Linux & Windows maintenance

Created; 14/12/2013, Changed; 12/04/2024 - 05/02/2024

Back to; Transition from Windows to Linux operating systems

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

Windows 10 is cluttered with programmes, toys, games and tries to be helpful, so it is necessary to second-guess what might be happening or what the problem is.  By comparison Linux distributions, XP and Windows 7 are comparatively predictable.  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 behaviour is similar to 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, GUIs are good.  You may have to use a Linux terminal, though, where there is no GUI interface option.  Some GUIs advise what commands to use in the terminal where the GUI does not support that feature.

Plugging in when using an electronic device to reduce battery ageing when home or are out.  At an electricity cost of up to 30p/kWh (Ofgem, Jan 2024).  Which is less than 1p/Hr for a laptop that runs at 25W.  Up to 1.5p for the first hour if the battery is charging.

Hana Restaurant in Southborough opened unfortunately at the first day of COVID lockdowns and closed finally 30 months later.

I visited this and many other places plugged in my laptop and either, did work off-line or used Wi-Fi.  But this was one of the best for food and tea for miles. 

The biggest inconvenience using a laptop when out is if it won't switch off or takes a long time to turn on, requiring updates and takes hours for Windows to carry out HD maintenance.  Long turn off times has now become a problem with the various Ubuntu's, though so far they have only been for a few minutes. 

This drawback can be mitigated a little if Windows is set to go into hibernation when the lid is closed.  When I open the lid, I can use Linux instead and postpone, what updating Windows is doing. 

It is probably still best practice to allow a PC to properly turn off so that the hard disk is properly parked before moving it.

My Toshiba C500 is a particularly robust and fast Laptop of its time, recently improved by replacing the HD with an SSD.  But the inbuilt loudspeakers, which I don't use, are awful.  Consequently, the laptop does not need to be plugged in and left running maintenance for a day about so often.

USB charger and high power 3m USB-C cable.

I found USB charging to be quite variable between power supplies, power outlets and PC USB ports.  I suspect it depends on the port's output voltage, 5V +-10%.

Battery safety - even brand-new iPhone's batteries overheat, expand and break the screen.  But you can take the battery out and use the laptop on mains only. 


Installation of a Linux desktop


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

Secure boot or legacy bios PC; 

A Secure Boot type of PC can be difficult to install or clone an operating system to; 

If you are using a legacy BIOS boot PC, there are no serious issues installing Windows, Linux and repairing Windows start up or using a Linux Boot repair disk. 

More detail see; Secure boot PC 



Linux Distributions and Live CDs may have partition and SMART tools;

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

If you need to use the installation advanced configuration;

Ubuntu and most other Linux distributions including Mageia 5 default to use two partitions;

    Mounting point /

    + Swap

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

    Mounting point; /

    Mounting point; /home

    + Swap

Lubuntu by default uses one partition, and you can add a swap partition and configure it to be turned on subsequently. 

In some Linux Distributions, 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 Linux's it is useful to review the swap partitions used in any case, for example, some 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 they become unavailable to other Linuxes installed, but those other Linuxes can be configured again to use the swap partition(s).

Windows fix from the 1980s - turn it off and on again and hope it's okay when you turn it on. 

All desktop operating systems freeze periodically.  And it seems many users like it that way, in order to have a new toy, or new software free to play with.  Consequently, all desktop type operating systems, at least, recover quite well from being switched off and on again, but you then need to take some measures to fix them.  Run Check Disk (best with the top option set, but occasionally with both options set).  If Windows starts and gives you an option to start in safe mode, you can let it do that then restart the computer normally is usually adequate. 

Try to quit the slow or frozen task, or simply close the task from the toolbar.  Usually right click and select the task and close

If necessary on Windows, pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete works well.  Select the task manger, then cancel the tasks you wish to.  

Or, Window's short power button press, and then closing tasks. 

Cancelled tasks will not close in a tidy way, so your work won't be saved. 

A short push of the power button is the last resort and is safe.  But a Long push for a forced power off may be unavoidable but leaves some things broken.  The system will, when next switched on, then usually repair by restoring older or initial settings as necessary.

If necessary, on Linux, pressing Ctrl-Alt-Backspace or Ctrl-Alt-Delete might work, though I have not found these to work.  Right-click the toolbar item and select close, usually does not work either.  There is no good equivalent to Windows Ctrl-Alt-Delete. 

If as a last resort a computer is turned off rather than shut down then run Check disk if it is Windows below 10, next time you start up with both options ticked.  Linux will do its own startup checks and repairs automatically.  Also, Windows 10 will take care of many issues that arise and advise you to run Check Disk if necessary.  Expect the worst, your computer to fail more permanently though if it has been switched off rather than shut down often. 

When I save my work I also make a copy of the file so if the current version is broken, or I messed it up, I can go back to a known older version rather than use a version that I am less sure about.  I keep three or four back-ups, which are better because I know that I have stopped at a convenient point and made them. 

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

A file that can't be deleted on Windows might be deletable from Linux.  This can come about from copying Windows XP files to Windows 7 or higher, for example.  Once copied to the USB stick, the file could not be deleted.  Also, uninstalling some programs might leave an undeletable directory on Windows, for example. 

Windows 10 is particularly improved in speed running on a solid state drive (SSD) with a PC that has a fast SATA interface, which most are.  SSDs are well-supported by Ubuntu and some other Linuxes.  I believe the SSD manufactures provide support, utilities for old Windows versions that do not support SSD's?

If Windows 10 is cloned to an SSD from a conventional HD, then the drivers will update so that the defragment utility become TRIM required for the SSD weekly instead.  The Ubuntu and Mageia Linuxes take care of SSD's TRIM automatically, but other Linux distributions have the trim utility, which can be run manually once a week.

Since then, Windows 10 now (Jan 2024) automatically deals with SSD TRIM.  I have not tried Debian, which required manual steps previously with EVO850 SSD.

The Toshiba T1350 laptop pictured, has a very new at the time, about 2005, SATA interface and a hard disk.  Unlike computers which are a year or two newer than this, the hard disk interface is not much faster than an IDE interface, although the computer is fast and well-made.  Picture taken in 2023 fully working except for two keys on the keyboard that have stopped working but slow partly due to reduced air ventilation quality. 

GParted Linux tool; BIOS and MBR (DOS) partitioning.  The BIOS, Windows 7 to 10 configuration with Linux installed.  It is useful to install a second Linux after Windows but before the extended partition so that you can resize or edit the Hard Disk.  I have given some of the partitions a label. You can set up all the work you want to carry out on your Disks and USB sticks, then press the green tick to proceed.  It will then proceed to resize, copy, check as you defined, but it may or may not stop if errors occur. 

Do ensure that the flags are set correctly on all the Windows partitions.

If you want a second Windows on this Hard disk, it could be placed in the extended partition and then Windows repair disk - start up repair carried out.  I'd say that doing that is not particularly beneficial. 

 The computer - Legacy BIOS v UEFI

Legacy BIOS;

Boot Repair disk works well in such a PC.

GPT partitioning.  I am changing a partition label or name.  I will press Apply when I have completed the list of things for GParted to do. 

Most of the partition names have already been set by the system.  But you can see that I have used GParted to add a label and name to the Linux partition.

Secure boot bios.

PCs with UEFI boot and GPT partitioning, all vary on how restrictive this added security is implemented;

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. 

In conclusion, 

If you are using a PC with secure boot even though the security is turned off, it will make maintaining a multi-boot computer more difficult.  

If your Hard Disk was set up on a legacy PC, all operating systems will run fine, the PC automatically switching to legacy boot.  But a significant Linux update, depending on the distribution, may switch a legacy boot to a secure boot system and hide Windows legacy boot operating systems. 

Sometimes a Windows boot repair disk will add all Windows 7 or 10 to the start-up list. Usually it won't do that though, and in any case depending on the PC's implementation of UEFI it might be difficult to restore Grub after carrying out Windows start up repair.

Grub Rescue  

This helped, see; Which I have copied below, but I did not use step 4, but it also works.

1. Command: 


It will list all your drives and partitions, like:

 (hd0) (hd0,msdos2) (hd0,msdos1)

2. If you don't know your Ubuntu boot partition, check them one by one: 

ls (hd0,msdos2)/

ls (hd0,msdos1)/ When you hit the right one, you'll get a line mentioning lost+found, more importantly, boot, and so on.

3. Assuming (hd0,msdos2) is the right partition: 

set prefix=(hd0,2)/boot/grub

set root=(hd0,2)

insmod normal


4. Now you'll be able to boot into which Linux. Once you do, execute the following commands: 

sudo update-grub

sudo grub-install /dev/sda

5. Extra step if necessary, take care - Edit the boot/grub/*.cfg file to add "noapic".  I have not carried out this, but you need to use the root terminal or terminal logged in as an admin or sudo command using a text editor such as gedit.

You might be able to carry out the grub repair using Terminal in a Live USB.  You can also use Gparted on the Live disk to copy partitions, resize them and configure boot as described above.  Depending on the PCs, boot will permit.

Take care with Windows partitioning tools both those with Windows and third-party Windows tools may delete Linux or Windows partitions, but Linux GParted is much safer to use by comparison.  Just use the Windows tools to resize a partition but not create or delete partitions, particularly if you have any Linux partitions on your hard disk.  Some of the Windows third-party tools are more careful with Linux Partitions, can copy but not paste any partition type safely?  So if you need to clone a Linux least risk is to clone to an otherwise empty USB stick then use GParted to clone to the target PC.

If you do lose a Linux partition where Grub boots from and there is not another Linux to recover, see above, then there is nothing that Grub can boot.  So here is how to get back to Windows boot by restoring the MBR;,10036.html But do use gparted, such as from the boot repair, disk or Linux installation disk to ensure that the boot flag is marked on the boot partition usually the first partition before using the Windows install or recovery disk.

 Easy way to install missing drivers on Debian or any other distribution;  

An alternative, better way to install missing drivers with Debian; 

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

Signup to the distributions' forum, then look for an answer and if necessary ask a question. 

Not all start-up warnings or errors can or need to be resolved;

IBM 206M Server used as a desktop; 

- BIOS gives a warning when a sound card is fitted, but the Sound blaster 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 such as 4.xx or higher, this can be resolved by adding an option in the Grub configuration file or by selecting and running an older Linux Kernel.  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" or running an older kernel as I said before.  This occurs during the operating system boot to Linux, then the computer crashes.  Mageia allows you to add NOAPIC to the GRUB configuration file from control panel, but I have not done this.  

Editing the GRUB configuration file - remember the last used OS;

I do not know how to edit the GRUB configuration file to add NOAPIC?  But this is how to edit a Debian GRUB configuration file so that the computer remembers the last boot operating system used.  This is useful with Windows, which often needs to restart in order to complete updates.  There are differences for Debian to the Ubuntu version link;

start terminal

enter; gedit admin:///etc/default/grub

enter your password and change the lines to read so that one line is commented out and two lines added plus I chose to add a blank line;

# GRUB_DEFAULT=0  # Remember last choice



Save and close the file and gedit. Then 

Enter; su

Enter your password. Then 

Enter; sudo update-grub # This line is also useful after cloning an OS to your HDD so that the added OS is included in the boot list and can be used the next time that the computer is started up. 

Click close on the terminal window. Or;



Restart your PC to test the change and have boot repair disk handy in case it has not worked, Alternatively see above to repair grub manually.

Linux sucks says Linus Torvalds in 2014

The comments Linus made would be relevant at the time, but not necessarily now!  The point though is to show how Linus Torvalds has led this big Linux kernel project successfully.  Linux Kernel is now quite large at over 70 MB (3.xx) but it includes a lot of drivers for various hardware. 

Debian often leads the way as well as releasing well tested Linux Distributions and has great repositories of drivers and programs.  And is a major supporter for Linux.

Windows Boot Repair

Having one Windows 7 or higher bootloaders partitions on each hard disk can work, but is not as useful as it might seem, as I discuss aboveUse Linux Boot repair USB's gparted to set the boot flag to the first and only bootloader on the HDD, then use Windows boot repair.  If you have not set the boot flag, then Windows repair disk will most likely place another bootloader in the main Windows partition rather than fix the one already on the hard disk.  If the Windows 7 or 10 bootloader used is in the Windows partition, you will not be able to start Windows if that partition is compressed (Disk compression saves space and can speed up disk operation).  But you can attempt to set the boot flag to the Windows boot partition and run the Windows repair disk again.  Also see Work-around above.

A Windows 7 or 10 disk can repair Windows 7 or 10 startups, although a Windows 10 disk may not be able to repair anything.  The Windows repair disk for the highest Windows on your PC should be attempted with first.  They can fail with little or no useful information.  An older Windows 10 installation disk is more flexible and likely to fix an installation start-up than a newer version of Windows 10.

Repeating a point, if you have an UEFI boot machine but are using BIOS boot a 64-bit Windows repair disk probably won't be able to fix it but a 32 bit repair disk probably will.

Windows repair or installation disk is required if the start of the Windows 7 or higher partition is moved.  It is more difficult to move Windows XP or lower Windows partition and the partition number must not change if it was installed in the first partition, then it must be cloned to the first partition on the HD.  Pre XP Windows keep the partition letter they were installed with (usually C: unless a C: partition already exists), so if two older Windows are in the same system, they can conflict with each other.  But no such issues arise with Linux.  The difference from earlier Windows to about Windows XP or NT4 is that the drive letters change to make the running Windows is always C:.

One benefit of running multiple copies of Windows on different hard disks is that you can repair the other installation of Windows on the same computer, such as by running check disk with the repair options set.  Some updates, very few, will not complete unless there is only one Windows start partition in the PC.  Consequently, you need to disconnect the other hard disks for the update to complete, and even then it may be difficult to get the Windows to run properly.  So there is a case for not multi-booting Windows or at least only using one Windows bootloader partition, although most of the time it will be okay. 

After running Windows repair disk - start up repair occasionally it will add one of the Linuxes, but it does not work, it might add a Windows older than 7 successfully you have installed to its boot list, but this is also unusual.

Linux boot repair disk, to clone or remove an OS;

Just run the Linux installation disk using the repair options or run Linux Boot repair disk.  These will also allow you to remove Linux partitions using Gparted and restore a PC to a Windows only system.  Also ensure that the PC finds the Windows boot partition, as long as you use Gparted to check and if necessary set the boot partition flag in the Windows boot partition (there are different type of boot flag depend on the partitioning system), because a Windows repair disk does not do this. 

But the things that a Boot repair disk may be able to do with an UEFI PC are more limited depending on the PC. 

You can also clone another Linux distribution and run boot repair to allow it to be multi-booted with existing operating systems.  But you will then need to configure the Linux swap partition if you chose to have one. 


After Installation

Debian and Mageia Installations

Both Linuxes are quite different, but both can repair grub bootloader without your need to re-install the Linux.  They may do that repair when a Linux 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 necessary to disable the installation 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, Debian look at the website at the repository's necessary and add those, including the non-free repositories.  Look at an existing repository to see how the advice in the Debian Wiki is applied, the single line URL is really entered as;


These are entered in the three boxes provided by the GUI.  After I did, there was a duplication, that can be disabled or removed.

Do lookup and if necessary ask for help 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 it is running on a conventional hard disk.  If you install more than one Linux, you only need one swap partition, so you can delete other swap partitions and re-size the remaining partitions.  Doing this, you will find that the swap partition needs to be enabled.  It might seem like a good idea to run a swap partition for each Linux, so that you can put one Linux into hibernation and use another, but you will find that Grub will not handle wake up from hibernation in this case.

Over the years, these adjustments have become less important as PCs have got faster.

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.  You can turn the swap on at this point to make the computer go faster, whilst you follow the other steps that will ensure swap is enabled when you subsequently start up Linux. 

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

Use the root terminal or type "su" and log in to the Root Terminal from Terminal, then type or past the rest of the line.

In addition, the recommended changes to swappiness value to 10 was beneficial, but I have not used this setting change for many years.

When installing any Linux, you may not need an internet connection, but a wired or a Wi-Fi connection to ensure important drivers are installed even if you chose to not install the updates at the time of installation is a good plan.

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

Surveillance and security;

We are, of course, not immune from government surveillance I read, in the 1980s, about a secret surveillance circuit being required to be built into US designed Large Scale Integrated Circuits (digital).  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). 

That does not address the surveillance by US or any other country build into the LSI.  Though there is so much internet activity now and people also talk about third parties who may not be internet enable that more than enough is known about everyone.  But how much of the government surveillance works and don't know, but I am sure that private surveillance for commercial benefit does work and that informal standards partly determined by the EU, for example, has been able to moderate it.

Installation options

Most Linux desktop providers provide Live CDs, 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 and Installations) after shutting down so that you can continue evaluating them another time.  Another option is to run the distribution in a virtual machine running on Windows or Linux, but the PC needs to be fast to do this.  I recommend using a live CD or USB you don't need the persistence option, although persistence adds more function.  Using a virtual machine such as Virtual Box is good if you want to run two operating systems concurrently, but it makes the PC slow.

Here are some Windows tools for creating a live CD USB memory stick with persistence;

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 did not use to display properly during installation, but the installation turned okay.

The straight no features USB creation tools such as;

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.  But also use the Windows tools, format, and Check Disk. 

Rufus works on Windows and does restore a USB stick quite well, I do not use the persistence option with this tool.  This seems to be the best 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 could create DOS or DrDOS boot, but this feature and other things were dropped from version 2.x.x.  Version 3.xx runs on Windows 7 or higher but the current version 4.x runs on Windows 10.  This does not create persistence but produces a standard form bootable USB. 

Virtual Box will run on Windows or Linux and run either of those and other operating systems.  

You will need to run Windows without licencing it, if installed on a virtual machine.  This is because Windows will not let you authenticate a copy running in a Virtual Box.  Windows 7 or higher runs unauthorised fine but without some minor features and decoration.

Earlier versions 4.x of virtual box could not run a virtual machine on a Windows partition from Linux.  I do not know if this restriction still applies?  But you would expect it to be risky switching a profile between different versions of VirtualBox on different operating systems on the PC, in any case.

Linux Distributions usually can be run from a memory stickUbuntu and distributions based on it such as Mint works for example, but the swap partition should not be fitted and enabled on a memory stick, or a flash drive.  An operating system running on a memory stick will ware-out it out, but that can be partially mitigated by not having a swap partition on the memory stick.  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 creating a backup to another Linux for example.

Ubuntu and Mint installations are plain and straightforward, you can run the demo and use its Gparted tool to copy, past or resize a partition and so clone an operating system.  The cloned distribution will not boot unless you continue to install the Ubuntu or Mint, in this case. 

Microsoft has always over done its helpfulness to the point you have to second guess what might be happening and deal with that instead. 

I find Cortana on Windows 10 an annoying random pop-up.  It seems to come back after it has been disabled or removed, so you need to look up on the web how to remove it periodically.  This method removed it in 2023;

I have also found Windows OneDrive difficult because it can start backing up things such as my cloud drives Google, Dropbox and Mega after an update.  This will surely cause a dangerous conflict.  Because you can not stop this happening, easily, although there is a setting.  If you see it occur and chose to uninstall OneDrive but do not try deleting the copied directories, they seem to be on symbolic links and will therefore delete the original directories?


Windows 10 Check Disk will often recover or repair a USB stick.  Windows 7 is not so good, and XP was poorer at repairing a USB stick.  But check disk is required to be carried out often.  It is better to avoid writing big files on Windows to a large USB stick, but use Linux to do that

You may find that a lot of capacity is lost, on any disk drive.  After running check disk there may be hidden directors that can be made visible and are visible on Linux in the root of the Windows partition similar too; FOUND.000 these contain the lost files but if you delete them, at your risk, then the capacity lost should be recovered.   Also empty rubbish folders in Windows and Linux to recover capacity. 

I have found Ubuntu's compression utility the most reliable when used on a USB stick.  In case there is no need to create one compressed file at a time, starting them all at the same time works fine.


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

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

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 suitable for web browsing.

Windows XP - became end-of-life in 2014, but it has not been possible to activate it since about the summer of 2021 and so now it will only run for a month after installation.  Prior to this time;

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.  It turned out that 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.  But be careful using software on operating systems that it is not designed for, you can find some features do not work - I found with CADSTAR 15 which some parts work on XP other parts don't.

Windows 7, SP1 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?  Similarly, as Windows NT or earlier continues to run?  Although Windows 7 and Security Essential are at their end of life, but are still receiving updates in January 2024. 

I plan to install a free version of Panda security once Microsoft Security Essentials stops getting updates.  There are other free, and pay for Anti-virus software, but I have found Panda the least intrusive. 

Before Windows 95 or 98 and NT4, Windows was a utility that ran on a PC running DOS or IBM DOS, in any case that is how Windows 3.1 and GEM before it worked.  You could copy those to another PC, and it received updates from new software installed, and there were a number of makers of office environment software including a set based on WordStar, I believe was StarOffice that had a Word processor, mail merge database, maths and a spreadsheet, plus disk file managing tools for CP/M or DOS.  It is unlikely that DOS3.3 to 6.22 or CP/M, will run on any modern PC?  It is also unlikely that an old IDE disk (10-100MB) will run on a PC with a modern IDE interfaces unless the PC was made in 20th century?

There are no issues in installing DOS and then copying one of these older Utilities, other than whether the drivers, the PC, floppy disks and CDs still work.  The DOS software that is licensed to a network card or a parallel port dongol is likely to be difficult to move and use on newer PCs.

In the 1970s more bigger companies started using minicomputers, in the late 1970s individuals and companies started small computers. 

From 1976 there was a large and grow range of home and small computers. 

In about 1978 Home computers started up running BASIC and were programmed using the keyboard, tape, and Business computers ran an operating system loaded from two floppy disks and sometimes a hard disk.  Computers and home-Computer archive

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 

Optional Tools that I have ready in order to prepare for trying Linux with the least risk;

Partition changing; (April 2017)

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

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

Windows 10 and Debian on the first disk. 

Windows 7 and Lubuntu on the second disk. 

* It is not essential to update Windows at first, but in that case it will very occasionally be necessary to remove the first hard disks in order to complete an update of the second Windows, on the second hard disk. 

The boot menu should list at least all the possible operating systems, whether one or both hard disks are fitted; 

In due course, it is likely that Windows 10 update will add Windows 7 to be listed in the boot options.  As long as the Windows 10 hard disk is the earliest disk in the system, then this is a good way to start up either Windows and allow some updates to complete. 

Note; cable swap, or use bios boot order switch, if you launch the wrong Windows loader from the grub menu, don't let it repair. 

You should not expect to need to use Linux boot repair USB subsequently. 

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

Gparted (and Gpart), Linux utility - This is a UEFI disk format, so there are no extended partitions.  MBR disk format will display extended partitions in most partitioning tools, except those provided as part of Windows. 

There is an extra system partition that might have been created when this Toshiba laptop was upgraded from Windows 8 to Windows 10, or it might have been created when Ubuntu was installed.  Therefore, one of the partitions may be a redundant duplicate? 

If you are going to resize a Windows partition, using the Microsoft disk management tools, if your version of Windows has them, be careful.  Microsoft apparently does not publish all the details on NTFS, so you would expect Microsoft tools will be faster and safer, but the Linux tools are very safe and also a lot more careful about what they do but are slower.  The partitions need to be numbered in order 1, 2, 3, 4 ... one of these must be the extended partition (number 1...4) then the extended partitions in order 5, 6, 7, 8 ..... but it is better with GPT partitions rather than MBR partitions which it does not let you see and therefore move an extended partition.  Windows Microsoft tools easily loose partitions. 

Linux Gpart and Gparted has 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 the queue of partition jobs they set up.  The tool will just get on with it when you press Apply - 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 startup - 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 using them, but don't expect any issues to arrive with Gparted unless the HD is really broken.

 Quick Grub repair using Grub commands

If Boot Repair USB does not sort the choice and startup of all the operating systems available on the PC, 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;

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.  I had a link to advice on Grub, but it does not work now.  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 with Boot Repair or the Linux installation, USB probably will fix it - if one does not, the other may. 

It is better to install Windows to carry out update to a "higher" Windows before installing any Linux;

Do not expect any partitioning tool to recover a partition after a power failure or interruption whilst working on a partition. 

Operating systems improve;

Linux improves so that warnings I have made may not apply now. 

Windows versions tend to cycle from bad to good to bad again.  Some parts improve, though the operating system always gets slower and cluttered with inconvenient features. 


Reliability and support; 

There is no need to explicitly pay even a peppercorn for most Linux distributions.  So no legal contract between the user and supplier exists, but you do promise to share it fairly and credit its makers.   There is a good degree of protection due to the Linux approximate philanthropic culture and open-source philosophy. 

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 supercomputers run Linux, Linux having displaced Unix over the past decade.  {Update in 2021 there were 450 million Ubuntu and all Linux users 3 - 3.5 billion or nearly 2% of computers}.

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 course 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 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 aha 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 LibreOffice 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 easier or better for the user.  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, and the symbolic link can be moved or copied to another Linux with a Linux filing system.  This is very useful, but you can not copy a Linux symbolic link to Windows or a Windows mklink symbolic link to Linux, it won't work either way.  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 about capitalisation and duplicate files with the same name, and some characters must not be used with some operating systems that share with Windows operating systems.

I can change DOS/Windows file extensions ".htm", ".jpg" to ".html", ".jpeg",   I have found in these cases that usually the file extension is recognised and the file formats close enough to be compatible.  There is rarely an issue using one or the other.

File names lower case and capital letters matter on Linux but don't matter on Windows.  Consequently, if you copy a Thunderbird profile from Windows you must have proceeded with a dot but also be spelt in lower case  ".thunderbird" but copying to Windows you only need to remove the dot.

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 differences between Linux Distributions, Mageia and Debian are less tolerant for example but Lubuntu and MX Linux are very tolerant or being cloned to another PC.

In conclusion though with Windows or Linux you might be able to move a hard disk to another PC, and it works but with Windows now it might not find and replace with the correct drivers.  The Windows installation onto 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 on 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 sorts 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;

A problem can arise when you open Thunderbird and find your profile missing and an invitation to set up an email account.  The current version of Thunderbird, is much improved and allows you to fix this more easily, the pull down; Help - Troubling shooting mode, in which you can switch to another profile if there is one, use that and then delete the empty unwanted one created for whatever reason.  This fix will work, provided the profile came from about the same version of Thunderbird. 

This application, program or client whatever you want to call it is usually preloaded or well-supported in most Linux Distributions, it is very good.  The ability to manage and display many email accounts conveniently was added instead of using multiple profiles in the early 2000s in the SeaMonkey version.  You can conveniently send or reply with a number of different signatures with each of a number of email account address profiles. 

There are other email and word processor programmes that are often installed, but Thunderbird and LibreOffice is usual in the repositories and can be installed, whilst those pre-installed can be uninstalled. 

Thunderbird + add-ons discussed and support; -  I do not use any of these add-ons now. 

But I do use; LanguageTool add-on; for Thunderbird, it is also available for various web browsers.  It is a good spell and grammar checker, and it is worth registering it, logging in even if you chose to not buy it.

*** Thunderbird address book has completely changed over a five-year period between approximately versions 50 and 91.x  ***

A computer that had not been operated for 19 months.  Linux was allowed to update, then a Thunderbird profile from another computer was used to replace the old profile.  Windows updated with no issues, as expected, in a few steps. 

Thunderbird on Linux stores the profile in the users' directory as a hidden file; .thunderbird

Thunderbird on Windows 7 to 10 is stored at for the logged-in user %appdata%/roaming/Thunderbird the full path could be in my case c:/users/Andrew/%appdata%/roaming/Thunderbird

I switched from POP to IMAP email accounts long ago, consequently all my email is held by my ISPs Yahoo and Google who probably have a good backed up systems.  Occasionally I delete the old and create new profiles, set up my account and signatures, then my email archive will be loaded.  On the other hand, it is possible that my email profile could have been copied from PC to PC starting from Netscape Navigator, SeaMonkey, and now to Thunderbird, but I doubt that this would have continued to have run with the clutter built up over 25 years or so. 

To add a synchronised to Gmail and Yahoo Mail address books or any other; 

Click on Address book in Thunderbird, pull-down; New Address Book and select, Add CardDav Address book - enter your email address, it will then synchronise to your email account's address book.  

It is worth selecting properties in this new address book and naming it based on the account email address.  I also reduced the synchronisation interval of 15 minutes but left the default; read/write setting.  Repeat for each of your email addresses, if you wish.  Contacts can be moved between address books, but you can't copy contacts between address books.

The disadvantage is that Thunderbird synchronised address books do not support making lists, and it still does not import lists called labels in or yahoo.  You can create lists in your local, not synchronised, personal and created address books. 

Thunderbird old address book was notchy but worked best with local contacts only.  This has now changed slowly over a number of years.  My Thunderbird address book had become corrupted and there were duplicate and unwanted contacts in the root Personal Address Book, which I have kept, for now.  

Exporting Address books to email provider,

There is an export in the Thunderbird - Events and Tasks.  There is another type of export in - Tools.   I have not investigated much how to do this with current address book, but it does not seem to be possible to export my  personal local address book. 

For old Thunderbird less than version 78.14, which has the address book stored in the file; abook.mab 

This advice looks like it is also relevant with Thunderbird 115.x, I am using now?

The first thing to export each of your local Thunderbird lists, these can be imported into Google Contacts as labels but edit each label name, so it is slightly different to the local list name ("For example" to "For example G").  You need these as a backup anyway, it will leave behind any contacts that are not in the lists, which in my case were contacts I did not want any more.  You could have contacts in lists that are not anywhere else (evidently this was wrong), you could have contacts deleted from lists that are in the root Personal Address book and old contacts anywhere that have been amended - in other words very messed up and the tools I am evaluating do not necessarily import Thunderbird address-books well.  Mark and drag between Thunderbird lists to copy was bad, but opening a list and start typing a new entry, and it will complete with the contact from that personal directory or a synchronised directory, is good, duplicating or preventing unnecessary duplication of contacts.

Thunderbird add-on may also synchronise list names or labels.  

TbSync I stopped using it in early 2023, then tried it again in September 2023.  It now does not work with the added-on's for Google or Yahoo email contacts.

When used with TbSync (Add-on), ensure that in Thunderbird or other synchronised Address-Books that the labels (Thunderbird calls Lists) are not the same as those used locally, such as in the Personal Address Book.  For example "Friends and Acquaintances" locally and "Friends and Acquaintances G" for Google and for Yahoo, perhaps "Friends and Acquaintances Y" do this for every list or label.  It is not necessary with CardBook (add-on), but it is useful to differentiate categories, labels or names.

I use the Thunderbird visitor cards and enter information in to the categories available, which are fewer categories than either Yahoo or Google offer.  I found at first with Thunderbird or TbSync "Provider CardDAV & CalDAV" that just the email address is uploaded, but you can then synchronise and then drag and so update the contact with the version with the full details version of the contact.  At the time (April 2022) I was using these add-ons, may or may not upload the contact.

You may choose to forget about lists and labels in Thunderbird but use the web tools provided by your email provider.  But you can add a contact in Thunderbird to a synchronised address book but find they will not be synchronised and they will disappear again. 

Email providers web tools;

Gmail contacts is a better tool that offers to merge duplicate contacts semi-automatically but asks before proceeding or asks about anything conflicting.  If there are still duplicate contacts, they can be seen easily and dealt with.  Contacts that are in "Contacts", "Other Contacts" or "Frequently used" can be labelled they then become synchronised to Thunderbird or can be deleted. 

All the same, using google contacts is fiddly, and I found I needed to go back to it repeatedly to get things right such as alternative email addresses and also take care not to merge contacts that I don't want to be merged.  I also found contacts got lost or hidden but turned up again as duplicates to ones I remade, It does seem Google contacts handle a little work at a time better?

Whatever method of synchronising is chosen, or not, you can not upload the whole Thunderbird Address-book, so you need to export each list.  Google handles importing each list into Google contacts well.  Using Google contacts, merge contacts as recommendation pops up works well without losing details.

You can export the whole Google address-book complete with labels as a .csv file.  Use this as a backup - it probably will only import to Google Contacts, though?

Gmail contacts can have many email addresses, but Thunderbird contacts can only have two email addresses.  So be careful not to merge the same contact, only an email address and one alternative email address will be synchronised to Thunderbird.  If you give some of those contacts a slightly different contact name, for example brackets (alternative) you are less likely to inadvertently allow them to be merged.

Yahoo Web contacts; The synchronised address-book seems to have different contacts than the web version.  This discrepancy was partly resolved by deleting duplicate empty lists on the web version and re-labelling contacts.  I did not do much of this, as it was a lot of work that was not beneficial.

I found that web contacts accumulates lists and duplicate lists - I do not know if this is a conflict between the address-book sync tool I am evaluating, possibly?  After leaving web Yahoo contacts, I went back and found that all list names had been removed (April 2022).

Synchronisation worked better once the duplicate lists were deleted, but I had to do this repeatedly in yahoo webmail contacts.

Yahoo email contacts now has an export option.

Email providers synchronised address books systems have been under a lot of changesGoogle Contacts is now fairly stabilised as of 2023 and Yahoo contacts looks a lot better than it did a year or two ago and is probably good now.

Thunderbird CardDAV;

Add-ons that will synchronise lists, also called labels. 

AT THE PRESENT TIME, September 2023, This set of add-ons do not work and I have removed them. 

TbSync add-on for Thunderbird;

TbSync creates synchronised address-books alongside the Thunderbird Personal Address-Book and any synchronised address-books.  These must each have unique list/label names.

TbSync used to cause Thunderbird to freeze when it is synchronising in 2022. 

Another add-on is then required for the specific email provider; 

An additional add-on is required; 

"Google-4-TbSync" (Does not seem to have accessed the Google API recently, and it was not working in autumn 2023).  It had worked better than other ways, which is as well as can be expected with the limitations Google probably impose.

The Google-people-API is a little complicated to set up for Google-4-TbSync.  There is a good explanation with Google-4-TbSync on how to do this.

Synchronisation is not complete but only partial, so use disable then enable to ensure that everything is the same as the web.   The synchronisation button may work, but periodic synchronisation does not appear to do anything at the present time, and it can be left set to 0 (none). 

Not all information is transferred between the Thunderbird Visitor Cards and Google contacts information stored on the web.

As of March 2022 contacts may or may not be passed to google contacts from Thunderbird but without lists/labels (with option Read-only disabled).  But once the contact is uploaded, it can be replaced using drag in Thunderbird with a version with all the other details in the visitor card included.

 "Provider CalDAV & CardDAV" used to work with Google, Yahoo and others.

 (Does not seem to have accessed the Google recently, did not seem to work in autumn 2023)

Yahoo password is not your email address password, but a password created for the application at Yahoo Mail - account security page.

Google did not work with the automatic configuration setting using my   But using the manual server setting see answers; and did work although no labels/lists were brought in.   These are the server settings; - I do not think this is necessary, and the address book works without this setting added.

Read works, but write may cause errors if a list and contacts are added to Thunderbird.  

The add-on "Provider CalDAV & CardDAV" works much the same as Thunderbirds own address-book synchronisation.  Both CardDAV and CalDAV are entered, but the latter does not seem to be necessary?

Yahoo contacts synchronise read or write.  You need to create a list to add the contact to, but this list won't be synchronised.  On the other hand, because lists created are not removed they can be different to those lists on the webmail and must be unique locally anyway.  Recently has also become possible with Google synchronisation (late Feb 2022).

These add-ons have some similar options; Allow fake email addresses - seems to make no difference, but it is probably best to ensure it is ticked. 

TbSync and CardBook create new separate address books, so they should not conflict with each other if you chose to try both?  In any case, I am not running synchronisation of same email address contacts at the same time, but I am running this evaluating those by running different add-ons or the Thunderbird CardDAV on different instances of computer operating systems.

Other Thunderbird Address book maintenance and synchronizers; 

Addressbooks Synchronizer - May be obsolete but is still listed.


It was a fairly new add-on that replaces or works alongside Thunderbird address-book when I evaluated it in early 2022.  It is now more refined, is good, and in some ways is better than Thunderbird address book.  By September 2023 this add-on's basic functions work quite well.  But not all labels from Google or Yahoo or local lists were imported or synchronised (September 2023), - HAVING TRIED THIS AGAIN, I HAVE CHOSEN TO NOT USE THIS ADD-ON because there is now no benefit over using what is provided by Thunderbird despite its limitations.

When you first use CardBook Local address books plus any email provider address books you chose to synchronise are brought in and are distinguishable by different colour text.  The local address book, is cluttered, even though I had tided the personal address book in Thunderbird previously. 

The local address-books includes lists/labels are not synchronised but read in once initially.  The local Collected Addresses are read in once, then new contacts are added to Collected when sending an email with a new email address.

Find duplicates tool works on individual address books in a fairly sensible way.  At the time when I evaluated CardBook some features seemed ambiguous?

CardBook is quite good with Yahoo contacts, but Google does a better job than Cardbook.

Cardbook is able to synchronise and thereby upload to Yahoo and Google Contacts and lists/labels.

Although it is not necessary to have unique lists names between address-books when used solely with CardBook and Thunderbird local address-books, it makes managing your contacts easier if the list names are unique.

Sharing one Thunderbird profile with many users on a PC;

Suggestion where an operating system is set up with multiple trusted users;

For example, the same person or family uses a number of users to separate work and home activities; an operating system with multiple users need only have one Thunderbird folder, then share it with each user using a symbolic link.  In that way, Thunderbird updates should not leave a profile out of date, if the PC running Windows or one of the users were not used for a long time. 

This works with Windows, Thunderbird directory, but I have not tried this with Linux.  Using Windows Symbolic links to each user account works well. 

See further below, Symbolic links. 

On Windows, I have created another directory in which I have placed the Thunderbird folder and other things that I do not want to be in one specific user profile. C:\+++Document+++\Thunderbird

Copying your thunderbird personal profile from another PC or using a PC after a long period of time. 

Update an old version of Linux will not update to the next significant stage version of Thunderbird but jump to the current version, missing out on steps on the way.  The issue that arises is that your profiles in the .thunderbird folder have not gone through each of the required update steps. 

Copied or an old version of the Thunderbird folder.  Make at least a second copy of the Thunderbird (Windows) or .thunderbird (Linux) folder first.  You need to keep to the release version or old release versions. 

Note; Mageia Linux appears to offer versions of Thunderbird that are not compatible with the released versions used when downloaded for Windows or within other Linuxes repositories?  A copied thunderbird personal directory from or to Mageia Linux is likely to cause Thunderbird to detect the difference in the version channel and create an additional new empty profile.  I did not fully resolve why Mageia started working, but this is the most likely solution;

In Thunderbird - Help - About Thunderbird - tells you the version and tells you if it is on the release channel, such as the Windows version or Linux non-repository downloaded version.  The Linux repository version does not say release channel, though. 

Your thunderbird profiles and other settings are stored in the folder "Thunderbird" {appdata\roaming\Thunderbird (Windows)} or ".thunderbird" (Linux).  The folder can be copied to another computer and a different operating system, there is a range of things that can arise.  The "Thunderbird" for Windows or ".thunderbird" for Linux folder needs to be renamed and be lower case for Linux if it is copied between those operating systems.  The "." makes the Linux folder hidden, so you need to make hidden folders visible. 

To see or hide Linux hidden folders and files; Ubuntu Control-H, other Linux's, file manager - toolbar - view - view hidden.  You will then see the .thunderbird profile folder in the route of your profile.

Any add-ons are usually okay, but may need to be removed and added again or disabled then enabled again. 

Note that Linux is case-sensitive whereas Windows is not consequently "Thunderbird" or "thunderbird" is fine on Windows but on Linux, the capitalisation must be correct lower case.  Plus the preceding dot "." is important ".thunderbird"

Method 1; - easy

Thunderbird offers the import of address books or everything.  Or you can just import the address books and set up accounts and signatures again and allow Thunderbird to synchronise.  

abook.mab may be found, by searching something like; thunderbird\profiles\xxxxxx.default\

Method 2; - Starting from an older type address book, this looks better.

If you want to start fresh but with an older type abook.mab then install (Windows) or Copy (Linux) an older version of Thunderbird (68.12 or older) and start it up, it will create a new profile, 

Close Thunderbird and copy the abook.mab replacing the existing version in that new profile.   Run Thunderbird, check the address book then allow it to update, this will convert the address book and place it more tidily than importing it later. 

Finally, create email accounts, synchronised address books and calendars. 

The profile is at something like; home/USER_NAME/.thunderbird/profile/??????.default for Linux


C:\Documents and Settings\?USER_NAME?\Application Data\Thunderbird/profile/??????.default for Windows if accessed from Linux.


File manager %appdata%

roaming\Thunderbird/profile/??????.default for Windows if accessed from Windows.

Method 3; - Starting from the old thunderbird profile folder and updating it method is tedious;

You need to use the /p, -p switch or; Help - Tools Trouble shooting mode pull-down.

Keep trying with progressively older, significant versions of Thunderbird.  Each time, a new profile will be created, that you will need to delete, until you get to a suitable version that will open.  It is useful to temporarily turn off automatic updates in; Preferences - general.

Method 4; - This is a little easier than 3.

Start with an old version of Thunderbird, which is the same version as the profile.  It is useful to temporarily turn off automatic updates in Preferences - general, until you have checked it is correct. 

Tidy up; (removing other profiles)

Thunderbird Help - Trouble shooting mode.


For older versions of Thunderbird.  To start it up in the profile manager P switch then;

* Installing a different or a not-repository version of Thunderbird;

It is straight-forward on Windows, uninstall any current version of Thunderbird then install the old version of Thunderbird, and turn off automatic updates, but with Linux;

Here are some of the changes that could be missed - if you are curious;

Install, Migrate and Update | Thunderbird Help (  since this article, Thunderbird 70-78 [~72?] address book has changed from abook.mab to abook.SQlite database managing system.  I used to place the abook.mab on a cloud drive such as Dropbox then place a symbolic link from the Thunderbird profile directory where it is normally to the Dropbox original and thereby be able to use the same address book on whichever PC I was using at the time, of course I would have just one instance of Thunderbird running.  This worked better than gContactSync many years ago (which is now not supported) but only with Linux desktops.  Replacing abook.mab with abook.SQlite and the symbolic links in Dropbox did not work, and I was warned that it would not work there were other files that now needed to be shared. 

Thunderbird 52.2.1, used; Abook.mab.    

The next significant change is at 60.9.1 then 68.12.1 New Yahoo and Google authentication introduced.     

gContacts used to work then, but won't sign in to google any more.    

TbSync is available with; Provider CALDAV CARDDAV - for Yahoo for example.    

abook.mab used still.     

78.14.0,  abook*.mab becomes *.*.bak is not used any more but .sqlite is added and used instead.    

TbSync now supports Google-4-people API.    

gContacts disabled by Thunderbird.

Cardbook can be added.- this is in development, which supports Yahoo and Google contacts.        

91.5.1, This was the current version in January 2022 but was not a significant milestone, but has limited support for synchronised address books and calendars. 

If, for example, last used before Thunderbird 60.9.1 will not set up Gmail or Yahoo.  In addition, the address book will not convert and be readable.  You must let Thunderbird update in stages until these things start working, to repeat my point earlier. 

Using Thunderbird on an old Linux desktop version

In order to run newer versions of Thunderbird and Firefox, it may be necessary to install other library programs.  I found in 2021 that neither Thunderbird nor Firefox would run on Debian 8.  A solution was to try to start them in terminal then read the warnings I then installed the most similar library and both programs then they ran - Recently new warning about insecure with the library when web browsing, so this solution alone is not good any more.  A better solution is to update to Debian 9 or 10 that is still in long term support but start alternative Debian kernel 3.x.x

 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 may 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 need to install a driver.  This is similar to Windows Networking.  

You may need to add Samba if you are sharing from Debian and many other Linuxes? - I have not done this recently, but when I have in the past, I found it difficult.

Mageia is different to the Debian based Linuxes and offers many utilises for sharing from Mageia, some are compatible with Windows.  Click on; Control Center - Networking and internet, then select the option you wish.

To create a shared folder most Linuxes have one called public which is handy, but you also need to then make that folder and any printer shared.  Windows the shared folders need to be from within the user profile and can be any of those created by the system or others you created there. 

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 read or write rights.  You can find that files copied and shared can not be shared or deleted on the second computer. 

Windows XP (32 bit) used to share the easiest by comparison with newer Windows, but none that I have tried are straightforward.  Windows 7 or higher you need to create a password. 

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 for a while. 

The easiest way to share is to use one of the cloud services or a tethering utility.  Once Windows or Linux share is set up, its data transfer quickly with a not too long network cable.  If you have a lot of data, moving the hard disk to the other computer and doing a one-to-one copy or clone can be the fastest way. 

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.  Or install it from a Linux repository.  Dropbox also has a Linux versions that can, alternatively, be downloaded and installed.  Dropbox started as a Linux program but was ported to Windows and other operating systems.  But Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, are not available for Linux

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

Google Drive used to be a bit strange to configure so that you could lose files, but that has been made much better in the last few years in any case Google Drive changed a lot in autumn 2021 and the conversion to the new form was a bit concerning but turned out to be safe and robust even if you tick the wrong boxes at first. 

An issue with files on a PC not updating to the Google Drive website (Aug 2022) - A solution is to click on the icon and change the properties to Streaming, then, delete the contents of Google Drive, and finally switch back to mirrored - and change the path to Google Drive.  Google Drive will now run properly.  It is likely that you do not need to delete the files, Google Drive will deal with that for you.  Where files are used on sites or blogger, they will be updated.

Google Drive stopped running on Windows 7, in January 2024. 

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

Although Cloud storage can be accessed by a web browser, but not all public networks (Wi-Fi) allow access.  So it is a good strategy to use more than one cloud storage provider.  I have not tried to share any files and folders between them, and I rather not try to do that, and in some cases, I turned off OneDrive that was doing that!  

Note - conflicting files in cloud drives;

In Dropbox, Google Drive and most likely others, create a copy which the Name is changed to; Name(1), Name(2) etc.  So the file Name in one instance could be Name(1) in another instance.  Once you have determined which is the correct one, deleted the wrong ones, then renamed the correct files in every instance to Name.  This does not often come about, so you to make a point of checking folders in case it has occurred occasionally.  MegaSync is less robust and will simply overwrite older files with newer files.  The conflict arises if a file is used before the drive has synchronised, so the newer file could be a changed old version.  I have found both Dropbox and Google Drive are very good at, what seems like good guesswork, to get right what you intended even if you copy a file from another operating system on your PC without therefore having the cloud application running.

I used to use a memory stick with a string attached to my finger if I used a public library computer.  Where cloud storage access is blocked.  Though I still managed to leave my memory stick in the library computer sometimes. 

Symbolic link

Generally, adding symbolic links from where the original file was located pointing to a new location, such as in a cloud storage folder, is a useful way to share a file or a folder.  

You can not place a symbolic link into a cloud storage folder, such as Dropbox.  It won't access an original file on another computer outside the shared folder, such function is blocked. 

For example, sharing the one whole instance of Thunderbird profile is practical where you are using different users, who have no privacy issues between them, but on the same computer and operating system.  I do this with Windows, where I have different users for completed work and home, where I have work in progress and personal things. 

Windows 7 or higher;

Installations of Linux programs 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 distributions:- Ubuntu or RedHat/Fedora.  {I have not done this}

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

MegaSync is not available for all Linuxes, but you can compile the source code available from GitHub and install that, apparently?  But try to find a version that will install first. 


In most Linux desktops simply drag the file or directory to another file manager window or tab then select create a symbolic link but not copy or move.   

There are differences between file managers, and so here is how to do it the long way;

"ln -s  /home/andrew/Dropbox/Folder/FolderOrFilePath /home/andrew/FolderOrFilePath/"


ln    Is approximately the Linux equivalent to DOS command copy.

-s    Switch makes this command create a symbolic link.  This is like a Windows shortcut and link.  You will need to move or delete the original file or folder (rename it for example). 

The source path    Is to where the cloud copy of FolderOrFilePath is now stored on your Linux computer. andrew - is my personal Linux user profile.

The destination     Is where FolderOrFilePath is the new symbolic link that has been created, it looks like the original file or folder, but its properties are symbolic-link.

Running Windows or a DOS program on Linux;

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

I briefly evaluated Wine and Code Weavers a number of years ago;

It does, as it claims, runs some Windows programmes at full speed.  By comparison, Virtual Box also does what is expected of it, runs the operating system properly but more slowly. 

Joking about Windows but even so it is used because there are many programs 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.  DOS and Windows 3.1 and 95 for example were much more open, and the home computers like the BBC micro were very open and patches could be added to add features, I observe. 

Like engine management units made, cars less maintainable by the car's owners, who consequently become less aware of what could or was going wrong.  Secure Boot in some cases has done the same for PCs.

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

IBM PC DOS or MS-DOS (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 1970s and 80s 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 - lawyers would probably make evolution not possible if a fee could be charged.

People have always made or written things and then given them away freely, even though for profit has become so the thing to do.  Companies may do that for a 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 romanticising 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 its time.

TIP; If you are using DOS and FAT partition, you can add the line "verify on" in the config.sys.  DOS only runs on a FAT 12 filing system.  Microsoft does not publicly document how the NTFS filing system works, so Linux can not fully respect privacy and other features.  By comparison, a PC is made to IBM PC open de-facto standard, although a PCs circuits and firmware are property of their makers.

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 was also not the case with Visual Basic 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, whereas DOS 6.x was the first professional and robust Microsoft product in many people's opinions.   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 lost very little.  The losses have been due to the filing system with old pictures that when found there was no backup of now.

At one time Microsoft had 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, and thereby improving the quality of software for a while.

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.   

The 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.  During the life of the hard disk more bad sectors are identified and marked bad, these can be retested but are eventually hidden, so they become removed.  The full format or DOS Check Disk (fsck is the Linux equivalent of Check Disk) with options set keeps the hard disk in order.  Eventually, sectors become marked bad and removed, then the hard disk speeds up again.  

I am told and observed that Windows 7 or higher looks after the hard disk quite well Windows 8 and 10 advise there is no need to run check disk unless advised but occasionally running Check Disk will improve the computer's speed even so, but defragment is still necessary. 

Linux Distros 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.  That is, Linux looks after the hard disk without slowing the computer as much as Windows disk maintenance does. 

Modern filing systems are much more robust, but files do get destroyed, and disk drives fail after a very high usage some sooner.

How much memory does an 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 called Star Office would fit on one 300-400K double-sided double density floppy disk or many lower capacity floppy disks, and you had to swap the disks as instructed depending on the feature of Wordstar you were using, e.g. 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 but is now very small compared with Windows 3.1, office, CAD and other software with 10M of workspace all fitted on a 40MB hard disk.  Now computers have 10,000 time that data and program space.

So a PC now has high-speed SRAM, moderate speed DRAM, hard disk or Flash plus the use of parallel processing of two instructions and piping which allows instructions to be processed simultaneously with instruction completing although some of those instructions processed may be abandoned depending on the outcome of earlier instructions.

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

To create arrow keys, four keys formed the Wordstar diamond of short-cuts. 

The shortcut 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 terminating a running program in any OS.

But generally these Control and letter shortcuts still work and mean;

Ctrl-C is Copy. (highlighted block)

Ctrl-X is Cut.

Ctrl-V is Paste.

Ctrl-F is Find. (search).

Ctrl-R is Find and Replace.

 This animation explaining a computer, joke is good unfortunately the host, Google Sites, does not support some animation graphics. 

After an installation;

Printer and other external devices; My very old Epson LX800 Dot matrix print works is probably still supported, I was still using it 10 years ago.  But will probably need to experiment with generic dot matrix printer settings.  The weakness I found was that it became difficult to cancel a big print job.

The printer driver interface is good on Linux.

I do not run a printer at home now but use the ones in the public library. 

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

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. 

When Windows comes to the end of life period at first there are no updates then subsequently there will be no security updates and the Windows security scanner Security Essentials will stop being supported.  Alternative virus scanners for Windows include;

Panda, AVG, AVAST which there are free versions of, but there are others.


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

At first, I found Linux security not ideal, in that it cropped up unnecessarily inviting a casual password entry to just get on with what you are doing, but this aspect is good now.  Password request occur when you need to update or do other system level things.  By comparison, using Windows without administrator rights is difficult and Linux security is much better integrated and just fine.  Conversely, Windows with administrator rights is also easy to use. 

If you do, just pull the plug or hold in the power switch to turn off the computer at the next switch on, the machine starts without fuss, straightening things out and starting up usually but not always.  This tolerance of misuse is quite good in Linux and Windows, provided you don't let it happen often.

 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 used them much)

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