Sound advice needed on operating systems and security software

I've taken delivery of a new mini PC which comes loaded with Windows 10. I don't like the way that Microsoft is always trying to sell me something. I've also had my Hotmail account hacked from 3 different countries - Russia/USA and the UK - I live in France. Luckily I hav'nt suffered any financial problems.

I did for a few years have a secondhand PC using a Linux system (I can't remember which one now) It was lovely not being bombarded with sales pitches but when I had a problem it was difficult to find anyone here in France where I live to sort out the problem, apparently in France only 1% use Linux. I would seriously consider Linux again BUT I only want a KISS system not one loaded with programmes I'm never going to use.

Unlike many I live a very simple online life - I have absolutely no need for social media of any kind. I don't live my life online. I use the net for nec. communication - tax/health/buying/selling and bookmarking info, one of the very real benefits of the net. I don't stream music because I have virtually everything I need. I should by Christmas be able to start digitising my collection of LPs/CDs and offload all that gear leaving me with a couple of mini PCs, one dedicated to stored music just using h/phones. Seriously thinking of living in a motorhome rather than building a house. Stripped down but comfortable living and moving around Europe.

Re. online security I've managed after lots of hassle to free myself from Avast - always trying to sell me something else, if I bought into all their subscriptions it would have cost me hundreds of Euros per year. This company even had the cheek to take another year's subscription just short of 5 weeks in advance. I would really appreciate sound advice on good online security software, paying is not a problem but no more constant hassling to buy.

The mini PC is a Pantera Pico
Intel J4125 Quad Core 2.3GHz CPU
Dual-band WiFi 2.4GHz/5GHz 422 Mbps
512G SSD
8GB LPDDR4
3xUSB 3.0 / 1x USB 2.0
HDM12.0 port
audio jack
m.2 SSD + MicroSD Expansion slot

My existing mini PC will be used only to store my music kept permanently powered on, important when using SSD and when I have downloaded the software to record the music will not be connected to the net.

I use Yahoo as primary email (had no problems) I don't like Hotmail, I also have a Gmail account, I'd prefer to use that as back-up instead of Hotmail.

What Linux KISS programme should I consider and what online security software, very grateful for all sensible answers.
 
I use Norton anti virus software and havent had any files lost.
You can buy a cheap copy on ebay. If you buy it from Norton it starts hassling you to resubscribe after a year. It can also set you up for auto renewal but you cancel that.
If anything Norton is too touchy about viruses.
I write software myself and it quite often complains as my software is a new version it hasnt seen before.
 
I've taken delivery of a new mini PC which comes loaded with Windows 10. I don't like the way that Microsoft is always trying to sell me something. I've also had my Hotmail account hacked from 3 different countries - Russia/USA and the UK - I live in France. Luckily I hav'nt suffered any financial problems.

I did for a few years have a secondhand PC using a Linux system (I can't remember which one now) It was lovely not being bombarded with sales pitches but when I had a problem it was difficult to find anyone here in France where I live to sort out the problem, apparently in France only 1% use Linux. I would seriously consider Linux again BUT I only want a KISS system not one loaded with programmes I'm never going to use.

Unlike many I live a very simple online life - I have absolutely no need for social media of any kind. I don't live my life online. I use the net for nec. communication - tax/health/buying/selling and bookmarking info, one of the very real benefits of the net. I don't stream music because I have virtually everything I need. I should by Christmas be able to start digitising my collection of LPs/CDs and offload all that gear leaving me with a couple of mini PCs, one dedicated to stored music just using h/phones. Seriously thinking of living in a motorhome rather than building a house. Stripped down but comfortable living and moving around Europe.

Re. online security I've managed after lots of hassle to free myself from Avast - always trying to sell me something else, if I bought into all their subscriptions it would have cost me hundreds of Euros per year. This company even had the cheek to take another year's subscription just short of 5 weeks in advance. I would really appreciate sound advice on good online security software, paying is not a problem but no more constant hassling to buy.

The mini PC is a Pantera Pico
Intel J4125 Quad Core 2.3GHz CPU
Dual-band WiFi 2.4GHz/5GHz 422 Mbps
512G SSD
8GB LPDDR4
3xUSB 3.0 / 1x USB 2.0
HDM12.0 port
audio jack
m.2 SSD + MicroSD Expansion slot

My existing mini PC will be used only to store my music kept permanently powered on, important when using SSD and when I have downloaded the software to record the music will not be connected to the net.

I use Yahoo as primary email (had no problems) I don't like Hotmail, I also have a Gmail account, I'd prefer to use that as back-up instead of Hotmail.

What Linux KISS programme should I consider and what online security software, very grateful for all sensible answers.
Get yourself a MAC.
It has all your needs included, add NeoOffice and you are complete. Close to all commercial software worth their money is available.

As long as you don't click on any link you see you don't need any additional "security software", this as
apple is build on unix : a coherent security design.

Enjoy a GUI where windows stay where you put them , where nothing unexpected happens.
 
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It seems like you are more concerned about privacy than security. They are not the same but there are overlapping concerns. Ads occur with any OS based on your internet activity. Perhaps a VPN would help (I never use one).

I mostly use Xubuntu Linux. I do the default install including office software. Then I add VLC music player and Google Chrome browser. I have a gmail account. I see ads on web sites but I am not pestered with unsolicited email sellling stuff. I have seen a couple of fake PayPal invoices. There are issues with Google tracking but I find internet activity is not a bother.

Smartphones have more security issues that desktop computers because people install apps and that install should only be done by professionals.
 
I only use linux, and prior to that UNIX, with a few touches of IBM and DEC. Ubuntu is going to be the easiest to install in all likelihood, but as someone else mentioned, mint is pretty easy too. I have a machine with mint and several with ubuntu. For browser, I'd recommend firefox with NoScript added. Occasionally you will need to disable NoScript like when you access financials. One thing I do religiously if logging into financials is start the browser fresh, disable NoScript, login into bank, log out of bank, turn NoScript on, close browser. And it sounds like you may also want to disconnect from the interwebs when not using them. No connection all but guarantees security, at least while offline. I'd also suggest a firewall box between internet and your local lan. And those almost always run a stripped down linux.

With your expertise level, not sure how to get secure email. Relying on a 3rd party means they can read it too.

And I assume you meant copying your CD's. No need to redigitize. Although based on your machine description, you'll need to add a USB CD reader. Linux has numerous ways to read a redbook CD. I usually just use cp and copy the files from the drive after linux automounts it.
 
I'll just throw out how I set up our computers in case it gives you any ideas:

Windows install; run Chris Titus debloater right away and after every major Windows update; install Avast free version and turn off notifications and email signature.

Network is 3 eero routers running eero Secure net nanny software.

I don't mind Avast but if it really bothers you my brother runs just Windows Defender and it's fine for him.
 
I like your minimalism. You are on the right track on avoiding Windows and Mac altogether. Like you said, only 1% use Linux in France. So if you were the bad guy, would you go after that extremely secure 1% or target the easy pickings of the other 99%? On Mac, it's BSD-base, but updates eventually end and are not up2date frequent. Then you have to worry about third-party Mac Software not just the base OS.

So what I recommend is Lubuntu, but not on your Main System. Leave your Main System as is for General Purpose Use. Separate your General Purpose use case from your Personal use case by installing Linux and only running / booting off a USB drive.

Lubuntu is easy enough to use with a lightweight GUI, so you can boot on your Main PC, Legacy PC, laptops, etc. It's not dependent on a single source.

https://lubuntu.me/downloads/

So:
  1. Procure or use a USB 3.0+ USB stick. I'll recommend one later.
  2. Download Lubuntu
  3. Plug into one USB port on the PC
  4. Boot Lubuntu
  5. Plug in your "Personal Use" USB stick into a port on the PC.
  6. Run the Installer
  7. (Optional) Encrypt your USB stick. You can just do a trial without Encryption, later you can Encrypt when you are more comfortable.
  8. After Install, reboot, it will prompt you to remove Lubuntu USB stick.
  9. So only your "Personal Use" USB stick should physically be in a USB port on the reboot.
  10. Use the package manager to remove / purge unnecessary software to make it minimalist as possible. It's very well supported so all of this is online.
  11. Update with the package manager
  12. Update / Refresh with the snap software manager. This handles Mozilla Firefox updates. It's some like "sudo snap refresh".
  13. Install Keepassxc password manager
  14. Set Keepassxc password and keyfile (added security).
  15. Populate one row on Keepassxc for a test. Like add new entry for "Hotmail". Enter your username. Enter your password.
  16. Eventually you want to change your passwords you have in your Memory with auto-generated random passwords in your password manager.
  17. Make sure the ufw firewall is installed.
  18. Reminder, this is your "Personal Use" USB stick so no extra software. For example, Bravo Browser is great for watching Youtube because it removes ads but that is a General Purpose Use Case.
  19. Shutdown
So no need to worry about your new PC setup. Just use an independent USB stick you can boot Linux off of... Use the "Personal Use" USB stick only when you need to login to a website, etc. Separate it from your Music use case, General Purpose use case, etc.

What I recommend is something like this. It's performance is close to a SSD internal drive, but the thing is I probably recommend 16GB which they don't offer anymore. That's why I recommend USB 3.0+ for USB sticks since it's booting an entire OS.

sandisk.png

https://www.westerndigital.com/prod.../sandisk-extreme-pro-usb-3-2#SDCZ880-128G-G46

The reason is that 16GB is easier to backup on a encrypted external drive. Cloning like with dd or if you are not comfortable with dd, there's cloning software that's more user friendly. Or I guess you can just buy two of the same USB sticks from the start, then clone the primary once everything is set.

But the point is once you go this route is to have a good backup policy, so you password files are backed up or even better the whole USB stick is backed up.

Anyways, if you ever booted off a Linux USB drive you will get the gist. You are just creating a minimalist Linux USB stick for your own Personal Secure Use.

The reason why I recommend a password manager is since you are creating best practices from the start, might as well give it a trial run:

Password+Crack-3537611636.png


If your using passwords from memory, they may be instantly hack-able.

My password manager randomly creates Numbers, Upper Case and Lower Case Letters and Symbols with at least 25+ Characters dependent on the website. Older website sometimes only allow up to 18 characters, but modern websites 25+ characters pretty easy.

So:
  1. Create unencryted Linux USB boot drive
  2. Install and practice Password Manager
  3. Backup password file to a safe encrypted offline external Hard Drive
  4. Backup USB boot drive to a safe encrypted offline external Hard Drive or duplicate another secondary USB boot drive.
Then:
  1. Create encrypted Linux USB boot drive for added physical security
  2. The password will have to be recalled from memory so don't make it too strict
  3. This is for physical security only, not online
The Lubuntu Installer makes it easy to encrypt your USB drive if you choose to do so. I recommend practicing with the USB boot drive for a few months before attempting a re-install but this time with encrypting the USB drive.

Good Luck. I'm rarely check this site so I'll likely not check back.

But backup, backup, backup. If you change a online password, make sure they can SMS you just in case something goes wrong. Then once you are comfortable with the password manager, you can populate more entries. I believe the password manager will warn if you have weak passwords in the internal database.
 
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Some good info here. There's a Windows 10 "LTSC" version meant for POS terminals, that us ordinary folk arent allowed to have. I've found and purchased it on the ebay market, installed it on a laptop and it seemed just like Windows 10, only they dont try to monetize you every chance they get. That's because they know when someone's using a cash register, they dont need that crap; they're just using a machine for a single purpose and that's it.

I dont know if it's better / same as regular W10 after the //christitus.com/windows-tool/ does its job. I'm game for anything that takes a corporation's power to harass someone away. No, I dont want an account and another password...
 
Sorry for taking so long to eyeball the replies. Drive shaft - you gave me lots to ponder. I'm awaiting a VPN via Indieagogo. I shall try Linux Ubuntu. I'm determined to keep my digitised music collection SSD on a silent mini PC (always on) with 2 back ups (always on) left with friend - they draw so little power. I'm definitely going to dump Microsoft email, it's the only one that has ever been hacked in 25 years. I'm really -issed off that it's taken me 14 years to find one of the best way to invest in France, a PEA and will only get stiffed for 17% in social charges, shame there's nothing like an ISA (individual savings account) in France, we cashed ours in because the French taxman doesn't recognise them.

I'm removing all our assets which are cash from the UK because when the housing market crashes it will take Sterling with it or alternatively a little madman in Russia if he's going down with all his cronies will have to option to nuke London and the Ruhr and maybe Munchen. This will destroy the UK/Sterling and the Euro. I'm not a paranoid personality, it's real threat. I have two banks in mind, one in Belgium and one in France. Tax affairs in France are now online so I need absolute security for investments and tax/insurance. I use a gamer's monitor AOC which is brilliant and mini PCs. Laptops are great if you need portability - I don't.

It's stupid of me to say I don't use social media, audio sites are but that's all I use now and I got banned on 2 for speaking the truth - I'm no good at toeing the audio forum/party line.

More and more people are abandoning the fixed base (house) on both sides of the Atlantic - too many standing charges/taxes. A motor home/pick-up and trailer properly insulated and kitted out make a lot of sense. In France and Spain we can spend time in truly tranquil beautiful surroundings and visit friends all over Europe. I worked out that using a car visiting anywhere in France is going to cost €1000 per week and that's a minimum, the UK/Netherlands/Germany even more. A mobile and Whats App means we can keep in touch with everyone we need and want to. If I buy a 3 year old Motor home €80/90K should do it. I can't buy or build even here in France a decent home for that kind of money and it's static - nowhere is safe from catastrophic weather, you can't move a house but a motor home/trailer it's ignition on and go - my view, other may well differ.