Over the Labor Day weekend I decided to upgrade my HP Mini 110 netbook to Linux Mint 17. The Mini 110 can handle Windows 7, but Linux Mint doesn’t cost any money and I figure a Linux box is more useful to me than yet another Windows box. There are some things I do that are easier to accomplish in Linux than in Windows. Plus, I’m curious how my two young sons will react to Linux.
Linux Mint, if you’re not familiar with it, is a Ubuntu derivative that includes a lot of consumer-friendly features, like including drivers and codecs and other common software that aren’t completely open source. It’s not a Linux distribution for the Free Software purist, but having options is one of the nice things about Linux in 2014.
Linux Mint includes a lot of useful software, so once you get it installed, you’re up and running with a useful computer with minimal effort.
The revelation that the Federal Government still relies on floppy disks for some of its business is making it the butt of some jokes this week. And although that will serve as confirmation for some people that the government is completely backward, there are actually multiple good explanations for it.
From a security standpoint, using floppy disks isn’t a bad idea at all. Read more
Debian 7.0 (Wheezy) came out this weekend, and I want to mess with it. Here’s how I wrote the installation media to a USB thumb drive for it using a Windows box. Because sometimes that’s all you have available to work with. If you prefer another Linux distribution, like Ubuntu or CentOS or Fedora, the same trick will work for them too.
A longtime reader sent me a really good question today. If I had a USB flash drive and I didn’t know where it’s been or what it’s done, how would I clean it to make it safe to use? He said using Linux was fair game, so that made the answer a lot easier.
Note that as of 2015, a knowledgeable attacker can make a USB drive that will survive this cleaning method, so I only recommend this 90% of the time, and the problem is, it’s impossible to know which 90%.
Prince of Persia isn’t just a recent movie. It’s based on a video game series, the first of which was first released all the way back in 1989 for the venerable Apple II series of 8-bit computers. That original game, extremely simple by today’s standards, is a classic today.
The author, Jordan Mechner, had given up on looking for the 6502 assembly language source code behind the game until his dad found a box of disks buried in a closet. Among them were several hand-labeled disks claiming to contain the long-lost code. Read more
I commonly run errands mid-evening because strapping my two kids into seat belts is a good way to keep them from tripping over their own shadows and hurting themselves. So we did that one night, and when we got home, my wife logged onto Facebook, where a picture of my sister’s USB flash drive greeted her. It was in pieces.
For about a month after a new version of Windows is released, it supports just about any hardware you’re likely to throw at it. And after that, you’re on your own to find drivers for stuff.
I stumbled across Driverpacks back in March, and I’ve finally had a chance to spend some serious time working with them. What they mean is that if you’re willing to do some work, you can make a disc that will install Windows with functional drivers for virtually any computer in existence.
Its specs aren’t overwhelming–700 MHz ARM CPU, 128 MB RAM, Ubuntu Linux–but it could be a general-purpose computer for some people. Or a thin client. It could also be a tinkerer’s delight, which I think was the developer’s idea.
Booting off USB is easy. You go into the BIOS, find the option that says USB boot, enable it, and then go into the boot order, select USB, and move it to the top. Well, not if you have an HP or a Compaq, you don’t. How do you make HP and Compaq computers boot off USB?