Note to Self

Get a new Windows computer under control

I just bought a new Windows laptop for myself, and I thought it could be useful to document the steps necessary to get it under control and make it “my own”. Of course, first you have to run through the standard steps proscribed by the manufacturer. But as soon as Windows reports itself to be ready for service, the fun begins.

Use a local account, not a Windows account

My computer did that all by itself during the initial installation; it gave me hints that I could use an “online account” instead but created a local one by default. If yours doesn't, there's probably a lot of help on the net on how to get a local account.

Be careful when you log into any Microsoft app later. They try to trick you into converting your user into the Microsoft account. Look out for a tiny little link instead of the big button!

Register more fingers

During initial installation, it only registered one finger. I usually register several, like the index and middle fingers on both hands.

Give the thing a name and integrate it into your home network

In my case, that entails putting into my hosts database and re-generate the DNS and DHCP files and restart the servers. Obviously, there is a script for that.

Clean out the start menu

Right-click every single tile and remove it from Start. It's tedious, but you only have to do it once.

Uninstall any bloatware

I leave everything on that seems hardware-related. But any “trial versions” of anything can go. Especially any virus scanners. Or Microsoft Office.

Update everything

If your computer came with an updater for the system software from the manufacturer, use that until it is happy. Then use the Microsoft updater until it finds nothing more to update. If available, also update to the latest version of Windows 10. (When I wrote this article originally, 1903 was the latest, but the new computer came with 1809 installed on it.)

Get a place where you can drop random executables

Installing stuff manually under C:\Program Files can be a royal pain. I create another folder in the root, such as C:\Other\Misc , and put that into the PATH . If you are going to use CVS, you may as well add HOME (set to %HOMEDRIVE%%HOMEPATH% ) and CVSROOT while you are in there.

Get your stuff available

I use CVS to synchronize all kinds of files between machines, so I need that more or less first. Get it here: . It's ancient, but it should work. Dump the binary into the folder for other stuff you created earlier. Then you can sync your stuff over.

As I am migrating to GIT (slowly), I need that too. It's here: .

Install a usable browser

Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox . Or both. Preferably both. Log into your Google account if you have one (obviously). Activate Firefox Sync if you use it (obviously). Make one of them your standard browser. I use Firefox.

Install other stuff

Here's a probably incomplete list of stuff I think a Windows computer should probably have.

Previously, I would have included PuTTy in this list, but lately I just find myself using the Ubuntu shell and the mosh command (which you have to install using apt install ). Alternatively, or additionally, you can use the native ssh client that comes with Windows 10 from the regular Windows command line. If it is not enabled, you can enable it in a PowerShell session running as administrator with the command Add-WindowsCapability -Online -Name OpenSSH-Client .

Configure your printer(s)

Because you will want to print something at some point.