Several years ago Microsoft provided Windows 7 operating system ISO file downloads easily through a site called Digital River. Legitimate, clean copies of all versions of Windows 7.
Then they stopped.
Why is this a problem?
I refurbish a lot of older desktops and laptops; often to give them away. Those systems usually have a legal OEM (original equipment manufacturer) license. OEM licenses are unique in that they are lower cost licenses provided to system vendors (Dell, HP, etc.) that are tied to the hardware (i.e. they can only be used on the box that they came pre-installed on).
OEM Licenses then are a real blessing, low cost Windows OS for the masses… However if you lose your system disk (or if the OS on your manufacturers media is pre-service pack 1 making it a pain in the rear once installed) and need to get a copy to reinstall on your computer things are no longer as easy as they used to be. Microsoft shut down Digital River and if you want to get install media you now have to enter a license key and have it checked before you can download. Fine… but not fine… if you enter an OEM key you get a really helpful message to contact the manufacturer… Great, if you call Dell, HP, Gateway, etc. they will often tell you that you are out of luck or, at best, charge you some ridiculous fee to ship you an install disk.
Let me reiterate that if you have an OEM key and are using it on the original system with which the key came then you have a legal right to use the operating system. You just need to find install media which is now a royal pain.
Thankfully a kind soul grabbed all of the original Digital River and Technet (another now deprecated option for getting install media) Windows 7 ISO files and provides them via Bittorrent. (more…)
If you got a new computer system recently then it probably is using UEFI bios and it didn’t come with Windows installation media or a product license activation key. What gives?
Manufacturers are now embedding the activation key in the UEFI BIOS. You can retrieve the key by running this command from within a Windows powershell session:
wmic path softwarelicensingservice get oa3xoriginalproductkey
I moved my hard drive to a new Dell OEM PC (new motherboard/chassis/etc.) recently and had to activate windows 10 again once I was up and running. The activation kept failing. I found this out and went to the activation window, hit the “Change key” option and then ran the above command and pulled the key out of UEFI Bios on the new system and it worked without a problem. I had to change the key in my Windows 10 install to match the key stored in the UEFI Bios on the system. Thankfully my Windows 10 install from my old system was the “Pro” SKU and that is what the Dell workstation originally came pre-loaded with.
If you use linux and have never come across this statement (or just realized this in the course of working with the OS), then let me be the first to tell you this critical truth…
“Everything is a bloody file.”
While this holistic statement isn’t quite 100% true, it’s close enough that if you adopt it as your life verse and it becomes your “modus operandi” for working in Linux, you will go farther faster.
It is so ubiquitous there is a wikipedia page devoted to it.
This opens up some novel concepts… for example, because everything is represented by a file, it means almost anything can be easily scripted… hence part of the fun of Linux…
For all of you out there like me who came from the Windows world, “Everything is a File” can also be a keen point of frustration if no one has ever made this statement to you and explained some of the implications. I have done my service and made the statement, I will leave it up to you to research and discover the implications. Go forth and research and then come back and keep reading.
Now, I am going to move on and start my first article in the new “Everything is a File” series in which I am going to attempt to tackle some of the most common files found on Debian Linux variants and explain their usage. To kick things off, I am going to document a file that I have to look up commonly; FSTAB. (the whole point of my blog is to create a place that I can just search my own notes rather than Googling (and re-Googling 6 months later) for other peoples’ notes)
I had that moment happen to me this past week… I knew it was coming but, like so many of you I said to myself “I probably have a few more months before it’s an issue”… Yep, my hard drive software warned me of impending doom on one of my data drives. I ignored it. Then a few days ago I heard that short squealing whine of death and Windows then informed me that my hard drive had no partitions and was empty of data…
That’s a bad day… especially when you realize that you may have some important documents and pictures of one of your children shortly after they were born (that aren’t kept anywhere else) that are now gone forever…
But are they gone forever? In this case, the drive in question was a “not all that old” 2 TB “spinning rust” 7200 RPM SATA drive. If this were a newer SSD drive then perhaps the situation would be more dire, but on old magnetic disks those shiny spinning platters (typically) still hold all of your precious data, it’s just hard to get to.