Live Cd’s are a blessing. Whenever you arrive at that family dinner and get shuffled into a stuffy corner to fix another dinky pc.. You KNOW you need help. Sure, there are plenty of live cd’s out there (The list in Distrowatch is quite endless) and each live CD has its own specific skills and thrills. However not all of them are geared towards “fixing” a Windows PC.
Enter Switchblade, A 220 megabyte gift from whatever digital deity we pray to. The simple ‘push here to preform instant magic’ interface to this “live application” that you can run from a Usb drive, will have you fix the most common quirks and aches any pc might suffer from.
With the ability to backup drivers, install Windows patches, Ccleaner or quicky find drivers online, Switchblade can save you enough time to make it back to the dinnertable for the main course. In combination with the Ninite installer and some handy automated command line commands ‘ chksdk c: /f /r ‘ and ‘defrag c: -f ‘ you will have the PC crunching numbers while you get to much down on potatoes and yams.
Links : Switchblade
With the coming of Windows 8, changes will be inevitable for our fellow computer users who embrace the ways of Redmont. Where we have been used to hitting the Start button for years and have been closing the windows to our virtual world with the little cross, everything is about to change. Sure, the big square tiles on our desktop might be a blessing for those who are shortsighted or have the eye-hand coördination of a drunken elephant… but what about those who would like to keep things the same ?
I’m talking about the grandma’s, the uncle’s aunties and cousins for whome this kind of change would mean hours on the phone with the family geek to get things figured out.. I’m talking about your very sanity. Would it not be great to give these people a chance to continue on an OS that LOOKS like the one they used before, but has the benefits of being safe, secure and open source ?
Enter Zorin Linux. Its tagline “The gateway to Linux for Windows users” does tend to promise a solution to the very problem we face with our bloodlines standing on the precipice of the Metro interface. Zorin is a good looking, crisp and mature version of Linux with a slick but simple look and feel that, with some minor tweaks, could convice a novice user that he IS still in fact still using Windows 7 . Steering away from the Unity interface, this Debian based OS has the additional value that it has a “look changer”. This lets Zorin Linux act like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. As if asked the question “What is your name” Zorin can reply with “What do you want it to be”. This is because this pretty little functionality lets Zorin “Morph” from a Windows 7 , Xp, or even OSX “look-a-like” in a matter of seconds.
Zorin might be called “a shallow broad” because of its focus on looks, but underneath the ever changing shell lies a well polished Debian core with thoughtfully selected applications and a stable end result. For new Linux users who love the “old ways of XP” Zorin is a perfect alternative to Windows 8 and a great way to herd those stray friends and family members onto the planes of the penguins.
Zorin is available in free and premium editions over at Zorin-OS.com.
A whole new deal.
Very soon we will see a culture shift, A change how people interact on the computer scene. My prophecy is nothing less then the end of the almost religious ‘ OS- Wars ‘. From newbie to web-lord, we have all played the paralympic game of ‘ what’s the better OS’ Wether in forums, in chatrooms, in endless slashdot threads or even in the comfort of our own pub : We’ve all been there. Wether Xp is better then 2000, Why Mac Os is better then Windows , and we’ll never forget the face of our local Linux Guru foaming at the mouth after he had to endure your proclamation that Windows ME was the best operating system ever written. ( And he never spoke to you again. ) But very soon the question “What’s your operating system” will be replaced by “ What’s your Primary Os ?”. Any computer with a processor speed over 1.5 gigahertz is quite frankly a waste of money. You don’t see a specific speed increase when you buy a 3 gigahertz or more . Ok , Windows will boot faster , but that does not mean YOU can work any faster. I mean , the processor is not the bottleneck of the system. The question is : What to do with all this extra operating system power … More eye-candy ? Perhaps Vista will be more then happy to gobble up a few million cycles just for Balmers personal pleasure. OR .. we can make the cycles pay off by jumping on the virtualisation train.
All aboard ?
What do you do when you have one OS running , but your computer can carry twice the load ? Well , lets install ANOTHER operating system. I’m not talking Dual Booting here, I’m talking Virtualisation. Running a second Os , INSIDE the first one. The “Base OS” is the main operating system you are running, The “ Guest OS is a virtual version of an operating system neatly compressed into one file.
I know what you are saying. But why “ma cher Knightwise” would i do this ? Here is why.
- Perfect testing : The virtual machine you installed is just ONE FILE. After you install it , make a backup and start fumbling around. Messed up the Guest OS ? Just drag your copy back and you are good to go. You can easily install all kinds of operating systems without having to worry about partitioning.- Space and energy saver : Who said you had to stop with running just one Guest OS . Instead of bricking up your bedroom with countless pc towers you can now have them running as virtual machines on one machine. Needless to say you save money by just owning one pc, you save power cause you only have one power supply to feed and save valuable bedroom time with your space because she doesn’t have to be mad at you all the time for junking up the house with your old ‘test machines”.
- Switchers trouble : I have seen people by a PC or a Mac just for that one task. I’ve seen people buy an extra pc for their on-line banking. I’ve seen switchers go back because they could not get a certain application working on a certain platform. Well, There is an end to switchers trouble and you have all walked through the gates of Sliders heaven (Sliders = cross platform users). Personally I wanted to switch my main machine to linux because I could not get MSN messenger running webcam sessions. (Microsoft does not want to clear the code ) So .. I installed Ubuntu, ran Windows XP as a virtual machine and did the impossible, ran the two Os’es at once and did my Webcam stuff without any trouble. I run Xp on my mac for consulting purposes (when i need to get into a Windows network) and I run Ubuntu in my Xp for testing everything out before I make changes to my ubuntu server.
- Servers dream : The crappy thing about running multiple servers at home is the fact that they eat power. Now you can run several ‘virtual’ servers on the same machine and just have one power supply to feed.
And how do i Do that ?
Before we start : Be sure you have enough memory in your Base Operating system. Each guest operating system requires a chunk of ram. The bigger the chunk, the better the speed. Also see that you have enough storagespace. Not only so the Guest OS can grow to its full potential (About 4 gig”s will do) you also want to make backup copy’s of every clean installed os that you have. Wether you want to run Linux in Xp or Xp in Linux , you need the free vmware player . This is a free application that lets you use pre-built images of virtual machines. So you cant ‘build’ your own virtual machine , just use one that has been pre-built. Now this ‘building’ of a virtual machine tells the virtual machine how to act. Luckily I found THIS site where you can download FREE virtual machine configuration files for just about any operating system you wish. All you need are the installation cd’s of that OS and you are on your way. I’ll be playing with virtual machine more as the week progresses and keep you posted on the results. Meanwhile my “ Piece de resistance “ is a screenshot of an msn webcam session in Windows XP , running as a virtual machine on my Ubuntu (base) workstation. Sliders .. the end of our troubles is in side and we are virtually saved.