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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+.

The first thing any Linux user does after installing Linux is installing their favorite packages. Ubuntu makes this easy by syncing your installed applications between computers. And terminal users can install their favorite packages with a single command.

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Windows comes with a variety of ways to rename multiples files at once from Windows Explorer, the Command Prompt, or PowerShell. Whether you’re looking for an easy-to-use graphical interface or a powerful command-line method, you’ll find it here.

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Have you ever wondered how the “Most Visited” bookmarks folder included with Firefox works? It’s not just a special-cased folder – it takes advantage of the Places database introduced in Firefox 3, and you can create your own smart bookmarks.

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Both Chrome and Firefox can restore bookmarks you’ve deleted, but Chrome doesn’t make it easy. Chrome contains a single, hidden bookmark backup file. The backup file can only be restored manually and is frequently overwritten.

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Whether you’re overclocking your computer, comparing different systems, or just bragging about your hardware, a benchmark can help you quantify your computer’s performance. Windows has a large ecosystem of useful benchmarking applications, and many of them are free.

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Linux’s command-line utilities can do anything, including perform benchmarks – but using a dedicated benchmarking program is a simpler and more foolproof process. These utilities allow you to perform reproducible tests across different systems and configurations.

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Why guess at the performance of your device when you can run some tests and get detailed statistics? These apps test your device’s CPU, GPU, and other hardware components – in addition to your browser.

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If you’re a Linux user, you’ve probably seen references to both sudo and su. Articles here on How-To Geek and elsewhere instruct Ubuntu users to use sudo and other Linux distributions’ users to use su, but what’s the difference?

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Whether we’re comparing Firefox to Chrome or testing the real-world speed benefits of a 64-bit browser, I see a lot of comments saying one browser feels faster. When people compare web browsers, they don’t usually perform rigorous benchmarks.

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The Linux terminal has rich multitasking capabilities. You can switch between the virtual consoles already running on your system, use Bash job control to run processes in the background, and take advantage of GNU screen, a terminal “window manager.”

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Classic Shell is an open-source utility that brings classic Windows features to newer versions of Windows. It offers the most classic Start menu for Windows 8 yet, and it lets you avoid the ribbon with a Windows Explorer toolbar.

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Send to Kindle for PC makes it easy to put content on your Kindle, whether it’s a free ebook or a Word document. You can also email files to @Kindle.com or transfer them over USB, the old-fashioned way.

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Ubuntu includes Déjà Dup, an integrated backup tool, but some people prefer Back In Time instead. Back In Time has several advantages over Déjà Dup, including a less-opaque backup format, integrated backup file browser, and more configurability.

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We’ve covered a lot of tips, tricks, and tweaks for Windows 8, but there are still a few more. From bypassing the lock screen to instantly taking and saving screenshots, here are a few more hidden options and keyboard shortcuts.

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There’s more to using the Linux terminal than just typing commands into it. Learn these basic tricks and you’ll be well on your way to mastering the Bash shell, used by default on most Linux distributions.

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This article is for Windows users – 64-bit Linux distributions include 64-bit browsers, so you don’t have to do anything special on Linux.

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Android’s default browser, named “Internet,” is a very simple browser that’s tied to your Android OS version. Other, third-party browsers offer more powerful interfaces, greater configurability, and more frequent updates.

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If you long for the days of GNOME 2 and just can’t get along with Unity or GNOME 3, MATE is here to save you. It’s an actively developed fork of GNOME 2, and it’s easily installable on Ubuntu.

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APTonCD is an easy way to back up your installed packages to a disc or ISO image. You can quickly restore the packages on another Ubuntu system without downloading anything.

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There are several different ways to create custom Ubuntu live CDs. We’ve covered using the Reconstructor web app in the past, but some commenters recommended the Ubuntu Customization Kit instead. It’s an open-source utility found in Ubuntu’s software repositories.

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Window Maker is a Linux desktop environment designed to emulate NeXTSTEP, which eventually evolved into Mac OS X. With its focus on emulating NeXTSTEP, it eschews the task bars and application menu buttons found in many other lightweight desktop environments.

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Windows includes Shutdown.exe, a simple utility for remotely shutting down or restarting Windows computers on your local network. To use Shutdown.exe, you must first configure the PCs you want to shut down or restart remotely.

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You can even create pools of storage larger than the amount of physical storage space you have available. When the physical storage fills up, you can plug in another drive and take advantage of it with no additional configuration required. Storage Spaces is similar to RAID or LVM on Linux.

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ImageMagick is a suite of command-line utilities for modifying and working with images. ImageMagick can quickly perform operations on an image from a terminal, perform batch processing of many images, or be integrated into a bash script.

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Whether you’re an inexperienced terminal user or a grizzled veteran, you won’t always know the right thing to type into the Linux terminal. There are quite a few tools built into the terminal to help you along.

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