Saturday, November 19, 2011

More converts to Linux

At work we had an auction on a number of older laptops that were replaced by newer machines.  I got lucky and was able to buy a Dell D820 for my wife.  Our tech support people did a great job testing the machines before we got them to ensure they worked and reinstalled Windows XP.  I re-imaged the machine to PCLinux as a dual boot machine.  It didn't take very long and it was running and my wife is very happy that she can now work anywhere in the house using the wireless connection.  I left it as dual boot as she does use Microsoft Publisher now-and-then and this will allow her the option to use the program.  My wife just loves the machine and it appears that her 'old' desktop may be repurposed in the near future as a server for our household.  I figure that we can put the printers on that machine and then share it so it won't matter where we are in the house we can print to the laser or inkjet on demand.

My daughter got a new laptop at Christmas and I was storing her old Compaq desktop.  I re-imaged that machine also to Linux and it will be going to my middle son and his family.  It will be great for them as it is more responsive than Windows XP and more secure out-of-the-box.  I also loaded a number of educational games for my grandson.  Upside is that this saves them money buying a new machine and an older machine gets an extended life in a new home.  Libre Office was installed so they can read and update any of the documents they have on their laptop.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Telemarketing Scammers

Not a linux or PC topic, but, I have been getting a lot of telemarketing companies calling me.  Since I am on the DNCL (Do Not Call list)  I keep telling the telemarketer to add me to their do-not-call list.  Obviously they are scammers and don't add me to their list and continue calling me.  I do a little bit of homework looking up their calls and when I see where they are from it is almost obvious they are forging the caller id information.  Several of the calls came from out west and the location has at most 100 houses and not a call center.  I keep filling in the complaint form on the DNCL web site, but, since caller id is forged it is an exercise in futility.  The last call came from 999-910-0221.  If you know anything about area codes then you know that 999 is an impossible value.  I found a spot on the CRTC web site and I filled in a question on why they have not launched an effort to stop caller id forging.

It is at the point now that I cannot trust the caller id information until I hear the voice on the other end.  If it is a co-worker, family or friend then it is not a problem.  For not-for-profits I keep telling them to send me a pledge form in the mail as I cannot trust caller id anymore and just because the name/number shown is for the charity I cannot believe that!  I never give out my credit card information to anyone over the telephone.

If you are in Canada I would suggest that you send the CRTC a short note requesting that they start a discussion with the telephone companies about this problem.  We are paying for a service, but, cannot trust it as scammers/spammers have hijacked the system and are forging telephone numbers that show on the caller id.  If you are in the USA You may want to check the FTC to see what can be done there.

PCLinuxos 2011 and Flash Crash

A while ago I upgraded Jane's machine to the latest version of PCLinux and then updated all of the software.  When she was surfing sites with Flash it would crash and nothing would work to enable flash.  I did the update to the latest version and it still didn't work.  I eventually found out that Firefox was pointing to the older version within the add-ons manager section (Tools, ad-ons, and then go to the plugin section).  After I disabled the older version of flash and restarted Firefox the Flash pages started to work.

Saturday, July 02, 2011


They finally released the new version of PCLinuxOS.  I downloaded the latest version and put in on the memory stick as a live USB.  When it launched it didn't like my video card, but, I was able to get it to run using VESA.  This isn't a surprise as a number of distros for some reason won't boot with the card in my HP laptop (Pavilion dv6).  It launched cleanly and the desktop itself is nice and for me well organized.  The only program I had a problem was the software update.  It seems to have crashed to the launch in and then looped showing a message so fast I couldn't read it and the logon prompt.  I may try it on other machines to see if this is a problem with the distro or my laptop.

On another note my daughter created a profile picture for me so I now have that for my overall picture rather than the old shot of me having a beer in the pool a few years ago.


I tried it on my Acer Netbook and everything I tried worked.  Firefox, not a problem.  Software updates worked without a hiccup.  The only thing is that it is a netbook so it was running a bit slow.  At least I now know that it is the HP laptop that had a problem and not the distro itself.  It would appear that I may have to try again and then see what causes the problems and if there are workarounds.  I would like to make every machine in our house use one distro.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Linux on a USB stick

For the last couple of months I have been playing with a variety of Linux distros, but, they are running on a USB memory stick.  I found a nice program UNETBOOTIN that allows me to download and then install on the memory stick a number of Linux distros. You have the option of having the progam download the ISO itself or you can point it to the ISO image on your machine.  The program does everything else for you and at the end you have a bootable Linux.

I find this tool to be extremely useful as I can quickly test out a new distro and not waste CDs if the distro does not meet my needs.  I have two sticks right now with Linux.  The first stick for now is SABAYON and the 2nd will be for a security and recovery distro.  I need the second stick as friends and neighbors have problems with viruses, trojans and spyware getting on their machines and I figure a secure Linux distro that can help me clean this up will be very useful.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Looking to dual boot the laptop

I am still checking out the various Linux distributions for making my laptop into a dual boot machine.  I am running Windows 7 (64 bit) and I am wanting a Linux distro that is also 64 bit so it will take advantage of all of my memory.  I had PCLinux on the machine before, but, it is a 32 bit version and was limited to 2 gigs of memory (I have 4).  I want dual boot as I still have software (taxes) that is Windows only.

I have tried a lot of distros and a few of them either won't boot (kernel panic or graphic lookup) and they are automatically out of the running.  I want something that works right out of the box without me having to manually edit config files.  Part of the distros also now support my wireless network card and that is a huge bonus.  The only thing I cannot see on the 'install' options are how do you set up the partition so that the current windows is still there, but, I can carve a portion out for Linux.  If anyone has a good and simple instruction for this it would be appreciated.  I really want Linux back on my machine so I can get back to using my machine rather than borrow my wife's machine for mail and photo editing.  Once that get stable I will then convert my daughter's machine to dual boot so that we all have Linux up and running.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Windows and a royal pain removing a trojan

I had to remove 'System Security' trojan from Jane's friend again.  We are not totally sure how it keeps getting back on after I remove it.  This is a royal pain of a program to remove as it seems to keep getting back on when they visit some site somewhere.  The first two times it was fairly easy to remove, but, this one mutated and rather than a series of numbers for the directory name and/or program name its a random series of characters for the directory and program name.  I found it by using a program that showed me what was starting up and when I saw that strange directory and program I knew it was the problem.

After removing the program and directory I set up two user profiles without admin rights and rebooted the machine.  The machine rebooted without a problem and we didn't have that crapware running on the machine.

You can read more at the wiki site about this program and how to remove it.

A few observations if you run windows:
  1. Keep your virus software and trojan scanners up-to-date.
  2. Keep you machine fully patched.
  3. Don't blindly download and install programs.  Do your homework and check it out before installing.
  4. Do not use the 'ADMIN' account.  Create a normal user with no rights to add/change/delete programs.
  5. Keep a good set of backups and backup on a regular basis.
I now have an USB stick with a number of tools that helps me look for the crap or just do cleanups and check for program updates.
  1. Sypbot Search & destory
  2. Malwarebytes anti-malware
  3. CCleaner
  4. Secunia PSI
There are probably other good ones, but, I like these as they work for me.