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[vox] How Knoppix saved my sister's Win98 box
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[vox] How Knoppix saved my sister's Win98 box

My sister's Windows 98 computer has been sick for a long time.  Since
she used to use IE 5 for all of her browsing, with no firewall or virus
protection or adware/spyware blocking (I've converted her to Firefox
since), her computer was pretty badly compromised.  She brought it up to
my house yesterday so that I could rebuild it for her.  I wanted to
rebuild it with Debian/KDE, of course, but she would have none of that
(he wanted to get to her AOL, after all).  Attempts to remove everything
with newly installed copies of AdAware, Spybot S&D, and Norton AV
failed; the computer was just too badly compromised.

First thing's first.  I set up an account for her on my RH8 server here
at home and created a Samba share so that we could browse to it from her
laptop and easily save her files that way.

First snag: some piece of malware on her computer wouldn't let her
connect to my wireless network.  I tried various configurations for
about an hour, and finally realized that I couldn't do it.

So we took the computer upstairs, where I had a spare PCMCIA ethernet
card.  We hooked it up, installed the drivers, I opened up my firewall
to let her computer in to the server, and tried to connect.  Again, one
of the malware programs wouldn't let her in: it constantly popped up an
error message with an ad every single time we tried to log in.

We tried for another hour.  I finally told my sister that there probably
wasn't an easy way to save more than 64MB of her personal files (I have
a 64MB USB drive which we could easily copy the files to), and was about
to give up when I realized that I had a few copies of Knoppix left over
from a project I did for school back in May.

So, I turned off her computer, inserted the Knoppix CD, and restarted it
into Linux.  After a few false starts (trying to remember the syntax of
the smbmount command, and trying to figure out how to run commands as
root), I was able to mount her account on my server to her laptop, and
tar up all of her files onto her share with a few simple commands. 
Piece of cake.

Her computer's rebuilt now; the first thing I did after installing Win98
and as many patches from M$ as I could find, was hide IE, install
Firefox with prominent desktop shortcuts, as well as AdAware, Spybot
S&D, and ZoneAlarm.  I copied the tar archive of her files from my
server, did a virus scan on all of them (was surprised that they were
all clean) and prepared a lecture for her on the wisdom of using Linux.

My sister's boyfriend is a Linux scoffer, and so is my other sister's
husband, and neither of them were able to figure out a way to save all
of my sister's personal files.

Linux saves the day again!  And I find it ironic that in order to fix a
Windows computer, I wound up using Linux.

Richard S. Crawford / http://www.mossroot.com
AIM: Buffalo2K / ICQ: 11646404 / Y!: rscrawford
"You can't depend on your judgement when your imagination is out
of focus." --Mark Twain, Notebook, 1898

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