Author Topic: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"  (Read 292 times)

The Gorn

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New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« on: October 14, 2017, 09:00:35 am »
I absolutely need to stop OCDing on this matter of the crashed PC and the lost system setup and get back to work. It's consumed me for days. Not kidding and it's weird. It's like my entire professional + personal life is on the computer.

In retrospect while I've probably seemed quite weird about it, it really is a loss of total control over part of your life. Businesses close for weeks and even go under due to irrecoverable computer crashes.

I recovered my most critical, treasured, and/or necessary records, files, images, tax returns, ad nauseum.

So here's my new path.

Yesterday after the most recent failed attempt to recover a bootable image of my old system, I decided to commit one of my new 2TB hard drives to a Mint Linux install.

Windows compatibility: after this episode, I don't trust Windows nor any commercial tools for backup and recovery. Open source from now on for anything that must absolutely be available, period.

I do have several applications that run only under Windows and probably not under WINE. (Example: Quckbooks 2010 is marked as "garbage" for WINE, meaning it apparently doesn't even install.)

I went onto Ebay and found an absolutely booming market for cheap Windows 7 Pro CDs. It's hilarious how they get around the "must ship with equipment" restriction. I just ordered a Win7 Pro 64 bit SP1 copy and it comes with a Toshiba laptop that is severly damaged scrap which i can only pick up in Newark, NJ and they will dispose of it if it is not picked up within 48 hours.  ;D Only $30 for an OEM pack, the DVD + key.

I'm going to install Win 7 into VirtualBox. Per Benali's past comments I understand that Windows is completely hardware-key portable within any Virtualbox install on Linux.

Then I'm going to see about recovering what applications I can from my old system into a test instance of Win 7. I can freely copy the virtual disk files so testing and bombing out if things mess up will be easy to deal with.

I've been running in Mint Linux and getting things set up to be comfy since yesterday afternoon. I've NEVER seen how fast this PC can be without a layer of antivirus shit slowing down the processor.  Everything is much smoother and faster.
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pxsant

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2017, 09:18:13 am »
Good to hear you are going with Linux Mint.  Clement Lefebvre really has his act together on this.   Mint surpassed Ubuntu in popularity quite a while ago and has never looked back.

Curious which desktop you are using.   My normal one is the Cinnamon desktop and is easy to adapt to after Windows.   The Xfce interface is a bit faster but does take a little bit of getting used to.  I use Xfce on an old 10" Acer laptop with an Atom processor since it has limited memory and capabilities.  It runs fine.

I have several versions of Windows (XP, Windows 7, Windows 10) running on VirtualBox and they all run fine.

Mint has backup utilities for backing up and restoring your user area and installed programs.   They do total backups, not incremental.

benali72

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2017, 09:56:30 am »
In retrospect while I've probably seemed quite weird about it, it really is a loss of total control over part of your life.

Yeah, these days individuals are totally dependent on their computers just like businesses. That was the source of my earlier comment about how I think B/R solutions poorly serve consumers, even tho they need their computers just as much as businesses.

I went onto Ebay and found an absolutely booming market for cheap Windows 7 Pro CDs. It's hilarious how they get around the "must ship with equipment" restriction. I just ordered a Win7 Pro 64 bit SP1 copy and it comes with a Toshiba laptop that is severly damaged scrap which i can only pick up in Newark, NJ and they will dispose of it if it is not picked up within 48 hours.  ;D Only $30 for an OEM pack, the DVD + key.

Thanks for the info. Wow. Pretty funny.

Per Benali's past comments I understand that Windows is completely hardware-key portable within any Virtualbox install on Linux.

Works great. But please test it for yourself once you've set up your system in case there are special cases or situations of which I'm not aware.

I've NEVER seen how fast this PC can be without a layer of antivirus shit slowing down the processor.  Everything is much smoother and faster.

It's unbelievable how much overhead realtime scanners consume. This is how our local seniors center can run 10-yr-old pcs with linux and they perform fine. (Also, they use Xfce, the gui that consumes the least resources).

The Gorn

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2017, 10:33:50 am »
I've reframed the issue of "what OS to use" in my head. I think it comes down to the following:

Linux is good and refined enough for most end users today. If someone can deal with Windows 10 they can easily adapt to Linux with the modern GUIs.

Windows was and is marketed strictly on the basis of mind share and familiarity. Initially they almost gave away Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. They had to. The early versions were atrocious compared to OS/2 and small Linux and Unix clones available then. Look who won.

Windows 7 is pretty damned good, but it's still a proprietary tinkertoy and a closed architecture.

No matter what OS I'm running, I will most likely want to do custom things with the OS, the settings, and the environment. Linux makes that hacking a pleasure, most of the time. Windows makes it chancy, unstable and non portable. For the way I use an OS, Linux is easier to deal with.
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JoFrance

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2017, 02:29:08 pm »
Windows 7 is a good operating system.  It gives you a lot more flexibility to modify your environment than Windows 10 does, but eventually Windows 7 will reach its end of life and you'll be forced to move to something new.  Windows 3.1 was total crap, but the first attempt at a GUI environment.  Windows 95 was better, but still crappy.  Windows 2000 and 2003 were both decent, as was XP.  Windows 7 was good, but Windows 8 was a bomb.  Windows 10 is so loaded with crap it takes hours to weed it all out.  They took away a lot of modification options unless you buy the professional version.

You can choose other operating systems, but most software is made for Windows.  Maybe you can find a way to run it on Linux in a virtual environment, but you don't know if you will encounter problems by doing so.

QuickBooks is pushing their web app now.  I got to look at it when I did a small temp job a year or so ago.  It is more stripped down than the PC based software.  You have to pay a monthly or yearly fee for it on the web.  The PC version is more full-featured and better than their web app.

A lot of companies are pushing web apps now, so the OS no longer matters.  Its the ultimate way for these software companies to nickel and dime people to death. 

I still have MS Office 10, but I'd never buy it again.  They ruined it with the ribbon bar, IMO.  Open Office is a great office suite, totally free and easier to use (drop down menus).  It is totally compatible with MS Office.

ilconsiglliere

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2017, 09:29:10 pm »
I have been off the Windows kool aid for a long time. Instead I drink from the Apple kool aid instead ;) . My family continues to use Windows but I don't. But that being said I have been on OS X for 5-6 years already and will never go back to Windows. People complain about the Mac but in my experience its NOTHING like Windows. OS X is far more stable than Windows will ever be. Sometimes I don't reboot my Mac for months. With Windows you are asking for trouble with a T. The only real problem with the Mac is you are beholden to Apple. Beyond that though, it works.

I have also have a laptop running Ubuntu. Its fast and easy to use. I like Ubuntu better than Mint because Ubuntu's interface is Mac like. What it comes down to, is whatever floats your boat with Linux. Tried Fedora for a while but the interface drove me crazy. On top of this Fedora is somewhat brittle as they are constantly changing it. With Ubuntu - you can do whatever you want to it and there is little danger of it being completely damaged. And yes I have no anti-virus crap.

The biggest thing holding people to Windows is MS Office. I agree the Ribbon and flat crap has destroyed Office. If you are not a big MS Office user than why not use the open source office productivity sweets. I have MS Office on my Mac, ask me how often I use it? I don't.

benali72

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2017, 10:32:08 am »
Linux makes that hacking a pleasure, most of the time.

That's the big difference for me. Linux is like any other OS -- you'll still have problems to fix, things to learn, and occasional frustrations.

But at least with Linux, you're trying to fix a real issue. With WIndows, most the time I'm fighting the artificial restrictions MS has placed on me as a licensee of the software they own. MS values its ownership over my needs. Windows embodies that philosophy in its design and limitations at every turn.

I agree with everyone about the ribbon in Office. What a dorky, non-user-friendly thing. Of course, MS had to do something to make Office different or they'd never be able to snooker people into buying new versions. It's amazing MS has gone as long as  they have in introducing new features that are actually useful. After all, Word is just a word processor.

In regards to compatibility between Open/Libre Office and MS Office, in my experience the word processor is perfectly compatible unless you use unusual advanced or proprietary Word features.

Compatibility between Powerfpoint and Impress allows you to import slides. But they're not compatible enough to go back and forth exchanging a developing project between the two, for example.

Here's a pretty good thread about linux users and Quickbooks -- http://askubuntu.com/questions/234498/whats-a-recommended-alternative-to-quickbooks-pro

« Last Edit: October 15, 2017, 10:56:47 am by benali72 »

The Gorn

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2017, 11:11:15 am »
I critically, absolutely need the standardized Quickbooks data format! It's not up for debate. It's not just a flipping off commercial software issue for me.

My accountant who prepares my yearly biz tax return can accept my Quickbooks data file and can prepare my corp taxes, usually without asking me many questions.

He can also walk me through making corrections to my ledger account balances within Quickbooks.

I don't know enough accounting formal practice to take account corrections and apply them to a generic package.

If I move to an alternate open source platform I'm expecting that at tax time:

- I'd have to prepare my own printouts and summaries for every ledger account.
- I'd have to scrape every checkbook item and every receipt.
- Errors would probably creep into the calculations.
- He'd probably have to charge me much more for preparation just to make it worthwhile to do for him.

Quicken personal accounting is less of an issue but even there I use their online payment and account reconcilation features extensively. Those features save me many hours a year.
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The Gorn

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2017, 01:55:32 pm »
I just installed an old copy of Windows Vista Ultimate into Virtualbox on this computer. It seems to work great.

It was provided by the Action Pack I used to subscribe to, for development only, and to be removed upon the end of the subscription. I never got rid of this stuff. This copy activated with the MS Action Pack license key. (I enabled my VPN connection when I activated Windows. I found an article that Microsoft had located a pirate of many stolen, multiply-activated copies of Windows through their IP address during activation, just as the movie studios do with file sharers.)

So I have at least one path to installing Quicken and Quickbooks again.
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pxsant

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2017, 02:22:21 pm »
It will work fine in a virtual machine.   I have some old DOS programs running in an XP virtual machine because they won't run on a 64 bit OS.  This is stuff I wrote before Windows 3 and I still have one account running it.   They refuse to update to a Windows version I wrote a few years ago.   Their attitude is 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

I have all sorts of other stuff running in windows VM's so you won't have any problems running Quickbooks.   The one issue might be the printer.   It would work best with no aggravation if you had a wireless printer but wired will also work.

What brand and model printer do you plan to use?

You likely already know this but when you set up your Windows VM be sure to specify a bridged network adapter, not NAT so the VM will be on the same network.

The Gorn

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2017, 03:02:22 pm »
I have a glitzy, expensive to run fragile Epson WF-3540 that uses ink like cheap cologne. It can go USB or wireless. I know there will be connectivity issues to initially resolve with USB. I also have an Epson V700 scanner that is only USB. So I will need to get USB working regardless.

Thanks for the reminder about networking adapter style, I was strugging to remember VBox setup details. I haven't used Vbox any since about 2010, my last software contract.
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benali72

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2017, 04:01:24 pm »
If it's feasible, I'd turn off the internet connection entirely for the Vista virtual instance. And turn off windows updates too. Then you don't have to worry about Vista getting crumbed up at some point. Just use the VirtualBox filesharing feature to share your files with the underlying host Mint OS, then print reports and use your internet communications from Mint.

(note -- I forget whether Activation is a one-time event for Vista or an ongoing repeating requirement. If it's the latter, my idea won't work.)

pxsant

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2017, 04:32:17 pm »
If it's feasible, I'd turn off the internet connection entirely for the Vista virtual instance. And turn off windows updates too. Then you don't have to worry about Vista getting crumbed up at some point. Just use the VirtualBox filesharing feature to share your files with the underlying host Mint OS, then print reports and use your internet communications from Mint.

I don't agree with this approach.    That will just complicate everything.   I agree with turning off Windows updates but Vista will not be updated anyway as a no longer supported OS.

The Gorn

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2017, 04:58:18 pm »
I set up Vista as a test and also to handle an install of Quicken because I do need to pay some bills. I'm totally not interested in open source financial programs because anything I'd use would incredibly complicate my life and create a lot of paper work for me. So I need Windows around for at least that.

I was curious how a fairly modern 64 bit Windows would run inside the VM.

Windows Update in Vista reported 460MB of updates. I assume this will be the final updates available for the OS so I would think it's advisable to install these.

I did as you suggested, Pxsant, and bridged the network adapter. I will run it with networking. Aside from financial programs (Quicken, QB, Turbotax) and checking websites I'm developing with IE, I don't anticipate sitting in a browser in the VM or using internet manually from the VM that much. I do need internet access for just about any financial application.
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pxsant

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Re: New main PC setup - Building from the "ashes"
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2017, 05:10:08 pm »
I was curious how a fairly modern 64 bit Windows would run inside the VM.

I am running Windows 7 and Windows 10 in VM's and they both run fine but I would go with Windows 7.