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Every few months, new articles roll out proclaiming “this year” to be the year of the Linux Desktop. A wide selection of reasons are cited, explanations given, and various acts of patting we Linux users on the backs takes place.
I’d be first to admit that it’s worth celebrating each time something is made more secure or easier. But we’re still a long ways off from the average person trying out any Linux distributions on their own.
In this article, I’ll discuss an untapped resource that can be used to get desktop Linux into the homes of casual users and finally jump start Linux adoption outside schools, governments and geek circles.
Promoting Linux distributions online is only half the battle. Desktop friendly distributions need to be promoted locally and in person. This means we need boots on the ground providing demonstrations, setup assistance and yes, some hands on help when it’s needed.
After a lot of soul searching, I firmly believe that the best person to make the Linux introduction is the typical PC repair tech. I personally know a number of techs who actively use Linux and should be promoting it within their own customer bases. Sadly, only a few of them do. Their reasons vary, but generally they circle around the idea that they’re just giving their clients what they want.
Not supporting Linux frankly hurts the bottom line for these repair techs. The fact is, the “Windows world” is shrinking fast thanks to mobile devices and OS X. There is no reason why Linux on the desktop could not also play a big part of that.
If a PC repair tech finds they have the same client coming back with the same malware issues over and over, doesn’t it make sense to suggest an alternative solution? Unfortunately this isn’t happening and no one is telling that user that Windows isn’t the best platform for them.
This is where the Linux desktop comes in. Imagine presenting an operating system that is seemingly “immune” to common malware threats! For clients who rely heavily on their web browser, Linux can make a lot of sense. There is also the ability to earn a reliable source of income from these clients as well. This includes updates and basic troubleshooting issues, most of which can be done easily using remote software such as Splashtop.
It’s fairly obvious what the end user gets out of using Linux over Windows. But what about the techs? What’s in it for them? In a word – relevance. I subscribe to a number of mailing lists for computer techs. The one thing I’ve found over the past few years is that the enterprise clients are harder to come by and home-based clients are not as prevalent as they once were.
Offering these home-based clients a reason to keep their existing computer means this frees up money for other things in their family. It also means this family has money to spend on a tech’s PC maintenance offering. This offering can range from running updates, managing backups, or even handling networking issues. Additionally, this could even open the door for other opportunities like tutoring.
So if the argument made by PC techs remains that switching their clients to Linux costs them revenue, I’d point out that this is already happening. By adding the option to provide Linux on the desktop as a solution, the tech actually provides additional value that might not be found elsewhere.
Imagine being the person who “makes computers virus proof” using existing PC hardware. I’ve done this before and let me tell you, if done right, you come away looking like a rock star.
Assuming techs were to “get it” and realize the importance of diversifying their available options among their home user clients, what is the next step? Honestly, it’s at this point we’d begin to see a natural ground swell that benefits both involved PC techs and Linux adoption on the home front. The techs begin to see new referrals as they’re “the person that makes Windows headaches disappear.” This means the Linux desktop would begin to become less of a “geeky” thing that only the most hardcore among us are using on a daily basis.
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The Linux desktop revolution is just around the corner!
This is a familiar refrain that has received new life in recent months thanks to Valve and its efforts to turn Linux into a gaming platform with the Steam client for Linux (shown above) and the Linux-based SteamOS.
Even Lars Gustavsson, the chief game maker for DICE, which is the EA-owned studio responsible for the Battlefield series, has a strong interest in Linux for games.
There’s so much Linux love in the air that it prompted Linus Torvalds, overlord of the Linux Kernel, to tentatively suggest that Valve’s announcements could encourage Linux adoption on desktop PCs. Screech! Not again, I hear you say?
Yes, we’ve heard the claim for years that the Linux (or GNU/Linux depending on your persuasion) desktop revolution is just around the corner. And yes, this could be just another high hope in a long history of high hopes, but Torvalds reinforced some important arguments about a Steam-powered rise for Linux.
“I think [the Steam announcements are] an opportunity to maybe really help the desktop,” Torvalds said recently during LinuxCon + CloudOpen Europe in Edinburgh, Scotland. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for a Linux revolution but, if anyone is familiar with endless promises of Linux-based desktops becoming popular, it’s Torvalds.
For Torvalds, Valve’s Steam efforts could be a big opportunity to drive desktop Linux because it could force the various desktop Linux distributions to standardize their technology. Torvalds said earlier in the 44-minute talk (shown below) that the Linux desktop was a “morass of infighting.” (The Steam talk starts around 29:50 minutes for those who want to fast foward.)Critics’ reasoning
A criticism often leveled at Linux OS distributions—and contributing projects such as the Gnome desktop—is that each component insists on doing things its way, or going in a different direction, or breaking compatibility. This can result in fights over everything from the best bootloader to which desktop UI is superior (ridiculous since everybody knows Unity rocks).
Some critics, such as Gnome project founder Miguel de Icaza, put at least some of the blame at the feet of Torvalds. Regardless of who’s at fault, most critics agree that the Linux desktop is a house divided right now, which is why a company like Valve and the success of Steam is so sorely needed.
“[Valve] is this one company who has this vision for how to do things,” Torvalds said. “I think it also forces the different distributions to realize ‘hey, if this is the way Steam is going, we need to the same thing. Because we want people to be able to play games on our platform too.’”
Having everyone toe the line for popular products such as Steam for Linux is an excellent way to set technology standards, Torvalds argues. “Good standards are people doing things,” Torvalds said. “And saying ‘this is how we do it’ and being successful enough to drive the market.”Change in the air?
Already, Valve’s appears to be influencing how major hardware vendors approach Linux. Shortly after SteamOS was announced, both AMD and Nvidia announced improved driver support for Linux. And AMD’s low-level Mantle support could result in more top-tier games landing on Linux.
But technology is only half the battle. As DICE’s Gustavsson said, it will also take that one killer app to really push Linux as a PC platform. That one game that everyone must play, but the only way to play it will be on a Linux distribution.
Will that game come from Valve in the coming months? An early look at Half-Life 3 perhaps? Only time will tell. But hey, if you’re waiting for the Linux desktop revolution to happen you’ve got nothing but time.
RPM had gained traction before COVID-19, but the pandemic accelerated its widespread adoption. Patients, caregivers and even health regulators have embraced RPM as a necessity. Some care providers and home health agencies are now expanding their RPM beyond clinical care to include social, emotional and mental health needs. Emerest is using Samsung Galaxy tablets to aid its staff with all areas of patient care — personal as well as clinical.RPM: An invaluable tool during a pandemic
Many people have known about virtual doctors’ appointments for some time, but realizing it’s possible and being willing to try it are two different things. “With COVID-19, it was healthier for people, especially the elderly, to stay home. They, their families and their caregivers finally realized they could use technology to still get the healthcare they needed,” explains Klein. Emerest saw the resistance to telehealth break down for patients and caregivers alike.
At the same time, telehealth providers like Health Recovery Solutions (HRS) saw legislative and regulatory obstacles loosened as a result of the pandemic. “Since the outbreak, I’ve seen more change from a regulatory standpoint in three to four months than I have in the past six years,” says Rich Curry, vice president of business development for HRS. “Telehealth and RPM had to come into play. People were quarantined and under stay-at-home orders. It was too dangerous to have high-risk patients only have access to healthcare by taking a trip to a hospital,” he explains. Curry notes that the regulations loosened by the pandemic included allowing RPM and telehealth in patients’ homes and loosened distance site requirements.
The change in mindset and regulations surrounding telehealth paved the way for Emerest to launch its RPM program. The organization began the program in late March 2023. Today, 500 of their patients have tablets. Since the start of the program, they have seen a 40 percent decrease in hospitalization rates among their patient population.Simplified patient experience
Home health aides and care providers employed by Emerest use HRS’ PatientConnect Complete and PatientConnect Core accessed via Samsung Galaxy tablets, which run on Android.
The Core solution uses only the tablet, and patients can choose to manually input device data. Klein says patient have responded well to the tablets, which are user-friendly and a convenient size for reading and handling. “User feedback has been phenomenal. Many have responded like kids in a candy shop, very excited to interact with another human by using the video functions on the devices,” says Klein.How RPM and telehealth answer an urgent need
The tablets are a good fit for RPM and telehealth. When caring for patients with chronic conditions, gathering health data remotely provides real-time insight into a patient’s health. That information can then be acted on with a care intervention that makes a positive impact on outcomes.
For example, a recent patient in the RPM program registered a low blood pressure reading of 86/59. Within three minutes of that reading, the Emerest care team reached out to the patient and decided a paramedicine response team should be dispatched. On arrival of the paramedicine team, the patient’s reading had dropped even lower. The patient was quickly admitted to the hospital and stayed for two days. After the stay, the patient was discharged healthy and well, and back under the care of the Emerest team. Since the intervention, the patient’s vitals have gone up and stayed within a normal range.
“With this information, our nurses and therapists can make adjustments and care changes as needed. RPM helps us provide better clinical outcomes for patients,” explains Klein.How smart are your clinical communications?
Download NowThe future of RPM and telehealth
The nursing and therapy Emerest provides is critical, but the pandemic has highlighted an equally important aspect of healthcare: the social, emotional and mental side.
Humans need connection to stay healthy. With quarantine and social distancing, at-risk populations find themselves even more vulnerable and alone. Emerest is using the solutions from HRS to tackle those issues and provide a greater level of care to patients and clients. For example, data gathered via the HRS solutions showed that some Emerest patients were experiencing grief. With that information, the company began offering group meetings — via video available on the tablet — on how to deal with grief. The sessions provided helpful social interaction and information on how to cope. “We’ve used these technologies to create a community. Using the Samsung tablets and software from HRS, patients now have a go-to place to address their health from the comfort of home,” says Klein.
HRS is impressed with how Emerest has expanded at-home care. “Direct patient healthcare is an obvious fit, a way to stay on top of patient vitals, symptoms and care visits. But Emerest goes beyond that,” says Curry. “They have learned how to personally connect, socially interact and address other non-physical aspects of care.”
Samsung helps HRS simplify their solution delivery. “Samsung has played a major role in helping make HRS solutions easy and ready for our customers. Prior to using Samsung Knox Configure, we were provisioning one tablet at a time, which took hours per device. Now we’re able to remotely push our software out to hundreds or even thousands of tablets at once. This has had a tremendous effect on the logistics team’s output,” notes Alex Ellis, vice president of logistics and supply chain for HRS.
Explore Samsung’s virtual care solutions for the new normal of healthcare.
Global intellectual property (IP) legislation continues to be negotiated behind closed doors this week in Singapore where discussions are underway on a secretive international trade treaty that could have far-reaching effects on Internet services, copyright law and civil liberties.
The negotiations, however, are covered in secrecy. Anyone not closely connected to the talks is being kept in the dark about the exact proposals being discussed. The Australian government, for instance, refused to give the Senate access to the secret text of the draft treaty being negotiated in a final round of talks in Singapore, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Monday. The results of the negotiations will only be made public after the treaty has been signed, the Australian government said, according to the paper.
But texts of purported drafts of the treaty have been leaked to the public, most recently on Monday by Wikileaks, which published two documents said to show the state of negotiations after talks held in Salt Lake City from Nov. 19 to 24.
”The TPP proposes to freeze into a binding trade agreement many of the worst features of the worst laws in the TPP countries, making needed reforms extremely difficult if not impossible.”
One of the documents shows that the U.S. exerted “great pressure to close as many subjects” as possible during the meet. The chief U.S. negotiator, whose name was redacted from the document by Wikileaks, has met with all 12 countries saying they were not progressing according to plan. However, that’s because of a lack of substantial progress by the U.S., according to one of the countries, which was not identified in the document.
Even leaving aside the most difficult subjects such as IP and the environment, the situation after the November negotiations made it “very difficult to think of a complete closure in December,” according to the document. Some have suggested preparing different scenarios that involve being prepared for a partial closure of the treaty or even a failure during the current talks in Singapore, the document showed.
The other leaked document highlighted the many differences between the countries on numerous topics, with 19 disputed topics in the area of IP alone. Among them are patentability criteria and the supplementary protection of patents, as well as a U.S. proposal on the length of time a copyright should be protected.
The IP chapter is also worrisome to others. Joseph Stiglitz, an economist, Nobel Prize winner and professor at the Columbia University School of Business, asked negotiators in an open letter sent Friday to resist proposals to weaken consumer rights in intellectual property. The letter was published by Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), a group lobbying for fairer distribution of information, which has taken a close interest in the TPP and was also concerned by the contents of the leaked treaty draft.
Those measures are not needed, he wrote.
The negotiations are in their final stages and a possible deal might be announced when the Singapore meeting concludes. The TPP Ministers will be meeting through Tuesday, according to the office of the Australian Minister of Trade and Investment.
Flash drives have had a long-lasting relationship with Linux distributions. These portable storage devices are among the most reliable for out of the box hardware support on the Linux desktop. Clearly, using flash drives to run Linux has its benefits for various types of users.
As luck would have it, I was told of a company that is apparently running individual installations of Linux on flash drives for each of their employees. Apparently cost was a major motivation, but so was the need to VPN into the office from home without needing to configure a separate piece of software for each person.
It seems there’s something inherently valuable about being able to take your “computing profile” with you, even when you’re away from work.
Taking your user profile with you
Completely independent of any one single workstation or using a thin client box at work, the end-user is free to hop from computer to computer as they see fit. Any needed network settings, secure access to company servers, etc, is made possible due to the network settings stored on the flash drive. So there’s no need to worry about consistent settings being mismanaged as one person logs off and another logs on. Differing user permissions travel with each user.
Best of all, critical data that isn’t allowed to be accessed from outside of the workplace can be restricted via network policies. So there’s less of a security hassle by using a flash drive over a company laptop.
For less security-conscious situations, one could VPN into their workplace and then send whatever they’re working on directly to their email account. This would allow the end-user to work on the document in question, locally. Which means if the network suddenly died, no harm is done.
Best of all, you get to choose which computer you use, rather than working from a clunky company-assigned unit.
Because everything that is needed for company work is handled by the flash drive, this allows the end-user to have the freedom to run the computer of their choosing. An even better option would be a company payed “hardware allowance” to apply toward a notebook purchase. This would go a long way towards ensuring that the laptop being used is one that is best suited for the user in question.
A company compatible flash drive policy allows the typical employee freedom from being shackled to specific company hardware. It’s a really helpful approach to handling the annoyance that happens when things get lost, as well.
One other item to consider is the benefits of keeping things green. Instead of dropping money for new hardware, a company using flash drives would be able to use existing workstations even longer. This means company revenue stays with the company, instead of being shelled out for redundant workstations through the office.
Lost flash drives with security in place
While I can’t speak for every workplace out there, I’ve found that, yes, it’s generally frowned upon to lose a company-issued notebook. Even though you may have had a password protecting your data on the operating system, chances are pretty good your stored data is still at risk of theft. It doesn’t take a genius to remove the hard drive and see what can be recovered from it.
On the flip side, the potential for data loss is brought way down by using a flash drive policy. Obviously, this provides some allowances for the user being bright enough not to leave the drive plugged into the computer when it’s not in use. Unfortunately, despite these obvious benefits, this might not be a match for all businesses out there.
Argument against using a flash drive
There will be circumstances where a standard thin client is going to be more functional for a company’s needs. Examples might include where company policy dictates that flash drives are banned for security reasons. Another possibility is that a flash drive is used to handle authentication only, so using one as a desktop OS wouldn’t fit into a company’s needs.
YouTube is no doubt the most popular video streaming platform. While the website and the app are sufficient by themselves, you can still achieve much more by trying a few URL tricks. Interestingly, many of these tricks can be applied merely by exploiting the URLs of YouTube videos.Secret YouTube URL Tricks
Some of the YouTube URL tricks are features of YouTube and others are managed by third-party software creators. YouTube has less to do with the tricks created by third-party software creators, though it may object to options like accessing NSFW content without signing in.
Get the thumbnail of any video from YouTube
Open the list of your YouTube Subscriptions, Shorts, and Library quickly
Skip a fixed time for each intro or start the video from a different time
Bypass age restrictions without signing in
Repeat YouTube video in a loop1] Get the thumbnail of any video from YouTube
Many of you would like to download YouTube thumbnails as images on your system. If you wish to do it, one method is to take a screenshot, but the image would be miniature plus the procedure is cumbersome.
You can easily get the thumbnail of any YouTube video with the following trick.
Open the YouTube video on your browser. As an example, consider the URL:
In this URL, pick the video ID. As in the example mentioned above, the video ID would be Rab9M34AcO8.
Now, replace [Video ID] in the following URL template with the video ID you took from your YouTube video.
As in the example above, the ID URL to copy-paste on the address bar will become:
Hit Enter and the thumbnail will be displayed as a full-size image on your screen.2] Open the list of your YouTube Subscriptions, Shorts, and Library quickly
YouTube allows you to subscribe to channels once logged in to the platform. If you wish to open the page for the Subscriptions, Shorts, and Library quickly, you can simply copy-paste the following URLs to the address bar of your browser:
Isn’t it easy?
TIP: Subscribe to TheWindowsClub YouTube Channel to get the best PC tips.3] Skip a fixed time for each intro or start the video from a different time
Let us say you often watch videos from a specific channel on YouTube. The intro of each video is 26 seconds long and you know it. Now, instead of forwarding the video each time you play it, you can directly skip each video by 26 seconds.
Let us assume that the URL of the original video is:
All you need to do is add &start=25 at the end of the URL and the video will play from the 25th second directly.
In the example mentioned above, the URL will become
Eg, if you wish to start it from 90 seconds before it ends, then the URL will become
This post will show you in detail how to link to a YouTube video from a specific start time to end time.4] Bypass YouTube age restrictions without signing in
As per YouTube’s policy, you need to sign in to YouTube to access NSFW content. The reason is that it allows YouTube to verify your age since your age had been set while creating the YouTube/Google account. However, if you wish to bypass age restrictions without signing in, then add NSFW before the URL and hit Enter.5] Repeat YouTube video in a loop
Repeating YouTube videos can be useful if you want to listen to your favorite music while studying or working. If you wish to repeat your YouTube video in a loop, you need to replace the word YouTube in the URL with YouTubeRepeater.
Once you change the URL, hit Enter to open the YouTube loop video page.What are the hidden features of YouTube?
YouTube has a lot of hidden features. You can use them by trying YouTube Tips and Tricks. These include YouTube keyboard shortcuts, access to NSFW content without signing in, using YouTube through the keyboard only, turning AutoPlay ON and OFF, etc.
PS: If you are a content creator, then these short YouTube Tutorials for Video Creators are sure to interest you.
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