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Archive for Operating Systems

Linux Terms You Should Know

Confused?

In GNU/Linux For Newbies of this guide, you saw some of the basic stuff and a little bit of history of what GNU/Linux is all about. Now, lets see some basic Linux terms you should know about.

1. Kernel

The kernel is a program that constitutes the central core of a computer operating system. The kernel provides basic services for all other parts of the operating system like memory management, process management, file management and I/O management. It has complete control over everything that occurs in the system. The user does not directly interact with the kernel. The user can interact with the kernel via a shell. The GNU/Linux systems use the Linux kernel.

2. GRUB

A bootloader is a computer program that loads the main operating system or runtime environment for the computer after completion of the self-tests. The GRUB is one of the many boot loaders available, it stands for Grand Unified Bootloader. It was developed as part of the GNU Project. GRUB works well for a wide variet of Operating System, even Windows. (though Windows Bootloader doesn’t allow other OS’es now)

3. File System

A file system can be thought of as similar to the index of a book containing the exact physical location of every piece of data on a hard drive. Without a file system, information placed in a storage area would be one large body of information with no way to tell where one piece of information stops and the next begins.

Some popular used file systems are FAT, NTFS, ReFS for Windows. HFS+file system for Mac and ext/2/3/4 for GNU/Linux.

Linux File System

4. Partitions

A hard drive can be split into different segments that act independently. Each such segment is called a partition. Partitions enable users to use multiple operating systems to run on the same drive in different partitions. Partition information is stored in the partition table (the classic Master Boot Record, and the modern GUID Partition Table – the better choice!)

 There are 3 types of partitions:

  • Primary
  • Extended
    • Logical

Primary partitions can be bootable and are limited to four per disk. If you require more than four partitions, an extended partition containing logical partitions is used. The extended partition is also counted as a primary partition so if the disk has an extended partition, only three additional primary partitions are possible. You can have any number of logical partitions within an extended partition. It is customary to create primary partitions sda1 through sda3 followed by an extended partition sda4. The logical partitions on sda4 are numbered sda5, sda6, etc.

5. Distros

A GNU/Linux distribution (or distro for short) is an operating system built on top of the Linux kernel and often includesa package management system. Unlike Windows or Mac OS X you do not need to choose an OS version that they are offering. In Linux world you could grab the source code for the Linux kernel, GNU shell utilities, Xorg X server (provides the GUI for the OS), and every other program on a Linux system and make an OS that suits your style. It might take a considerable amount of time and work to do that though.

Linux distributions do all that hard work for you, taking all the code from open-source projects and compiling it for you, combining it into a single operating system you can boot up and install. When you want to install new software or update to new versions of software with important security updates, your Linux distribution provides them in precompiled, packaged form. These packages are fast and easy to install, saving you from doing the hard work yourself. And you do need need to restart your computer after an update!

 6. Command Line Interface

A command-line interface (CLI) lets you control the computer using numerous commands in the form of successive lines of text (command lines). The CLI has no icons or pictures, and often is so simple that even a mouse will not work — it relies on the keyboard. Bash is the shell, or command language interpreter, for the GNU/Linux operating system.

7. Desktop Environment

A desktop environment provides a complete graphical user interface (GUI) for a system by bundling together a variety of X clients. The X Window System provides the foundation for a graphical user interface. Prior to installing a desktop environment, a functional X server installation is required. X provides the basic framework for a GUI environment like drawing and moving windows on the display device and interacting with a mouse and keyboard.

8. Window Manager

A window manager runs on top of the X Window System and controls the placement and appearance of windows in a graphical user interface. Most window managers are designed to help provide a desktop environment. They work in conjunction with the underlying graphical system that provides support for graphics hardware, pointing devices etc.

9. Su & Sudo

Superuser (su) is a special user account used for system administration. The equivalent name may be different in different operating systems, example; root, administrator etc. In operating systems that employ the concept of a superuser, it is recommended that most application work be done using an ordinary account or standard account which does not have the ability to make system-wide changes.

sudo is a program for Unix-like computer operating systems that allows users to run rograms with the security privileges of the superuser. Its name is a concatenation of su (super user) and “do”, or take action.

10. Repository

A repository is nothing but a storage location for all the verified packages (softwares) that are made available by a distro. All software can be downloaded and installed for its repository. This is a key reason why Linux is known to be “almost” virus free. Most major Linux distributions have their own official repositories and they are mirrorred all around the world.

<<Part 1

GNU/Linux For Newbies

GNU/Linux

 

I’ve been on GNU/Linux (popularly called Linux) only for a few months. I’m not an advanced user but I’m not a newbie anymore. So I think this would be the best time to write a guide for newbies. So here you have it GNU/Linux for Newbies. This guide will be split into parts.

A Brief History

GNU was launched by Richard M Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation in 1983. It is an operating system put together by people working together for the freedom of all software users to have complete control over their computing. The primary and continuing goal of GNU is to offer a Unix-compatible system that is 100% free software. GNU is a recursive acronym meaning GNU’s Not Unix – a way of paying tribute to the technical ideas of Unix, while at the same time saying that GNU is something different.

The Linux kernel was compiled from scratch by Linus Torvalds in 1991. It is written mostly in C. After FSF created GNU, the only missing part was a kernel that wasn’t free. While FSF was working on a free kernel called GNU Hurd, Linus Torvalds provided the last piece of software that would make GNU complete, a kernel.

What is GNU/Linux?

GNU/Linux is an operating system. The most important part of an operating system is the kernel. In a GNU/Linux system, Linux is the kernel component. The rest of the system consists of other programs, many of which were written by or for the GNU Project. The Linux kernel alone does not form a working operating system, the term “GNU/Linux” is more appropriate to systems that many people casually refer to as “Linux”.

Why GNU/Linux?

First of all, GNU/Linux is free! Users have immense freedom of choice in their software. You can even change your own desktop to suite your style. GNU/Linux is also less likely to crash, better able to run more than one program at the same time, and more secure than many operating systems. With these advantages, Linux is the fastest growing operating system in the server market with more than 90% market share. More recently, Linux has begun to be popular among home and business users as well.

Or if you have an old PC lying around, there are many lightweight Linux distros that can revive its functionality. Many modern Linux distros can run with as little as 64MB of RAM (some even less). Linux is virus free! (almost) Sick of malware that constantly infects systems and causes problems? Linux is for you! Linux is just plain more fun to use with all its features and c

Is GNU/Linux right for me?

Are you a hardcore gamer? Sorry, Linux might not be for you. Though there are many great games in Linux and Steam has started to make its presence felt in the Linux Gaming Market, its still not on par with Windows. There might be a lot of Industry Standard software that you need to use that run only on Windows. Printing can be a pain in GNU/Linux. Linux software still has very experimental CMYK features. This is getting better, but it’s not really satisfying for professional use yet. If these are your main uses, then GNU/Linux is not be for you.

If web browsing, some gaming, simple photo/video editing and a little bit of everything is what you usually go on doing. Hands down, GNU/Linux is better than Windows. If you care about security at least a little bit, switch to GNU/Linux!

GNU/Linux Distro Tree

The below is a very basic GNU/Linux distro tree. There are more than a 1,000 different GNU/Linux distros to choose from.

Linux Distros

Which distro is right for me?

If you have been on Windows a long time and want to make that big switch to Linux, I suggest you start with one of the Debian based distros. I started off with Linux Mint, and I think you should too. It is the perfect choice. Though others like Ubuntu are just as good. Naturally, the rest of the guide will be focused on Debian based distros, though most apply on other distros as well.

A comprehensive coverage of all GNU/Linux distros can be found at DistroWatch. Or you could take the distro test to see which distro is for you.

Part 2 >>

The Number 1 Most Powerful Windows 8 Shortcut for Power Users

Much has been written about the lack of a Start button in Windows 8, but if you’re a power user you may find the lack of start menu items like My Computer and Control Panel just as troubling.

Type Windows key Windows logo key + X (or mouse to lower left hot corner and right click) for the following menu:

windows-key-plus-x-8

Here is the list of options:

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Lesser Known Windows Features

The release candidate of Windows 8 is due in a couple of days. While this may have you thinking of features you hope will be included, we thought it a good time to review some of our favorite lesser known features that already exist in Windows 7, and earlier.

1. Screen captures. Ever need to capture part of the screen? The Print Screen button will copy the entire contents of your monitor (or monitors) to the clipboard. From there you can paste into Paint, or other picture editing program and save. If you need to only capture the contents of a window, you press Alt + PrtScrn. What if you need to capture only part of a Window? If you have Windows Vista or 7, just click start and search for “snip”. The snipping tool allows you to drag your cursor around any area of the screen, capture it, annotate it (draw / highlight), and save as png, gif or jpg!

snipping

2. Steps Recorder. Ever had someone watch over your shoulder as you walked them through the steps needed to complete a task? They don’t need to take notes if you use Steps Recorder. PSR is a new feature in Windows 7 that automatically captures and documents these steps for you. Click start, search for psr.

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Was it smart to remove the start button in Windows 8 Consumer Preview?

windows-8-logoIt’s painfully obvious Windows 8 new Metro apps are not designed for multi-monitors, or large monitors. However, it’s a necessary evil for a unified operating system designed to work on 10-11” touch enabled tablets, as well as desktops.

What’s not so obvious, is the reason for killing the start button on the desktop. Building Windows 8 blog attempts to explain the reasoning. After some tweaking, the new Metro styled start screen can be attractive and functional. It just shouldn’t be so hard to find. Even after you’ve found it in the bottom left corner, try finding any corner on the center screen of a triple monitor setup. While they may make you more efficient, you shouldn’t be forced to learn a bunch of keyboard shortcuts to do basic Windows tasks.

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Windows to Go–Consumer Preview Edition

windows-to-goWindows 8 has a new feature called Windows to Go that allows an installation of Windows 8 to boot from a USB drive, or external hard drive. Potential uses are many. Corporate networks might require you to boot from a Windows to Go USB key before connecting to their network. Universities could hand out USB keys with installations tailored to specific majors. Perhaps someday you may just unplug your USB key and take it home, rather than taking an entire notebook. It could also prove useful for malware removal. However, maybe the most attractive use today, is to boot Windows 8 Consumer Preview on your current hardware, without the need to dual-boot, or upgrade an existing installation of Windows.

Windows to Go has safety and security features to prevent data theft, and exposure of the hosts OS. The system will shut down in 60 seconds if the USB drive is removed. Any drives on the host system must be mounted before they are accessible to Windows to Go.

The first time Windows to Go boots on a system it installs the drivers unique to that hardware. Subsequent boots are faster, and go straight to Windows 8. System performance on USB 2.0 or 3.0 is quite good. A great way to test Windows 8 using a ‘Live USB’, and leave your current system untouched.

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Move Windows to SSD with Paragon Migrate OS to SSD 2.0: Review

Do you have an SSD or Solid State Drive on your Christmas list? Maybe hoping Santa leaves an SSD in your stocking? SSDs are currently the number one way to increase the performance of your system. Instead of using a physical platter that must be read and written, using an arm much like an LP record album, SSDs are solid state. Only electrons move. Chances are I’m speaking to the choir. If you’re reading this article, you probably  know the benefits of SSD.

There are many guides to installing SSD drives, but most of them are outdated. If you’re using Windows 7, you don’t need to change a bunch of settings. Windows 7 will recognize the SSD, and change them for you. SSDs have about the same failure rate as traditional hard drives, and modern SSDs don’t require all kinds of exotic changes to your operating system to protect them. Chances are the only change you need to make is in your BIOS. Just make sure drive is set to use ACHI and not IDE.

Probably the most painful part of installing an SSD is performing a clean install of Windows. Now Paragon Migrate OS to SSD has a simple solution to that problem as well. As the name suggests, it will help you migrate your existing Windows installation to your new SSD. Retaining all your Windows settings, avoiding reinstall of your software.

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Dawn of the 64-bit Rootkit Era

x64A recent Prevx blogpost details information on the new TDL3 rootkit, which they have deemed, “the first x64 compatible kernel mode rootkit infection in the wild.” Followed with more information in a post today.

While much of the information presented by Prevx is highly technical, there are some takeaways for the average user. Most importantly, this 64-bit infection requires administrator privileges. The best option is to run as a standard user, but it also won’t run if User Account Control (or UAC) is activated. I run as standard user, and there is really no reason for your account to run as administrator.

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Windows 7 Security

securityIt seems as though the entire world is abuzz with talk of Windows 7 being released today. Everywhere you look online, someone is discussing it. They talk about how fast it is, how cool some of the features are. However, you only really read about the security side of the new operating system if you look on the various tech sites. It’s as though the general population has forgotten about that important component… or have they simply written Microsoft off when it comes to security?

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Windows 7 Beta – Fix Installer & Windows Update Crashes

win7_logo

Some Windows 7 Beta users are reporting crashes when running Windows Update, or installing third party applications (i.e. Java, Flash, and other MSI-based installers). The third-party Windows .msi installer, or Windows Explorer will crash. Microsoft has identified this may be related to a configuration change in the Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) client. If you’ve experienced Windows Update or installer crashes with the Windows 7 beta, try the fix below. If you haven’t experienced Windows Update or installer crashes crashes, there’s no need for the fix. Future installations of Windows 7 after the initial beta will not be affected.

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