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Hello! This has been requested from me dozens of times, and finally, from years of experience, I have created this guide that will serve an insanely large portion of computer users, from the most novice to the intermediate and advanced users. Everyone will find something here, this is a guarantee for both Linux and Windows users. This is something I have put my heart in, easily much more than the smartphone guide that people know me for. This might be one of my most definitive works by far, I carry this much confidence.

A little briefer, I have used Windows since the W98 dialup days, and Linux for the past 5 years. I have a fair amount of experience with data compression, archival and preservation, besides the OPSEC work I do here.

Before I move forward, I will thank many people:

There are some prerequisites for using this guide:

  • You must know how to move mouse and type on keyboard, and copy paste files
  • Have a little patience and vigour to learn things

Now that the basic things are out of way, we can move forward to the guide, which consists of 13 sections.

IMPARTING BASIC PHILOSOPHY

F(L)OSS VS CLOSED SOURCE

F(L)OSS means Free (Libre) Open Source software, and it means that the software is freeware, AND the source code that are building blocks of software, are available openly and freely for modification, reverse engineering, compilation and studying purposes. The correct way to say it, as Richard Stallman says, is FLOSS and not FOSS.

There are nuances to various software licenses (Apache, GPLv2, GPLv3, LGPL, MIT et al) which is out of scope of basic philosophy and concerns developers and highly advanced users or business users.

Generally freeware software (free as in free beer) exists whose source code is not available. This is freeware software and not open source or libre.

Closed source software does not provide its source code, and may be free or paid. The developer closes source code from public usually for these reasons – inclusion of non-free software code components, or monetising software, making a free artificially restricted version to monetise, or inserting ads/spyware/malware of some form.

As is obvious, FLOSS is highly transparent towards community and is generally laborious work done for free for the society’s greater good. This is rare in the case of closed source software, which serves one of the forementioned purposes.

The soul and spirit of FLOSS is socialist/communist, in a similar way to piracy. The purpose of it is to serve the greater good. In comparison, the soul and spirit of closed source software, outside rare cases of benevolence, is highly corporate and fascistic, similar to a leech, which in many cases these days may suck money out of your wallets for subscriptions. It may also serve as a leech to suck your data for telemetry and spying purposes.

FLOSS will rarely cause telemetry issues, and if it does, there will always either be a developer announcement or community uproar about it.

Always try to pick FLOSS software wherever possible, unless absolutely necessary otherwise, depending on job or social circle circumstances.

DEVELOPING EXPERIENCE AND VIGOUR

To do computing, there must be developed a little taste for computing. It is no different than a collector’s hobby, or an enthusiast for anything, be it pens, pencils, watches, cars, bikes, clothes, food and so on.

Computing is an art, and not just a way to get shit done and shutdown. You can not just do things but live with a computer. It has more capabilities and a bigger canvas than your itty bitty locked down smartphone or a crappy iPad. You may think that smartphone gets 95% of the job done, but there is no personal taste in convenience. This is the most non-human like part of convenience that people miss. There is a certain work ethic and class that computing has, when you sit on the desk and chair (not gaming chair).

There are simple ways to develop this vigour and proactiveness, like reading changelogs of software you want to download, install or update. This readies you in advance for knowing what the new software version carries with it, and forces you to learn more things naturally.

You should also, instead of blindly clicking the system update button, check what things are being updated. You will not die if you take a few minutes doing this practice every week. You may also benefit from it, at times.

There are examples of how this can save you, like the famous uTorrent 2.2.1 we all know, or Ubuntu’s file manager having to disable a functionality temporarily so that a vulnerability could be fixed, and so on. The most critical software to update is internet related, but everything else is not so critical. However, one of the biggest examples clearly would be the free upgrade offered to Windows 7 and 8 users, to Windows 10. Windows 10 was a nightmare of bugs and telemetry when it released, and there were no solutions. I primed my computer for the free upgrade, waited a couple days, and the forums and news all over basically taught me not to rush for upgrades. Let other people be guinea pig testers.

IDENTIFY PRETEND EXPERTS AND DRAMA QUEENS ON INTERNET

There are a lot of pretend experts these days. Some do it in the name of security, some do it on YouTube, some do it for drumming up hype purposes. Everything has a pretend expert these days, but I will restrict myself to the computing domain.

In the case of security, there are many people that ignore privacy and anonymity implications, telemetry implications, and act apologetic for corporate closed source software. This is generally done for Western Big Tech, especialy Google, Apple, Microsoft and so on. Most of them are generally either hopeless people, employed on behalf of companies for marketing, or secretly have shareholder stakes with these public companies. RUN FROM THEM! Run as far as you can. These people never have your security interests as a priority.

There are a lot of technology YouTube channels that try to capitalise and bank off of prominent and big software, and “recommend” it to people by reading the marketing sheet or website pages. Usually, they lack substance or are going to make a 2147483647th video about a topic, rinse and repeat. Unless something is FLOSS, if something comes from the corporate lovers, take it with a bag of salt, not just a grain.

It is not just corporate lovers, though, that have cults. There are some projects that are FLOSS but have toxic or propagandistic cults behind them. One of them has some wonderful recent examples, related to FlorisBoard or Bromite (Chromium-based web browser). One of them is largely known for scammy crypto currency and creating a harmful network effect by giving sponsorships to tech YouTube channels.

HARDWARE AND BASIC TIPS TO CONSIDER

  • Do not fall for the special 50000 DPI mouse meme. 800-1000 DPI mouse works.
  • For a desktop, get a $30-50 mechanical keyboard with replaceable keys. Get keyboard switches that make less sound (Cherry MX Brown or Kalih equivalent). You will save money forever instead of replacing membrane keyboards every year.
  • Prefer brands for keyboard and mouse that can run without extra software. Zowie and Logitech are good brands. A lot of brands like Razer, SteelSeries and so on have spyware in the form of special software they “require” you to use for things like RGB lighting functionality.
  • Get a $2 clip-on or USB strip lamp for your laptop, instead of finding a backlit keyboard laptop. Lasts years. And your laptop purchase choices will never be limited again.
  • Get yourself USB 3.0 flash sticks made of metal instead of plastic.
  • Wipe and clean your monitor screen, keyboard and mouse with alcohol every week.
  • Take computer breaks every hour, and rotate your eyes and shoulders.
  • DO NOT USE DARK MODE AT DAYTIME! Also, USE DARK MODE AFTER EVENING.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WINDOWS AND LINUX, SIMPLIFIED

You will not believe this, but Linux and Windows are almost identical today, with absolutely no emphasis on “almost”. The gap is so small, it is almost non existent now. Currently I have a setup of software that is identical and cross platform on both Linux and Windows, and the only difference lies with MS Office 2007 and CrystalDiskInfo.

You can easily keep Windows in a virtual machine (VM) using VirtualBox on Linux, and use MS Office inside it. Works even with Windows XP, and can run any 16 bit nostalgic programs (although you can use DOSBox or any of its frontend GUIs for it on any OS).

There is a compatibility layer (not emulator) called WINE, which you can use to run almost any Windows program natively on Linux without issues. A further improvement of it exists in the form of Bottles, a software based on WINE, available as a sandboxed Flatpak package. This allows to run things properly that even Windows 10 would not run today via backward compatibility.

Why would you need Windows? If you want to play one of those 5-10% specific non-Steam or non-Epic store games or some anti-cheat games that are unavailable on Linux natively or via WINE/Proton, this is a reason to use Windows. Or if you want to use the proprietary VSCode for your job, it is a valid reason. There are a few software like video editors you can count on fingers, or the latest subscription based Photoshop.

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LINUX AND WINDOWS FLAVOUR RECOMMENDATIONS

There are going to be people that will nuke me for this. Everybody will not agree with me, but I am not a people pleaser, so I do not give a shit. There is a wild jungle of Linux distributions, and everyone has more than 1 answer on this, making this problem worse than the pigeonhole problem.

LINUX

For Linux, start with Ubuntu GNOME. This is by far the most easy to use, production compatible, stable and reliable distribution with updated packages and an incredible balance of security and hardware compatibility that exists. Ubuntu is the Windows of Linux distributions, without the telemetry worries, and largely without the hassle that will make you use Terminal (that black hacker screen) on the very first day. Ubuntu is the king as far as community support goes.

I have looked into the distributions, and observed enough r/linux users’ testimonies over the past 5 years, almost everyday, obsessively, and have a lot of Linux friends.

  • Ubuntu’s little brother, Linux Mint, is not an experience I loved. It has the weirdest bugs like mouse cursor jumping and clicking in all 4 corners of screen, and if you are like me who has lost thousands of Firefox tabs because the cursor decided to click in the top right corner, you will want to do the same as me, RUN AWAY from Mint.
  • Arch is highly favoured by experienced users. Great but first learn enough.
  • Gentoo is a meme. It is not a bad distribution, quite legendary, however it requires extremely high experience.
  • Debian is just inferior to Ubuntu because of the lack of balance between updated packages and good hardware compatibility. Good for servers only.
  • Fedora tends to have breakage issues with system updations.
  • Void Linux, Alpine Linux, Devuan, EndeavourOS are very good non-mainstream distributions, but you need a little more experience than zero to use them.
  • AVOID KDE DE, it is BLOATED and 15% HEAVIER ON PERFORMANCE THAN GNOME, XFCE, LXDE AND OTHER DEs.
  • AVOID Manjaro, Clear Linux, LinuxFX and such non-mainstream side distributions like the plague.

WINDOWS

Ameliorated. This is the simplest answer to a Windows that works, does not kill system resources and lacks the terrifying amounts of telemetry that the next best Windows flavour, LTSC, has. Pro and Home flavours are insanely bad, a nightmare.

Maybe I sounded too cryptic, so I will make it easier to understand. There are various flavours of Windows that you will interact with, in order of worst to best:

  • Home
  • Pro
  • Enterprise LTSB
  • Enterprise LTSC

If this is the case, why did I not say LTSC at the start? Because it is not the best that you can use. It is the best in this list, and the fallback option if my top recommendation does not work for your edge use cases.

Ameliorated is a community project that… I will just quote them. (https://wiki.ameliorated.info/doku.php?id=faq)

”Windows 10 AME aims at delivering a stable, non-intrusive yet fully functional build of Windows 10 to anyone, who requires the Windows operating system natively. Spyware systems, which are abundant in Windows 10 by default, have not been disabled using group policy, registry entries or various other workarounds – they have been entirely removed and deleted from the system, on an executable-level. This includes Windows Update, and any related services intended to re-patch the system via what is essentially a universal backdoor. Core applications, such as the included Edge web-browser, Windows Media Player, Cortana, as well as any appx applications, have also been successfully eliminated. The total size of removed files is about 2 GB.”

”Great effort has been invested in maintaining the subsequent system’s stability, bug-free operation and user experience, as many of these removed services conflict with core Windows 10 features.”

Their current build is based on Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel CBB 21H1 release, the penultimate release of Windows 10 as of now, since Windows 11 has been released.

Ameliorated team has provided open source scripts to manage the process of eliminating spyware and debloating Windows, and provide a readymade community ISO for the same. Their measures include ripping out core spyware components like Cortana, Edge browser, Windows Update, Microsoft Store apps framework and so on, plus lots of policy changes, HOSTS modifications and creating conditions so that user only uses Standard User Account privileges and only uses Administrator privileges every time it is needed. This reduces most of the attack surface, upto 94%, as far as Windows usage goes.

This is the best flavour of Windows you should use, unless you have issues with these 5-7 games, if you need to use a realtime antivirus. (https://wiki.ameliorated.info/doku.php?id=antivirus&s[]=games#problems_with_games).

GENERAL SECURITY TIPS

There are a lot of tips that people generally have no clue about, when they should. This is a problem because these are the defacto common sense things in virtual world. If you do not use common sense in real world, you know the consequences. You have those in virtual world too.

  • Avoid listening to random internet and YouTube idiots and drama queens about security, as told earlier. They want attention, and do not care about your interests or problems. Go to Bleeping Computer or Wilders Security Forums if you value time and yourself.
  • Prefer FOSS software as much as possible, and properly verify the reputation of closed source tools you pick. Closed source software makers have no accountability and love to remain opaque against backlash or public callouts.
  • Use Firefox as your primary browser. Shift your bookmarks from Chrome using addons like XBrowserSync.
  • Use uBlock Origin addon set to easy or medium mode on Firefox, and remote fonts disabled in Settings.
  • Install Resurrect Pages addon on Firefox and try to rely on archived versions of webpages (from archive.org or archive.is) instead of enabling every JavaScript and inviting danger. Running random website scripts is dangerous for your privacy and security.
  • ONLY use Ungoogled Chromium as your Chrome based browser, and use it only as secondary browser. AVOID Brave, Google Chrome, Vivaldi and anything else.
  • Verify the source of tools you download, and in case of Windows, do not hesitate to scan your drive-by downloads using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free (MBAM) or Emsisoft Emergency Kit (EEK). These are free of cost, high grade on-demand AV scanners.
  • For Windows, if you torrent download too much games and software even in today’s age as frequently as every month, do not hesitate to get something as robust as Kaspersky’s realtime AV suite (best against 0days and for heuristics). If you can have the patience to scan your torrent warez or stuff before executing, you can get by without paid AV, and use MBAM Free on-demand scanner. Movie downloading does not require such AV.
  • Do not download every email attachment like a thirsty human in a desert.

HOW USERS SHOULD VET AND SOURCE SOFTWARE AND DRIVERS (MOSTLY FOR WINDOWS, BUT ALSO LINUX)

This is incredibly taxing on my tiny brain, because I have naturally had the instinct to find my tools since forever. One habit that helped me a lot though, is, as mentioned earlier, reading changelogs. The other habit that helped me is to search in every nook and corner of the internet. 50 alternatives? Try them. You will find a diamond in the rough, and you will not regret it. I understand this might take time though, so I have some sources to help filter this mess, in order of importance:

  • AlternativeTo: This is an incredible community website that everyone has used at some point unknowingly, if they ever searched for any software. The community sources collectively alternatives to software for all kinds of categories, likes and comments on them. Dozens of filters and GIVES SOFTWARE OPTIONS FOR ALL OS’s. Good chance you will never need to go beyond, but if you do…

FOR WINDOWS

  • MajorGeeks: A veteran website for software library, that offers a very filtered down, clean software options, even obscure ones. Windows only, but when nothing saves the day, this will.

  • Filepuma: One of my new favourites. This is an incredible website, second only to MajorGeeks. Offers Windows software.

  • FileHorse: A website that likely was born as a copy of FileHippo, after it became a weird bloated website. And it became my favourite many years ago. Offers VirusTotal scanned Windows software binaries AND shows changelogs. If developer website or blog does not have a changelog, this will. I would argue it is better than Filepuma in some ways.

  • Softpedia: This is the oldest site here, and it is also a junkyard catalog of hundreds of thousands of software for Windows, Linux and Mac. However, they vet, review and offer clean software, and is a safe external repository for software. It gets the mention due to its reputation, catalog size and variety. I have found a few gems in the past due to scouring this website for days and weeks.

For Windows drivers, Snappy Driver Installer is simply the best tool. Do not go anywhere else. Do not use those fishy driver download websites or adware/trialware driver manager software.

FOR LINUX

On Linux distributions, there are 4 forms in which software binaries exist, that I know of, and use.

  • Native binaries (.deb, .rpm, .tgz): usually these can either be installed like EXE or MSI Windows setups, or in case of .tgz, they can be compiled and you can create your binaries yourselves. The latter takes time and for many big software, people simply lack powerful hardware. This is why readymade binaries are provided to masses for few click installations. These have the fastest performance on your computer, and run unrestricted on the system memory. They may have restricted user privileges (administrator/regular user/guest).
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  • Flatpak: This is a new format for Linux distributions that allows sandboxing^ and contains dependencies within itself. It provides for a way for applications with older compatibility issues to run properly, which can be an advantage over native binaries in few cases. Incredibly mature format, and rising in popularity, and even becoming a preference over native method.

Trusted repository is flathub.org .

^ Sandboxing is a security measure that isolates software code from interacting with other software code in memory. Think of it as you living your life in your own bubble, and others doing the same, and everyone keeping distance from each other.

  • AppImage: a very old method of binary packaging, it acts like Windows portable programs, except AppImages exist as single standalone files that can be double clicked and ran on system. The software is compiled on such machines that these portable programs can be run on any modern system without issues. High degree of compatibility and offer a great way for software preservation. Underrated way to use software, and I absolutely love it.

Trusted repositories are apprepo.de, appimage.github.io and appimagehub.com as of year 2022.

  • Snap: last but not the least, and only available on Ubuntu. This is Ubuntu’s way of packaging software in a way that integrates with the system, that offers possibilities that Flatpaks and Appimages do not. They are an upgrade over native method in terms of security, but a downgrade in terms of performance. However, the performance difference is very minor now, and is acceptable.

No trusted repositories because only Ubuntu Software Center offers programs in this package framework.

LINUX AND WINDOWS SOFTWARE RECOMMENDATIONS

This is going to be very juicy, and everyone will find something here. This comes from a few decades of experience, so enjoy. There are a lot of recommendations I will share, and while there might be an overlap with AlternativeTo, there will also not be a complete overlap, hence the uniqueness.

The following software is shared by both Linux and Windows, which will astound you, because the quality of these is the best in their respective categories. There will be a (*) marking for the better one, and (^) if it is FLOSS.

Category Windows/Linux common Windows only Linux only
PDF reader Calibre (* ^ ) SumatraPDF Okular
Audio Player Audacious (* ^ ) foobar2000 -
Video Player SMPlayer (* ^ )/VLC (* ^ ) MPC-HC -
Image Viewer - JPEGView (* ^ )/IrfanView nomacs (* ^ )
File Manager Double Commander Explorer++ (*) Nautilus/Nemo/Dolphin/SpaceFM
Media Information Tool MediaInfo (* ^ ) - -
Torrent Client Deluge (* ^ ) / QBitTorrent uTorrent -
Screenshot/Record Tool FlameShot ShareX (* ^ ) Greenshot (*)
Image Management XNViewMP (*) - ImageMagick
Media Library XNViewMP (*) Shotwell (*) -
Video Converter HandBrake (* ^ ) Freemake -
Download Manager Xtreme Download Manager (* ^ ) Internet Download Manager -
Specialised Downloader JDownloader (* ^ ) - -
Compress/Archive Tool PeaZip (* ^ ) 7-Zip (* ^ )/WinRAR -
Colour Picking Tool Colorpicker.fr (* ^ ) Instant Eyedropper gPick
Search Index Tool - Everything (*) FSearch (* ^ )
Light Photo Editor Pinta (* ^ ) Paint.NET (*) -
Advanced Photo Editor Krita (* ^ ) - -
Professional Photo Editor GIMP (* ^ ) Adobe Photoshop (*) -
Bulk Rename Tool Inviska Rename (* ^ ) Bulk Rename Utility -
Bootable ISO Maker balenaEtcher (* ^ )/Ventoy Rufus (*) -
FTP Client FileZilla (* ^ ) - -
E-Mail Client Thunderbird (* ^ ) - -
Office Suite LibreOffice/WPS Office MS Office 2007 (*) -
Lightweight Text Editor Gedit (* ^ )/Lite XL - -
Advanced IDE/Text Editor Geany (* ^ ) Sublime Text (*) -
RSS Reader QuiteRSS (* ^ ) - TinyTinyRSS (* ^ )/Liferea
Phone Remote Control KDE Connect (* ^ ) Pushbullet -
File Index Creation Tool Filelist Creator (*) Snap2HTML LinuxDir2HTML
Data Recovery/Disk Diagnosis R-Studio (* )/Testdisk (* ^ ) - Recuva
SMART Disk Monitoring Tool R-Studio (*) CrystalDiskInfo (* ^ ) GSmartControl
Disk Partitioning - AOMEI Partition Standard Free (*) GParted (* ^ )
DOS Emulator DOSBox-X (* ^ ) D-Fend Reloaded (*) -

As you might have noticed some patterns and anomalies:

  • Most of the winners here are FLOSS and cross platform at the same time, consistently.
  • I did not mention the best for Linux file managers
  • A few of these do not have ^ which means they are not FLOSS
  • XNViewMP and Filelist Creator are rarities in that they are not FLOSS, yet are benevolent pieces of adware/spyware-free software available as cross-platform, and also XNView is the winner of 2 types of software, because it is the ultimate tool for anything to do with images. Nothing comes close, and never has.
  • SMART HDD/SSD monitoring tool is an issue on Linux, because free tools cannot do external HDDs for some reason, even though on Windows this is possible. R-Studio can, but it is extremely expensive and nothing else works from my experience.
  • MS Office is the superior tool for office and document work. This is a truth we have to live with. I will discuss this problem in a later section.

LINUX AND WINDOWS TELEMETRY

WINDOWS

Let us start with the obvious. Linux has no telemetry and spying. However, Windows is a telemetry nightmare. However, it may be the case that a near utopian state has been achieved with a few ways. Let us take this nightmarish difficult problem and hammer it down quickly!

Prerequisites:

  • Windows 10 AME 21H1
  • simplewall
  • WindowsSpyBlocker

Steps:

  • Just install and use W10AME
  • Install simplewall and turn it on, and block all 3 options from menu
  • Run the portable WindowsSpyBlocker and choose Telemetry option, choose Firewall rules option and use all the 3 options, adding extra, spy and update rules to Windows Firewall.

One would ask, why step 3? This is being done because simplewall is not a firewall but works over Windows Filtering Platform (WFP), which is different from Windows Firewall. Both complement each other. simplewall allows to block application internet traffic directly with ease of use.

You basically have more or less no telemetry here. The only domain that passes through is go.microsoft.com, which is like Microsoft’s DNS resolver for its products, Windows Defender definition updates and Powershell help.

To quote Microsoft’s connection endpoint explanations, I will quote them directly from https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/privacy/manage-windows-21h1-endpoints

Microsoft forward link redirection service (FWLink) The following endpoint is used by the Microsoft forward link redirection service (FWLink) to redirect permanent web links to their actual, sometimes transitory, URL. FWlinks are similar to URL shorteners, just longer. If you disable this endpoint, Windows Defender won’t be able to update its malware definitions; links from Windows and other Microsoft products to the web won’t work; and PowerShell updateable Help won’t update. To disable the traffic, instead, disable the traffic that’s getting forwarded. HTTP go.microsoft.com

go.microsoft.com is not a telemetry domain here, as we can clearly see. It is harmless and different. Windows, that was a nightmarish dystopian tentacle monster sending thousands of packets per second, is a harmless puppy this way.

AME has a lot of work put into it, as discussed in an earlier section, and the work of WindowsSpyBlocker and simplewall projects make this miracle possible.

LINUX

We are just going to enhance our tracker and ad blocking, because there is no telemetry in general to deal with. Linux is great. All the big distributions, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch, Gentoo, Slackware are great. Many smaller ones like Void, Alpine, EndeavourOS, Devuan are also great.

NOTE: Ubuntu performs checks for Snap system updates, the only point to note. However, all distributions perform update checks, so it is upto your paranoia how problematic you think it is.

Prerequisites:

  • Energized HOSTS (https://github.com/EnergizedProtection/block)
  • Disable NTP server checks aka date time auto server synchronisation from system settings
  • Disable location services and any “internet” features if present in Linux distribution
  • A nice DNS provider like AdGuard or Uncensored DNS

How to edit a HOSTS file on Linux, Windows or Mac: https://archive.is/dndUD or https://i.imgur.com/bor5cJ5.jpg

For second one, just go to your date time settings, and you should find something like “Automatic Date and Time”, just disable it and you can set time manually. It is never too hard, just like for your wrist watch or wall clock.

For the third one, it can usually be found under “Location” system settings. Easy toggle.

For the last one, you can learn how to setup a DNS provider in Linux, Windows or MacOS here. https://web.archive.org/web/20211023112345/https://www.dignited.com/29741/change-dns-server-windows-linux-macos/

NOTE: the example above uses Google and Cloudflare DNS providers. AVOID THEM and use better ones for your privacy, like AdGuard or Uncensored DNS, my favourites. Quad9 is also decent.

WHAT YOU SHOULD REALLY DO

Even despite all of what we did in Windows, if you read through the above section of software recommendations for Linux and Windows, almost all software is common, and what is not common has a competent or better Linux alternative. And as discussed in an earlier section, there is barely any reason to use Windows.

Linux is incomparably faster, lighter, great for privacy, security and anonymity, and much more immune to viruses and escalation privilege problems. Linux can do basically everything, this is not to be understood as Linux is less. The magnum opus power of Linux, once you learn and get good with it, is unlocked from its Bash Terminal, the black DOS-like screen thing.

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LINUX AND WINDOWS TELEMETRY

WHAT YOU SHOULD REALLY DO (continued)

When I say that you need to learn Linux, it does not mean Linux is hard. Linux today is very easy to use, almost more hassle free than Windows. You are conditioned for many years since childhood to get used to Windows, downloading EXEs from random websites and installing things by clicking Next->Next->Finish. There is no taste, no learning in it. How will you get job work done when Windows forces you to sit for 5 hours for forced updates, and your work done overnight is lost? Linux does not have these problems. Linux is easy to use. You find Windows easy ONLY because you are conditioned since childhood to endure and workaround those problems. If you talked to a donkey everyday for hours, you would start loving it like family.

You can preferably, as discussed earlier, keep Windows in a VM using VirtualBox on Linux, and use MS Office inside it. Works even with Windows XP, and no need to give the Windows VM internet.

VPN USAGE AND PORT FORWARDING

Learn to use your VPNs properly instead of just thinking you bought and installed them and became hackerman.

VPNs are always a handy tool for geoblock bypassing to watch your favourite shows on Netflix, but it also allows to read articles that you may not be able to access from other countries.

Port forwarding is like tunneled NAT through firewall or router. Now if that sounds too technical, your network traffic is simply going through a designated tunnel number called port, which the firewall knows is safe. This prevents traffic leakage and any privacy/anonymity issues associated with things like torrenting or geoblock bypassing to access websites, in case of VPNs.

Refer to recommended VPNs here: https://web.archive.org/web/20220511164007/https://old.reddit.com/r/VPNTorrents/comments/rikthc/list_of_recommended_vpns_2022/

Refer to this for VPNs that support port forwarding: https://web.archive.org/web/20220715040446/https://old.reddit.com/r/VPNTorrents/comments/s9f36q/list_of_vpns_that_allow_portforwarding_2022/

Learn how to prevent IP leakage by using port forwarding with torrent clients here: https://teddit.net/r/VPNTorrents/comments/pq03u1/318_video_guide_finding_network_interface_and/

SOME OBSTACLES WE FACE

The need for using MS Office is a problem that everyone faces while using Linux, because of your school, university or office work. The hacky solution is to export your files as PDFs if you want others to view your work. However, this approach falls flat the moment you need to do collaboration teamwork based projects. The only viable and simple solution is, as mentioned twice earlier, keeping Windows in a VM using VirtualBox on Linux, and use MS Office inside it. Works even with Windows XP, and there is no need to give the Windows VM internet. You can enjoy editing documents or spreadsheets or presentations, without any formatting hassles.

I have to have Windows by my side, for another software, for example CrystalDiskInfo which is FLOSS and allows me to monitor the health of my external HDDs, something I cannot do on Linux, no matter if I used smartmontools, GNOME Disks or GsmartControl (smartmontools based). You could say that I am incompetent with smartmontools, but who is competent with it, and can easily look up their SMART data with their Seagate or WD external HDDs or SSDs? CrystalDiskInfo, a 6 MB EXE utility, just works without hassle, magically.

There could be some drives that people have, like tape drives, ZIP drives, floppy disks, DVD/BluRay writers or old printers, or scanners. These also do not enjoy particularly good support on Linux. There are capabilties printers possess that are beyond what basic support CUPS provides on Linux.

Windows serves some purposes beyond gaming, that have inherent value. This is acceptance of reality, not apologia.

HANDY TIPS FOR EVERYDAY LIFE

There is something we use everyday, called WiFi. However, people do not understand what 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz mean. They just think, bigger number more progress. 2.4 GHz provides more wall penetration for signals, and thus more physical coverage range for your devices, while having a throughput of roughly 7 MBps. On the other hand, 5 GHz bandwidth provides approximately 32 MBps which is a 4.5x speed jump, at the cost of 1/3rd physical range for your devices. Choose wisely what you desire, because the “ancient” technology may not be so bad for your needs.

The same goes for 5G, 6G and whatever new fancy cellular radio technology is coming.

Here is one other tip, if you want to use encryption for your documents or files, stop putting passwords on them directly, when you can just use 7-Zip or PeaZip, and use AES-256 encryption on them. If you compress them simultaneously, you might also end up creating smaller encrypted dossiers that might be 20-50% the size of your documents or files, saving time on internet uploads or USB stick copy/transfer times.

MONITORING DISK HEALTH AND DATA BACKUP PRACTICES

People lose their data. They cry. They are ready to pay thousands of dollars to a data recovery professional to do anything and recover their precious memories, or critical documents. STOP THIS MADNESS! Develop a simple work ethic so you never regret this happening to you.

It is very simple, so just might as well use some meat in your skull. Develop the habit.

Look for reliable HDD brands on BackBlaze, an organisation that issues quarterly, half yearly and annual reports on reliable HDD models and brands. They have been doing it for years.

Monitor the health of your storage devices every 6 months. You can use GNOME Disks or GSmartControl on Linux, or CrystalDiskInfo on Windows, to check the health of your HDDs and SSDs on your system. Change your HDDs before they hit the 3 year spin time (calculate hours/days into years if needed). CrystalDiskInfo on Windows allows me to monitor external devices’ health.

Fun fact, due to my years of work ethic, I recently managed to save my data from a dying internal HDD that goes back to 2008. Be like me instead of being the ignorant person who cries later.

Another policy to make your data more immune to being lost to the sands of time is a 3-2-1 backup policy. One copy as it exists on your main system, the other on an extra local storage disk (external HDD or SSD) and the third one offsite, on cloud or offline disks physically stored outside of your house in a safe place.

If you have Shift+Delete deleted your files on Windows, Recuva can easily save the day. For Linux, you can use Testdisk to do the same.

Borrowing from http://digdeeper.club/articles/linux.xhtml:

“Let’s say you’ve had some hacking _ ebooks stored on a pendrive - but you’ve decided to use it for something else - and now you’d like to bring them back. Type sudo photorec in the terminal and choose the relevant drive. Now press the right arrow twice to enter File Options. Press S to disable all the file types, then scroll down to pdf, press Space and Enter to go back to the main menu. Forget about specific partitions - it might have been repartitioned a thousand times since the data loss - so use the No partition - Whole disk option. Again, filesystem doesn’t matter if we’re looking through the whole disk, so just select ext3, move the cursor back to Search, and press Enter. Last thing you have to do is choose where the recovered files will be dumped. You can create a new folder “Recovery” inside /home if you want to. Before we start, I should warn you that the dumped files can take quite a lot of space - even all of it - so watch out. Okay, let’s press C, and the process can begin.”

“Right away PhotoRec will begin dumping a bunch of files (if it found anything) - and you can explore them real-time. The recovery can take quite long, so be patient. Now remember - PhotoRec goes after the underlying data - so you can find some partial or corrupted files - and the filenames are ignored since they are stored in the filesystem. You might be surprised at what PhotoRec finds - I’ve seen system-related stuff from like five installations ago, or old pictures I’ve used for shitposting on chans that I forgot have even existed. To make it easier to find the file you want, sort them by size so the useless <1KB ones will be shown first. If it was a text file, you can also type the command “grep -rnw ‘/home/YourUsername/Recovery’ -e ‘TextToBeFound’”, which will search for files containing a particular string inside the Recovery folder. Okay, that’s about it for our brief PhotoRec guide”

A SEEMINGLY LOST WAY OF GETTING NEWS INFORMATION… RSS

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds are one of the most legacy ways to subscribe and consume articles, news and so on, on the internet, and can be done so for all OSes. We have great RSS aggregator readers, like Tiny Tiny RSS on Linux, Feeder on Android, QuiteRSS for Windows/Mac/Linux and so on.

RSS is a web feed format or protocol that allows standardised textual content consumption. Try it, you might just love the lack of ads and heavy, bloated websites that waste time, and be able to read articles peacefully. It is a legacy format that many websites support.

CONCLUSION

This is a piece of work that has emerged from a lot of soulful experience, as a hybrid Windows/Linux user who also happens to love documenting and experiencing internet and digital computing history. I think it will serve a lot more people than I think. Thankful to everyone for the help, once again. Everyone I have ever met that I gained experience from, thanks to you too!

privatelife - privacy, security, freedom advocacy
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    This community is meant to advocate privacy, security and freedom in an concise manner, free of prejudice bias, free of politics, free of cultist thoughts.

    Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say. - Edward Snowden

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