Friday, January 30, 2009

Swapping drives in Ubuntu Not A Problem

I recently got my hands on a decent computer to upgrade an "old beast" that I had Ubuntu installed on. The hardware between the "old beast" and my "decent computer" were a little different. Both were Dells, but they had different video cards. The processors, were of the same type, both Intel. However, the hard drive on the "old beast" was much larger than the one that came with the decent machine.

I was in a lazy mood, and did not want to back up all of the data I had on the "old beast." I decided to try the quick and dirty route of taking the hard drive out of the "old beast" and installing it on the newer "decent" machine.

Totally different video cards, and when the newer machine booted, it came up using the vesa driver. I then added the new driver using the Add/Remove tool, and viola! My new machine is up and running with the "old beast's" hard drive.

Ubuntu never ceases to amaze me in its portability!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pirated Software with Trojan Hits Mac OSX

People looking to get a copy of iWorks '09 for free got a little more than they bargained when they recently downloaded pirated versions of the latest iWorks application for Mac. The pirated program also contained a trojan which gains administrator access when the software is installed on the system.

The trojan portion of the program installs as a start up service and is called" iWorks Services."
The program then allows the trojan's author to control the machine remotely, having full access to the system. The author is then free to steal what ever information he wants off of your machine, or use it to launch attacks on other computers on the Internet.

So far, on 20,000 Mac users have downloaded the infected software from sites that offer the pirated software. This is a small number but should server as a wake up call to people who want to skirt the system and use pirated software. Really, if you do not want to pay the money, then just go open source and use Linux!

Here is a prime example of why licensed, commercially available software has its place in the market. If you want to get a copy of a particular program, you should stay away from the stuff that shows up on pirate sites. If you use the copyrighted and licensed iWorks program from Apple, then you'll be safe. Just have to pay the cash like everyone.

In theory, the same sort of shenanigans can occur with open source code as well. A malicious developer could attempt to stick something in their program that acts as a trojan. If they do then it would probably be pretty short lived, since it would stick out like a sore thumb to anyone looking at the code. It would be a pretty pointless exercise on their part with nothing to gain, which another reason why the open source model works well in term of system security.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Say Goodbye to McAfee, FOREVER!

Since I work in the IT business, I get the following questions on an almost daily basis:

"What virus software would you recommend for my home computer?"

Now I know exactly how the weather guy feels when they get asked: "What's the weather going to be next Friday?" wherever they go. Or, "Is global warming for real?"

People naturally assume that since you work in a certain field, that you know everything there is to know about everything in that field. They do not think of specialization.

I am here to tell you that I am not an expert with Microsoft products. I do not know too much about Windows. I use their software just like any other user. Well, I use it a lot more than typical users, but I would not call myself an expert by any means.

I do notice that things like McAfee and other virus scanning software really dragging the Microsoft systems down. Then there are all of these malware and virus programs to deal with. I think it is a complete waste of time. Could there possibly be some conspiracy between Microsoft, virus companies, and those responsible for creating these little programs.

Who knows?

But when I get asked the IT "Question of the Day":

"What virus software would you recommend for my home computer?"

and when I think about all the time and energy that is spent on virus programs and their ilk, my answer to the question is:


Thanks for stopping by, feel free to sign up to my news feed, or get automatic email updates.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Will the Linux Desktop Become Mainstream?

Steve Jobs announced today that he is removing himself from Apple due to health concerns. This looks like it is going to have more of an affect on the company's stock price than anything. Will Apple still continue to bring innovation to the desktop computer? From all news reports that I have read it appears that most of the creative juices that flow at Apple are from the talent that Steve has put together under him. But Jobs is the glue that holds it all together, so there my be some decline in Apple's product output.

There is no doubt that OSX is far superior than Windows as far as how the OS performs, and desktop usability. And, since OSX only really needs to confine itself to a certain set of hardware, in most respects it outperforms Ubuntu Linux, as well. I think that OSX is far enough ahead of the field that it will take Ubuntu quite some time. Plus, there is Apple's first class marketing attack to deal with. But, consider this, Ubuntu Desktops and their Linux ilk has gained a 30% increase in users over the past year, and that trend is expected to continue to accelerate.

A big help to the Linux community came last year when some pretty big computer companies started pushing Ubuntu as default operating systems in netbooks and cheap PCs. The poor showing by Microsoft Vista and all of the complaints that have plagued that operating system helped to further fuel the Ubuntu fires.

The combo of a poor Vista product, and possible decline of the Apple empire may be the crack in the door that Ubuntu needs to make itself an even more viable option for users. In either case, 2009 is shaping up to be an interesting year for Ubuntu.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ubuntu on a Laptop and Wireless Internet

One of the most frustrating things about running Ubuntu, or for that matter, any Linux based operating system on an older laptop is the fact that many wireless cards simply will not work.

This is because many of the companies that make these cards think that open sourcing the drivers needed to run their equipment will give away trade secrets. In addition, in some cases it would be possible for developers to change frequencies of cards, allowing them to operate out of band. Thus, most of the code for the drivers needed to run these cards has been kept closed. A few linux developers have been keen enough to crack drivers open and write there own code.

There are software packages available the act as a wrapper, and run the Windows version of the driver within Linux. The most popular package is called ndiswrapper. This nifty little tool can be downloaded from the Add/Remove Software tool from within Ubuntu. Then, it is a matter of popping in your wireless card driver disk, and making the following menu options: System -> Administration -> Windows Wireless Drivers. From there you would select the correct file from your card's CD.

You can find cards available that run in plug n play fashion. There are some Broadcom cards that are available withing the default Ubuntu 8.10 distribution. Another option is to use a wireless USB card like the Wireless G USB Adaptor from Belkin.

Or you can pick up a nice shiny new Dell Mini 9 inch netbook with Ubuntu pre-installed. Droooool.....

Friday, January 2, 2009

Ubuntu Linux Google Chrome

I still have a laptop that my wife uses that has Windows XP. She needs it for some online classes that she is using. I decided to give Google Chrome a try so I went ahead and installed it on her laptop. I liked what I saw. Chrome is a new browser that was developed by the folks a Google that is an open source project. It has been out for a couple of months already, but I never really sat down to play with it.

The tab setup is a little different and takes a little getting used to, but once you do, it is a breeze. There is also a panel layout were you can see all of your most popular sites on one page.

The one thing I really like about Chrome is its speed. It is way faster then Explorer, and even Firefox. I have found that Firefox is getting a little slower with each release. I am not sure why, I try to keep the extensions, and other junk disabled. Firefox 3.0.5 on my Ubuntu laptop has become a real dog of a program. It seems to start OK, but it seems to have a memory leak somewhere and starts to slow down after some use. Plus it crashes quite often.

Google has promised a Linux release for Chrome and you can even sign up to be notified when Google releases a Linux version of Chrome.