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Open a Firefox image in a VirtualBox guest OS

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In my recent Ubuntu and Windows install for my father, a requirement was to open images shown in Firefox (which runs on the host Ubuntu OS) in Corel Paint Shop Pro which runs in the VirtualBox guest Windows 7 OS.

The command to execute an application from the host in the guest is vboxmanage guestcontrol [...] exec, documented here. It also needs the (guest OS) user credentials, the application to run and its arguments. Also note, that back-slashes have to be escaped, and since the path contains spaces it has to be in quotes.

The following assumes that the name of the VirtualBox machine is called “win7″, and application to run is PSP, and shows example values for username, password and filename.

Note that it also assumes that the Windows drive S:\ is a shared mount point between the host and guest OS, and that downloaded images is saved to that location.

vboxmanage guestcontrol win7 exec --image "C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Corel\\Corel PaintShop Pro X5\\Corel PaintShop Pro.exe" --username my_guest_user --password my_guest_password -- "s:\\image_file.png"

So far so good. However, to execute this for any image in Firefox proved a bit tricky. It does not seem to be possible to associate an Open action from the right-click menu with a given application in Firefox. The plugin “Open With Photoshop” came to the rescue. It gives an extra menu item when right-clicking on any image, and what most useful, it let’s you choose the executable to run.

I took the command above, and created my own script, e.g. “”, which looks like this:

b=`basename $f`
vboxmanage guestcontrol win7 exec --image "C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Corel\\Corel PaintShop Pro X5\\Corel PaintShop Pro.exe" --username $WINUSER --password $PASSWORD -- "s:\\$b" &> /tmp/open_with.log

I suppose a valuable addition would be to move the downloaded file to the correct location if necessary.

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Linux and disk fragmentation

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A wind of nostalgia blew past, and for some reason I remembered rainy nights in the early 90s, waiting for Norton Speed Disk to defragment a 30 MB FAT16 drive. But what happened to the defrag tools? Well, on Windows it seems they are all alive and well, with Windows 7 apparently doing automatic daily defrag in the background. In other words, on modern NTFS file systems it is still considered necessary. What I’d like to see benchmarks on is how much of a difference it makes. Is it really worth it?

On most Linux file systems the story is different. They typically do not require defrag, since they don’t suffer from fragmentation in the first place. In fact, ext based systems will intentionally scatter files so there is room for them to grow without splitting up. For a great and easy to understand explanation, see the OneAndOneIs2 blog.

For a comparison between file systems, see the Ubuntu forms, and Wikipedia for notes on defrag approaches and tools.

As for staring at those fancy looking progress and status screens of the defrag tools, it seems it’s a thing of the past across all OSes. It was a nice way to kill time; a bit like watching the washing machine tumble the clothes, I guess. Well, there’s always Bittorrent chunks. They actually look a bit similar when only part of the torrent is downloaded.

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Windows infected in five minutes

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Slashdot is reporting on a study from SANS Institute’s Internet Storm Center which shows that an unpatched Windows XP box will be infected after about five minutes on the Internet. German researchers found that it took slightly longer, however the conclusion still holds:

“While the survival time varies quite a bit across methods used, pretty much all agree that placing an unpatched Windows computer directly onto the Internet in the hope that it downloads the patches faster than it gets exploited are odds that you wouldn’t bet on in Vegas.”

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Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

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“You are right that people did not trust us   have you checked windows
update   I assume you found no drivers there either??  Thanks”

- Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft

February 18, 2007 11:40 AM (page 4)

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Windows RG – Really Good Edition

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Vista bug causes Internet blocking

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A bug in Windows Vista is causing people who use the new OS in the city of Lund, Sweden, to be without Internet connection. The local Internet provider refuses to do Microsoft’s laundry work, while a spokesperson from MS says “they could probably fix the problem”. The issues is caused by a network incompatibility between Vista clients and Linux network servers, introduce in the Vista code.

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How to clean up Windows

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We all know that Microsoft Windows is a completely broken, lacking OS (if you didn’t, well now you know too). Leaving an unprotected machine on the ‘net for more than 10 minutes, will usually get it infected with all sorts of viruses, malware and spyware. The best option is just to remove Windows from your computer, and install Linux.

However, if you really have to run Windows to play those games, here’s some tips & tricks on how to clean up spy ware, by Jeff Atwood. The best applications he suggests, are: Process Explorer, which is a more power full tool than the standard Task Manager. And Autoruns which lists everything which is started OS startup or login (shocking how much crap there is).

Both tools are from Sysinternals, which is a company fully owned by Microsoft. Their site contains more handy utilities for Windows.

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10 signs the PC era is over

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Gates recently had to defend his PC component based model, and claims that it is far from over. Here is jkrise’s take on the issue:

The PC era can be declared over, if and when:

1. Windows Vista – Service Pack 2 is released.
2. Microsoft releases a complete OS under “GPL 3.0 or later”.
3. Software patents are declared illegal in the US.
4. Chinese firm releases complete PC – hardware and software, fully developed and built in-house – at under $100.
5. SCO defeats IBM and buys RedHat.
6. nVidia releases GPL drivers.
7. Symantec withdraws from security market, declaring Vista is ‘unbreakable’.
8. DRM is declared illegal, DMCA revoked, and the RIAA dissolved.
9. Hurd 1.0 is available for download.
10. No more chairs in the Chair-Man’s Office at Redmond.

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Right from the horse’s mouth

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The new Windows Vista will be a great success! After twenty years of hard work, Microsoft is finally going to create a secure, reliable operating system. Or at least, so they say:

Windows Me
“Windows Me: PC Health Features Keep PCs Stable, Secure and Reliable — and Take the Frustration Out of Computing for Home Users” (source) []

Windows 2000
“Our primary goal is to improve security and safety for all our customers — consumers and businesses, regardless of size — through a balance of technology innovation, guidance and industry leadership,” Gates said. “We’re committed to continued innovation that addresses the threats of today and anticipates those that will undoubtedly emerge in the future.” (source) []

Windows XP
“Windows XP is the most secure and dependable operating system we have ever produced.” (source) []

Windows Vista
“In Vista, it should be much more difficult for unauthorized programs (like Viruses and Trojans) to affect the core of the OS and secretly harm your system.” (source) []

by Jugalator on Slashdot

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