Author Topic: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)  (Read 6998 times)

babysteps

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Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« on: October 09, 2013, 02:24:16 PM »
Questions:
1-opinions on whether our scenario sounds like a one-time event or a sign of impending doom?
2-if impending doom, what's your advice for low total cost replacement (one that avoids new software as much as possible)? 

The scenario:  Spouse & I got home after 3 weeks away and restarted our desk top computers (we are self employed and work from home, we don't have laptops).  Computer one, no issues.  Computer two started fine (loaded the OS which is Windows XP Pro, logged in the user, updated the anti-virus, etc) but then the monitor went black and the cpu started beeping.  This is a Dell Dimension 8400 (possibly manufactured 2004?).  It has been moved at least 3 times (maybe 4) since we purchased it.

All our data is in the cloud, so figured I didn't have much to lose and used the working desktop to search for solutions.  Among other adventures, I swapped both monitor & keyboard (different beeps, screen still black), opened up the "box" and tried the following (grounding myself frequently & re-starting along the way here and there): popped the back-up battery, vacuumed, plugged & unplugged data connector to hard drive and mother board (also the power to the hard drive), took off & re-seated the memory & sound cards on the mother board (grounding myself frequently), etc. etc.  After several re-starts and a few BSODs, it finally loaded completely and stayed up and going.  The computer has been working fine for 4 days now (including a couple of on-purpose successful re-boots).  I suspect the sound card had gotten loose and was the culprit (after one successful restart, before reseating the cards, plugging the speaker cord in seemed to cause black screen & cpu beeps all over again), but I really don't know enough for anyone to put much store in that opinion!

Would be very happy if the answer is "don't drop it and it should keep working" - we haven't updated software in a while (Office 2003 anyone?) and would be happy to just keep the oldies-but-goodies in place.  If the answer is more "whoa! new-to-you machine ASAP", any advice on transferring apps would be welcome (our old tech guy has about half our software install disks, and he is now 3 states away...).  Not wedded to Windows, but do have a variety of non-MS downloaded apps that would be lovely not to have to track down all our user codes that we kept such careful track of (not).

Thanks :)

sol

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2013, 03:01:44 PM »
Most motherboards will emit specific beep codes for hardware faults, like improperly seated memory or cards.  If you know how many beeps it was doing, the dell website will help you diagnose what it was complaining about.

If it works now, you probably had something loose that got reseated, and you should be fine.  I'd double check your backups, but I wouldn't rush out to buy a new system.

Daley

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2013, 03:16:07 PM »
I'll start by pointing out you mentioned Windows XP. XP is hitting security update end of life next April, which basically means Microsoft is done with support and they're throwing the OS to the vipers and wolves. The age of the systems, the potential inability to be quite up to scratch with Win7/8 support (though it likely wouldn't be by much), the cost of newer Win7/8 licenses, and the shockingly cheap cost of Win7 friendly and pre-loaded desktops tosses some interesting wrenches into the works. Linux distros like Ubuntu might be of interest and use as well, but then you mentioned software you're attached to in the Windows ecosystem.

The answers to your questions ultimately boil down to how much you value you personal time versus cost, how much of that software you can even use on either the Windows 7 or Windows 8 platform (or possibly even WINE emulation under Linux), if there's F/OSS alternatives that you can get for free that replicates that functionality (for example LibreOffice for MS Office 2003) and if they're cross platform or Windows (or Linux) exclusive. Here's some research tools to help on that front to see what your options are:

http://alternativeto.net/
http://appdb.winehq.org/

Whether you're upgrading hardware or installing a new OS though, if there's old paid software you want to keep using, you're going to need the installers and keys. There's hope for recovering the keys without the physical media on the existing system, and there's ways to get a hold of the media itself without contacting your old support guy, but for the sake of safety and security regarding uncompromised code and installers and the whole DMCA/copyright sticky wicket... I'll only address the software to recover the keys:

http://www.magicaljellybean.com/

You can probably read between the lines on the other subject. Your best bet is likely to start looking for F/OSS alternatives (for either platform) or factor the cost of legally upgrading if the alternatives won't cut it.

The fact of the matter is, you can get several nice refurbished Dell, HP and Lenovo (business class) desktops pre-loaded with Win7 and a year warranty for under $200 a pop through Newegg... versus just the cost of the Windows OS itself (plus possible necessary hardware upgrades if even available) if you're sticking with current hardware.

Finally, as a means to perhaps better help make your minds up on direction and current state of hardware starting with a simple visual inspection:

http://www.badcaps.net/pages.php?vid=5

If the visual inspection comes back okay, maybe download, burn and learn to use the following utility which is a useful little tool for identifying hardware issues with hard drives, processors and memory (the three most detectably common failure points in a system - if the mobo is having problems, it will likely show up in one of the extended memory and/or CPU tests):

http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/

Last bit of advice, sometimes hardware failure starts in the power supply. It can be dangerous if you don't know your way around electronics to tear down, inspect and test a PSU... so if you're suspecting it, maybe give this troubleshooting flowchart a try instead to see if you can isolate it:

http://www.fonerbooks.com/power.htm

Given the age, if it is the PSU, you'll have difficulty finding a proper ATX replacement that has the proper voltage rails for an ATX 1.x spec system... though being a Dell, you'll probably want to hunt for a 1:1 matching part as opposed to going generic anyway. Personally? Given the age, I'm suspecting bad caps either in the PSU or on the mobo... but I could be wrong.

Anyway, that should help you make an informed decision on what to do, and help eliminate needing to pay someone else to do it.

daverobev

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2013, 03:24:30 PM »
If you have nothing saved locally just ignore it, it'll keep working until it stops, at which point replace it!

Win XP going out of security... I wouldn't fret too much at all. If it has up-to-date antivirus software and you don't go hunting on dodgy websites...

Spork

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2013, 03:40:21 PM »
If you have nothing saved locally just ignore it, it'll keep working until it stops, at which point replace it!

Win XP going out of security... I wouldn't fret too much at all. If it has up-to-date antivirus software and you don't go hunting on dodgy websites...

as a security guy: I could not disagree more.   You need to replace XP.  And while antivirus is seemingly required on windows computers, it is absolutely 100% easy to take a piece of malware, stir the bits around and get it by any virus scanner.  It's very simple.

I'd also advise against putting all your data "in the cloud".  Other folks don't care as much about your data as you do.   And the NSA has shown that they crawl through pretty much any data stored anywhere with very simple "allow all" FISA warrants.

sleepyguy

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2013, 03:53:51 PM »
I agree, just use it til it dies.  Then personally I would skip a PC and get a business based laptop with a docking station.  Get off-lease Lenovos on their site, wait for good discounts, you can grab a fantastic X201 or X200 w/dock for pretty cheap... like $200-300.  These things are built like tanks and their docking station support dual displays.

Your pc 'death' is most likely a leaking capacitor on the motherboard or a failing HDD.  Not really worth to get repaired unless a friend has spare parts and would do it for free.  If you were around my area I would give you a PC for free :)  I'm in the great white north though :)

babysteps

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2013, 04:18:54 PM »
Thanks everyone for swift, detailed and sound advice, VERY much appreciated.

Sounds like "run it til it dies" is a decent approach for us for now!

Most motherboards will emit specific beep codes for hardware faults, like improperly seated memory or cards.
Yup, that's where I started.  Seemed to be a "can't talk to monitor" fault initially.  When I switched the keyboard I got a different code - made me think it was more about stuff that was loose than it was about a permanent issue.  Especially when plugging the speaker in made the machine crash again!  No beeps about faults since Saturday (well, not so far).  I plugged the speakers in *real* gentle the last time:)


The fact of the matter is, you can get several nice refurbished Dell, HP and Lenovo (business class) desktops pre-loaded with Win7 and a year warranty for under $200 a pop through Newegg... versus just the cost of the Windows OS itself (plus possible necessary hardware upgrades if even available) if you're sticking with current hardware.

This sounds like a good after-it-dies strategy

daverobev

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2013, 04:22:12 PM »
If you have nothing saved locally just ignore it, it'll keep working until it stops, at which point replace it!

Win XP going out of security... I wouldn't fret too much at all. If it has up-to-date antivirus software and you don't go hunting on dodgy websites...

as a security guy: I could not disagree more.   You need to replace XP.  And while antivirus is seemingly required on windows computers, it is absolutely 100% easy to take a piece of malware, stir the bits around and get it by any virus scanner.  It's very simple.

I'd also advise against putting all your data "in the cloud".  Other folks don't care as much about your data as you do.   And the NSA has shown that they crawl through pretty much any data stored anywhere with very simple "allow all" FISA warrants.

Why? What is going to get stolen? What is the *worst* that can happen? Credit card details stolen, identity theft, sure. But a modern browser, AV (and anti-malware, but don't all the free AV progs now come with anti-mal too?) and statistics/lack of stupidity are in your favour.

Just through simple statistics I disagree. If you use one password that is a word and is only the minimum required length for all your online banking... you need help.

Instead of replacing XP:

1. Make sure you're up to date
2. Install and use Firefox
3. Use TrueCrypt to store copies of sensitive documents - bank statements, credit cards, tax returns
4. Use AV and anti-malware software
5. Don't enter personal info unless you are absolutely sure you know where you are!!

Jamesqf

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2013, 04:31:45 PM »
I'd also advise against putting all your data "in the cloud".  Other folks don't care as much about your data as you do.   And the NSA has shown that they crawl through pretty much any data stored anywhere with very simple "allow all" FISA warrants.

My own solution (or the day-to-day part of it) is to back up all the important stuff to the memory card in my cell phone.  I use Linux, so it's basically nothing more than a script that tars, gzips, and transfers the .tgz files.  Since I basically only need to store source code & related stuff, this is only a few Mbytes.  And occasionally I'll put everything on a thumb drive, which I keep at a friend's place.

There's almost certainly a way to do something similar in Windoze.

Spork

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2013, 09:20:28 AM »

Why? What is going to get stolen? What is the *worst* that can happen?

You just want the worst or a list?

I'd say the worst thing is "oops, we don't have your data, but I am sure you have backups, right?"   I can't say for sure what "cloud" we're talking about... but I know of a couple popular clouds this has happened with.  If you've stored family photos, personal records, or anything that is of value to you: you'll likely get a "Sorry, accept this free year of use as our apologies".

prodarwin

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2013, 11:26:55 AM »
A couple notes:

1)  You can roll your own nas/backup/cloud with a Raspberry Pi (or two) pretty cheap.  I'm about to do this.  1 locally, and 1 at my parents house.  Sync the two, then both myself and my parents have backed-up data on and off site.

2)  What on earth do you do for self-employment that using a computer from 2004 and Windows XP is an acceptable solution!?!?

3)  The newegg refurb units posted above are decent.  If you build your own machine, I'd check someplace like this:  http://www.hardware-revolution.com/best-budget-gaming-pc-computer-august-2013/  Its updated often, and even the Tier 0.5 unit can have a pretty useful lifespan.  I built a budget gaming PC in 2008 and am shocked that its still respectably powerful (although energy efficiency is a joke compared to newer processors).

daverobev

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2013, 05:46:58 PM »

Why? What is going to get stolen? What is the *worst* that can happen?

You just want the worst or a list?

I'd say the worst thing is "oops, we don't have your data, but I am sure you have backups, right?"   I can't say for sure what "cloud" we're talking about... but I know of a couple popular clouds this has happened with.  If you've stored family photos, personal records, or anything that is of value to you: you'll likely get a "Sorry, accept this free year of use as our apologies".

That has nothing to do with Windoze XP.

daverobev

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2013, 05:50:16 PM »
2)  What on earth do you do for self-employment that using a computer from 2004 and Windows XP is an acceptable solution!?!?

Holy cow, what on earth needs something more?! I could *happily* work on Win XP self employed... doing website and database stuff. Text editors... image editing... web browsing.. music playing, video playing. The OS doesn't become obsolete. Anything newer than a Pentium M should do most people just fine (Core 2, Athlon X2, whatever).

Video editing, *really* high end photoshop, video gaming... yup. That's all I can think of off the top of my head.

You do NOT need a quad core with 8Gb RAM to send emails!

Spork

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2013, 07:38:37 AM »

Why? What is going to get stolen? What is the *worst* that can happen?

You just want the worst or a list?

I'd say the worst thing is "oops, we don't have your data, but I am sure you have backups, right?"   I can't say for sure what "cloud" we're talking about... but I know of a couple popular clouds this has happened with.  If you've stored family photos, personal records, or anything that is of value to you: you'll likely get a "Sorry, accept this free year of use as our apologies".

That has nothing to do with Windoze XP.

I'm sorry... I wasn't sure which item you were referring to: using the cloud for storage or not maintaining a system.

* the most likely attacks have nothing to do with passwords (though that doesn't mean pick a bad one, it just means "pick a good one and you'll be okay" is terrible advice.)  Most likely attacks will be automated and will depend on known OS/browser issues.  They'll use automated tools -- something like highly automated metaspoit scripts.  The likely scenario for the masses is that you are a commodity stolen computer and are bought/sold for pennies per thousand on the black market.  Yes, this is common.  You become a bot member in a botnet.

What will they steal?  This is a very very quick list... I could probably give you a list of 100 based on real life stuff I deal with.
* cpu cycles/power:  your cpu cycles are worth something.  Mining bitcoins via massively parallel botnets are the current trend, but there are many choices here.
* you are an attack vector for criminals: you're part of a DoS attack; you're part of a massive "fish for valuables" attack on your local system (bank accounts; porn - especially any naughty bits you've taken personally, or web cam access if someone wants to watch you.)  Just because you don't store things locally doesn't mean you don't store some credential to access things in the cloud.  You become a proxy for doing criminal activity (child porn, hop off to hack others, etc).  These types of activities are both "not a good neighbor" for the rest of the internet and they can get your door kicked in by the authorities even though you are innocent.  You'll eventually get off, most likely, but it will be a pain in the ass.
* stealing trust - your email/facebook/IM/phone contacts are stolen and they pose as you to your friends to scam them.  Again: you lose nothing, but your friends have the potential to lose a lot.
* Not really botnet related but: you become a pawn in a CSRF attack.  Malicious javascript uploaded to a web site that doesn't validate their code well may make your system execute things towards a 3rd party site.  Something like: you go to facebook and mysteriously you make an automated click/transfer on your bank account.  This is not likely to be seen by anti-malware/anti-virus.  It's javascript, most likely sitting in an ad on a side panel on a well known, trusted web site.  (There are TONS of browser updates a year to fix similar issues.)

These are just the most common things I can pop off in 30 seconds for a system "with nothing on it" (and no system has nothing on it... there are minimally cached items, cookies, etc).  I could go on. 

Source: 20+ years as computer security nerd, SANS certified penetration tester.

daverobev

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2013, 08:56:40 AM »

Why? What is going to get stolen? What is the *worst* that can happen?

You just want the worst or a list?

I'd say the worst thing is "oops, we don't have your data, but I am sure you have backups, right?"   I can't say for sure what "cloud" we're talking about... but I know of a couple popular clouds this has happened with.  If you've stored family photos, personal records, or anything that is of value to you: you'll likely get a "Sorry, accept this free year of use as our apologies".

That has nothing to do with Windoze XP.

I'm sorry... I wasn't sure which item you were referring to: using the cloud for storage or not maintaining a system.

* the most likely attacks have nothing to do with passwords (though that doesn't mean pick a bad one, it just means "pick a good one and you'll be okay" is terrible advice.)  Most likely attacks will be automated and will depend on known OS/browser issues.  They'll use automated tools -- something like highly automated metaspoit scripts.  The likely scenario for the masses is that you are a commodity stolen computer and are bought/sold for pennies per thousand on the black market.  Yes, this is common.  You become a bot member in a botnet.

What will they steal?  This is a very very quick list... I could probably give you a list of 100 based on real life stuff I deal with.
* cpu cycles/power:  your cpu cycles are worth something.  Mining bitcoins via massively parallel botnets are the current trend, but there are many choices here.
* you are an attack vector for criminals: you're part of a DoS attack; you're part of a massive "fish for valuables" attack on your local system (bank accounts; porn - especially any naughty bits you've taken personally, or web cam access if someone wants to watch you.)  Just because you don't store things locally doesn't mean you don't store some credential to access things in the cloud.  You become a proxy for doing criminal activity (child porn, hop off to hack others, etc).  These types of activities are both "not a good neighbor" for the rest of the internet and they can get your door kicked in by the authorities even though you are innocent.  You'll eventually get off, most likely, but it will be a pain in the ass.
* stealing trust - your email/facebook/IM/phone contacts are stolen and they pose as you to your friends to scam them.  Again: you lose nothing, but your friends have the potential to lose a lot.
* Not really botnet related but: you become a pawn in a CSRF attack.  Malicious javascript uploaded to a web site that doesn't validate their code well may make your system execute things towards a 3rd party site.  Something like: you go to facebook and mysteriously you make an automated click/transfer on your bank account.  This is not likely to be seen by anti-malware/anti-virus.  It's javascript, most likely sitting in an ad on a side panel on a well known, trusted web site.  (There are TONS of browser updates a year to fix similar issues.)

These are just the most common things I can pop off in 30 seconds for a system "with nothing on it" (and no system has nothing on it... there are minimally cached items, cookies, etc).  I could go on. 

Source: 20+ years as computer security nerd, SANS certified penetration tester.

Sure. I'm just saying that throwing away a good computer, or going through the major headache of installing Linux (source: tried it many many times), is not guaranteed to protect you. Statistics are more likely to, running an up to date browser (not OS! - don't get me wrong, I *know* XP is not 'as good' as 7), etc - not doing silly things. Dodgy stuff on Facebook?

1. Don't use facebook!
2. Use Adblock plus and flashblock and turn off third party cookies!

Ah... yeah. Anyway. I mean, I look at the processes running on my computer to try and find ones to disable so I know I'm not 'normal' ;)

prodarwin

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2013, 09:06:33 AM »
Sure. I'm just saying that throwing away a good computer, or going through the major headache of installing Linux (source: tried it many many times), is not guaranteed to protect you. Statistics are more likely to, running an up to date browser (not OS! - don't get me wrong, I *know* XP is not 'as good' as 7), etc - not doing silly things. Dodgy stuff on Facebook?

New versions of IE don't work with XP.  I believe Firefox is no longer supporting XP as well.  Not sure about other browsers.

2)  What on earth do you do for self-employment that using a computer from 2004 and Windows XP is an acceptable solution!?!?

Holy cow, what on earth needs something more?! I could *happily* work on Win XP self employed... doing website and database stuff. Text editors... image editing... web browsing.. music playing, video playing. The OS doesn't become obsolete. Anything newer than a Pentium M should do most people just fine (Core 2, Athlon X2, whatever).

Video editing, *really* high end photoshop, video gaming... yup. That's all I can think of off the top of my head.

You do NOT need a quad core with 8Gb RAM to send emails!

I thought website/database stuff would require modern browsers (see above).

I understand some could happily work on win XP and an old machine... great.  Just wondering what type of work they do.  All of the work I do benefits greatly from 64 bit OS and modern processors (and modern video cards).  Also exchanging files with others requires you to have remotely recent versions of the software - which is not supported on XP.


Spork

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2013, 09:17:13 AM »


Sure. I'm just saying that throwing away a good computer, or going through the major headache of installing Linux (source: tried it many many times), is not guaranteed to protect you. Statistics are more likely to, running an up to date browser (not OS! - don't get me wrong, I *know* XP is not 'as good' as 7), etc - not doing silly things. Dodgy stuff on Facebook?

1. Don't use facebook!
2. Use Adblock plus and flashblock and turn off third party cookies!

Ah... yeah. Anyway. I mean, I look at the processes running on my computer to try and find ones to disable so I know I'm not 'normal' ;)

Oh Linux isn't that hard.  (source: I've run some form of unix desktop as my only desktop since 1990.)  It is no harder to install than windows.  It's no harder to run, it's just what you're used to.  (My 80+ year old dad and mother in law run it and don't know they're doing so.)   But there is nothing wrong with running a properly maintained version of Windows, either.

But you're missing the point:  the point is that an unmaintained computer (Windows, Linux, SunOS, AIX, Apple, and on and on) is asking for problems.  It's like an unmaintained car or an unmaintained house.

Do you think that browser doesn't have hooks into the OS?  It does.  Do you think running firefox will fix it?  Check out the NSA's recent foxacid man-in-the-middle attacks on a big chunk of the population.  Yes, that deals with specific versions of FF rolled into certain distributions... but organized crime does the same stuff and does it for every browser, often using unpublished 0days.

Facebook is a big pile of steaming hacks... but so are any sites with app plugins (including smartphones).  So are any sites with Ads.  Yes adblock plus is a gem and will mitigate a lot.  So does noscript.  So does ForceTLS.  So does removing Java and anything adobe...  So do a lot of third party add-ons... but now you're probably outside the realm of "normal user."  And limiting the sites they can go to to "amazon.com and your bank" (or some other short list of "known good sites") isn't overly useful either.

If you're not updating the OS, the "safe" way to do it is to run an air gap to the internet and refuse any removable media... but that's not an overly useful system.  Telling someone they'll be fine with no updates is not good advice.  There are a whole host of commonly used exploits for all the dead OS's: win98, win2k, NT, and even old SunOS and Linux releases.. They're awesome exploits because they're against static systems that cannot and will not change.

Daley

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2013, 09:32:21 AM »
Sure. I'm just saying that throwing away a good computer, or going through the major headache of installing Linux (source: tried it many many times), is not guaranteed to protect you. Statistics are more likely to, running an up to date browser (not OS! - don't get me wrong, I *know* XP is not 'as good' as 7), etc - not doing silly things. Dodgy stuff on Facebook?

1. Don't use facebook!
2. Use Adblock plus and flashblock and turn off third party cookies!

The problem with your advice is that you're still relying on an EOL operating system to be able to run these "up to date" browsers, and your advice does nothing to address the very real security vulnerabilities that exist independent of the browser itself in relation to being a networked system and the OS hooks in these apps back to them. Even ignoring those factors, what happens when Mozilla decides to drop XP binary support because Microsoft dropped support? It'll be a 13 year old OS when it goes end of life, it's an OS that's already rapidly rocketsledding towards below 10% marketshare, and nobody will want to use it for the very sound reasons Spork outlined above. It costs money and time to support applications for an end of life OS and I reasonably suspect that Mozilla and other browser companies are not going to waste their time as long supporting it after going EOL as they did Windows 2000 due to the not insignificant changes between it and more modern Windows platforms.

Neither Spork or myself are advocating electronic waste and relegating potentially perfectly good hardware to the dust heap of time and consumerism (even though there's a very solid chance that there's very real hardware failure issues on the horizon for Babysteps), but that's what Linux is for if you really don't want to abandon legacy hardware. Installing Linux is not a major headache unless you have horribly unsupported hardware or refuse to learn something new, and even if there's problems, if you insist on running legacy hardware until the failure point, it is worth learning how to run it (no matter how difficult you think it may be) just for the increased security of switching away from an OS that's got a security history reminiscent of Swiss cheese being left to the whims of skiddies and organized crime.

I don't discount that even after EOL, an XP box could meet the needs of someone doing work. It's one thing to take that risk for yourself with a networked machine and only your data. Unfortunately, if you're doing work for anyone other than yourself, you have a responsibility for data integrity and security on your machine for your clients. To ignore that responsibility is irresponsible.

Ah... yeah. Anyway. I mean, I look at the processes running on my computer to try and find ones to disable so I know I'm not 'normal' ;)

Good thing there aren't any rootkits that won't show up as a rogue process and viruses have never been known to name themselves svchost.exe, eh?

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2013, 10:01:00 AM »
Neither Spork or myself are advocating electronic waste and relegating potentially perfectly good hardware to the dust heap of time and consumerism (even though there's a very solid chance that there's very real hardware failure issues on the horizon for Babysteps), but that's what Linux is for if you really don't want to abandon legacy hardware.

Indeed. 
My progression of old computers is something like this:
* main destop (or laptop): usually purchased new or new-ish.  Often its supplied by my employer.  If I buy it new, it's middle of the line.  I usually get 5-8+ years out of them before they go to...
* experimental box or server.  Maybe not enough cpu to run modern graphics.  Often I'll keep these for years.  (I think I had a POS hand me down Pentium II running headless until 2003ish when it was replaced by a POS hand me down Celeron.)  These eventually get old enough that they become...
* big pile of parts in the attic.  Often 2 or 3 broken computers can be cobbled together to make one working one.... even if they can't you'd be surprised how many times I've gone crawling through the attic to find some oddball part for myself, someone else or my employer.  If I were to guess, I'd bet that there's still a uucp connection at my old employer running on a junk modem that used to be mine.

daverobev

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2013, 12:37:29 PM »
Fair enough guys - the counter argument is something like the newest exploits will target what there is most of around (ie, nobody bothered with Mac PPC - if you could get a half decent browser on a G4 or G5 I'm sure you'd be 'pretty safe'). IE your iPhone is probably 'higher risk' through stupid fart apps..

Rootkits - that wasn't *quite* the point I was making, but sure.

Anecdotal evidence which is not proof: I don't know anyone that's suffered credit card theft or fraud. The one time I did was... after I bought something on a train. Hence my main point - the statistics are with you, keep sensible passwords, and don't worry too much.. and don't go to dodgy websites!

Firefox v24 still works on XP SP2+

I hear you, I really do. And in terms of linux being easy I've been unlucky in that most computers I've installed it on have had some issue - either no sound and no driver, or some other crappy thing. I tried Redhat recently and found the (Windows 8-like) UI horrible, and the whole thing to be slow. I know, I can just make xfce run instead but I've never known how to do that without having to find some xconf file which is different on every distro and... yeah. Anyway.

Spork

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #20 on: October 11, 2013, 01:09:47 PM »
Anecdotal evidence which is not proof: I don't know anyone that's suffered credit card theft or fraud. The one time I did was... after I bought something on a train. Hence my main point - the statistics are with you, keep sensible passwords, and don't worry too much.. and don't go to dodgy websites!

Credit card fraud is more likely to be done on the server side.  And, it doesn't hurt the single user much.  You claim fraud, they drop the charge.  PITA, but... not a biggie.  Crooks bust into servers and grab tens of thousands of CCs and sell them on the black market for pennies each.  I've personally watched (through semi-legal methods when tracking bad people) people dump thousands of them.  And I mean all the CCs in the databases of MANY web sites... one right after the other.

Firefox v24 still works on XP SP2+

It's still a supported OS until April 2014.  Things will taper off after that.

I hear you, I really do. And in terms of linux being easy I've been unlucky in that most computers I've installed it on have had some issue - either no sound and no driver, or some other crappy thing. I tried Redhat recently and found the (Windows 8-like) UI horrible, and the whole thing to be slow. I know, I can just make xfce run instead but I've never known how to do that without having to find some xconf file which is different on every distro and... yeah. Anyway.

UIs seem to be really personal preference.  That said: I am not a fan of the newer UIs either, mostly because it's not what I am used to.  I run Mint/Mate because it backported the UIs I was used to, which was gnome2.

I consider Redhat (as in Redhat proper or CentOS) to be more of a server box -- and more of a commercial box.  I'd expect most Redhat folks to be running without a UI and to be uncaring about sound.  If you're interested in a desktop, I've had more recent success with ubuntu and ubuntu variants.  (Mint is an ubuntu variant, but with some added packages and some UI backports).  Most (but not all) of my ubuntu experiences worked out of box.  Brand spanking new hardware can be a pain.  Sometimes new chipsets take a while to be picked up.

daverobev

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #21 on: October 11, 2013, 01:28:02 PM »
Really not a fan of Ubuntu (what was it, amazon search? And all the politics.. ugh). I did put Mint on my old netbook and I think it works ok - it's just slower than XP. I don't leave my computers running, so boot time can be a factor.

You're right - it probably wasn't Redhat per se, I just forget which desktop version it was. CentOS is probably right.

Spork

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #22 on: October 11, 2013, 02:02:50 PM »
Really not a fan of Ubuntu (what was it, amazon search? And all the politics.. ugh). I did put Mint on my old netbook and I think it works ok - it's just slower than XP. I don't leave my computers running, so boot time can be a factor.

You're right - it probably wasn't Redhat per se, I just forget which desktop version it was. CentOS is probably right.

That's the first time I've ever heard that complaint.  But configurations/hardware varies, so it's believable.  I know I'm the only one in my office that runs a linux desktop... and my boot/shutdowns are much faster than the ones around me.  (That probably isn't fair to windows though.  The folks around me have a corporate image that is very bloated.)

As for the Amazon search in Unity Dash... I can't stand Unity either.  If I used it, I'd just disable that.

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #23 on: October 11, 2013, 06:13:11 PM »
Appreciate all the advice!  We have an engineer friend who's a big fan of Linux, might have to bring him into the mix.  So far the near-death machine continues to behave, so loose sound card remains my best guess.  But thanks to you all we are now much better prepared :)

2)  What on earth do you do for self-employment that using a computer from 2004 and Windows XP is an acceptable solution!?!?

Real estate investing.  My super-duper excel spreadsheets run fine ;)  We don't play games on the computer (well, beyond the occasional spider solitaire...) or download movies, mostly just do spreadsheets, word docs, lots of email, some basic photos and 2-D graphics (Adobe Illustrator or online free floorplan software).  Barely stream audio or watch youtube for that matter.  Plenty of web surfing, we're mostly using Chrome.  I copy and paste cc#s and other account numbers from an excel file when doing online transactions - not foolproof, but at least is tough for keystroke grabbers to figure out.

We did just get back from a trip where we made (an avocational) wine-related presentation off the spouse's android phone (including video) direct to the sound system & projector.  A couple extra converter/connector cords and all worked great!  That may be better technology than our desk tops ;)  We acted as trip escorts so paid only for our air, yay!

I can't say for sure what "cloud" we're talking about... but I know of a couple popular clouds this has happened with. 

We use Jungledisk (sister company to or product name of Rackspace)
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 06:17:52 PM by babysteps »

Jamesqf

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Re: Computer replacement advice (following near death experience)
« Reply #24 on: October 11, 2013, 08:54:05 PM »
Really not a fan of Ubuntu (what was it, amazon search? And all the politics.. ugh).

Me either, mostly because they seem to be trying to turn it into a free version of Windoze.  I was a Unix user long before there even was a Windows, and like my FVWM UI, which is in no way Windows-like.

Quote
I did put Mint on my old netbook and I think it works ok - it's just slower than XP. I don't leave my computers running, so boot time can be a factor.

An SSD is your friend here :-)