My last column was an attempt to help people avoid the most common problem I encounter, malware infections on Windows computers.
In general, it was about what you can do to reduce the likelihood of having your Windows computer become infected.
At the end of that column, I mentioned that in my next one I would give some alternative ideas to using Windows all the time.
Now, the logic goes like this. Most people, by far, use one version or another of the Windows operating system. This creates a large target for the criminals who write malware. The large number of users translates to more opportunity for the bad guys.
After all, if there is a choice between casting your bait into a pool with a huge number of fish or casting into one with only a handful of fish, which would you take?
So, the object of this column is to move your computer out of the pool with a huge number of fish into the one with only a few.
This reduces your risk factor. The bad guys have less incentive to write malware for the small pool.
What I'll be talking about is how to use an alternative operating system, Linux, on your Windows computer, at least for the most critical functions you do online, like banking and shopping, where you run the most risk.
In the "old days," maybe two or three years ago, it was a lot more involved to switch operating systems, or create a computer on which you had a choice of systems to use when you started it up.
It's much easier now. Indeed, I think it's easy enough for a person who is only a moderately skilled computer user to do it.
There are a lot of different versions, or "distributions," of Linux. For the sake of simplicity, I will be referring to only one, which is called "Ubuntu." It is free. Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning "humanity to others."
Ubuntu is not the only distribution you could use, but it has become very popular, and arbitrarily I have selected it to talk about here.
What I am going to tell you how to do will enable you to use Windows for most of your tasks, as usual, but switch to Ubuntu for things you do that you would want the most security for.
I would suggest things such as online banking and online shopping, for starters _ things where you provide important passwords and credit card numbers, or other such information.
I should mention that Linux will run well on most computers, but there is the possibility that some computers have hardware that Linux may not know how to deal with.
If you're interested, read on.
There are two ways to go about it.
One way is to create a CD that you can use to boot your computer from when you want to use Linux. This is the absolute safest way, as you never actually change anything on your computer. You insert the CD, restart the computer, and Ubuntu will boot up. Then you can start the Internet browser, Firefox, and do your stuff. Nothing gets written to your hard disk, so it's like getting a brand-new operating system every time you boot. This is also a good way to see how your computer reacts to Linux without committing to any changes to it.
The other way is to install Ubuntu right onto your computer as an alternative operating system. You will pick the system you want to use from a menu every time your computer starts up. This way you can save information to your hard disk, such as favorite websites, files and so forth.
Let me say first that I'm assuming you have a fast Internet connection. If you have a dial-up connection, it's really not practical to download the large file we need.
Surf to www.ubuntu.com. There is a lot of explanatory information there, so peruse the site as you wish, but to get things going, click on "try Ubuntu today." Near the top of the next page, you can click on "Get Ubuntu desktop edition".
Click on "Start download." This should begin the transfer of a large file, called an ISO file. After it is finished downloading (it will take a long time), you need to use a program that can burn the .iso file onto a CD. Most computers that come with a CD burner also come with a program that will do this.
If you are not in a hurry and are intimidated by this process, you can ask the Ubuntu organization to mail you a CD. It will do it for free, but it may take up to 10 weeks to come.
After you have created or received the CD, just put it into your CD drive and re-start your computer. It should boot from the CD and begin running Ubuntu.
If it doesn't, you may have watch very carefully when the computer starts, and press a certain key at the right time to get to a menu that will allow you to boot from the CD drive. It depends on the setup of your computer. This can be changed, if necessary, but doing that is beyond the scope of this column.
When the computer boots from the CD, you will have the options to run Ubuntu from the CD, without changing anything on your computer, and installing Ubuntu along with Windows. Make your choice accordingly.
Once Ubuntu has started, you can run Firefox, the Internet browser and do whatever surfing you want. Now, you will not be subject to any Windows-based malware. You're in the pool with fewer fish.
Good luck, and have fun.
Bruce Endries is former systems manager at The Daily Star. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/techgp.
My last column was an attempt to help people avoid the most common problem I encounter, malware infections on Windows computers.
The history of Memorial Day
Though not formally designated by Congress as a federal holiday until 1971, Memorial Day has its roots in private and pensive observances dating back to the 19th century.Continued ...
Memorial Day: A day to remember
Memorial Day sets the stage for a variety of scenes and emotions. Designed to remember those who have died while in our nationâ€™s service, the day's events can be as diverse as the people in this great county.Continued ...
Why did you serve?
Numerous local residents have spent time in service to our country in the military. Some joined out of a duty to our county, others were pressed into service through the draft, still others wanted to take advantage of the G.I. Bill. In honor of their service and Armed Forces Day on Saturday, we asked our readers why they served and what they took away from their service.Continued ...
Fitness key during pregnancy
Women have been having babies since well before time has been recorded by humans.Continued ...
Beyond the stacks: Local libraries offer everything from history to technology
The local libraries within the Four County Library System still make information available to their patrons in the traditional way -- books. They are also storehouses of local history: old photos, newspapers, genealogy records, diaries and letters.Continued ...
- The history of Memorial Day
- Around The Arts
'Record Breaker' exhibit to be at Orphic Gallery
"Record Breaker," featuring the work of Greg Frederick, will open Saturday at the Orphic Gallery in Roxubry.Continued ...
Local programs help children's creativity grow
I am not a stage mom. But, the other day I ended up in the middle of a discussion with a stage dad who, for many years, has designated a great deal of his time and resources to support his teenage sonâ€™s performing career. The cry of the stage parent: chauffeuring from one rehearsal to the next, scouting costumes, building sets, selling tickets and program ads, and, of course, sitting in the audience for the entire production run. Then, without a breath, off to the next one!Continued ...
An artist label can be placed on many types of people
"You are such an artist."Continued ...
Dip your toe in the art world through Pinterest
I am a magazine ripper. I always have been. I have shoesboxes and file folders filled with decorating ideas, recipes and other miscellaneous projects. No matter how hard I've tried, I can never seem to organize or tame the scraps of inspiration floating around my house.Continued ...
Arts encompasses so much more than visual, performing, musical things
This column was due when I was in the throes of our season at The Glimmerglass Festival, when all we are thinking about is the arts -- how to make people more aware of the arts, to engage in the arts. And -- what exactly do "the arts" entail?Continued ...
- 'Record Breaker' exhibit to be at Orphic Gallery
- Music Beat
Music Industry Tips About Professional Musicians
Musicians know that every performance they play is an audition for their next engagement.Continued ...
Practice really does make perfect for professionals
Shortly after I was hired at the age of 25 to work in the Music Department at State University College at Oneonta, I played a concert for members of this community. At the end of the concert, a young audience member said to me, â€œHow many years have you been playing the cello and do you still have to practice?â€�Continued ...
Stepping on the flag, and other memories
If we are to be defined all our lives by our high school mascots, then I suppose I am a Viking. But I'm also a Panther, having transferred schools after my freshman year.Continued ...
From SUNY Oneonta to CBS Sports
Some people say the music business is failing, but I don’t agree with that point of view. Neither does Joseph Miller.Continued ...
- 12 Music Industry Tips from Joseph Miller
- Music Industry Tips About Professional Musicians
- Parenting Imperfect
I'm relieved it's not just me
For the last few years, I've been convinced that I'm just harder on things than other people are.Continued ...
A tactical error in the handoff
My kids are lucky enough to have half of their grandparents within a three-hour drive.Continued ...
A potentially quiet afternoon interrupted by a dog and a balloon
The kids spent most of Martin Luther King Jr. Day bickering.Continued ...
The dog is a getting to be an expert at training
This sentence took 20 minutes to type.Continued ...
Bad things can happen when trends are no longer trendy
When I was a kid, it used to drive me bonkers that my mom didn't know anything about the most important things in my world. She had no idea what a friendship pin was or how you'd make one. She couldn't name any good band, i.e., the ones a pre-teen would listen to like Duran Duran or Wham. And she didn't find Robert Downey Jr. nearly as dreamy as I did.Continued ...
- I'm relieved it's not just me
- Senior scene
From the Office: Unleash the power of age by volunteering
This year marks the 50th anniversary of May as Older Americans Month. "Unleash the Power of Age" has been selected as the theme emphasizing the important role of older adults.Continued ...
Looking Back: A sad ending for adorable, sweet Taffy-toes
Another unwanted drop-off? Yes and so I must write this.Continued ...
As Time Goes By: Dealing with side effect of pills can really be a pain
At age 76, I find myself incontinent. Actually the problem started well before that date but now it has gone beyond "a problem," to "holy smoke the dam broke."Continued ...
- From the Office: Try spring cleaning, organizing for stress release
Looking Back: Take your time, think ahead before making decisions
A lifetime may seem forever for some, especially when we were young and couldn't wait to grow up and get to do all things we saw the adults do. Come to think of it, perhaps that wasn't too good.Continued ...
- From the Office: Unleash the power of age by volunteering
- Tech, GP
Thankful hard-disk shortage is about over, and counting my blessings
Well, I'm almost ready to let out a cheer.Continued ...
Businesses need backups for their computer people, systems
In the interest of full disclosure, I want to let you know that I have taken a new position, professionally. I recently joined Eastman Associates, a local general contractor, to do its IT work, as well as taking care of some other functions of the business.Continued ...
Windows 8 seems to be made for the good of Microsoft, not the user
By Bruce Endries The software company everybody loves to hate, Microsoft, recently released what it calls a "consumer preview" of their next operating system, Windows 8.Continued ...
The Granite State got it right on software purchases
Believe it or not, I have found a bright spot in the political landscape, amid all the vitriolic partisan fighting.Continued ...
Visit a construction site and you'll probably find an iPad
It was just about two years ago now, that the iPad came out, and I wrote a column about it. At that time, I went out on a limb and said that thought it was a product which would fill certain niches very well, but that it wasn't very likely to fill in for what is normally considered a computer.Continued ...
- Thankful hard-disk shortage is about over, and counting my blessings
- Teen Talk
A Word of Advice: How to become an 'alpha' male
This oneâ€™s for the lads and gents, maybe the ladies, too, if theyâ€™d care to eavesdrop on this man-to-man Iâ€™m about to lay down on the male readership.Continued ...
On the Go: Patriotism doesn't mean keeping status quo
I've been labeled many things, but when anti-American and unpatriotic came into the picture recently I was surprised. I know I have some controversial opinions, but since when does that equate to not loving America? I'm a born and raised American kid, and I love America.Continued ...
Luhrmann brings Gatsby new life
Sure, you would think that being a college student and having finals rapidly approaching would equate to my growing anticipation for the summer and being done with my first year of college.Continued ...
Teenhood Today: Only you can determine your impact
The question I am most often asked is, "What do you want to do with your life?"Continued ...
A Word of Advice: Just do something
If you're not going upward, the only direction you can go is down. To stagnate is to surrender; to do nothing for yourself; to give up on a better day completely. If we sit around feeling good enough in all aspects of life, or just too lazy to fix them, well, as Albert Einstein put it, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."Continued ...
- A Word of Advice: How to become an 'alpha' male