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Keeping a PC Personal At School? 695

Posted by kdawson
from the mine-mine-mine dept.
Berto Kraus writes "As one of the most tech-oriented students in my art-oriented institution, I'm usually the one with the laptop. This causes frequent requests from other students to read mail, check some site, or connect it to the projector to display a file from their Flash drive. For the sake of my privacy, the health of my laptop, and my own peace of mind, I'm reluctant. But telling my compatriots to go to our building supervisor and ask him for a desktop-on-a-cart, as they should do, is considered rude and unfriendly. Now, I could dual-boot Ubuntu, or carry around a Linux-on-a-stick. Or I could embed the computer in my skull. For many reasons, none of these solutions is ideal. So I'm asking you, insightful and funny Slashdotters, what would you do to keep your PC personal at school?"
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Keeping a PC Personal At School?

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  • by tpgp (48001) * on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:32AM (#28178259) Homepage

    "As one of the most tech-oriented students

    Tech oriented? Why don't you come up with a solution then? This is not a hard problem to solve.

    in my art-oriented institution"

    Aaaaaaaaah, OK. I see where you're coming from.

    The most obvious solution I can think of (assuming you're on XP/Vista) is for you to set up a second user and Fast user switch [microsoft.com] whenever someone else wants to use your laptop.

    Assuming your classmate's technical competence is below yours, that should be adequate security measures.

    --

    The Captcha is: Lars Traeger is full of shit [slashdot.org].

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:33AM (#28178267)

    I'm pretty sure even Windows Vista will keep your porn stash safe, if you log out of your account, and into a guest account for them.... all of 15 seconds. Just make sure you have to sign into your account and that your files are in your directory.

    You probably also want to edit the bios so that it only starts from the harddrive, and that nothing in the bios can be changed without a password

    Don't remember if XP Home enforces seperate directories.

    (There's also the word "no" when people ask...)

  • by broken_chaos (1188549) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:34AM (#28178275)

    And if you're not using Windows, both OSX and many Linux desktop environments integrate something similar. ...Though I suppose I'd have to guess your references to "dual booting Ubuntu" means with Windows, and not alongside another Linux distro or on a Macbook.

  • Keeping PC safe (Score:2, Informative)

    by ErikPeterson (912282) <dexters@erikg[ ]erson.com ['pet' in gap]> on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:42AM (#28178343)
    You could let them play inside a virtual machine: http://www.virtualbox.org/ [virtualbox.org] If you cant say no to people using your system having them trapped in a virtual machine may keep you from reloading windows on your box. If you use windows lock down Internet Explorer to unusual with an admin kit and force them to use Google Chrome, preventing some of the common nasties from eating your computer. The real question is why not just be rude, a laptop is a tool that you use for education most students I know don't have unlimited resources to replace laptops that are damaged by people who are borrowing them.
  • by binarythoughts (1313065) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:44AM (#28178361)

    Mac OS X (10.3 and higher) does have fast user switching.

  • by Shikaku (1129753) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:48AM (#28178411)

    Using VirtualBox. Set it up however you want, then make a snapshot and a save state. When somebody wants the computer, run VirtualBox and load the state (which is very fast to by the way), fullscreen VirtualBox and make the escape key (which will allow you to exit the VM) something much different from the default and only you know.

    It looks like a normal Windows install. Let them do whatever they want.

    When they are done, revert the image back to your to the snapshot. Works as if nothing happened.

  • Re:Sharing is bad (Score:5, Informative)

    by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:55AM (#28178461)
    Get a friend to pass around a rumor that he caught you watching a porn clip and masturbating onto the keyboard. Nobody will ask for it anymore.
  • by holloway (46404) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:57AM (#28178479) Homepage
    Since at least Ubuntu 7.10 (ie 2007 October) Ubuntu has had fast user switching [ubuntu.com]
  • Ubuntu guest mode (Score:4, Informative)

    by RenHoek (101570) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @02:59AM (#28178491) Homepage

    The most recent version of Ubuntu has a guest account that will let people do some web browsing and such, and after that person logs off, everything should be wiped clean automatically again.

    So that seems like it could work..

    Then again, you could just tell them to get their own toys. :)

  • Best advice (Score:1, Informative)

    by Korey Kaczor (1345661) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @03:16AM (#28178579)
    How about you actually be a man for once and tell people "no" without worrying about nonsense like manners and rudeness? You clearly don't want them to do it yet you tell them they can and let them simply because you don't want a confrontation.

    Here's a hint: tell them upfront you don't want them on your computer. Yet you don't because you're passive; you don't want people getting angry or getting back at you, yet you're in this conondrum because nobody there thinks you have backbone. And from your question you clearly don't, you just let people walk all over you because you're afraid of making someone angry.

    Stop asking questions on slashdot about how you can make someone else's viewing experience on your computer more pleasant for them instead of growing a spine yourself. It's clear you probably hand over your laptop while pretending to read your calc notes as if it's not a problem while secretely wishing they would get off so you could go back to IRC or whatever messenger you like. It certainly is a problem because you asked this question: what I want to know is why you enable them thru passivity and sycophantic considerations of having a boot flash drive for them. Booting from USB flash from laptops can take a good 5 to 10 minutes, especially with ubuntu, so I'm wondering why you think it's easier to not grow a spine than to have your time taken up by deadbeat students wanting to leech off you while providing you nothing in return.

    Sorry if this harsh (actually I'm not because you're too passive and that's a flaw of yourselrf) but you need to learn how to say no. You don't need flash drives for other people's benefits or whatnot, you need to grow a sack and tell people no without giving a damn what they think.

    At the very least, learn how to lie about being busy. Having to worry about being a lapdog for your fellow natty ice-drinking costudents is just disgraceful.
  • by SausageOfDoom (930370) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @04:30AM (#28179001)

    Or even better than switching users, install something like VirtualBox and install the OS of your choice on that, then create a snapshot of your clean OS installation. Disable auto-run for flash drives in your parent OS.

    When someone asks to borrow your machine, run the virtual machine, make it full-screen and let them do whatever they want. When they're finished, restore to the snapshot of the clean installation.

    Very minimal risk of your main OS being compromised by malware, and no access to your files and browsing history, unless they figure out how to get out of it - but even then I assume you'll be with your machine at all times to monitor usage. Otherwise, as the rest of the thread says, run virtualbox in a different user account to stop access to your files.

  • by Novus (182265) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @05:38AM (#28179333) Homepage

    When they can not find the @ key, they usually give up.

    How do you type an email address in Iceland?

    By pressing AltGr-Q to get an @ symbol, at least on XP. European keyboards often move characters that are seldom used (in whatever country the layout corresponds to) around to strange places to make room for extra alphabetic characters and dead keys with accents that can be combined with letter keys to produce accented characters. To compensate, the AltGr key (which replaces Right Alt) is added as an extra shift key. Apple keyboard layouts are, naturally, completely different, so one of the quickest ways to reduce a Finnish hacker to tears is to make him code on a Mac; for example, braces are hidden behind Alt-Shift-8 and Alt-Shift-9 (instead of the normal AltGr-7 and AltGr-0) and more often than not are not shown on the key tops!

    Part of the problem is programmers who don't care about international use (often Americans) and start using symbols that are easy for them to type but uncommon in other countries. That said, lots of European layouts feature gratuitous layout changes; for example, the German keyboard swaps Y and Z for no apparent reason.

    In conclusion, I'd say using an unusual keyboard layout is more likely to drive the technically-minded bonkers than the artistic. Unless it's Dvorak.

  • by Ihlosi (895663) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @05:44AM (#28179365)

    the German keyboard swaps Y and Z for no apparent reason.

    Compare the frequencies of the letters Y and Z in both English and German, and the reason becomes obvious.

  • Windows Steady State (Score:4, Informative)

    by MulluskO (305219) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @07:38AM (#28180045) Journal

    Here is a real answer:

    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/sharedaccess/default.mspx [microsoft.com]

    This is software from Microsoft which helps prevent unpriveleged users from altering your computer in any way. Install this, enable the guest account, and switch users when people ask to borrow your machine. You'll need a password on your account, of course.

  • Re:easy. (Score:3, Informative)

    by DesertBlade (741219) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @10:11AM (#28181621)
    Ubuntu already has a guest account built in. Easier then rebooting to a linux on a stick, and allows for fast user switching. If I remember correctly after logging out of the account everything is removed so it was like it was never used. The also have limited user rights so they can't hose up your system.
  • Re:easy. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Vu1turEMaN (1270774) on Tuesday June 02, 2009 @10:25AM (#28181867)

    You forgot step 2.

    1. Enable your guest account.

    2. Make sure your account has a password on it that is always prompted, so when the fast user switching kicks in and they log off the guest account, they can't get into your account without a password.

    My friend lent me his laptop once with a guest account, and i merely logged off of it and switched back to his account which wasn't password protected. Huge failboat.

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