device and then clicking "Properties".

Click each tab in the "Device Properties" dialog box, and then record the device information and settings.

Click "OK", click "OK", and then close "Control Panel".

Next you will have to restart Windows in "Safe mode". You can do this in Windows 95 by pressing the "F8" key when you see the "Starting Windows 95" message. Select "Safe Mode" on the "Startup" menu. In Windows 98 and ME you should restart your computer and press and hold down the "CTRL" key when your computer completes the "Power-On Self Test" (POST) you then select "Safe Mode" on the "Startup" menu. You can also use the "F8" key to get to this menu and you should tap the "F8" key repeatedly after the memory count has completed during the boot sequence.

When Windows starts in "Safe Mode", click "OK"

Click "Start | Settings | Control Panel | System | Device Manager | View Devices By Type".

Double-click the "CDROM" branch to expand it.

Check that there are no changes in the list of devices in the branch.

If you can see a device that is not in the list of devices you noted above then click the new device, and then click "Remove". Do this for each device in the branch that is not in the list of devices you noted.

* NOTE: If you see new copies of a device that is in the list of devices you noted in step 5, check the "Properties" of each copy of the device. If the properties for the device match the properties you recorded, keep the device but if they do not match then you should delete it.

Click "OK" then when you are prompted to restart the computer, click "OK".

Still cannot read CDs? If you have got to this point then your CD has probably died. If you can try the drive in another machine then do a swap and see if the problem follows the drive