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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+.

Unlike other tablets, the Nexus 7’s home screen is locked in portrait mode by default. If you’re using an app in landscape mode and hit the home button, you’ll have to flip your tablet around to read the home screen.

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If you’re a Linux user, you may have seen zombie processes shambling around your processes list. You can’t kill a zombie process because it’s already dead – like an actual zombie.

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Have you ever noticed that your browser sometimes displays a website’s organization name on an encrypted website? This is a sign that the website has an extended validation certificate, indicating that the website’s identity has been verified.

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Windows 8 allows third-party browser to replace Internet Explorer in the Metro environment — except on Windows RT. You can use Google Chrome in Metro today, and Firefox for Metro is on the way.

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IPv4 addresses on the public Internet are running low. Microsoft paid $7.5 million for Nortel’s 666,624 IP addresses when Nortel went bankrupt in 2011 – that’s over $8 an IP address. IPv4 has technical problems, and IPv6 is the solution.

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Install Ubuntu’s new web app feature – included by default in the upcoming Ubuntu 12.10 – to see unread email in your messaging menu, control music playing on websites from the sound menu, and more.

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We’ve recently been hearing about tracking cookies and laws in the European Union forcing websites to explain their use of cookies to their visitors. If you’re wondering what cookies are and what all the fuss is about, you’re not alone.

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When a Linux system boots, it enters its default runlevel and runs the startup scripts associated with that runlevel. You can also switch between runlevels – for example, there’s a runlevel designed for recovery and maintenance operations.

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The X server on Linux provides your graphical desktop. If it crashes, you’ll lose all unsaved work in graphical programs, but you can recover from the crash and restart the X server without restarting your computer.

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Many Linux users reboot into Windows to watch Netflix, but you can watch Netflix on Linux without rebooting. Unfortunately, the solution here is inefficient – while Linux geeks have explored a variety of other clever solutions, none of them work.

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On Linux, the magic SysRq key can send commands directly to the Linux kernel. You can use it to recover from freezes or cleanly restart your system, even if nothing appears to be responding.

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You’ve probably heard that it’s important to use your display’s native resolution – assuming you’re using an LCD flat-panel monitor instead of an ancient CRT monitor. With a LCD, using a lower resolution will result in inferior image quality.

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When you put your PC into sleep mode, it normally waits until you press a button before it wakes from sleep – but you can have your PC automatically wake from sleep at a specific time.

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If you’ve used Ubuntu a while, you might remember GNOME applets – icons that sat on your panel and gave you access to controls and information. If you miss panel applets, try installing third-party indicator applets for Ubuntu’s Unity desktop.

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By default, Ubuntu uses a two-finger tap for right-click and a three-finger tap for middle-click on laptop touchpads. You can swap this behavior, but Ubuntu doesn’t provide a graphical utility for configuring it.

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Linux is very flexible, but the amount of power it puts at your disposal can sometimes be overwhelming. These quick tricks for your Linux desktop will give you something you can put to use immediately.

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The Ubuntu Software Center is a solid, user-friendly application, but sometimes you need more power. The Synaptic package manager – previously included with Ubuntu by default – can do many things the Ubuntu Software Center can’t.

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You’ve probably heard that you always need to use the Safely Remove Hardware icon before unplugging a USB device. However, there’s also a good chance that you’ve unplugged a USB device without using this option and everything worked fine.

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Ubuntu, like many other Linux distributions, is a community-developed operating system. In addition to getting involved and submitting patches, there are a variety of ways you can provide useful feedback and suggest features to Ubuntu.

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While Ubuntu One might seem like a Ubuntu-only file synchronization service, it’s more than that – you can use Ubuntu One on Windows, Android, iOS, and from the web. Ubuntu One offers 5GB of free storage space to everyone.

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You may have seen instructions that tell you to “uncomment” or “comment out” lines in a configuration or source code file. This is a simple process, but may not be self-explanatory to people that don’t understand the file’s structure.

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AppArmor locks down programs on your Ubuntu system, allowing them only the permissions they require in normal use – particularly useful for server software that may become compromised. AppArmor includes simple tools you can use to lock down other applications.

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AppArmor is an important security feature that’s been included by default with Ubuntu since Ubuntu 7.10. However, it runs silently in the background, so you may not be aware of what it is and what it’s doing.

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VPNs and SSH tunnels can both securely “tunnel” network traffic over an encrypted connection. They’re similar in some ways, but different in others – if you’re trying to decide which to use, it helps to understand how each works.

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VLC includes a fairly easy-to-use streaming feature that can stream music and videos over a local network or the Internet. You can tune into the stream using VLC or other media players.

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