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Running Cinnamon on Linux Mint 12


I have been using Linux Mint since Mint 8 and I love it.  I run Linux Mint 13 in the office and it covers all of my day to day needs.  It is fast, slick and generally a pleasure to use  because it just works.  However, recently there are some small issues with the new desktop which has made me think about tweaking it a bit.

You see when Mint changed the default desktop to Gnome 3 with Mint Gnome Shell Extensions (MGSE) from Gnome 2 I was as sceptical as the rest.  Overtime you get used to the new interface and begin to appreciate the finer points (e.g attaching applications to the favourites bar and showing all open windows at once to name two) but I still miss the ‘traditional’ interface of Gnome 2.  So this is where Cinnamon comes in.  The Mint developers decided that Gnome 3 isn’t really their bag so they have started a project called Cinnamon which uses Gnome 3 technology but looks more like the Gnome 2 desktop.  And yes you can run the current stable release on Mint 12!!

Open up a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install cinnamon

When prompted enter your password.  When the software has been downloaded and installed you need to logout.  When you see the login screen click on settings and choose Cinnamon from the choice of desktop environments and voila you are now running Cinnamon!!

Word of warning here.  Although Cinnamon is classed as a stable release it is still undergoing development so it might still be rusty around the edges (I have had no issues so far though).  With Cinnamon you lose the top panel (never did like being able to load applications from the top or bottom) but retain the ability to view all open windows on one screen.  You still get the traditional Menu button which allows you to launch you applications and desktop effects come as standard.

So far my first impressions of Cinnamon are positive.  Don’t take my word for it go and have a play.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support, Laptop repairs and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

No more spam


A couple of weeks ago I enabled comments on my website thinking that I would moderate all comments before they were approved. What I was not ready for was the amount of spam messages I would receive.

Well last night I came across Spam Free WordPress. Spam Free WordPress is a plugin that you can install on your wordpress blog or website and stops 100 % of spam.  That’s right nothing gets past it.  No more bleeping phone at 1 in the morning telling me I have got another ‘comment’.  It requires any user to copy a password before any comments are sent.  Wonderful little piece of software.

So if you have a website or blog which runs on wordpress this is a must have.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support, Laptop repairs and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

 

Windows 7 Parental Controls


Today I am going to talk about parental controls on Windows 7.  Many readers who have children will be wondering if there is any way to restrict what their kids can do with a computer.  Today I will show you how.

On a windows 7 computer go to Start – Control Panel – Parental Controls.  Here you will be asked to choose a user and set up parental controls.  If you haven’t already done so create a standard user account by clicking on “create a new user account”.  Click on the user account to get started.  You should then see the screenshot below.

As you can see you can restrict when your child can use the computer, if they can play games and what programs they can use.  Parental Control does not allow you to control which websites they can access but the most effective method I have found is to install Avast Security Suite which comes with a website blocking feature which allows you to specify which types of website you can’t access.

Lets take Programs first.  Pick the programs you want your child to have access to from the list of installed programs and click ok.

Next let’s take Time Limits. Click on the time of day that you don’t want your child to access your computer (the white block will turn blue) as shown in the screenshot below. When you are happy click ok.

Finally let’s take a look at games.  You can block children from playing games, block games by rating or even block specific games your child can play as shown by the screen shot below.  Adjust the settings available to suit your own personal preferences.

Hopefully I have given you some insight into what parental controls are available through  Window 7.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in and around Stirling.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more.

File sharing on Linux


The following tutorial will show you how to set up samba on a Linux system allowing you to share files and folders with a either a Linux or a Windows client.  All the following steps work on Linux Mint 11 but should also work on any other distribution using gnome.  For kde the only thing which differs is defining shares (usually through the kde control center).

On the Samba Server

First thing is to check samba is installed.  Open up a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install samba

Type your root password when prompted.  Then install smbfs by typing:

sudo apt-get install smbfs

and then type your root password again.

Now open up your smb.conf file by typing:

gksu gedit /etc/samba/smb.conf

Locate the line WORKROUP = WORKGROUP and change it to the name of your network.  So for instance mine would be changed to WORKGROUP = MINT_HOME.  Save the file and exit.

Now we have to add users to the smbpasswd file which is located at /etc/samba/smbpasswd.  Only users specified in the smbpasswd file will be able to access your samba shares.  Open a terminal as root and type:

smbpasswd -a user (where user is the name of the person allowed to access the shares).  When prompted enter their new password twice.

Next we have to define the samba shares.  Type:

sudo shares-admin

With the GUI open add your samba shares, save and exit.

Note, everytime you update the smb.conf file you must restart the samba service so type:

sudo service smbd restart

Now we have to check the configuration so far.  Type:

testparm

If there are errors in the xorg.conf file testparm will tell you.  If everything is Ok then type:

smbclient -L 192.168.1.10 (where 192.168.1.10 is the ip address of your samba server).  This will show you the list of all your available samba shares.  At this point if you have no errors your server is configured correctly.

Linux Clients

Install smbclient and smbfs either using the package manager or apt-get install.  Now we have to mount the available shares.  First decide where you are going to mount them.  I will mount them in /media/dev/share but first I will have to make the directory dev so:

cd /media

sudo mkdir dev

and then ls which should show us the new dev directory in media.  Now time to mount the shares.

sudo mount -t smbfs //192.168.1.10/(share name) /media/dev/share where 192.168.1.10 is the ip address of your samba server.  This will mount the share but only as long as you are logged in.  To make the link persistent you need to enter the following line into /etc/fstab.

//192.168.1.10/(share)   /media/dev/share      cifs       username=user,password=pass,user,rw,noatime     0              0

Windows Clients

We have to change the workgroup to MINT_HOME and then add the ip address of the samba server to the hosts file (must open as administrator).

Once this is complete map the shares to your computer.

Word of warning here about firewalls.  Either turn them off or add exception rules for traffic on ports 137-139 and 445.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support, Laptop repairs and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

 

Qualifications vs Experience


Here is a question for you, which is more important qualifications or experience in a particular field?

The reason I ask such a question is that recently I got asked if I had the qualifications that I say I do and that got me thinking.  The short answer is yes I do have the qualifications and anyone who wants can go and check them, but what about experience surely that is at least as important if not more important.

You see before I started ComTech back in April 2010 I had been playing around with computers for years.  I used to upgrade this, change that, learnt new Microsoft software and learnt Linux to name just a few but to get recognised in the IT field I had to study for my qualifications.  It does seam sometimes that if you have the piece of paper then you must know what you are talking about.  Believe me when I say I have met quite a few people in both IT and my former field, Construction, that have the qualifications but do not have a clue about what they are doing.

Ok so which is best? My own personal view is that you must have a balance.  Yes qualifications have their place, it proves that you can study to a particular level, but only through experience can you apply what you have learnt.

So what do you think?

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support, Laptop repairs and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

 

 

 


SSH on Windows


We have looked in the past at using SSH on Linux but today we shall use SSH on Windows, primarily Windows 7.  For this tutorial I will be using a Linux Server (ip address 192.168.1.2) and a windows client.

First thing we need is an SSH client for the windows machine.  The best one I have come across is PuTTY.  PuTTY is an open source telnet /ssh client and and can be downloadedhere.

Once downloaded and installed you should get the following PuTTY configuration screen;

Internal Network

Make sure that the SSH box is ticked and insert the ip address or hostname of the server you wish to connect to and then click on open.  You will be asked for the username and password of an account on the server.

Over the Internet

You will need to open port 22 on your router and forward any ssh traffic to the server you want to access (in this case 192.168.1.2).  So this time the ip address will be the router’s ip address and not the servers ip address.

In both cases, internal or over the internet, you will need to open port 22 on any firewalls that are active.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

The urge to upgrade


We have all had this one.  Shall I go out and buy that new shiny ****** even though I don’t really need it?  This is a tough one but before you go and spend your hard earned think carefully about the following:

1. Do I really need it?  Can your existing equipment do what you are after?  Can you upgrade your existing system (e.g more RAM) so it provides the performance you are after?  Take the iPad2 as an example.  Is your original iPad really awful overnight?  Chances are the one you have can still provide the solution and performance you are after.

2. What happens to the old one you have?  In a world where people are beginning to think about the total life cycle of products what will you do with yours?  You could take it to the tip but why not instead give it to family or friends, kids, local charity shop or even make some money on ebay.  There will always be people on ebay who are not after the latest gadget.  If you don’t want to give it away why not use it for something else.  That old computer you have could be made into a firewall for your network or a NAS box for your backups.

3. Do you really have the money for it?  There is a reason that so many people are in a lot of debt.  People go out and buy things that they can’t afford – I myself am as guilty as the next person on this.  Think of the money you could save if you didn’t buy that new iPad2.  You could even take the kids on holidays too!!!!!

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

The need for IT documentation


Imagine a network with 20 computers all connected to the internet through a router.  Someone purchases a laptop and requires the encryption key for the wireless network.  You ask around and no one has it and because all the computers have a wired connection you can’t get it off them either.  You think no problem I will connect to the router and get it that way but hey what is the username and password for the router? Sound familiar?

There is one thing that the majority of people working in the IT industry hate and that is documenting their work.  The problem is that a lot of them don’t do it or do it badly and this is an issue.  The issue arises when one IT technician leaves and another comes in and has no idea how the network has been configured.  They will have to check all the configurations themselves before they do any work and this takes time.  Documenting itself does take time but it has the following benefits:

1. You know exactly how the network or system is configured so you can get straight to troubleshooting a problem.

2. Documentation gives you a baseline from which to work.  When you have a baseline in place you can easily tell when something is wrong with the system or network.

3. If you leave and someone else takes over you will make it substantially easier for them to know how the system is set up.

4. Very easy to locate passwords for such things as wireless encryption (this can also be a bad thing too).

5. Easier to manage ongoing maintenance.  You know what has already been done.

Having good documentation in place makes a strong business case as it will save you time and also money.

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support, Laptop repairs and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

 

Linux Antivirus


Yes you read that correct – antivirus on Linux.  You must be thinking “I don’t need antivirus on Linux.  You only need that on Windows!!”  That is not strictly true and I shall explain why.

I run a Linux Mint 10 file and print server in the office which is connected to multiple virtual Windows machines through Virtualbox.  I also have a USB pen stick and external hard drives which are used between all the machines and client computers.  And here lies the issue.  I am constantly transferring files from a linux based machine to windows based machines so if I get a virus on one it will be immediately be transferred to the other.  When you take into account I also transfer files to clients machines you can start to see the scale of the problem.  I could be spreading viruses when I am meant to be fixing the computers!!! Basically if you transfer any files you need antivirus software.

Secondly Linux is not as impregnable as you might think.  Yes you are unlikely to get a virus written specifically for Linux, as you do for Windows, but believe me they are out there.

So which one should you go for?  To answer that I found a great article here.  On my system I use BitDefender or Avast.  Both are free, however I have found that BitDefender has the more intuitive interface.

 

About the Author

Hi I am Chris the owner of ComTech. I provide IT Support, Laptop repairs and Computer repairs to both personal and business clients in and around Stirling. For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find my blog, testimonials, services and much more.  Start supporting a local business today so I can start supporting you.

If you found this blog useful then why not sign up to my RSS Feed for news, tutorials, views and general techie stuff!!

 

Backing up using RSync

Today we are going to take a look at backing up files in Linux using RSync.  RSync will come already installed on almost every Linux distribution so you will not need to install it.

The basic syntax is:

rsync /home/user/dir /media/disk/dir

Lets explain this with an example.  If I wanted to back up my entire home directory to an external hard drive called sdc mounted in media I would type the following:

rsync /home /media/sdc


Now there are various switches we can use with rsync and the main ones are outlined below:

-a archive.  This preserves, among other things, the owner, group and permissions of the directory / file.

-h hardlinks.  This switch will preserve all hardlinks to the directory /file.

-v verbose mode.  This switch tells Rsync to inform us what it is doing when performing the backup.

— exclude. This will allow us to exclude certain files / directories from being backed up e.g –exclude ‘home/user/dir.

So using the switches our example would look like:

rsync -avh –exclude ‘home/chris/documents’  /home /media/sdc

For people who don’t like using the command line there is a program called GRsync which provides a GUI for using RSync.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

 

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