ComTech: IT Support Stirling
TwitterFacebookGoogle

Windows hasn’t left the building just yet

Anyone who regularly reads this blog will know that I have recently decided to run my business using Android while still keeping a Linux netbook for configuring routers.  I find Android very easy to use and I enjoy using Linux so this setup works for me and it works well.  I also still have a Mac (now fixed and installing Yosemite as I write this) which comes out now and again as I have some clients who use them but one omision you will have noticed is a Windows based system.  I do have Windows virtual machines setup on a Debian Linux server but I use them so rarely that it is not actually worth mentioning.  In my business Windows hardly gets a look in.

There have been numerous articles floating around the internet over the last 12 months about the aparent demise of Microsoft and that Windows will slip away into obscurity. This is not going to happen anytime soon as Windows is so entrenched in the corporate world it would take something monumental to shift it.  Yes there are some businesses like mine who decide they can get by without Windows but having Windows in a business environment (in some description) is the norm at the moment.

How much of a norm I found out last week.  A lot of my work at the moment revolves around Cisco and the installation of routers and switches. Alongside this I also install quite a few Verizon GSM modems and Viprinet VPN routers.  It was while installing a Viprinet VPN router last week I got caught out.

Install Vipinet and connect up aerials – check.

Connect up netbook to start configuration – check.

Run exe file – bugger.

Exe files as a rule don’t run under Linux (this one didnt even under Wine) and I didn’t have a Windows machine with me.  Not being able to run the exe file meant not being able to start the configuration, which meant I would have to come back to site again and since the site was in Irvine that meant another 134 mile round trip.  This was turning out to be one of those days.

So long as manufacturers use exe files to setup hardware there will still be a need for Windows. Will this change over time? Maybe but at the moment I think it is time to dig out my old Acer Aspire netbook for thoses times when I have no choice but to use Windows.

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

What next for the Linux desktop?

I was browsing Distrowatch this morning just having a look at what is new in the world of Linux. Something hit me when I was looking at the list of distributions and their page hit ranking (don’t actually take notice of the ranking personally). Most of the distributions are desktop based.  Yes you have RedHat, CentOS, Debian and Ubuntu (last two make good desktop distros too) and a couple of others which are server based but the majority are desktop distributions.


As the PC market is shrinking and more people turn to tablets and smartphones to access the internet and carry out their tasks is Linux in danger of becoming marginalised and only being used on a shrinking platform?

Now before anyone mentions it I know about Ubuntu and Mozilla pushing into smartphones and the strength of Linux based servers and I am not disputing this. I also know that Android is opensource (ish) but do we really need another Ubuntu based desktop distribution or should Linux now be aiming for the tablet world instead.

What do you think?

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 both business and personal clients in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

Springfield House, Laurelhill Business Park, Stirling, FK7 9JQ Tel No: 01786 406448

   Welcome to ComTech

ComTech_12Computers are everywhere these days and here at ComTech we know how valuable IT is to your business.

Established in Stirling adjacent to the majestic Ochil Hills since April 2010 ComTech provides IT Support to small businesses throughout Scotland. Even though we are based in Stirling we have clients in Glasgow, Perth, Edinburgh and as far afield as Inverness.  Here at ComTech we are not afraid to travel!!

Whether your servers go down, your laptop stops working or your router is no longer functioning correctly ComTech is willing, but more importantly able, to fix your problems and get your systems back up and running as quickly as possible.ComTech_Roadtrip

Our engineers are fully qualified and experienced in Cisco, Windows, Linux and OS X and have more than enough knowledge to fix any issues that you might have.

In the beginning ComTech was founded on one main principal “Provide the customer with the quality and service they expect” and that still rings true today.

Our clients range from home businesses to 25 employees or more but it doesn’t matter what size you are as every business is treated equally and will receive the same level of service.

We a very ‘social company’ so why not drop by on either Twitter or Facebook and say hi.  It is always good to meet new people!!

Here at ComTech “WE MAKE IT HAPPEN”

Terms and Conditions

fsb_logo

Which is better a Mac, Windows or Linux? I don’t think it matters that much anymore


I got asked the legendary question this week from a client which is better a Mac, Windows or Linux? Now a lot of users will have strong opinions of which is best and each operating system will have their own merits but my answer to the client was “none of them as your choice of operating system is slowly becoming irrelevant” to which I got a blank look of confusion.

Let me explain. Last week I purchased a Mac for the simple reason I have a new client who wants support on his Mac so I had better brush up on my skillset.  The first thing I did when I bought it was to install Google Chrome and sync my bookmarks.  Like most people these days (both corporate and home users) I spend most of my time in a browser and in my case this happens to be Google Chrome.  The underlying operating system is irrelevant.

I also have all my files stored on Dropbox which is cross platform so I can access them from any operating system or from any browser. I have clients (big and small) who are also going down the route of accessing everything online.

My office also contains a Linux system and multiple Windows virtual systems which also have Chrome installed and synced.  My choice of which system to use will obviously depend on what I am doing (eg testing some windows software, SSH into a server etc) but 90% of the time I spend in Chrome updating social media, updating website, monitoring servers etc.

Now if you have to use a specific package that only runs on Windows, Mac or Linux then you have already answered your own question but for the rest of us the choice of operating system is slowly becoming a non choice.

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 and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

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

Why hasn’t Linux broken through on the desktop?


Lets get the preconceptions out of the way first.  Linux is a very viable option on the desktop. All the major distributions are easy to use, do not require you to learn the command line and long gone are the majority of hardware issues that plagued Linux in the past.  But, and it is a big but, why hasn’t Linux broken through on the desktop then? Lets take a look.

1. Microsoft

By the time Linux came onto the scene Microsoft had already cornered the market.  Windows was coming preinstalled on almost every PC and laptop and Microsoft had the backing of all the major manufacturers.  Since not many people change their operating system on their laptop or PC it was very hard for Linux to gain traction.

2. It was and still is seen as a techies plaything

Perceptions can be good or bad and in Linux’s case it hasn’t really helpt that it is seen as an operating system for techies.  This was maybe true at the start but over the years distributions like Ubuntu have tried to bring Linux to the masses with new interfaces and less command line stuff.  Peoples perceptions though are very hard to change.

3. It’s free

When people see FREE they usually think what is the catch.  It is the same with businesses. In this case FREE means no licence fees and the freedom to do anything you want with the operating system (unlike with Windows).  You pay for support if you want it in the same way as you do with Windows, however again due to peoples perceptions FREE is seen as not very good and only for techie minded individuals.

4. Windows Vista

Windows Vista should have been Linux’s finest hour.  Surely with so many people hating Vista there was an opening for Linux to go mainstream?  Well not quite.  As it turns out people and businesses turned back to Windows XP in droves, hence hardening their commitment to using Windows.  Manufacturers weren’t convinced about Linux’s viability as a desktop operating system enough to start preinstalling it on their hardware and instead went back to XP.  The opening had gone.

5. The iPad

Back in 2007 the netbook was born with the introduction of the EeePC 701 and it came preinstalled with Linux.  The market immediately took off and for a time suggested Microsoft’s dominance could finally be challenged.  In 2010 Apple released the first iPad and killed the netbook off overnight.  It had better specifications than a netbook but more importantly it had WOW factor.  Once again Linux had been thwarted.

So what now for Linux? Everyone should try Linux at least once and I can assure you any preconceptions you may have will be blown away.  It works and it works very well.  The year of the Linux Desktop however has long gone.  The PC / laptop market is shrinking and consumers are switching to tablets and smartphones.  In the business environment most businesses are so entrenched in Micrososft products that it would be very difficult for them to switch over to Linux.  But there is one shining light and that is tablets.  Most tablets on the market use Android which itself is based on Linux so the year of the Linux Desktop may be gone but the Year of the Linux tablet is coming!!

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

 

 

 

Why the operating system is becoming irrelevant


As always it starts with a question and this time the question was – can I run Logmein on a linux system? In this case the answer was no and I pointed the client in the direction of Teamviewer instead.

At the moment software manufacturers are writing their software for certain operating systems only (for example LogMein doesn’t work on Linux) but with more and more users now turning to the internet to get their work done, for example using Google Docs or Office 365, or using apps does it actually matter what the underlying system is?

Lets take the consumer (ie home) market first. Here the PC is on its last legs and tablets and smartphones are on the rise.  Where previously you had to have a copy of Windows to be productive this is no longer the case (Office 365 for iphone anyone?).  You can now get apps on your tablet that allow you do accomplish almost anything.  For example on my Blackberry Playbook I purchased an app called Smart Office 2 which allows me to produce and edit .doc or .xls files from my tablet.  The same can be found on Android and iOS too. Failing that you can use Office 365 or Google Docs straight through your browser and use online storage to back up your files.  There are numerous apps for remote desktop software, photo editing etc.  In fact you can get apps for almost everything.  In this environment it doesn’t matter what operating your system is running.

Now let us turn our attention to the business environment where it is not so clear cut.  At the moment you are either a Linux business, an Apple business or a Windows one.  Yes you can have a mixture of all three but on the whole a business will use one operating system across all their computers.  Here businesses tend to stick with software that runs on their platforms, which makes it easier to support, however iPads and iPhones (and Android to a lesser extent) are slowly beginning to encroach on the traditional PC’s (PC’s will still be around for a long time yet).  With the advent of BYOD (Bring your Own Device) this will only increase and the only realistic way for businesses to support all these different devices is to put all the data in the cloud.  If you are accessing data online (again taking Google Apps as an example) it doesn’t matter what system you have so long as it can access the internet.  The ‘mobile takeover’ hasn’t happened yet but it is slowly making ground.

So what do you think does it matter what operating system you use to get things done? Let me know!!

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 rise of the Cloud Backup server


It usually starts with a meeting and this time was no different.  I got asked to a new clients offices last week to discuss networking up their infrastructure.  Now we are talking 6 laptops max with one remotely working from home.  Should be nice and easy.

So we get talking and it turns out that what they really need is to share files.  Up comes the topic of online storage and very swifty I am quoting them for a new Linux based server which will have Dropbox installed.  This way they can have one copy of all their files on site and another backed up to the cloud which they can access from anywhere.  This fits their requirements perfectly so the job is a good un.

I my last post I mentioned that I was installing more and more NAS boxes onsite for business clients but if I am honest I am probably installing more cloud backup servers (ie Linux or Windows servers whose main purpose is to synchorize files with Dropbox so the client has a full copy of their files onsite, and in one central location, should anything happen to the cloud provider). Now I choose Dropbox because I have used it for the last 5 years on my own systems and like the feature set, its security and you can access your Dropbox from anything with an internet connection.  Yes I could use Box, Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive etc but I tend to stick with software I trust and in this case that is Dropbox.

With more and more people working away from the office accessing your files on the move is becoming very important to a lot of companies. Cloud based solutions have very much come of age and I am sure I will be asked to install lots more Cloud Backup servers for clients (depending of course on the broadband speed in their main office!!).  On the flip side there are still a lot of businesses who rely on either on site backups or in a lot of cases no backups whatsoever and it is these companies that risk losing all their data if the worst happens.

So what do you think? Are cloud backup servers here to stay? Do cloud backups have a future? Let me know.

About the Author

P1020114

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!!

 

Are NAS devices becoming the new standard for file servers in small businesses?

Almost every company I deal with has some form of file server whether it be a full Windows Server on a domain, a Linux server or even a Windows 7 box just sharing files across a workgroup.  There is one device though that I keep seeing and installing more and more and that is the little NAS box.


These little devices are fantastic at sharing files or being used to backup all the systems on the network.  They can also be administered from a web page and are usually much cheaper than implementing a server.  The cost of ownership is usually less too with lower energy consumption (lower spec CPU with less heat generated).

Now the question is are they better than a full server? This depends on what you mean by better.  For instance if you are just looking at the cost of maintenance and implementation then yes they probably are.

But if you are looking to add roles to your server at a later date ( eg maybe running a file serving, DNS server and DHCP server on the same box) then a file server is a much better proposition whether it be Linux or Windows based.  Chances are you are also more familiar using a Windows or Linux based file server so training costs would also be less.  There is also one major thing going for file servers that NAS boxes in general (but not all) don’t have and that is backing up to the cloud.  You can install Dropbox, Box, Google Drive or whatever you fancy on your file server that can automatically backup your files to the cloud.  If cloud backups are required then you seriously need to look at implementing a file server (again whether this is Linux or Windows based depends on your network and expertise).

In my experience small businesses are trying to squeeze more value from their IT so in this scenario the little NAS box becomes an attractive proposition.

It was only last week I had a meeting with a company ( 8 employees) who are interested in implementing a file server on their network which would also backup their files on a nightly basis.  I quoted them for a SBS  2011 system, a Linux one and also a NAS box.  It was no surprise that the NAS box was the cheapest and in this case it does everything that the client wants (they don’t require cloud backups) so they are going with it.

So what do you think are NAS devices becoming the new standard for file servers in small businesses?

About the Author

P1020114

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 Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

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!!

 

Is it time to streamline Linux?


I love Linux.  It is cracking as a server and not bad on a desktop either but it always comes down to the same old question – which one to use?  I got talking to another tech last week about this.  We started talking about which distros were good as servers (my vote was for Debian by the way!!) and then he said “It would be much better if there weren’t so many distros to choose from”.  I hate to say it but I think he may have a point.

If you look at Distrowatch there are currently 319 linux distributions listed.  Of these over 70 are Ubuntu based (please correct me if I am wrong).  There is also currently about 29 desktop environments.  How much choice do we need?  At this point people will turn around and say that choice is good and that if you don’t find what you are looking for in one distribution then try another one.  I would agree to a point but it does feel like people are reinventing the wheel to some extent.  For example how many distros do we need based on Ubuntu?

I am asked a lot by both clients and friends which distro would I recommend? Usually Linux Mint / Ubuntu for desktop and Debian as a server but then they talk to someone else and they may get Fedora on a desktop and CentOS on a server.  You can see where I am taking this.  You ask a different person for their opinion and you will get a different distro every time.

It can also be a nightmare from a techs point of view too.  When starting out in Linux it is always best to get a grasp of the universal basics (command line etc) but at some point you will want to go distro specific.  Which one? I have stuck with the deb based distros as this is what I have the most experience with.  If I came across an rpm distro in “the wild” I would not feel as confident in fixing any issues it might have.  If you take Windows as an example a tech could learn Windows 7 and still have a good crack at Windows 8.  This is not usually the case with Linux.

Also look at the resources that are currently being wasted.  If you take all the developers that are currently dispersed across 319 distros and combined them into say 5 it would make a huge difference in the way linux is perceived.  With less distros to support hardware manufacturers would start to pay more attention (more drivers available) and so would the general public.  A streamlined Linux would become a much effective force to do battle with the likes of Microsoft and would certainly start to gain market share.

So what do you think? Would a streamlined Linux work?

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

 

CyberChimps
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers

WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera
WP Like Button Plugin by Free WordPress Templates