Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry 10 aren’t the only smartphone operating systems vying for a place in your pocket. There are other smartphone operating systems in development — and they’re all Linux-based.

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Linux is easier to install and use than ever. If you tried installing and using it years ago, you may want to give a modern Linux distribution a second chance.

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All mainstream desktop operating systems include powerful search features. They all offer the ability to create a “saved search,” which functions as a virtual folder. The saved search folder appears to contain the files that match your search.

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Computers need cooling to remove the heat their components generate during use. If you’re building your own PC — especially if you’re overclocking it — you’ll need to think about how you’ll cool it.

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Each network interface on your computer or any other networked device has a unique MAC address. These MAC addresses are assigned in the factory, but you can change, or “spoof,” MAC addresses in software.

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System images are complete backups of everything on your PC’s hard drive or a single partition. They allow you to take a snapshot of your entire drive, system files and all.

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Homegroups and network file sharing make it easy to access your PCs file from another PC on the same local network, but accessing your PC’s files over the Internet takes a bit more setup.

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Laptops aren’t as easy to upgrade as desktop PCs. In fact, newer laptops are becoming harder to upgrade — but you still may be able to upgrade your laptop with more RAM or a solid-state drive.

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There are many ways you can play those Windows PC games on your Mac. After all, Macs have been standard Intel PCs that come with a different operating system preinstalled since 2006.

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Connect a Chromebook to a Windows network and you may be in for a surprise. Your Chromebook can’t access shared folders or network printers, whether they’re shared from a Windows, Mac, or Linux system.

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It’s important to secure your wireless network with WPA2 encryption and a strong passphrase. But what sorts of attacks are you actually securing it against? Here’s how attackers crack encrypted wireless networks.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Reach your Chromebook’s storage limit and you’ll start seeing errors when downloading and creating files. This isn’t hard to do, as Chromebooks often come with only 16 GB of internal storage.

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iPads and iPhones don’t have file systems you can see, but there are still apps and files eating up space. You can see exactly what’s consuming that limited space and free it up.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Computer networking is filled with jargon that isn’t self-explanatory. Here’s a quick overview of many of the terms you’ll see when you glance at the network status information on any device.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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