How to mount and unmount ISO using Virtual CloneDrive

A lot of software is available as ISO files or IMG files and most folks would like to install this directly without having to go through the hassle of burning a DVD. This can be done by mounting the ISO file as a drive and installing from that drive.

Windows 7 and older Windows do not include the capability to mount a ISO file, but there are tools that offer this feature. The best I have found is Virtual CloneDrive. Download it, install it and any time you need to mount a ISO file, right-click it and choose Mount. When you are done and unmount it by clicking on the Virtual CloneDrive icon in the system tray.

Tried with: Virtual CloneDrive 5.4.6.0 and Windows 7 x64

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How to copy text in a dialog box in Windows

Problem

DirectX error
DirectX error

Windows programs can sometimes throw a dialog box or a message box with an error message or something similar in it. It might be necessary to copy the text displayed in the dialog. For example, you may want to search for the error text to find a solution.

Solution

The solution seems to be surprisingly simple. First, click anywhere in the dialog box, so that it gets focus. Next, press Ctrl+C Β to copy and paste it into any text editor by pressing Ctrl+V. All the text in the dialog box is copied over, including the title of the window and the text on the buttons.

For example, the error dialog box shown above generates this text when copied:

---------------------------
Renderer Error.
---------------------------
Unable to load d3dx9_43.dll. Please install the latest DirectX End User Runtime available at www.microsoft.com/directx.
---------------------------
OK
---------------------------

Tried with: Windows 7 x64

CPU-G: A CPU-Z clone for Ubuntu

CPU-Z is a popular tool on Windows to find out information about the CPU, motherboard and GPU. CPU-G tries to be an exact clone of CPU-Z for Linux.

To install CPU-G on Ubuntu, first add the repository ppa:cpug-devs/ppa. Next install CPU-G by using the package name cpu-g:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cpug-devs/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install cpu-g

Note: CPU-G has not seen updates in a long time. I prefer using i-Nex instead.

Tried with: CPU-G 0.11.1.1 and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

How to share the same Dropbox directory between Windows and Ubuntu

I use a computer where I dual boot between Windows and Ubuntu. To avoid wasting disk space, I would like to use the same Dropbox directory between both Windows and Ubuntu. Here is how I was able to do this:

  1. I first installed the Dropbox client on Windows. Assume it uses the directory C:\Users\joe\Dropbox in my NTFS partition.

  2. Boot into Ubuntu. Edit /etc/fstab so that the NTFS partition which contains the Dropbox directory on Windows is mounted automatically at boot. I assume it is mounted at /media/my-c-drive

  3. Install the Dropbox client for Ubuntu. During installation, let it pick its default directory as /home/joe/Dropbox

  4. You can see the Dropbox client running in the Panel. Quit it.

  5. Delete the Dropbox directory and replace it with a symbolic link to the Dropbox directory on the NTFS Windows partition:

$ rm -rf /home/joe/Dropbox
$ ln -s /media/my-c-drive/Users/joe/Dropbox /home/joe/Dropbox
  1. Start the Dropbox client again and you are done. It will use the same directory as that used by Windows for syncing.

Note: As you might have suspected, there is a small problem with this technique. Every time you switch between Windows and Ubuntu, the Dropbox client will re-index the contents of its directory. This will happen in the background, but it will consume CPU, disk and network bandwidth. How irritating this is depends on the size of your Dropbox directory. If your Dropbox directory is large, then this type of sharing can only be a temporary solution for these reasons.

Tried with: Windows 8 x64 and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

How to create a Ubuntu installer USB flash drive on Windows

  1. Download the ISO file of the Ubuntu you want to install. I prefer to download using BitTorrent for speed and robustness.

  2. Download and install the Linux Live USB Creator, also called LiLi. It is installed with the name LiLi USB Creator in the Windows Start menu or Start screen.

  3. Plug in a USB flash drive of capacity 1GB or more. It should be mounted by Windows as a drive.

  4. Run LiLi. Yes, it has a weird and funky GUI. Choose the USB drive and downloaded Ubuntu ISO file for installation. If the settings you chose are correct, you should be able to click the Lightning button at the bottom. LiLi should make a bootable Ubuntu installer on your USB flash drive.

Restart Windows and boot from the USB flash drive to install your Ubuntu.

Tried with: Windows 8 x64 and Ubuntu 12.04.2 LTS

How to use vim-powerline plugin in PuTTY and Windows

Statusline displayed by vim-powerline
Statusline displayed by vim-powerline

The vim-powerline plugin can be used to enable a statusline in Vim that is both beautiful and informative. Using it fully on Windows and especially for use with PuTTY has a few problems:

  1. The Consolas font needs to be patched to view the fancy Unicode symbols in the statusline.
  2. Visual mode string symbols are not downloaded properly from Github.
  3. Mercurial symbol in Consolas, a lightning symbol, does not display for some reason.
  4. Patched Consolas font name cannot be distinguished from the default Consolas in PuTTY.

I have forked the main vim-powerline repository and fixed these issues in it. These fixed files can be obtained here. Follow the instructions from my post on vim-powerline with this fork and you should be able to get the plugin running on Windows.

For PuTTY, remember to change the font for you SSH session to Powerline-Consolas and also ensure that the terminal can support 256 colors.

Tried with: PuTTY 0.62 and Windows 8 x64

Ubuntu Mono as fixed-width font on Windows

There are few good-looking fixed-width fonts. Now, Ubuntu has added a handsome new entry to this set.

Ubuntu Mono is an elegant and beautiful fixed-width font that can be used for terminals and source code. It can be downloaded for free here. Just unzip the file, select the .ttf files, right-click and choose Install.

Set Ubuntu Mono as the font in your PuTTY sessions, Visual Studio, Vim or any other editor. Enjoy the beauty of this font πŸ™‚

MarkdownPad: A markdown editor for Windows

The markdown format is increasingly used at websites like GitHub. Thus, there is a need for a simple markdown editor that can be used to edit and view markdown files.

MarkdownPad is a markdown editor for Windows which I found does this job well. Just download and install. Associate .md files with MarkdownPad, which can be found as MarkdownPad.appref-ms in the directory %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\MarkdownPad

Tried with: MarkdownPad 1.3.5.8 and Windows 7 Professional x64

Mercurial configuration files on Windows

On Windows, there are three types of configuration files read by Mercurial: local (to a particular repository), per-user and per-system. When a configuration setting appears in more than one of these files, the local overrides per-user which overrides per-system.

The local configuration file is named hgrc and is found in the .hg subdirectory of the repository.

The per-user configuration file can be named either .hgrc or Mercurial.ini. It can be placed either in %USERPROFILE% or %HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH% directory.

The per-system configuration file has to be named Mercurial.ini. It can be in the installation directory of Mercurial.

There are a couple of other per-system configuration options that are more complicated: .rc files in the installation directory or using the registry.

More information about configuration file names and paths can be found using:

$ hg help config

Tried with: Mercurial 2.3.2

Run Android applications on Windows with BlueStacks

BlueStacks

Since I do not use a smartphone I miss out on the functionality provided through iPhone or Android applications written by my university for the use of students and staff. For Android applications, I found aΒ saviour:Β BlueStacks. This is a Windows program that allows you to installΒ Android applications from the marketplace and run them. I found the search functionality in the marketplace pretty useless, but the installation and execution of applications worked without a hitch. Do note that this is not a smartphone or tablet emulator and nor it does it emulate the Android operating system. It can be used only to execute Android applications.

Tried with: BlueStacks Beta-1