Parted Magic For Free

February 8, 2018
Parted Magic 2012-12-25 desktop (click to enlarge)

Parted Magic 2012-12-25 desktop (click to enlarge)

Parted Magic is not a Linux distribution, but it is based on Linux.  Unlike most Linux distributions, however, it is no longer free.

Parted Magic Systen Tools menu

Earlier versions of Parted Magic were free.

Parted Magic Network menu

And the software contained in these earlier free versions are still useful even today.

Parted Magic Multimedia menu

Newer versions of Parted Magic combine 32 and 64-bt versions into one disk, while earlier versions separated them into two disks.

Parted Magic Help menu

Many of the programs included in all versions of Parted Magic is free and open source software available from other websites.

Parted Magic Graphics menu

Clonezilla, for example, is available as a free stand-alone software program.

Parted Magic Desktop Settings menu

GParted is another good example of free software included with Parted Magic that can be obtained as a free and independent utilities disk.

Parted Magic Accessories menu

Nothing beats the ease and convenience of Parted Magic’s hard drive erasing software.  Unless of course, it’s a free version of Parted Magic’s hard drive erasing software.

You know what I mean?

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Dual Booting Windows 10 and Linux Mint

January 31, 2018

Why limit yourself to one operating system?  You can have Windows 10 and Linux Mint on the same PC or laptop and it costs you nothing.

For this tutorial I will be using Windows 10 1709 and Linux Mint 18.3 MATE.

We’re starting with a computer that was purchased with Windows 10 per-installed.  So the first thing you need to do is free up some hard drive space.

This PC file management screen

Go to This PC.

This PC > Computer tab > Manage

Then go to the Computer tab and select Manage.

Disk management screen in Windows 10

Under Storage, select Disk Management.  Click on your C: drive to highlight it.

Alternatively, you can just hold down the Windows key and press R and then type out “diskmgmt.msc” to get to the same location (but how boring is that).

Right-click on the C: drive and select Shrink Volume

Right-click on the C: drive and select Shrink Volume from the list.  Doing this step will not change your drive.  Windows is just calculating how much drive space can be freed up.

Windows 10 calculates how much drive space can be freed

Windows will then give you a dialog box.

Enter the amount of drive space to be created

Windows is saying that about 58 GB of hard drive space can be freed.  But Linux Mint doesn’t really need that much space.  40 GB is plenty, given the fact that this a only a 160 GB hard drive.

You can give it as much space as you want.  The minimum is 20 GB.

To calculate how many gigabytes of space you wish free up, multiply the number of gigabytes by 1024.  In my case, 40 GB = 40960.  Enter the number in the correct space and click on the Shrink button.

New unallocated partition created

The result is a 40 GB unallocated partition.  No data has been destroyed.  Everything is cool.

Windows 10 C: drive information

All you’re doing is creating a new unformatted partition.  In GParted, it would look like this:

GParted graphical view of newly created partition

You’re done with Windows for the moment.  The next step is to boot your computer using a Linux Mint Live DVD or bootable thumb drive.  You may need to check with your computer manufacturer on how to boot from live media.

Once you have booted into Linux Mint, double-click on the install icon on the desktop and begin by selecting your preferred language.

Install Linux Mint 18.3 Welcome Screen

Continue.

Install third-party software

You will want to install all third-party software.  It’s all free.

Continue.

This next step is where I shall incur the rath of the Snobby Linux Elitists, who will tell you that you need to partition the drive to create separate boot sector, system files, home folder, swap partition and blah blah blahty blah blah.

Linux runs on 500 supercomputers not because it’s free, but because it’s that smart.  You can trust Linux.  Select “Install Linux Mint alongside Windows 10” and don’t worry about it.  Install Now.

Install Linux alongside Windows 10

Linux partition confirmation dialog box

Continue.

Select your time zone.

Time zone setup dialog box

Continue.

Select your keyboard layout.

Keyboard layout options and testing dialog box

Continue.

Create a user name, administrative password (very important), log in automatically or require the password to log in.  I do not recommend encrypting the home folder.

Log in setup options and configuration dialog box

Continue.

Sit back and wait.

Installing Linux Mint files

Once Linux Mint has finished installing, you’ll be given two options.

Continue Testing or Restart Now option after installing Linux Mint 18.3

You can stop at this point.  Linux will handle the boot loader.  Restart now and you’ll be given a list of options that will allow you to select either Linux Mint or Windows 10.

Fresh install of the Linux Mint 18.3 desktop

Fresh install of Linux Mint 18.3 (click to enlarge)

Linux Mint is now installed.  And if we view the drive again using GParted, it looks like this:

Linux Mint installed GParted graphical view

Notice that we did not tell Linux where to install itself and we do not tell it to create a swap partition.  It just knew what to do.  Smart.

The Linux boot loader, although perfectly functional, is also perfectly ugly.  We can change that by booting back to Windows 10 and allowing Windows to handle the boot loading.

You’ll need to install EasyBCD.

Download EasyBCD from Softpedia

After downloading the free program, extract the file from the zip file and place it on your desktop.

Exract EasyBCD

Double-click on the file to install.

EasyBCD Setup Wizard

After installation, launch the program.

EasyBCD Add New Entry tab

Go to Add New Entry and change the settings.  GRUB 2 is the Linux loader.  You can name the Linux entry to anything you want.  Find the correct partition where Linux resides.  And click Add Entry.

You don’t need to do anything on the Windows tab, unless you want to alter the name for Windows that is displayed when the Windows boot loader runs.  Remember to click Add Entry to save changes.

EasyBCD Edit Boot Menu tab

Go to Edit Boot Menu and make any changes you wish.  The settings shown above seem to work best for me.  Click Save Settings to save settings.

EasyBCD Backup/Repair tab

The next step is the most critical part of this operation!  If you fail to do this step, your system will not boot.

Got to BCD Backup/Repair and select “Re-create/repair boot files.”  Click on Perform Action to complete the modifications to your system.

Close EasyBCD and reboot.  Select your desired operating system.

End Notes:

Linux can see and access your Windows partition.  Windows cannot see or access your Linux partition without installing additional software.

The dual boot will not interfere with Windows updates or upgrades.

You now have the best of both worlds and it costs nothing.

Awesome!

 

 

The Case of the WiFi Thieves

November 27, 2017

Is someone stealing your WiFi signal?

Are you sure about that?

Free software tools exist to help you monitor your WiFi network.  And the best part of all is that you don’t need to be a certified systems administrator to use these programs.  Just click and wait.

WiFi Scanner

Who’s On My WiFi? (click to enlarge)

Who’s On My WiFi is a free software program for Windows or Android that allows you to scan and catalog every device on your network (wireless and wired).

(For privacy and security reasons, I have removed information from the images above and below.)

Also available for free to Linux, Mac and Windows users is Angry IP Scanner.

Angry IP Scanner

Not as extensive a tool as the previous software recommendation, Angry IP Scanner is just as effective.

With so many of your neighbors now using WiFi to connect to the Internet, it’s not a bad idea to make certain that they are not connecting to your Internet.

And with so many Internet service providers imposing overage charges for exceeding your data cap limit, can you really afford not to know if someone is stealing your WiFi signal?

There’s only one way to find out.

[Solved] Google Chrome Freezes and Crashes In Windows 10

October 5, 2017

The recent Windows Creators Update (1703) has been causing problems for some users of the Google Chrome browser.  The browser will freeze or crash suddenly under normal use conditions.

The solution to this problem is obvious.  Stop using Google Chrome and start using Google Chrome.

No, not that Google Chrome, that Google Chrome.

PortableApps.com1. Download the PortableApps version of Google Chrome.

2. Place the installation file in the parent level of your Documents folder.

3. Install the PortableApps version of Google Chrome.

4. Open the folder GoogleChromePortable that the install just created.

5. Right-click on GoogleChromePortable.exe > Send to > Desktop (create shortcut).

6. Use and customize Google Chrome to your heart’s content.

No more freezing, no more crashing.

You can install GoogleChromePortable in any directory you wish.  Whichever directory you place the installation file in is where the folder will be created, unless you manually specify a different directory.

You’re welcome.

Running Windows Programs On Linux

September 20, 2017

It is possible to install, launch and run a Windows-based PC program on a Linux desktop using Wine and…

PlayOnLinux banner and link

Both Wine and PlayOnLinux are available for free in your Linux distribution repositories.

If you have never used Wine before, you may need to configure Wine by going to:  Start Menu > Wine > Configure Wine and follow the on-screen prompts.  It doesn’t take long.

Next, insert the disc with the program you wish to install.  For this demonstration, I’ll be installing PopCap’s huge time-sucking vampire, Bejeweled 2.

Launch PlayOnLinux.

PlayOnLinux main screen

(Note:  The desktop theme has been changed temporarily to enhance these graphics.)

Click on “Install a program” and wait for PlayOnLinux to refresh.

PlayOnLinux selection dialog box

Click on “Install a non-listed program” or click the Refresh button if this option is not visible.

PlayOnLinux Wizard warning part 1

Click “Next.”

PlayOnLinux Wizard warning part 2

Click “Next.”

PlayOnLinux manual installation disclaimer

Click “Next.”

PlayOnLinux virtual drive selection dialog box

You should install each new program in its own virtual drive as a general rule.  Click “Next.”

PlayOnLinux virtual drive naming dialog box

You will need to give the virtual drive a name.  Usually the name of the program works best.  Click “Next.”

PlayOnLinux installation modification dialog box

You shouldn’t need to configure or modify anything.  You may need to hover over these selections before clicking “Next.”

PlayOnLinux 32 or 64 bit selection dialog box

You will need to know if the program you are installing is a 32 or 64 bit program, if you are using PlayOnLinux on a 64 bit operating system.  Bejeweled 2 is a 32 bit program.  Click “Next.”

PlayOnLinux virtual drive creation screen

PlayOnLinux will now create the virtual drive, which is nothing more than a folder in your Home directory.  When completed, click ‘Next.”

PlayOnLinux installation file location selection dialog box

You need to know the location of the installation files.  Click “Next” to launch the installer.

Bejeweled 2/Peggle Windows installer selection screen

Oh, isn’t that cool!  There are two games on this disc.  But for right now you just want Bejeweled 2.  Click “Install Now.”

PopCap installation dialog box

Here we go again!  Click “Next.”

PopCap license agreement

Click “I Agree.”

Bejeweled 2 Windows installer

Wait for the installation to finish.

PopCap opt-out dialog box

Opt out and click “Next.”

Program installation complete

Click “Done” and click the round red “Quit” on the Bejeweled 2/Peggle install selector.

(Note: Switching back to my original desktop theme for emphasis.)

PlayOnLinux launcher selection

The PlayOnLinux Wizard can create a desktop shortcut that will enable you to launch the program from a desktop icon.  The shortcut should link to an EXE file (as indicated above).  Click “Next.”

Naming dialog box for program launcher

Create a name for the new shortcut and click “Next.”

PlayOnLinux launcher completed

You can run the game from within PlayOnLinux or close the program and…

Linux desktop shortcut for Bejeweled 2

Launch the game directly from your desktop.

Bejeweled 2 running on Linux

Just like that!

Awesome.  Let’s do the same thing with Peggle by putting it in its own virtual drive.

Peggle installed by PlayOnLinux

It’s just that easy!

Peggle loading screen

Peggle welcome screen

Peggle running on Linux

The reason you want to place each program in its own virtual drive is in case you want to uninstall that program.  Launch PlayOnLinux and select the program you wish to remove.

Uninstall a program in PlayOnLinux

A new menu will appear with the option to uninstall the program.

Almost any Windows program can be installed using PlayOnLinux.  However, not every Windows program may be as fully compatible with Wine as Bejeweled 2 or Peggle.

PlayOnLinux is a free front-end program for utilizing Wine, but there is a similar commercial program by Codeweavers called CrossOver that is free to try before you buy.

Give PlayOnLinux a try.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a huge time-sucking vampire that requires my immediate attention.

Let’s play!

On Linux.