ComTech: IT Support Stirling
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I am having a love affair – with Linux!!


My wife has finally found out what she has always thought – I am in love with Linux.  I honestly can’t help it (before someone asks no I don’t have a thing for penguins!!).  My main distributions of choice and Debian and Linux Mint and I love how stable both are. They both don’t (usually) break when I update them and in the case of Linux Mint things just work straight out of the box. Debian is a bit harder to setup but it makes a bloody good server platform.  I currently have two Debian and one Ubuntu server installed “out in the wild” and have had little problems with them over the last 12 months.

In my line of work one of the perks is trying out new and different pieces of software and hardware.  I get to see what works for me and what doesn’t (everyone will have their own way of doing things).  I have come to rely on Linux Live CD’s to recover data off Windows installations which will no longer boot up, running virus scans with Antivirus Live CD’s (BitDefender anyone?),using a netbook running Xubuntu 12.04 which I use to configure routers along with an Android tablet (based on Linux) which monitors my servers and which I also use to carry out wifi audits.  This is coupled with my own Debian 7 server running Oracle Virtualbox which allows me to try out different versions of both Linux and Windows operating systems.

But you see I have a problem which I have only just come to recognise.  The IT world is not just Linux based but also incorporates (to a very large extent) Windows.  Most of the clients I meet will be running Windows in some form, maybe just desktops and maybe for servers too and I need to keep my eye on the ball with regards to what is best for my clients and not necessarily best for me.  This is one of the reasons my next server install will probably be Windows Server 2012 Essentials as I have done loads of testing in a virtual environment but nothing as yet “in the wild”.

I have seen too many tech people (and good one’s too) go down the route of “I am Windows based”, or  “I am Linux based” or even “I just work on Mac’s”.  I would rather have a well rounded experience of both Windows and Linux systems so I could then judge what would work best for my clients in a particular situation.

I may end up working more on Windows systems but my toolkit will always contain Linux.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m 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 Stirling, Falkirk and Perth.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

My little eeepc 701 lives!!

It lives!! About a month ago my trusty Asus Eee pc701 developed the ‘click of death’ – bugger.  Initially I thought the hard drive was the soldered SSD type which would have meant game over (new motherboard required) but after checking I realised it wasn’t.


Next stop was ebay and I managed to find a new SSD hard drive (16 Gb) for the lovely some of £25 – not to bad.  It arrived the next day and after much rejoicing was fitted.  Now what software to run on it? Initially it had a mighty 8Gb SSD so Windows XP fitted but Windows 7 was a struggle.  Turning to Linux I settled on Lubuntu and it ran smoothly until the hard drive started to fail.  This time around I wanted to see how it would cope with Windows 7 installed so I installed Home Premium first.  With only a 900 Mhz processor under the hood the eepc 701 was never going to be a speed freak but it does run Windows 7 smoothly enough (it is upgraded to 2 Gb RAM) but it is restricted to a resolution of 640 * 480 which is not great.  Due to this limitation I turned back to Linux and currently run it on Linux Mint 13 with the XFCE desktop.  It runs quickly enough for the tasks I need to use it for.

Now why would I go through all this hassle for a netbook which is now 5 years old? A couple of reasons:

1. I hate throwing out old kit.  If I can reuse a piece of computer equipment I will.  The Eeepc 701 still has life in her yet!!

2. Configuring routers and troubleshooting wifi issues.  This is the mainstay for the eeepc 701.  It is great for configuring routers on existing networks and troubleshooting wifi issues. As much as I love my Blackberry Playbook this is one area the netbook trumps it.

3. Sometimes I just want to type.  Surfing the internet on a tablet is great but sometimes I just want to type instead of using a touchscreen keypad.  Yes my Blackberry Playbook has a bluetooth keyboard which is great but it is not the same is it?

4. It is very portable, light and has very good battery life.

Now I could use a laptop but since I don’t own one I would have to go out and spend hundreds of pounds to get one.  The eeepc 701 cost me £25.  No contest is it?

Do you own one of these wonderful little machines?

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.

How to transfer files to your website with Filezilla


Today we are going to talk about transferring files to your website with Filezilla. Filezilla is an open source package which is freely distributed under the GNU General Public License and allows you to upload and download files from your computer to your website and vice versa.

For the basis of this tutorial I will be installing Filezilla on Linux Mint 12 but it can be installed on any Linux distribution or any version of Windows.

On your linux system open up a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install filezilla

Enter your password when asked to do so.  Once installed open up the package and you should get the screen displayed below.

Ok lets explain the interface a bit.

Host – This is your domain name (e.g mine would be www.comtech247.net)

Username – This is the username that allows access to your website cpanel.

Password – This is the password that is associated with the cpanel username.

Port – This is the port that you want to use to connect to your website (You can usually leave this blank as Filezilla will automatically configure it for you).

Enter your details and click on Quickconnect.  Once connected you should be able to see the screenshot below.

On the left you will see the file layout on your computer.  On the right of the screen you will see the file layout of your website.  To upload a file to your website do the following:

  1. Highlight the file you want to transfer on the left side of the screen (the one you want to upload to your website).
  2. Highlight the folder on your website where you want the file to be transferred to.
  3. Right click on the file to be uploaded and click on Upload.

Thats it!  Your file will now be transferred to your website.  To download a file just reverse the steps.

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.

 

 

The problem with Linux


Before I get blasted for writing this I would like to say that I love Linux.  My business is built on Linux and open source software and it generally fills most if not all my computing requirements.  Then how, I hear you cry, can I write a blog which starts “The Problem with Linux”? Simple, the user experience, and I shall explain more.

This morning I got a message on Facebook from a client I had seen last night.  The issue was that I had installed vlc on a netbook with Linux Mint 11 which did not allow them to record audio from a webcam.  Turns out that vlc and webcams don’t really get on (another thing learnt then!!).  No problem I will just do some research and find a better program but this is where the problem started.  Most of the packages available were from source.  Now I have no problem with downloading and installing from source but your average user will.  Why can’t we have deb and rpm downloads (which most distributions use) so that users can just go and install the package they want.  Yes we have package managers but not all the software your average user wants is already in there.  Yes I can charge money for installing software for my clients but it really isn’t the best is it?

Next thing is choice.  Personally I think there is too much choice.  For example, how many distributions based on Ubuntu or Debian do we really need?  Again your average user just wants a system that works and they definitely don’t want to have to choose packages.  Most people for example will use Microsoft Word for word processing but you give them a Linux system and suddenly they can have Libreoffice, Openoffice, Abiword etc and they become overwhelmed with the amount of choice.  They have come from a Windows system where you are told Windows Media Player does video, Internet Explorer IS the internet etc so they have become molded into this way of thinking.

Next thing is support.  I am a Linux Mint user and I must say that the community forum is brillant.  Having browsed around some of the other forums I can honestly say that there are some people who take the attitude that if you don’t have the same amount of Linux knowledge as them then you must be stupid.  The amount of times I have come across postings from people who think it is ok to post “read the f****** manual” is incredible.  How on earth is this helpful to someone who is making the switch from a Windows system?  All it does is enforce peoples opinion of “us and them” and that is not going to help anyone.

The command line.  Those three words terrify your average user.  The command line is great if you need to work with a server (no gui) but does the average user really need to go anywhere near it to do simple tasks?  I am not saying take it away by any means but lets not forget that although some of us love to tinker and improve our systems by using the command line most users see a computer as a vessel to get things done.  They don’t want to learn how it works they just want to use it.

Why does Linux try and reinvent the wheel?  We have software that does pretty much everything we could ever want so why do we need another KDE or Gnome distribution based on Ubuntu, Debian, Slackware etc?  We now have Openoffice and Libreoffice where surely it would be more beneficial if all the developers got involved in the same project and took on Microsoft Office?

Why do we need new distribution updates every 6 months? If you told your average Windows user they would have to save all their documents and install another operating system every 18 months (usual life span of the major distributions) they would up and leave.  Yes I understand the need to keep packages upto date and have the newest stuff but to me this is just to quick.  For instance the world has had Windows XP for 11 years while Linux Mint 12, which is used to run most of my business, will be gone in about 18 months.

Linux will not become more adopted, outside servers, unless the experience for the average user becomes simpler.  Recent estimates of desktop adoption put Linux at 1.5% well behind both Microsoft and Apple.  To get Linux adopted more we have to start designing for both the average user and the power user.

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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