Hardware drivers are the software that allow your operating system to communicate with your hardware. Windows includes built-in drivers and automatically downloads new ones to make setup easier, but device manufacturers also provide their own driver packages.
Share a folder with Windows’ built-in sharing options and you can access it on an Android device, iPad, or iPhone. This is a convenient way to stream videos from your PC or access other files wirelessly.
Apple offers 5 GB of free iCloud space to everyone, but you’ll run up against that storage limit sooner than you’d think. Device backups, photos, documents, iCloud email, and other bits of data all share that space.
Windows, Mac, and Linux can all get along together, sharing files with each other on a network. They can also share printers, allowing you to use a single wired printer for all the computers on your home network.
Installing software works differently on Linux. Instead of visiting a website, you’ll usually need to grab the software from your Linux distribution’s software repositories with its package manager. This sounds complicated, but is actually simpler than installing software on Windows.
The Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit is Microsoft’s best-kept security secret. It’s easy to install EMET and quickly secure many popular applications, but there’s a lot more you can do with EMET.
Linux isn’t a complete operating system — it’s just a kernel. Linux distributions take the Linux kernel and combine it with other free software to create complete packages. There are many different Linux distributions out there.
Home file sharing used to be a nightmare, even between different versions of Windows — never mind Mac and Linux! These operating systems can now talk to each other and share files without any special software.
Creating installation media for your operating system of choice used to be simple. Just download an ISO and burn it to CD or DVD. Now we’re using USB drives, and the process is a little different for each operating system.
iPads come with touch keyboards, but there’s nothing stopping you from connecting a good old fashioned physical keyboard and typing on that. Apple even shipped a keyboard dock for the original iPad.
Motherboards include integrated graphics, sound, and network hardware — but is it good enough, or do you need to buy discrete components when building your own PC?
Google just made a huge change to the way app permissions work on Android. Apps already on your device can now gain dangerous permissions with automatic updates. Future apps can gain dangerous permissions without asking you, too.
Do you have an old desktop PC sitting in a closet somewhere? Put it to use by installing FreeNAS. FreeNAS is a free, open-source operating system that will convert old PCs into network-attached storage devices.
OTR stands for “off the record.” It’s a way to have encrypted private instant message conversations online. It uses end-to-end encryption so your network provider, government, and even the instant-messaging service itself can’t see the content of your messages.
Both Linux and the BSDs are free and open-source, Unix-like operating systems. They even use much of the same software — these operating systems have more things in common than they do differences. So why do they all exist?
Your phone just made a sound, but you’re busy using your PC. Do you pick up your phone, unlock it, and look at the notifications? Don’t bother — just have all your Android notifications appear on your computer.
Chromebooks locally sync some data, so you’ll want to wipe that personal data when selling or passing on your Chromebook. You can also reinstall Chrome OS — particularly useful if you’ve messed around in developer mode.
Only one cash prize went unclaimed at Pwn2Own 2014. All major browsers were hacked, but hackers were unable to claim the $150,000 grand prize for hacking IE 11 secured with EMET. Secure your own PC with EMET today.
Sure, maybe your parents don’t need any help with their PC and your kids are better at technology than you are. But many geeks are called upon to be responsible for a relative’s PC — often after it breaks.
Linux isn’t the only alternative PC operating system out there. Some alternative operating systems are developed by large corporations, while others are small projects worked on by hobbyists.
Tools like ping, traceroute, lookup, whois, finger, netstat, ipconfig, and port scanners are available on nearly every operating system you can get your hands on. They’re used for everything from troubleshooting a connection to looking up information.
Microsoft added User Account Control to Windows in Windows Vista, and it’s still used on Windows 7 and 8 today. UAC restricts what programs can do without your permission.