Linux & Windows maintenance

Created; 14/12/2013, Changed; 20/01/2022 - 18/01/2022

There is a choice of Linux desktops that are smart or plain that is fairly straightforward to use;

Windows tries to be helpful so second-guessing what the problem is, unfortunately, a drawback of Windows helpfulness. It is obstructive to find that the computer wants to do something else by comparison XP is comparatively predictable. Still, icon-based Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) don't have a good equivalent to DOSKEY for Microsoft DOS this feature kept a record of your previous actions by scrolling back through text strings of commands using up/down keys. If you like DOS-style, Linux Terminal which is a text command-driven interface behaves in a similar way as DOS including the ability to go back over what you have done before and if you wish to change or just repeat a previous command line. You don't have to use the Linux GUI, even so, GUI's are good. You may have to use a Linux terminal though where there is no GUI interface. Some GUI's advise what commands to use in the terminal where the GUI does not support that feature.


Installation of a Linux desktop

  1. Download choice;

    • Full DVD installation for your computer - very little will need to be downloaded during installation.

    • The Live DVD installation - You can try Linux running on a DVD or USB before installation.

    • Net install version CD. - Everything is downloaded during installation.

  2. Flash your chosen .iso download using Refus

    • Other CD burners or Flash utilises can be used. Some of those create persistence on the USB stick so that you can save work try installation a little on a live USB.

    • I found Refus to be reliable but if there is a problem it is worth trying another .iso to CD, DVD or USB creator tool.

  3. Plug the USB, CD or DVD into the target PC. How the installation is set up depends on the Bios settings;

    • BIOS/MBR PC installation is straightforward. Suitable for Windows prior to 7.

    • UEFI/GPT PC will require Boot security to be turned off. This can be difficult depending on the PC.

    • BIOS/GPT Depends on the Bios if this combination of old no security makes boot and installation easy and new GPT allows many partitions can be created and removed easily.

  4. Follow the instructions.

    • Start playing.

    • Start adding or removing programmes. You also may need to add non-free and back-ports repositories and drivers (depending on the Linux you are using).

      • You will almost certainly need to turn off reference to the CDROM repositories and you don't need the source code so untick that as well those just use up disk space.

      • First see if the required program is in the Linux repositories, Backports which work a bit differently or download the program if more features, that you would like are offered by doing that.


Ubuntu is one of the easiest and safest Operating Systems to install;

  • Be careful with any operating system partition part of installation or tool - Ubuntu and variant distributions advanced option; Do something else option when changing partitions

    • Partition management and creation is the riskiest part of any installation or maintenance.

    • The meaning of the wording is strange. If you don't tick format then it may not proceed to installation and if it does the installation may be untidy. You also need to set the mount partition (EXT?) to; "/"

    • You can go back or cancel before proceeding so do that if you are not sure about it.

    • Warning on Windows installation - Windows is not so forgiving and can easily destroy a Linux or another Windows installation even if you answer the questions properly. This is not usually the case if you take care but can happen regardless of the care you have taken though. If you have a choice install Windows first leaving 25GB for the Linux distribution at the far end of the hard disk.


Windows installation leaves a small amount of unused space at the top of a hard disk but Linux Distributions fill the whole hard disk. I don't know why they behave differently but Linux S.M.A.R.T hard disk management help says the space is required so that the hard disk management can relocate bad sectors. When this happens the hard disk appears to have no errors but what the hard disk management does is replace the bad sectors with other reserved sectors.


  • TURN OFF SLEEP, for better reliability.

  • SET THE HARD DISK TO ITS FASTEST (Loudest setting).

  • TURN ON CACHE, for better speed.

Linux Distributions and LiveCDs may have partition and SMART tools;

Disks and Gparted provided on Ubuntu Live CD for example and other tools provided on a MX Live CD.

If you need to use the installation advanced configuration;

Ubuntu and most other Linux distributions including Mageia 5 use or recommend two partitions; (like most Linux distributions)

Mounting point /

+ Swap

There are options on how many partitions with some Linux's. Mageia 4 used to use 3 partitions;

Mounting point; /

Mounting point; /home

+ Swap

There are options at installation time to break the distribution up into many partitions. I have not chosen to do that!


Subsequent modifications can be made to use swap spaces but on other hard disks in order to make operation a little faster. After installing multiple Linuxes it is useful to review the swap partitions used in any case, for example, some of the faster Linuxes do not set up any swap partitions but on a slow PC, it is very worthwhile to set them up. Debian recreates swap partitions it finds and thereby makes them unavailable to other Linuxes installed.

Comparison between Windows and Linux distributions


Linux (Jan 2018)

Check Disk required periodically May require run command; chkdsk ?: /f

Having a second copy of Windows installed on the computer may allow you to fix the other copy but there is a risk that a different version of Windows will corrupt the other. This is not common but I have had it occur for different reasons. It may be helpful to have two copies of Windows on the hard disk windows repair disk should find the other Windows and set the hard disk up give you a choice at startup.

I have seen this with Windows 8 and another Windows. Both would not run after 8 was started up for the first time.

Built into the filing system also automatic and quick at startup!

Boot repair disk, LiveCDs or another Linux installed that includes GParted also gives you a check disk function, but if this arises with Linux partition then the hard disk is probably failing severely.

I have only seen a directory copied from one Linux to another cause one installation to use that copied directory in the other in the case of a USB clone plugged in. This was only with Mageia 3 or 4 many years ago. Both the clone and the original used the correct local directories when separated from each other.

If as a last resort a computer is turned off rather than shut down then run chkdsk if it is Windows next time you startup with both options ticked. Linux will do this at startup anyway. Also, Windows 10 will take care of many issues that arise and warn you to run chkdsk. Expect the worst, your computer to fail more permanently though if it has been switched off rather than shut down and in any case, may lose work.

Defragment required periodically.

Built into to the filing systems so is not required!

Updates at shut down - may delay shut down for a long time.

The only option is the traditional Windows fix to turn it off and hope it's okay when you turn it on again. This seems to work out but if the laptop battery is okay then closing the lid to cause the laptop to sleep or hibernate may work out.

There is no satisfactory solution with Windows other than to leave the PC running continually and restart it as required.

Does not happen but is starting to be introduced! At the present time, this change has not slowed the computer's shutdown.

Debian - LxQt, LXDE, XFCE, Cinnamon at least - All carried out whilst logged in and when the user chooses. This is true of many distributions.

Ubuntu has introduced this - newer versions update at shutdown. It only briefly lengthens the shutdown time?

Windows continues configuring updates at start up. This slows the PC's start up. This continues for sometime after the computer has started up.

I don't recommend using any speeding up tools the ones I have tried break things in Windows.

Many updates can be completed whilst the user is logged in. But they take a long time and slow the computer.

Updates are large and may repeatedly fail and those downloads taking many gigabytes of data over a month.

Debian 10 GNOME have introduced this but I have not seen it work properly. Update is selected before shutdown. The update then happens at restart. Ubuntu and some variants also now occasionally need to be restarted to complete an update. It appears to only briefly lengthen the startup time?

All server Kernel and security updates can be carried without powering down. Some servers have been running for over two decades but a decade is not uncommon but 90 days seems common.

Linux desktops do vary but updates tend to occur slowly without affecting the performance of the PC in the case of Debian. But Ubuntu updates to the kernel do inconvenience the user a little.

Update take up to 10 minutes a week and are usually less than 100MB .

Do use the tools provided by the PC manufacturer in order to apply drivers and utilities that turn on or set up the PC. These tools do useful things.

On the other hand, the utilities provided for a Lenovo, cause the brightness to increase to the maximum so they are best uninstalled.

Registry clean up - Windows appears to have a mechanism that by accident or design makes the OS age. That is Windows accumulates registry faults over time.

Apparently, more recent Windows such as 10 should not and do not suffer ageing in that it has more registry maintenance built-in.

CCleaner is an excellent tool for keeping a Windows registry in order safely. The free version of CClearer works well. Others that I have tried in the past have done harm by comparison;

There are many tools included or can be added but MX Linux has a large range of tools included, Debian has the least and Ubuntu variants have a few more. Mageia also have different range of tools including a good Boot configuration GUI, sharing and network tools.

No such problem was observed but in any case, installing another style of Linux is popular. I am advised that the Enterprise (pay for) distros are designed to run for 13 years. They work in a different way and can be run for years without such problems. In any case, Linux is very serviceable but is not so easy.

But you need to ask for help from time to time and search on the web there are plenty of forums groups Facebook or Linux distro communities that will answer questions.

Gpart & Gparted are particularly useful and good tools to add. That is true even if other partition managing tools are availalbe.

Windows 10 updates to a point where the computer it is installed on does not supported any higher updates. Manually downloading and updating or clean re-installation may work but a point is reached that Windows 10 will not update any further.

  • As of March 2019 Windows 10 does not update to the highest version supported on that PC (eg 15xx to 16xx) but tries to update to 18xx failing repeatedly.

  • On another PC the same occured in 2021.

You can download and install many version of a Linux Distribution. As far as I can tell, old versions should install although not be in support -- Some users keep old PCs running by using out of support distros and downloading the current version of Firefox.

Some distributions are withdrawn after a time or installation can not be completed because the repositories are withdrawn. Ubuntu and Mint do this.

Debian and Mageia at least keep avaliable old versions but you have to re-name the repositories to access the archive software.

An Operating System in end of life support - means it receives security updates only. Updates, software and drivers be kept available.

Running Windows XP, 7 and 10 on the same hard disk is difficult to set up. It can be done to some degree with care by setting the boot flag.

  • Otherwise, you can't put one Windows into hibernation then use the other. Having one instance of hibernation and running another does not in any case seem to be a safe thing to do.

  • I observe that with two hard disks, Windows 10 in hibernation and starting Windows 7 that a ChkDsk is triggered. I, therefore, do not recommend putting one instance of Windows into hibernation then running another Windows on the same computer.

  • Don't run XP's ChkDsk on a Windows 7 or 10 partition, it does not check compatibility but can break files.

Don't multi-boot Windows 8 together with XP. Windows 8 will change all the file attributes and so prevent XP from running.

  • There are a number of partition managing tools that are safer than using the Windows utility, they don't need two installations of windows one to work on the other and some recognise Linux partitions. Paragon and EaseUS for example.

Google Drive may use the wrong directory, that is partly update the directory in another installation of Windows. Google Drive then starts losing files or duplicating files and directories. This occurred with an older version of Google Drive and probably as a consequence of copying the Google Drive contents to the other installation of Windows.

Linux you can have as many on the hard disk as you wish.

  • If they all share one swap partition, which is the default, then obviously you can not put one into hibernation then start using another.

  • The only occasion when I put an OS into hibernation is when I am using my laptop and usually only Windows because it is slower. But doing that and then using Linux I need to take care not to use locked files or work on the Windows partition.

Putting Windows into hibernation and running Linux or vice versa is practical.

  • 32 bit Linux's are faster on lower spec. small DRAM PCs but 64 bit Linux's are required to run more programs because they are only available in 64-bit versions which are usually otherwise faster.

  • Partition maintenance can be done on one Linux by the other Linux as long as one of the Linux's is in a primary partition or another hard disk.

Having two or many Linux installations on the same computer seems safe. Many people do it. I may copy email .thunderbird profile and cloud to the other Linux to speed up synchronisation of data. This may not always speed up cloud file storage synchronisation though.

Although running ChkDsk from XP on a higher Windows installation may do harm by comparison Linux partition tools take more care to check compatibility so that an early version of a Linux tool won't harm a later but incompatible version of EXT4 partition.

It is also true of XP that some drivers were deleted subsequently from updates and some manufactures websites. XP is not just in End-of-life support but that support is being cut down. There is no upgrade option.

You can install Windows into an installed Windows partition deleting the Windows directory but keeping other directory's this is messy though and leaves previously installed program directories but they are not installed. Similarly some Linux installations have the option of reinstalling Linux retaining the home directory.

Driver Boost the free version finds missing drivers on Windows XP or higher; Take care with this tool, it will update drivers to higher versions than that provided by windows update and presumably tested with the operating system.

This type of tool can not update drivers if there is not internet connection such as no network port driver. I have used a USB wireless dongle to get a connection then Windows update probably will take care of getting the missing drivers.

You can update some Linux's from one version to the next without turning the computer off but carry on using it. Every task and the kernel is switched over or a warning dialogue appears.

  • Debian 8 to 9 worked fine but on the old computer I was using would only start with the old alternative kernel 3.16... rather than 4.9... The update is impressive you can hibernate - run programmes - I got one notification that the WiFi needed to be restarted although it carried on running but without the icon in the tray. The computer did not need to be restarted though. That was a Sony Vaio and the new kernel needed "noapic" to be added to the GRUB configuration file.

  • Mint cinnamon 18.2 to 18.3 update was quick and easy but do read up how first.

  • MX Linux does not support updating whilst running from MX 16.1 to MX 17. This is a desktop not a server Linux but there is no issue you can update and preserve your home folder.

    • This method tidies up lots of things but you have to reinstall software. But leaves clutter in the home directory.

    • Linux Home folder - contains email, web-browser settings, dropbox folder, downloads etc.

Windows runs much slower after installation and update. This varies with computer

Windows takes a week to install then update. This varies with computers and is not entirely down to its spec.

Interesting to see a Windows 7 to 10 on a very low spec. PC runs a bit, misleadingly because you probably won't be able to increase memory or switch to an SSD instead of a hard disk to improve the performance a worthwhile amount.

Live CD Linux evaluation runs the same speed as a fully installed version. (but for whatever else has been installed and is running)

Linux only takes an hour then a few minutes to update.

Predictably a high-end Linux Distribution with one of the slower desktops on a very low spec. PC probably won't run.

Generally adding memory speeds up an operating system a lot particularly increasing from 1GB to 2GB to 4GB (64bit OS) of DDR.

Laptops overheat running Windows such as XP.

Eventually also occurs with windows. It is difficult to disassemble most Laptops and in any case, I am advised that it may be necessary to separate the processor from its heat sink and apply more thermal grease.

Also blowing into and using a vacuum cleaner the exit and other vents do work. This is effective but not always a longer-term solution.

Laptops overheat running Linux.

The cause is that the airflow has become blocked with dust. The solution is to disassemble the laptop and clean the air path using a vacuum cleaner where you can not reach.

Linux distributions vary the clock speed according to the processing power required. I have partly worked around the problem by not loading an accelerator driver in one case. But this is the wrong thing to do the laptop airways need cleaning.

Access to the fan and exit vent HP 6125 at first seemed impossible. But YouTube and an HP manual helped.

Turn the laptop over,

Unscrew the small screws under the battery enclosure, Unscrew two screws either side (there are many more screws it does no harm removing those),

Turn the laptop back with the screen laid flat open, Prize the panel up below the lid, Unscrew the screws holding the keypad.

You can now access enough to remove and clean with a vacuum cleaner. Note the heat pipe from the processor to the heat-exchanger.

This get to the inlet vent, was not enough and did not resolve the issue. A poor connection is may now be the significant issue.

Some laptops have a easy to clean filters.

Linux sucks says Linus Torvalds in 2014

Desktops - the user interface style.

These vary between distributions as well the version used varies between distributions.

  • Cinnamon If your PC's Graphics handles this desktop it can be fast and also full feature. Otherwise, it is very very slow if it needs to use software rendering (it calls it). I run Mate or Debian Cinnamon on a Samsung R50 and a slightly newer Toshiba of about 2006 with 2GB of DRAM - it runs video full screen smoothly whilst copying 10's GB of data for example. My much newer Windows 10 Toshiba is much faster but does not have the necessary graphics hardware but will perform comparably in this respect.

  • GNOME Is not like Windows but seems plain, simple, and different but it is a full feature. Click the application and you will see all your applications running as small windows press one of them to select it. This desktop requires a higher-performance PC. I found many distributions incomplete but Debian is usable and fast (Feb 2017).

  • KDE Is like Windows but also like all the other Linux's put together. This requires the highest-performance PC but the newer Plasma KDE does not require such a high-performance PC. Is good-looking with fading effects, a preview of tasks running. I found it to be too much a bit of everything so it can be a good start to see a bit of many desktops. I do not use this for long. This is a bit like Windows 10 can be all things to everyone but not a focussed single style. A newer version is Plasma and it is maybe Mageia 6's fastest desktop (December 2017)

  • XFCE As LXDE but with an application search and all the necessaries. A good basic established Desktop.

  • LXDE Is good for a lower specification PC or you want to run demanding applications or are just happy with a Windows 9x, 2000, XP-like style. It is fairly plain. LXDE is being replaced by LxQt which is lighter, faster, and planer.

  • Mate Requires a moderate performance PC, Mint's implementation of Mate is popular. It is not so plain, but it is nice to use and it is straightforward with in addition to Xfce like application search has a comprehensive application search that will suggest applications you may wish to install or look up information about.

  • Unity This a very plain straightforward and smart desktop and it is not like Windows. The 64-bit version requires a surprisingly lot of processing power but the 32-bit version is not so slow on a PC without a lot of memory is as Ubuntu says on its website. This is Ubuntu's own Desktop. It has the latest fastest Firefox making the web-browsing not so slow as otherwise would be expected. Ubuntu has returned to Gnome, but looks like Unity, as its main desktop distribution (April 2018) - Ubuntu and Unity have been a great flagship for Linux for not very technical people - I think Windows 10 has many GNOME/Unity features but in a cluttered way.

  • The relative speed and functionality also depend on the distribution. In addition, the stated minimum and desirable PC specifications may be overstated or understated depending on the Desktop and distribution chosen.

Linux Distributions and more detail

These are a few variants of Linux, called distributions, that I have evaluated in more detail;

  • Debian It was not so easy to install but it is much easier now and all variants are light plain and only loaded with good, complete and most useful features. This installer is not a live CD type and it may run on PCs that other installers can not run on. Since then (1/2017) I have installed Debian 7, Gnome which is a straightforward light, fast and different to Windows. I have also installed and like Cinnamon this has many features but maintains a nice plainness and probably is the most developed of Debian 8.7.x. KDE is probably well developed but I have not used this and Mate, XFCE and LDRE are very fast, well presented. (9.7 was the current version of Jan 2019).

    • Firefox ESR version is a more stable release a few websites do not support it (2020).

    • Full 4-5GB "1" USB/DVD installer has many more required dependencies included and works best I have found. This has a graphical (uses a mouse) or a non-graphical (does not require a mouse) installer they are similar but the latter is for lower spec. or older machines.

    • Net installer is useful for old PC's that can not boot large memory sticks. In one case installing the utility Plop on the hard disk was necessary in order to give the USB port a boot option that the bios did not have. Net installer will use a lot of bandwidth.

    • Most distributions that I discuss use the .deb (Debian) format for installable programs. That does not mean that all ??????.deb programs will install on Debian or another of those distributions. But I believe that if all the dependencies are satisfied a .deb can be installed on any distribution that has the .gdebi installer installed on it.

    • Update is not automatic and checking for updates is not automatic and there is no utility to find and get missing drivers. I have found an answer by asking on a Facebook group. The Debian website had .deb files to install the drivers I found were missing easily. You need to install gdebi if it is not installed see below on synaptic to do that.

    • Also, watch the messages that scroll up the screen as Linux starts up there may be more things that should be updated - in this case, these are part of the Linux Kernel. Note any missing drivers and use Synaptic to install those drivers.

      • For example on a few old PCs "r100_cp_init" or something like that message scrolled up the screen quickly. By searching in synaptic for "r100_cp" the display software/whatever was found in one of the non-free repositories.

    • To see a list of drivers you need to look up advice but for Wi-Fi, this is what to type at Terminal;

      • lspci

      • lspci | grep -i "wifi\|wireless" will tell you your Wi-Fi chip type.

    • To install a .deb driver or program on some desktops you may need to first install 'gdedi' which is the .deb installer. It is better to search synaptic repositories for those drivers but you need to include non-free repositories.

    • On one laptop LXDE WiCD Wi-Fi did not work but on another it did. In any case, other desktops XFCE is also fast and I found the Wireless worked easily after installing the recommended drivers. Similarly, GNOME was fine as well.

    • Then with Synaptic un-tick the install from CD then reload the repository and then mark packages to update you will probably find a lot that needs updating. These are to the desktop and applications loaded not drivers as I said. Also to repeat my point elsewhere check the Debian Wiki and if necessary add all the repositories if they are not already added for the release you are using. You can also include non-free repositories and exclude src (source files).

    • A new user is guided to the stable version. This is very stable although a little incomplete but will become the Long Term Stable version that will receive security updates for few more years. There is a Testing version that will have many updates but I am told (I have not used it) is well tested and fairly stable and suits desktop users rather than server applications.

      • Debian can be upgraded to the next version. The user needs to follow the instructions which are if advised that an update can be done,

        • To update the installation and carry out any tests recommended,

        • Change the repositories to the those for next version and Apply.

        • The update will then occur at a slow enough rate that the PC's performance is not compromised. Everything will update and switch over to the new utilities, kernel, and drivers with virtually no user interventions. Debian 8 to 9 update the only issue was that although the wireless carried on working the icon disappeared and the message advises me to restart the wireless.

        • A user can walk their way through the lowest version to the current version of Debian 9 but you can go up to version 10.3 (April 2020) but it is a bit early for that yet you wait until the end of Debian 9 or 9 LTS. Debian can be walked through update one at a time 1 to 2 then 2 to 3, and so on, I understand.

    • All distribution grows in size There may be a GUI that deletes things say every 30 days but in Debian, these root terminal commands work well;

    • These tell you some information;

      • du -sh /var/log

      • du -sh /var/cache/

    • These commands give you back hard-disk space (I recovered about 200M and 1G respectively)

      • sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y && sudo apt autoremove -y

      • apt clean.

Easy way to install missing drivers in Debian;

  1. Note the missing drivers during installation or start-up.

  2. In synaptic package manager ensure that all non-free repositories are included.

  3. Type search each missing driver's name until synaptic finds it then mark and install it.

  4. For each driver restart the machine and note whether the warning message does not appear during startup.

An alternative better way to install missing drivers with Debian;

Instead of (3) above - Read the Debian Wiki but use Synaptic package manager search to find and mark then install the driver.

Not all start-up warnings or errors require software;

IBM 206M Server used as a desktop;

- BIOS gives a warning when a sound card is fitted but the Soundblaster card works fine. This error comes from the bios before the operating system has started.

- Linux Kernel gives a warning at startup about no ACIP with newer Linux Kernels this can be resolved by adding an option in the Grub configuration file. This occurs during the operating system boot but Linux runs okay despite the warning.

In the case of an old Sony Vaio Laptop;

- Linux Kernel gives an error at startup about no APIC with newer Linux Kernels this can be resolved by adding an option in the Grub configuration file "NOAPIC". This occurs during the operating system boot to Linux then the computer crashes.

  • Fedora (19 & 20) Free of charge version of Redhat a US company. It did not share with any other operating system when installing it and will damage any OS found. RedHat ceased making the distribution in its own name a number of years ago. I tried this in 2013 and tried again in October 2016 both XFCE and Gnome but had issues that I chose not to pursue further but they are fast.

  • Linux Lite The core is; Ubuntu. (Possibly New Zealand based). This did not recognise a SATA drive at the time I tried it but is fine, as of December 2017. This is not a particularity fast XFCE distro but it does support Dropbox.

  • Mageia XFCE - Is more technically orientated and also runs Dropbox properly. It is not particularly fast now but is well finished off compared to Fedora. Mageia uses the .rpm (Red Hat) format for installable programs.

      • Mageia is Paris, Europe-based. Shares particularly well with other operating systems. The best combination of the speed, quality of presentation, and functional. The installation is quite flexible but can also fail. The installation may also fix things without resorting to a re-installation.

      • The issue I mentioned was with changing partitions on a computer such as deleting them or removing a hard disk that in turn prevented the desktop starting. This happened during the life of version 4 but was resolved eventually in version 5 by that I had stopped using Mageia. Like all Linux's I found it shares particularly well with other operating systems.

      • Those earlier versions had been the best combination of speed, quality of presentation, and functionality. I briefly tried Mageia 6 (Dec 2017) and did not find it to be a fast OS compared to others anymore but Plasma may be the fastest offered. As before the classical installation is good and previously was best?

      • More recently the full installer does not install on a few of my computers as discussed before (Feb 2019).

  • Manjaro (Xfce 0.8.9 & KDE 0.8.9) Based in Austria, France and Germany. (Its Kernel is; Arch Linux seems to be based in German, Canada and USA?). New and is not up to version 1 yet though the variant Xfce I tried briefly seems stable. Arch Linux claim almost absolute security. Does not share with any other operating system on the computer when installing it.

    • Uses the .arch (Arch) format for installable programs.

    • I looked at this again at Manjaro version 08.09.13-rc2 in June 2015 but found it to be less user friendly than others listed here and not faster than any. The advanced option does allow you to share multi-boot with other operating systems at installation.

  • openSUSE (13.1) (June 2015) - I have not run this distribution for a number of years it now is a pay-for enterprise version. It has been a subsidiary SUSE is based in Germany and Novel/Microsoft USA company. This is fast professional looking and a better implementation than most. SUSE recommend ImageUSB (June 2015) which is a good basic tool for creating an installer USB. At the time I evaluated it did not run that well other Linux's were better.

    • Uses the .rpm (Red Hat) format for installable programs.

    • I looked at the website there appears to be an open version again. A stepped releases or a rolling release version (4/2020). I did not get far into installation due to requirement issues but the installation is very attractive but many things are not conventional. The partition system could be converted to GPT which I have only seen Windows 10 installation offer.

  • Oracle (one time Sun Microsystems) - make a considerable number of good quality utilities and developers of Linux mostly known for Java scripting language runtime also have an .rpm based Linux Desktop/Server but I have not evaluated this.

  • Xubuntu 12.04, 13.10 and 14.04 is Ubuntu but with an Xfce desktop. The menu structure is uncluttered and well organised. Although some of the older versions work on older computers for example 12.04 is now out of support but still can be downloaded and installed and for example, Lubuntu 16.xx will run on a 15 year Compaq N1020V but the highest version will run on an older model N1015V is 14.xx.

    • Xubuntu - [and most likely any XFCE desktop] be careful with the save session option when turning the computer off. If you leave something running that needs authentication eg Gparted the desktop will not open after logging on next time. I repeatedly tried to turn on the PC and the desktop eventually started after a wait but without the last working session - in other words, it sorted itself. Here follows another suggestion;

      • Close all the applications you have running except the ones you would like to start up next time with such as email only.

      • Close the computer down with the save session option ticked.

      • Next time you close the computer down ensure that the save session option is not ticked.

  • Lubuntu there is an alternative installer that may run on older PC's. There is no such alternative for the other ?ubuntu's. Lubuntu 16.? (LXDE desktop) is not much different to Xubuntu in speed and very much slower than Lubuntu 18.? (LxQt desktop). Neither version found a wireless driver automatically although it is in the non-free repositories.

    • I used the warning messages from Debian because Lubuntu gave no warnings about missing drivers. Consequently, I would not have easily known what was missing otherwise.

    • After updating from 16 to 18 many things stopped working during the process including the wireless so by comparison with Debian you could not carry on using the computer. The installation needed restarting at completion many things did not work or only worked when called from Terminal or required installation again. In conclusion, it is better to make a clean installation.

    • The LxQt version is now one of the fastest full feature desktops I've evaluated here.

    • The newer 20.? version of ?Ubuntu have fewer features to make the desktop look plain. Those features can be found or installed. Adding Gdebi and Synaptic are two useful additions that help you install and remove programs that are not in snap.

      • Ctrl-H shows or hides hidden files and directories.

      • Creating a symbolic link requires looking up how on the internet. You find a complicated answers or just click on the file or directory whilst holding SHIFT+CTRL and a menu will give you a choice.

------------- Linux Distributions that are fast or will run on old computers -----------

Debian all the desktops but LXDE is the fastest I have evaluated. Lubuntu Alternative but this is one is competitively slow.

  • Puppy Linux - Legacy OS Is a very lightweight fast Linux that may run on a PC built-in 1990 or later. Tried Feb 2019 on a Sony Vaio PCG-GRT996ZP Laptop.

    • The Sony Vaio Laptop has an out of date bios but the computer. The PC does not appear to run any Linux Kernel high than 3.xx.xx although 4.xx.xx can function in some cases. That includes puppy Linux.

    • Xenial Pup - The wireless did not work because no wireless device was found.

    • Slacko Pup - wireless did work.

      • Although there is no login I could not access my work from another Linux because the likely directory was locked. So if the installation fails then your work might be locked to you compared to other distributions.

    • Tahr pup - I looked briefly but it did not get far starting.

There are other Linux's for very old PC's which are low spec. here is a link with some reviews and mentions;

These seem to operate at a lower level and you do most things by text command with some a minimal GUI called open box with little more than a web browser and file manager. I have only looked at;

  • Bunsen Labs - I tried this in VirtualBox and scripts run through that installs things including XFCE and many common programmes but I could not find out how to run XFCE or anything after that. It may be okay installed on a PC rather than in a virtual machine but I did not pursue that further. (Dec 2017).

    • Version 5, 64 bit HP Laptop (April 2020). This Linux distribution is slower than MX but smaller. The desktop is plainer than XFCE or any other.

    • Took much longer than any other Linux to install and run a welcome script that installs many extras and some optional extras (all day). It would not install from a USB failing to find the USB stick during installation (this usually also occurs with Mageia) - I installed it from a DVD.

    • When installed there was notably no warning messages during start-up. The desktop is very minimal with very few GUI's and very minimal menu options found by pressing the Windows key. Most programs are found by pressing ALT-F3 and typing into the command search line.

  • Lubuntu 18.x is a fast LxQt desktop but Lubuntu 16.x is one of the slower implementations of LXDE desktop. Described above.

  • MX Linux - Is fast, light and full feature (Jan 2018). Slower than Debian but is more complete and works in Virtual Box. This distribution will update to the next version when that version becomes stable but some aspects will need to be updated manually such as the kernel.

    • MX has many utilities to change boot GRUB, GPARTED pre-installed. It does find hardware and deal with loading all the drivers automatically.

    • MX has boot repair and configuring tools be careful of them I found they are not as good and Ubuntu repair USB although the MX live CD may run on some computers that the Ubuntu boot repair USB won't run on.

    • MX also has comprehensive clean up tools that delete old files for example. Other distributions have similar tools or scheduled clean up options.

    • Compared to AntiX this distribution is more finished off but if installed in Virtual Box does seem to fail at startup so I reinstalled it a few times. The laptop pointing device is over sensitive and is set to single click making it over sensitive so untended things happen but using a mouse is better.

  • AntiX Linux - similar to MX Linux but with LXDE, has very lightweight features, very fast and application FireFox-ESR (Jan 2018). This can be difficult to install on some computers. It is untidy and unfinished by comparison with its sister MX.

The Feature of Metamorphosis and Anti Linux above is that they don't use SystemD - because, they say, it is controversial. All three above Distro's use Open Box window manager - I did not know what this is but it is fast. Open Box is said to be very fast and seems to be like a very minimal themed screen (a picture and a toolbar) but you mostly drive it with text terminal commands, scripts plus File and Firefox mouse-driven GUI.

  • By comparison, Debian and specifically LXDE are about the fastest and most well finished off of these but I have categorised it not as a lightweight. See above.

  • Peppermint Linux (I was recommended this in Feb 2017 - it is exceptionally slow for LDRE but is good in many other ways) - This is a full feature LDRE all things work well (including Dropbox which has and is a difficult 2016 to March 2017) But the cost is that it is very slow. Personally, I find the colour themes harsh - too intense.


Some if not all distributions do not install all drivers for the hardware and networking but invariably somewhere there is a way of scanning and adding those things or in some cases like Debian you need to read the support on the website. With Debian therefore more than other distributions you need to get then add drivers.

I have been corrected; openSUSE and Mageia are not Redhat (Fedora) based. I should say that in all cases above these distributions don't behave as stand-alone or tangents of other things but are tightly controlled for compatibility and interchangeability. So that if you want an Epson driver for a scanner or printer you can get a generic one from the source of your distribution or you can get the driver directly from Epson but in that case fortunately you should find that if your distribution uses the .deb (Debian) or .rpm (Redhat) formats. There is also a raw .bin format in the same case (such as Dropbox) I have not used this. That does not mean the distribution will permit you to use that Epson driver but if it does I found the Epson driver worked well. (I am also told printer drivers can be very difficult and it suggest I write about that) Setting up printers seem to use an established UNIX configuration and drivers But there are not the one-step fix it things that Windows is often better at. Epson does not appear to have ArchLinux based drivers though, And I read of other Linux's such as o pen-PC that they were at one time a fork of another kernel such as Debian in this case but the Kernel is now open-PC so I don't know how easy they are to set up.

Legacy BIOS v UEFI


  • MBR type hard disk partitions and "legacy" BIOS are straightforward to install to.

  • UEFI type partitions and Secure Boot should be straightforward - just turn off the security and run the installation. This should be fine - I have chosen to not turn the security on after completing the installation.

    • On a Toshiba laptop turning off the boot security was found in a setting in Windows 10, Update/Security - recover.

    • On a Lenovo M71e, this failed but in any case, this PC does not work well in UEFI secure boot. - The settings were found in the Boot configuration (ENTER or F1 at startup) and were all set turned off.

      • The security can't be turned off, so you can only install or repair Windows 10

      • With the most up-to-date bios flashed the power switch does not turn the power off if UEFI is configured.

      • This particular PC is said to and does work properly with MBR type partitions. That is the power switch works and Linux and should work with Windows or any OS that can be installed on the computer.

        • Set the bios SATA drive to IDE instead of ATA, Lubuntu 18.04, 64 bit could install and you can make MBR partitions for windows using Gparted.

        • But Windows 10, 19xx installation converts the filing system to GPT if there is space and will not install to an MBR partition on this computer. Windows 7 will install on BIOS 64 bit PCs and upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 to work in BIOS 64 bit PCs.

        • Work-around; Clone Windows 10 from another PC that does not support UEFI boot.

          • To multi-boot with Linux, Windows 7 and Windows 10; clone the Windows 10 boot loader and the operating systems then run Linux Boot repair USB. Finally, run Windows 7 boot repair CD to restore all the boot options, this works more reliably than the Windows 10 boot repair. Note that Windows starts from Windows 7 bootloader more easily.

            • Placing the two boot-loaders Windows 7 and 10 on one hard disk and moving the boot flag, using GParted failed. More detail, using Gparted to flag the boot partition and using the appropriate boot repair for each failure. Having two windows bootloaders option is useful if there are two hard disks because you can disconnect one hard disk and still boot the other. Windows boot repair and Linux Boot repair can be carried out with one HD then the other HD is disconnected.

            • The MBR partition table looks like; Primary [Windows 10 bootloader, Windows 10, Debian], Extended [Debian Swap, Windows 7 Bootloader (removed), Windows 7, Lubuntu, Lubuntu Swap].

            • Note that although you appear to have a Windows 7 boot system when Windows 10 carries out a major update the boot system will return to Windows 10 type. Unfortunately therefore if one of the operating systems is carrying out an update you can not put that aside when it requires a re-boot and run the other Windows but you can run Linux. Fortunately, this major update did not attempt to reconfigure the bios settings and the partitions were not converted to GPT.

There are many reports and comments that modern PCs have flaws in the Secure Boot not being implemented properly. It is not a new thing for PCs to be flawed so they do not comply with the open architecture standard (any OS) set by IBM.


After Installation

Debian and Mageia Installations

Both Linux's are quite different but both can repair grub boot-loader without your need to re-install the Linux. They may do that repair when Boot-repair-disk fails to do that.

Mageia installer also has a tool for restoring the windows only Boot. Boot repair USB can also restore Windows boot.

It is more convenient to Disable the install from CD-path from update libraries. With Mageia, you then need to press Add, which starts an automatic process that sets up update libraries for you.

Additionally with Debian look at the website at the repository's necessary and add those including the non-free repository's. Look at an existing repository to see how the advice in the Wiki is applied the single line URL is really entered as; URL space DISTRIBUTION space ALL-ELSE these are entered in the three boxes. After I did there was a duplication but I have left it that way it works and I will ask again about that in a Linux forum or Facebook group.

How to speed up Ubuntu and other Debian or Ubuntu-based distributions

I had noticed lots of disc activity which turned out to be because the swap partition had not been set up. The swap space makes the computer run faster. If you install more than one Linux you only need one swap partition so you can delete other swap partitions and re-size remain partitions. Doing this you will find that the swap partition needs to be enabled.

See Ubuntu help at;

You don't need to use Terminal to launch GParted. But you may need to install GParted and a few other things first then launch GParted. It is also useful to turn the swapon at this point to make the computer go faster whilst you follow the other steps that will permanently enable the swap partition.

You may find that your particular distribution does not have all the things and these needed to be installed which are in addition;

  • ?Ubuntu used to offer "gksu" is now not required. The terminal command is;

    • In Debian "su" allows you to log into the route terminal. This is not permitted in Ubuntu

    • In ?Ubuntu "sudo" is put in front of the command required and the user enters his route password in order to proceed with the command.

  • gedit ---- This also needed to be installed. There was no warning but nothing happened when I entered the command line. Use the Ubuntu Software Centre and install gedit, ---- Alternatively use "nano" instead of "gedit".

Use the root terminal or type "su" and log in to the root from Terminal.

In addition, the recommended changes to swappiness value to 10 is beneficial.

When installing one of the Ubuntu's you don't need an internet connection but a wired connection even if you chose to not install the updates at the time of installation is a safer option.

By comparison, Mageia does not need an internet connection at the time of installation but you still need an internet connection and it needs to be a wire connection to allow updating.

Ubuntu community forum for help is particularly useful for Ubuntu-based distributions. You find may find some help with any Debian based distribution. But don't count on finding help on any Linux distribution unless the question and answer are very general.

Mageia 4 or higher

  • Unlike other Linux distributions, this distribution does not tolerate a partition of any sort being removed.

  • I do not know how Mageia 6 behaves but I think it may be better. As of December 2017.

Surveillance and security;

We are, of course, not immune from government surveillance I red, possibly in the 1980s, about surveillance being required to be built into Integrated Circuits. But it is said of Linux, "that it is not US-based but a community-driven project which has no base in a certain country". The Linux Kernel is governed by the Linux Foundation which is US-based but the key thing is that it is open source and that there is nothing hidden inside it, the tools that create it can also be Linux and open to scrutiny (that is if it is compiled from source code not linked from object code).

Installation options

Most Linux desktop providers provide Live CD's, these allow you to try that Linux without committing to installing it on your PC. Some also provide Persistence, if you use a memory stick. Persistence allows you to set up and retain a limited amount of things (settings Installations) after shutting down so that you can continue evaluating them another time. Another option is to run a distribution in a virtual machine running on Windows or Linux but the PC needs to be fast to do this. I do not recommend these options, once you have tried a distribution without setting any persistence and it looks okay you may as well install it.

Here are some tools for creating a live CD USB memory stick with persistence; (this has been superseded by be careful with these universal tools they provide more features but do not work with all distributions. You may find that some distributions of Linux don't work for you in any case. Many distributions of Linux don't display properly during installation OpenSUSE, Linux Lite, Manjaro and Fedora notably did and they installed well.

For Fedora and possibly other Redhat based distributions there is this has a persistence option. But, as I said, the straight no features USB creation tool such as openSUSE ImageWriter is most likely to work. Many of these tools are unable or don't always prepare a previously used USB stick such as by erasing or format satisfactory first. When you have Linux running you can somewhat recover a memory stick with tools provided within Linux. Rufus works in windows and does restore a USB stick quite well, I do not use the persistence option with this tool.

The best tool seems to be; Rufus which is a Windows tool is recommended by Mageia and it is particularly good at recovering a badly formatted memory stick that can make it DOS bootable or an iso image on the memory stick for you. Version 1.x.x can create DOS or DrDOS boot but this feature and other things have been dropped from version 2.x.x (June 2015). This does not create persistence but produces a standard form bootable USB (4/2020).

Mageia Installation is good and the instructions on their wiki are good and readable. You can try a live CD version but do download and install from the full installer version as the website advises. There are more memory stick creators with different, more or better performance discussed on their wiki but that bit could be improved. This distribution may not install to a memory stick - something you would not normally do anyway.

Mageia 4 works well there is a lightweight XCFE installer that I am evaluating you have to add things if you need them rather than find you have lots of things you don't need so it is quite a good plan to install this after you have tried all the others and found the novelty of graphical effects has worn off. This was the only distribution that installed on a SATA drive giving a sensible choice of sharing or using all of an NTFS windows drive. My Dot matrix printer works fine on this version of Mageia the configuration is different to version 3. Very recently (March 2014) I have found that accessing other hard disks now does not require repeated passwords entry this is an improvement. Don't be tempted to see what SATA/RAID is it will mess up things and if you do you will need to reformat the drive with a windows installation disk then straighten it further with Gparted. This problem does not seem to arise with the Mageia liveCD version though the installer is different.

Linux Distributions usually can be run from a memory stick. Ubuntu and distributions based on it such as Mint work for example but they will all ware-out a memory stick particularity if a swap configured. Another Debian based distro, Linux Lite, for example, works well on a memory stick and the file manager gives you root user access to a directory if you require that allowing copying and create a backup another Linux for example.

Ubuntu and Mint installations are plain and straightforward you can then copy, past a partition and thereby clone a distribution. The cloned distribution will not boot though the only way to make it boot is to also have Mageia installed and use the boot repair tool to add the Ubuntu or Mint distribution.


  • One needed to be re-formatted exFAT in order to work to full capacity.

  • Another was not fully USB compliant and would not work with USB 1.1.

  • One is very slow and will freeze unless you limit it to writing to one file at a time.

  • Many have short endurance particularly to being reformatted when writing a .iso a number of times. The capacity does not reduce progressively as you might expect but it fails suddenly.

  • A file that can't be deleted in Windows might be deletable in Linux. This seems to have come about from upgrading Windows XP to Windows 7 or higher for example. Once copied to the USB stick the file could not be deleted.

Windows 10 ChkDsk will often recover or repair a USB stick. Windows 7 is not so good and XP poorer at repairing a USB stick.

Manjaro's Xfce desktop;- The Beta Graphical installation tool is smooth, easy and the one that works. Manjaro is well implemented but it is a bit more technical orientated OS I chose not to pursue this far other than to create a maintenance tool installed on a memory stick. It is not the fastest lightweight but it is fast. I preferred Linux Lite or Xubuntu (long term support version). Uniquely Manjaro displays the text prologue and epilogue scripts rather than a graphical picture so presumably it does not use the problematic Plymouth. Consequently, the display did not go bazerk but on the other hand setting up a printer did not work because it did not offer my computer's parallel port to me. I found the style plain and a bit harder to get around. KDE live USB did not work for me. This distribution gave me no hassle about look at partitions including system partitions and was the best in that respect. Of all of those I tried was the one that installs and goes properly.

Some of these distributions somewhat recognised a new printer plugged in then searched for drivers though this feature was not anything like as good as Windows not surprisingly because other than for Epson most manufacturers only provide Windows drivers so the generic drivers you use you may have a choice of more than one so you may need to see which works best. Epson and some others provide Linux drivers for newer printers and scanners that use the .deb (Debian) or .rpm (Redhat) formats. The Printer has changed since I wrote this and these older drivers needed for older printers may not be so easily obtained (April 2020).


Windows Repair

Windows 7 disk can repair a Windows 7 or 10 startup but a Windows 10 disk may not be able to repair anything. Alternatively, a combination of Windows 7 and 10 CDs may repair Windows 7 or 10's start-up. They can fail with a patterned square but little or no useful information, therefore your option is none give up but do a web search for an answer. An older Windows 10 disk is more flexible and likely to fix an installation start-up than a newer version of Windows 10.

Once Windows 10 startup has been repaired with a Windows 7 repair disk Windows 10 can not or may not be repairable with a Windows 10 installation disk. There seems to be other implications as well be but have not explored those fully but it may be why Windows 10, 16xx does not update 18xx?

Reinstalling an old version of Windows from any service pack CD version.

The reasons for running Windows, as well as Linux, is;

  • To continue using the utilities and programmes that you are used to that only run on Windows.

  • Take care it is possible to copy files with names that use characters that are illegal to the other operating system. It is also possible to strip permissions from files when copying files between say Linux and Windows filing systems.

  • Warning; Don't use these older operating systems for web browsing you will be disappointed many websites will not work properly because the browser is out of date. Aside from that, there is an increased risk of the computer being infected by computer viruses.

  • Keep a compressed copy of your Linux .thunderbird folder (dot thunderbird), for example, on a windows partition backup directory in case you have to reinstall Linux. Zipping a directory on one format partition to another say Windows formatted partitions is important because Windows format partitions do not support all Linux features. So that if you required the back up it may not work when copied back to where it is required. Microsoft FAT does not support all the permissions status that NTFS does and they are different again to the Linux EXT format which also supports Symbolic links. Note newer versions of Windows higher than XP handle another form of symbolic link made using a command "mklink" these can be created in a windows administrator command window.

  • On the other hand, the virus that circulates the web does get removed from web servers. Web browsing with an old operating system is not a high risk provided you take care, as you should anyway.

Windows 2000 - I believe you need to do the following;

- The upgrade to the highest service patch (SP4 with all the patches) then apply it, full off-line update. Update Internet Explorer to the highest Win2000 permits which is; IE6 must be the full off-line installation (this does not seem to be possible now). Then allow Windows update to automatically apply security fixes and updates (this also does not seem to be possible now - although the Microsoft website says this is possible in July 2016). There may be other things such as installing DirectX 9 you need to add? You will find that the highest version of Firefox is 11 that will run on Windows 2000, this is not very suitable for web browsing.

  • Avast virus scanner may work on older versions of Windows But ensure that the virus scanner is still in support and provided with security updates.

  • Windows 2000 is faster than any of the other operating systems discussed here except for DOS. I have not compared it to puppy Linux though?

Windows XP - became end-of-life in 2014 but can not be activated as of autumn 2021.

- You needed to have download the upgrade to service patch 3 (SP3 could not be updated automatically during the end-of-life period). Then Windows updates were applied automatic updates and this was the case until Autumn 2021. For the 64 bit version, the highest Service pack was 2 there a two to choose from and the slightly more recent larger one on the Microsoft website is the correct one, I found. I also found that the minimum version is XP, SP 1a then it can be updated to XP, SP3.

- Microsoft Essentials (virus scanner - continued updating in June 2017. Microsoft malicious virus removal tool also stopped being updated. There may be others virus scanners that support XP that you pay or are free that still support XP. - alternatively don't web-browser or use a Linux or other Proxy-server with virus protection (I am advised and observe that companies have been doing this for years rather than patch XP and run virus protection on XP that would slow it down severely when running mechanical CAD particularly).

- Install the highest version of Java 7.75, which needed to be done manually. Java 8.121 was the highest version that ran on XP up to the release of about January 2017 at least and continued to update till Jan 2019.

  • Updating will run for days requesting reset periodically. With Internet Explorer you also visit the Microsoft update website there are more optional things, I recommend that you clear updates offered, this will not stop them from happening automatically anyway, but will give you an opportunity to add specific optional things and improvements for Windows. You can add them all but XP will grow to 15GB and many non-critical updates and additions are not helpful some add ons are very beneficial so add all the ones called; Windows XP Update. I would not bother with Bing or Windows Live Essentials add ons although some parts may be useful.

  • Live Essentials has failed to install for the past year as of Jan 2019. Recently hardware driver updates appear to have stopped. (A wireless hardware update for Samsung R50 has been removed so that does not occur).

NOTE; Licensing and Activation - XP will be running easily within a day or you mix installing trying and updating for up to 30 days but the sweet period where a user can use XP without being bothered by changes ended during 2021. that was 7 years of end-of-life support. By comparison, Windows 7 is now in that sweet period where a user is not bothered by changes that may continue indefinitely although there will be a point where you will cease to get security updates and also cease to be able fresh install and expect the updates to be carried out.

Windows 7 or higher - Does not stop working but may start nagging for authentication or activation. Windows 7 or higher may therefore continue to run without a periodic authentication to arise even beyond its end-of-life period? In a similar way as Windows NT or earlier continues to run perhaps?

Repair and Tools

Open source revolution (new name for a very old idea) - has spread out of software, perhaps since the fall of the former Soviet Union the idea that mutual benefit rather than self interest brutal in tooth and claw (Victorian values or Neo-Darwinism) works better. See;The Guardian Open-source-revolution-conquer-one-percent-cia-spy

Tools that I had ready in order to prepare for trying Linux with least risk;

    • Seagate (Maxtor, Weston Digital etc) Hard disk maintenance software - I did not need this. I found these tools invaluable if a hard disk boot file (MBR) becomes corrupted that happened when I had a bad mother board. The disk appeared to become faulty and an internal flag (SMART) became set to to warn that it was failing. This flag cleared automatically after the bad sectors began to be marked so that bad sector arose less and less often, then not at all automatically by Linux. These tools don't seem to be available now though but PartedMagic (mentioned above) does have a disk erase utility that will erase the MBR it has Gparted (with the Gpart add on) can then be used to restore the MBR and data that a new clean MBR is created.

    • Rufus USB tool that restores a USB stick even a large one that should be formatted to exFAT to near its original state or at least good enough to use with Windows and Linux. Thank you to Mageia for recommending this completely free and philanthropic provided tool. Linux Mint also provide a USB formatting tool but it only formats to FAT or NTFS but not to the original exFAT that memory sticks greater than 4GB may have originally been formatted to. Rufus tool will also create a simple bootable iso image on a USB stick.

    • - Invaluable tool put it on a floppy disk (using; Raw-Write-Win) to boot a USB stick it may also let you Boot from any partition found. I found it necessary to eject the floppy disk soon after the Linux booted with Mageia (and Xubuntu) because installation would fowl up just after the installation created partitions but in any case ejecting the floppy disk is a good strategy.

Even if it is from a safe source be careful

One of the Backgammon games that was in Ubuntu repositories, Cheats! That is if you play excessively you will particularly notice that the dice rolls in the machines favour much too often and the player's dice roles are unlikely to fall in the players favour. Other games are noticeably not loaded this way.

I don't doubt that the Backgammon game was "safe" and would do no harm to the operating system.

By comparison with other distribution's I have tried, Ubuntu offers the best designed software store that I have seen. You can read, write reviews, read a description and visit a link to the suppliers website.

The comments on the Backgammon game point out that it cheats Or alternatively that it is a good game and works well (which it does). Some comments also say that Linux is open source and because such cheating is likely to be discovered so is unlikely. That this game is supported by Canonical and they would not risk there reputation. But you know business and individuals do things for expediency particularly if they find themselves in or are put in a tight corner. This is now more-so part of our culture and the so called 11th commandment "don't get found out" applies, sadly.

Don't absolutely trust anything particularly on covert surveillance other than the likelihood that the authorities or anyone else has collected so much data are so over funded by governments they may not be able or be bothered to sift it. They will set an example of someone periodically.

Partition changing; (April 2017)

  • You can clone Linux's quite easily (but it is better to move it so that the one you do not want is deleted - they are can conflict otherwise but I think such issues have been overcome now [4/2020])

  • Windows does not tolerate cloning by comparison well. But may work if the Windows clone is put on the same computer and the same partition place on the disk in the case of XP.

    • That is if Windows XP was installed as the first partition then the copy must be placed in the first partition. Then use Linux to sort the boot.

    • Windows 7 or higher will need to run an advanced repair disk and you may also need to read what to do from the web.

    • Windows 10, 1607 or lower does not tolerate the partition cloned from a primary to an extended partition but the more recent updates of Windows 10 does.

  • Windows XP or high (but probably not lower, eg Windows 98) can be moved to a different drive number. You will observe that the drive letter of the Windows that is not running will change (A, B, C etc are logic names not the physical names. The physical names are 0, 1, 2 etc depending on the cable and jumper connection of the drive).

  • I think, from my memory, Windows version of 98/2000 or lower can be moved to another machine quite easily but they need to load drivers they need from the installation CD. Quite often people used to copy the installation CD onto the Hard disk so that drivers for new hardware/printers etc could be handled more easily.

I trialled Windows 8 in April 2017 but found that inserting Windows XP drive then using Linux tools use GRUB to multi-OS boot worked okay. BUT Windows 8 disk maintenance tools have corrupted Windows XP and itself Windows 8. I tested this again and the corruption which I think my be to change the permissions of very many files happened again. The corruption of Windows has not occurred with Windows 7 (May - September 2017)

Multi-boot with Windows XP and Windows 7 + Linux Distribution on the same hard disk;

  • The two Windows XP installations must be installed on different partition numbers so if Windows was installed on the first partition it must remain on the first partition and the required other Windows be installed to another partition say the second and third partitions.

  • After first installing or deciding to use an existing Windows installation, then use Boot repair USB, live CD's etc Gparted tool to turn off the Boot flag on the existing/first Windows installation. You can use Gparted to reduce the Windows partition size but restart windows and run ChKDsk after doing and manipulating a Windows partition.

  • Install the second windows, check that it runs and run ChkDsk.

  • Install the Linux Distro of your choice. You will end up with your multi-boot computer once the Linux Distro is installed.

  • With windows keep running ChkDsk periodically particularly after any major file additions and updates. (Windows 10 partly takes care of this for you)

  • Also, you can compress the drive for more speed and space - do this early in the installation stage before you have a lot of data on the drive.

    • Additionally, run the Windows defragmenter periodically.

If you install the two Windows but without turning off the boot flag before installing the second Windows then;

- if they are the same (say XP) only one of the installations will have the key system files (COMMAND.COM, AUTOEXECUTE, BOOT.INI etc) so it will run but if you deleted this Windows partition the one left won't boot.

- If they are different versions of windows only one will boot. Windows Repair disk can only make it only the other booted OS instead. The windows repair disk for Win 7 or higher make fix the problem but you probably will need to look up the web to fix it?

Where Windows 10 was updated from an installation of Windows 7 and both were installed on different hard disks on the same PC; Then Google Drive may use the wrong directory, that is partly updates the directory in another installation of Windows. Google Drive then starts losing files or duplicating files and directories. Otherwise, I have not observed this problem with Google-drive or any other program.

Multiboot;- example grub menu (Grand Unified Linux Bootloader).

Windows 10 and Debian on the first disk.

Windows 7 and Lubuntu on the second disk.

The boot menu should list at least;

  • Debian - use this if one or both disks are connected.

  • Windows 10 - Use this if one or both disks are connected. Use Windows repair to add the Windows 7 boot. - Don't use this if disk one and two cables are swapped.

  • Windows 7 - Don't use - Only use this if the first disk is disconnected, or if disk one and two cables are swapped.

  • Lubuntu - use this if one or both disks are connected.

Note; cable swap if you launch the wrong Windows loader from the grub menu don't let it repair.

You may need to use Linux boot repair USB.

Is your hard-disk as full to bursting as this old tinned fruit. The can from the back of a cupboard's content is old bad and under pressure.

Corrupt disk partition

I have a laptop with problems so that the power fails very often.

  • In general, Linux just sorts the disk errors on the next start-up in 30 seconds or so.

  • Any Windows including 10 can be busy for an hour when the PC is next turned on.

Eventually, this will require the OS to be re-installed. This might be after a daily failure for a month or two with Debian or Xubuntu. In this case, the hard disk is past any usefulness.

In conclusion Windows NTFS, Linux EXT4 and other formats are all quite robust. In addition, hard disks are also robust. With S.M.A.R.T enabled you can see the condition of a hard disk.

When a hard disk is failing usually the error and repair rates are too high for the normal correction systems to take care of the data reliably. I have observed a hard disk take care of itself and become very reliable once the hard disk's firmware has dealt with the bad areas of the HDD. This is unusual most HDD's just get worse and might be due to bearing wear but I guess if it is bad areas of the disk platter are being avoided then the HDD will surely become better than it was new? I have resolved issues by creating new partitions then seen the HDD work reliably for years but to repeat the point this is uncommon.

Windows and the partition boot flag (Jan2019)

To emphasise the point; If you are installing or using a repair disk ensure that the boot flag is set on the Windows start-up partition for the Windows you are repairing or installing.

By comparison, Linux does not fuss about if or where partition boot flags are set.

Grub to select and boot the selected OS exist partly in the MBR and does not use the partition boot flags.

Startup and Hard-disk partition tools - Linux mostly but many are generally useful

  • Parted-Magic This is one of a number of maintenance tools that are complete and use a very lightweight desktop. Parted-Magic has many backup and repair tools although this distribution does not have a boot sector repair tool. I also did not find out how CloneZiller works the wording of instructions is unclear although the tool is well regarded and looks robust. [There is a paid-for version which I have not tried] - I did not find this tool more useful than using say an Xubuntu USB trial and install which has Gparted included.

If you are going to resize a windows partition use the Microsoft disk management tools if your version of Windows has them. Microsoft apparently do not publish all the details on NTFS so MS tools will be faster and safer but the Linux tools are very safe and also careful about what they do. Linux Gpart and Gparted is a very plain straightforward GUI to use and the user is very unlikely to make a mistake defining what they want to change copy or create in there cue of partition jobs you want doing and the tool will just get on with it - it will stop gracefully on an error or by command. But if you want to work on the Linux and Windows partition Paragon 14 or 16 for Windows is also good and there is a free version. A good additional step is to set windows to check and repair the partitions on the next start up - then use Linux gparted - finally when windows is next booted the partition will be fixed and windows should start without issue. All partition managing tools carry risks with them.

  • Disks (GUI for Linux) - also does partition editing is safe and quick but frightening leaves you with what appears to be the whole extended partitions deleted but they are fine. Restart Linux and run Disks and you will see that only what you intend occurred nothing bad has happened.

  • Gpart & Gparted - is slower than Disks but you can be confident about what it is going to do. I found that the Gpart add to the tool does not recover partitions discarded by Windows tools inadvertently.

  • Paragon and EaseUS Partition tool for windows; These are useful tool runs on Windows and allows you to resize delete, copy Windows and Linux partitions. Linux tool Gparted is also very good and importantly clear.

    • Gparted comes with many Live CD installations, Partition Magic and usefully Boot Repair USB.

  • Ubuntu Boot Repair disk - This is a very useful tool that does restore boot well. The tool fixes GRUB boot so that the disk can be booted and it also has GParted and some other utilities. It is best installed on a USB stick and fits comfortably on a 1GB stick. As long as you have not encrypted your profile you may be able to read your home directory but not recover files because depending on how permissions are set. Therefore file browser is possible. You do need the 64-bit version for a 64-bit machine and the 32-bit version for a 32-bit machine

If Boot Repair USB does not sort the boot loading, which it usually does sort, then there may be a utility on your Linux installation USB to fix it? Selecting a variant of Linux the computer Desktop (Graphical User Interface) you select;

      • Note the some PC's won't start up with some installer or utility USB sticks in that case try;

      • Ubuntu other ?ubuntu's distributions also have advanced options at boot time one of those will update the bootloader with other operating systems such as if you were to fit another hard disk and then, therefore, add another operating system to the GRUB boot list.

      • MX Linux distribution installer has boot repair and partition editing tools.

      • Debian Linux distribution installer has some boot repair and partition editing tools.

I got very stuck with restoring windows 7 boot. XP can be fiddly but I have always sorted it in the end if it is possible. So here are some tips (I have not tried them) If you ask on a Windows discussion group you may be recommended to EasyBCD (BCD is not a format GRUB or Linux recognises, as of Jan 2018) it is different not better than GRUB and I would not recommend that tool. If you are having problems Boot Repair or the Linux installation USB probably will fix it - if one does not the other may.

Many people and websites will warn you not to install Windows or update to a "higher" Windows after installing Linux.

  • Often there will be no problem as long as you have space available for Windows to make partitions or you can make a Windows partition and select that for installation. I have only ever done this with Linux installed as it would be normally at the far end of the hard disk. Therefore because I wanted to re-install Windows.

  • But Windows 10 creates a new partition boot allocation system called BCD. This can make the Linux partition disappear or be deleted (amounts to the same) from GRUB and Linux. This problem may not happen but I have seen occur.

  • EasyBCD and booting from the Windows Boot loader probably won't help as it requires a part of GRUB within the Linux to be configured. I am advised that EasyBCD will work though, such is the nature of advice on various forums the people advising may not have tried what they recommend in your situation or they managed eventually but not easily.

Gparted for Linux

  • This is a very good partitioning tool but can mess up Windows partitions. You may be able to fix this situation by running windows check disk with the fix and thorough options set. You may need to do this a few times. Then Gparted checks this may sort it. The common problem is the reported size is smaller than the partition size.

  • Unlike Linux which is open, Microsoft doesn't let anyone know how Windows works but they provide tools like ChkDsk, Malicious virus removal tool, and many special wizards at no cost that can be run in order to fix or change things. Consequently, Linux Gparted or Paragon for Windows can not carry out a repair fully but must use the Microsoft tool.

  • Gparted works more reliably if auto mounting and auto file exploring options are turned off in the desktop. This is because whilst Gparted is working on a partition towards the completion of the operation Linux may mount the partition before Gparted is ready.

  • Power interruption is particularly unlikely to be recoverable if Gparted is working on a Windows partition. But this also true of Paragon a very good and similar Windows tool - this may be partly because these tools can't repair a windows partition such as NTFS because Microsoft does not share the technical detail of much of the operating system; You have to have a running windows to run ChkDsk for example (this is a sort of catch 22 if windows will not start - but a windows installation disk may sort such cases - I observed in June 2015 using an XP installation CD.

  • Gparted is well-reviewed with good reason it is particularly clear what it is going to do and then what the outcome was. It does what it does well.

GPART - For finding deleted partitions and restoring them (add-on for Gparted) - I have not seen this tool work. I have tried restoring a partition (Gpart add on to GPARTED) after Windows Installation disk has deleted a partition unsuccessfully.

Operating systems improve;

I have removed many notes such as a warning if cloning a Linux not have both on the same computer because one may use files in the rather than its own. This does not occur now but I have left a precaution below which is fairly redundant;

Do set windows to fully check disk a partition before you resize that partition so on the next startup after you have used whatever windows or Linux partitioning tool operation that any errors can be fixed subsequently. Cross-linked files seem more likely to happen when there is little free space. And set Linux so that it does not automatically mount or automatically open the file manager if a new volume is found.

Be sceptical

The US Patriot Act is all encompassing but of cause most countries, companies, individuals spy and gossip on their citizens and in any case ordinary people do those things as well. The issue, as far as I am concerned, is that consequently computers are vulnerable to virus attack. Users are at risk, when I have downloaded things from sourceforce and others that item is fine but the website strategically places a fake download button (advert possibly) and I get something dangerous rather than what I wanted. Here is a good example of European company policy on outside surveillance applied I hope they can manage it; UNFORTUNATELY THIS LINK DOES NOT WORK NOW ( Also see openMandriva. I have also been recommended this which I have not looked at;

Although companies based in US (or any other country) would have to deny any surveillance they are required to carry out but companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft share information collected such as visits to your website, face recognition (tagging), Adverts profiled to match your likely spending interests - they are not necessarily comfortable with what they have to do.

Shoot the messenger; We should not dislike the company's necessarily but rather what we expect of our governments do to keep us comfortable. Some of those companies are showing us some of what they do consequently. 1984 the book and film, prediction and the year has certainly now seems understated particularly since the Soviet Union fell taking away there example in culture and education but also state control we could aspire to or in the latter case claim to be better than. After one of my first visits Microsoft website in the late 1990s I found a new file within Windows (3.1) with a date and time stamped which coincided with my visit to that website the file listed all the files on my computer, that was before MS placed a statement saying that it did not scan your computer in any way on their website but there was general speculation that MS did do that.

In normal conversation people share fake as well as truths and in turn the fake is naturally corrected by experience and trust. This is a complicated task which mind is well developed to sort out. This is a similar point and is worth bearing in mind to surveillance when using technical help forums. Personally the more open the better but some administration is necessary against the thought police misusing PC and curtsy to curtail discussion that is on-message.

I am told that Microsoft can lock out a Windows computer with NTFS format disks, remotely. I expect that their would be a way of locking a Linux user out of a Linux computer it is surely only necessary for an insider to have something update from within the Linux organisation and that update ripple through to all users unknowingly. Whistle blowers usually disappear without trace unless they are supporting something that a significant established interest want changed. You will come across conflicting commercial licensing with Linux so I remain sceptical but I like Linux all the same. DropBox which is a good cloud file sharing tool can be found within many Linux safe repository's but the installer gets the application from outside the repository (when your administrator authorise that) and directly by secure connection from the manufacturer - I am sure that this is safe and made robust but it also demonstrates a potential vulnerability. The vulnerability, I see, being to set a precedent for a potentially slacker attitude to internet safety.

Reliability and support;

There is no need to explicitly pay even a peppercorn for Linux so there is no beneficial contract between the user and supplier or a duty of care that comes with a contract. Conversely, there is a good degree of protection due to the Linux approximate philanthropic culture and open-source philosophy. You can buy support though and you are asked to donate to the projects you chose - this is different and still not a contract.

I looked up the number of users on some of the Linux Forums; Ubuntu over 150,000 users, Mint over 100,000 users and Mageia over 4,500 users. Although a different statistic the percentage of all Desktop computers are; Windows about 90%, and XP is the second most popular. Linux accounts for 1.5% of the total and it is growing fast I suspect (no figures found), whereas 98% of all the super computers run Linux, Linux having displaced Unix over the past decade.

Large servers for the past decade generally run Linux so they will have had all the computer virus in the world that have ever been created during that time, pass through them without any reported infection but of cause web pages and email does pass on computer viruses that harm Windows PCs. That is what I understand Linux community keep saying, not just spreading a myth but repeatedly testing and confirming the claim.

Technical Forums - Sometimes people do comment adversely about and some other users and say they don't like using forums. I have contributed to forums for a few decades, they are good. Use the Linux support forums and indulge the request for all the relevant technical detail required and the helpers quirkiness. Do appreciate that it is very hard to analyse and fault find remotely. Understand conversely that it is usually not possible to describe clearly something until you understand what went wrong. The A-ha moment helps you see after the event what you could have described better initially - this can not be helped much, other than to be aware of it.

Linux is different to DOS and Windows but not too different;

Office tools such as Libre Office for Windows or Linux is a good alternative to Microsoft Office there are alternatives to many popular programs but there are fewer alternatives to many specialist CAD tools. Firefox also works fine running on many operating systems and has set standards for web browsers so that being faster as well as the better one to use. In conclusion, the basic office things are covered by Linux.

Linux behaves as if the file extension defines the file type for example ".html", ".jpeg" that is often shorted to ".htm", ".jpg" for DOS in the same way as DOS/Windows consequently the user does not need to worry about file name differences generally. Where a difference is apparent is that a Linux symbolic link looks as if it is the file that it is referencing. This is very useful but you can not copy a Linux symbolic link to Windows it won't work. There are also a few file naming differences but mostly with Unix like operating systems but Linux has been made to work with Windows almost seamlessly. The point is that Windows is much more primitive in the way it works even for the time when it was developed and Linux works with that. But do take care capitalisation and duplicate files with the same name and some characters with other operating systems that share with Windows operating systems.

It is best to change DOS/Windows file extensions ".htm", ".jpg" to ".html", ".jpeg" I have found in these cases that the file format is close enough to be compatible and work without issue.

Neither Windows nor Linux hard disk can be taken out of one PC and put on another and expect it to run but they often do. But I found that Ubuntu moved between two or three computers and started up successfully this is because Linux uses more generic drivers. Windows uses proprietary drivers mostly and replaces the drivers on detecting differences. But there are difference between Linux Distributions Mageia was less tolerant for example and MX Linux is very tolerant.

In conclusion though with Windows or Linux you might be able to move a hard disk to another PC and it work but with Windows now it might not find and replace with the correct drivers. The Windows installation on to that PC would be fine though by comparison - as is true of any installation. Some old computers give you few options other than to move the hard and there is a way to get them to work in Linux if you can ask for advice and have the interest and patents to do it.

File copy to windows - Linux security does make things inconvenient occasionally

Copying files belonging to you from Linux to windows; you may find when they are copied they are unreadable and undeletable by Windows depending on the device or application they came from. The only way to do anything with those files is to use them with the installation of Linux that you copied from. But you may or may not able to change the file permission using the properties option on file then right-click?

These sort of problems have become less common since writing this (March 2017) - To revise that last point 1/2019 I have not observed any problem in any currently supported Linux Distribution.

Thunderbird email client;

This is the application usually preloaded in many Linux Distributions it is very good though I do not trust and have not used the multi-profile option this was removed perhaps two decades ago and brought back in the past two years. The ability to manage and display many email accounts conveniently was added instead (Netscape) and reply with different signatures (eg short name and web address only and long address, phone number etc. for example). There are a number of issues you need to be aware of if you use this email client in a more than good basic way and less often;

  • If you copy your Thunderbird {appdata\roaming\Thunderbird (Windows) or .thunderbird (Linux)} profile to another computer there is a range of things that can arise. Some of those things also happen if you use the repository version in Linux and don't use a computer for some time. When you update Linux it will not update to the next version of Thunderbird but jump to the current version missing out on steps on the way.

  • Thunderbird does not translate an old profile unless the profile is opened with the version of Thunderbird it was used on then allow Thunderbird to update in its own time. The migration process will then occur walked through step by step. This, therefore, works fine with Windows but with Linux, it is better to not use the repository version but download Thunderbird unzip it to a directory and run it from there such as using a shortcut on the desktop.

Here are some of the changes that could be missed; Install, Migrate and Update | Thunderbird Help ( since this article around Thunderbird 70-80 the address book has changed from abook.mab to SQlite data managing system. I used to place the abook.mab on a cloud drive such as dropbox then place a symbolic link from the Thunderbird directory where it is normally to the dropbox copy and thereby be able to use the same address book on whichever PC I was using at the time of cause I would have just one instance of Thunderbird running. This worked better than gContactSync many years ago (which is now not supported) So I am evaluating;

  • CARDBOOK addon for Thunderbird,

  • TbSync (With Google-4-TbSync and a Google API)

  • In addition, using one Thunderbird profile on each Windows (or I guess Linux) and using Windows Symbolic links to directories in each user account. This is where I have a personal user account and a finished work account set on in Windows.

I discuss solutions and possibilities for sharing when using Thunderbird email on more than one computer and computer operating system's. It is of cause necessary to manually sort out the signature files unless the two operating systems are running the same version of Thunderbird in which case you can copy the profile noting that Thunderbird is .thunderbird in Linux. See File and folder sharing below this section;

  • Debian 8 probably and MX 16 offer Thunderbird 52.x in their repositories does not support oAuth2 (preferred by Gmail) security properly.

  • The easy option is to set gmail security to allow less secure devices. Alternatively;

    • Downloading, unzipping and running 68.x (March 2020) does not resolve the issue because that version of Thunderbird tries but fails to convert your .thunderbird directory where your email profiles are kept.

    • Solution download, unzipping and running 60.x this will do whatever conversions are necessary and will automatically update automatically to 68.x or whatever is the current version.

    • Tip keep a copy of .thunderbird so you can try again if it fails and remove the older repository version of Thunderbird.

    • Tip create a shortcut on the desktop by right-clicking the executable in the new thunderbird directory. Alternatively adding an icon to the panel can be done in a few steps starting with a right-click on the panel; You chose or add a launcher then add thunderbird and an icon to that launcher.

  • A related issue occurred in one instance of Linux Debian 9 that had not been started up for a year after updating none of the email was visible and the email all needed to be set up again. I resolved the issue by re-installed Linux and copied a working .thunderbird directory into that distribution. Note; .thunderbird directory is hidden and is where all the email profiles are kept.

Making Thunderbird email work again

    • BUT THIS METHOD SHOULD WORK; but it is counterintuitive.

      • Copying an old .thunderbird or one that has been run on a slightly different version of thunderbird may not read. One solution that worked copying profile from version 68.9.0 to 68.8.0 - the Thunderbird help does not help but the solution is similar to above;

        1. Download an older version I found 60.9.1 worked in this case.

        2. Startup Thunderbird see if your email opens, it did.

        3. Open the repository version of Thunderbird to see if your email opens properly. If not go back to the downloaded version and start up again and let it update once then restart the repository version again repeat 2 and 3. until it opens the email properly in the repository version.

        4. You now don't need the downloaded version and you can delete it. You can also delete any other empty profiles. THE OPTIONS OFFERED LOOKED EASIER BUT THEY DID NOT WORK.

        5. This has left the .thunderbird directory full of extra clutter (deleted but not removed created profiles which I manually deleted). What is counterintuitive is that all this was required to move was to a lower version, not a higher version? But the simple method is given in the help of opening the profile manager and selecting the old profile failed.

Thunderbird's address book changed in early 2021 from using a file; abook.mab to abook.sqlite. I have one copy of this file on a cloud drive and I use a symbolic link to use it with whatever instance of thunderbird I am using. It was therefore necessary to remove the old symbolic link and create a new one. This occurred with approximately thunderbird version ??.??

Probably with the update to Thunderbird 78.xx abook.mab to was translated to abook.sqlite but the Addressbook progressively broke. It took a lot of work to recover as much as possible see;

No doubt the old address book was already broken but working and the translation to the new format broke the address book almost completely. You see on the link I have been advised to not use symbolic links for abook.sqlite and history.sqlite files but until I find another solution for synchronising the address book I am continuing to do that.

In order to run newer versions of thunderbird and firefox, it may be necessary to install other library programmes. I found in 2021 that neither thunderbird nor firefox would run on Debian 8. The solution was to try to start them in terminal then read the warnings I then installed the most similar library and both programmes then they ran.

I am also running MX16 multi-boot as described here, in the Vaio laptop above and below - this distribution has taken care of finding and installing the correct drivers most likely from the Debian repositories.

File and Folder Sharing

The short answer is I don't know but here are some things you can do. Some of the Linux's are more set up ready to go.

Linux such as Ubuntu and many others have a network browse button in the file manager. Click on this button and you can find Windows shared directory and printers usually in MHOME. You can find Linux shared directories in WINDOWs. You will also find network printers for which you will need to install a driver. This is similar to Windows Networking. Mageia similarly has a browse network button in the file manager but it does not work similarly by simply clicking to see other networked computers and devices though.

To create a shared folder Ubuntu has one called public which is handy but you also need to then make that folder and any printer shared - I suggest with no user and open to anyone. To do that install Gksu and Samba and then run Samba - as of Feb 2019 this does has not necessary as far as I have observed.

Linux shared folders do not give anyone on another computer read/write/create rights in the same way that Windows shared folders do. When you put things into any folder you must then selectively or for the entire folder give those rights. You can find that files copied and shared can not be shared or deleted on the second computer.

At the time (2014) I have not properly understood networking computers. Windows XP shares easily by comparison but none that I have tried are straightforward. Even after doing the things I suggest Lubuntu still did not work. Since writing Windows XP did connect to an open shared directory on a home network say on Windows 7. As more recent updates occur of XP, XP behaves like higher versions of Windows and requires a password. In other words, the open shared folder really is unprotected as you wished but newer versions of Windows put a front end password to make it look secure (< 1/2019).

I found that with network browsing you have to wait for the computer to find things but at first, it looks as if there is nothing on the network. You can find that after some days of struggling it all sorts itself out - that is also true if you do nothing and leave it. This seeming random nature is not it is consistently true - that is it all might work suddenly tomorrow.

The easiest way to share is to start by sharing using windows (XP 32 bit) at first. To repeat the point; Files in windows when copied to windows shared folder then have copied read/write/create rights but with any Linux Ubuntu variants you copy them then you give permission. First, use a wired Ethernet when that works use a wireless Ethernet connection if you wish - but for that reason, I have said I have to say, I guess.

I read that optionally setting a static IP address helps.

But I observe that once all the settings ripple through the connections all become reliable without taking this step. Alternatively, the connection is never made but left me frustrated.

Cloud storage method.

There are many providers that once you download a program and install it it will run on windows. If you pay for one of these, as opposed to using the free version, you may be able to set it up on Linux. DropBox has a Linux utility that is straightforward to install. DropBox primarily supports Linux. But all of these cloud storage providers which include Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive do not support Linux but have good web-browser interfaces.

This link will give you a Dropbox free account and give me some more capacity for having recommended Dropbox

Thunderbird Address book sharing or synchronising

Google contacts should share I found it did not. There are a number of Thunderbird address book synchroniser add on's none of them worked well so I guess the issue is with Google, Thunderbird and the way these synchroniser's try to tidy up address books for you. For example;

    • SyncKolab did not filter or merge which is very because you can use Duplicate Contact Manager that in any case works well. But like the other synchronisers did not finish synchronise or completing it entirely tend to make the address book get bigger and lost Contact Lists.

    • ThunderSync syncs to a dropbox but does not sync Lists and java kept stopping.

    • Addressbooks Synchroniser - WebDAV/LDAP/IMAP folder - does not handle lists but loses them.

    • Thunder box and NuevaSync synchronises a smartphone.

    • GcontactSync (2021) - is not supported in newer versions of Thunderbird. On the other hand Google has tidied up gContactSync a lot since I last looked at it years ago and it is now not full of unwanted contacts.

    • CARDBOOK - creates a new address book system running alongside the Thunderbird Addressbook and it is easy to set up synchronisation with google email contacts. I did not like it and though (December 2021) but I did not evaluate cardbook for long.

    • TbSync - this synchronises gContactSync but following the procedure it is complicated which uses, Google-4-TbSync which then configures to Google-People-API. I am using this at the present time but unfortunately, this took a lot of work and ended up with all my contacts in one place and empty lists of contacts (January 2022).

LDAP method is a built-in option in Thunderbird email contacts server - is generally pay for service, or run by companies and may not allow users to add contacts?

Cloud storage method using a Linux symbolic link placed in the Thunderbird default directory.

Cloud storage - this method is similar to sharing an address book file. But you should only have one instance of Thunderbird running at any one moment. It works well for one user using one of his computers at a time but would not suit multi-users at all by comparison with the address book synchronisation methods.

This is risky as Thunderbird is updated at different times on different computers so the profile could easily become not compatible. All the same using some cloud storage, such as DropBox, you can make a symbolic link to the address book (abook.mab) stored in the cloud and synchronised to your computer by the provider. This is not possible with the newer sqlite (abook.sqlite) address book which breaks badly if you try.

All the same sharing the whole Thunderbird profile may be practical where you are using different users but on the same computer with the same version of Linux. I have tried this successfully so far with Windows (Jan 2022).

  • Type %appdata% in the Windows search window (top window picture below) and browse to directory "roaming". Note "Work" is the name of my user profile.

  • Type cmd in the windows search window and select administrator command window (bottom window picture below)

In most Linux desktops simply drag the file or directory to another file manager window and select create a symbolic link but not copy. There are differences between file managers and Ubuntu's does not have this option so here is how to do it the longer way;

  • Other Linux GUI methods - simply click the make a symbolic link in the file manager edit or drag the file across to another directory in another tab or window and accept create a symbolic link but not copy. Alternatively, use send too desktop then cut and paste the symbolic link created there to where you want it.

  • Terminal command line method for example;

"ln -s /home/andrew/Dropbox/Addressbook/abook.mab /home/andrew/.thunderbird/default/"


ln Is approximately the Linux equivalent too DOS command copy.

-s Switch makes this command create a symbolic link (in this case the thunderbird folder). This is like a windows shortcut. You will need to move or delete the abook.mab file from the .thunderbird/default/ directory first.

The source path Is to where the cloud copy of abook.mab file is now stored on your Linux computer. andrew - is my personal Linux user profile, Addressbook - a directory for abook.mab that I created in the Dropbox directory.

The destination Is where abook.mab is normally kept by default. But this puts a symbolic link there instead that looks as if it is the file.

    • The leading dot in the files names or directory names makes those file's or directory's hidden to Linux users normally.

    • Linux Symbolic link is not the same as a windows shortcut. Windows 10 (Vista or newer) also support kinds of Symbolic Links; Hardlink and Symlink but the link have a different extension to the original so in this case, is consequently unusable in this case. I guess the way around the problem (for Windows but not Linux) is to keep the originals in Thunderbird and the common Windows Symbolic link in Dropbox. I would need to investigate further about renaming to use the link across Linux and Windows?


    • Thunderbird does not use abook.mab but abook.sqlite as I said above and this method must not be used. Additionally, When Thunderbird updates things change and there may be no method of avoiding running Thunderbird with each upgrade and allowing it to alter your profile in stages.

    • If Thunderbird creates a new profile such as because of the update process, or that you have copied a profile from another computer then;

      • Windows run, windows_key +R, type "thunderbird.exe -p" you can then select the profile you require, check it then delete the one you don't want.

      • Linux method is similarly "thunderbird - p" in terminal.

Installations of programmes that are not in the main, contrib, non-free or back-ports repositories;

Chose the version for your Linux Distribution. Ensure that the installer is installed e.g. gdebi for Debian. Look at the Dropbox help as a general guide to customising a .bin generic binary type installation but for your particular distribution particularly if it is not one of the common distribution's:- Ubuntu or RedHat/Fedora. {I have not done this}

I have mentioned elsewhere that Firefox and Thunderbird can be run on Linux but outside of the most secure repository sourced level. Dropbox runs outside of the Linux update system and similarly handles its own updating automatically.

Mainframe computer

Traditionally mainframe computer's run micro-instructions. An emulator or simulator is loaded to provide a nicer computer instruction set to program with. Each instruction is carried out using a number of micro-instructions.

By comparison, The Zilog and Intel microprocessors may have in the past also run micro-instructions internally to provide the comprehensive instruction set a chip user programmer would use. Later these type of processors were updated so that they ran comprehensive instructions directly without requiring many cycles but using hardware functions in the same way that the MC6800 and R6502 did then and does now.

Running Windows or a DOS program on Linux;

There are options for running windows program on Linux but running a dual boot system is the easiest and best. Alternatively;

  • Virtual Box, For Linux or Windows, will then run another operating system that you install in the virtual environment created and it runs as a window within the host but everything runs much more slowly unless you have at least 2GB of DRAM. There are others but this is the one I tried, it seems to be very well implemented and runs smoothly, which is what I would expect of Oracle being a Sun Microsystems company, but still, it can crash and sometimes badly. (5.02 is more stable August 2015). To get an OS running in a virtual machine is straightforward and reliable but after that, there is quite a lot of advanced detail is provided. It runs Windows 2000 but does not install Linux well in one case the host would not log in subsequently and I reinstalled that host Xubuntu. BUT DON'T RUN THE LINUX VERSION ON A WINDOWS PARTITION LIKE NTFS IT WILL SCREW UP THE NTFS FILING SYSTEM VERY BADLY (XP with version 5.02).

  • I am also running VirtualBox (March 2017) on Windows 10 - it does not work well and the shared file feature, which is otherwise good and straightforward, does not work on this particular version of Windows. There are a lot of issues with Windows 10 just now and unsurprisingly and unsurprisingly even so people pay for it as well rather than stick with Windows 7, say, until there is a stable MS alternative (March 2017).

  • Virtual Box 4.x, 5.x or the current 6.x versions now does not run on some older computers Windows XP or higher or Linux 64 bit machine. (04/2020), misleadingly those install without warnings.

    • There maybe an option in the PC's BIOS settings to resolve this.

    • I have used VB on a IBM 208m server which is older than the HP desktop I am using now.

  • Virtual Box is difficult to install on Linux Debian and I have not achieved that but it installs on Ubuntu and Lubuntu.

    • You need to use the downloaded version not the repository version which is incomplete and does not have the guest additions. At the time of writing (August 2020) Ubuntu 20.4 does not install the downloaded version but appears to force you to use the incomplete repository version. The solution for Ubuntu suggested by VirtualBox forum is to install gdebi then install the downloaded version using gdebi but having uninstalled VB first this did not resolve the issue.

  • The user manual - is very big but there a few things you need to do ;

    • Once you create a new machine but before install that machine - go through SETTINGS;

      • If there is a warning triangle at the bottom of the window click on it and see recommended actions.

      • Set the display type such as enable 2D or 3D acceleration - but you can leave the default setting.

      • Storage - add the optical drive.

    • After installation of the guest OS; (if these additions have not been installed by the guest OS)

      • Storage - add Optical drive; VirtualBoxGuestAdditions.iso (this is part of VirtualBox installation)

        • Virtual Box Guest Additions provide display, sound, mouse divers for the your chosen guest operation system. Some Linux's find and load the drivers without requiring this step.


          • AntiX 18 Linux (drivers are pre-installed). Windows 7 and 10 work.

        • Some Linux distributions work with the final Virtual Box 5.2.42 but don't work with 6.1.x

          • Lubuntu 18-4 may require the additional drivers, but Mageia 7.1 and Debian 10.4 the drivers are pre-installed.

        • Open file manager VirtualBoxGuestAdditions

          • Windows click on the appropriate command file.

          • Linux

            • Open Linux terminal that has the toolbar.

            • copy the linux run file line, paste and edit it to add "sudo" and remove "file://" to look something like this;

            • andrew@debian:~$ sudo /media/andrew/VBox_GAs_6.1.10/

            • press enter - this logged into administrator and installed the additions but in all cases this did not work.

  • Wine (WINdows Emulator), There website says it is not an emulator but a compatibility layer. It does not run in its own window. CADSTAR Express 14, National Instruments Labview 2013 (which there may also be Linux binary's for), 32 or 64-bit versions did not work. It does seem to support all of OrCAD 16.6 (which there may also be Linux binary's for) although I did not try to do anything, all the programmes started up. I found that I can not access a Windows Partition it is like a virtual machine in that respect as it evidently has boundaries set and compromises. After installing Wine it is possible that its configuration could be screwed up in that case un-installing and also delete the .wine directory, although this method leaves things behind in Linux. I also found that if an application hooked up, the computer would never close down but switching the computer on and off again stopped that application.

  • Installation information is good at; Then go to Download [April 2018]

  • The paid-for/trial version is good or go to the free version pick your distribution.

  • There is a list of root terminal commands to run. Make sure you have 2-3G free space in your Linux bearing in mind you are going to install things. I ran this in Debian and used the development version.

  • Clue the line "deb ............. DISTRO main" is a line you need to paste in to the page opened with gedit

  • You therefore may need to install gedit first. The word "DISTRO" in this case needs to be replaced with the word "debian"

  • I first impression of a circuit modelling tool LTspice XVII is that runs better in Linux WINE than it runs in Windows 7 or 10. Other attempts to install run and uninstall programmes did not work out.

  • CodeWeavers, Seems to just support 32 bit windows applications is the paid for version of Wine and a bit different. Two of the examples that I tried on Wine that did not work did not on CodeWeavers either. Similarly CADSTAR only seemed to worked until I first restarted the computer in both cases. Labview did not complete installation properly with numerous warning and flagged during the process. I did find parts of OrCAD 16.6 started up and I am told that some windows picture editing tools work well. Microsoft operating system attract periodically legal challenge for protective practice it is therefore probably that key knowledge about the OS are not shared making the job of creating WINE difficult, I speculate?

  • If you have shared work, say on a dual boot computer, between Linux and Windows keep that work on a Windows formatted partition (FAT or NTFS) and then you can access it by both operating systems. In this way you can use Linux to avoid a windows operating system directly accessing the world wide web, that is, other than any that a running application may require for updating and license authentication. In any case virus pass though Linux so you need virus scanners for windows just the same although you will have reduced your risk. Any thing you put on a Windows partition should be virus-scanned before it is used.

Joking about Windows but even so it is used because their are many applications for it and they are cheap popular but consequently well developed. Microsoft have become more secretive about what is in the operating system, by comparison. Conversely there is a Microsoft tool or wizard to fix anything freely available presumably to discourage people from exploring how it works. DOS and Windows 3.1 and 95 for example were much more open, I observe.

UNIX is the basis of a lot of not DOS or Windows operating systems;

IBMDOS (IBM DOS) or MSDOS (Microsoft DOS) and the older CP/M (Digital) distinctively used 8.3 format file names this is not true of other operating systems. I used another OS in the 1970's and 80's at college called Flex which did not use that format. Significantly Linux has been made somewhat windows tolerant. Linux uses the .xxx extension to identify a file type whereas OS 9 does not you are in control of the name which can be mixed case and long. UNIX has another file permission flag called executable which I am told Universities and Colleges like in order to limit what their students are permitted to do.

The Dog and the Dingo a Dog like Wallaby - which came first, patent and copyright

If lawyers found a way to make money arguing that similar plants and animals but from a different evolutionary path but coming to the same solutions that one copied the other, that sure would have crippled evolution and life on earth would never have developed? People have always made or written things then given them away freely, even if to do so is not macho. Companies may do that for commercial benefit they may do it for no commercial or tax benefit but just philanthropically. Companies of cause are about making money all the same before you think I am getting dewy eyed about open sources software and there are big financial interest in and a lot of products sold using Linux.

Linux or other open source software in which the source code and/or the object code is free but the product may or may not have a cost to individual users

If you use DOS then the penultimate version 6.21 is about the best the disc compression was the most robust in it's time.

TIP; If you are using FAT partition you may be able to add the line "verify on" in the config.sys. Microsoft do not publicly document how NTFS filing system works so Linux can not fully respect privacy and other features. By comparison a PC is made to IBM PC open facto standard.

There were big court battles where Netscape lost the argument that Windows 95 was crippled so that Netscape Browser did not run efficiently. If you run a Microsoft Windows Visual Basic program transferring data on a PC serial port (7 bit + parity or 8 bit) you will find bursts of data errors for a few minutes every half an hour this is not the case running a DOS program such as Quick Basic. It is was also not the case with VB on Windows 3.1, 98 or higher either. In another court case Microsoft was fined for applying the use of two File Allocation Tables (FAT) for robustness to disk compression in the same way that Stacker was already doing for disk compression even though using two FATs was the established way of making a disk filing system robust. Double Space was replaced by Drive Space in the last version of DOS 6.22 so the very robust Double Space last appeared in DOS 6.21.

DOS 4.x was the most unreliable version of any major disk operating system where as DOS 6.x was the first professional and robust Microsoft product in many peoples opinion. Although supporters of Linux seem very confident about the robustness of Linux I am inclined to be careful I know I make mistakes then compound them with other mistakes and also find that the machine did not do what I expected resulting in things being deleted but knowing that I have very lost little.

Microsoft have a financial interest in Novell which is part of one of the best and long established Linux distributions openSUSE. The point I make is that selecting Linux is not a way of putting Microsoft out of business but it may be a way of avoiding virtual monopoly for a while.

  • Many Linux distributions can also be installed on a memory stick but they will, of cause, run more slowly and wear out your memory stick so just use that sort of installation for maintenance such as recovery of data? You should disconnect all your hard disks or else you may find it not possible to boot anything without having all the hard disks and the memory stick plugged in as it was when you did the installation. Mageia is different although installation is not possible on a USB memory stick, but uniquely a feature within Mageia allowed me to add Windows and other OS's including another Linux distribution (but not another Mageia I found) so I have Windows on another hard disk and another Linux on a memory stick that I can select any of. Tip don't select add "Linux" but do add "Windows or other OS" and select change to GRUB-2 at boot. Each distribution is different so precautions I have stated are not an issue with Mageia or many of the Ubuntu based distributions. NOTE; Windows only supports one partition and it has to be partition the first partition and that partition must be No. 1 on a USB memory stick. This will be the only partition you will see in windows explorer but you can not run windows from a memory stick. You can see all partitions with Linux. Special Windows tools such as Paragon can see and work on all partitions found on a USB memory stick.

Up to about Windows 98 with drive letters being changed would stop the OS from running consequently. I found problems do not arise if partition letters are changed such as moving a hard disk with Windows XP. Windows 7 is even more tolerant of partitions being moved and numbers changed. Cloning Linux may or may not work but Linux Gparted and Boot Repair USB are good tools but there are no issues with the partition being moved and renumber consequently by comparison.

  • I also have a Windows XP SP3 installation disk. This was invaluable for putting things back as they were. The installations disks are not always available but one that you have no license number for works well enough and gives you a 30 day trial.

  • If you are also running windows here are some registry clean up tools, you can use in addition to Clean-up, Defragment and Check Disk; it is free and reliable.

  • Microsoft have tools, at no cost, for fixing a specific problem such as with the Windows registry. I used one of these recently to fix the inability to un-install of Java 7 update 9. Some people, like myself have had this problem and I found the solution using a web search. In that respect Windows can be better than Linux. For example if you turn off or close Mageia (3 or 4) for example during updating there is no tool, you have to run some commands which have no meaning in plain English on the root terminal and it will all be sorted. On the other hand running the installation USB selecting update or install but without formatting a partition will straighten out the boot-loader more easily than trying anything like that with on Windows with it's Install CD.

Implication of using an Old PC

The item that can appear to wear though not be broken is the hard disk. When hard disks are made they have surface errors but these are marked bad, are not used and are hidden - this used to be part of what was called low level formatting. With hard disks with use more bad sectors are identified and marked bad these can be retested using full format or DOS chkdsk (fsck is the Linux equivalent of Chkdsk) with options set and many of the sectors recovered or more bad sectors found and marked bad. Sectors become marked bad if the power fails, the drive is dropped particularly when it is powering down and in the case I mentioned above I had a damaged mother board. When reusing a PC for Linux the installation process will delete, re-size and create new disk partitions but of a Linux type.

I am told that Windows 7 or higher looks after the hard disk quite well (Windows 8 and 10 advises there is no need to run chkdisk but defragment is still necessary). You should run chkdsk and defragment with 7 or earlier MS operating systems OFTEN. Even so if you interrupt the power on a Linux Distro (March 2017) it will check and fix things the next time the computer is turned on adding perhaps another 30 seconds to the start up time and another minute to the closing down time (this test used to be less frequent). But Windows 10, you will have to go away and leave the computer but not for such a long time as you would have with lower versions of Windows. I have a PC with a bad power connector - Linux will take a daily failure for month at least but at some point you will have to re-install Linux. I am not saying to ever pull the plug on a computer without closing it down but if ctrl-alt-del (Windows or Linux) or ctrl-alt-backspace (Linux) does not stop a frozen task both OS's are tolerant to some degree, to if -- all fails turn it off and on again the old traditional Windows solution --.

By comparison I have another Hard Disk 80GB and 20GB with no bad sectors that is particularly good and the disk drives though it is also at least 12 years old. I have older hard disks that are okay no SMART warnings and of cause have a reasonable number of disk surface errors.

I found though that NTFS and other filing systems do not handle large files such as 15GB compressed files well. For example the disk access will be slow and Windows will keep reporting bad when chkdsk is run but using a compressed directory for your achieving is fine. Also memory sticks are fine. I found this so with a number of SATA disc drives that are otherwise fine on an IBM server.

With any computer get the Bios updated or you could come unstuck.

  • Obvious but worth stating; My example comes from using CADSTAR express 15 and 16 which is a particularly good straightforward circuit and PCB design piece of CAD.

  • Although not supported on XP but most of its parts run on XP except PR Editor.

  • Just because it all works on Windows XP 64 bit does not mean it all works on Windows XP 32 bit.

  • All but one part might work the maker is not actively removing XP support but on a function by function basis not including it. In the CADSTAR express 15/16 case manufacturing files could not be output on the 32 bit version of XP.

  • Take care with software launched at about the time of the end of life notice for XP.

I have found Linux to be robust even on a failing hard disk. Particularly of interest it deals with disk errors such as occur with power failure in 10-30 seconds at start up and I have not found Linux ever to take the hours of testing Windows requires. Windows 10 is not so bad as other Windows in that the worse case longest disk repair time was an hour or so.

How much memory does a Operating System with GUI and all the office tools included;

Lots is the answer. In about 1980 when (Digital and IBM were similar size companies) CPM (the commonly used general business office operating system prior to DOS) would fit on a 80K single sided single density 8" or 5.25" floppy disk. Wordstar office suit would fit on one 300-400K double sided double density floppy disk or many lower capacity floppy disks and you had to swap them depending on the feature of Wordstar you were using eg for running spell check. Home computers had between 8K to 12K of firmware The Acorn BBC computer had 20K + up to 8x 8K sideways ROMs and 8 to 32K of RAM. Unix was a then staggering then 50MB which is very small by modern standards. If you added all the software/firmware together on all the few hundred well known computers it would be about the same size as one current installed Linux 1GB to 10GB (some use more space some use very much less space).

Short cut keys universally used Ctrl-X Ctrl-C Ctrl-V Ctrl-F Ctrl-R etc. are called as Wordstar Stort-cut keys.

There are more short cuts for arrow keys called the Wordstar diamond.

The short cut for print Ctrl-P came from CPM but is universally recognised as well.

These shortcut keys don't work properly on Windows 7 or "higher" sadly.

Be-careful the outcome of using Ctrl-C varies with operating context and seems a bit inexplicable.

Ctrl-C stops a running program in DOS but Ctrl-break can mean terminate a running program in any OS.

The implications of this is that hard disks have got smaller in size but vastly bigger in capacity from the 10MB-100MB they had been in the 1980s. But they are not 1000 times faster to access so when you formatted a hard disk then it may have taken hours to mark all the bad sectors but now would take days (in theory) but then be completely trouble free for ever more (long time). So what is it doing now to handle such vastly larger capacity I don't know? What ever it is doing it surely has to be a compromise such as a checking can only be by sampling and therefore be minimal.

Bus speeds attain 100MB/Sec. Whereas they were 1MB/sec in 1980 (Main frame computer used ECL and BitSlice arithmetic logic units to ran at >10MB/sec). But internally there is cashing to fast memory of frequently used data and cashing of cashing with fast DRAM and very fast SRAM then the speeds inside the microprocessor are very high using much faster on chip memory. The bus width has got wider so that more data can be processed per memory cycle. Consequently 64 bit microprocessors use pipe-lining to work on each instruction at different stages in a queue but at the end of the queue the following instruction that is mostly completed may be abandoned if the outcome current instruction does not go the way anticipated (a programmer can chose in RISC processor a variant of the desired branch instruct optimisation for the likely outcome).

My PC is an IBM xSeries 206m server but I use it as a desktop. It is 64 bit single processor but Linux reports that it is dual 32 bit core. It is stated that the memory is 800MB/sec. I believe this means that that is 8x100MB/sec counting each of the 8x 8bit bytes that form a 64 bit data bus.

The best home computer

Reduced Instruction Set Microprocessors (RISC) are very common and a lot is claimed but they may be, in some cases, just old intellectual property dressed up. The ARM 7 instruction set runs at half the speed of a Motorola M-core for the same clock speed but can be switched to run as fast but with more memory use than the M-core. ARM is sold as a very cheap commodity piece of intellectual property whereas Motorola was the most leading edge parts. The last version of the BBC micro had an ARM microprocessor which was impressively fast. The ARM microprocessor is now used very widely even Motorola (now Freescale) make microprocessors using the ARM core under license. But like Motorola make PowerPC under licence from IBM (R6000 core) I would say it is better to use one of the companies own propriety processors Motorola very understate what they do and they have very satisfied users consequently.

The Rockwell R6502 processor based BBC micro was faster than the first IBM PC's that despite on paper seeming to be slow. Both were Comprehensive Instruction Set Microprocessors (CISC) performance. Many electronic designers got caught out by spec. points v reality. The problem is that you never really know until you have invested heavily in a chosen microprocessor development then you are stuck with it.

Speed and size of the program being run if it is in assembler (machine code) or optimized complied high level language can be very small and fast this is how the Acorn Atom with it's built in assembler and highly efficient BBC Basic programming language got it's justly deserved excellent reputation for. But Basic is an interpreted language meaning it is written in text interpreted character by character at a time of running that program. The trick with the Acorn Atom and BBC was to convert the textual words to short tokens two bytes in size that are therefore much quicker to interpret than longer full English language spelt out words. The BBC micro was faster still and this was achieved by placing line length code at the beginning of each program line so that the interpreter can calculate line lengths and skip along quickly to the required line. There are a lot of scripting languages that work by interpreting text such as; Submit, Batch, Perl, Java, HTML. The program running may not be aware of the precise detail of the computer it is running on but instead it could be running on a standard virtual machine environment is created for it such as; Pascal and p-code, Java to run Java script or basic interpretor. The implication of this is that program does not need to be rewritten for every possibility but on the other hand the machine is running a program that is in turn running on another program and perhaps to run a third program that interprets text list of based tasks this of cause slows the computer and makes the code very large. It is therefore possible to create a vastly powerful and wide range of applications with a vast number of software writers each adhering a set of rules, way beyond the capability of one person but the coding is necessarily not so efficient.

This animation explaining a computer, joke is good unfortunately the host, Google Sites, don't support some animation graphics.

After an installation;

In the main you can use a different web browser and email client programs to the ones integrated into the Desktop. Firefox and Thunderbird are generally very highly regarded, work very well and have always been my preferred such as when they were Netscape. By comparison for email I found Empathy and Kmail did not perform well the former Expunge Waste-basket did not work but the latter may be fine I was mislead by a problem with my Talk-Talk ISP. The names of the drafts, waste-basket and the Spam folders etc. could be changed to tally with the names given by the email service providers which is important when using IMAP. Importing from windows or another OS did not work. You can either export and import your address book then set up all the other things or in the case of Thunderbird (Seamonkey, Netscape are somewhat interchangeable) you can find the dot Thunderbird folder hidden somewhere and copy it to somewhere else possibly to; home\you-profile-name.

I changed all my email collection to IMAP method then moved all my local sub-directories to Archives on one of the providers. That meant that after setting up my new email client all the archives were loaded from the ISP's copy, slowly. This method you also need to export the address book from one email program then import address books to the other.

  • I have tried out Mageia 3 KDE, Gnome and LDRE for at least a month early in 2014. Mageia installs with updates completed was the fastest KDE distribution Gnome was also fast. You can install custom and select GNOME, KDE and LDRE so you can try them all but do not click restart when the installation is complete wait there may be some more software updates then do the restart as offered. Mageia has a very professional feel characteristically French fast, functional and works well from installation. Usefully you don't necessarily need to delete and recreate hard disk partitions during installation. LDRE needs a little more refining but is good I like it but I have settled on XFCE on Mageia 4. I recommend the current version 4 it was released well tested and debugged.

When trying another desktop in Mageia install the noarch, logout, login then in the new desktop you can then remove the noarch of the desktop of the one you are not going to use. After that search for more things with the desktop name say "Mate" and add or remove them appropriately to make you desktop purely the one you desire plus anything you particularly want.

  • I ran openSUSE 13.1, KDE (the default one) for 3 weeks it is good. A fast implementation but I caught it at a point where the permissions and passwords are not running smoothly. It was not an entirely stable release then. A professional feel characteristically German and correct. I would have liked to have bought this distribution along with the book but that is only available in German. The disk access permission issue is also apparent to varying extent in other Redhat distributions such as Mageia as well.

I also recommend any of the Linux Mint such as Mate which aim to be stable and straightforward which they are. XFCE though a fast desktop is a slower than most but has a very good application search just type in what you are looking for and it will suggest an application. Mate version of application search is similar but in addition search suggestions will include things you may wish to install or look up. These are very good for beginners as well as anyone who is unlikely to be impressed by sparkle, fading effects and appearance. This OS appears to work faster than a good fast minimal installation of Windows XP. Installation seems not to be possible on a RAID SATA drives on my PC but is fine with an IDE drive. I ran both versions of Mint for about a few weeks.

    • Also consider Ubuntu or Xubuntu they are well supported but differently to Mint so you can use the long term stable version or the one that has new features but is less stable. Another is Linux Lite is a faster alternative to Xubuntu but still Debian based.

Printer and other external devices; My very old Epson Dot matrix print works fine on Mint though cancelling a print job and then switching the printer off and on does not stop that print job only shutting my PC down stops the print job in some cases does. By comparison with windows which you can cancel a print job then switch the printer off and on to flush the print buffer completely. It seems that with open SUSE the only way to completely flush a print job was to delete or replace openSUSE Linux. With Mageia I was not able to get my old Epson dot matrix printer to work consistently without reinstalling the driver this issue was fixed partly when I reported it but there is no problem with Mageia 4. The printer itself is a LX800 and I purchased a can of spray ink which I re-Ink the ribbon periodically and people have given me surplus fanfold paper. So in itself the printer which I operate in Near Letter Quality is low maintenance and trouble free. Manjaro I set up a printer some how inadvertently but there was no print job shown I did not pursue this as the driver was not going to support near letter quality printing.

Re-Ink - Non-aerosol dot-matrix printer re-inking spray. Purchased in the 1990's.

The Linux partition managing tools don't necessarily completely restore a USB stick to as it was with a Windows DOS compatible FAT32 or exFAT filing system. See my discussion above on tools I used. Linux and particularly the Redhat like distributions tends to secure things so that if you revert to Windows you may find you can't delete a Linux created directory even if you have administrator rights on your Windows. This problem may or has been resolved since writing - it has been resolved for Mageia 4.

This free software is not entirely stable and depends on which you use but usually an earlier version that is still in support can be used. Do use the discussion forums and feedback problems and solutions that are part of how you can pay back. Of cause who would touch a point zero release of any software and Linux is released after through testing so you would not be using a .0 normally anyway. For example the tested version of Mageia 4 was launched on 4 February 2014 but version 3 will remained in support until November.

Don't discount sticking with Microsoft Windows it is good even so. An older stable Windows OS is generally a good desktop. Many things including installation and update are more robust for example if the PC freezes and you switched it off and on the computer tends to recover themselves some of the Linux recover well but others just open next time with a text screen. I am told that Windows 8 is more robust than any other Windows operating system - As a company Microsoft pull the operating system up and make a very good one occasionally.

Windows 7, 8 and 10 Things that arise with multiboot (December 2017)

  • Multi-boot with Linux and XP - no issues should arise and you can have a few copies of each.

  • Multiboot with Windows 7 or 10 and XP - set Windows 7 or 10 Power fastboot option OFF or you won't be able to read the Windows partition from Linux.

  • Windows 7 and Windows 10 - for one to see the other then you need to set a drive letter for the other. Also if you are running Google Drive you may need to disconnect and reconnect to the Windows it is installed on or it will start working in the other windows if they are a duplicate of each other (but for specific OS).

  • Windows 8 and XP - Windows 8 will screw itself and XP up if XP is present. I tried this twice and it occurred both times.

  • Where Windows 10 was update from an installation of Windows 7 and both were installed on different hard disks on the same PC; Then Google Drive may use the wrong directory, that is partly update the directory in another installation of Windows. Google Drive then starts loosing files or duplicating files and directory's (5/2020).

Surveillance and viruses - I tried a virus scanner for Windows 98 called Panda in about 2000 the virus scanner was not important at that time, security updates and careful practices were adequate then but I kept the firewall when the trial period expired. Unusually you could turn off all the holes in the Firewall so I stopped the Windows Kernel from communicating with the Internet but doing that did not adversely affect anything and Microsoft updates worked fine. It appears that the communication from the Windows Kernel had no functional purpose of benefit to me or the good functioning of the operating system.

  • Taking care don't even trust things posted on Facebook into your feed they are not solely friends and groups you chose to follow some are adverts loaded with viruses looking like a regular post. Such precautions are better than hoping a tool will protect you. Fools and there money are easily separated and in computing we can all be caught and nothing can protect us from our foolishness or the acts of deceitfulness by others. {As of June 2015 Facebook seems to suffer much less of this so people can make a fuss and a difference}

  • It has been said to me that Microsoft FAT is not a robust filing system. Though I agree exFAT is not very robust so be careful with large memory sticks always use the eject or safe removal feature. Microsoft NTFS may be stronger and Linux users will advocate Linux formats. If you really want fast and robust using RAID server for example with 4 SATA drives can be configured so that they mirror each other or they improve the access time - I have not tried this. When using RAID to mirror or parity check and correcting across more than one drive you can unplug a drive and keep it somewhere else for safety (these may use multidimensional parity checking which does not help if all your data is on one disk and your computer is in an office fire). Otherwise for less private information consider using cloud computing such as; Ubuntu One drive, SkyDrive (Windows/Microsoft/Bing), Google Drive is promised to be Linux compatible in future.

Using a cloud drive and backup to the PC

Cloud drives do not work well if a computer is put aside for a year then started up. You probably will get old data put back on to the all connected computers and you may get new data deleted. Fortunately some cloud drives leave you with conflated files marked (1) (2) etc. Generally look at them and discover the newest one that is in good order, delete the others and then rename the file removing the (?)

Dropbox - Creates conflated files and may put back old files. Data does not seem to be lost but some long deleted files are put back on the drive.

  • Supported on some Linux's install the Nautilus-Dropbox version in the repository. The downloaded version may or may not work.

    • In the end Dropbox may not work on Linux but when does work the data has always been safe.

    • Dropbox mostly works fine* with Debian and Ubuntu now but I found Dropbox only worked on some desktop's but then worked on all of them once it had reached for version 8.8.x (is now 8.11 and will be in long term support for a number of years till April 2019 & 2020).

  • Window 7 or higher installs easily.

* Dropbox - in recent years, falsely displays a tick as if everything is up-to-date soon after Dropbox has started up but it is not yet up-to-date. The best indicator is the log messages in Windows or Linux that tell you how many files were updated. Sometimes the ticks on the files are a good indicator but the dates of the file of interest is often best even so Dropbox is about the best Linux program and it works just as well on Windows. Google Drive is only suitable for Windows it's indicators can be misleading also but Google Drive is now as good as Dropbox.

There is a promotion if you use my referral and use the free version we both get a little more capacity;

Google Drive - May delete all new work and put back old data. There is an option that you need to untick in preferences, Turned off; Remove files from the shared folder warning option. Once that is done all the computers Google drive appears to slowly resolve the conflicted files for you.

  • Window 7 or higher only.

  • There maybe a way of using Google Drive with Linux.

  • If the preference is not unchecked then a dialogue box may ask you if you want to to restore or deleting files. It is an ambiguous question because it does not indicate which files are newer. This seems to be misleading but the correct answer is NO.

If you answer the question wrongly YES the solution is to find your back up and overwrite everything.

  • You can find duplicated directories on Google drive it is difficult to keep going around your PCs straightening it out so that you are left with the correct one without all of them suddenly becoming deleted. This is not helped by google drive Bin that does not sort by deleted date so it is fairly useless.

MegaSync - Simply deletes the older versions and replaces them with the newest versions. MegaSync then puts back the old files that had not been anywhere on the drive for sometime.

  • Works with any Linux you need to install the right version.

  • Window XP or higher.

There is a promotion if you use my referral and use the free version we both get a little more capacity;


Linux Distributions share well with with Windows. Windows can be a problem though its sharing policies and work around are strange and don't work consistently. That is also between Windows and another version of Windows and Linux on multi-boot PC.

At first I found Linux security not ideal, in that it crops up unnecessarily inviting a casual password entry to just get on with what you are doing, but this aspect has improved during the time I have been composing this study. Password request occur when you need to update or do other system level things. The user could be blocked from backing up and restoring things by the security but as I say these things are being refined in all distributions. Linux Lite, allowed me to login as an administrator to resolve this. By comparison using Windows without administrator rights is difficult and Linux security is much better integrated. Conversely Windows with administrator rights has the gates wide open but that makes windows very usable and very insecure.

If you do just pull the plug or hold in the power switch to turn off the computer at next switch on the machine starts without fuss and I understand straightens things out again. Best not done though and I have done that when occasionally the PC has locked up but Windows is much more tolerant of this behaviour. I found if updating Linux freezes and all else fails you remove the power then there are things you have to do in the terminal command mode to straighten update system out again but this sort of issue has not occurred recently as of July 2015 to December 2017. By comparison Windows 7 or higher you live with failed updates and re-tries, I think it occurs much more often than it ever did with XP. The priority of user tasks over background tasks is no better in that respect than Windows if you are copying a large file on your hard disk it will copy faster but you will have to wait in practice just like is the case with Windows. Update of Linux all occurs whilst the user is logged in a discrete way there is no delay for configuring or installing at closing down or starting up time.

On the computer history that I have interspersed I had not mentioned Sinclair. Sinclair had very exciting products that always turned out to be a big disappointment. Scientific calculator that gave the wrong answer if it had taken too long to compute a trig function and that was documented in the manual. A watch made with special black plastic called Black Watch. A matchbox size radio. An advanced computer with a MC68008 processor and solid state Micro-drives turned out to be a tape loop. Portable flat screen TV may have been okay. Still the audacity of this company deserved an award which the Queen duly gave it.

Good stuff still comes from the United states and open source is quite refreshing mutual beneficial adaptation to commercial protection in a way that avoids everyone being stitched up by US style litigation culture. But it is not the same as Oriental pure natural unprotected, fast moving, copy improve and copy again ways. Linux is not typically bodged up quick sold then patched later but then not all American stuff is like the stereotype either.

The risk of continuing to use Windows XP without further updates may be negligible. Many companies avoid updating windows preferring to run a notchy but faster machine. This is particularly so with companies using Mechanical CAD tools with 3D modelling. So there would not be any difference for them anyway. Dual boot Linux and Windows is a good option using Linux for email, web and office type things but retaining Windows for specific application programmes.

note - the animations and cartoons do not belong to me if they belong to you and you would like to be acknowledged please tell me.

Unfortunately this Google hosted website does not allow the animations to run.

One page Linux guide Basic Linux Commands youtube (These have been recommended I have not use them much)

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