Windows: Change Default Action for Blank CD

August 1, 2007 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Windows | Leave a comment

Sometimes simple answers to problems can be a pain in the rear to find, this is one of them.

A step by step guide:
1 – open my computer
2 – right click the cd drive and open properties from the menu
3 – in the proprties popup click the autoplay tab
4 – select Blank CD from the pulldown menu
5 – in actions select the “prompt me each time to choose an action” dot
6 – hit “OK”


10 minutes to run every Windows app on your Ubuntu desktop

July 5, 2007 at 4:03 am | Posted in Ubuntu, Windows | Leave a comment

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This simple guide will bring up the Windows start menu inside GNOME and allow you to run, use and install any Windows app (that can run in a VM) inside your existing desktop. It takes about 10 minutes to setup, minus the time to install Windows, and involves one command in total.

Update: If you’ve been having trouble getting this working, make sure they key is correct – our fixed width site layout chopped the last part of the registry key earlier. Note this requires Windows XP Pro. XP home won’t do.

This is a newer version of a rather popular article I wrote a while ago. This updated version is a lot simpler and allows multiple apps to be run.
Click System → Administration → Synaptic Package Manager. Install the vmware-server and rdesktop packages

Click Applications → System Tools → VMware Server Console

When VMware Server Console starts, click Connect to attach to your local machine. Then Create a New Virtual Machine. Use all the defaults, but pick NAT networking. Pop in your Windows CD, and install Windows

Once Windows has started:

Enable Terminal Services by clicking Start → Control Panel → System. Click the Remote tab, and enable Allow users to connect remotely to this computer

Turn off the desktop for the user you’ll use to run your Windows apps, by clicking Start → Run typing regedit and selecting HKEY_CURRENT_USER/Software/Microsoft/Windows/ CurrentVersion/Policies/Explorer. Create a DWORD called NoDesktop set to 1.

Note the IP address of Windows. Clicking Start → Connect to → Show All Connections. Select the Local Area Connection and hit the Support tab
Download SeamlessRDP, then extract it to C:\seamlessrdp

Log out of Windows, and close VMware Server Console (leave the VM running)

Back in Ubuntu, open a Terminal, and run:

rdesktop -A -s ‘c:\seamlessrdp\seamlessrdpshell.exe c:\windows\explorer.exe’ IPAddress -u user -p password
substituting the IP address you noted earlier.

The top of the Windows taskbar should appear above your GNOME panel on the bottom of the screen. Right click it, select Properties, and disable Lock the Taskbar. Then drag the taskbar to the left hand side of your screen.

That’s it. You can now run launch any Windows app you want from your VM (and install more if you need them). They’ll appear on the GNOME desktop, and you can switch between them from the panel.

Xming + Putty = Run your home linux apps on a remote windows machine

June 29, 2007 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Linux, putty, Windows, xming | 5 Comments

Search on the internet, and you see tonnes of pages and complaints and rants on “I can’t run my windows programs on linux!” Well, what if you’ve never been comfortable in windows, or you’ve finally transitioned to linux and you need to use your linux apps? In actual fact, there is a solution to this, a quick, easy and portable one.

(note: this tutorial is not how to install linux apps on your windows installation; rather it deals with running your linux apps remotely from your linux box using ssh – so it does not work if you dual boot. Although this method does have its disadvantages, such as the need to have your linux machine on, it is useful for remote administrating, and it allows almost any linux app to run with your local settings stored in your home directory)

Equipment needed:

  • Xming – a X11 server for windows (tis is portable so you can carry it around on your flash drive)
  • Xming Portable PuTTY – SSH client for windows (in case you hadn’t noticed, also portable)
  • openSSH Server for linux
  • A linux machine
  1. First off, make sure openSSH server is installed on your linux machine, and if not install it (this differs for each distro; on ubuntu use sudo apt-get install openssh-server or use synaptic)
  2. Thats it, its set up on the linux end! test it by opening up a terminal and typing “ssh -X user@localhost” where user is your username. It should prompt you for a password and start a new session.
  3. If you want to ssh into your linux machine remotely (over the internet) be sure to set up port forwarding to forward port 22 from your router to your linux server.
  4. Now, in windows download and install Xming and Xming Portable PuTTY. Once done navigate to your Xming directory as shown below

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5. Click on Xlaunch and the following wizard should appear – follow the screenshots to setup your X-server

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6. Here type in the name of your terminal emulator (gnome-terminal if you’re using gnome or konsole if you’re using KDE). Then select PuTTY and in connect to computer type in either: the ip address of the local computer if you are in your local area network OR type in the IP address of your LAN if you are accessing it over the internet (this can be found by going to from your LAN). Then enter your usename and password OF YOUR LINUX MACHINE and click next.

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7. A dialog will pop up looking for PuTTY. Navigate to the directory you installed it to and double click on plink.exe

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8. Finish the wizard, and accept the security certificate, click ok to the error that always seems to come up and your terminal should appear! (click pic to enlarge)

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9. From this terminal you can launch any of the apps you’ve got installed on your linux machine. ITS THAT EASY!

How To Secure Windows, The Open Source Way

November 1, 2006 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Open Source, Security, Windows | 2 Comments

Many of us FOSS lovers get stuck behind a Windows box, some of us love the idea of FOSS but can’t seem to move off Windows. We get stuck using proprietary anti-spyware tools, anti-viruses, browsers, and firewalls. The open source community provides us with tools to get away from that finally. But don’t be mistaken, these tools are not perfect. They are not competition for Ad-Aware, Spybot, AVG, Avast, Kaspersky, etc.. yet. But if used properly along side of safe browsing habits you shouldn’t have much to worry about. I’ve gone for as much as 6 months using these tools and these tools alone, then went back and installed AVG and ran a scan and came up clean. Spybot did pick up a few pieces of spyware though but only tracking cookies.

WinClam Anti-Virus

Based on Clam for Linux, this anti-virus will run on Windows 98-2003. The good side about clam is that it updates very regularly. More so than any anti-virus I’ve come across. The bad side? No real time scanner (but that can be fixed, see WinPooch below, and no heuristic-based detection.). Another con, scheduled scans of large directories can take a very long time. It does have right click scan integration with Windows Explorer though as well as integration into MS Outlook to detect viruses as they come in to your e-mail.


Winpooch is more focused on spyware and trojans. It is a Windows watchdog, free and open source. Anti spyware and anti trojan, it gives a full protection against local or external attacks by scanning the activity of programs in real time. This application monitors your registry and main system folders for changes, and lets you approve or deny these changes.

If you go into winpooch settings, it has an option to hook an anti-virus, currently Clam is the only anti-virus I’ve known for it to hook. Once Clam is hooked into Winpooch, it turns clam into a real time scanner. So say you’re installing a program that drops some files in System32, Winpooch will ask to you allow or deny this, and Clam will now scan those files for potential threats. It’s a rather seamless process.

Winpooch uses the API Hooking method. It spies programs when they are running and gives to the user a powerful control of their activity.For example, you can forbide a program to write in a system directory or in the registry, or else to connect to internet. That makes the difference between others anti spywares using a database of known signatures.

Now we all know that staying away from IE6 is a good thing, no matter if you’re on IE7, Opera, Firefox or something else for that matter, but Firefox’s extensions afford us an opportunity the others do not.


is an extension that scans every downloaded file automatically with ClamWin and giving you the option to keep or delete the file. Unfortunately they have not updated this to work with Firefox 2.0, so it’s still a 1.5.x thing folks.


is an extension that allows JavaScript, Java and other executable content only for trusted domains of your choice, e.g. your home-banking web site.
This whitelist based preemptive blocking approach prevents exploitation of security vulnerabilities (known and even unknown!) with no loss of functionality.


This extension will allow you to easily control cookie permissions. It will appear on your statusbar. Just click on the icon to allow, block, or temporarily allow the site to set cookies. You can also view or clear the cookies and exceptions by right clicking on the statusbar icon. For safer browsing you may choose to deny cookies globally and then enable them on a per site basis.


This extension segments the cache on the basis of the originating document, defending against web privacy attacks that remote sites can use to determine your browser history at other sites. For example, a image appearing on an page would have a separate cache entry from the same image appearing on a page, so cannot use timing techniques to determine if you have visited before. Checks cookie settings (allow, originating site only, deny) to determine your desired privacy level (segmented cache, cache originating site only, or never cache).


This extension restricts the marking of visited links on the basis of the originating document, defending against web privacy attacks that remote sites can use to determine your browser history at other sites. A link on pointing at will only be marked visited if you previously visited the page with a referrer in the domain of On-site links work normally. Checks cookie settings (allow, originating site only, deny) to determine your desired privacy level (segmented by origin, don’t mark links visited in offsite frames, or never mark links visited).

TdiFw Firewall

Now I personally just use the Firewall that’s provided in SP2. I see no need for dual applications on my system, but many would like an open source alternative, and that’s where TdiFw steps in (horrid name). It is a s a simple TDI-Based Open Source Personal Firewall for Windows NT4/2000/XP/2003.

and I think that covers all of our bases. Remember, no matter what tools you have installed the number 1 way to secure yourself is knowing what and what not to click on. Point blank. You can have the best tools out there, but nothing is going to replace safe browsing and downloading habits.

Also, if you’d like to have an encrypted virtual disk to keep your data from prying eyes (on a USB stick or on your hard-drive), be sure to check out my tutorial on installing TrueCrypt on Windows

How to Setup TrueCrypt for Windows

October 15, 2006 at 10:08 pm | Posted in TrueCrypt, Windows | 5 Comments

This is to help those step by step understand how to install and use TrueCrypt.

It’s probably best to start from scratch. I’m going to do what you requested.. a more detailed HowTo… with screenshots and this is just “my” recommendation on how to do it. Also for the example, i will not be using a USB key (as i don’t feel like messing mine up for this), but the pricinple is exactly the same.

1. Download the file and unzip it. In the truecrypt folder you will have a setup folder.
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2. Within that folder you have the TrueCrypt Icon. Click on that
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3. Click on Create Volume
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4. I pick “Hidden” here.
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5. Pick a TrueCrypt Volume then a hidden volume within it.
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6. I always do a file, rather than the entire volume. I don’t do this just because i find it easier, but because a random file is less likely to cause suspicion. Name it something like me.bmp or phonenumbers.txt. Since i’m doing this on my hard-drive, i used system.txt in my Windows directory. You can create the file manually outside of TrueCrypt and just select the file.
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7. Just an introduction to creating the Outer Volume, hit Next.
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8. I use this parcticular encryption method because it’s the most secure, that being said, it’s also the slowest to respond. The program gives you a description of each, so this is your choice.
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9. I’m making the file size small for the example only. If you were doing this on a USB key, i’d give yourself at least 10-20mb breathing room so the key can hold the True crypt folder later on.. or just act as a normal USB key without the use of Truecrypt if you so like. So if you have a 512 MB key, make it 490 max, if 1GB, make it 980 or so.
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10. Set your password, try to make it alpha numeric and don’t use common words. Also don’t forget it.
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11. Formatting preferences, the defaults here are usually ok.
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12. This is just an intro to create the Hidden Volume, within the Outer Volume, hit next.
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13. another intro, hit next
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14. Select the encryption method for the hidden volume, again, the better the encryption the slower your volume will be.
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15. This is the size of the hidden volume within the outer volume. I just accept the maximum size.
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16. Create the hidden volume password. again, alpha-numeric. It’s best practice to not have this be the same as the outer volume, but it doesn’t have to be.
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17. Formatting the hidden volume, hit format. and that’s it. It’s created. The menu will re-pop up to start yet another new outer one. You can just cancel that and go back to the main menu.
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18. Back at the main menu, first select the drive letter you wish to host the hidden volume at. Then select the hidden file we created.
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Click Mount, enter your password, and now that drive should appear as a hard-disk under My Computer.

For future use, i’d place the unzipped true crypt folder on the USB key, but not in the hidden volume. Just go to My Computer, select your removable disc, and paste the folder there for future use.

Hope this helps.

Quick How To Speed up Win XP

October 8, 2006 at 1:58 pm | Posted in Windows | Leave a comment

Increase Virtual memory/Paging File

Also ensure your paging file is at least double your RAM. In windows do the following:

Control Panel
Administrative Tools
Computer Management

Right Click Computer Management Icon at the top
Advanced Tab
Performance Settings button
Virtual Memory Change button
Change the Initial Size of the paging file (make sure Max size is more than initial).

Hit Ok. Ok. Ok. Restart.

This will increase your virtual memory on the machine, which can speed things up a bit at times.

Get rid of un-necessary effects
1. Right click on your desktop, change XP theme to use Windows Classic
2. Go to the Appearance tab; Effects Button
3. Make sure these are unchecked:
Use the following transistion effect for menus and tooltips
Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts
show shaddows under menus
Show window contents while dragging

This will change alot of the same settings as above, and more:
1. Open Control Panel from the Start menu and choose System
2. Choose the Advanced tab.
3. Select the Settings button under the Performance section.
4. Check the Adjust for best performance box and click Apply to apply the settings.
5. Alternatively, you can choose the Custom, open, you can then selectively enable or disable each specific effects.

Start Menu and Taskbar

Context click (usually known as Right click) on the Windows XP Start button and choose Properties from the contextual menu.
1. Choose Classic Start Menu
2. Click the Customise button
3. Select the Show Small Icons in Start Menu option
4. Unselect any other items that you don’t use often.

Folder Options

1. Open My Computer
2. Open the C: Drive or any other drive
3. Choose Folder Options from the Tools menu
4. Select Use Windows classic folders
5. Select the View tab.
6. Unselect the "Automatically search for network folders and printers" option.
7. Click Apply
8. Click the Apply to All Folders button
9. Click OK.

Disable Messenger Service
Control Panel
Administrative Tools
and disable MESSENGER service

Disable as many start up items as possible
Type msconfig
Startup Tab
Uncheck all familiar items you know you do not need. If you are unsure, probably best to look it up (Google) to see what it is. Stuff like MS Office, OpenOffice quick starter, AIM, HP printing services, iTunes, Real, all should be unchecked.

Windows Server Hacks: Remotely Enable Remote Desktop

June 18, 2006 at 2:01 am | Posted in Remote Control, Windows | Leave a comment

Courtesy of O’Reily

1. Sit down at your desk and log on to your Windows XP workstation using your administrator credentials and start Registry Editor by Start –> Run –> regedit –> OK. Then select the Connect Network Registry option under the File menu,

2. This opens the Select Computer search box. Either browse Active Directory to locate the remote server, or type its name in the textbox

3. Click OK and a node will be displayed in Registry Editor for the remote machine

4. Now browse HKLM on SRV to find the following Registry key

HKLMSYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlTerminal Server

5. Under the Terminal Server key, you’ll find a REG_DWORD value named fDenyTSConnection. Double-click on that value to open the Edit DWORD Value box and change the value data from 1 (Remote Desktop disabled) to 0 (Remote Desktop enabled)

6. From the command prompt type: shutdown -m \computername -r

The remote machine needs to be rebooted for the change to take effect, so open a command prompt and type the following command:

7. After the remote machine reboots, Remote Desktop should be enabled on it. To test this from your workstation, open Start –> All Programs –> Accessories –> Communications –> Remote Desktop Connection, enter the name of the remote server in the Remote Desktop Connection logon box, supply your administrator password when prompted, and you’re in.

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