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Lowell Heddings

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

How many times have you been right in the middle of doing a thousand things on your computer and your friend or significant other wants to use the computer to look something up? You are worried that they are going to close the entire browser session when they are done, cause they don’t know what they are doing and won’t just close the tab.

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Since upgrading to XP SP2 a long time ago, I constantly get nagged by a popup message that tells me my computer might be at risk because I don’t have an antivirus software installed. Here’s how to turn off that annoying message.

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When you are using a laptop with Ubuntu, you will probably see a battery icon near the clock, or a power plug icon if you have it plugged in:

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Displays that constantly turn off drive me crazy. I like to be able to walk by my computer and immediately see what is on the screen without it turning blank. Thankfully Ubuntu provides a way to easily configure this setting.

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Enabling remote desktop mode is extremely easy on Ubuntu since Dapper. You can allow other users to access your desktop using the VNC Viewer utility that is bundled with Ubuntu, or offered as a free download for Windows.

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When you have automated backup jobs running on your database server, sometimes you forget that they are even running. Then you forget to check to see if they are running successfully, and don’t realize until your database crashes and you can’t restore it since you don’t have a current backup.

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If you do a lot of work with SSH servers through an SSH client, it’s extremely annoying to get timed out all the time by the server. There’s a simple way to fix this problem in SecureCRT.

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If you are coming from Windows, you are probably familiar wtih adding a shortcut to the Startup folder in the Start menu so that the program will start after you log in.

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If you are using a desktop computer, chances are that you don’t want the computer to go to sleep automatically. This is even more the case if you are running Windows 7 or Vista in a virtual machine for testing purposes.

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Ubuntu’s software package installation uses a list of repositories that house the various updates and software that you can install. By default, the repository list doesn’t include a lot of the 3rd party tools that you might want to install.

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VMware Workstation provides a great ability to create shared folders so that your virtual machine can easily access data on your host pc. This saves a lot of time, especially when you are installing software that would otherwise take a long time to download.

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I don’t personally use the Windows Mail client that comes with Windows Vista, but while I was researching how to use it to access my Gmail locally, I discovered a nice option in the Junk Email Options pane.

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Box.net offers 1GB of free online storage, accessible from anywhere. I use them to back up important files like ebooks I’ve paid for and don’t want to lose. Which got me thinking… how to access my files directly from Ubuntu?

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One of the nicest features of Ubuntu Linux is the automatic update feature, which helps you keep your computer updated with the latest software and security updates. There’s also a nice GUI tool that helps you configure how often updates are checked, and can even automatically download the new updates.

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VMware includes the ability to copy and paste to and from your virtual machine window. To enable this, you will need to install the VMware tools inside your virtual machine.

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The file browser in Ubuntu provides the ability to run scripts on a selected file. These scripts can be used to do anything from opening a file to zipping or uploading, or anything that you can do from the command line.

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Telling what version of Ubuntu you are running is extremely easy. You would commonly use this command to figure out if you are running Edgy after you upgraded from Dapper.

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Update: If you have VMware Workstation version 5.5.3, you will want to follow the updated guide. If you are using version 5.5.2 or below, continue on.

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Ubuntu Linux, like all unix varieties, includes the du command line utility. du stands for Disk Usage, as I’m sure you assumed.

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Ubuntu Linux includes a great Disk Usage Analyzer GUI tool that will let you figure out what files and folders are taking up all the space on your hard drive. This is one of those great little tools that should be bundled with every operating system.

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When you are creating a new Windows Forms application, it isn’t immediately obvious how to get a configuration file for your application. Your application configuration file is supposed to be called executablename.exe.config, and should be in the same directory as your application in order for the .NET framework to automatically use it.

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Ubuntu Linux has an option for font smoothing that isn’t turned on by default for some strange reason. This makes fonts significantly smoother, enough to be very noticable.

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Most people realize by now that using instant messaging from work can be easily tracked and logged. If you have access to an SSH server anywhere (mine is at my house) then you can setup a quick SOCKS proxy to forward all of your traffic through your home SSH server, and your employer won’t even know that you are chatting by monitoring the network.

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Linux has a rich command line experience that can sometimes be a little daunting for people switching over from Windows. Displaying the list of recent commands is pretty simple, though:

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Important Note: According to the Ubuntu Help:

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