Tag: Windows XP

Unbelievable lifespan for a computer

So one finally bit the dust tonight. Old Dell XPS M140’s. By reckoning those machines were 9 years old. But the conundrum – if it could be called that is when the last one failed this evening I have no way of getting data off the machine. Or so you might think.

Since they’re vintage computers they use ATA-100 drives. So I got an ATA-100 to USB converter. Just plug it in and turn it on. Ordered a refubished Dell Latitude E6420 to replace the old machine. Cost about $300 with tax. I’m picking it up tomorrow. I got it from MicroCenter.  A warning, their site doesn’t play well with Chrome or Firefox – you have to use Internet Exploder/Explorer.

But the reason the machines lasted so long is that yours truly did a hell of a lot of preventive maintenance. Just to give you an idea, at age 4 I replaced the hard drives on them. And I can’t count the number of keyboards I replaced on them. Or the screens I replaced. In fact the only thing original on the machines were the motherboards. Oh yeah, wifi cards got replaced too.

In essence I get my moneysworth out of computers. But this upgrade is sort of necessary as the ‘new’ machine is Windows 7 Professional which will upgrade to Windows 10 with no issues.

Moving from Widows XP to Linux (Ubuntu)

With the impending cutoff of April 8th for XP support I had to do something. A friend gave me his Dell Studio 1535 to rescue some data from it and hack around with. I’m on that machine now and posting about my experience going from an ancient Windows XP system to an Ubuntu 12.04-4 LTS operating system.
The initial install was a tiny bit clunky because the DVD drive on this box might have an issue. But the setup ran, converted all 320GB of space, encrypted my home directory etc. in a pretty short amount of time.

Setting it up required plugging in to a wired network – because then I could get the Broadcom driver for the Wifi card in the machine. Once that was done I disconnected the wired network and connected to my wireless network. Then I did all the system updates. That actually required a reboot because the Linux 3 kernel got upgraded in the process.

Then I setup a share – and installed Samba so I could see the Windows machines on the network. I discovered that Libre Office could read all my Word and Excel files and even read Access databases using a JET driver. Cool beans – and my iTunes library – copying as I speak.

Next up was testing it with online video sites. YouTube worked flawlessly with the Flash player. And hulu works as well. The heavy lift was Netflix.

I had to install a piece of software called Pipelight. In addition I had to add a User Agent Switcher to Firefox  -in fact right now it looks like I’m coming from Windows usin Firefox 26. Once I’d put those two things on the machine Netflix works without a hiccup now.

Overall I’d say I’m very pleased with the newest Ubuntu. The Gnome environment has gotten much slicker than in prior versions. I do have a disk with Kubuntu on it but I was looking and even though I’m an old KDE fan I just couldn’t do it. Ubuntu it is.

I’ve installed Clam AV on the machine too.

Now all that remains to be done is grabbing my Firefox and Thunderbird profiles and stuffing them on this machine.

But with all that in mind I really don’t have to virtualize me old XP box. I can just read and modify the documents right from the Ubuntu box. That’s a pleasant surprise. I had planned on spending a few days creating the image, setting up the VM etc. But didn’t have to do that. A++ Ubuntu!

Now I won’t say that Ubuntu is for the faint of heart. There are still some things you HAVE do from the command line. But as you can see, I’m already on WordPress too. In fact I’ve got one tab open to YouTube, another to Facebook, one to Reason Magazine, and this one to WordPress.

Speed wise – the Dell 1535 is a dual-core machine. And now that it doesn’t have Vista on it, the machine is pretty zippy. I’m loving it.



Goodbye Windows XP

So I’ve made the decision to finally cut away from Windows in general. Not a big fan of Windows 8 to be sure. 

I’ve decided I’m going to put the latest 64 bit incarnation of Ubuntu onto a Dell Studio 1535 a friend gave me. Then I’m going to install Oracle’s VirtualBox on it, and stuff a bit image of my XP box onto that. And of course I’ll disable the networking on the virtual machine. 

In essence it give me my XP box as a sandbox that has no danger of being hacked. Got to love that aspect of virtual machines. 

And more to the point – I think the most attacked entity still using XP will be state governments all over the country. 

So Once again with Microsoft Visual Studio

This time it’s Visual Studio 2012. Comes with C++, C# and VisualBASIC. Hmm – I had picked up a cheap learn C# book. I already have more than a passing familiarity with C++ and C and C# (Pronounced C Sharp) isn’t that much different except it’s Microsoft’s version of C++.

As such it has limitations. One of the best features of C++ is object oriented programming. Inherent in that is the fact that the object you create can have what is called polymorphism and inheritance and attendant overloading of methods.

In C++ you’re pretty much unlimited to overloaded methods. But in Microsoft’s fucking wisdom, you get by one in C#. One. Are they serious?

I can sort of understand why they’d do this, as overloading methods can get to be a little hairy with memory management but that’s always been the trade-off in higher level programming languages.

I should mention, most of the code base of Window 7 and Windows 8 are written in, you guessed it, C#.

But I do find it interesting that Microsoft still bundles C++ in there. As a reference point I believe Windows XP was written in C++ which may account for some of the limitations of the operating system and the lack of the new Windows filesystem. But there’s still a hell of a lot of XP machines out there. Particularly in government settings.

Fixing ancient laptops

I’ve had this laptop for a long time. I’ve done preventative maintenance on it and repairs where necessary.

One of the things that drove my nuts about it was the screen hinges. The things were just worn down, the screen would flop any which way.

Searched the web and found a new set of hinges for $10. It took the removal of 12 screws to do this, the ones on the screen surround, and the screws holding the hinges to the rear of the display cover and those that secure the screen to the chassis of the machine.

And as I’ve said – I understand the limitation of XP and 32 bit architecture. But it still does what I need it to do without any major issues. And I was of the firm impression that Vista was a piece of crap, Windows 7 was acceptable but unnecessary to upgrade to that as it was a bit bloated, and Windows 8 looks like it was designed by a crack addled ADHD sufferer. And that’s me being nice about it. In my opinion XP was the pinnacle for Microsoft. And it’s been down hill every since.

What Microsoft doesn’t realize is this:

1) An operating system has a very LONG life span. And just shoveling new OS’s out there that in essence were half baked pissed a lot of people off.

2) The cycle for I.T. infrastructure isn’t two years, it’s more like 4-7 years.

It is entirely likely that my next computer will not run Windows. Or at least not as the default operating system. Instead I’ll probably get use Debian Linux and VirtualBox on it. VirtualBox is a virtualization package that lets you run another OS image underneath the main OS. So I’ll just clone my current XP box into an image and use that when I need to get access to MS Office, etc.

And I will kiss goodbye forever Microsoft’s craptastic operating systems. Yes I said it, I’ve dealt with Windows for over 20 years now and all I can say is that it’s been one pain in the ass after another. From print drivers that no longer work with the latest versions of Windows, to bad file system structure, etc.

Linux at the very least is flexible as hell. The ext4 file system can have drives up to one exbibyte (EiB). That’s that EiB is 1 exbibyte = 260 bytes = 1152921504606846976bytes = 1,024 pebibytes. A pebibyte is is 250 bytes. And right now we’re only seeing terabytes and gigabytes. So there won’t be any problem with big files in the ext4 file system.

Plus ext partitions have journaling capabilities, error correction, etc. Compare that to the Windows File System.

I can just use Macrium Reflect to create the boot image of this machine – and BAM! Virtualized in style.

So I’ll be leaving Microsoft for greener fields. And in fact once I image this machine I’ll probably put Ubuntu or Debian on it. It’s still usable.