Computer issues

I’ve been running into numerous computer issues at home lately. It started when my son fired up his laptop for the first time in over a year and couldn’t connect to my wireless network. It turns out that he was still on XP Service Pack 2 which didn’t support WPA2. (I had switched from WEP to WPA2 over a year ago when I purchased the X2000 router. I installed SP3 and got him connected. Then after running a gazillion MS updates, he had virtually no free disk space and was only running on 512MB of RAM. I found 2GB of memory for him and a a larger hard drive. I attempted to clone the drive but for whatever reason my cloning attempts failed. I reloaded Windows from scratch. It still ran like crap and I attributed the slowness to his outdated Celeron processor. I had a reasonably nice Dell laptop so I put a 250GB drive into it, loaded Windows and got it configured for him. It’ll be a Christmas present for him, definitely an improvement over what he has.

While working on my son’s laptop, the Windows on my dual-boot Gateway laptop went tango-uniform. I can’t boot into Windows at all but the Linux partition is still good. I really don’t want to reinstall Windows on it because I’d have to reinstall Linux as well. I recall that I had to slipstream drivers to install Windows. I probably still have the CD I made. I haven’t decided what to do with it. I definitely need to pull some data files from the Windows partition so I can install my genealogy program on my Windows PC. Other than that, I’ll probably set it aside for a while. I might just put Linux on it and donate it to a good cause.

Last weekend, one of the grandchildren told me that their computer was shutting down unexpectedly. I had recently upgraded my wife to a better computer so I wiped her old one and set it up for them. The first time they used it was yesterday evening and it crashed with the dreaded “NTLDR missing or corrupt” error. I tested the hard drive and it seems to be healthy. I’m tempted to install Mint on it.

I took a look at the PC that had allegedly been shutting down. I inspected the motherboard and found no questionable capacitors or anything else amiss. I tested the hard drive and the memory and found them both to be in good working order. It didn’t shut down during testing so I turned my attention to the operating system. I ran a virus scan with Avast and another with Malwarebytes and found incredible amounts of malware, mostly browser toolbars and search enhancers. I cleaned it up and it’s running much better. Not having a desk for it, I installed a Cisco wireless card and set it up as a “mobile” PC. I installed the PC in a small TV cart with wheels, added a monitor and a wireless keyboard and mouse.

I’ve been running Linux Mint (Cinnamon) on a Dell E5500 for nearly two months and I’m quite happy with it. I had found a great deal on a Logitech wireless mouse and used that with it for a while, before finally getting myself a Logitech wireless trackball. The trackball is a bit bigger than the mouse but I generally prefer trackballs anyway.

With the end of Microsoft support for Windows XP coming up in a few months, I am definitely looking to decrease my reliance on Windows and expand the use of Linux in my household. For those tasks that are currently bound to Windows applications, I’m looking for Linux alternatives.

To make my administrative life a little easier, I took my AD login batch file, modified it a bit and put it in the All Users Startup Menu so that the shares on the NAS are automatically mapped, to include the appropriate home folder.

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2 Responses

  1. The Windows issues on the desktop PC and the laptop remain unresolved and I have yet to decide what I’m going to do. Do I reinstnall Windows XP or do I install a Linux distribution? (I’m a little disappointed with Mint 15 right now. See below.) At the moment, I really don’t feel like working on them. Maybe this weekend.

    Now I’m having an issue with the launcher applet (or whatever it’s called) at the bottom of the screen on my laptop. The applet launchers don’t work and I can’t click on the icons for my open apps to reopen them. I can do Alt+Tab, the “All Windows” icon in the corner or move the mouse up to the upper-left corner and select the window. Those methods work but are inconvenient. (Sorry for not knowing the proper terms but I don’t what they’re actually called. I’m not fluent in Geek.)

    I’ve tried to find answers online but I’ve found nothing that actually addresses the problem. I can sort of live with it but I’m sure I’ll eventually reinstall Linux. It aggravates me that I should have to resort to that for such a seemingly minor problem.

  2. For the Mint 15 app launcher problem, I tried the only solution I found without success. The fix was to create a new user, then copy the ~/,config/dconf/user file of the new user to the original user. It didn’t work. But I did find “Cairo-Dock”, an OSX-like app launcher very similar to the Avant launcher I’ve used on my Ubuntu systesm. That seems to be working rather nicely.

    I still haven’t done anything with the computers at home waitng for operating systems. Haven’t really given them much thought.

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