Tag Archives: Linux

Windows 10 breaks computers

Why I use Linux, part 3,332,468: A consumer organization is calling for Microsoft to compensate people for the hardware damage caused by upgrades to Windows 10.

Microsoft needs to pay compensation to customers who have suffered after upgrading to its latest operating system, consumer watchdog Which? has urged. Since the US technology firm pushed out the new software last year, it has been flooded with complaints. Customers who moved to Windows 10 experienced a slew of issues, including printers, webcams, wifi cards and speakers no longer working with their PC. Instances of lost files and email accounts no longer syncing, and, most significantly, computer encountering such significant issues customers had to pay someone to repair it were not uncommon, Which? has reported.

The consumer group surveyed views on the upgrade from over 5,500 members in June this year. Of the 2,500 users who had been upgraded to Windows 10 from an older version of Windows, more than one in ten ended up rolling back to their previous version of the operating system.

More reasons why I don’t use Windows

A close look at Microsoft’s track record in rolling out Windows 10 suggests the company “blatently disregards user choice and privacy.”

After describing the numerous horror stories of how Microsoft forced Windows 10 updates on people against their will, there was this:

The trouble with Windows 10 doesn’t end with forcing users to download the operating system. Windows 10 sends an unprecedented amount of usage data back to Microsoft, particularly if users opt in to “personalize” the software using the OS assistant called Cortana. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of data sent back: location data, text input, voice input, touch input, webpages you visit, and telemetry data regarding your general usage of your computer, including which programs you run and for how long.

You do have to opt-in to Cortana, but even if you don’t, your privacy is still not secure:

And while users can disable some of these settings, it is not a guarantee that your computer will stop talking to Microsoft’s servers. A significant issue is the telemetry data the company receives. While Microsoft insists that it aggregates and anonymizes this data, it hasn’t explained just how it does so. Microsoft also won’t say how long this data is retained, instead providing only general timeframes. Worse yet, unless you’re an enterprise user, no matter what, you have to share at least some of this telemetry data with Microsoft and there’s no way to opt-out of it. [emphasis in original]

It is once again time for people to consider alternatives. Here again are the links to James Stephens’ series on Behind the Black for Getting and Installing Linux:

Another reason to avoid Windows

For once, this post is not a link to another Windows horror story. Instead, it is a link to a great deal to buy CrossOver 15, the professional version of Wine that allows you to run Windows software on Linux or Apple computers. Normally CrossOver costs $59.99. This deal sells it for $19.99. And the sale ends in one day!

So, if you were thinking of trying Linux but were hesitating because you were unsure about whether you could run Windows software on it, this helps solve the problem. CrossOver does what WINE does, but with full telephone support.

I must add one more thing for full disclosure: If you buy it through the link above, you will also help support Behind the Black, as I will get a credit for the referral. I’m doing this not for that credit but because I think this is definitely a good deal. However, why not get the referral at the same time?

Note that the link above doesn’t take you directly to the CrossOver 15 deal. Click on Categories, then Software. You will see the CrossOver deal link in the second row.

Getting and Installing Linux – Part 6

Installing Windows using VirtualBox

by James Stephens

Today I will be installing Windows on VirtualBox. VirtualBox allows me to easily install and run Windows on my Linux computer without having to partition, format or otherwise disturb my hard drive. Once installed booting into the Windows guest is easy, just open VirtualBox and select Windows and hit start. Given the fact a virtual machine shares hardware resources with it’s host, generally a 64 bit host operating system can only host a 32bit guest operating system. Windows in most cases is still a 32 bit operating system.

First of all I will download VirtualBox via the my distribution’s Software Manager. Once it’s installed you will usually find its shortcut under Applications/System/Oracle VM VirtualBox in your application launcher. Click on it and VirtualBox will open to its Welcome massage. To create a virtual machine, in this case Windows, choose “new” in the VirtualBox tool bar.

Create Virtual Machine dialogue

The create virtual machine dialogue will appear where you will give the guest operating system a descriptive name and select its type and version, such as Windows XP.
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Getting and Installing Linux – Part 5

Running Windows programs on Linux:

An overview of WINE and Virtual Machine

by James Stephens

In addition to all the software available for Linux, Linux also possesses the ability to run Windows software using either WINE or in a virtual machine. This can be valuable in many ways, from running legacy software to running Windows and Linux on the same machine at the same time.

WINE is the open source implementation of CrossOver, which Apple users may already be familiar. It is essentially a translator: WINE sits between a Windows application and the Linux system, presenting what appears to be a Windows system to an application and generating Linux instructions for processing. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s pretty good. It’s fast and efficient, requiring little more resources then the application itself, making it suitable for older machines. When properly configured, Windows applications install as if in Windows and run on Linux like any other application. The backward compatibility of WINE is actually better then that of Windows itself. So if you have beloved but outdated software you can run it again with WINE. In my case that is a Windows 3.1 controlled audio mixing console. A lot of people like to play the old Windows 95 games. For more information including a list of compatible Windows software and performance assessments go to www.winehq.org
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France: Windows 10 collects “excessive personal data”

Why I use Linux, part 3,443,4021: The French government has accused Microsoft of gathering “excessive personal data” from Windows 10 users, while also not insuring good security.

They have ordered Microsoft to comply with French privacy laws within three months.

Getting and Installing Linux – Part 4

The Software Manager

by James Stephens

A computer is nothing more than a toy unless it has the tools you need to get your work done, and Linux has a great set of tools. Most distributions come loaded with the tools most people use every day, a full office suite, graphics and media packages and so on. If you want more, a world of software awaits at your fingertips via the Software Manager. Think of it as the app store for your distribution, with tens of thousands of official titles vetted and available for download, most free of charge. No longer are you left to the wilds of the Internet to find what you need.

Most Linux Software is functionally equivalent to that of Apple or Windows. Most open source titles are ported to all platforms including Linux. So if you use an open source title such as Audacity or VLC media player, just type its name into the Linux Software Manager search bar and you will find it. For propitiatory titles such as Photoshop just define what it does, image manipulation for example, and the Software Manager will suggest Linux equivalents like GIMP or KRITA. In addition Photoshop and some other Windows software run great on Linux using WINE – the Windows compatibility layer. More about that later.
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Getting and Installing Linux – Part 3

UEFI and booting Linux on Win 8.1 & 10 machines

by James Stephens

Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is intended to be a modern alternative to BIOS. Ideally UEFI-(Secure Boot) blocks malware from being loaded when the computer is booted by using digital keys which software must possess in order to be booted onto the computer. UEFI supplants the traditional BIOS and it’s post screen, appreciably shortening boot times but sometimes adding a few more steps to set up a computer to boot into Linux. If necessary UEFI-(Secure Boot) may be disabled to allow access to the BIOS and the booting of non-UEFI complaint operating systems, such as 32 bit Linux or legacy Windows, and set up the computer to boot into Linux as I described in the previous post. But I recommend using UEFI if at all possible.
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Microsoft gives people another reason to dump Windows

Why I use Linux: In its effort to convince users of earlier versions of Windows to upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft is now inserting a full screen pop-up upgrade notification, often at decidedly unwanted moments.

The Redmond software giant confirmed today it will start showing dark blue screens urging people to install the latest version of Windows. The full-screen ads will pop up on Windows 7 and 8.1 desktops from now until July 30, when the free upgrade period ends.

Getting and Installing Linux – Part 2

Obtaining and installing a Linux Distribution

by James Stephens

Almost any Linux distribution runs great on today’s hardware. But I’m writing this with aging computers in mind. With older computers it’s a good idea to know how much RAM (often referred to as physical memory) you have in order to select a distribution that will work well with your machine.

With Windows this can be shown by opening “System” in “Control Panel.” RAM or physical memory will be expressed in Mb or Gb. Once you know this, you are armed with the knowledge to select a distribution.

For machines with 512 Mb RAM and up I recommend a distribution from LinuxMint. For machines with under 512 Mb RAM I recommend Bodhi Linux 32 bit legacy.

Operating systems come in 32 bit and 64 bit versions. With the exception of replacing Windows 8.1 and 10, a 32 bit distribution will work on any computer. (More about Microsoft and UEFI later.) At one time a 64 bit opening system allowed the use of more memory then it’s 32 bit kin. But with modern 32 bit distributions this is no longer an issue. So if you want to play it safe choose a 32 bit distribution.

LinuxMint offers a choice of desktops and the website does a good job explaining the advantages of each. I would recommend LinuxMint 17.3 MATE 32 bit edition as most likely to work on any computer. But take a look at each of them and see which one you like. As long as you follow the minimum RAM requirements guidelines as listed in the description you will be okay.
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Why I use Linux, part 3,453,333

A woman has won $10,000 in damages from Microsoft for its attempt to upgrade her computers to Windows 10, without her permission.

I suppose one could argue that this is a reason to keep Windows, as you’d have a chance to win a jackpot from them in court. I prefer to be able to do the work I want to do, without harrassment.

Getting and Installing Linux

After seeing the response to a number of my posts on the advantages of Linux (or anything) over Windows, one of my readers, James Stephens, offered to write a series of posts for Behind the Black, describing step-by-step the process by which one gets and installs Linux on a desktop or laptop computer. James is like almost every other user of Linux, self-taught and unafraid to play with the software. As he emailed me, “Over my long career I’ve had my hands in everything from vacuum tube televisions to sophisticated aerospace systems some of which are orbit today. I have designed and built recording studios, radio and television studios and serviced the equipment as well as the transmitters. But I must say I really enjoyed repairing televisions the most. I loved every aspect of the business and really enjoyed doing business with my customers.” At the present time James makes his living maintaining what he calls “a fleet of computers, Windows, Mac, and Linux.”

So, today we begin this series. If all goes as planned, James will be sending these to me on a weekly basis, whereby I will post them each Saturday. So, get one of your old unused computers out of the garage now and get ready to make it useful again, while simultaneously freeing yourself from Microsoft!

An Introduction

By James Stephens

Your phone your TV, most of the devices you use everyday use Linux. So too most of the world’s web sites including this one. So why not your PC? The purpose of this series, which we hope to post on a weekly basis every Saturday, is to at least in a general way acquaint you with desktop Linux and some of its advantages. More importantly, we hope to assist you with representative instructions for the installation and use of this most excellent computer operating system.

But first a few words of explanation.
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Why I use Linux, part 2

Microsoft has changed its options so that Windows users will no longer be able to refuse an upgrade to Windows 10.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 nagware campaign has entered a new phase, with all options to evade or escape an upgrade finally blocked.

Recently, Microsoft’s policy had been to throw up a dialogue box asking you whether you wanted to install Windows 10. If you clicked the red “X” to close the box – the tried-and-tested way to make dialogue boxes vanish without agreeing to do anything – Microsoft began taking that as permission for the upgrade to go ahead.

Now Microsoft is changing gears. It has eliminated the option to re-schedule a chosen upgrade time once you’ve confirmed it while also removing the red “X” close option from the screen.

The moral dishonesty here is vile, to put it mildly. Microsoft is enforcing these upgrades by offering a series of sneaky bait-and-switch options that are intentionally designed to fool the user into doing something the user doesn’t want to do. And the company is doing this while still claiming that it isn’t forcing anything on anyone.

When you find yourself dealing with a lying snake-oil salesman, you only have yourself to blame if you continue that relationship and get screwed.

Why I use Linux

Linux can be a pain sometimes, and it requires a bit more hands-on work by the user to make it function, but overall in the ten years since I abandoned Windows and switched to Linux (first with the Debian operating system and now with Kubuntu) I have found my work on my computer to be far more satisfying and successful. I can mostly get things done the way I like to do them, not as dictated by some software geek working at Microsoft’s headquarters.

Which is why this story interested me: “I thought my daughter clicked on ransomware – it was the damn Windows 10 installer.” It describes a number of stories where Windows 10 took control of a person’s computer and imposed an upgrade, against their will.

This story, among many others, only confirmed for me that my decision in 2006 was a wise one. I will never return to Windows, and if I was certain that computer projectors could read Linux laptops I’d switch the laptop to Linux as well.

It is just a shame however that so many people still stick with Windows, as it often makes doing their work difficult, if not impossible. When a product doesn’t work for you, you find another product. That’s how freedom and competition work.

The International Space Station has switched all its computers from Windows to Linux.

The International Space Station has switched all its computers from Windows to Linux.

I love this quote:

“We migrated key functions from Windows to Linux because we needed an operating system that was stable and reliable.”

I’ve been on Linux for almost six years, It crashes, but that is usually user error.

Proposed changes in hardware specifications may make it impossible to run free operating systems such as Linux on computers.

Proposed changes in computer hardware specifications may make it impossible to run free operating systems such as Linux.

The extension of Microsoft’s OS monopoly to hardware would be a disaster, with increased lock-in, decreased consumer choice and lack of space to innovate.

The article also notes how these restrictions might violate European Union competition law.