Computer Software

Ubuntu, Lubuntu, Xubuntu, OS Elementary – which is best?

If you have got a laptop which is gathering dust in the bottom of the wardrobe it is time to bring it out and install Linux on it.

The more memory your laptop has determines which version of Linux is suitable.

If your laptop has 1gig of RAM or less, you will have to install OS Elementary Luna or Lubuntu or Xubuntu.

If you have more than 1gig of RAM, you can install the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS or OS Elementary Loki. This will allow you to install the latest version of the Chrome browser.

On an older machine with 1gig of RAM or less, OS Elementary Luna boots more quickly than Xubuntu or Lubuntu.

Lubuntu does not have desktop composition, which means windows can tear when you drag them.

Tip: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS has the latest NVIDIA video drivers included, so it will work on most machines. OS Elementary, Lubuntu and Xubuntu only have the generic video driver, so you may get an error such as a blurred or flickering screen.


Computer Software, Windows Vista

Is Windows Vista okay?

Windows Vista has had a bad press online. This was because it is not compatible with many programs written under Windows XP. However if you are using Vista on a machine will only has more modern software installed then it will be okay. Much software written for Windows 7,8,9,10 will install on Vista, so that’s a reason for keeping it.

If you have Vista should you upgrade to Wjndows 10? Probably not – your printer and scanner may no longer work. However your scanner will continue to work under Vista.

Check printer drivers,  camera software and so on for compatibility with Windows 10 before abandoning Vista.

Computer Software

Windows Vista dual boot with Linux

Microsoft online support of Windows Vista was discontinued on 11th April 2017, This means no further updates and bug fixes will be downloaded automatically.  However this does not mean you cannot continue to use Vista. If you are dual booting with Linux you can use a more up to date browser than is available under Windows Vista.

Computer Software

Raspian for i386 and Mac

Raspberry Pi org has made an experimental version* of Debian+PIXEL for Windows PC and Mac.

The drawback is you can only boot it from a USB stick or a DVD. If you boot it from DVD, you can’t save anything except files to another device. If you boot it from USB stick, it automatically creates a persistent partition on the USB stick so data will be saved on the boot volume. Download is 1.3 gig, be warned if you are not on broadband unlimited.

Pixel for 386

Tip: the following command will set the correct date and time for your region

sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

*experimental version means “does not operate reliably”. Your laptop may shutdown without warning.

Tip: Pixel can be installed on the original Raspberry Pi, if you happen to have one. The Raspberry Pi 3 is  better, but is an additional expense requiring a more powerful power supply.

Tip: If you install OS Elementary on your laptop, you can operate the original Raspberry Pi through VNC and SSH.

Caveat: If you do a sudo get-update etc., on the 386 version of Raspbian, it doesn’t do anything. Next time you boot, you will be back to square one.

Pixel does not have desktop composition which means items on the screen can tear if you drag them. Avoid dragging windows to prevent a mess appearing on your screen.

Computer Software

Apple II (6502) Disk Image Transfer Notes

I have got an old Apple II computer with no 5.25 boot disks what can I do?

If you have an old Apple II, you can get software for it by downloading disk images off the Internet.

Equipment needed:

a) An Apple II, II+, IIe

b) Spare diskettes

c)  Audio Lead.

d) Modern computer with internet connection.

The following web site explains what you have to do. (You connect your modern computer to the apple’s cassette port). This obviates the need to make up (or purchase) a connecting lead and is, of course, the solution if you have no RS232 serial card for your Apple II.

Images for Raspberry Pi software

The above site’s homepage is here.

Apple II and Mac disk Hints and tips

a) Any 5.25 disk which has DOS3.3 on it can be used to boot the Apple II. However many games boot up non-standard versions of DOS to prevent copying. To avoid problems like this boot the machine  in the first instance with a copy of DOS 3.3 system master which is the first disk you should download and make into a real disk.

b) The Macintosh LC has a slot which can accept an Apple II plug in card. You can connect an Apple Platinum 5.25 inch drive to the disk connector on this plug-in card and transfer files this way.  Only a the special “platinum” drive can be connected – other Disk II drives do not have the correct pin outs. The Apple IIc external drive has the same kind of connector as the Platinum drive, but it cannot be connected to a Mac LC.

c) To use the Apple II plug-in card for the LC you need an LC 1 with System 6. The installation disks for the Apple II card can be downloaded off the Internet.

d) If you run the S6 Installer for the LC Apple II card, it installs the ProDOS file extension which allows you to format part of your Mac’s hard drive as a ProDOS partition.

e) If you have installed S6, you can update the LC to S7.5   You can use “System Picker” to choose whether to boot the machine into S6 or S7.5.

f) The Apple II LC card works under S6. You can use it under S7.5 etc, but there are reliability issues.

g) If you get the ProDOS file extension (from the Mac LC installer disk), and you put it into the Extensions folder of your 68k or PPC Mac, it will allow ProDOS disks to be accessed.

h) Any LC model, LCII, LCIII, Performa 475 etc., can accept an Apple II card, but most reliable operation is with an LC 1. Any LC model will be good enough to transfer images and files, but expect a few bombs.

Amiga A500

a) If you have an Amiga A500 with a 5.25 inch floppy drive you can use that to transfer files to and from the Apple II. This project is beyond the scope of this blog. Google it if you are interested. Send a reply to this blog if you are successful.

b) The MessyDos program can be used to format diskettes to the old 800k format used by  old Macs and PCs.

Method: On the Amiga A500, use the “Dirwork1.62” program to transfer files to an MS-DOS formatted diskette. You can then put this disk in the Mac.

Hot tip: if you have an XP or Vista machine it will read a disk created on the Amiga by MessyDOS. However, the XP or Vista machine cannot format floppy disks to this old standard. You must first format them on the Amiga. To do this you need to create a MessyDOS boot disk on the Amiga. The Amiga can only read MS-DOS diskettes in its internal drive if it has been booted from this special disk you’ve made.

The Amiga cannot read the later 1.4 meg diskettes used in the Mac LC etc. However it can use this diskettes if they are formatted to the older standard using MessyDOS.

Method: plug a usb floppy disk drive into your Mac, XP or Vista machine.

Transferring Word processing Files from Apple II to Mac/Win/Linux

a) Text files created  by the Apple II are often stored in a format that cannot be opened on a modern computer so it is of no use transferring the files across directly.

b) There is a way round this.

c) On the Apple II, choose the serial port as the printer and “print” the files to your modern computer. More detailed instructions exist. Google it.

d) If you haven’t got a serial port you can get round this by transferring the disks to the internet as images via the cassette port. You will then have to run the Wordprocessing program on an emulator such as Winapple, and print to disk that way.

d) Hot tip. You can connect a modern computer to an Apple II serial port by using an RS232 to Serial dongle.




Disk transfers with Apple II and modern Windows/Linux/Mac

With a modern computer you can use ADT pro to transfer disk images to an Apple II with a serial or cassette port.

ADT pro in written in the JAVA programming language which means JAVA must be installed on your computer for you to be able to use it. You can determine whether or not your computer has JAVA by going to

If you get an error, install Firefox. With Firefox installed you will be able to download and test JAVA on your machine. If it works then you are good to go with ADT Pro.

Google Chrome Hot Tip.

If you have Google Chrome, install “VNC Viewer for Google Chrome” extension. It will allow you to view your Raspberry Pi’s desktop without installing any additional software on your machine.

Computer Software


If you have followed this blog you will have seen the previous post on transferring Apple II disk images using a Mac. An easy way is if you have an Apple IIGS which will accept an old Apple II controller card. Plug in your old Apple II drives into the GS and you can quite easily transfer files to 3.25 inch floppies. If at some point in the future you acquire a GS, you can connect it to any old television you happen to have using a SCART connector.

You cannot connect a Macintosh in this way.






Computer Software

Apple II to 68k Mac disk transfer

Apple II to 68k Mac disk transfer instructions

1. Equipment needed

a) Beige Mac 68k or PPC

b) Apple IIc with 5.25 drive

c) Connecting lead made up as shown below.

2. Software:

a) On the Mac: “MacADT 1.20a1”

b) On the Apple IIc “ADT” (on a 5.25 inch floppy disk)

3. Method

a) On the Apple IIc


b) Set disk slot 6

c) set drive 2 for modem port

d) set SSC Slot 2

e) set SSC speed to 9600 (4800 if using an old Mac Classic)

f) You can now choose either to send or receive disk images.

4. Sending a disk image to the Apple IIc

On the Apple IIc, where it says “File to receive”, enter the exact file name of your disk image to be transferred. The image file needs to be in the same folder as the ADT application on the 68k Mac.

5. Transferring disk images to a PPC Mac.

a) On the 68k Mac, drag the resulting disk image file to a floppy disk. Put the disk in an external floppy drive attached to your iMac or whatever machine you are using.

6. Dealing with disk images.

On the 68k Mac use “A233Utility 1.0.0.” to extract DOS3.3 files from your disk image. The images may be loaded directly into A233Utility after having been created by Mac ADT.