Hints for Older Micrososft Windows Based Computers.

Introduction: Hints for Older Micrososft Windows Based Computers.

About: computoman.blogspot.com Bytesize articles instead of a trilogy in one post.

Dragged the old Microsoft Windows XP (now, no longer supported) box out of the closet and wondered what I could do with it. Here are some interesting examples.This instructable is probably for medium to advanced users

Be sure to keep your system (operating system, virus detection, software, and etc) up to date

Step 1. Simple multimedia server.
Step 2. Update, your CPU.
Step 3: Get to a 'nix box.
Step 4. External antivirus tools.
Step 5. Science projects
Step 6. Multimedia via Xmbc.
Step 6. Firefly- daap music server.
Step 7. Opensource alternatives

Will be adding more later.

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Step 1: Simple Multimedia Server.

If you do not need a fancy media server then the logitech media server aka squeezebox is a good choice.You can get fancy equipment from logitech, but they are nice enough to allow you to use their software lon a server. The software I think is available for the tradiotnal platforms. We will be using linux and an old Pentium two computer.

You need two pieices of software depeding on what your system had. Our pentium II is a minimal command line headless box.Do not let the command line scare you. Once we do the install everything will be done from a web browser.

Get the squeezebox software for the 32 bit intel based computer.  (http://www.mysqueezebox.com/download)

Install the software.(you may need administrator's rights.)

Run LogitechMediaServer-7.7.3.exe

Make a directory to hold your media,

 md   c:\var\media\

Copy your media files to that folder. (It is ok to use sub-folders.)

Now to the web.

Point your browser to squeezeboxhostname using a port of 9000.

In my case:


You will need to setup a username and password if you do not already have one.  There is a like to the site to do that.

Log in:

Then you can set things up to look at the directory you setup to hold your media.  Then just modify the settings to what you prefer.
Save them.

Add the media to the play list. It is all point and click.

S that takes care of the server side.

Now you need to go to your media player, In my case it was an Insignia infocast with third party firmware. You will go to where the squeeeze box application is.Enter in the address of your server.

In my case it is:


Spelling is critcial here.

Now just tell your squeezebox client to play. Voila you have media. In my case it was music files.being played.

Step 2: Update, Your CPU.

Do this at your own risk. Best to let a professional do it.

It is not so true today but on the older pentium two and three computers it was very easy to swap out the Cpu's to get greater speed. I have an old Dell GX110 that had a cpu that was only 733 Megahertz. I was able to swap out the Cpu and get the speed up to 800+ megahertz. Upgrading the memory if you can is also a big help.

Note: another reason to keep old computers for spare parts.

Step 3: Get to a 'nix Box.

Unix ( i.e. unix, linux, BSD, and etc.) based computer are becoming prevelent. Many linux administrators do not like use the Samba or Mocrosoft compatible protocols. With Winscp, you can get around aall that and talk to the 'nix boxes directly. In some cases you may find file transfers are a lot faster. winscp should be able to ssh into the nix boxes so you can easily do administration task.
You cqn get the software at: http://winscp.net/eng/download.php

Step 4: External Antivirus Tools.

Having worked as an Microsoft administrator for many years. if you need to deal with viruses, it is better to not do it within Microsoft Windows. Viruses have become so sophisticated, Even bit defender can not always do a good job.There are so many third party products, you will wnt to try them yourself to see which one you prefer.


Step 5: Science Projects

Step 6: Multimedia Via Xmbc.

The installation of XBMC for Windows is straightforward like most other Windows applications. After the installation you can immediately start using XBMC, all you need is in the program. You can use the keyboard to walk through XBMC.

Download the latest version from http://xbmc.org/download/ and install it. For most users the offered default settings are sufficient, if not, change them accordingly.

To start XBMC find it under the Windows Start button in a Program Group called XBMC.

Add one or more sources in Videos, Music and/or Photos, see Media Sources and you are ready to play your media.

1 Uninstalling of XBMC for Windows

Go to "Add or Remove Programs" in the "Control Panel" under Windows then choose to remove "XBMC".

2 Upgrading XBMC for Windows

Unless your copy of XBMC is more than two years old, simply installing a newer version of XBMC over an older version should cause no problems. If you are upgrading your copy of XBMC, it is ALWAYS recommended that you backup your data. This can be performed by:

Follow the same process for backing up your Music Library by clicking Music rather than Video in Step 2.

Step 7: Firefly- Daap Music Server.

Formerly itunes compatible:
  • Firefly is the fastest performing standalone music server on the market today.
  • Firefly is free!
  • Firefly is simple to set up - just point it at the folder containing your music!
  • Firefly imports the iTunes music library structure, so iTunes users will see all their playlists (even Smart Playlists!) available when using Firefly - even when iTunes is not running.
  • Firefly runs in the background, out of the way, and can be configured to start automatically.
  • There is a system tray icon (Windows) or Preference Pane and menu bar Status Item (Mac) to allow for quick and easy configuration.
  • Firefly supports many audio formats - MP3, AAC, and WMA. FLAC and OggVorbis are supported on Windows, and Apple Lossless is supported on the Mac.
  • Firefly runs on Windows, Mac and Linux; and it is open source software which allows for community participation
. http://soundbridge.roku.com/support/dwnld_firefly.php

Step 8: Open Source Alternatives.

Save big bucks by using open source alternatives

1. Firefox
Replaces Internet Explorer
If you haven’t switched to Firefox for your web browsing needs, do it now. It stops annoying popups and it has tons of amazing plugins that can make surfing the web even better. I could evangelize all day about Firefox, but one thing’s for sure: the first thing I do on any new Windows machine is run Internet Explorer just long enough to download Firefox.

2. Thunderbird
Replaces Microsoft Outlook or Eudora
Thunderbird is an email client that has five big things going for it: it’s free, it’s full featured, it’s lightweight and runs quick, it has an unparalleled spam filter, and it protects you from those ridiculous phishing attacks by clearly indicating which emails send you to a bogus website. If you’re not already using a web-based email solution, Thunderbird should be your client.

3. Sunbird
Replaces Microsoft Outlook’s calendaring functions
Might as well get the Mozilla trifecta out of the way by mentioning Sunbird, which is the Mozilla Foundation’s calendaring program. It’s extremely easy to use (I figured out everything I needed in a minute or two) and easy to share your calendar with others. I consider a calendaring tool to be essential if you’re using a laptop, and this is no different.

4. Abiword
Replaces Microsoft Word
Want a good word processor but find Microsoft Word too expensive? AbiWord is my favorite replacement for Word. It’s lightweight (meaning it runs quickly) and includes pretty much every feature that I use regularly in a word processor, plus it can save files in formats that you can exchange with Word and WordPerfect users, plus open any of their files, too.

OpenOffice logo5. OpenOffice (also consider Libreoffice:www.libreoffice.org/
Replaces Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint
If you want to replace the rest of the Office suite, your best bet is OpenOffice. It includes very nice replacements for Excel and PowerPoint (and workable replacements for Access and other Office elements). In fact, I actually prefer their Excel and PowerPoint replacements to the real thing.

6. ClamWin
Replaces Norton AntiVirus or McAfee
ClamWin is a slick anti-virus software that’s quite easy to manage and is unobtrusive while keep your system free of viruses. That’s pretty much all I want from a package, so why pay money for McAfee to keep bugging me all the time?

Gaim logo7. Gaim
Replaces AIM, Windows Messenger, etc.
This is a very clean instant messaging program that allows you to be on AOL Instant Messenger, Windows (MSN) Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger simultaneously with one program. There are other free packages that do this, but Gaim is stable and clean and simple.

8. BitTorrent
Original but essential
From their website, “BitTorrent is a peer-assisted, digital content delivery platform that provides the fastest, most efficient means of distributing, discovering, and consuming large, high-quality files on the Web. Our mission is simple: to deliver the content that entertains and informs the digital world.” In other words, BitTorrent allows you to download large media files and also use your bandwidth to help others download these files. Search for media files you want and download ‘em.

9. GIMPShop
Replaces Adobe Photoshop
This is a version of the GNU Image Manipulation Program that does a pretty solid job of imitating Adobe Photoshop – a regular user of Photoshop (like me) can adapt to it quite quickly. It’s very richly featured and runs quite well – in fact, I see no reason to ever go back, even if Photoshop were free.

10. Gnucleus
Replaces LimeWire, BearShare, etc.
Sure, LimeWire and BearShare are free, but why not just get the same basic software without all of the spyware? Gnucleus is pretty much identical to those software packages – but without all that extra junk that slows down your computer.

11. VLC Media Player
Replaces Windows Media Player, Quicktime, RealPlayer, etc.
If you get tired of having tons of media players on your computer, get this package that runs pretty much every media type you’ll run across without breaking a sweat.

Juice logo12. Juice
Unique but essential
Juice lets you effortlessly subscribe to podcasts, organize them, and listen to them at your convenience. In conjunction with PodNova, I find it easier to use Juice to organize podcasts than using iTunes itself.

13. Audacity
Unique but essential (for some)
If you’re interested in recording your own podcast (or just want to make your own voice recordings for whatever reason), Audacity and a microphone are pretty much all you need to get the job done. I’m not much for podcasting (let’s just say I don’t have a radio voice), but I use Audacity for other voice recording purposes.

RSSOwl logo14. RSSOwl
Unique but essential
RSSOwl is one of many open source RSS readers. In other words, it enables you to use one program to keep track of the content of a lot of different blogs; if you read a lot of blogs, it’s the only way to keep tabs on all of them without devoting hours jumping from site to site. If you have a laptop, it’s preferable to using sites like Bloglines, but if you’re on a desktop, a web-based feed manager might be better.

15. Filezilla
Replaces WinFTP
Many people occasionally have a need to FTP files to other computers; if you ever have the need to transfer files in such a fashion, FileZilla will do the job slickly and quickly.

16. Keynote
Unique but essential
Keynote is basically designed specifically for the task of taking notes on a laptop. If you ever find yourself in a meeting or a presentation with your laptop open and want to jot down notes and organize them just a bit, Keynote is unquestionably the program for you. It’s not good at quality word processing, but that’s not the point. In my professional work, I find myself using Keynote almost as often as any other utility.

17. MusikCube
Replaces iTunes
If you’re not already committed to downloaded music from the iTunes Music Store, then MusikCube is the best choice available for a music organizer and player. It organizes your mp3s, makes it really easy and really fast to find them, and allows you to make some incredibly clever smart playlists.

18. Handbrake
Unique but essential
Handbrake enables you to stick a DVD in your DVD drive and have the contents of that film stored to your hard drive in a form that can be read by pretty much any media player. I often use it to put a few movies on my laptop for travel purposes, so I don’t have to worry about keeping track of DVDs while on the road.

19. X-Chat 2
Replaces mIRC
X-Chat is a free IRC client. For those unfamiliar with IRC, it’s a place for technical people (and, as my wife loves to point out, nerds) to meet and discuss topics in an open environment. I often find it very useful when piecing through difficult technical issues.

KeePass logo20. KeePass
Unique but essential
KeePass is a program that securely stores and manages the abundance of passwords we all use on a daily basis. I have literally hundreds of usernames and passwords spread out all over the place; KeePass keeps them all for me and keeps them safe.

21. TrueCrypt
Unique but essential
TrueCrypt enables you to convert a memory stick into a strongly encrypted data storage device, meaning that you can store personal data on it without worrying about losing it and having personal information get out and about. I use it to keep some of my most personal data off of my laptop and strongly secured, just in case.

22. PDFCreator
Replaces Adobe Acrobat
PDFCreator creates a virtual printer on your computer that, if you print a document to it from any program, creates a PDF of that document that can be read on any computer with Acrobat Reader on it. After installing PDFCreator, all you have to do is print like normal and out comes a PDF!

23. Freemind
Unique but Essential
Freemind is a “mind mapping” software program. In essence, it enables you to brainstorm and link together ideas quickly, creating “maps” of concepts similar to what you might do on a whiteboard. I find it incredibly useful when putting together ideas for new posts or planning small projects or assembling the backbone of a writing project.

24. NASA Worldwind
Replaces Google Earth
WorldWind is very similar to Google Earth in that it allows you to browse the globe. While it isn’t strong for creating maps (but why not just use Google Maps for that?), it is utterly incredible for viewing three-dimensional landscapes of any place on earth.

25. Notepad2
Replaces Notepad
Notepad2 is a replacement for the traditional Windows Notepad that just adds a few sweet little features: multiple documents; line, word, and character counts; and some highlighting of tags. In fact, I’m using Notepad2 as I draft this post (after using Freemind to organize it).

26. HealthMonitor
Unique but useful
HealthMonitor enables you to keep an eye on the health of your computer. It identifies slowdowns and other system issues quickly and lets you know (for example, it gives a popup if your system memory gets to a certain percentage of fullness, or if your hard drive has only 10 GB free). This can keep you out of trouble and also give you clues to problems your machine might be having.

27. Workrave
Unique but useful
Sometimes late into a writing session, my wrists get sore from too much repetitive movement. Workrave basically jumps in before this happens and locks down the computer for a while, preventing me from working too much and causing repetitive stress injury. Since I’ve started using it, it hasn’t significantly hurt my productivity at all and my wrists are thanking me!

28. GanttPV
Replaces Microsoft Project
If you do any project management (or have a need to dip your toes in the water), GanttPV does a brilliant job of managing the task quickly, easily, and freely. If you need to move to MS Project later, you can export from GanttPV to Project, but once you start digging into GanttPV, you’ll likely have no reason to use Project.

29. GnuCash
Replaces Microsoft Money or Quicken
GnuCash is a slimmed-down version of the bloated Microsoft Money and Quicken packages, but it contains all of the features I want for managing my money. The interfaces are incredibly simple – it functions much like a checkbook ledger on your computer – but there’s a lot of meat hidden throughout the software.

30. True Combat: Elite
Replaces Quake IV, Halo, etc.
After all this downloading, you’re going to need to blow off a little steam, and I’ve yet to find a more enjoyable free game than this one. It’s basically a third person combat game, but the graphics are spectacular and the game is quite engrossing.

If you’ve downloaded and installed all of these, you’ve got access to all the productivity software you’ll likely need, clean and open and best of all free.

Step 9:

NOTE: Try this at your own risk. I will not be responsible for any issues.

To my knowledge there are no traditional viruses within linux. You do have rootkits, but that is another subject (rtkhunter and chkrootkit can be used). What we want to do here is to be able to defend against Microsoft Windows viruses. This is especially important if you run WINE (wine is not an emulator), Crossover office, or other Microsoft compatible software on linux. It is also important if you need to detect for an MSWindows virus using a machine that normally can not be susceptible to MSWindows viruses. Case in point. I was over at my brothers place spending the night when I brother was frustrated because he could not get rid of an MSWindows virus on MSWindows 7 using the great Microsoft anti-virus product. Here is sort of an outline we did to deal with the problem. Apparently his daughter brought home a thumbdrive that had a Microsoft type virus.

We plan to use Clamav for at least minimal checking. Some of the features of clamav are:

And just for some entertainment value, here’s a couple features of ClamAV.

    * Command-line scanner
    * Quick, multi-threaded daemon with support for on-access scanning
    * milter interface for sendmail
    * Advanced db updater with support for scripted updates and digital signatures
    * C library virus scanner
    * On-access scanning (Linux® and FreeBSD®)
    * Virus db updated multiple times per day
    * Built-in support for various archive formats, including RAR, Tar, Gzip, Zip, Bzip2, OLE2, Cabs, CHM, BinHex, SIS and others I dont know
    * Built-in support for many mail file formats
    * Built-in support for ELF executables and Portable Executable files compressed with UPX, FSG, Petite, NsPack, wwpack32, MEW, Upack and obfuscated with SUE, Y0da Cryptor and others
    * Built-in support for popular document formats like MS Office and MacOffice files, HTML, RTF and PDF

If you do not understand what all the features are for, do not worry. Just to say it is good for free.

Step 1: Installation.

Picture of Installation.
Command line install of Clamav for linux. (you can go to the package manager and install these programs also)

Install ClamAV, the daemon, and freshclam.

$ sudo apt-get install clamav clamav-daemon clamav-freshclam

The daemon allows the software to run in the background.

Update virus definitions after installation.

$ sudo freshclam

if you want the gui, then you might install:
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install clamtk

You will want to do an update:

$ sudo freshclam

      ClamAV update process started at Wed Jul 22 00:31:50 2009
      main.cvd is up to date (version: 51, sigs: 545035, f-level: 42, builder: sven)
      daily.cvd is up to date (version: 9604, sigs: 56154, f-level: 43, builder: ccordes)

 Note:  Proxy settings can be added if needed in the file /etc/clamav/freshclam.conf by adding the following info


Step 2: Virus check.

Picture of Virus check.
Perform a scan for viruses in your home folder only in verbose mode.

$ sudo clamscan -r /home/[homename]

   or to perform a scan on all system files, only printing infected files to the screen.

$ sudo clamscan -r -i /

Scan a thumb drive. (This is what I had to do) Most linux boxes will automount a thumb drive.

$ sudo clamscan -r -i /media/[thumbdrivename]

   When it completes you should be presented with a Scan Summary similar to the one below. (Your results will vary.)

      ----------- SCAN SUMMARY -----------
       Known viruses: 600570
       Engine version: 0.95.1
       Scanned directories: 1
       Scanned files: 14
       Infected files: 0
       Data scanned: 5.36 MB
       Data read: 0.54 MB (ratio 9.94:1)
       Time: 3.170 sec (0 m 3 s)

  Remove files infected with viruses. Be careful with this one.  False positives do exist!

$ sudo clamscan -r --remove /

Schedule clamscan to run with the ‘at’ command

$ sudo at 1:00 tomorrow
      at> clamscan -i /home/YOURUSERNAME | mail YOUR@EMAIL.com
      job 1 at Wed Jul 22 01:00:00 2009

You could also use crontab, but for simplicity sake I’ve only demonstrated with the ‘at’ command.

Step 3: Remote scan?

Screenshot-Untitled Window.png
Screenshot-ClamTk Virus Scanner.png
Screenshot-Select a Directory (directory scan).png
Screenshot-ClamTk Virus Scanner-1.png
This will require that your linux box has Samba installed. Most systems now have it installed by default. (See a linux pro if you need it installed or if needs reconfiguration. as that is not a subject of this instructable.) We are going to do this experiment with an MSWindows XP machine. I do not have MSWindows 7 to test it. Try this at your own risk! MSWindows XP has what is known as an administrative share. (So you will need administrative rights to the XP machine.).  If you have your username, password, domain name and etc, it will allow this project to go easier.

Go to (Places > Connect to server) to enter in the information from your MSWindows machine. to see you the windows share.

$  sudo apt-get update
$  sudo apt-get install smbfs

mount -t smbfs -o username=<name>,password=<passwd> //sambashare /mountpoint

$ sudo mount -t smbfs -o username=adminname,password=adminpassword // /media/smb

You will want to go to Applications > Virus scanner and choose the directory where you have your share set up. Then scan for viruses.

Step 10: Reactos

ReactOS® is a free open source operating system based on the best design principles found in the Windows NT® architecture (Windows versions such as Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Server 2012 are built on Windows NT architecture). Written completely from scratch, ReactOS is not a Linux based system, and shares none of the UNIX architecture.

The main goal of the ReactOS® project is to provide an operating system which is binary compatible with Windows. This will allow your Windows® applications and drivers to run as they would on your Windows system. Additionally, the look and feel of the Windows operating system is used, such that people accustomed to the familiar user interface of Windows® would find using ReactOS straightforward. The ultimate goal of ReactOS® is to allow you to use it as alternative to Windows® without the need to change software you are used to.


Step 11: Extend XP to 2019?

Try at your own risk, Microsoft could disable it at any time.

Microsoft, after providing support for the past 12 years, has officially confirmed that it has ended support for Windows XP. The company has also stopped providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP.

Those who already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed will continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited period of time. However, it should be noted that Security Essentials will have limited effectiveness on PCs which do not have the latest security updates. This means the PCs running Windows XP will be vulnerable to infection.

Some of the government agencies which are running the Windows Embedded Industry variant of the Windows XP will continue to get updates until 2019.

There is a workaround available for those Windows XP users who wish to protect their devices and get security updates for another five years. This method uses updates for Windows Embedded Industry, formerly known as Windows Embedded POSReady, based on the Windows XP Service Pack 3. As the updates are compliant with the end user version of Windows XP, users can also benefit from the security fixes.

Users will have to take a few extra steps before enjoying the security updates. As the Windows Embedded POSReady version of Windows XP is different software, if its updates are directly applied to the regular version of Windows XP, users will receive a version of mismatch error.

You should have the 32-bit (x86) edition of Windows XP Service Pack 3 for this. Besides, it is recommended that you create a backup of all important data before getting started.

IBTimes UK will not be held responsible for any damage to the device.

Step-1: Create a text document and add the following information



Step-2: Save the text document as xp.reg

Step-3: Double click this newly created file, and the content will be added to the registry

Once the new registry file is added, the Windows XP will be able to receive security updates meant for Windows Embedded POSReady.

Step 12: Turn an Android Tablet Into a MSWindows Tablet.

Cheap MSWindows tablet for under $50

If you have access to MSWindows machines (XP, 7, or 8), you can build an MSWindows tablet for under $50 dollars. Purchase a cheap Android tablet for under fifty dollars and the add a free rdp (remote desktop) app from the app store and you have an instant windows desktop. Just connect to your mswindows box. If you do not have access to mswindows systems then get a cheap system for a few hundred dollars. Still cheaper than the tablet per se. You come out ahead.

Step 13: Alleged XP SP4.

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    6 Discussions


    4 years ago

    I am using Linux Mint USB for my OS as my laptop hard drive stopped working on me. Linux mint 17 was used to make this post possible on a 8GB USB drive.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Check your booting sequence and which drive is set to boot.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Tried to give the most band for the buck in one instructable. Probably will not have to add to this one. Now you do not have to do all the steps. Just do the ones that interest you most. But then, I like to try everything also.

    Chad Baxter
    Chad Baxter

    6 years ago

    Quite a nice Lon tutorial...I just want to make it said that almost all of the programs you listed(since they are open source) are also available on Linux...so if you do decide to switch said PC to Linux you will at least know how to use most of the programs.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for your comment. That is very true about knowing the open source software. Ironically I had at one time also some macs that I ean a lot of open source software, Ended up redoing the machines with linux. Those machines have since been chunked for parts, but I did not feel at that time the os/x really gave anything specialThose os/x versions were no longer supported Linux still is.