The Shuffle Continues

by Jonathan Gennick

Now that my daughter is happily ensconced in her
new iBook
, I've done some more PC shuffling around the house. It's amazing
how long it takes just to pass down a PC: some 4-6 hours prepping the Thinkpad
for my wife to use. But the domino-effect didn't stop there. Turning my attention
to the old, desktop that I was getting rid of, I realized I could raid it for
RAM and help out my neighbor. This is Neighbor #1 (mentioned in a
previous weblog entry
) with the PC thrown in the corner because of a spyware/malware
infestation.


Stripping the RAM from my old desktop, I managed to bring my friend's PC up
from a mere 64Mb to a more useful 192Mb. Then I scavenged a 40Gb/7200 rpm drive
to install in place of his 9Gb drive. Then, I spent all of last evening
until about 12:30 AM this morning rebuilding his PC from the ground up. Reinstalling
is such tedious work.


Operating System - Windows XP. Service Pack 2. Non-administrator accounts
for each of my neighbor and his two kids. One admin account for the parent.
Stern lecture to come about the need to use the non-privileged account for day-to-day
work.


Anti-spyware - Here I threw in Microsoft's new
offering
, which originally came out of Giant.
I'm favorably impressed. It seems easy to use, scans files quickly, doesn't
seem to hurt performance, at least not noticeably.


Anti-virus - Computer Associates (CA) offers a great deal. A 12-month,
free-trial of ezArmor
, which includes their anti-virus software. Very generous
of them, and it's just the ticket if you're rebuilding a PC for a cash-strapped
friend. In their review, CNET makes a point of saying how small
a performance hit
you'll take from using CA's product as opposed to other
anti-virus solutions they've reviewed. (An important consideration for a 600mhz Celeron box) My experience so far bears that out.
Small download, quick install, minimalist interface. Good stuff. I'll be installing
it on my own PCs next.


Web and Email - Firefox
and Thunderbird.
And I made them into the default browser and email applications. I've had good
success with Firefox. I've used it as a stop-gap measure to make two, adware-infested
computers useable. Longer story there...


Word Processing - OpenOffice.org.
Once again, I'm pleased
to be able to spread the word about this fine product.


Miscellaneous items - Java
Runtime Environment
for Windows, Adobe
Reader
, Macromedia
Flash Player,
Macromedia

Shockwave Player
.


Rebuilding a PC always leaves me with a good feeling. Maybe it's because I
know that, if just for a brief moment in time, that everything is clean, neat,
and tidy. I also feel good about resurrecting a box that was obviously the source
of much pain for my neighbor. It adds even more to my pleasure to hand him a
box with useful applications installed. Thanks to the generosity of many open-source
developers, my friend now has word-processing, email, and web browsing. And
thanks too, to Computer Associates for that 12-month, anti-virus trial. I appreciate
it, because I really don't want to have to rebuild my friend's box again.



4 Comments

tfardella
2005-01-31 10:23:29
Grisoft AVG Anti-virus
For anti-virus protection you might want to chekout a product from Grisoft called AVG Anti-virus 7.0. They have a version that's free for personal use with free updates. I've put it on a few systems at home and so far it's worked quite well.


http://free.grisoft.com/freeweb.php/doc/2/

matten23
2005-02-01 04:59:34
Grisoft AVG Anti-virus
Yes, but you can't say that AVG has a minimal impact on performance - I tried it on an old laptop and the delay added at startup was pretty crippling. Also the user interface was pretty confusing, even to this experienced computer user.
teejay
2005-02-01 06:29:57
trials of proprietary AV will bite you later
using a trial version of AV software is just postponing the inevitable trouble of a piece of software that will sit on the computer causing problems, wasting memory and hard disk and polluting the registry once the trial is over, and offering next to no protection once the updates subscription is up.


I downloaded and installed bitdefender, its a free (for personal use) AV for my wifes WinXP box, and uninstalled all the trash that came with it. It doesn't add any delay to startup and is a much lighter program than the big commercial ones which can really bog things down.


I also installed Spybot search and desteroy, replaced IE with firefox, we both use google or hotmail for email and so don't have outlook, and I use clamav for antivirus on linux (so that I don't pass on any infections to 'doze boxes).


One thing that is very important is to spend out on a decent hardware firewall like netgear's all-in-one router/firewall/modem gadgets. You simply can't trust win XP to handle network based attacks, its networking code is still so vulnerable and badly put together it really has to be behind a decent firewall... something people forget is that when running a software firewall on windows is that it still relies on the windows kernel and network stack to handle networking and is therefore vulnerable to attacks against those parts of windows.


Jonathan Gennick
2005-02-01 09:47:50
trials of proprietary AV will bite you later

that will sit on the computer causing problems, wasting memory and hard disk and polluting the registry once the trial is ove


Well, once the trial is over, I think my friend ought to pay up. Now, whether he will or not, that I don't know. The best I can do is get him started with an anti-virus program. It's up to him to continue w/it.


One thing that is very important is to spend out on a decent hardware firewall like netgear's all-in-one router/firewall/modem gadgets.


I heartily agree with you here. I've used a hardware firewall for years. It simplifies a lot of things too. My firewall takes care of the PPPoE connection to my ISP, so I don't need to bother configuring PPPoE connections on each PC in the house. I can't imagine not using a home firewall.