Geeks often describe programs as being “open source” or “free software.” If you’re wondering exactly what these terms mean and why they matter, read on. (No, “free software” doesn’t just mean that you can download it for free.)

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The media is full of reports saying Android malware is exploding and that Android users are at risk. Does this mean you should install an antivirus app on your Android phone or tablet?

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If you’re just getting started with Android, its customizability can seem a bit daunting. We’ll walk you through customizing your Android home-screen, taking advantage of widgets, and getting third-party launchers with more features.

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Several times a year, Google releases a new version of Android with new features and performance improvements. Unfortunately, most Android devices in the wild will never get the update.

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Android has taken huge strides since Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but many devices are still using it. If you can’t upgrade your old device, there are ways to make it feel more modern.

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Android 4.2 improves on Android 4.1 in numerous ways, adding a variety of new features. Android 4.2 isn’t as big an update as Android 4.1, also called Jelly Bean, but it’s a definite improvement.

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Want to try out Ubuntu, but not sure where to start? There are lots of ways to try out Ubuntu – you can even install it on Windows and uninstall it from your Control Panel if you don’t like it.

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Is Windows, Linux, Android, or another operating system using a lot of RAM? Don’t panic! Modern operating systems use RAM as a file cache to speed things up. Assuming your computer is performing well, there’s nothing to worry about.

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If you need to install Windows or Linux and you don’t have access to a CD/DVD drive, a bootable USB drive is the solution. You can boot to the USB drive, using it to run the OS setup program, just like a CD or DVD.

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Some people think that task killers are important on Android. By closing apps running in the background, you’ll get improved performance and battery life – that’s the idea, anyway. In reality, task killers can reduce your performance and battery life.

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There are a wide variety of Linux distributions, but there are also a wide variety of distributions based on other Linux distributions. The official Ubuntu release with the Unity desktop is only one of many possible ways to use Ubuntu.

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Ubuntu 12.10 has been released and you can download it now. From better integration with web apps and online services to improvements in Unity, there are quite a few changes – although none of them are huge or groundbreaking.

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Upgrade to Ubuntu 12.10 (Quantal Quetzal) and you’ll run into a surprise – Ubuntu now shows you advertisements for Amazon products when you search in your dash. There’s also an Amazon shortcut pinned to Unity’s launcher.

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ADB, Android Debug Bridge, is a command-line utility included with Google’s Android SDK. ADB can control your device over USB from a computer, copy files back and forth, install and uninstall apps, run shell commands, and more.

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Migrating to another virtual machine program can be intimidating. if you already have your virtual machines set up they way you like them, you don’t necessarily have to install them from scratch – you can migrate your existing virtual machines.

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Android includes a built-in way to back up and restore the contents of your phone or tablet. All you need is a computer and a device running Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or newer.

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Linux’s terminal commands are powerful, and Linux won’t ask you for confirmation if you run a command that will break your system. It’s not uncommon to see trolls online recommending new Linux users run these commands as a joke.

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On Linux, the Root user is equivalent to the Administrator user on Windows. However, while Windows has long had a culture of average users logging in as Administrator, you shouldn’t log in as root on Linux.

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Many new laptops come with NVIDIA’s Optimus technology – the laptop includes both a discrete NVIDIA GPU for gaming power and an onboard Intel GPU for power savings. The notebook switches between the two when necessary.

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When you create a virtual hard disk in VirtualBox or VMware, you specify a maximum disk size. If you want more space on your virtual machine’s hard disk later, you’ll have to enlarge the virtual hard disk and partition.

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VirtualBox and VMware both create virtual machines with the NAT network type by default. If you want to run server software inside a virtual machine, you’ll need to change its network type or forward ports through the virtual NAT.

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There are plenty of NZB Indexers out there such as NZB Matrix and NZBs(dot)ORG , but they only index SOME of Usenet. Here’s how to build your own indexer so you can index what you want.

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Do you store sensitive files on Dropbox or another cloud storage service? Encrypt them with EncFS for Linux, an encrypting file system that transparently encrypts and decrypts each individual file with your encryption key. There’s also an experimental Windows build.

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Want to secure your SSH server with easy-to-use two-factor authentication? Google provides the necessary software to integrate Google Authenticator’s time-based one-time password (TOTP) system with your SSH server. You’ll have to enter the code from your phone when you connect.

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Google Now, new in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, is Google’s attempt to be smarter. It includes cards that automatically provide you with information and voice search integrated with Google’s knowledge graph to provide direct answers to your questions.

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