Sep 22 2010

Stupid Windows 7 File Explorer

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 9:52 pm

As I previous wrote, I am using Windows 7 as my main Windows operating system on my laptop.

To date, I dislike it intensely! I have not found a single useful feature that would really cause me to upgrade a Windows XP computer.

So today I am going to compain about the Windows Explorer! The following issues really annoy me, and I have been unable to find any solutions or workarounds online:

  • The Windows Ribbon drives me nuts! It occupies a lot of area, and it does not give me any useful options that are not already available in the toolbar! I want it to vanish!
  • Unfortunately, the entire toolbar area at the top of each window has grown very big :( I loved the way that I used to be able to put the address bar on the toolbar.
  • I find the favourites that insist on appearing at the top of the panel on the left hand side to be useless to me.
  • Why is there no button to allow me to “Go up one level” in the directory hierarchy?
  • The status bar no longer contains useful information, such as the total file size when more than one file is selected!

Great, now I feel better :)

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Mar 14 2010

Virtualising my Laptop

Category: Hardware,Linux,WindowsTeknovis @ 2:41 pm

I want to buy a new laptop for myself. I need it! My old one is too big and heavy, the screen is losing its contrast, and the battery lasts for approximately 30 seconds :(

In the past I tended to buy high-end laptops on the basis that they would last for longer. This worked to a certain extent, but this time I want to try a new approach. I am going to buy a relatively low-end laptop, but replace it more frequently. The disadvantage of this approach is that it is very time consuming to setup a new computer.

Last year I started experimenting with using Ubuntu within VMware as my main desktop operating system on and old computer. I was very impressed with its speed and stability. So I have decided that I am going to virtualise my entire desktop on the new laptop. The advantages of this approach are:

  • Moving my computer from one piece of hardware to another becomes trivial. This is useful for when I want to upgrade my laptop in the future. It also means that I can put my computer onto an external hard disk.
  • Backing-up my computer also becomes trivial. I am thinking about backing it up automatically every night!
  • Snapshots can be taken before I install any software on a test basis. I can then roll-back my computer if I do not like the new software.
  • It provides my computer with a lot of extra security from network based attacks.

My overall requirements for my new laptop are that it supports three different virtual machines:

  • I want to start using the Ubuntu based virtual machine as my main computer. I am waiting for Lucid Lynx 10.4 LTS.
  • I am currently using Windows 2000 as main my operating system. I think it is great ;)
  • Unfortunately, I have one program that I need to use regularly, and this program requires Windows XP (or later) :(

I will use NAT to network all three virtual machines most of the time. However, sometimes I will need to use the Windows 2000 virtual machine in bridged mode so that it can be a first class member of my domain.

Therefore, the overall architecture of what I am trying to achieve should look like this:

Laptop Virtual Architecture

Laptop Virtual Architecture

Now that I know what I want to achieve, I just need to find the best way to realise this!

Hardware

I am currently considering buying either a Dell Inspiron 1545Inspiron 15 Intel Core i, or a Studio 15. I am a Dell fan, and a 15″ screen is the best size for me. I will get 4GB of RAM, and either a 350GB or a 500GB hard disk.

I will get one of the cheapest processors available. I am currently considering either the Intel Pentium Dual-Core Processor T4400 or the Intel Core i3-330M. I will probably choose the latter, because it seems to have better support for virtualisation because it supports VT-x according to its specification. In practice I do not know if this will provide a noticeable benefit.

In terms of form-factor, I dislike the idea of a number keypad on a laptop. Therefore, I will probably go for a Studio 15.

I am going to have to buy an external card reader, because none of these laptops support Compact Flash cards :( My cameras all use Compact Flash :o

I wonder how the host operating systems sees the integrated web camera. I hope that it appears as a standard USB device, so that it can easily be shared with the virtual machines.

Host Operating System

My requirements for the host operating system are:

  • It must be very secure, because I will use my laptop in a lot of public networks.
  • It must be easy to connect to file servers. This is important, because I will need to back-up my virtual machines.
  • It must have a software based firewall that is very easy to configure precisely.

I think that the clear winner here is Ubuntu with Firestarter. If my Linux skills were better I would use Debian instead :o

The only question I have is whether I should use the 32bit or the 64bit version of Ubuntu?

Virtual Machine Software

The two options that I am considering for this are VMware Workstation and VirtualBox. My main requirements are that the virtual machine software is secure, and that it supports VT-x. I think that both do!

However, there are still some issues that I have not resolved:

  • Should I use the 32bit version or the 64bit version?
  • Which offers better performance?
  • Will they both support my hardware equally well?
  • Is there a risk of becoming locked into one of these products?
  • How is Hyper-threading supported? Presumably, the virtual machine software would think that it has four cores to distribute to the virtual machines. However, in reality it would only have two. This makes me think that I should disable Hyper-threading.
  • Does the virtual machine file format change with each new release of the virtual machine software?

Cost is not really an issue here.

Guest Operating Systems

As I wrote above, I will use Ubuntu, Windows 2000, and Windows XP on my virtual machines.

My questions relating to the guest operating systems are:

  • Should I choose the 32bit or the 64bit version of Ubuntu?
  • Will the OEM version of Windows XP that I got with a previous Dell computer install into a virtual machine without lots of registration issues?

If anybody has any opinions, experience, advice, or answers relating to any of this then I would love to read them!

Thanks!

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Aug 25 2009

Java Service Wrapper

Category: Software DevelopmentTeknovis @ 2:10 pm

I used this Java Service Wrapper this morning to load a Java Application (in the form of a JAR) as a Windows XP service!

The process was very straightforward, and it worked perfectly first time!

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Aug 09 2009

Ubuntu Netbook Remix Display Resolution on Dell Inspiron 10v

Category: Hardware,LinuxTeknovis @ 9:29 am

I bought a Dell Inspiron 10v last week because I was really impressed with its weight and size. It came with some version of Windows XP, but I removed this and I installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04 instead. I decided to try this because I liked the user interface, and I thought that it might extend my battery life.

Everything appeared to installed correctly, except the display driver :( The maximum resolution that I can specify is 800×576. However, the 10v has a native resolution of 1024×576!

This is driving me mad! I posted a comment on the Ubuntu form (see Ubuntu Netbook Remix Display Resolution on Dell Inspiron 10v), but I have not got any responses yet :( I would love to know if anybody has got a 10v to work at this resolution! At least then I would know it is possible!

Unfortunately, if I do not find a solution soon I will have to revert to Windows :(

I will keep my blog updated with any progress that I make.

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Jul 13 2009

Default Windows XP Wallpaper

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 11:02 pm

I came across the story behind the default Windows XP wallpaper, known as Bliss, on Wikipedia tonight. The article, Bliss, shows the original wallpaper, and a more recent photo! There is a huge difference!

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May 07 2009

Ubuntu or Kubuntu – The Verdict

Category: LinuxTeknovis @ 8:28 pm

I recently wrote that I intend to start using either Ubuntu or Kubuntu as my desktop operating system in Ubuntu or Kubuntu. Since then I have downloaded the 9.04 version of both operating systems. I installed both of them simultaneously on my main computer as guest operating systems using VMware. I also installed each of them as the main operating system on a spare computer that I have. Both operating systems install very easily with very little user interaction, and they both correctly identified all of my hardware. That impressed me, because I often hear horror stories about Linux and hardware!

After using both operating systems for the last few days I have come to the conclusion that they are both excellent. However, I need to choose only one of them! So ultimately I am going to choose… (drum roll) … Ubuntu!

My reasons for choosing Ubuntu are mainly:

  • It seems to have much more official support.
  • It seems to have a greater user-base, and therefore there is more information about it online.
  • I felt that the applications that came with Ubuntu were more complete. I generally prefer applications that have very limited, but specific, functionality.

The greatest appeal of Kubuntu was the lovely KDE interface. I thought that the default GNOME interface was very bland, but luckily it is very configurable. I will blog about the changes that I made to it.

I found solutions to all of my initial problems online. The Internet really is great for these things! However, there are some deployment type issues that I do not know how best to deal with them.

  • On my Windows installations I like to create three logical drives: The C drive is used for the operating system; the D drive is used for the applications; and the E drive is used for the data. Ideally the C drive is on its own dedicated physical disk for performance reasons, and all other logical drives can be on a single physical disk. The use of these logical drives makes upgrading very easy. I do not yet know the best way of configuring an Ubuntu installation with multiple physical and logical hard disks.
  • On my Windows installations I store all my data in a single logical drive. Therefore, there are two locations that are associated with my user account: my settings and my data. My current understanding is that my user settings and my user data are all stored in the same location in an Ubuntu installation. This seems a bit messy to me!
  • I currently use the roaming profiles features of Windows so that I can log into any computer on my network and I will have my most recent settings. I do not know how to implement this on an Ubuntu installation.

My current intention is to keep using Ubuntu as a guest operating system until I feel confident enough to wipe my hard disk and use it as my host operating system! I will keep blogging about my progress here!

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Apr 11 2009

Yoggie Computer Security Solutions

Category: Networks,SecurityTeknovis @ 10:35 am

I tend to connect to the Internet a lot with my laptop in public places. I have no confidence in the security provided by Windows (2000 or XP), and I am am extremely sceptical of any software based firewalls for Windows. I am a firm beliver of hardware based security!

So I am very interested in some products by Yoggie that I saw recently. This video explains them:

In particular, I like the Gatekeeper Pro in inline mode. I think that this would be perfect for me if only it also included WiFi.

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Jan 14 2009

Netbooks

Category: Mobile ComputingTeknovis @ 7:27 pm

Last weekend I had to visit my local computer store. While I was there I had a look at the Netbooks. Although I am aware of what Netbooks are, this was my first time to actually play with one. Maybe I should be ashamed of being so slow to do this!

I was really impressed with the Netbooks that I saw. I focused mainly on the Windows XP ones. I think that the idea of using Linux from a performance view is great, and I love the idea of a solid state hard disk. However, I think that I still feel more comfortable with Windows. Also, there is always going to be some piece of must-have software that I need that will require Windows.

I can understand why so many people are choosing Netbooks instead of regular laptops. I know many people who do a lot of travelling for work with their laptops, but all of these people could replace their laptops with Netbooks. So I can understand why Intel is getting concerned that the Netbooks are reducing demand for its more powerful, and expensive, processors. For more about this read Here Come The 12 Inch Netbooks, And Intel Isn’t Happy About It, and the associated lively discussion.

I must admit that I am very tempted to buy one ;) I think that my biggest concern is that I already use my PDA for many of the tasks for which Netbooks are designed. Therefore, I might always choose to take my PDA with me and leave the Netbook behind. I need to think about this a bit more…

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Jan 08 2009

Windows 2000 Alive and Well

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 9:22 am

I previously wrote about the demise of Windows 3.11 in Goodbye Windows 3.11!. I have not used in it many years, so this news did not concern me.

However, I still regularly use Windows 2000 because it does everything that I need. It also gives much better performance on older computers than its successor Windows XP.

I have been thinking recently about how popular Windows 2000 remains. I started thinking about this after reading an article describing how the UK’s Royal Navy has started using a mix of Windows 2000 and Windows XP on its nuclear powered submarines. This is instead of the traditional custom designed software. The full article is Royal Navy completes Windows for Submarines™ rollout.

During the Christmas holidays I was in several airports, and I was in many department stores. I was really surprised to see that many of the computers in these locations (boarding gates and customer information desks) were using Windows 2000. It is easy to spot this when the computers are not being used, because both the login screen and the default screensaver of Windows 2000 are distinctive.

It must be the case that the benefits of using the newer operating systems do not yet justify the massive additional costs of upgrading so many computers.

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Jan 03 2009

The Matrix Runs on Windows

Category: Humour,WindowsTeknovis @ 11:26 am

A friend recently brought this great video by CollegeHumor to my attention:

Enjoy!

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