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Technical "Howto" Articles


Introduction and background

This page is an index to a series of Technical Support Articles for Small Firms, OU tutors and students, and all others requiring reliable and cost effective systems. There is an emphasis on the internet, simple maintainable web site design and mobile computing and communication.

The first articles originated in our Diary of a Home Page as detailed documentation of various steps in setting up our own computer, it's software, it's communications and the web site itself. Some were, or still are, considered important enough to be referenced directly on our Home Page. The articles form an essential part of the documentation of our own system and how to rebuild it in the case of disasters and hopefully prevent us, our friends and those we support reinventing wheels. The series has been progresively extended, initially to provide specific support to Pauline's OU Students and other Tutors and finally grew to the point where it became a valid entry point to our Web Site with its own counters etc.

As time has passed some of the early articles have become less relevant as machines have increased in power and software has has evolved - the articles are retained in a separate section for those with older and less powerful systems who need to work with software from earlier generations. It has recently gained a "Small Firms" section directed towards the information needed by the small firms, consultants (and clubs) I support. Some articles are duplicated in the various tables to emphasise their particular importance to the area. Specific information can be found using the Site Search Engine covering the whole of our site.

Background Articles

  • Mobile Computing and CommunicationMobile Friendly Page - of interest to those seeking freedom.
  • Open Source, Free and Cross-Platform SoftwareMobile Friendly Page - This is a new page which is still under development coming out of our experiences with Ubuntu Linux. It addresses the issues of Open Source, Free and Cross-Platform Software. It is targeted at making the transition between operating systems, keeping options open for such a transition or just obtaining the enhanced security of Open Source software. It may even save you money as well!


Linux Mint (Cinnamon Flavour) and Ubuntu "Howto" Articles

These articles were started when we used Ubuntu Linux but are still appropriate to Linux Mint which is based on Ubuntu. We now use Linux Mint with the Cinnamon Desktop on all our machines.

  • Fun with Linux Mint and Ubuntu Mobile Friendly Page- Actually a serious look at migration from Windows to Linux: this page served as my documentation and work in progress. It was updated to cover changes up to the last LTS version Trusty and sections specific to versions which are no longer supported have been removed. The original which includes Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake remains here. The version covering Hardy, Jaunty and Karmic remains here and Lucid to Oneiric Ocelot here . The Unity Desktop and its features are covered in Ubuntu Unity - Evolution or Revolution. Originally written for Ubuntu but appropriate to Linux Mint.
  • Fun with LubuntuMobile Friendly Page - An introduction to Lubuntu which is based on Ubuntu but using the LXDE desktop environment. Ideally for older less powerful hardware.
  • Linux Mint and Ubuntu on the LookoutMobile Friendly Page - covers installing and setting up the main programs which interact with the outside world through the Internet, namely Browsers, Email, Contacts, Calendars and Tasks. There are details of sharing and synchronising Email, Contacts, Calendars and Tasks etc., between between a number of computers and mobile devices.
  • Linux Mint and Ubuntu All Together - Sharing, Networking, Backup, Synchronisation and EncryptionMobile Friendly Page - Mounting Drives, File Sharing between Computers running both Linux and Windows and secure access to remote machines which are all prerequisites for the main topics of Backup and Synchronisation.
  • Linux Mint and Ubuntu on the MoveMobile Friendly Page - covers global communications via mobile phones, PDAs and mobile broadband USB dongles etc., with some coverage of specific software and techniques to minimise data costs.
  • Linux Mint and Ubuntu on the TakeMobile Friendly Page - covers how to handle all the pictures we take in the Digital Camera era using Ubuntu Linux - it is currently being extended to include capturing video, editing video and authoring DVDs.
  • Linux Mint and Ubuntu making Music Mobile Friendly Page- Transcribing music from CDs, cassette tape and LPs into digital format, adding and editing metadata and playing
  • Ubuntu Unity - Evolution or RevolutionMobile Friendly Page - An introduction to the Unity Desktop including bug fixes and enhancements. A development which drove me to Linux Mint! A legacy article.

  • Major Update - Adding Spice - The Cinnamon Desktop Manager and Linux Mint Mobile Friendly Page - Cinnamon is the Desktop Manager developed for Linux Mint and can replace Unity in Ubuntu and is now an alternative for many other distributions. It provides a very sophisticated conventional desktop which has been very well received. We have now shifted all our more powerful machines to Linux Mint with Cinnamon and the older machines to Lubuntu.
  • More Spices for Cinnamon - Applet Development for CinnamonMobile Friendly Page- I have developed a number of Applets including NUMA - a Network Usage Monitor with Alerts, BAMS - a Battery Applet with Monitoring and Shutdown, a Stopwatch and BAND - a Bumblebee And NVidia Display applet for monitoring Optimus dual graphics laptops.

  • The Road to Freedom - A progressive migration from Windows to Linux for Safety, Security and Savings in Home ComputingMobile Friendly Page is in two parts and marks the transition from a how I did it story to a how you should do it guide. It aims , in five dedicated evenings to take a normal Windows user through all the steps to improve, secure and backup their Windows system and then, in Part Two - Base CampMobile Friendly Page, to make the transition to a dual booted Windows and Ubuntu Linux System and configure Ubuntu to have capabilities similar or better than a typical pre-installed Windows system and much more secure.
  • The MSI Wind U100 Netbook for Global Communications and ComputingMobile Friendly Page - how we brought all our other work together to provide the ultimate in mobile communications. It is so successful we have bought a second one! Another full guide.
  • Guidance for the use of Solid State Drives in Linux systemsMobile Friendly Page Currently extracted from the Helios Ultrabook document but will be extended to cover more complex systems
  • Updated - The Chillblast Defiant Optimus Mini LaptopMobile Friendly Page and Linux - a guide to getting the latest Core i7 machines with Optimus NVidia dual Graphics laptops working under Linux Mint 19 (Tara) - light enough for travel - powerful enough for editing Full HD video. Now with an SSD added.
  • Updated - The Chillblast Helios UltrabookMobile Friendly Page and Linux - a guide to getting a Core i5 machine with Skylake Architecture and a Solid State Drives (SSDs) working under Linux Mint 18.1. The Helios has a 13.3 inch full HD screen but is very light for travel and with up to 7.5 hours battery life.
  • Recent - The Lafite Ultrabook - a lightweight and long battery life Ultrabook with Core i5 8250U Kaby Lake architecture processor with 4 cores 8 threads, a Samsung 970 EVO 250 Gbyte SSD and 2 Tbyte hard drive working under Linux Mint 19
  • New - Gemini - a small, quiet and economic micro-computer from Chillblast based on a Celeron J4105 Gemini Lake CPU, 4 Cores, 1.5 - 2.5 GHz processor, 4 Gbyte RAM and an extra Crucial 1 Tbyte MX500 SDD and dual booted with Windows 10 Pro and Linux Mint 20.
  • New - A Linux Grab Bag - a completely new page looking at the minimum one needs for a re-build, in terms of hardware, software, configuration information and data. It fully details the associated backup philosophy and procedures which are required to enable disaster recovery anywhere on any machine. It has been developed and tested using the initial setting up of Gemini.
  • Updated - An Introduction to Git - Applications in Cinnamon Applet Development Mobile Friendly Page - An introduction to Git and its use in keeping Applet development under configuration control.
  • Using Git for Software Development - Building and Patching Linux Kernels and CinnamonMobile Friendly Page - an introduction to building and patching and a Linux Kernel, initially required for my Helios Ultrabook, and of Cinnamon mainly for testing patches during development.
  • Open Source, Free and Cross-Platform SoftwareMobile Friendly Page - This is still under development coming out of our experiences with Ubuntu Linux. It addresses the issues of Open Source, Free and Cross-Platform Software. It is targeted at making the transition between operating systems, keeping options open for such a transition or just obtaining the enhanced security of Open Source software. It may even save you money as well!
  • Setting up a Linux Server for testing PHP ScriptsMobile Friendly Page An introduction to PHP directed at form handling and encryption setting up tested on an Ubuntu Linux Server.

General "Howto" Articles


Howto Articles appropriate to OU Students and Tutors

Older OU Articles for reference only

These are not in HTML5 and were not designed to be Responsive or Mobile Friendly


Howto Articles appropriate for Older Systems, Reference and Legacy Articles

These are not in HTML5 and were not designed to be Responsive or Mobile Friendly


Legacy Articles appropriate for Small Businesses

These are mostly not in HTML5 and were not designed to be Responsive or Mobile Friendly
Dedicated pages for Small Firms support use a different colour scheme and are in bold above.

Before You Leave

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Content revised: 11th January, 2022