Installing Windows On Mac?

Windows 7 on iMac

Windows 7 on iMac (Photo credit: ryaninc)

Although the video right after the break was uploaded for almost a year ago by someone on YouTube, but I think it is still very relevant as the instruction within regarding to how to install Windows 7 on a Mac may still be useable.  Anyhow, I think it’s quite interesting for someone to install Windows on a Mac.  Of course, you can always dual boot a Mac and Windows on a Mac, but you can’t really do so easily with having Mac on Windows (possible but you gotta jump through hoops).  Of course, I think it’s silly to install Windows on a Mac since Mac users are definitely can afford to buy a PC for PC is way cheaper than a Mac.  Nonetheless, the cool factor to have Windows on Mac is just plain cool in my opinion.  If you can do it, why not right?  Having the look of the Mac, and yet you will also be able to play Windows games on a Mac under the guise of using Mac but in hardware only.

Apple Rolls Out New Update Patch, Combating Mac Flashback Trojan’s Java Exploit

Apple Inc.

Apparently Apple has just rolled out a new Java security patch which addresses the Mac Flashback Trojan’s Java exploit, because I has just updated my MacBook Pro with this patch through Software Update.  This is one quick patch that Apple has rolled out, and Mac users definitely are going to be safer than before in regarding to using Java on Mac OS X.  Still, you never know that sometimes in the near future another trojan might be able to find another exploit through Java, therefore the security philosophy that I have came to practice religiously is to deactivate what you don’t need — only activate the things you need and activate the things you don’t need at the time of having such needs.  Cnet has a nice article (How to check for and disable Java in OS X) which explains to you how to deactivate Java in Mac OS X.  One of the tips from this article stands out is how it mentioned of Java Preferences utility.  Through Java Preferences utility, you can basically disable Java from running on your Mac system.  So, even with the new patch is ready for you to download and update so Mac Flashback Trojan won’t be able to invade your Mac system, I still think you need to deactivate Java from Java Preferences utility.  Only reactivate Java from Java Preferences utility when you really have to use Java (i.e., an application that must have Java runtime environment activated in order for the application itself to be functioning)!  Check the screenshots below to see how you can find Java Preferences utility!  The screenshots below will also show you how to disable Java through Java Preferences utility!



I Don’t Need A World Backup Day To Remind Me To Do Backups, Because I Rely On Automation!

Time Machine's retrieval interface. Image from Wikipedia.

Slashdot’s Ask Slashdot: It’s World Backup Day; How Do You Back Up? post reminds us to not forget to do backups for our data even though the post somehow either sarcastically or just idiotically suggests that April Fool day might be even worse than the data corruption event itself.  Anyhow, my very own answer to world backup day is that I have been setting up my own backup solutions that rely on automation.  Nonetheless, these backup solutions as a whole — not as elegant as I would have like!  I will tell you why in just a moment, for now let us take a glimpse into how I keep my data safe so far.

I’ve couple laptops.  Nonetheless, none of them is as important as my work laptop which is the MacBook Pro.  So, I want to make sure the data in the MacBook Pro is safe.  But how?  Time Machine of course!  With Time Machine, you can do backup for Mac data as long you have formated an external hard drive or a partition or (creating) a network share partition that is compatible to Apple’s journaled HFS+ file system.  Obviously you can also use one Mac to be the receiver of the backup data of another Mac, because Mac is Mac and all Mac supports the same file system type and network protocols such as AFP (Apple Filing Protocol).  In my case, I only have one Mac (i.e., MacBook Pro laptop), therefore I had formated my external hard drive with journaled HFS+ file system so I could infrequently do backups of  the MacBook Pro.  Why I infrequent do backups of MacBook Pro onto the external hard drive?  Well, I hate how I have to physically connect an external hard drive to a MacBook Pro laptop, because it makes the laptop feels stationary.  I needed a solution for doing frequent backups of the MacBook Pro, but how?  I solved this problem by virtualizing FreeNAS on a desktop machine of mine.  As FreeNAS (which is free to install and use) supports AFP sharing, I can now just connect the MacBook Pro to FreeNAS AFP sharing volume once, choosing the volume as the Time Machine, and the MacBook Pro will automatically do frequent backups on an interval basis (incremental backup on automation).  With FreeNAS being virtualized as a VirtualBox virtual machine, as long FreeNAS is running when the MacBook Pro is on, I don’t really have to physically have the MacBook Pro connect to an external hard drive for doing a backup, because the backup will be done through a local network on an interval basis (i.e., automation) — consequently allowing me to move about with the MacBook Pro at all times.  Isn’t that how MacBook Pro was designed for?

I’ve a desktop which runs Windows 7, and I use this desktop a lot!  Mostly, I use this desktop for gaming and doing stuffs that Windows does best, but I do not keep anything important on this desktop.  Why?  Windows is well known for being susceptible to vulnerabilities in regarding to computer security problems.  This is why I prefer to work on the MacBook Pro.  Nonetheless, the desktop is more powerful than the MacBook Pro, therefore I have to use the desktop for encoding videos (the videos I make for uploading to YouTube) and what not.  Anyhow, since I do not ever want to have to reinstall Windows if it can be helped, because reinstate Windows to the condition as how it was before can be quite gruesome in my opinion.  I’ve to have a backup solution for my Windows machine.  How is reinstalling Windows can be gruesome?  I’m security paranoid, and so it’s not so surprise to see me to go through the process of reapplying all the Windows updates before I even dare to use the Windows machine, and this whole process takes awfully long and boring.  Additionally, I still have to reinstall all of the software onto the reinstated Windows machine.  So, what is the backup solution I use to keep the data on Windows machine safe?  Simple, really!  I use CrashPlan!  How come?  CrashPlan is a super sophisticated backup solution which is quite fitting for enterprise backup purpose, but amazingly CrashPlan puts this sophisticated backup technology in the hands of the regular users.  It’s also simple to use, and it also has free backup plan which requires no fee or whatsoever.  Nonetheless, I use the paid CrashPlan plan and allow CrashPlan to locally and remotely do incremental backups for the Windows machine on an interval basis (i.e., automation).  Since CrashPlan is so intuitive and easy to use, I don’t really have any complain — setting it up once and the data on the Windows machine suddenly become more resilient.  For your information though, CrashPlan also supports Mac and Linux.

So, as you can see I do have backup solutions on automation, but why I still feel like I’m missing something here.  Well, it’s because I’ve more than one backup solutions for all of my data, including Mac, Windows, and Linux machines.  When my data are residing in different physical media locally, it just makes the whole shebang seems somewhat inelegant.  Part of the blame to this problem has to be me!   I trust the backups of a Mac with Time Machine more than anything else, therefore I have not used CrashPlan to do the backups for my MacBook Pro laptop.  I think I will eventually arrive at a better answer for all of my backup problems.  This will have to do with the combination of using CrashPlan and a physical NAS box which will utilize FreeNAS.  I plan to create a network attached box with enough storage space to hold all of my data locally; this NAS box will use FreeNAS as its OS.  FreeNAS talks to all major operating systems, therefore I should not have a problem of setting FreeNAS up to accept backups from Mac, Linux, and Windows.  So, locally, when NAS box is in play, doing backups locally seems much more elegant.  Keeping the local data even more safe (hopefully also secure), I have to have a plan for storing the local data in a remote location.  This is where CrashPlan comes into play!  I’ll use CrashPlan to slowly upload my local data to CrashPlan network (i.e., remote location).  One problem though, CrashPlan cannot be installed on the top of FreeNAS.  Solving this problem is easy enough!  I’ve to rely on VirtualBox and Linux!  So basically, Linux will be the host OS for the NAS box, and VirtualBox will run a virtual machine for FreeNAS.  I can configure Linux to run RAID 5 to prevent data failure on the NAS box itself .  FreeNAS will then be configured to just host as a storage attached network with software or without software RAID (i.e., depending on how much fun I want to have).  FreeNAS will see Linux’s RAID volume which consists of at least 3 hard drives (i.e., each hard drive has data capacity of 2 terabytes) as one single large volume.  Since I can install CrashPlan onto Linux OS, therefore I can use CrashPlan to do backups for my FreeNAS (VirtualBox) virtual machine.  This allows all the local data within the NAS box to be uploaded to CrashPlan’s network (i.e., keep data in remote location for data redundancy purpose).  Since CrashPlan encrypts all data, therefore I don’t have to worry about my data being easily access by uninvited guests.

In summary, in a way, you can say I don’t need a world backup day to remind me to do backups, because I rely on automation.  Automation?  Yes, because as you can see I don’t have to remember when my MacBook Pro laptop will use Time Machine to do a backup, because I had set the MacBook Pro to automatically allow Time Machine to upload the backups to the virtualized FreeNAS (VirtualBox) virtual machine.  Also, I don’t have to remember when I have to do a backup for my Windows machine, because CrashPlan is also doing this automatically for me on an interval basis.  My backups essentially run on automation.  Nonetheless, I prefer to have a physical NAS box so I can centralize my data locally (i.e., more elegant this way).

What About Thunderbird?

By now, probably everything good about Thunderbird has been said, but I truly profess still that you need to try out Thunderbird if you are heavily using emails. What is with the plural form of email?  Well, email is plural in a sense that you, he, she, everybody else and me might have more than one email account, and having to open up two to however more browser tabs constantly — just to have the webmail accounts stay dynamically update while you’re on your main browser tab doing what you do — is rather cumbersome and not so elegant.  Sometimes, it’s rather disturbing for some people to see they have so many browser tabs open!  This is why some people think Thunderbird and similar email clients are better for checking emails.

Email clients aren’t there to replace your webmail accounts, because the email clients are there to connect to your webmail accounts and retrieve the emails from the webmail accounts.  The awesome thing about using email clients is that the email clients can retrieve all emails from all webmail accounts so you don’t have to manually sign into each webmail account to check email.  Of course, you have to provide proper credentials of each webmail account for an email client to store (in encrypted form I hope), therefore all you have to do is to provide a master password at the beginning of every email client session (i.e., starting up an email client) so the email client will then automatically go and retrieve emails from all webmail accounts.  Thunderbird works this way!

Anyhow, I like Thunderbird for it’s one of those FREE but yet most reliable open source applications/software I have ever used.  Also, newest yet Thunderbird version which is the version 11.0 has made the process of adding new webmail account easier.  It seems now you don’t really have to remember each webmail account’s POP/IMAP/etc… settings, because Thunderbird only requires your email addresses and passwords.  Behind the scene, the settings obviously would be appropriately set up by Thunderbird wizard for each webmail account.  Thunderbird is also somewhat smart as it allows you to teach it how to seek out junk emails by having you from time to time mark new but spam emails as junk emails; once you have done enough marking of junk emails, you can always go to Tools > Run Junk Mail Controls On Folder to weed out the junk emails on particular email folders that you think somehow Thunderbird might have missed weeding out junk emails from those email folders in the first place (my bet is that you don’t have to do so).

I’m not using the Thunderbird’s Add-ons feature, but I can imagine this might be something that people like — it allows people to customize Thunderbird furthermore.

Thunderbird has ton of features (I’m being lazied to go into each feature in detail), and most users probably don’t even need to configure those features as I believe many useful features within Thunderbird might have been turned on by default.  Nonetheless, some people like me who would want to go into Thunderbird’s Preferences to furthermore customize Thunderbird.  For an example, under Preferences > Security > Anti-Virus, users can check the box which labels as “Allow anti-virus clients to quarantine individual incoming messages.”  I’m sure some of you out there might want to go through Thunderbird’s Preferences in detail and make changes, but for others they just only have to simply use Thunderbird.  So, I have to conclude that Thunderbird might not be a solution for everything email, but it sure is convenient and useful and pleasurable to use.

Update:  Oops, I forgot to tell you that Thunderbird is supporting all major computing platforms.  It supports Linux, Mac, and Windows!

Using FreeNAS’s CIFS Service To Allow Local Computers (e.g., Mac, Windows, Linux) To Share Data Within A Local Network

As I’m getting to know FreeNAS better, I begin to like it more than ever before.  FreeNAS has allowed me to set up CIFS share (Common Internet File System share) so I don’t have to rely on Pogoplug software to share data between my local computers.  Why is FreeNAS’s CIFS share is better than Pogoplug solution?  Well, I like how my data don’t have to travel through Pogoplug’s servers that host outside of my local network in order for me to be able to share data between my local computers.  With this piece of information, we can acknowledge that data travel locally are always faster (i.e., not making a trip to the Internet first and so save time and bandwidth) and more secure if the local network is being secured correctly.  Of course, I’m still going to use Pogoplug when I travel abroad, because Pogoplug is great in allowing you to connect to local computers without opening up any port within your router (this means you don’t have to sacrifice your network security when sharing files between local network and the Internet).  Still, you must trust Pogoplug’s network security in order for you to access your local computer through Pogoplug software, because ultimately your data will travel through Pogoplug’s network before they reach the devices that you use outside of your local network.

Steps to create CIFS Share in FreeNAS (the instructions at the bottom are tailored for FreeNAS 8).

  1. The first thing you want to set up a CIFS within FreeNAS is to go ahead and make sure you have created a ZFS Dataset.  What on earth is ZFS Dataset?  Within FreeNAS, you can create separate ZFS Datasets within a ZFS volume so each ZFS Dataset acts like a partition within a partition.  You can view each ZFS Dataset as a partition within a ZFS volume, but we know a ZFS volume can also be viewed as a partition itself.  Anyhow, why on earth one wants to create a partition within a partition?  Simple!  FreeNAS allows the creation of ZFS Datasets for one reason, and this reason is to enhance data security.  Each ZFS Dataset can be configured with specific permissions that not necessary to be the same as the global permissions of a particular ZFS volume.  This means if you have the access to a specific ZFS volume, you might not have access to a ZFS Dataset (i.e., partition) within — only the user who has correct permission can actually access to a specific ZFS Dataset.  In my case, I named my ZFS Dataset for CIFS Share as windows_share.  (Creating a ZFS Dataset by go to Storage > Create ZFS Dataset.)
  2. Now you need to go to Services and click on the wrench icon next to the on/off switch of CIFS label.  A CIFS settings window would pop up.  In this CIFS settings window, you might want to,
    •  enable Authentication Model for Local User (better security this way)
    • name NetBIOS Name to simply freenas
    • leave Workgroup as WORKGROUP
    • set log level to minimum (so your FreeNAS server/box won’t be overload with extremely large log files)
    • check the box which labels as Local Master
    • check the box which labels as Time Server for Domain
    • leave Guest account drop down box as nobody
    • do not check the box that labels as Allow guest access (for security purpose)
    • check the box that labels as Large RW support
    • check the box that labels as Send files with sendfile(2) (make Samba faster if Samba software/protocol has to be used to access this CIFS share)
    • check the box that labels as EA Support (to enable extended attributes support)
    • check the box that labels as Support DOS File Attributes
    • check the box that labels as Zeroconf share discovery (to allow Mac OS X clients to access CIFS share)
    • click OK button to save all the settings of CIFS settings
  3. Now, under Services again, switch the CIFS’s OFF button to ON.
  4. Click on Sharing > Windows > Add Windows Share.
    • Inside the Name’s text box, enter windows_share
    • For the path, try to either enter the path of the ZFS Dataset we had created earlier or just browse to it using the Browse button
    • Check the box that labels as Browsable to Network Clients
    • Enter the local IP addresses of local computers that you want to allow access to ZFS Dataset (i.e., CIFS share) into the text box which labels as Hosts Allow
    • Enter ALL into the text box which labels as Hosts Deny (to deny all other computers that don’t have the IP addresses that list inside the Hosts Allow text box)
    • Click OK button to save everything and exit this Windows Share window

Now you should be able to connect to this particular FreeNAS’s ZFS Dataset.  From a normal user’s standpoint who uses Mac or Linux or Windows to connect to this ZFS Dataset, all the user sees would be just another local network folder (or you can say local network destination).  Basically, any local computer which has permission to connect to this specific ZFS Dataset will see it as a Windows Share folder, therefore the data within this ZFS Dataset suddenly makes available to other Windows, Mac, and Linux machines.  How come Mac and Linux can see the data within CIFS Share folder (i.e., ZFS Dataset of CIFS Share)?  I think it’s that Mac and Linux are supporting the reading and writing to Windows file system.

Using a Windows computer to connect to FreeNAS Windows Share is easy!  All you have to do is to go to Computer > Network.  Once the Network locates FreeNAS Windows Share volume (i.e., ZFS Dataset of CIFS Share), you can browse to it and use it as if it’s just another network folder — allowing local computers to share the same data (i.e., read and write to the same data).

You can also use Mac machine to connect to FreeNAS Windows Share!  How?  Open up finder and go to Go > Connect to Server.  Inside Connect to Server box, enter cifs:// (please replace the local IP address to the one that runs your FreeNAS server).  Click Connect button to connect to FreeNAS windows share.  If it asks for user credential (i.e., username and password), please enter the username and the password that you allow to have access to this particular FreeNAS Windows Share (i.e., ZFS Dataset of CIFS share).  Once you can browse the FreeNAS Windows Share, you can read and write data to this ZFS Dataset, consequently allowing Windows computers to share data with Mac machines within a local network.

I’ve not used Linux to access FreeNAS Windows Share, therefore I don’t know the exact process of how doing it just yet.  You know?  Please share your knowledge on this in your comment.  Thank you!

CCleaner Is Now Available On Mac; Downloading It Through Mac App Store

CCleaner On Mac OS X Image

CCleaner On Mac OS X Image (Capture on Vinh Nguyen's MacBook Pro)

CCleaner is well known to Windows users, but Mac users probably never have even heard about it until now.  Yep, CCleaner is now available to Mac users on Mac App Store.  It’s no surprise how popular this tool is, because it’s now #1 free download app on Mac App Store.  Just like how it works on Windows, Mac users can use CCleaner to clean out temporary data and caches for their Macs.  Of course, CCleaner isn’t the only tool/utility to do this on Macs, but the price is too inexpensive to pass up by folks like me.  The price is $0.00!

Some elite Mac users might cringe at hearing there is another tool to help Mac users clean up their temporary data and caches.  Well, novice Mac users might think utilities such as CCleaner a blessing since using command lines to clear up temporary data and caches on Mac might be hazardous.  By deleting the wrong data, Mac users might render their Macs useless.  Sure, Mac itself might execute cron jobs that automatically clean up temporary data and caches from time to time, but these cron jobs might happen too infrequently for heavily demanded Macs.  This is why I think CCleaner and similar popular apps might be good for cleaning up temporary data and caches when on-demand needs arise.  Check out the preview of CCleaner on Mac through the video right after the break.