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Old 07-12-2015, 02:17 AM   #91
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Let me fill in the readers on that one...MS hid some system functions from early versions of Windows (the "hidden Windows API") that they didn't tell WordPerfect, Lotus, etc. about. In fact, they hid them from all developers, which is why custom Windows development really languished in the early years, certainly before the introduction of Visual Basic.
MS is still continuing this kind of dickery. While the rest of the world agrees on various standards and abide by them, Microsoft routinely makes their own standards that vary slightly. MS stays close enough that software developed by other companies can run on Windows but varies enough that none of them will run as well on Windows as the software MS develops itself.

Some of the "variations" from standards allow MS backdoors into Windows, which is also why Windows, IE, etc. are so much more vulnerable to malware.
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Old 07-15-2015, 03:13 AM   #92
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Default TechRepublic Newsletter: Linux and Open Source July 14, 2015

Five Linux desktop distributions with a great future
If you're looking for a new Linux distribution, don't let the choices overwhelm you. This list of rising distributions will get you off to a great start.

By Jack Wallen in Five Apps, July 14, 2015, 10:24 AM PST

Linux is everywhere. It's on your servers and in your phones, cars, watches, toasters, refrigerators... and desktops. Although fewer users see Linux on their desktops than in their thermostats, even that is on the rise, partly due to the number of high-quality distributions. This new wave of Linux desktop distributions is bringing a confluence of user-friendliness, modern design, and stability to the open source platform.

The only problem you might have is figuring out which of the more recent distributions are the true darlings of the moment. Never fear, intrepid readers: I have you covered with the five Linux desktop distributions I feel are the hottest commodities coming out of the open source world.

1: Elementary OS Freya
Elementary OS Freya (Figure A) is the first Linux distribution in a long time to seduce me away from my long-time favorite, Ubuntu. There's a good reason for this.

Elementary offers a perfect combination of modernity and old-school Linux. More than anything, users will appreciate how much thought was put into keeping a uniform look and feel across the board.


Figure A

All apps carry a similar design spec and do exactly what you'd expect them to do. With Elementary OS Freya, there are no surprises. It works and it works impeccably.

Anyone who has used Windows or OS X will immediately be at home in Freya. It's that well designed. Yet it doesn't give up its own unique flavor and design elements.

2: Chromixium
Chromixium (Figure B) is one of two Chrome OS-like distributions on this list. Chrome OS has managed to do something no other OS has done: bombproof the operating system. But some users are put off by the idea that Chrome OS has a certain local-app limitation. That's where distributions like Chromixium come into play.


Figure B

Working with standard hardware, Chromixium allows you to enjoy a Chrome OS experience without having to purchase new hardware. Oh, and you can run all the great apps available for Linux. LibreOffice? No problem. Gimp? No problem. OpenShot, Scribus, Audacity, Ardour, Thunderbird... the list goes on and on. If you're looking for the elegant simplicity of Chrome OS and the power of Linux, give this distribution a try.

3: Solus
Solus (Figure C) was, at one point, Evolve OS. But a trademark spat between the developers and the UK Secretary of State Office caused the shift in name. Solus is the second Chrome OS-like distribution in the list. (I can't help it; I'm a fan of Chrome OS.) But where Chromixium might seem to struggle a bit in keeping every element congruent with the design, Solus succeeds on an Elementary OS Freya level.


Figure C

Add to this the developer's desire to ensure zero scope creep and Solus is a project everyone should be watching. The desktop is centered on a built-from-scratch environment called Budgie, which does an outstanding job of keeping things simple. As you might expect, Solus is still in beta and development is on the slow side of things. Even so, keep your eyes glued to this distribution. When it comes out of beta, look out!

4: Korora
Korora (Figure D) is a re-spin of the Fedora project that "just works" out of the box. This distribution takes the bleeding edge Fedora, tones it down a bit, includes the necessary codecs for multimedia, and even allows you to select which desktop you want during install (Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE, Mate, or XFCE). Korora also preconfigures a few repositories the developers think most users would want (Adobe Flash, Dropbox, Google Chrome/Earth/Talk, RPMFusion, VirtualBox).


Figure D

Korora developers are working on a unique tool called Lens. This project has a goal of creating an agnostic alternative to desktop UIs. It's actually a fairly impressive (and complex) idea, which you can read more about here.

5: Mageia
Mageia (Figure E) isn't new, but it's managed to remain under the radar since its inception in 2010. Mageia was given life as a fork of the now-defunct Mandriva Linux.

Not only does Mageia promise to deliver a secure, solid, and sustainable operating system, it also brings about a stable and trustable governance of the platform: something other open source projects are having issues with. You can download KDE or GNOME versions of Mageia and know that neither will throw any surprises at you. What you expect, is what you get: it's simple, reliable, and stable software.


Figure E

Mageia should be much applauded for the thriving community it has developed (and continues to nurture). I strongly believe that Mageia could become one of the primary distributions for those looking to run either the GNOME or KDE desktop.

Your choice?
There are so many Linux distributions, deciding which one to try can seem overwhelming. I believe each of these distributions will see quite a bit of attention in the coming years. Without fail, I would gladly recommend each of these for new and experienced users alike. Give one of these Linux distributions a try and see if it doesn't meet your needs.
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Old 07-16-2015, 12:54 AM   #93
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My personal suggestion, if you want it? Go to portableapps.com and download the alternate versions of the applications that are big in the Linux world, and just expand them, without having to install them, and play with them, with the spare time that you have, now that you're no longer wasting it on the Windows 10 Insider Program. Try LibreOffice, GIMP, even an alternate browser, though FF is still #1 in that world. GIMP has really made some UI strides recently. LO Writer looks like Office '03, but that's when 99% of the functionality of word processors was defined anyway. Every little thing you learn now will come in handy in 2-3 years, as I will soon explain.
Decided to take your advice so I downloaded and installed Ubuntu 15. Placed it on a 42 Gb partition I'd saved when I recently reinstalled Win 7. And boy, am I glad I installed it.

Came home tonight, turned the computer on and MS wanted to install some updates. Being distracted, I clicked on OK and went to do a few things. Came back and the install appears to be trashed. Isn't working at all. Will have to go into safe mode to set things straight (hopefully) after I'm done here.

And people wonder why I really dislike MS.

And Rick Danger, Gonna have to look into some of those distros. Ubuntu is working fine but some of those sound kind of interesting. Will have to give a few a try. Tried Cinnamon a couple of years ago and kind of liked it. Very light weight as I remember.
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Old 07-16-2015, 05:11 AM   #94
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The one ending in 979 [ X64 ] this month continually screwed with my connection. Kept telling me there was no connection when I rebooted. I eventually gave up and hid it.
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Old 07-17-2015, 12:21 AM   #95
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a435843,

For some reason, I always forget about System Restore. Probably because most of the time it never did a very good job. But that was a while ago so maybe I should give it another go.

I'm used to going into Safe Mode and deleting the updates from there. Actually got lucky today as the update screwing my machine up was KB3065822. Its some type of security update for IE 11 (which I never use). It was at least partially freezing my machine and knocking out my wifi. After the reboot the wifi icon was gone and the hardwired internet icon was present with the red bar through it. It also did a few other things. Haven't had time yet to look into it but I should be able to find out if theres a workaround or if I just keep it hidden.

Once I figured that one out all the rest went in with no problem.
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Old 07-17-2015, 12:38 PM   #96
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a435843,

For some reason, I always forget about System Restore. Probably because most of the time it never did a very good job. But that was a while ago so maybe I should give it another go.

I'm used to going into Safe Mode and deleting the updates from there. Actually got lucky today as the update screwing my machine up was KB3065822. Its some type of security update for IE 11 (which I never use). It was at least partially freezing my machine and knocking out my wifi. After the reboot the wifi icon was gone and the hardwired internet icon was present with the red bar through it. It also did a few other things. Haven't had time yet to look into it but I should be able to find out if theres a workaround or if I just keep it hidden.

Once I figured that one out all the rest went in with no problem.
I had a similar problem under vista64. But then I tried signing on as administrator and the icon/wifi problem ceased. Then I updated Norton360 & Malwarebytes & rebooted and the problem was totally gone.
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Old 07-17-2015, 09:57 PM   #97
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Default To Update or Not to Update........ Not REALLY a question

I think if you've read any of my ravings on this thread you know I am definitely NOT a Microsoft "company man". I also think I've laid ample historical precedent to support the opinion that Microsoft may be one swing of the bat away from striking out of the desktop OS market and joining the likes of IBM, Lotus, Compaq, et. al. who once were giants and are now just afterthoughts.

HAVING SAID THAT, one thing my direct experience has taught me is that trying to figure out shortcuts around applying Microsoft updates is like playing Russian Roulette with five loaded chambers instead of one.

During the three years I struggled with Vista, I spent time figuring out what services and features to remove or shutoff to lower the awful overhead of that bloated monstrosity. I also spent large amounts of time reviewing the whitepage notes on each and every Windows Update package. Those items that I judged to be not worthwhile I would deselect.

Over time my Vista machine became an unstable mess. Attempts to retroactively apply or backout updates at best did nothing, at worst made the problems worse. Ultimately I was forced to perform a 'factory refresh' on the machine numerous times, then suffer through long hours of reinstalling apps, utilities and updates.

When I finally acquired new Windows 8 machines for my wife and I, I decided to no longer play the update game. Important or Recommended updates I would select by default and allow the installer to apply them in whatever order it determined. Optional updates I would review and apply only as I saw fit. In the two years I have been maintaining these machine I have not had any major issues related to applying updates.

A few cautions. First, if a large volume of updates are applied, I reboot my systems, regardless if the update routine requires one or not. Ditto with any hardware updates. I always check my hardware OEM first for hardware updates before I take a hardware update from Microsoft. I also don't try and apply Microsoft updates within a short period of time after I've applied OEM BIOS or hardware updates. I want to make sure those system updates are "bedded down" before I plunge into any Microsoft stuff.

I don't use Internet Explorer either, but I do maintain it for two important reasons. First, security specialists recommend that you apply security updates to all applications installed on your computer, whether you use them all or not. Clearly any apps I don't intend on using I uninstall; ripping out IE is not something I would consider doing. Secondly, I had the experience years ago on my XP desktop where IE crashed and I had no other browser installed. The fix was simple: go to Microsoft.com and download IE. Without a working browser the Catch-22 was how to go about this. Fortunately, I had a copy of a browser download package on another computer. I installed it, reloaded IE and the problem was solved. Ever since then I always maintain TWO browsers on any computer I have charge of.

As I have mentioned in prior posts, I am security paranoid. I constantly check for updates to Windows and any other Microsoft or non-Microsoft apps and utilities that I use. One tool I have relied on over the past few years to give me a "second opinion" is the Personal Software Inspector from Secunia (http://secunia.com/vulnerability_sca...onal/features/). This free application conducts a comprehensive scan of software on your computer and informs you what needs updating. It also allows you to stage updates directly from the PSI app, thus saving a goodly amount of time chasing updates. I am not ascribing mystical, supernatural properties to PSI, but I don't know of any other tool of this kind at such a GREAT price. It is recommended by PCWorld, ZDNet, and Softpedia. Check it out for yourself.

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Old 07-18-2015, 12:25 AM   #98
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Default A teaser from Secunia.com

If you investigate Denmark based Secunia.com you'll find that aside from the free Personal Software Inspector and other software tools they are a center of security research and a repository of related information, exempli gratia:

14% of US users had an unpatched Operating System (Win7, Win8, Windows Vista)
http://secunia.com/?action=fetch&fil...82015Q1%29.pdf

50% of German PC users had Oracle Java 7 installed. 77 % of them hadnít patched it. There were 101 vulnerabilities in Oracle Java 7.
http://secunia.com/?action=fetch&fil...82015Q1%29.pdf

81% of UK PC users had Adobe Flash Player 16 installed which is an End-Of-Life program, and therefore no longer receives security updates from the vendor.
http://secunia.com/?action=fetch&fil...82015Q1%29.pdf

All this is sourced from Secunia's PSI Country Reports for the US, Germany, and the UK, Q1 2015.
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Old 07-18-2015, 12:27 AM   #99
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a435843,

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The Safe Mode technique is also good. By using this method of uninstall, it allows you to hide, ignore, or attempt a separate reinstall of that update, after you can reboot and verify that the system issues have been fixed, thereby isolating the bad update.
I've been using the Safe Mode technique for years (since 3.1?) so, although it may be slow and a bit of a POA, it does work. And, as with so many things today, if something works, why change it?


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This was a rather large update this month, requiring multiple reboots, so it wouldn't surprise me if this were the case for you. Also, upon looking up this KB number, there doesn't seem to be a problem with the update itself, so I think the process was corrupted, hence the random system problems (I am assuming that the uninstall fixed these problems, which is what I think you're saying).
There were 11 updates this month for me (sometimes it said 10). I wound up doing the uninstall several, and, each time all 11 were uninstalled the computer went back to normal. There was something unusual (at least that I've ever seen) though.

My first attempt to weed out the bad update, I installed the first in line (KB3065822) and rebooted. Machine started acting up after the boot (wifi icon gone, replaced by ethernet icon showing it wasn't connected, and the start button and task bar frozen). Rebooted into Safe Mode and then into Add/Remove Programs. But instead of finding only the one update I found three. That was weird, I was sure I'd removed all of them with the latest date. Oh well, brains going so I deleted the three and started over. After reboot the machine worked fine. Then reinstall only the '5822 update and it crashed the machine again. Rebooted and then into Safe Mode again. Back into Add/Remove Programs and Damn! There are the three updates (KB3065822, KB3075516 and KB3065822) again!

So correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember one update installing two others? MS probably does it all the time I just haven't been paying close enough attention.

So I uninstalled all three and then installed the other nine. No problems. Neither of the other two have reappeared.

At this point, you may wish to try to re-update this one update only, for safety's sake, either by using Windows Update, or an old standby technique that I've had some success with in the past, downloading the update directly from MS's web site and running it manually, so you can verify everything is OK. Then verify that it doesn't appear in Windows Update after rebooting.

The nice thing about System Restore is that you can roll back the whole thing at one time, then reinstall updates one at a time, until you find the bad update. Just pick the correct restore time, as being prior to kicking off the updates. You may also find that separate, individual updates also helps you to avoid the system corruption problem I described, when you perform a bulk update that causes an issue. In other words, individually, each update goes in fine.

With Safe Mode you have to uninstall one, reboot, check the system, if it's OK, go back into Safe Mode, uninstall the next one, etc., until finding the bad one, then reinstalling the good ones. [/QUOTE]
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Old 07-18-2015, 12:33 AM   #100
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During the three years I struggled with Vista, I spent time figuring out what services and features to remove or shutoff to lower the awful overhead of that bloated monstrosity.
Are you familiar with Black Viper? I used to use his site often trying to slim down XP and Win 7's memory hoggage. Never did use Vista though (except to briefly BETA it for a while).
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