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A loose series of thoughts and venting on Linux, computers in general and their (ab)users.
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3 Notebooks and a funeral

Posted 12-15-2008 at 02:44 AM by bitpicker

I spent this weekend working on three notebooks. One was a Windows XP notebook I had been given because it was impossible to work with anymore, due to malware infestation. Two others (used notebooks) I had mail-ordered for a friend and a colleague of mine, respectively, to set up with Linux.

I got the Windows one on Thursday. It would take almost seven minutes to boot until it would respond to any input, but then it would quickly freeze thanks to an infection with a piece of scareware called 'Microsoft Antivirus 2009' (which, though really bad, isn't from Microsoft at all).

Removing that malware was easy, thanks to a Knoppicillin CD, a Knoppix-based live CD from the German computer magazine c't, which contains virus scanners from Avira, BitDefender and Kaspersky. It really was no hassle at all, quite in contrast to what you find people have to do if you google for removal solutions exclusively within Windows.

But the notebook had a number of other problems. Apart from far too many programs in automatic startup I found that both partitions were FAT 32 for no discernible reason, and of course the sole user account was an administrative account with no password. How would the average user ever reach any level of security with something like that?

So I converted the partitions to NTFS and added an Admin account with a sensible password, then removed admin privileges from the original user. I defragged the partitions, installed Spybot Search & Destroy and Hijackthis alongside the existing antivirus software, scanned and rescanned the system from within and without etc. I even wrote a three page manual for the owner of the notebook so that she would be able to continue using it.

All in all I spent about ten hours over the weekend either doing something to that computer myself or having scans and defragmentation run. That to make an installed system work again and get it to a shape which would permit it to continue to work for a certain time.

Meanwhile I equipped the other two notebooks with Ubuntu 8.10. One had come with Ubuntu 7.10 on it, which I fully replaced (one hour), the other came with Windows XP and I set up a dual-boot environment (another hour).

Needless to say, both notebooks work perfectly. The one with only Linux on it was given to a computer-illiterate colleague of mine, and she managed to get it hooked up to her wireless LAN and, after falling for the Windows-induced error of trying to download a version of MSN from the internet and getting a helpful hint from me, managed to install something for MSN from the repository (instead of using the already installed Pidgin).

Both notebooks are working fine, both users are happy.

So that's a ten-hour repair of a Windows notebook which I expect to see again rather sooner than later, and a two-hour setup for two complete systems.

And here's the funeral part: if there was any respect for Windows still left in me, it's dead and buried now.

Robin
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    "I even wrote a three page manual" -- Any chance you'd be willing to share that?

    After being "Winders"-free since May 2005, I just inherited (literally) a computer consulting business that deals w/ networks, servers, & e'ee desktops. Having a manual for my XP users could be very helpful.
    Posted 12-16-2008 at 08:35 AM by archtoad6 archtoad6 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    It's not a manual for Windows, it just refers to the two additional programs I installed and explains how to switch users. And it is in German to boot. So there's nothing to share, I'm afraid.

    If I could write a 3 page manual on how to use Windows sensibly, I would, and I would surely publish it.
    Posted 12-16-2008 at 09:19 AM by bitpicker bitpicker is offline
 

  



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