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Connecting old Windows to the Internet is dangerous. Upgrade to Linux urgently!My site detected you're using an old Windows 2000, XP or Vista computer, and I'm worried about your safety. Microsoft's security blog said:
When Microsoft releases a security update...criminals will...identify the specific section of code that contains the vulnerability...develop code that will allow them to exploit it on systems that do not have the security update installed on them. They also try to identify whether the vulnerability exists in other products...if a vulnerability is addressed in one version of Windows, researchers investigate whether other versions of Windows have the same vulnerability...the Microsoft Security Response Center...[releases] security updates for all affected products simultaneously...But after April 8, 2014, organizations that continue to run Windows XP won't have this advantage over attackers any longer. The very first month that Microsoft releases security updates for supported versions of Windows, attackers will reverse engineer those updates, find the vulnerabilities and test Windows XP to see if it shares those vulnerabilities. If it does, attackers will attempt to develop exploit code that can take advantage of those vulnerabilities on Windows XP. Since a security update will never become available for Windows XP to address these vulnerabilities, Windows XP will essentially have a ``zero day'' vulnerability forever.This also applies to Windows Vista (which was end-of-life'd on April 11, 2017) and to Windows 2000 and earlier.
What does this mean?Attackers typically scan across the whole Internet to find computers they can attack. Being `insignificant' does NOT mean you'll escape. Simply connecting your computer to the Internet will be enough for them to break in and:
- Steal your bank details
- Steal your contact list, sending malicious material to your friends in your name
- Use your computer as a springboard to attack another target or conduct other criminal activity, potentially getting you blamed for it
What can I do?My suggestion is GNU/Linux, specifically a ``beginner-friendly'' version like wattOS-LXDE R9 which fits on a CD-ROM and is easily upgradeable. (R10 had some minor problems, so I recommend an R9 CD for offline installs and upgrading online as described below. But if R9's kernel fails to recognise a laptop's USB ports, you could also try Lubuntu 18.04 LTS if you can boot from DVD instead of CD; use the 64-bit version if you can because adding 64-bit architecture to the system later can be a hassle.)
- Back up all your documents before you try migrating your computer to Linux. You can do this while trying Linux without installing, but remember it's slow when not using your hard disk.
- If you don't have a CD, you can try "UNetbootin" to set up a USB stick (and wattOS R9 has no trouble installing from USB stick, unlike some versions), or borrow a USB CD reader
- On old Pentium M machines you might need the forcepae boot option. On newer machines you might need to disable "Secure boot" in the BIOS.
- If WiFi doesn't work, try Preferences / Additional Drivers and see what package it needs. If you don't have a wired Internet connection to install these, you'll have to open a Terminal and do apt-get -y --print-uris bcmwl-kernel-source or similar, possibly correct the resulting URLs (e.g.
linux-libc-devis now in the security updates section of Ubuntu 14.04) and bring them on storage media.
- If the @ and " keys are swapped (and if this bothers the user), try sudo dpkg-reconfigure keyboard-configuration
- Upgrade is recommended for online use: R9 was based on Ubuntu 14.04 which was supported by the security team until April 2019, whereas 16.04 is supported until 2021 and 18.04 until 2023 (and should be easily upgradeable thereafter).
- As root, type do-release-upgrade to reach 16.04
- apt-get install lxsession-logout linux-generic-hwe-16.04 to avoid 16.04's "hung shutdown" bug associated with kernel version 4.4.0
- Optionally do-release-upgrade again to reach 18.04, in which case you might also need apt-get remove resolvconf
- For Chinese fonts, sudo apt-get install fonts-wqy-microhei; for pinyin input, sudo apt-get install fcitx-rime (defaults to Traditional; add Simplified via librime-data-pinyin-simp and the HK variant of Cangjie via librime-data-quick5), or for limited single-character handwriting input, sudo apt-get install tegaki-recognize tegaki-zinnia-simplified-chinese and add it as an icon on the application launcher
- Some users might also want brasero for writing CDs, wine for running legacy Windows applications, and libreoffice (if it crashes try turning off Java in its Preferences, and don't forget to install myspell-en-gb for British spelling). Also vlc for playing videos (and doing this from inside Firefox may require ubuntu-restricted-extras).
- Developers: if you've installed the 32-bit version, but have a 64-bit CPU and later want to compile for it, try:
dpkg --add-architecture amd64
apt-get install linux-image-generic:amd64
apt-get install gcc:amd64 cpp:amd64 gdb:amd64
If you've upgraded to 16.04, you will likely also need linux-generic-hwe-16.04:amd64 gcc:amd64 cpp:amd64 gcc-5:amd64 cpp-5:amd64 binutils:amd64 g++:amd64 g++-5:amd64 lxrandr:amd64 x11-xserver-utils:amd64 which in 16.04 is somehow incompatible with
libtool(frequently required by
autogen.shfiles in source packages) so you might need temporarily to switch back to a 32-bit-only compilation environment in those circumstances, or use conan.io etc instead of autogen.
What if I don't want to install GNU/Linux?Then you will likely need a new computer if you wish to continue to use the Internet. Your old computer can perhaps be put to good use by someone who doesn't use the Internet, or by a trustworthy GNU/Linux expert (I say `trustworthy' because they can sometimes recover confidential things you thought you'd deleted). I am not able to give computer buying advice at this time; you could try asking someone who knows the shops in your area. I recommend not choosing Windows.
All material © Silas S. Brown unless otherwise stated.
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Linux is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the U.S. and other countries.
Microsoft is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp.
Wi-Fi is a trademark of the Wi-Fi Alliance.
Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corp.
Any other trademarks I mentioned without realising are trademarks of their respective holders.