Why You Need To Backup Now And 6 Reasons Why You Haven’t Done So Already

why do you need to backupHow else can I say this? Actually, there is no other way more straightforward than this: you need to backup now. The risks involved with not doing so are simply not worth it. There’s no really no reason to not be backing up your computer. That said, you likely feel you do have a legitimate reason. And in some cases you might, but there is always a way.

Here are six reasons why you might be putting off creating a backup of your computer:

  1. No money for an external hard drive, online service or software
  2. You don’t know where to get an external hard drive or what kind to get
  3. You don’t know what software or online services you should use
  4. It takes too much time to set up, let alone, to backup your computer all the time
  5. You don’t have anything that matters if it’s lost
  6. You simply don’t have the know-how

why do you need to backup

Do any of those excuses sound familiar? Are there several that you are saying to yourself? Perhaps justifying them in your mind even as you read through the list? Let’s stop for a second. Notice I said reasons above the list, but excuses below the list. That’s because they are.

Excuse One: No money for an external hard drive, online service or software

Now there is definitely some legitimacy to some of them, such as being tight on money (and I certainly support prioritizing your expenses). That said, even when my backup hard drive went out, I found a way to make money to pay for it to counter the cost. And let’s get serious here, a great hard drive ranges from $60 to $80 (US Dollars). If you spent, three, four, five hundred or more dollars on your computer, you can’t tell me eighty dollars is too much to “insure” it.

This same thought goes for paying for online backup services and software. However, there are many free options which we have covered at MakeUseOf.

Excuse Two: You don’t know where to get an external hard drive or what kind to get

why do you need to backup your files

Use Google. Or if you’re “anti-Google,” use your preferred search engine. My point is, you have a plethora of information available to you via the Internet. Take advantage of it.

Excuse Three: You don’t know what software or online services you should use

See comment above on Excuse Two.

Excuse Four: It takes too much time to set up, let alone, to backup your computer all the time

why do you need to backup your files

No it doesn’t. It takes urgency to just do it. Sure it takes some time and if you have something pressing to do right now, perhaps it’s not the best thing to do with your time. I leave that up to your discretion. The initial set up only takes a couple minutes and for regular backups there’s scheduling, or if you backup to the cloud they sync by themselves. There’s no need to manually run every backup.

Excuse Five: You don’t have anything important, so it doesn’t matter if it’s lost

If you think this, I honestly can’t argue this one with you. My guess is you likely do, you just aren’t thinking of those photos or important documents, like your resume, because you don’t always use them. But when the time comes to accessing them, you’ll probably wish you had them.

Excuse Six: You simply don’t have the know-how

That’s okay! A lot of people don’t. In fact, that’s part of what makes writing on MakeUseOf so enjoyable – I have the privilege of helping people who want to learn be more productive and efficient with technology.

That said, remember my reply to excuses two and three? Yeah… use Google. The Internet is your best friend in discovering how-tos. Also, check out so many of the other articles on MakeUseOf (some linked to at the end of this article) and save them in a service like Evernote (which we’ve covered on MakeUseOf) or bookmark them to refer back to it later.

Conclusion: Just Do It

why do you need to backup

The first part to any intention, backing up your computer in this case, is to realize the obstacles and objections (i.e. excuses) you will face. The second part is to create a plan and act. Without action, there won’t be any results… or in this case, files, if your computer fails.

Here are some helpful articles published on MakeUseOf concerning backing up. Some of these I have linked to throughout this article.

Do you have a backup already? If so, how is yours set up? If not, why not and how do you plan to put one into affect?

Lyx – The Ultimate Scientific Paper Writing Tool

It all began with a request from a fellow teacher to teach him how to write a mathematical equation inside his paper. The effort of doing this using ‘normal’ word processor is equal to a session inside the dentist office – painful.

So I started the quest to find more suitable tool to east the pain and find Lyx – available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The definiton on their web page said: “LyX is a document processor that encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents (WYSIWYM – What You See Is What You Mean), and not simply their appearance (WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get).”

Lyx - The Ultimate Scientific Paper Writing Tool equation editor

Feel The Lyx
Start by downloading the 18 Mb++ installer, then you may continue with the not-so-smooth installation process. Lyx require your computer to have LaTeX system before you can install Lyx, otherwise please use the option to download MiKTeX. Other interuptions are the step to choose the Language and the step to choose and download dictionaries. Please note that installation plus MiKTeX and English Dictionary download require about 375 Mb of your hard disk space.

Lyx - The Ultimate Scientific Paper Writing Tool install lyx

On the first sight, there’s no love. Aside from standard tools, the interface was a bit cluttered by all of these icons of symbols of everything that made my high school’s mathematical days miserable. But those ‘clutteries’ are the ones that set this document processor apart from all the rest. Creating any science equation is a snap even for the person who has developed acute science allergy for years like yours truly.

I will not go above and beyond explaining how to do that since Lyx site has complete screencasts on the How-Tos. You just click the picture on each spesific topic to watch the tutorial. Extensive documentation is one of the advantages which people will find useful.

More Than Meets The Eye
But writing scientific equation easily is not the only advantage of Lyx. It’s fast with no memory hog, able to track changes and use branches for having more versions of the same document. As a bonus: yellow sticky notes.

Academic writers (as well as commercial writers – both fiction and non fiction) will also find Lyx valuable as it supports Structured document creation, including: advanced features for labels, references and bibliography (including BibTeX support), standard word processor operations; spellchecking (uses ispell in the background), also footnotes and margin notes.

What I find really useful for the writing purpose is the support for table of contents creation and outliner mode, in which you can move chapters and sections around in the “Table of Contents” dialog; and the availability of different textclasses which allow you to type different kinds of documents: letters, articles, books, movie scripts, LinuxDoc, and slides.

You can view the full list of Lyx features here.

I’ve only used Lyx for a short time, and it’s not the most good looking document processor out there, but the speed and functionality have already make it my main choice of writing tool. So, unless any of you readers can give me better alternatives (use the comments field below), I’d say “Make way for Lyx!”

Get Curly: 10 Useful Things You Can Do With Curl

When we start learning about command line tools, we tend to see them as single-purpose. You’re taught that cat prints file contents, ls lists all items in a directory, and du shows the disk space usage. However, many command line tools have dozens of options, all neatly described in their man files. Some of them can do wonders when combined with other commands.

Of course, it’s unreasonable to expect that anyone should remember every single option. With that in mind, it’s good to ocassionally refresh our knowledge of Linux commands, because you might discover new uses for them.


This time, we’re focusing on cURL, a tool for transferring data via a number of Internet protocols such as HTTP(S), FTP, Telnet, LDAP, IMAP, POP3, SMTP, and more.

In simplified terms, cURL performs various requests from a client to a server, establishing a connection between them by means of a specific protocol and its associated methods. For example, as a HTTP client, cURL can send a request to view or download content (GET request method), or to post content through a form on a website (POST request method). Many web applications and services allow cURL to interact with their APIs (Application Programming Interface).

Because their functionality overlaps to an extent, cURL and wget are often compared to each other. Both tools can download content from the Internet, but wget supports recursive downloads, web scraping, and generally feels simpler to use. If you just want to download files from the terminal, wget is probably a better choice.

On the other hand, if you need advanced HTTP authentication methods, and want to upload files as well as download them, it’s worth learning how to cURL. Also, wget only supports HTTP(S) and FTP, while cURL covers a wide range of protocols. This means cURL can do more cool stuff—and here are ten examples to prove it.

1. Get the Weather Report

If someone told you to check the weather from the terminal, you’d expect to see some boring numbers. Not with this command.

curl http://wttr.in/LOCATION


The information is provided by a CLI application called wego, but if you don’t want to install it, cURL can fetch the forecast from its web frontend wttr.in. All it needs is the location for which you want the forecast. Just type the name of a city, its airport code, or your current IP address. A new feature shows the information about moon phases if you type:

curl wttr.in/Moon


2. Download Files and Resume Downloads

Downloading files is something we usually do in the browser. Sometimes you’ll want to use a download manager; for example, when downloading several files at once, or when you want to pause downloads. Although cURL isn’t a popular choice for simultaneous downloads (wget is recommended instead), you can still use it for that purpose by combining its powerful options (switches). First you’ll need a direct link to the file. In this example, we’ll use a PDF of the Linux Voice magazine.

curl -O -C - https://www.linuxvoice.com/issues/016/Linux-Voice-Issue-016.pdf

The uppercase O switch (-O) makes cURL save the file with the default filename (usually the one from the link itself). If you wanted to save it under a different name, you’d use lowercase o followed by the new name:

curl -o magazine.pdf -C - https://www.linuxvoice.com/issues/016/Linux-Voice-Issue-016.pdf

By default, the files are saved in the current directory (check it with the pwd command). To save them elsewhere, provide the path after the -o switch. The -C – switch enables cURL to resume the download. You’d pause it by pressing Ctrl+C in the terminal, and resume by running the same download command again:


cURL displays the download progress in a table-like format, with columns containing information about download speed, total file size, elapsed time, and more. If you dislike this, you can opt for a simpler progress bar by adding -# or –progress-bar to your cURL command.

To download multiple files at once, just list the links one after the other:

curl -O file1.txt -O file2.pdf -O file3.zip

With the help of other command-line tools, we can batch-download all PNG and JPG images from a Tumblr blog:

curl http://concept-art.tumblr.com/ | grep -o 'src="[^"]*.[png-jpg]"' | cut -d\" -f2 | while read l; do curl "$l" -o "${l##*/}"; done

In this case, cut and grep collect information about filenames and format it so that only files with specified extensions are displayed. If you run the command without the last pipe:

curl http://concept-art.tumblr.com/ | grep -o 'src="[^"]*.[png-jpg]"' | cut -d\" -f2

you’ll just get a list of files that satisfy our criteria, but they won’t actually be downloaded. cURL can get a list of images from a range of pages, provided that the blog uses standard pagination:

curl http://concept-art.tumblr.com/page/[1-7] | grep -o 'src="[^"]*.[png-jpg]"' | cut -d\" -f2

You can modify the range by changing the numbers in square brackets. Again, this command would only list the images; to download them, run the full command in the directory where you want to save the images:

curl http://concept-art.tumblr.com/page/[1-7] | grep -o 'src="[^"]*.[png-jpg]"' | cut -d\" -f2 | while read l; do curl "$l" -o "${l##*/}"; done

If you’re well-versed in regular expressions, you can improve the looks and the efficiency of this command, and share the result in the comments.

3. Manage Files on an FTP Server

We don’t hear much about FTP these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s obsolete. In fact, many open source projects and Linux distributions share their software on FTP servers. Since FTP is supported by cURL, you can use it as a simple FTP client to upload and download files. You can browse the files on an FTP server by accessing the directories:

curl ftp://ftp.debian.org/debian/

To enter a subdirectory, type its name followed by a forward slash (/).


Downloading files is similar to HTTP downloads described in the previous section. You can either use -o or -O, and add -C – if you want to pause downloads.

curl -O ftp://ftp.heanet.ie/mirrors/linuxmint.com/stable/17.3/linuxmint-17.3-kde-64bit.iso

Although cURL doesn’t support recursive downloads (remember, wget does!), it can still download a range of files at once. The only condition is that the filenames follow a pattern. For example, we could download from a wallpaper-hosting server where the wallpapers are all named “wallpaperNUMBER”:

curl -O ftp://ftp.myserver.com/files/wallpaper[0-120].jpg

Some FTP servers require authentication before you can download files. cURL lets you log in with the -u (user) option:

curl -u username:password -O ftp://ftp.protectedserver.com/files/example.txt

You can also upload files to an FTP server with the -T (transfer) option:

curl -u username:password -T /home/user/Documents/test.txt ftp://ftp.myserver.com

Here you can also define multiple files as a range. This feature is sometimes called “globbing”. If the filenames don’t follow a pattern, just list them within curly brackets (-T "{file1.txt,image27.jpg}"). Conversely, if they have similar names, apply the same logic from the Tumblr download example and use square brackets (-T "photo[1-50].jpg"). Make sure to provide the full path to the files if they’re not in your current directory.

4. Check If a Website Is Down

We’ve all been there. A website you absolutely need suddenly stops working. Then Facebook won’t load. Faced with a true first world problem, what do you do?

You could Google it, ask a friend to test it for you, or use one of those single-serving sites that tell you if a website is down. Or you could just fire up the terminal and run cURL:

curl -Is https://www.twitter.com -L | grep HTTP/

The uppercase I switch (-I) checks the HTTP header of a web page, and the -L (location) option is added to make cURL follow redirections. This means you don’t have to type the full Facebook URL; just write facebook.com and cURL will take care of the rest thanks to -L. If there are any redirections, they will be displayed with their own HTTP status.


The message we’re interested in is “200 OK”, which means everything is fine with the website. If it’s indeed down, you’ll see something like this:


HTTP status codes are only as informational as your understanding of them allows. This method is not completely reliable, because a website may return a status code indicating a successfully processed request, yet it will be empty when you open it in the browser. Still, in most cases it should correspond to the real situation, and let you know what’s up — or down.

5. Expand Shortened URLs

Shortened URLs aren’t inherently bad. Without them, it would be difficult to share links on Twitter and other character-limited social networks. Some URL shortening services offer useful analytics, too. But there’s always a risk that someone is trying to hide malicious content behind a shortened URL, or that a troll is masking a Rickroll (or something much, much worse). If you ever feel suspicious of a shortened URL for any reason, cURL can help you expand it and find out where exactly it leads to:

curl -sIL http://buff.ly/1lTcZSM | grep ^Location;


curl -sI http://buff.ly/1lTcZSM | sed -n 's/Location: *//p';


You can combine cURL with grep or sed; the main difference is in the formatting. Sed is one of those tools every Linux user should know, and it complements cURL in this and a few other use cases. Let’s not forget that cURL can download files from a shortened URL (provided that the URL actually points to a file):

curl -L -o filename.txt http://short.url

The syntax is the same as with other cURL downloads, and the -L option takes care of the redirection from a shortened URL to the original one.

6. Show Your Appreciation for ASCII Art

Admittedly, this isn’t particularly useful, but it looks cool. With the help of pv, a utility for monitoring data progress, cURL can display ASCII animations in the terminal.

curl -s http://artscene.textfiles\.com/vt100/wineglas.vt | pv -L9600 -q


The -s and -q options keep both commands in silent (quiet) mode. The -L option here refers to the pv command, and lets you modify the transfer rate of data in bytes per second. In other words, if the animation is moving too fast or too slowly, try playing with that number. Apart from animations, cURL can display plain, static ASCII art:


The Web has plenty of websites with all kinds of ASCII art out there: from amazingly detailed, high-quality pieces to weird, silly, and even NSFW material. This digital art technique dates back to the 1960s, and today it’s part of Internet culture and history, kept alive in numerous collections and tools that let you convert text and images to ASCII art. You can use it to decorate your terminal or to prank your friends — whatever floats your boat.

7. Experiment with Social Media

Using social media from the terminal is nothing new — we’ve already shown you command-line Twitter clients for Linux. While you probably won’t switch to cURL as your online socializing tool, it’s good to know that you can post to Facebook with it, as described here. You’ll notice that, technically, cURL doesn’t do it on its own; a combination of tools gets the job done.


As for Twitter, it used to be possible to manage it directly from the terminal with cURL. Then Twitter changed its API, and now there’s a special cURL client for Twitter called Twurl. It’s not the easiest thing to use, especially for a beginner, and it requires authentication with the Twitter Ad Platform. This makes sense if you’re a developer or an advanced user, but not so much if you just want to tweet from the command-line. Still, there are ways to have fun with Twitter. You can use cURL to check a user’s follower count:

curl -s https://twitter.com/username | grep -o '[0-9,]* Followers';


8. Find Your External IP Address

Finding your local IP address is easy enough — just run ifconfig or consult your Network Management applet. For the external IP, most people use specialized websites to obtain this information. Still, some things are just easier to do from the terminal, and this might be one of them. You can also create an alias for the cURL command. There are several online services that cooperate with cURL:

curl ipinfo.io
curl -s https://4.ifcfg.me
curl -s http://whatismyip.akamai.com
curl ifconfig.me
curl -s icanhazip.com

Some can tell you more about any external IP address:

curl ipinfo.io/
curl ifconfig.me/


All you have to do is choose a service. If you’re indecisive, just include them all in your alias, as backup solutions.

9. Paste Text and Share Images

Breaking your workflow is never good for productivity and focus. If you do most of your work in the terminal, switching to a browser just to share a few files can be impractical, if not annoying. Luckily, some pastebin and file sharing services were born to work with cURL, so you can use them straight from the terminal, without a user account.

Clbin and Sprunge.us have similar syntax. With Clbin, you pipe a local file or the output of a command, and it returns a link to your uploaded text:

cat textfile.txt | curl -F 'clbin=<-' https://clbin.com

It also supports image uploads (PNG, JPG, and GIF):

curl -F 'clbin=@image.png' https://clbin.com

If you want to use Sprunge.us instead, type:

cat textfile.txt | curl -F 'sprunge=<-' http://sprunge.us

Sprunge.us doesn’t support image uploads for now.

Ix.io is based on the same principle as the previous two services, with a few extra features. To upload a file, type:

cat file.txt | curl -F 'f:1=<-' ix.io


curl -F 'f:1=@file.txt' ix.io

When you get a link to the uploaded text, you can modify its URL to show syntax highlighting (with ix.io/yourpaste+, ix.io/yourpaste/, or ix.io/yourpaste/language for a specific scripting or programming language). It’s also possible to limit how many times a link can be viewed by modifying the number after the 'read:1' value:

cat file.txt | curl -F 'f:1=<-' -F 'read:1=2' ix.io

Ix.io is primarily intended for text-based files such as source code or system logs. If you want to upload a variety of file formats, use Transfer.sh. It supports images, file encryption, and keeps your files online for two weeks. You can upload up to 5 GB of data to Transfer.sh. Here’s how:

curl --upload-file bunnies.jpg https://transfer.sh/bunnies.jpg

You’re free to define the name of the uploaded file. To upload multiple files, list them one after the other with the -F option:

curl -i -F filedata=@/tmp/hello.txt -F filedata=@/tmp/hello2.txt https://transfer.sh/

10. Check Unread Mail on GMail

There is massive potential to be unlocked in cURL if you’re willing to delve into details of email-related protocols (SMTP, POP, IMAP). For a quick email check, this command will do. It parses your GMail feed and formats the output (email subject and sender) with tr, awk, sed and/or grep commands. Note that this solution is extremely unsafe because it exposes your login credentials to anyone with access to your terminal. The first version shows the sender’s name, while the second one prints only unread email subjects:

curl -u username:password --silent "https://mail.google.com/mail/feed/atom" | tr -d '\n' | awk -F '' '{for (i=2; i<=NF; i++) {print $i}}' | sed -n "s/\(.*\)<\/title.*name>\(.*\)<\/name>.*/\2 - \1/p"

curl -u username:password --silent "https://mail.google.com/mail/feed/atom" | grep -oPm1 "(?<=)[^<]+" | sed '1d'


What Else Can cURL Do?

cURL is rarely used as a standalone command. Most people use it as part of a script or an application. Still, it’s possible to create practical one-liners with cURL, as we’ve demonstrated here. Many of these examples were adapted from CommandLineFu, a fantastic source of smart command-line hacks, and you shouldn’t consider them as set in stone.

With enough knowledge and experience, we can modify every command, format it differently, or completely replace it with a better solution. Can you improve our suggested cURL commands? Do you know of any other cool uses for cURL? Share your tips in the comments.

Image Credits: Inside Introduction to the Command Line by Osama Khalid via Flickr.

How To Get Mac Os X’s “natural Scrolling” In Ubuntu [linux]

natural scrolling ubuntuIn recent months, operating systems have been trying to reinvent how a person works with a computer, experimenting with ways that could lead to some positive results. Microsoft is working on Windows 8 which is bringing with it a completely different interface, Apple included a couple of convenient features in Lion, and Linux distributions are reinventing the desktop via GNOME 3 and Unity.

However, getting some of the features in one operating system into another can be difficult sometimes. Thankfully, someone has made a little program to replicate Lion’s “Natural Scrolling” feature for touchpads on Ubuntu.

What Is Natural Scrolling?

If you’re not sure what this “Natural Scrolling” feature is, let me explain. Currently, when you scroll with a trackpad, you move your finger down if you want to scroll down. It’s as if you’re moving the scrollbar, not the page itself. In natural scrolling – a fancy name for reverse scrolling – the opposite occurs. If you want to scroll down, you move your finger up.

Why does this make sense? Well, when you scroll down, it’s the same thing as pushing the page itself up. So in natural scrolling you’ll be using your finger to push the page in the direction you want instead of the scrollbar.

If you still don’t quite understand, get a piece of paper (or newspaper to represent content) and place it on a flat surface. Then take your finger and push the paper up. When you do that, you’re doing the same thing as scrolling down. This is what natural scrolling tries to replicate.


natural scrolling ubuntu

Getting this to work isn’t difficult. Go ahead and open a terminal window and type :

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:zedtux/naturalscrolling && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get -y install naturalscrolling


That command will add a new repository with the needed package in it and give you some information and other possible warnings associated with the repository. It will also update the package lists to recognize the contents of the new repository and then install the needed package. Once everything completes, the program will be installed and ready to go.

Launching & Applying

ubuntu scrolling

For the first time, you’ll need to launch it manually from the dashboard. You’ll find it easily by typing in Natural Scrolling. Once it is launched, you’ll need to click on its indicator applet and choose Natural Scrolling to enable it. From here on, it should be smooth sailing. Note that natural scrolling is in effect for all windows, and not just your browser or the page in your browser.

natural scrolling ubuntu

The feature only works when the program is running, so to have it launch every time you log in, you can choose the “Start at login” option from the Preferences menu. Although at the time of writing there was a warning when first adding the repository that startup at login does not work. I assume that the package has been updated since then and works flawlessly now.


This nifty little program can make plenty of people happier to use their laptops and other touchpad-operated devices by imitating natural movement. As shown in many other ways, the power and nature of open source software shines brightly again, so that you too can have the same features as $1,000+ computers. While I myself will have to get used to it as I’ve been accustomed to “normal” scrolling on a computer for around 13 years, it should be a good experience when I finally scroll the same way on my laptop as I do on my phone.

What is your opinion of natural scrolling? Which do you prefer more? Is natural scrolling even a decent idea? Let us know in the comments!

6 Ways To Speed Up The Gnome Desktop

For most popular versions of Linux, GNOME is the desktop interface you see. If your experience is slow or laggy, there are several adjustments you can make regardless of whether you’re using Ubuntu, Fedora, or Debian.

Want to speed up your GNOME experience? Here are six tweaks that can put a spring into GNOME’s step.

1. Disable or Uninstall Extensions

disable or uninstall extensions to speed up gnome

GNOME isn’t very customizable out of the box. At first, you can change the wallpaper and little else. But you can use extensions to make GNOME be what you want.

While these add-ons are one of GNOME’s great strengths, they’re also a weakness. Installing them can gradually slow down your computer.

Each extension increases what the interface has to load and keep in memory. Some extensions introduce more strain than others. The speed hit often isn’t drastic enough to stand out, so your experience may have gradually slowed down without you realizing.

So if you have a bunch of extensions always running on your machine, you may want to try turning them off to see if you get a speed boost.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a built-in way to view and manage all of the extensions you have installed. You need to download a tool called GNOME Tweaks, which you can find using GNOME Software (renamed to Ubuntu Software in Ubuntu). In GNOME Tweaks you will see all of your extensions listed in the Extensions section of the sidebar.

2. Turn Off Search Sources

turn off search sources to speed up gnome

The GNOME Activities Overview opens whenever you click on Activities in the top-left or press the Super key (i.e. the Windows or Command key) on your keyboard. From here you can click around to open software, or you can start typing to perform a search.

The Activities Overview searches more than just software. It can also locate files on your computer. In addition, you can check the weather, search Wikipedia, and open bookmarks. Some of these features require accessing the internet with every key you type. If you’re not using this functionality, those are computer resources that don’t have to be spent.

You can toggle search sources via Settings > Search. If a source doesn’t appear there, then it may be a GNOME extension instead. You can toggle those using GNOME Tweaks or uninstall them via GNOME Software.

3. Disable File Indexing

disable file indexing to speed up gnome

Accessing the internet isn’t the only way searches increase the pressure on your computer. In order to search for files and documents, a program must first run in the background that reads these file names and creates an index. This service has to run often in order to detect new files that you create.

That means even while you’re looking at a static screen, your PC may be hard at work.

Turning off file indexing can free up resources, especially if you’re using a cheaper or older machine with lower system specs. You may also notice that you have improved battery life after making this change. To disable file indexing, turn off the Files option under Settings > Search.

File indexing in GNOME comes from a service called GNOME Tracker, which you can uninstall entirely if you want to be certain it isn’t running in the background.

4. Turn Off Animations

turn off animations to speed up gnome

When you click the Activities button, the Overview screen wooshes in out of nowhere. Ideally that animation is quick, but sometimes it lags and stutters. Sometimes this animation is the source of the lag between when you press the Super key and when the Activities Overview screen appears.

Even when the animation doesn’t jitter, it’s still slower than having no animation at all. Part of what made older desktop operating systems feel snappy was the way windows instantly appeared or disappeared. If you’ve wondered why your new desktop feels slower, even with powerful specs, this may be the reason.

You can disable animations via GNOME Tweaks. Open the apps and look for the animations toggle in the Appearance section.

5. Install Lighter Alternative Apps

install lighter apps to speed up gnome

GNOME provides some great apps. Your chosen Linux operating system (more commonly known as a “distribution” or “distro”) likely provided a few other well-known open source programs. Think Firefox or LibreOffice. These are some of the best tools in the free software world, but they’re also relatively heavy.

Want a lighter web browser? Try out GNOME Web or one of the many alternative web browsers. If you’re not exchanging complex documents with people using other programs, you may find that AbiWord is the only word processor you need. Gnumeric is as good at doing the kind of relatively basic things I do with a spreadsheet as LibreOffice. Even seemingly simple apps like Gedit have a lighter alternative, such as Leafpad.

Here are some alternative Linux apps that may put less burden on your PC. You can find most of them, as well as the apps I’ve listed above, using GNOME Software.

6. Limit Startup Applications

limit startup apps to speed up gnome

Like people, computers slow down when they’re placed under a demanding workload. The more apps we run at once, the harder our computer has to work.

Some apps automatically launch when we sign into our computers. They often go unnoticed, running in the background. Yet even if we don’t see them, they’re still increasing the demand on our PCs.

Most popular GNOME distributions come with an app called Startup Applications. Here you can find services that launch when you login. Some are there by default. Others are programs you’ve installed that added themselves to the list.

Note: Not all background services appear in Startup Applications. Some are treated more like system components. Removing them requires a package manager and general knowledge of what you can safely remove without impacting the apps you rely on.

Is Your GNOME PC Feeling Faster Yet?

If not, there are more Linux-related speed improvements that you can make regardless of whether you use GNOME.

If your computer is still bogging down under the stress, you may need to use a lighter desktop environment or distribution entirely.

How To Turn Any Pc Or Laptop Into A Chromebook Or Chromebox

You can turn almost any computer into a Chromebook or Chromebox with CloudReady. This tutorial covers how to install and troubleshoot Chrome OS on most computers.

CloudReady is an open source derivation of Google’s Chrome OS. Chrome OS is a stripped down version of Linux that runs just a single app: Chrome. Most computers actually run Chrome OS faster than any other operating system. The downside is that some websites won’t work properly—unless you know a few tricks.

Getting Started With Chromium OS (CloudReady)

There are only two remaining popular versions of Chrome OS that you can install: Chromium OS from ArnoldTheBat and CloudReady from Neverware.

Of the two, most users will prefer CloudReady. It offers the best combination of features, support, and performance. Although I suspect that ArnoldTheBat’s version of Chromium OS will offer Android support before CloudReady does. CloudReady is officially supported on around 200 laptop models. But I’ve installed it on a half-dozen unsupported machines with only some minor troubleshooting.

Installation requires five basic steps:

  1. Optional: You may need to update the BIOS of your device, wipe its storage, and turn off a few features in BIOS/UEFI.
  2. Image CloudReady onto a bootable media, like a USB flash drive using Etcher.
  3. Install CloudReady onto a computer. This process is destructive, so prepare to lose all your data on the target storage drive.
  4. Optional: You may need to enable such features Wildvine, Flash, and other proprietary software so you can use services like Netflix.
  5. Optional: If your computer has problems, you may need to do some basic troubleshooting.

Step 0: Downloads and Hardware Requirements

All of the programs below include images for both 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems. Executable and installable programs also work with all major operating systems, although the download links listed here are for Windows.

Before continuing, download the following applications and CloudReady.

Hardware system requirements:

  • USB Flash drive or DVD with 8GB of storage
  • A target storage drive with at least 16GB of space
  • At least 2GB of RAM (you might get away with less)
  • A computer on which you can erase the storage drive
  • An internet connection (CloudReady doesn’t work without internet)

Step 1: Prepare Your Computer (Optional)

The three parts of this step are optional. The reason is that the majority of users won’t have any issues installing CloudReady. However, a minority will have serious problems unless they do three things: first, update their computer’s BIOS and, second, use a disk partition tool to wipe the target storage drive (or boot drive). Third, turn off Fast Boot and Secure Boot.

Update the System BIOS

Only attempt this step if you know what you’re doing. Otherwise, it’s best to leave things alone.

Different computers require different methods for updating their BIOS. And on top of that, updating a BIOS—if done incorrectly—can destroy your computer. We’ve previously covered how to enter your BIOS and how to update your BIOS.

For an example of how complicated—and bewilderingly different across varying models of computer—updating the BIOS can be, check this video on flashing a BIOS on an Acer Aspire One AOD150 or KAV10:

Keep in mind that this process is different not just across different manufacturers. It can vary across different models of computer. There is no single method of updating a computer’s BIOS.

Wipe the Target Storage/Boot Drive

The storage drive that you want to install Chromium OS onto may not accept another operating system unless the previous data on the drive is fully removed.

The best way to do that is to use GParted, the ultimate partitioning tool. Aside from fully wiping the target drive, you may need to set the partition table type as GUID Partition Table (GPT).

You’ll first need to image the GParted ISO file onto a Flash drive. Start Etcher and choose the GParted ISO from your download directory. Then select your USB Flash drive (preferably after you’ve formatted it) as the target drive. The process usually takes around 5-10 minutes to complete.

turn pc into chromebook - etcher

Then start your computer with the Flash drive inserted. Boot from this drive. (How to boot from a Flash drive.) While GParted loads, you may need to hit enter on occasion, but the default settings are almost always the correct ones.

Eventually, you’ll see GParted’s main menu. From the main menu, left-click Device and from the context menu, choose Create Partition Table.

turn pc into chromebook - create partition table

A popup menu will appear. Change Select new partition table type from msdos to GPT. For some reason, on some models of computer, I can’t get the installer to work with the standard table type on older computers, MS-DOS.

Finally, hit Apply. The computer will now change the partition table type to GPT. You can now exit this program.

turn pc into chromebook - apply new partition table

Your storage drive is now ready to receive a copy of CloudReady.

Disable Fast Boot and Secure Boot

Both Fast Boot and Secure Boot are known to add unnecessary complexity to Linux installations. Therefore, it’s a wise decision to switch both features off before you install CloudReady. You can disable both from within your computer’s BIOS/UEFI.

Step 2: Image CloudReady Onto a USB Flash Drive

turn pc into chromebook - etcher

The first step is to use Etcher to image CloudReady onto a USB Flash drive (or some other bootable media). The process is simple: Run Etcher, under Select image, choose the downloaded copy of CloudReady as the source ISO. Then choose a formatted USB drive as the destination under Select drive. Finally, hit the Flash! button.

The imaging process should take around 10 minutes to finish. Now you’ve got an installer Flash drive.

Step 3: Install CloudReady to Your Storage/Boot Drive

Insert the USB Flash drive with CloudReady on it into the computer. Remember that installing CloudReady will wipe out the contents of the drive—if you need anything on it, remember to make a backup. Start the computer and boot from the drive.

The initial menu should look like this (without my login information):

turn pc into chromebook - login screen

Log in as Guest (located in the bottom-left of the screen). After logging in, to install to a storage drive, press and hold Ctrl + Alt + F2.

After pressing all three buttons, a terminal window opens. You should now be able to enter text and commands.

turn pc into chromebook - text command window

Type the following command in order to install Chrome OS to your computer’s storage drive:

sudo /usr/sbin/chromeos-install --dst /dev/sda

You may be required to input a login and a password: chronos is the login and chrome is the password.

Please note that there are hyphens next to each other following “install” and before “dst”. Also, look at “sda”. In Linux, storage drives are each marked with a letter of the alphabet. The first storage drive in your computer is marked as “storage drive a“, or initialized as “sda”. If you have multiple drives in your computer, you can find the appropriate drive by typing in the following command:

sudo fdisk -l

This command will display the drives and their corresponding drive letter. The first drive will display as “sda”, the second drive asd “sdb”, and so on. If you do not want to install to the first drive, run the command above and locate the appropriate drive that you want to install to.

Step 4: Enable Proprietary Services for Netflix

turn pc into chromebook - media plugins

CloudReady does not include support for Flash, or DRM protection schemes like Wildvine, by default. You need to install these separately.

Fortunately, it’s as easy as clicking the mouse a few times. Simply open Settings and click on Plugins. You should see the following three entries:

  • Wildvine Content Decryption Module
  • Adobe Flash
  • Proprietary Media Components

On the Plugins menu, hit the INSTALL button to the right of each entry. Afterward, it will download and install each software.

Step 5: Troubleshooting Problems (Optional)

What’s the Password and Login for Chrome OS CloudReady?

When you try to change certain system settings for CloudReady, you’ll be prompted to input a password and login. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of incorrect information on the internet. As of March 2018, the login and password are as follows:

  • Login: chronos
  • Password: chrome

Typing in both will grant you root access, which means you can change system-level settings. During the installation process, you’ll be prompted to input both.

Chromium OS Audio Isn’t Working

The two most common audio problems are HDMI not working and rear audio ports not working. No worries! Like many Linux distributions, CloudReady includes a configuration tool for fixing audio issues, Alsamixer. The tool, however, isn’t very easy to use because it’s based on confusing ASCII characters and lacks visual polish. Also, the instructions aren’t very clear.

To run the audio configuration tool, you’ll need to enter Chrome OS’s command line mode. To do so, open the Chrome browser and press and hold Ctrl + Alt + T. You should see a command line open up within the Chrome browser.

turn pc into chromebook - chrome browser command line

On the command line, type the following and hit the Enter key:


This takes you to the shell, which allows users to alter Linux settings from the command line. You may need to type in your password and/or login. The login is chronos and the password is chrome.

Now type the following command and hit Enter:

sudo alsamixer

You should see the following interface:

turn pc into chromebook - alsamixer interface

Dealing with the Alsamixer interface is tedious. The in-interface instructions are incorrect and the F-keys do nothing.

Anyway, first, you want to select your audio card (one of them is probably muted). You can do this by hitting the s key. You should then see a list of all the audio devices attached to your computer. Oftentimes, that’s either your graphics card, the rear panel audio, and the HDMI audio.

turn pc into chromebook - alsamixer interface sound card

Use the navigational keys to select the correct device. For example, if you are outputting audio from an HDMI connection, you will want to select the HDMI audio device. Once you’ve highlighted the correct entry, hit the Enter key. That will bring up the audio settings.

You should see a box with “MM” in the middle. That means that this device is muted. Hit the m key to unmute it, which turns the MM into 00 (double zeroes). With a little luck, the audio should now work! If it doesn’t, your audio controller may not be compatible with Chrome OS.

turn pc into chromebook - alsamixer audio controller

To persist these settings between reboots, you’ll need to create a new directory to hold the settings and then save the settings at that location. Now type the following and hit Enter:

cd /var/lib

Now enter the command below:

sudo mkdir alsa

This creates a directory called “alsa” inside of the directory /var/lib. You will enter this directory by typing the following and hitting Enter:

cd /var/lib/alsa

To save your settings, type the following command:

sudo alsactl store

After that, the audio settings shouldn’t reset after you restart your computer.

Wi-Fi Doesn’t Work

Unfortunately, there’s no way to tweak settings in order to get Wi-Fi working properly. However, I can recommend a budget 802.11ac Mini-PCIe card, the Intel 3160. It’s cheap, offers low-tier Wireless-AC speeds, and works across almost all Linux platforms (I’ve tested it across many Linux distros). It’s also found on eBay for very little money (in used condition) and is also available in the M.2 form factor.

If you don’t know how to change your Wi-Fi card, try a USB wireless dongle. There are plenty out there for very little money with Linux support (although I haven’t tested them personally). The HoneyBull 802.11ac USB dongle also includes an external antenna for better wireless reception.

Fixing Poor Performance Issues

There are a handful of tips in Chrome that allow users to improve performance. Not all of these work properly and some might be little more than snake oil. Dan Price covered several Chrome speed hacks and all of these tips apply to Chrome OS.

First, type the following into your browser’s address bar and hit Enter:


This takes you to Chrome’s internal configuration utility, flags. Here you can turn a few experimental features on. Namely, you can force enable your graphics processor, if it’s unsupported. However, this can cause a variety of display issues. In a few rare cases, it may even require reinstalling the operating system.

The first (and probably only) feature you might want to tinker with is Override software rendering list. By default, some graphics processors do not work in Chrome. By forcing Chrome to use unsupported GPUs, you might see a big performance improvement. It’s worth trying out if it’s disabled. (Accelerated 2D canvas is another feature you may want to turn on.)

turn pc into chromebook - override software rendering

One other feature worth considering is setting raster threads from its default. Search for the entry Number of raster threads and change it from Default to 4. I should note that unless you have integrated Intel graphics, raster threads are processed by your computer’s CPU. So don’t set raster threads higher than the number of cores (or threads) that your system can handle.

turn pc into chromebook - rastor threads

After you’ve made the changes, restart the browser by clicking on RELAUNCH NOW on the lower-right side of the screen. After the browser restarts, you might see improved performance. In my experience, the only one of these worth enabling is GPU acceleration. And the chances that this will actually improve performance are about 50/50.

Can an Old PC Turn Into a Chromebox or Chromebook?

Yes! Most older hardware will absolutely work (and better than with Windows or Linux) with CloudReady, or another Chrome OS distribution. Companies like Neverware solve the problem of organizations having to retire outdated hardware to install the latest Windows version.

With CloudReady, the majority of retired machines can work securely and efficiently—for many more years to come.

So now that you’ve got a low-cost high-performance system, check out our guide to installing extensions for Chrome. With the right extensions, your DIY Chromebox or Chromebook can do almost anything a Windows computer can—and all without malware, spyware, and other Windows-related problems.

Linux Ppas: Installation, Removal, And Security

PPA stands for Personal Package Archive. These offer software not bundled in a default Linux operating system. Software installation on Linux is a bit different than on Windows and Mac. Instead, software comes in repositories. But PPAs provide access to third-party programs.

However, while PPAs boast a vast landscape of available software, these package archives create a different operating dynamic. Learn more about Personal Package Archives, from what a PPA is to security considerations, and more.

What Is a PPA?


A Personal Package Archive is a repository of software which isn’t included in the default Linux operating system installation. Therefore, a PPA is a means to upload source packages as Advanced Packaging Tools (APT) via Launchpad. PPAs are only used within Ubuntu and its derivatives.

Often a PPA concentrates on one specific program. For instance, a PPA may focus on a specific program like Docker that’s not included default Ubuntu install. Yet certain PPAs provide updates for software bundled in Ubuntu like Firefox.

Why Use a PPA?

There’s a clear motivation for PPA use with unreleased software. But what about using a PPA for software included with Ubuntu? PPAs provide faster updates than the vanilla release of Ubuntu. This yield greater control. That’s because you choose which software to update, and Ubuntu handles those through the Ubuntu Update Manager.

Overall, this is a streamlined means to keep software up to date and download regular updates faster than using merely the Ubuntu software center.

How to Add a PPA?


Adding a PPA is fairly simple. Merely open the command line (Ctrl + Alt + T) and type the following to add your required repository, run an update, and install your desired software:

sudo add-apt-repository [repository name]  sudo apt-get update  sudo apt-get install [software name]

Let’s take Open Broadcaster Software. To add OBS via the command line you would enter:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:obsproject/obs-studio  sudo apt update && sudo apt install obs-studio

Once that’s complete, your software is properly installed.

How to Remove a PPA

Like most installations, there may come a time when you wish to remove a PPA. Just like adding a PPA differs from installing software via the software center, so too does removing a PPA. There are a few means to accomplish this.

Using the GUI

after ubuntu 16.04 ppas

Since there’s a PPA list under Software and Updates, you can remove PPAs using a graphical user interface (GUI). Navigate to Software and Updates, and click the Other Software tab. Look for the PPA you with to remove from the list and check the box next to it. Then click the button at the bottom of that screen that says remove. This remains the simplest means to remove a PPA.

Using the Remove Flag

You can uninstall a PPA using the --remove flag. This operates in a similar fashion to how you installed the PPA. In a command line, run:

sudo apt-add-repository --remove ppa:ppa_name/ppa

It’s a straightforward method for removing a PPA using the command line.

Using the APT Method

Alternatively, you can use the PPA purge method:

sudo apt-get install ppa-purge

Then to complete the purge you’ll need to downgrade packages it provided via the official repositories. You’ll need to use the URL of the PPA which can be found under the Software Sources list:

sudo ppa-purge ppa-url

This requires a little more work. Especially if you have to look up the PPA URL in the Software Sources list, you may as well just use the GUI removal method. But if you already know the URL or have it in your clipboard, it’s worth using.

PPA Security Considerations

Image Credit: stevepb via Pixabay

Just as with an EXE on Windows, a PPA arrives with security concerns. Three main components clarify the safety of a PPA:

  1. The maker.
  2. Number of users.
  3. Frequency of updates.

Who made a PPA yields information on reliability. Since PPAs are community creations, anyone can make one. But official PPAs from the likes of Wine are about as safe as you can find. A PPA from a well-known maintainer is generally reliable. Whereas a PPA from Rando Calrissian Ubuntu user may not be as safe. This could be intentional, or unintentionally harmful like a corrupt package.

The number of users merely means greater data on package safety. It’s the same concept as downloading software or a torrent (please only torrent legally). A torrent with more seeders will download faster so there’s that benefit. But usually highly seeded torrents feature a thriving comments section with user feedback on aspects like video and audio quality. Similarly, the more users a PPA has, the more trustworthy it likely is.

Finally, there’s the frequency of updates. More updates signals an increasingly reliable and stable PPA. Look for a 1:1 ratio of PPA updates to Linux operating system updates.

Best PPAs Available

ubuntu vivid libreoffice

PPAs are abundant. But which are the best PPAs available for Linux installations? LibreOffice is an excellent PPA to add. While LibreOffice is included within the default Ubuntu install, Ubuntu often doesn’t upgrade LibreOffice to the next iteration. Thus, you may consider adding the LibreOffice PPA.

Drivers on Linux can be a challenge. Xorg-Edgers and Oibaf sport the freshest open graphics drivers. This PPA is beneficial for those using open-source drivers. However if you’re running proprietary AMD or Nvidia drivers, this PPA won’t be beneficial.

Gamers should install the PlayDeb and GetDeb PPAs. These install updated versions of both software and games. Because these PPAs prepackage software into a centralized location, installing these applications is much simpler.

While Java isn’t included in default Ubuntu repositories, you can still install it. The manual method is pretty cumbersome. Instead, the Webupd8 Java PPA makes obtaining Java on Linux much easier. This PPA features installers for Java 6, 7, and 8.

Want to run your Windows games and programs on Linux? Well, Wine is your best bet. To use Wine, you’ll need to add the PPA. The Wine PPA ranks among the most utilized PPAs available. Wine and the PlayOnLinux frontend offer an excellent means to play Windows games old and new.

Getting Personal: Final Thoughts on PPAs

There many PPAs available from a variety of sources. Installation differs from a Software Center install or single app command line installation. Whether you’re installing a PPA for software not inclued in the vanilla Ubuntu release or simply desire frequent updates, adding PPAs is an essential for updating Ubuntu applications. You may consider using Y PPA Manage, a GUI for managing Ubuntu PPAs.

Which PPAs are you using? Tell us in the comments!

Image Credit: AVIcon via Shutterstock.com

Connect Your Xbox 360 Controller To Your Linux Gaming Rig

connect xbox 360 to linuxLinux gaming rigs? Yup, they’re happening. With Valve’s Steam on Linux and a forthcoming Valve Steambox using Steam to run Linux games, the future is looking up for gaming on Linux. You can even install Ubuntu and Steam on a computer today, plugging it into your TV and using the big picture mode interface. The missing piece of the hardware puzzle is a controller. Luckily, Microsoft’s ubiquitous Xbox 360 controller has a standard USB connection and functions well with Linux, just as it does with Windows and Android.

Of course, a controller isn’t just useful for playing games on your television. Some types of games — 2D platformers, for example — cry out to be played with a controller. One of the PC’s strengths — whether it’s running Linux or Windows — is offering a variety of options for controlling games.

Connecting an Xbox 360 Controller

The Xbox 360 controller has a USB connection, so you can plug  it into your Linux PC’s USB port, just as you would on Windows. On most Linux distributions — including the latest versions of Ubuntu — the Xbox 360 controller should work without any more tweaking required.

You can test if the Xbox 360 controller is working by opening a terminal and running the following command:

dmesg | grep xpad

If you see information saying the xpad driver was registered, you’ll know that the controller has been recognized by your Linux system.

connect xbox 360 to linux

The Xbox 360 controller is recognized using the “xpad” kernel driver. You may want to Google the name of your Linux distribution and “xpad” for instructions on making it work if it doesn’t.

Assuming the controller is working, you can now fire up games that support it and play them. For example, you can launch Steam, click the Big Picture icon in the top-right corner, and use the controller to navigate through Steam’s Big Picture mode and launch games.

Whether a game supports the controller will depend on that game’s developers. Some games will respond to the controller immediately — for example, it works fine with Valve’s free-to-play Team Fortress 2. Some games will have configuration screens where you can configure them to acknowledge your controller. Some games disappoint by ignoring the controller and providing no configuration options.

The controller should work particularly well with the wide variety of emulators available for Linux. They’ll all allow you to customize the input controls you use. Emulators have always been one of the highlights of gaming on Linux.

connect xbox to linux

Connecting a Wireless Xbox 360 Controller

Unfortunately, a wireless Xbox 360 controller doesn’t communicate over standard Bluetooth, so you can’t pair it directly with your Linux PC. (You can’t pair it directly with a Windows PC, either.)

To connect a wireless Xbox 360 controller to your Linux PC, you’ll need the same Xbox 360 Wireless Gaming Receiver adapter you’d need for a Windows PC. Just plug the adapter into your computer’s USB port and you should be able to use the wireless controller normally. The wired controller is better-supported by Linux’s drivers, so you may run into a few issues with the wireless controller — but it should work.

Playing Unsupported Games, Using Other Xbox 360 Controllers, and More

Let’s say you want to use your Xbox 360 controller with a game that doesn’t support it. On Windows, you’d use joy2key to remap the controller’s inputs to key presses, allowing it work in games that only respond to key presses.

On Linux, you can do this by installing the xboxdrv driver. This driver provides many more configuration options as well as support for other Xbox 360 controller, such as ones made by Logitech and other companies. You can easily install it on Ubuntu by running the commands on its web page.

xboxdrv provides an extreme amount of options, including the ability to tweak everything about the controller’s input, create startup scripts that launch games with special options that allow you to create per-game controller button-to-key remappings, and more. You’ll find a huge amount of information on the xboxdrv manual page.

connect xbox 360 to linux

The Xbox 360 controller is probably the most compatible controller out there at the moment, so it’s one of the best choices for playing games on Linux. When Valve finally releases their own dedicated controller for their Steambox consoles, this may change — but the Xbox 360 controller is where it’s at for now, whether you’re gaming on Windows, Linux, or even Android.

Have you ever set up an Xbox 360 controller on Linux? Do you have any other tips, or do you prefer another controller? Leave a comment and share your experience!

How To Install Chrome On Linux And Easily Migrate Your Browsing From Windows

If you’re migrating from Windows to Linux, one of the most valuable things you can take with you is your web browser. Packed with bookmarks, history, and passwords, your browser is your gateway to the web.

Switching to a new operating system like Linux without the benefit of a personalized browser can be problematic. Passwords can be a massive problem — if you have collected favorite bookmarks over the years, their loss can also be a big issue.

One obvious way around this is to use the Chrome browser. Simply using a Google account with Chrome will sync your bookmarks, history and passwords to a new device. But Linux operating systems rarely, if ever, ship with Chrome.

The Default Linux Browser: Never Chrome

Why is Chrome never preinstalled in Linux?

It’s mainly to do with two things: one, the open source philosophy, and two, privacy. As Chrome isn’t open source, you’ll find that Linux operating systems (also known as distributions) will ship with different browsers. Examples include:

  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Slimjet
  • Qupzilla

The Chromium browser (upon which Chrome is built) can also be installed on Linux. Other browsers are available, too.

Google’s habit of tracking your behavior online has also discouraged distribution teams from including it. And this is a big issue. Installing Chrome on Linux is essentially trading privacy for the ease of migrating data.

If privacy is an issue for you, of course, you’re probably not going to be using Chrome to start off with. But it’s a great browser to help ease your way into the Linux world.

Syncing Google Chrome Data From Windows to Linux

In order to carry your Chrome browser data from Windows to your chosen Linux distribution, you need to have a Google account associated with your browser on Windows. This will ensure that your data is synced via the Google cloud to the browser on Linux.

Some people prefer not to sign into Chrome on Windows. It is an extremely useful option, however. For instance, if you have an Android phone, it will typically have Chrome installed. By signing into the browser on Windows, you can sync the browser data between devices. (As long as you keep your phone locked with a strong password or fingerprint, your data will be secure.)

linux install chrome sync

The same syncing is possible between Windows and your new Linux operating system. Just make sure you have syncing enabled. Typically switched on by default, you’ll find it in the Chrome Settings menu, under People.

Settings, passwords, bookmarks (i.e. “favorites”), and open tabs can be individually enabled and disabled. These all sit under the umbrella Sync everything, which can be toggled to enable or disable all of the options.

How to Install Chrome on Linux

Get started by heading to the Chrome download page and clicking the Download Chrome button (for Debian/Ubuntu/Fedora/openSUSE).

install chrome linux download

Next, select the option that matches your hardware and operating system. For instance, I have a 64-bit laptop running Ubuntu, so I selected 64-bit .DEB (for Debian/Ubuntu).

Check the terms of service, then click Accept and install. The package will download, and you should be prompted to run it with the package manager on your Linux system. Use this to install Chrome.

linux install chrome

If your distro is not supported and you want to use Chrome, community-supported variants built on Chromium are available. However, these will not support native data syncing.

Should you prefer to install Google Chrome via the command line, you can do so with:

sudo apt-get install libxss1 libappindicator1 libindicator7wget https://dl.google.com/linux/direct/google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb    sudo dpkg -i google-chrome*.deb

This is for Debian/Ubuntu. Simply change the file name for the Fedora/openSUSE variant.

Migrate Your Browsing From Windows to Linux

Once the software is installed, you’ll be able to open it and start browsing the web right away. To carry your vital browsing data across from your Windows-based browser profile, you’ll need to log into Chrome.

linux install chrome sign-in

Look for the icon in the top-right corner that looks like a 3×3 grid. Click this, then My Account. In the resulting screen, click Sign in, then add the credentials for the Google account you’ve been using with Chrome on Windows.

Next, check that Chrome is syncing the same options as it is in Windows. Open the menu, go to Settings, and look at the Sync everything option. What is selected here should match the configuration in Windows.

linux install chrome everything

You’re now ready for continuity browsing! Go ahead and give it a go. You can test how well it works by visiting a site that that has a password saved in the Chrome browser on Windows. If you can log in, the sync has worked.

Need to Migrate Firefox Bookmarks?

There are easier ways to migrate browser data and passwords from Windows. For example, if you use Mozilla Firefox, simply use the export bookmarks option to save your bookmarks in a HTML file. They can then be imported into Firefox on your Linux computer.

And if you want to export passwords as well, you can with the help of an add-on called Password Exporter. Data is saved as XML or CSV, and can be migrated between operating systems.

Have you migrated from Windows to Linux? Did you run into any problems doing so? What solutions did you employ, or are you still experiencing these issues? Or are you being put off switching to Linux by perceived data migration issues? Use the comments box below to tell us!

5 Reasons Chrome Os Is Better Than Windows 10 S

If you’ve been paying attention to the tech news recently, you’ll no doubt be aware that Microsoft has launched a new operating system: Windows 10 S.

The company hopes it’ll help the Windows platform grab a share of the Chromebook’s ever-increasing market share and propel it into homes and classrooms around the country.

But let’s cut through the advertising slogans and grandiose promises. If you’re looking for a new laptop, which comes out on top? Chrome OS or Windows 10 S? In my opinion, there’s only one winner.

Why Windows 10 S?

Before looking at the specifics, let’s take a moment to explain what Windows 10 S and why Microsoft has launched it.

Many readers will recall the disastrous Windows RT platform. Microsoft introduced the operating system with the intention of making it Windows 8’s “little brother” — it was included on tablets and other mobile devices.

It caused confusion among users, many of whom weren’t aware it could only run apps from the Windows Store, and it received derision from critics. Microsoft promptly abandoned the project in mid-2015.

Windows 10 S is Microsoft’s second attempt at creating a “locked-down” OS. Once again, you’ll only be able to install apps from the Windows Store, but Microsoft is hoping a clearer and more coordinated marketing campaign will convince users to give it a try. This time, the focus is on “simplicity, security, and speed.”

It’s those three words that put Windows 10 S into direct competition with Chromebooks.

1. Apps

Windows 10 S machines will only be able to run apps from the Windows Store. As such, they’re not too dissimilar from Chromebooks — Google’s OS is limited to the Chrome Web Store.

Therefore, users need to consider how the two stores compare.

The Windows Store has been beset with problems from day one. It’s faced criticism over its innumerable “fake apps” and third-party rip-offs, the security of some of the apps is suspect, and the choice simply isn’t there.

The Chrome Web Store, meanwhile, has been steadily gaining traction since its launch in 2010. There’s a much richer selection of apps. Almost every popular web app is represented.

chrome web store

Furthermore, the newest Chromebooks on the market can also run Android apps. Even if your favorite software isn’t available as a web app, you have the entire Google Play Store to hunt for a solution.

Sure, Microsoft has promised the Windows Store will improve (where have we heard that before?). At the time of writing, Spotify and Microsoft Office are both due to arrive later this year, and more apps will presumably follow. But right now, there’s no contest between the two.

2. Security

Microsoft has put security at the front of its Windows 10 S proposition. But what does that mean in practice?

In short, we don’t really know. It seems Microsoft’s mains security angle is linked to the previous point. Because all apps are installed from the Windows Store, there will (theoretically) be a lower risk of malware and fewer “app helpers” will load at startup.

The company has also touted its Windows Defender anti-virus app and the Edge browser as security benefits.

None of these things are bad (though I’ll return to Edge later). However, they pale into insignificance when compared to security features on Chrome OS.

The Google operating system offers automatic updates, a sandbox environment for every web page and app, verified boot, data encryption across the entire system, and a one-click refresh in case something does go awry.

Which system sounds more secure?

3. Speed

System speed of Windows 10 S in another of the key selling points. According to Microsoft, the OS will boot to the desktop 15 seconds faster than a machine running Windows 10 Pro with the same profile and apps installed.

It’s an attention-grabbing headline, but anyone who’s used Windows 10 knows that while it’s certainly faster than its predecessors, it’s not exactly “fast” when booting. Even with a 15-second saving, you’ll probably still have time to go and do your weekly grocery shopping before the system is ready to use.

I’ve just measured the startup time on my three-year-old HP Chromebook. After pressing the power button, I was looking at my browser’s homepage in less than eight seconds. And the system wasn’t still loading in the background — everything was smooth and ready-to-use.

Call me skeptical, but I don’t think Windows 10 S will come close to that time.

4. Using the Web

Let’s have a show of hands. How many of you use Chrome as your primary web browser? And how many of you use Google as your primary search engine? And now, how many of you use a combination of Edge and Bing?

If the stats are anything to go by, more than 60 percent of people use Chrome and almost 80 percent use Google. Edge and Bing trail at 15 and 7 percent, respectively.

web browser
Image Credit: JMiks via Shutterstock

So why has Microsoft decided to lock you into the Edge/Bing combination on Windows 10 S? Since you can only install apps from the store, no other web browsers are available. And even if you manage to side-load Chrome, all the system’s links and apps will still open within Edge; you can’t change the default apps.

As for Edge… sure, you can navigate to Google’s homepage and use its search function, but if you type a query into the Start Menu or Edge’s address bar, you’ll be directed to Bing automatically.

The reliance on Bing also punches another hole in Microsoft’s security claims. As recently as March 2017, security experts at the Pwn2Own hackathon found a major flaw in the app’s code that allowed hackers to break out of a machine’s VMware Workstation host and into the OS.

Of course, you’re restricted to the Chrome browser on Chrome OS (unless you install Linux as a dual-boot), but given the stats, is not going to be a problem for most people. And Chrome still lets you use any search engine you want.

5. Performance

Microsoft debuted Windows 10 S along with the new Surface laptop. The entry-level Surface device will cost almost $1,000 and comes with Intel Core i5, a 128 GB SSD, and 4 GB of RAM. The high-end model will set you back an eye-watering $2,200 but gives you Intel Core i7, a 512 GB SSD, and 16 GB or RAM.

To be fair, the specs of both those models are good. Not amazing, but good. As such, you’d expect Windows 10 S to run perfectly on both of them. Actually, you’d expect any operating system to run perfectly on both of them.

surface laptop

Now consider the specs of an entry-level Chromebook. The Acer Chromebook 11 comes with a Celeron N2840 processor, a 16 GB SSD, and only 2 GB of RAM. Chrome OS runs just as well on this device as it does on the Pixel Chromebook.

But how would Windows 10 S perform on the device? We’ll soon find out, Microsoft is planning to put the OS on low-end devices for the education sector later this year.

Given the difference in complexity “under-the-hood” between Windows 10 S and Chrome OS, do you think the system’s performance on a budget device will match the performance you’d enjoy on a Surface device? I certainly don’t.

Which Device Would You Buy?

To conclude, let’s do a quick test. If I give you three checks for $1,000, $500, and $200, with each check, do you buy a laptop running Windows 10 S, a Chromebook, or something else?

I’d be surprised if anyone said Windows 10 S. That’s what Microsoft is up against. Don’t believe the hype: buy a Chromebook.

How do you think Windows 10 S compares with Chrome OS? Let us know in the comments below.