Tag Archives: 2017

For Sale – MacBook Pro 15″ 2016 with TouchBar, mid-spec 2.7GHz/16gb/512gb/RadeonPro455

Bought from KRCS (authorised Apple Premium Retailer) in January 2017 and used by me for work since. Most usage has been plugged into desktop monitor and keyboard hence only 187 cycle count on battery.

Specs
Space Grey
Mid-spec standard config
Intel Core i7 Quad Core 6820HQ 2.7GHz
16gb RAM
512gb SSD
Intel HD Graphics 530 / Radeon Pro 455
macOS Mojave

Technical specifications for the MacBook Pro 15-Inch “Core i7” 2.7 Touch/Late 2016. Dates sold, processor type, memory info, hard drive details, price and more.

Condition
Excellent – always transported with screen protector in hard shell case
Top case (screen and top section of case) was replaced by Apple 12 months ago due to minor fault so screen is only 12 months old. No scratches or keyboard marks on the screen
There are two tiny chips in the sharp front edge near the trackpad, apart from that it’s like new

I would like cash (or cleared bank transfer) on collection for this machine only please.

Price: £975.

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For Sale – Macbook Pro 2017 TouchBar – 13 inch – 256GB

Hello,

I have for sale a Macbook pro 2017. This is the 13’3 inch screen with touchbar model. This was bought from Apple in Liverpool in April 2018, this particular laptop was manufactured in March 2018. Obviously being over a year old, it has no warranty on it.

Basic specs are

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
Touch Bar
Processor = 3.1 GHz Dual-Core Intel Core i5
Memory = 8 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650 1536 MB
Screen = 13.3-inch (2560 x 1600) Retina
Disk = 256GB of Flash drive.
Wifi

The condition of this laptop is very, very good. I cannot find a scratch on either the screen, top, side nor body on it. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it’s near mint. There’s not even scratches on the ports where you would expect to see any. The only marks I can find are finger marks. This isn’t surprising as is typical, I’ll buy something then not use it. This laptop is a classic example of that. I bought it for all sorts of things, then it’s sat literally unused mostly. I prefer curled up on the sofa using my phone!

Any pics on the photos as simply dust specs on either camera or laptop.

It’s got the latest OS on it as you’ll see from the pics. And the battery health is top notch, just 27 cycles!

Obviously it’ll be wiped back to minty fresh for the buyer so they are effectively setting it up from factor fresh except it’ll have the latest OS rather than the one it shipped with.

it’s boxed and has the charger, apple stickers etc.

Remembering that this is the 256GB model which retailed much higher than the base model, I’m looking for £765 which will include fully insured (to £2000), tracked, Royal Mail special next day delivery.

You can always make an offer though.

Kind regards

Rob

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Microsoft announces new technology benefits for nonprofit volunteers on International Volunteer Day

In our nearly 40 years of supporting philanthropic partnerships with nonprofits, and with the 2017 launch of the Tech for Social Impact team, Microsoft has worked closely with nonprofits and partners to develop new products and resources tailored to nonprofits and their very specific technology needs.

We’re constantly engaged with nonprofits to listen and learn about ways to further meet the needs of nonprofits, both big and small. Through conversations with our network, we realized organizations – especially those who rely on and deploy more than one billion volunteers around the world – need solutions that equip their volunteers with the same quality technology solutions that their full-time employees rely on.

In the spirit of International Volunteer Day, a global observance by the United Nations General Assembly for nearly 35 years to celebrate local, national and international volunteerism, we recognize the importance of nonprofit volunteers. Volunteers are the heartbeat of so many organizations. They are in the field, working with beneficiaries, coordinating and executing programs, engaging donors, and reporting impact. That’s why we must go further and equip more nonprofit volunteers with best-in-class productivity tools to promote seamless collaboration and access to content in the field, built on a platform of security features that ensure sensitive constituent data is securely transferred and responsibly managed.

As it stands today, while many nonprofits have digitally transformed thanks to solutions like Azure and Microsoft 365, their volunteers still use unmanaged solutions, which limits the ability of the nonprofit to manage information, protect sensitive data, and make full use of integrated collaboration tools that can increase productivity.

We want to change that.

Today, we’re announcing our first step by providing enterprise-sized customers with a new Volunteer Use Benefit. Starting January 1, 2020, for each licensed Microsoft 365 E3 or E5 seat, nonprofit customers with Enterprise Agreements will receive 10 additional Office 365 F1 seats for their volunteers to utilize. That means that an organization that has licensed 250 Microsoft 365 E3/E5 seats for their fulltime staff will have access to 2,500 Office 365 F1 licenses for volunteers to use at no additional charge. Office 365 F1 brings together the best of Microsoft’s cloud productivity experience including familiar applications for email, calendars, team collaboration, file storage and sharing. This Volunteer Use Benefit will allow organizations to equip millions of volunteers with the tools they need to have an even greater impact on the missions they serve.

This offer will be made available via our Cloud Solution Provider Channel in Spring 2020.

 “Through our recent deployment of Microsoft 365, we’re using tools like SharePoint, Teams and Exchange to drive increased collaboration, cost efficiencies, and security across our organization. In turn, we can devote more resources to driving mission impact.”, said Craig Tucker National Chief Information Officer of Salvation Army Australia. “Central to the success of our organization are the 8,500 frontline workers and volunteers who execute our mission in the field, engage beneficiaries, and manage important information. If we are able to equip our volunteers with the same high quality, secure and collaborative tech solutions that we rely on across Salvation Army it would allow us to fully realize the benefits of digital transformation for organizational success.”

Developing technology solutions for nonprofits strikes at the heart of Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. In the last year, we’ve rolled out solutions like the Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator, which is helping larger nonprofits drive greater insights and operational efficiencies, as well as a Microsoft 365 Business for Nonprofits offer that arms smaller nonprofits with collaboration tools with advanced security and device management capabilities. Not only are we creating solutions, but we’re also supporting nonprofits with digital literacy to improve adoption and usage through digital skills trainings with resources specific to the sector’s unique challenges and needs. With this announcement, we’re excited to extend support to nonprofits’ volunteers. 

In 2020, Microsoft will work with partners to support the roll out of the implementation of the Volunteer Use Benefit which will make all nonprofits more secure and effective, build trust with their funders and beneficiaries, and continue their digital transformation journey. To learn more and be the first to hear when the Volunteer Use Benefit is live, sign up here.

We’re truly grateful and inspired by volunteers across the globe who give their time and effort to help those in need. Their commitment to the world’s most important causes does not go unnoticed.

Published By

Justin Spelhaug

Justin Spelhaug

Global Head – Tech for Social Impact, Microsoft Philanthropies

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Author: Microsoft News Center

AI in advertising captures audiences with personalized ads

In 2017, Flipkart, the giant e-commerce vendor based in Bengaluru, India, got a cold-call email from AdGreetz. The email highlighted AdGreetz’s product, an AI in advertising platform that can generate thousands or millions of personalized ads quickly.

Intrigued, Flipkart, which is owned primarily by Walmart, struck up communication with AdGreetz, and decided to move ahead with a pilot project.

The first campaign AdGreetz did for Flipkart reached 200 million people across social media platforms, said Vijay Sharma, associate director of brand marketing and head of digital media at Flipkart.

Advertising flip

The audience, spread across different regions of India, was diverse, Sharma said.

“These are people of different types, in different cities, with different motivations, with different relationships with Flipkart,” he said.

We created a fairly complex, hard-working campaign, and that showed results.
Vijay SharmaAssociate director of brand marketing and head of digital media, Flipkart

To give the ads a more significant impact, AdGreetz and Flipkart created about a million creatives, or ad banners and other forms of created online advertising, each targeting different groups based on data collected over social media and Flipkart’s e-commerce platform. Depending on who they targeted, the ads varied dramatically, including different colors, voices and languages.

“We created a fairly complex, hard-working campaign, and that showed results,” Sharma said.

Since then, Flipkart has used AdGreetz to produce some 40 different campaigns, he said. The results have been mainly positive.

The first project took about two and a half months to complete, slowed by initial integrations and a lot of back-and-forth. Now, Vijay Sharma said, campaigns can be completed within a week.

AdGreetz, AI in advertising
Using AI, AdGreetz generates millions of personalized ads for Flipkart

AI in advertising

AdGreetz, a 2009 startup based in Los Angeles, uses a platform imbued with machine learning to quickly and automatically create millions of personalized advertisements, CEO and co-founder Eric Frankel said.

Taking a few templates and AI in advertising technology, along with data, including a consumer’s buying habits, location, age and gender, AdGreetz can automatically create personalized variations of those template ads. Advertisement forms include television spots, online banners and videos, emails, and physical product labels.

AdGreetz doesn’t keep consumer data used to create them, Frankel claimed.

The vendor’s relationship with Flipkart is close, probably closer than with any other customer AdGreetz has, Frankel said.

“They bought in from day one,” he said, adding that he thinks the relationship has been fruitful for Flipkart.

“They will probably be the most personalized company in the world,” he said.

Big results

For Flipkart, the ads campaigns have seen “big numbers,” according to Sharma. The company can create far more personalized ads than it did before using AdGreetz, back when marketing teams filled up Excel sheets with creatives, he said.

While the AdGreetz platform relies on AI in advertising, it still requires manual effort from Flipkart to operate.

“It’s not an end-to-end solution,” Sharma said.

The team first creates a creative and then works with AdGreetz to build it into a storyboard, which is then multiplied and personalized. Often, Flipkart needs to provide cultural context to the advertisements and tweak them before they go live.

Sharma has spoken with some competing vendors, as they came highly rated. He said he’s keeping his options open, but for right now is sticking with AdGreetz.

He referenced Alibaba, the China-based tech and e-commerce giant. Alibaba, Sharma said, possesses the ability to create billions of personalized advertisements using AI in advertising and provides some of the most personalized marketing campaigns in the world.

“Hopefully,” Sharma said, “One day, we will also get there.”

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For Sale – 15 Inch MacBook Pro (2017) [Fully Specced – 512GB]

Hi all,

I have for sale my 2017 MacBook Pro 15 inch.

It’s fully specced out, apart from the SSD, which is 512 GB.

  • 2.9 GHz i7
  • 16GB RAM
  • RX 560
  • 41 Cycle Count
  • Apple Leather Case
  • Harber London Case
  • Extended charger
  • AppleCare until October 2020
  • Boxed

Barely used, hence the reason for sale. In excellent condition, almost mint – 2 really (really) small dinks in the aluminium. Hadn’t noticed until I came to check it today.

This had a new logic board and top case last year too, so it really is in superb condition. These sorts of MacBooks don’t come along often.

£1499 collected, due to the extras. Open to negotiation (i.e. not “what’s your lowest price”). Don’t be put off by the price – wasn’t really sure what to price it at.

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For Sale – MacBook Air 2017 13″/Core i5/8GB/128GB, AppleCare until 16/05/2020, battery cycle count 7!

Selling my MacBook Air 2017 13″/Core i5/8GB/128GB. Last of the original (non-Retina) MagSafe 2 Airs, two USB 3.0 and a Thunderbolt 2 port. Running macOS Catalina. AppleCare until 16/05/2020. Just the Air and the MagSafe, no packaging. Superb condition throughout. Battery cycle count 7!

£475 delivered.

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CentOS Linux on Hyper-V – A Complete Guide

Note: This article was originally published on May 2017. It has been fully updated to be current as of August 2019.

Microsoft continues turning greater attention to Linux. We can now run PowerShell on Linux, we can write .Net code for Linux, we can run MS SQL on Linux, Linux containers will run natively in Windows containers… the list just keeps growing. Linux-on-Hyper-V has featured prominently on that list for a while now, and the improvements continue to roll in.

Microsoft provides direct support for Hyper-V running several Linux distributions as well as FreeBSD. If you have an organizational need for a particular distribution, then someone already made your choice for you. If you don’t have such a mandate, you might need to make that decision yourself. I’m not a strong advocate for any particular distribution. I’ve written in the past about using Ubuntu Server as a guest. However, there are many other popular distributions available and I like to branch my knowledge.

Why Choose CentOS?

I’ve been using Red Hat’s products off and on for many years and have some degree of familiarity with them. At one time, there was simply “Red Hat Linux”. As a commercial venture attempting to remain profitable, Red Hat decided to create “Red Hat Enterprise Linux” (RHEL) which you must pay to use. With Red Hat being sensitive to the concept of free (as in what you normally think of when you hear “free”) being permanently attached to Linux in the collective conscience, they also make most of RHEL available to the CentOS Project.

One of the reasons that I chose Ubuntu was its ownership by a commercial entity. That guarantees that if you’re ever really stuck on something, there will be at least one professional organization that you can pay to assist you. CentOS doesn’t have that kind of direct backing. However, I also know from experience that relatively few administrators ever call for operating system support. The ones that will make such a call tend to work for bigger organizations that pay for RHEL or the like. The rest will call some sort of service provider, like a local IT outsourcer. With that particular need mitigated, CentOS has these strengths:

  • CentOS is based on RHEL. This is not a distribution that someone assembles in their garage (not that I have any personal opposition to such an endeavor, but almost every organization places a premium on stability and longevity in their suppliers)
  • CentOS has wide community support and familiarity. You can easily find help on the Internet. You will also not struggle to find support organizations that you can pay for help.
  • CentOS has a great deal in common with other Linux distributions. Because “Linux” is really just a kernel, and an open-source one at that, it’s theoretically possible for a distribution to completely change everything about it and build a completely unique operating system and environment. In practice, no one does. That means that the bulk of knowledge you have about any other Linux distribution is applicable to CentOS.

That hits the major points that will assure most executives that you’re making a wise decision. In the scope of Hyper-V, Microsoft’s support list specifically names CentOS.

Stable, Yet Potentially Demanding

When you use Linux’s built-in tools to download and install software, you work from approved repositories. Essentially, that means that someone decided that a particular package adequately measured up to a standard. Otherwise, you’d need to go elsewhere to acquire that package.

The default CentOS repositories are not large when compared to some other distributions. They do not contain recent versions of many common packages, including the Linux kernel. However, the versions offered in the CentOS repositories are known to be solid and stable. If you want to use more recent versions, then you’ll need to be(come) comfortable manually adding repositories and/or acquiring, compiling, and installing software.

No GUIs Here

CentOS does make at least one GUI available, but I won’t cover it. I don’t know if CentOS’s GUI requires 3D acceleration the way that Ubuntu’s does. If it does, then the GUI experience under Hyper-V would be miserable. However, I didn’t even attempt to use any CentOS GUIs because they’re really not valuable for anything other than your primary use desktop. If you’re new to Linux and the idea of going GUI-free bothers you, then take heart: Linux is a lot easier than you think it is. I don’t feel that any of the Linux GUIs score highly enough in the usability department to meaningfully soften the blow of transition anyway.

If you’ve already read my Ubuntu article, then you’ve already more or less seen this bit. Linux is easy because pretty much everything is a file. There are only executables, data, and configuration files. Executables can be binaries or text-based script files. So, any time you need to do anything, your first goal is to figure out what executable to call. Configuration files are almost always text-based, so you only need to learn what to set in the configuration file. The Internet can always help out with that. So, really, the hardest part about using Linux is figuring out which executable(s) you need to solve whatever problem you’re facing. The Internet can help out with that as well. You’re currently reading some of that help.

Enough talk. Let’s get going with CentOS.

Downloading CentOS

You can download CentOS for free from www.centos.org. As the site was arranged on the day that I wrote this article, there was a “Get CentOS” link in the main menu at the top of the screen and a large orange button stamped “Get CentOS Now” after the introductory text. From either of those, you reach a page with a few packaging options. I chose “DVD ISO” and used it to write this article. I would say that if you have a Torrent application installed, choose that option. It took me quite a bit of hunting to find a fast mirror.

For reference, I downloaded CentOS-7-x86_x64-DVD-1810.iso.

How to Build a Hyper-V Virtual Machine for CentOS

There’s no GUI and CentOS is small, so don’t create a large virtual machine. These are my guidelines:

  • 2 vCPUs, no reservation. All modern operating systems work noticeably better when they can schedule two threads as opposed to one. You can turn it up later if you’re deployment needs more.
  • Dynamic Memory on; 512MB startup memory, 256MB minimum memory, 1GB maximum memory. You can always adjust Dynamic Memory’s maximum upward, even when the VM is active. Start low.
  • 40GB disk is probably much more than you’ll ever need. I use a dynamically expanding VHDX because there’s no reason not to. The published best practice is to create this with a forced 1 megabyte block size, which must be done in PowerShell. I didn’t do this on my first several Linux VMs and noticed that they do use several gigabytes more space, although still well under 10 apiece. I leave the choice to you.
  • I had troubles using Generation 2 VMs with Ubuntu Server, but I’m having better luck with CentOS. If you use Generation 2 with your CentOS VMs on Hyper-V 2012 R2/8.1 or earlier, remember to disable Secure Boot. If using 2016, you can leave Secure Boot enabled as long as you select the “Microsoft Certification Authority”.
  • If your Hyper-V host is a member of a failover cluster and the Linux VM will be HA, use a static MAC address. Linux doesn’t respond well when its MAC addresses change.

The following is a sample script that you can modify to create a Linux virtual machine in Hyper-V: You can find a more polished edition in my GitHub repository.

If you’re going to use this a lot, consider modifying the parameter defaults to your liking. For instance, you’re probably not going to move your install ISO often.

You could also use your first installation as the basis for a clone. Use a generic name for the VM/VHDX if that’s your plan.

A Walkthrough of CentOS Installation

When you first boot, it will default to Test this media & install CentOS 7. I typically skip the media check and just Install CentOS Linux 7.

installing CentOS

It will run through several startup items, then it will load the graphical installer. Choose your language:

CentOS 7 installer

After selecting the language, you’ll be brought to the Installation Summary screen. Wait a moment for it to detect your environment. As an example, the screen initially shows Not Ready for the Security Policy. It will change to No profile selected once it has completed its checks.

CentOS Installation Destination

You can work through the items in any order. Anything without the warning triangle can be skipped entirely.

I start with the NETWORK & HOST NAME screen as that can have bearing on other items. When you first access the screen, it will show Disconnected because it hasn’t been configured yet. That’s different behavior from Windows, which will only show disconnected if the virtual network adapter is not connected to a virtual switch.

CentOS network and host name

If you’ll be using DHCP, click the Off slider button at the top right for it to attempt to get an IP. If that works, it will automatically switch to On and display the acquired IP address. For static or advanced configuration, click the Configure. I’ve shown the IPv4 Settings tab. You can type out the full octet mask instead of the CIDR shortcut, if you prefer. Fill out this tab, and/or the others, as necessary.

IPv4 settings

Don’t forget to change the host name at the lower left of the networking screen and Apply it before clicking Done to leave this screen.

After you’ve set up networking, set the DATE & TIME. If it can detect a network connection, you’ll be allowed to set the Network Time slider to On. Configure as desired.

CentOS date and time

You must click into the Installation Destination screen or the installer will not allow you to proceed. By default, it will select the entirety of the first hard drive for installation. It will automatically figure out the best way to divide storage. You can override it if you like. If you’re OK with defaults, just click Done.

CentOS installation destination

Explore the other screens as you desire. I don’t set anything else on my systems. At this point, you have handled all the required and can click Begin Installation.

installation summary

While the system installs, you’ll be allowed to set the root password and create the initial user.configuration

As you enter the password for root, the system will evaluate its strength. If it decides that the password you chose isn’t strong enough, you’ll be forced to click Done twice to confirm. The root account is the rough equivalent of the Administrator account on Windows, so do take appropriate steps to secure it with a strong password and exercise care in the keeping of that password.

root password

The user creation screen is straightforward. It has the same password-strength behavior as the root screen.

create user

Now just wait for the installation to complete. Click Finish Configuration if prompted. Once the installation completes, it will present a Reboot button. Click when ready.

The system will restart and bring you to the login screen of a completely installed CentOS virtual machine:

CentOS Linux 7 virtual machine

Assuming that you created a named user for yourself and made it administrator, log in with that account. Otherwise, you can log in as root. It’s poor practice to use the root account directly, and even worse to leave the root account logged in.

CentOS Post-Install Wrap-Up for Hyper-V

I have a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem here. You need to do a handful of things to wrap-up, but to do that easily, it helps to know some things about Linux. If you already know about Linux, this will be no problem. Otherwise, just follow along blindly. I’ll explain more afterward. CentOS doesn’t need much, fortunately.

To make this a bit easier, you might want to wait until you’ve met PuTTY. It allows for simple copy/paste actions. Otherwise, you’ll need to type things manually or use the Paste Clipboard feature in the Hyper-V VMCONNECT window. Whatever you choose, just make sure that you follow these steps sooner rather than later.

1. Install Nano

Editing text files is a huge part of the Linux world. It’s also one of the most controversial, bordering on zealotry. “vi” is the editor of choice for a great many. Its power is unrivaled; so is its complexity. I find using vi to be one of the more miserable experiences in all of computing, and I refuse to do it when given any choice. Conversely, the nano editor is about as simple as a text-editing tool can be in a character mode world and I will happily use it for everything. Install it as follows:

The command is case-sensitive and you will be prompted for your password if not logged in as root.

2. Enable Dynamic Memory In-Guest

You need to enable the Hot Add feature to use Dynamic Memory with CentOS.

Start by creating a “rules” file. The location is important (/etc/udev/rules.d) but the name isn’t. I’ll just use the same one from Microsoft’s instructions:

You may be prompted for your password.

You’ll now be looking at an empty file in the nano editor. Type or paste the following:

Now press [CTRL]+[X] to exit, then press [Y] to confirm and [Enter] to confirm the filename.

At next reboot, Dynamic Memory will be functional.

3. Install Extra Hyper-V Tools

Note: the daemons ship directly in 18.10, so you can probably skip this step.

Most of the tools you need to successfully run Linux on Hyper-V are built into the CentOS distribution. There are a few additional items that you might find of interest:

  • VSS daemon (for online backup)
  • File copy daemon so you can use PowerShell to directly transfer files in from the host
  • KVP daemon for KVP transfers to and from the host

To install them:

4. Change the Disk I/O Scheduler

By default, Linux wants to help optimize disk I/O. Hyper-V also wants to optimize disk I/O. Two optimizers are usually worse than none. Let’s disable CentOS’s.

You must be root for this.

You’ll be prompted for the root password.

The above will change the scheduler to “noop”, which means that CentOS will not attempt to optimize I/O for the primary hard disk. “exit” tells CentOS to exit from the root login back to your login.

Credit for the echo method goes to the authors at nixCraft.

10 Tips for Getting Started with CentOS Linux on Hyper-V

This section is for those with Windows backgrounds. If you already know Linux, you probably won’t get anything out of this section. I will write it from the perspective of a seasoned Windows user. Nothing here should be taken as a slight against Linux.

1. Text Acts Very Differently

Above all, remember this: Linux is CaSE-SENsiTiVe.

  • yum and Yum are two different things. The first is a command. The second is a mistake.
  • File and directory names must always be typed exactly.

Password fields do not echo anything to the screen.

2. Things Go the Wrong Way

In Windows, you’re used to C: drives and D: drives and SMB shares that start with \.

In Linux, everything begins with the root, which is just a single /. Absolutely everything hangs off of the root in some fashion. You don’t have a D: drive. Starting from /, you have a dev location, and drives are mounted there. For the SATA virtual drives in your Hyper-V machine, they’ll all be sda, sdb, sdc, etc. So, /dev/sdb would be the equivalent to your Windows D: drive. Usually, we use mount points instead of accessing files and folders from their hardware-based root. So, when you retrieve a listing of the root directory, the items you see could exist on more than one drive.

Partitions are just numbers appended to the drive. sda1, sda2, etc.

Directory separators are slashes (/) not backslashes (). A directory that you’ll become familiar with is usr. It lives at /usr.

Moving around the file system should be familiar, as the Windows command line uses similar commands. Linux typically uses ls where Windows uses dir, but CentOS accepts dir. cd and mkdir work as they do on Windows. Use rm to delete things. Use cp to copy things. Use mv to move things. Also use mv to rename things.

You cannot run an executable in the same folder just by typing its name and pressing [Enter], as in the Windows command processor. PowerShell behaves the same way, so that may not be strange to you. Use dot and slash to run a script or binary in the same folder:

Linux doesn’t use file extensions. Instead, it uses attributes. So, if you create the equivalent of a batch file and then try to execute it, Linux won’t have any idea what you want to do. You need to mark it as executable first. Do so like this:

As you might expect, -x removes the executable attribute.

The default Linux shell does have tab completion, but it’s not the same as what you find on Windows. It will only work for files and directories, for starters. Second, it doesn’t cycle through possibilities the way that PowerShell does. The first tab press works if there is only one way for the completion to work. A second tab press will show you all possible options. You can use other shells with more power than the default, although I’ve never done it.

3. Quick Help is Available

Most commands and applications have a h and/or a help parameter that will give you some information on running them. –help is often more detailed than -h. You can sometimes type  man commandname  to get other help (“man” is short for “manual”). It’s not as consistent as PowerShell help, mostly because each executable and script author must come up with their own help text. Also, PowerShell’s designers got to work with the benefits of hindsight and rigidly controlled design and distribution.

4. You Can Go Home

You’ve got your own home folder, which is the rough equivalent of the “My Documents” folder in Windows. It’s at the universal alias ~. So, cd ~  takes you to your home folder. You can reference files in it with ~/filename.

5. Boss Mode

“root” is the equivalent of “Administrator” on Windows. But, the account you made has nearly the same powers — although not exactly on demand. You won’t have root powers until you specifically ask for them with “sudo”. It’s sort of like “Run as administrator” in Windows, but a lot easier. In fact, the first time you use sudo, the intro text tells you a little bit about it:

centos_sudo

So basically, if you’re going to do something that needs admin powers, you just type “sudo” before the command, just like it says. The first time, it will ask for a password. It will remember it for a while after that. However, 99% of what I do is administrative stuff, so I pop myself into a sudo session that persists until I exit, like this:

You’ll have to enter your password once, and then you’ll be in sudo mode. You can tell that you’re in sudo mode because the dollar sign in te prompt will change to a hash sign:

centos_sudos

I only use Linux for administrative work, so I always use the account with my name on it. However, even when it’s not in sudo mode, it’s still respected as an admin-level account. If you will be using a Linux system as your primary (i.e., you’ll be logged in often), create a non-administrative account to use. You can flip to your admin account or root anytime:

Always respect the power of these accounts.

6. “Exit” Means Never Having to Say Goodbye

People accustomed to GUIs with big red Xs sometimes struggle with character mode environments. “exit” works to end any session. If you’re layered in, as in with sudo or su, you may need to type “exit” a few times. “logout” works in most, but not all contexts.

7. Single-Session is for Wimps

One of the really nifty things about Linux is multiple concurrent sessions. When you first connect, you’re in terminal 1 (tty1). Press [Alt]+[Right Arrow]. Now you’re in tty2! Keep going. 6 wraps back around to 1. [Alt]+[Left Arrow] goes the other way.

You need to be logged in to determine which terminal you’re viewing. Just type tty.

8. Patches, Updates, and Installations, Oh My.

Pretty much all applications and OS components are “packages”. “yum” and “rpm” are your package managers. They’re a bit disjointed, but you can usually find what you need to know with a quick Internet search.

Have your system check to see if updates are available (more accurately, this checks the version data on download sources):

Install package patches and upgrades:

There’s also an “upgrade” option which goes a bit further. Update is safer, upgrade gets more.

Show all installed packages that yum knows about:

The rpm tool shows different results, but for my uses yum is sufficient.

Find a particular installed package, in this case, “hyperv” (spelling/case counts!):

Look for available packages:

Install something (in this case, the Apache web server):

9. System Control

CentOS’s equivalent to Task Manager is top. Type top at a command prompt and you’ll be taken right to it. Use the up and down arrows and page up and page down to move through the list. Type a question mark [?] to be taken to the help menu that will show you what else you can do. Type [Q] to quit.

10. OK, I’m Done Now

If you’ve used the shutdown command in Windows, then you’ll have little trouble transitioning to Linux. shutdown tells Linux to shut down gracefully with a 1-minute timer. All active sessions get a banner telling them what’s coming.

Immediate shutdown (my favorite):

Reboot immediately:

There’s an -H switch which, if I’m reading this right, does a hard power off. I don’t use that one.

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Useful Tools for CentOS Linux

Manipulating your CentOS environment from the VMConnect console will get tiring quickly. Here are some tools to make managing it much easier.

Text Editors

I already showed you nano. Just type nano at any prompt and press [Enter] and you’ll be in the nano screen. The toolbar at the bottom shows you what keypresses are necessary to do things, ex: [CTRL]+[X] to exit. Don’t forget to start it with sudo if you need to change protected files.

The remote text editing tool that I use is Notepad++. It is a little flaky — I sometimes get Access Denied errors with it that I don’t get in any other remote tool (setting it to Active mode seems to help a little). But, the price is hard to beat. If I run into real problems, I run things through my home folder. To connect Notepad++ to your host:

  1. In NPP, go to Plugins->NppFTP->Show NppFTP Window (only click if it’s not checked):
    NPP FTP Window Selector

    NPP FTP Window Selector

  2. The NppFTP window pane will appear at the far right. Click the icon that looks like a gear (which is, unfortunately, gray in color so it always looks disabled), then click Profile Settings:NPP FTP Profile Item
  3. In the Profile Settings window, click the Add New button. This will give you a small window where you can provide the name of the profile you’re creating. I normally use the name of the system.
    Add FTP Profile
  4. All the controls will now be activated.
    1. In the Hostname field, enter the DNS name or the IP address of the system you’re connecting to (if you’re reading straight through, you might not know this yet).
    2. Change the Connection type to SFTP.
    3. If you want, save the user name and password. I don’t know how secure this is. I usually enter my name and check Ask for password. If you don’t check that and don’t enter a password, it will assume a blank password.
      NPP FTP Profile

      NPP FTP Profile

  5. You can continue adding others or changing anything you like (I suggest going to the Transfers tab and setting the mode to Active). Click Close when ready.
  6. To connect, click the Connect icon which will now be blue-ish. It will have a drop-down list where you can choose the profile to connect to.NPP FTP Connect
  7. On your first connection, you’ll have to accept the host’s key:NPP Host Key
  8. If the connection is successful, you’ll attach to your home folder on the remote system. Double-clicking an item will attempt to load it. Using the save commands in NPP will save back to the Linux system directly.NPP FTP Directory

Remember that NPP is a Windows app, and as a Windows app, it wants to save files in Windows format (I know, weird, right?). Windows expects that files encoded in human-readable formats will end lines using a carriage-return character and a linefeed character (CRLF, commonly seen escaped as rn). Linux only uses the linefeed character (LF, commonly seen escaped as n). Some things in Linux will choke if they encounter a carriage return. Any time you’re using NPP to edit a Linux file, go to Edit -> EOL Conversion -> UNIX/OSX Format.

NPP EOL Conversion

NPP EOL Conversion

WinSCP

WinSCP allows you to move files back and forth between your Windows machine and a Linux system. It doesn’t have the weird permissions barriers that Notepad++ struggles with, but it also doesn’t have its editing powers.

  1. Download and install WinSCP. I prefer the Commander view but do as you like.
  2. In the Login dialog, highlight New Site and fill in the host’s information:WinSCP Profiles
  3. Click Save to keep the profile. It will present a small dialog asking you to customize how it’s saved. You can change the name or create folders or whatever you like.
  4. With the host entry highlighted, click Login. You’ll be prompted with a key on first connect:WinSCP Key
  5. Upon clicking Yes, you’ll be connected to the home folder. If you get a prompt that it’s listening on FTP, something went awry because the install process we followed does not include FTP. Check the information that you plugged in and try the connection again.
  6. WinSCP integrates with the taskbar for quick launching:WinSCP Taskbar

PuTTY

The biggest tool in your Linux-controlling arsenal will be PuTTY. This gem is an SSH client for Windows. SSH (secure shell) is how you remote control Linux systems. Use it instead of Hyper-V’s virtual machine connection. It’s really just a remote console. PuTTY, however, adds functionality on top of that. It can keep sessions and it gives you dead-simple copy/paste functionality. Highlight text, and it’s copied. Right-click the window, and it’s pasted at the cursor location.

  1. Download PuTTY. I use the installer package myself but do as you like.
  2. Type in the host name or IP address in that field.PuTTY Profiles
  3. PuTTY doesn’t let you save credentials. But, you can save the session. Type a name for it in the Saved Sessions field and then click Save to add it to the list. Clicking Load on an item, or double-clicking it, will populate the connection field with the saved details.
  4. Click Open when ready. On the first connection, you’ll have to accept the host key:PuTTY Key
  5. You’ll then have to enter your login name and password. Then you’ll be brought to the same type of screen that you saw in the console:PuTTY Console
  6. Right-click the title bar of PuTTY for a powerful menu. The menu items change based on the session status. I have restarted the operating system for the screenshot below so that you can see the Restart Session item. This allows you to quickly reconnect to a system that you dropped from… say, because you restarted it.PuTTY Menu
  7. PuTTY also has taskbar integration:PuTTY Taskbar
  8. When you’re all done, remember to use “exit” to end your session.

Your Journey Has Begun

From here, I leave you to explore your fresh new Linux environment. If you’d like, we have an article on using CentOS to host a Nagios environment for monitoring your Hyper-V environment.

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Author: Eric Siron