How to Secure Your PC

So you have just bought a new personal computer for your home (rather than for a workplace or as a server) and want to secure it (including protecting it from viruses and spyware). Privacy (including encryption, cryptography and anonymity) is a part of security but broad enough to need covering separately. Think of Privacy as the flipside of the coin. Making backups of data, defragging, system restore points are only indirectly related.

This article assumes you wish to use a network (such as the internet), share files on thumbdrives and that your PC might be physically accessible to others. If none of those apply, then your many of these steps may be redundant as your PC will already be quite secure.


  1. Operating system
    1. BACK UP YOUR DATA. Above all else, be sure your data is backed up, and that the backed up data is stored in such a manner that a single disaster will not destroy both copies. As a minimum, put any backup in closet in a separate room. In a water-proof and fire-proof container is better (i.e. in an envelope, in a well-burped zip lock baggy in a cheap safe or steel box with a 'fire rating'). In a separate building (like in an outbuilding or at a trusted friend or family member's home) is better, but somewhat less convenient.
    2. Choose an operating system based on its security and vulnerability (Linux has no known active viruses in the wild, OpenBSD is focused on security). Find out if it uses limited user accounts, file permissions and is regularly updated. Make sure you update your operating system with security updates and update your other software too.
    3. When setting up, use strong passwords in your user account, router account etc. Hackers may use dictionary attacks and brute force attacks.
  2. Antivirus and malware
    1. Install good antivirus software (particularly if you use P2P). Antivirus software is designed to deal with modern malware including viruses, trojans, keyloggers, rootkits, and worms. Find out if your antivirus offers real-time scanning, on-access or on-demand. Also find out if it is heuristic. Avast[1] and AVG[2] are very good free editions. Choose one, download and install it and scan regularly. Keep your virus definitions up to date by updating regularly.
    2. Download and install software to deal with spyware such as Spybot Search and Destroy[3], HijackThis[4] or Ad-aware[5] and scan regularly.
  3. Encryption
    1. Encrypt the data on your computer using FreeOTFE -this software works on all disks, not just USB drives
  4. Networking
    1. Download and install a firewall. Either ZoneAlarm[6] or Comodo Firewall[7] (Kerio, WinRoute or Linux comes with iptables). If you use a router, this gives an added layer of security by acting as a hardware firewall.
    2. Perform Penetration Testing. Start with ping, then run a simple nmap scan. Backtrack Linux[8] will also be useful.
    3. Close all ports. Hackers use port scanning (Ubuntu Linux has all ports closed by default).
    4. Consider running intrusion detection software (HIDS) such as ossec, tripwire or rkhunter.
    5. Choose a web browser based on its security and vulnerabilities because most malware will come through via your web browser. Disable scripts too (NoScript, Privoxy and Proxomitron can do this). Look at what independent computer security analysts (such as US-CERT[9]) and crackers (similar to hackers) say.
    6. When downloading software (including antivirus software), get it from a trusted source (softpedia, download, snapfiles, tucows, fileplanet, betanews, sourceforge) or your repository if you are using Linux.
  5. Physical
    1. Don't forget to think in terms of physical security, like setting a BIOS password and preventing access to your machine or its removable devices (USB, CD drive etc.).
  6. Use an external hard drive
    1. Get yourself an external storage device, like a USB 'Thumb Drive' for your most sensitive data. Don't buy the biggest, best, most expensive one with the largest capacity available unless you truly need it. Small, cheap and relatively valueless is best. Maybe shop for 'fast', though. If it's a FLASH format compatible with cameras, make sure it doesn't match any camera that you have, but that you do have a convenient flash reader that handles it.
    2. Again, encrypt everything you store on it using FreeOTFE
    3. Treat that external drive like you would an internal drive, and back it up occasionally to CD or some other media. Keep that backup very safe, such as in a safe deposit box. Then if your home burns, at least you still have a backup of your most sensitive things.
    4. Plug that drive in ONLY to access or modify the information that is on it. Unplug it (in windows, 'Safely Remove Hardware' first, in Linux/Unix/etc. 'unmount' it first) when you are finished.
    5. Physically disconnect from the network (if paranoid) whenever the drive is to be plugged in. If your connection is wireless, unplug or disable the wireless adapter, or unplug your router, (assuming you own it).
    6. If you are not a 'computer geek', get one to help you track down your files and help you migrate them so that software runs right while accessing your files from the external drive. Then make sure the files no longer exist on your computer's hard drive(s).
    7. Find some software that will securely wipe files and histories and such in a convenient, automatic manner. Use it after using the external drive.
    8. Move all sensitive files ('TAX', 'Quicken', etc.) that formerly resided on your computer's hard disk to that external drive. Make sure the originals are removed.
    9. Type a text file onto the external drive containing a list of all of your accounts, account passwords, contact information, etc. for future reference. Keep this file up-to-date. See 'Tips' for what is meant by 'text file'.
    10. Type a text file onto the external drive containing a list of all of the 'registration codes' and electronic receipts for services that you may have received as email. Keep this file/folder up-to-date. Include web sites, order numbers and whatever other pertinent information is needed to access support for those tools. Include software registration codes printed on CD sleeves, boxes, books, etc.
    11. Disable and clear EVERY form of 'Password' caching you have in your computer. Especially in your web browser(s). All manner of data mining spyware is well acquainted with the location, format, encryption method, etc. of password caches, and will usually steal those first. It's nice and convenient to log in, go to your bank's web site and instantly be in and accessing your account, but ANYONE can do that just as conveniently if they gain access to your machine. Your windows password is absolutely no protection against this.
    12. Don't leave email in your 'inbox' that has username/account/regcode/receipts/etc. information. Save that information somewhere (copy/paste if necessary) and remove the email. Put it onto the external drive when you get around to it.#
  7. Add 'private' documents and information next. Anything that won't cause you financial/identity harm, but would be embarrassing if they were read by others.
    1. Scan sensitive paper documents into files on the drive, assuming there is space. Use 'adequate' black&white scanner resolution to read their content. According to the nature of the documents, they can then be destroyed, but at least you'll still have a copy of them in case of fire or flood.
    2. Consider backing up other data from your computer onto it. You can use 'xcopy' or 'rsync' or Microsoft's 'SyncToy' or other tools to backup incrementally and keep files synchronized on the thumb drive.
    3. Consider adding some basic system recovery tools, like downloaded installations for certain applications you need to access your files, or at least links to where you can find them.
    4. When not in use, put the drive away somewhere obscure and secure, well away from your computer(s) or anything valuable.


  • There is an extremely popular podcast called Security Now[10].
  • Do the course at HackerHighSchool[11].
  • Consider security through obscurity or security by design.
  • have (at least) two backup media, and keep one of them in your bank safe box. Backup on the other one, and every other month, when you go to the bank anyway, switch them. In case of a fire, you might lose your computer and your backup (together with potentially your home); but you still have a copy in the bank.
  • You might want to add a 'home inventory' to the drive. Just go through all the more expensive stuff you have and add the description, manufacturer, model, serial number, etc. to a text file, like the other ones. If you have an insurance claim for a loss, this will help a LOT.
  • In the US, the maximum total liability to you on credit card fraud is $50. 'Identity theft insurance' and 'fraud insurance' for your credit cards costs significantly more than $50 a year. How many times in your life has your credit card really been raped so badly that they haven't given you every disputed charge back?
  • Your bank accounts are a different matter from credit cards. If you can prove it wasn't you, they may refund your account up to the FDIC maximum amount covered, eventually. They might not. Keep your electronic bank account logins more secure than other things.
  • After you have manually entered user names and passwords for a while, you will need the external drive less and less to 'remember' these logins. It will become safer the less you use it.
  • Keep your external thumb/pen/flash card/etc. hidden somewhere safe and secure, away from the PC or any other high-value items when you don't need it. If you bought cheaply enough, and it's apparent that it is valueless, thieves will pass it over. Under the paperclips or among other valueless odds and ends in your 'junk' drawer, for instance. Maybe with the word 'Defective' written on it.
  • Consider creating an encrypted "virtual drive", using something like FreeOTFE and moving your data onto it. It will prevent unauthorized access should someone discover it.


  • The only was to be absolutely sure that your data is safe is to disconnect from the internet and keep your computer in an access-controlled location. For most users, this is not a realistic option though! Any breech in physical security may result in compromise, whether someone steals your computer, steals your hard drive or physically changes ROM to remove bios passwords and gain complete control of your computer. Encryption will prevent your files falling into the wrong hands, which is where tools such as FreeOTFE come in.
  • While the recommendations in this article can be used to nearly guarantee network security, especially on Unix-like systems, there could always be a security vulnerability that a sufficiently skilled hacker may exploit. In particular, there is no such thing as "complete" or "guaranteed" security. You can be more secure or less secure, but nothing is perfect.
  • DO NOT sell or give away your used thumb drive. Destroy it thoroughly with a hammer if you're not going to use it anymore. Deleted data on any storage device can still be recovered unless it was completely overwritten. On mechanical hard drives, it may need to be overwritten many times. Virtually all EEPROM/FLASH 'format' operations are 'quick formats'. The FAT and root directory are wiped, but every bit of every file that wasn't overwritten is still there to be found by a skilled technician, or any monkey with an 'unformat' tool.
  • A 'thumb drive' is very small and very easy to misplace. Do not lose your thumb drive!
  • If you discover this is a convenient way to carry work around, buy a DIFFERENT thumb drive for that purpose. Keep your 'private' one secure.
  • Learn what the 'standard' light-blinking looks like when accessing the device. It shouldn't keep running on and on unless you are doing something with the device, or have recently written something very large with write caching enabled.
  • Consider firewall, anti-spyware, and ON-DEMAND anti-virus, to be run fairly routinely. Most anti-virus solutions tend to cripple your machine worse than most viruses ever do, while performing 'real time scans' of everything you do, hoping to find a virus.
  • A LOT of people can't remember ANY username or password that they let Windows or their web browser, email client, etc. remember for them. When something happens to their PC, they lose access to all manner of services that they may have even paid for.
  • DO NOT use the same password for everything. If you use the same username and password as your BANK password for other non-critical things, then ANY number of administrators of any number of systems has your bank password, and might just idly try that account/password on some banks.
  • In the event that you have data that absolutely must be destroyed to prevent it falling into 'enemy hands', make sure it's on a separate, different-looking device than the one with your more routine personal, private things. You don't want to smash your do-or-die records with a hammer, and then realize you don't have access to your online bank account anymore, or no longer have about a dozen expensive registration codes for important software that you need. Similarly, you don't want to get the devices mixed up.
  • If data must be destroyed to prevent unauthorized access, a lot of conscientious backups of THAT kind of data is unwise.
  • If you encrypt the data, MAKE SURE you don't forget the encryption key. If you can't remember it, you will effectively lose all of the data.

Things You'll Need

  • A cheap FLASH drive of some sort; USB, CF, SD, MMC, MS, etc., that your computer has a place to plug it into.

How to Start Programming in Python

Python is a good programming language for beginners that continues to be a good programming language when you're no longer a beginner.


  1. Python is an interpreted language. You don't need a compiler. You need an interpreter, instead. So download it from [1].
  2. After you download the interpreter, read through the instructions for your platform to install it and do so.
  3. Download a good syntax-highlighting code editor. If you're using Windows, Programmer's Notepad is a good choice. In Linux, every little text editor is a syntax-highlighting editor.
  4. Write your first program.
    1. Your first program should be this listing:
  5. # !/usr/bin/env python # print "Hello, World!" #
    1. Create a new file in any directory, and name it "".
    2. Open a terminal (or console, in Windows). In windows, you do this by clicking Start->Run and typing "cmd" into the prompt.
    3. Now navigate to the directory where you created your first program and type "python".
    4. Now that you've proved your python installation works and that you can write a program, you are ready for more advanced work.
  6. Read the tutorial at [2].
  7. Now that you've got a good overview of python, and you know how to write a basic script, think of a program you'd like to write. Good examples of programs to write at this level are:
      • Basic checkbook program.

[edit] Tips

  • If python is too hard, try to start out with LOGO, a turtle graphics language.
  • Python is probably the easiest language to start out with, however.
  • In Windows, python isn't usually added to your path initially. You should go ahead and add it.
  • Text editors are a dime a dozen, so if you don't like the one you use, you can try a different one. Python on Windows ships with its own editor called "IDLE".
  • The entire python syntax and core language concepts can be learned in 15 minutes, and can be kept in your head at once. If you're not understanding something, it's probably not python causing the confusion, but rather the fact that you're new to the topic. Take a break, let it cook, and come back when you're in a more pliable state.


  • Python is well-documented, but much of the documentation assumes you're coming to python from another programming language. If python really is your first attempt at programming, buy a book.
  • Python is a structured language as well as an object-oriented language. That means there are functions, which originated in mathematics. It is highly recommended that would-be adult programmers have at least a college algebra level of mathematics. However, this is not required, it just makes learning python (and any other structured language) easier to learn.
  • Many people tackle programming initially because they want to write games. Get over it in the beginning, write your games after you've gotten a good command of the language. Game programming can be very difficult, so focus your attention first on learning the language by writing other programs that are both easier and useful to you.
  • Game programming is very difficult! If you're interested in doing more than simple quiz games, you will need a good understanding of mathematics in order to avoid writing a lot of hacky stuff that never really works right. Don't let that scare you, after you've made a few attempts at writing basic games, go learn some mathematics and you'll find the material a lot easier to learn than it sounds.

Things You'll Need

  • About 6 months to learn
  • A good imagination
  • A will to learn
  • The drive to succeed

How to Make an Interactive Quiz for Your Homepage

Use a simple free online tool to make an interactive quiz for your homepage.


  1. Go to Funbased Learning
  2. Click the "Make my own quiz" link
  3. Fill in the blanks and click the "Create Quiz" button
  4. See your quiz, test it out.
  5. Pick "Save" from the File menu. You see a message saying the Web page may not save correctly. Save it anyways and give it a nice name like "quiz.htm"
  6. Take the file you saved and upload it to your homepage.


  • Don't enter quotation marks or your quiz may not work.
  • Users need Internet Explorer for the quiz to work.
  • The tools is intended for use by adults only. If you are not an adult, you must have an adult approve your content before you click "Create Quiz".


  • Follow the usual internet precautions re: what information you should or shouldn't put on your homepage or the quiz

How to Set Up a Virtual Private Network with Windows

Imagine you are on business overseas working to secure a new account with an offshore supplier. This is a big meeting for you and your company. If you clinch the deal, you are in line for a big promotion. The morning of the presentation, you turn on your laptop and discover your hard drive has crashed. Panicking, you call your office to request an electronic copy of your presentation, but because of the time difference, your call goes unanswered.

However, if you knew how to set up a virtual private network (VPN), you could access the file from any computer in the world! A VPN allows you to connect to a computer from anywhere in the world and access the files.


Setting up a VPN in Windows is a two step process.

  1. Set up one computer to share files (server).
  2. Set up another computer to access them (client).

Begin by setting up the server:

  1. Open Internet Explorer and go to Write down the IP address. You will need it to configure the client.
  2. Click the Start button and click Run.
  3. Type control and hit Enter.
  4. Click Network and Internet Connections.
  5. Click Network Connections.
  6. Click Create a New Connection, which is the first option on the left toolbar.
  7. The New Connection Wizard will open. Click Next.
  8. Choose Set up an advanced connection, the last element on the list. Click Next.
  9. Choose Accept incoming connections. Click Next.
  10. You will see the Devices for Incoming Connections screen. Do not select anything on this screen. Click Next.
  11. Select Allow virtual private connections. Click Next.
  12. Select to whom you want to give access. Click Next. If a user is not listed, you will have to add an account. See “Related Wikihows” for more information.
  13. Do not change anything on the Networking Software screen. Click Next.
  14. That’s it! Your computer is now set up to allow for VPNs. Click Finish to complete the wizard.

Now proceed to connect the client:

  1. Click the Start button and click Run.
  2. Type control and hit Enter.
  3. Click Network and Internet Connections.
  4. Click Network Connections.
  5. Click Create a New Connection, which is the first option on the left toolbar.
  6. The New Connection Wizard will open. Click Next.
  7. Select Connect to the network at my workplace and click Next.
  8. Select Virtual Private Network connection and click Next.
  9. Type the name of your network in the blank box. Click Next.
  10. Enter the IP address you wrote down earlier and click Next.
  11. Select Add a shortcut to this connection to my desktop and click Finish.


  • Both computers must be connected to the internet.
  • The user name and password must be entered exactly as you saved them.
  • The IP address must be written exactly as listed on the screen.
  • If the VPN doesn’t work, turn off your firewall.


  • Do not give access to the “guest” account. It does not require a password, allowing anyone to access the VPN.

How to Set up DHCP on a Local Area Network

Setup a quick and easy DHCP server on Windows using dhcpd32.


  1. Decide what range of IP addresses you would like to use. You should use a "Private IP Range", otherwise you may well have problems related to traffic to and from your network being routed incorrectly. For a simple LAN, stick with, a subnet mask of and a pool size of 50. This will allow up to 50 machines to be set up on your network without having to change anything.
  2. Set the IP address of your computer to with a subnet mask of (an address in the same subnet as the addresses in the pool, but not an address in the pool itself!)
  3. Download dhcpd32 from
  4. Unzip the file to your computer and run dhcpd32.exe
  5. Set the "IP pool starting address" to the address you want the first computer to use DHCP to have. ( if you're not sure!)
  6. Set the "Size of pool" to a little more than the number of computers and devices you think you'll need on your LAN. (if in doubt, 50 is a nice number)
  7. Leave the "Boot File" field blank
  8. If you have a DNS server on your network, or one accessible to the machines on your network, enter it's IP address in the "WINS/DNS Server" box. If you don't, or don't know what it means, leave it blank.
  9. Set "Mask" to your subnet mask. If you don't know what that is, follow my addressing scheme and set it to
  10. Leave the "Domain Name" and "Additional Option" boxes as they are.
  11. Press "Save".
  12. Your DHCP server is now set up!



  • If you don't know about private ranges and subnet masks, either read up on them or use my address scheme. Improper addressing can cause you, and possibly others, a BIG headache.

How to Fix Common Computer Network Issues

Are you experiencing problems with your computer network? Are these error messages appearing?:

  • Unable to clear the DNS cache
  • Unable to renew your IP address
  • An operation was performed on something that is not a socket
  • Unable to clear the ARP cache

If so, here are some potential solutions for Windows XP/Vista.


  1. Check to make sure your computer is on and is connected to a network.
  2. Be aware that Windows has a built in function to repair a network connection. This function can give valuable information in the form of an error message if you know what you are looking for. Some common error messages given are:
    • Unable to clear the DNS cache
    • Unable to renew your IP address
    • Unable to clear the ARP cache
  3. Deal with a message that states "Unable to clear the DNS cache." When you get the message “Unable to clear the DNS cache”, this usually means that the DNS client service has been disabled. Follow these steps as an administrator to re-enable it:
    • Open the Services MMC plugin, located under Administrative Tools in the Control Panel;
    • Find the “DNS Client” service in the list presented and enter it's properties by double-clicking it;
    • Change the Startup Type from Disabled to Manual or Automatic then click apply;
    • Either reboot or click “Start” to start the service;
    • Verify by attempting to repair the connection again.
  4. Fix a problem related to an IP address. If the repair process reports that it has been 'Unable to obtain an IP address', it is probable that more information can be obtained through the command line. Open a Command Prompt by going to Start > Programs > Accessories > Command Prompt, then type 'ipconfig /renew' to attempt to obtain an IP address from the command line.
  5. Follow up the error messages that will likely appear. There is a high likelihood of an error message similar to the one below occurring, the remainder of the guide will focus on this error.
    • “An operation was performed on something that is not a socket"
  6. Fix the error message "An operation was performed on something that is not a socket.": This is a Winsock corruption generally due to spyware. The fixes are:
    • A simple fix can be done with Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista (Start > Run > cmd > netsh winsock reset), then reboot your computer. If you do not have SP2, you can download a small program to reinstall Winsock: winsockfix.exe.


  • Some issues can be fixed by setting up a static IP, see the following guide: [1] however setting a static ip address does not fix problems it simply bypasses an existing problem for a while.


  • Be cautious when editing the registry, as careless modification can adversely affect your computer, potentially to the point of rendering it unusable.
  • The solutions presented in this article will not work for all issues, when in doubt do not be afraid to ask.

How to Assign an IP Address on a Linux Computer

Linux is the free, open-source alternative to Microsoft Windows and Mac. The operating system itself can be chopped down entirely to a raw text console, or it can utilize a window manager such as Gnome or KDE. This guide will explain how to assign a static IP address on a Linux system through the use of a text console. Although this can usually be accomplished within the system settings of a window manager, different window managers may differ in this process; therefore, by using a simple step-by-step console guide, someone using almost any distribution of Linux can follow this guide. This guide assumes that you know a little bit about Linux, and you know how networks, IP addresses, and DNS servers work.


Switching to Root

  1. If you are not already logged in as 'root' (the Linux counterpart of 'Administrator'), open a console program and type 'su' (without quote) and press enter.
  2. Note: *buntu Linux distributions usually have the root password the same as the account created when the operating system was installed.
  3. Enter your root password when prompted, and press enter.

Debian / Ubuntu / Kubuntu

  1. Make a backup of your /etc/network/interfaces file by typing the following in the console: 'cp /etc/network/interfaces /etc/network/interfaces.backup'
  2. Type 'vim /etc/network/interfaces' and press enter. Press 'i' to enter into insert (editing) mode.
  3. Scroll down until you find your network interface card in the file (usually named eth0 for an ethernet connection, or wlan0 or wifi0 for a wifi connection).
  4. Change 'iface eth0 inet dhcp' to 'iface eth0 inet static'
  5. Add the following lines, substituting the IP address numbers with your desired configuration:

  6. Save and exit from the file by pressing Escape (to enter vi command mode), then ":wq" and Enter
  7. Type 'ifdown eth0' and press enter.
  8. Type 'ifup eth0' and press enter.

Red Hat or Slackware

  1. The easiest method in Red Hat or Slackware is to type 'netconfig' in a console as the root user. A text-based menu will guide you through its configuration settings.
  2. Use tab to move between fields. Use the spacebar to uncheck or check checkboxes.
  3. When you have input the desired settings, press OK.
  4. To make these settings take effect, type 'service network restart' in the console and press enter (this step is not necessary under Slackware, where the changes are immediate).

Note: There are numerous distributions based on Red Hat Linux (Fedora Core, CentOS, White Box, et cetera); many of them are likely to avail one the same method.

Any Linux system with kernel version 2.4 or newer

This method is slightly more difficult, it involves using the console, but it should work on all modern linux distributions. The tool used is called "ip" and is usually located in the "/sbin/" directory.

  1. First you need to determine the name of the network interface to be used. To list all network interfaces available run "/sbin/ip link". This should print a list of interface names, mac addresses and other info.
  2. Next you assign the IP address using the "addr" subcommand, like this: "/sbin/ip addr add dev [INTERFACE_NAME]".
  3. The default gateway is added with the "route" subcommand, like this: "/sbin/ip route add default via [GATEWAY_ADDRESS]".
  4. The last thing is bringing the interface up with the "link" subcommand: "/sbin/ip link set [INTERFACE_NAME] up".
Assuming all given data was correct, network should be up and running. Unfortunately all these settings will be lost after a system restart, so if you want to restore them after startup, append all the above console commands to "/etc/rc.local" - a shell script which is run when the system is initialized.

Dynamic IP address (DHCP)

Dynamic addresses are obtained automatically and usually do not require any attention from the user. However there are several specific cases:

  1. If the network has not been available all the time while the system was starting, the internet connection may stay disabled even after fixing the network problems. To revive it instantly, run dhclient as root. This will set the dynamic address.
  2. The previous situation may happen if the network is accessed by separate hardware that starts at the same time as your machine. In some cases Linux boots faster than the network router and finds no network at startup. Find dhclient.conf (for instance, /etc/dhcp3/dhclient.cof for Debian) and add/correct the line reboot nn;, where nn is the delay for which the system must wait after booting, for the router to start.


  • The /etc/resolv.conf file may need to be edited if you can access systems by IP address, but not by domain name. Use the same method as the /etc/network/interfaces file. Don't forget to back up the original copy!
  • Make a backup copy of the files that you change, so you can revert back or compare versions.


  • Don't attempt unless you know how networks, IP addresses, and DNS servers work.
  • Do not stay logged in as root. It is more secure to log in as another user, use the 'su' (switch user) command in the console, and switch back when you are finished. Root access allows anyone with access to it to do anything to your system.
  • The 'sudo' command (short for superuser do) allows temporary root (system administrator) privileges and is preferable to 'su' in many cases. Read the sudo man page and be glad you did.
  • Don't forget to make backups! Failing to do so could render you unable to restore previous settings.

How to Add a Network Printer in Linux

Computer users have differing needs, for some printing is important. Adding a printer to Linux may seem different from other operating systems. If you're buying a printer avoid Lexmark as these have the worst compatibility with Linux. Networked printers are convenient and include printers on a wireless network which are even more convenient. So this article assumes you have a network and printer.


  1. Turn on your network (or router) and ensure it can see any network devices. If you use MAC filtering you will need to add your printer and an ip address.
  2. Turn on your printer and connect it to your network. Usually this is done on a panel on the printer if it is wireless or plugged in directly if it is wired.
  3. user
    Turn on your computer and see if it detects your printer automatically.
  4. Superuser
    If it does not appear automatically, go through the add printer wizard as superuser. Click administrator mode (enter your password) and you will have a red border.
  5. KDE wizard
    KDE wizard
    Click Add, then new printer to launch the wizard.

How to Add a Local Printer in Linux

Computer users have differing needs, for some printing is important. Adding a printer to Linux may seem different from other operating systems. If you're buying a printer avoid Lexmark as these have the worst compatibility with Linux. This article assumes you have a printer.


  1. Turn on your printer and connect it to your computer.
  2. user
    Turn on your computer and see if it detects your printer automatically.
  3. Superuser
    If it does not appear automatically, go through the add printer wizard as superuser. Click administrator mode (enter your password) and you will have a red border.
  4. KDE wizard
    KDE wizard
    Click Add, then new printer to launch the wizard.
  5. Choose your connection type.

How to Install a Theme in Drupal 6.X

Drupal's system for themes is flexible and makes sharing themes particularly easy, allowing even beginner Drupal webmasters to present sophisticated user interfaces. Best of all, they are so simple to install and to activate - literally a 3-step process.


  1. Download your new theme.

    1. There are many Drupal theme sites which display themes to select from:

  2. Uncompress your new theme to your website's themes/ folder.

    1. If you are on a linux server and have the necessary permissions, upload the archive to the server, then - tar -zxvf /path/to/theme_archive_file /path/to/Drupal/themes/
    2. If you do not have such access, you'll most likely need to uncompress the theme and upload the folder to the themes/ folder on the server.
  3. Navigate in your browser, logged in as your administrator account, to http://your.domain.tld/?q=admin/build/themes

    1. Find your new theme in the table.
    2. Select the enabled box to allow your site's users to use this theme.
    3. Select the default radio button to make this theme your site's default theme.

      • Most Drupal themes allow further refinement and customization, and a configure link will show up next to your current default theme.
      • Unselect all other enabled themes to require users to use this theme.


  • Take your time and experiment. Don't get flustered or worried if things don't work right immediately; Drupal's themes are wonderfully flexible, and it may take you a bit to get the most out of them.
  • The theme directory is not '\themes' as it would seem but either '\sites\all\themes', '\sites\all\themes\contrib', or '\sites\all\themes\custom'.
    • The '\theme' directory is for built in themes and may be overwritten when you update.
    • Any directory under '\sites\all\themes' will work but it is common for the themes to be separated into themes written by others (contributed) and themes written by you (custom).
    • The backslashes (\) that I use are for a Windows machine but they would be forward slashes (/) on a Linux machine.


  • Each theme can have different names or different priorities for the different sections of the screen. Often this means a new theme will have blocks rearranged and showing up where you didn't expect them to. RELAX! Navigate your browser, as a logged in administrator account, to http://your.domain.tld/?q=admin/build/block, and move the blocks to where you want them to appear. There, that wasn't so hard, was it?

How to Build a Computer

Branded computers can offer both value and performance, the parts used can be powerful and not very expensive, and you can switch on and start work. Yet parts are often short-spec in one place or another. Sadly you'll often get a performance "bottleneck" such as a slow graphics card, only a basic amount of memory, or a slimline motherboard with too few upgrade slots. Luckily, computers are surprisingly easy to build. If you can afford the time to plan and build your own machine, you can design a system more targeted toward your own use.


  1. Read and follow How to Choose Components for Building a Computer. The more preparation, research and careful selection of parts you do (and making it), the less time you will spend trying to make the darn thing work.
  2. Open the case.
  3. Attach the PSU (power supply unit) to the inside of the case, following the instructions included with the case (some cases might have this step completed).
  4. Use an antistatic strap-on cable so you don't shock the motherboard.
  5. Identify the power leads.
  6. Identify the front panel leads.
  7. Locate the motherboard. Place it on top of its antistatic bag.
  8. Observe the missing pins in the processor and match these with the socket on the motherboard. On many processors there will be a little gold arrow in the corner that you can use to orient the processor properly.
  9. Insert the processor into the motherboard. Carefully open the CPU's socket and carefully insert the processor (no force needed). If it doesn't slip right in, or it feels like you have to push, it is probably misaligned. Close the socket and ensure the CPU is secure. Some sockets have small arms while others have complex assemblies to open and close the socket.
  10. Apply good thermal paste to the CPU. Use no more than a rice sized amount and spread it in a thin layer over the entire processor surface (or if this is an older Athlon series without the protective cover, only apply to the chip in the center of the processor board). Adding too much thermal paste will slow the transfer of heat, making it more difficult to cool the CPU quickly.
  11. Attach the heat sink. This varies from heat sink to heat sink, so read the instructions. Here is the procedure for the cooling device in this example:

    • Push the fixing clip through the cooler and clip on the short end onto the processor socket.
    • Use the tool to push the other end of the clip to the other side of the processor socket.
    • If you have an adjustable speed fan for the CPU cooler then the fan should be fitted to the case after the motherboard has been installed.
  12. Insert the RAM in the proper slots by opening the slots and pushing the RAM in until the little handles can lock it into position. Note how the RAM and slots are keyed--line them up so they will fit in properly.
  13. Your motherboard should come with its own IO backplate (former). It is unlikely that your case will have an appropriate backplate for your motherboard. Take out the one that came with your case (this sometimes takes a bit of force). Sometimes they have screws to hold them in place, but most are held in only by friction. Pop it out be pressing on the bracket from rear side of the case.
  14. Knock out any tabs covering IO components up on the motherboard's former.
  15. Insert the motherboard former into the case.
  16. Find some standoffs (e.g. metal jack screw standoff #4-40) that raise the motherboard just off the case surface, also some screws (e.g. #4-40 x 3/16" long) that fit in the spacers to screw the motherboard to the case.
  17. The number of spacers required will be determined by the number of shielded holes in the motherboard. Position the motherboard to discover where to screw in the standoffs.
  18. Screw the standoffs in the case at the relevant positions and place the motherboard on top ensuring that the ports fit snugly into the former.
  19. Screw the motherboard on to the standoffs. It helps to hold on to the heatsink.
  20. Attach the video card (if you have one) and any other PCI, PCI Express, AGP, or ISA cards into the motherboard. Be sure to secure them into place with the proper screws.
  21. At this point it is a good idea to connect the case connectors. These tend to be located together on the motherboard near the front of the case. The order in which these are connected will depend on which is easiest physically. Normally top left to bottom right is easiest.

    ~ Soft power switch (motherboard power switch). It does not matter which way around this is connected
    ~ Reset switch, again it does not matter which way around this is connected
    ~ LED hard disk indicator (sometimes called power LED)
    ~ Sleep message indicator (if the case supports this)
    ~ Internal speaker connection
  22. If you have a front audio panel then remove any jumpers that are installed on the motherboard connector and connect the front audio panel lead. Normally there will be a blank pin so that there is only one way of connecting the lead. Make sure you match up the right connectors, as they will be either AC97 of HDAudio. Assume AC97 when in doubt.
  23. Similarly, locate the front panel USB connector(s) (these are additions to the rear USB connectors) and connect the USB lead(s). There is usually only one way in which these can be connected.
  24. Decide where you want to install the various drives (floppy drive, DVD drive, hard disk).
  25. Remove the front cover. There are normally cleats that can be squeezed by hand to release the front cover from the chassis.
  26. Remove any metal barriers that are in the way between the drive and the front cover. Normally these are loosely moulded to the metal interior and can be removed by judicious wiggling until the barrier snaps off.
  27. Configure the jumpers on the CD/DVD/hard drives. If you are using IDE drives and putting them on the same channel, then you should configure the hard drive as master and the CD/DVD drive as slave; this will make boot-ups faster and prevent issues in the future. Otherwise, check the jumper on the DVD drive to ensure that it is set as Master if this will be the first drive on one of the Extended IDE (E-IDE) channels.
  28. Insert the DVD drive and floppy drive in through the front of the case. Some cases will have their own fascias that sit in front of the drives.
  29. Install the front cover back on to the chassis.
  30. A button on the fascia impinges on the drive button to transfer the action when operating of the drive. Use suitable fixing screws for each drive, normally 4 per drive to fix the drive into the cages built into the case. Ensure that the drives are flush up against the front of the case so that there is good positive action when using the buttons on the front of the case.
  31. Install the hard disk. For IDE drives, check the jumper. If this drive is the master (first hard disk with the bootable operating system) then the jumper should be set to master or Cable Select (CS). If the jumper is set to CS then the first connector on the IDE ribbon cable must be used for this drive. For SATA drives, it doesn't matter which end of the cable you use for the drive, and there are no jumpers to set. When installing the drive ensure that two screw holes can be used on each side to attach the drive to the chassis.
  32. Connect the IDE or SATA cable to the DVD ROM drive. For IDE, the blue end connects to the motherboard and the red strip connects to the right handside at the back of the drive. Blips in the plastic surround help you get the cable connected the right way round. Check the jumper of the drive. This should be set to master if it is the first drive on this IDE bus. When installing the IDE cable to the motherboard you may need to support the motherboard with your fingers to avoid bending it too much. It is simple for SATA: simply connect the drive to the motherboard.
  33. Untangle the power leads with the various connectors and select the leads which do not contain the small floppy disk power lead. Install one of these power leads into the DVD drive.
  34. For legacy operating systems and optical drives, locate the DVD ROM audio lead and connect this to the DVD drive. Find the location on the motherboard for the DVD audio lead and connect it. Newer drives play audio digitally through their regular data connection.
  35. If your computer has a floppy drive, connect the floppy drive ribbon cable. The twist goes at the floppy drive end and the red stripe (pin 1) goes to the left at the back of the floppy drive. There is normally a blip in the plastic surround that corresponds with a gap on the motherboard and floppy drive connections. The twist in the cable identifies it as floppy drive A:, while no twist designates it as the second floppy drive, B:.
  36. If you connected a floppy drive, the small floppy power cable is installed next. There is only one way round that this can be installed too.
  37. Install the IDE or SATA cable for the hard disk. The blue end connects to the motherboard and the red strip connects to the right handside at the back of the hard disk. Blips in the plastic surround help you get the cable connected the right way round. For SATA, use either side of the cable for either connection.
  38. Connect the motherboard power leads. There are various types of motherboard power connectors. Older ATX motherboards will have a 20-pin connector and possibly a separate 4-pin 12V connector, while newer motherboards will have a 24-pin connector and a separate 6 or 8-pin 12V connector. Legacy computers may have two or more in-line connectors.
  39. Connect case fans if you have them. Most fans will come with their own adapters for plugging into the motherboard or directly attaching to the power supply.
  40. Install the CPU cooler (heatsink or heatsink with fan assembly). You may need to remove screws or retainers that hold the slot blanks in place. Some cooler simply clip to the motherboard's plastic housing or clip through holes in the motherboard.
  41. Connect the CPU cooler's fan to the motherboard.
  42. Ensure screws are used to hold in the PCI slot covers.
  43. Put the case back together and connect only a keyboard, mouse, and monitor to the computer. Once the operating system and drives are installed, connect the other peripherals you have.

Software Installation

  1. Plug in your computer. Most CD/DVD drives will have a small hole for opening the drive. Put a straightened paper clip in the hole and the drive should open. If it does not, turn on the computer and immediately open the CD drive. Put the CD for your operating system in the drive and close it. Restart your computer by pressing the power button until it shuts off and then push the power button again to turn the computer back on. Don't forget to turn your monitor on.
  2. Check your motherboard manual for keys to use to start the "boot sequence" or "CMOS settings", or sometimes "BIOS settings". Click this button when the motherboard splash screen appears. Set your computer's CD/DVD drive as the first boot option. You may have to reboot your computer for these settings to take effect.
  3. Follow the instructions to install your operating system. With most operating systems, this will include: Formatting the hard drive, configuring the boot loader, configuring the operating system, and finally installing the operating system. Once the operating system is installed, you're ready to go!

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