Forcing an upgrade to Windows 10 Anniversary Update

There remain people who advise those on Windows 7 or 8.x to hold fire on upgrading to Windows 10. Now that the free upgrade no longer is available, that advice may hold more weight than it did. Even so, there are those among us who jumped ship who do not mind having the latest versions of things at no monetary cost to see what is available and I must admit to being one of those.

After all, I do have a virtual machine with a pre-release version of the next update to Windows 10 installed on there to see what might be coming our way and to get a sense of what changes that may bring so that I am ready for those. Otherwise, I usually am happy to wait but I noticed that the Windows 10 Anniversary Update only came to my HP Pavilion dm4 laptop and not other machines with Windows 10 installed so I started to wonder why there was a lag when it came to automatic upgrades.

So that these things do not arrive when it is least convenient, I took advantage of a manual method in order to choose my timing. This did not involve installation from a disk image but was in-situ. The first part of the process is standard enough in that the Settings app was started and the Update & security item chosen. That dropped me onto the Windows Update and I first clicked on the Check for updates button to see what would happen. When nothing came of that, the Learn more link was clicked to bring me onto part of the Microsoft support website where I found that the Windows 10 Anniversary Update installer could be downloaded so I duly did just that.

Running it produced a screen asking whether or not I wanted to proceed. Since I wanted to go ahead, the appropriate button was clicked and the machine left alone until the process complete. Because the installer purely is a facilitator, the first stage is to download the rest of the files needed and that will take a while on any connection. Once downloading was completed, the actual process of installation commenced with several restarts before a log-in screen was again on offer. On logging in to the machine, the last part of the process started.

The process took quite a while but seemingly worked without a hitch. If there was anything that I needed to do, it was the re-installation of VirtualBox Guest Additions to restore access to shared folders as well as dealing with a self-inflicted irritation. Otherwise, I have found that previously installed software worked as expected and no file has been missed. Waiting a while may have had its advantages too because initial issues with the Anniversary Update will have been addressed but it is best not to leave it too long or you could have the feeling of being forgotten. A happy balance needs striking.

A collection of legal BitTorrent sites

It was an article in a magazine that revealed these legal BitTorrent download sites to me so I thought that I’d keep them on file for future reference while also sharing them with others who might need them. As far as I am aware, they are all legal in that no copyrighted material is on there. If that changes, I am happy to know and make amendments as needed.

My own interest in torrents arise from their being a convenient way to download installation disk images for Linux distributions and at least one of the entries is devoted to just that. However, the distribution also lends itself to movies along with music and books so that is reflected below too. With regard to downloading actual multimedia content, there is so much illegal downloading that a list like this is needed and has blackened the reputation of BitTorrent too because it only ever was conceived as a means for distributing large files in a peer-to-peer manner without the use of a single server. Of course, any use can be found for a technology and it never has to be legal or morally acceptable either.

Archive.org

BitTorrent Bundle

Bt.etree.org

Fanatics4Classics

FrostClick

Gameupdates.org

Legit Torrents

Linux Tracker

Public Domain Torrents

The Vuze Blog

Removing advertisements from uTorrent

BitTorrent may have got some bad press due to its use for downloading copyrighted material such as music and movies but it does have its legitimate uses too. In my case, many a Linux distro has been downloaded in this way and it does take the weight off servers by distributing the load across users instead.

Speaking of Linux, my general choice of client has been Transmission and there are others. In the Windows world, there is a selection that includes BitTorrent, Inc. themselves. However, many favour uTorrent (or μTorrent) so that’s the one that I tried and there free and subscription-based options. To me, the latter feels like overkill when an eternal licence could be made available as an easy way to dispatch the advertisements on display in the free version.

As much as I appreciate the need for ads to provide revenue to a provider of otherwise free software, they do need to be tasteful and those in uTorrent often were for dating websites that had no scruples about exposing folk to images that were unsuitable for a work setting. Those for gaming websites were more tolerable in comparison. With the non-availability of an eternal licence option, I was left pondering alternatives like qBittorrent instead. That is Free Software too so it does have that added advantage.

However, I uncovered an article on LifeHacker that sorted my problem with uTorrent. The trick is to go into Options > Preferences via the menus and then go to the Advanced section in the dialogue box that appears. In there, go looking for each of the following options and set each one to false in turn:

  • offers.left_rail_offer_enabled/left_rail_offer
  • gui.show_plus_upsell
  • offers.sponsored_torrent_offer_enabled/sponsored_torrent_offer_enabled
  • bt.enable_pulse
  • gui.show_notorrents_node
  • offers.content_offer_autoexec

In practice, I found some of the above already set to false and another missing but set those that remained from true to false cleaned up the interface so I hope never to glimpse those unsuitable ads again. The maker of uTorrent need to look at the issue or revenue could get lost and prospective users could see the operation as being cheapened by what is displayed. As for me, I am happy to have gained something in the way of control.

Sorting out a system update failure for FreeBSD

With my tendency to apply Linux updates using the command, I was happy to see that something similar was possible in FreeBSD too. The first step is to fire up a terminal session and drop into root using the su command. That needs the root superuser password in order to continue and the next step is to update the local repositories using the following command:

pkg update

After that, it is time download updated packages and install these by issuing this command:

pkg upgrade

Most of the time, that is sufficient but I discovered that there are times when the above fails and additional interventions are needed. What I had uncovered were dependency error messages and I set to looking around the web for remedies to this. One forum question that was similar to what I had met with the suggestion of consulting the file called UPDATING in /usr/ports/. An answer like that looks unhelpful but for the inclusion of advice where extra actions were needed. Also, there is a useful article on updating FreeBSD ports that gives more in the way of background knowledge so you understand the more about what needs doing.

Following both that and the UPDATING  file resulted in my taking the following sequence of steps. The first act was to download and initialise the Ports Collection, a set of build instructions.

portsnap fetch extract

The above is a one time only action so future updates are done as follows:

portsnap fetch update

With an up to date Ports Collection in place, it was time to install portman:

pkg install portman

A look through /usr/ports/UPDTAING revealed the commands I needed for updating Python and Perl to address the dependency problem that I was having:

portmaster -o devel/py-setuptools27 devel/py-setuptools
portmaster -r py\*setuptools

With those completed, I re-ran pkg update again and all was well. The extra actions needed to get that result will not get forgotten and I am sharing them on here so I know where they are. If anyone else has use for them, that would be even better.

A reappraisal of Windows 8 and 8.1 licensing

With the release of Windows 8 around this time last year, I thought that the full retail version that some of us got for fresh installations on PC’s, real or virtual, had become a thing of the past. In fact, it did seem that every respecting technology news website and magazine was saying just that. The release that you would buy from Microsft or from mainstream computer stores was labelled as an upgrade. That made it look as if you needed the OEM or System Builder edition for those PC’s that needed a new Windows installation and that the licence that you bought was then attached to the machine from when it got installed on there.

As is usual with Microsoft, the situation is less clear cut than that. For instance, there was some back-pedalling to allow OEM editions of Windows to be licensed for personal use on real or virtual PC’s. With Windows & and its predecessors, it even was possible to be able to install afresh on a PC without Windows by first installing on inactivated copy on there and then upgrading that as if it was a previous version of Windows. Of course, an actual licence was of the previous version of Windows was needed for full compliance if not the actual installation. At times, Microsoft muddies waters so as to keep its support costs down.

Even with Microsoft’s track record in mind, it still did surprise me when I noticed that Amazon was selling what appeared to be full versions of both Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro. Having set up a 64-bit VirtualBox virtual machine for Windows 8.1, I got to discovering the same for software purchased from the Microsoft web site. However, unlike the DVD versions, you do need an active Windows installation if you fancy a same day installation of the downloaded software. For those without Windows on a machine, this can be as simple as downloading either the 32-bit or the 64-bit 90 day evaluation editions of Windows 8.1 Enterprise and using that as a springboard for the next steps. This not only be an actual in-situ installation but there options to create an ISO or USB image of the installation disk for later installation.

In my case, I created a 64-bit ISO image and used that to reboot the virtual machine that had Windows 8.1 Enterprise on there before continuing with the installation. By all appearances, there seemed to be little need for a pre-existing Windows instance for it to work so it looks as if upgrades have fallen by the wayside and only full editions of Windows 8.1 are available now. The OEM version saves money so long as you are happy to stick with just one machine and most users probably will do that. As for the portability of the full retail version, that is not something that I have tested and I am unsure that I will go beyond what I have done already.

My main machine has seen a change of motherboard, CPU and memory so it could have de-activated a pre-existing Windows licence. However, I run Linux as my main operating system and, apart possibly from one surmountable hiccup, this proves surprisingly resilient in the face of such major system changes. For running Windows, I turn to virtual machines and there were no messages about licence activation during the changeover either. Microsoft is anything but confiding when it comes to declaring what hardware changes inactivate a licence. Changing a virtual machine from VirtualBox to VMware or vice versa definitely so does it so I tend to avoid doing that. One item that is fundamental to either a virtual or a real PC is the mainboard and I have seen suggestions that this is the critical component for Windows licence activation and it would make sense if that was the case.

However, this rule is not hard and fast either since there appears to be room for manoeuvre should your PC break. It might be worth calling Microsoft after a motherboard replacement to see if they can help you and I have seen that it is. All in all, Microsoft often makes what appear to be simple rules only to override them when faced with what happens in the real world. Is that why they can be unclear about some matters at times? Do they still hanker after how they want things to be even when they are impossible to keep like that?