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04: Setup for Windows
The installation and setup instructions were created in Jul 2022 and are updated whenever there's a change that makes them incorrect. If you find that these instructions are wrong then please comment on this lesson and I'll fix whatever you find. Be sure to triple check that you are actually finding something wrong and aren't simply making a mistake.
Create Three Accounts
You are most likely used to running windows as Administrator, or a user with full administrator rights. I'm going to recommend that you stop doing this and instead configure 3 accounts:
- One account named "administrator" that has administrator rights.
- Your normal personal account, which you should already own, but reconfigure it to have no administrator rights.
- A new "programmer" account that is nice and clean and is used when you're going through this book to keep your work life separate from your personal life. It should also not have administrator rights.
The purpose of this setup is partially security, and partially to keep you from destroying your computer. If you have a separate administrator account then any time you need to do something that requires administrator rights, Windows will prompt you for the administrator password. You'll still be able to run all of your software, but it will improve your personal and programmer account's security.
The security advantage of a separate administrator account comes from malicious virus software and hackers. Because you run as an administrator there is nothing stopping malicious software from fully owning and hacking your computer. When you run as a non-administrator account most of this software is stopped by Windows, making it safer. Some estimates are that 80-90% of windows attacks are stopped by this simple change.
The second purpose is to keep your programming activities from totally destroying your computer. When you run as administrator there are actions you can take which can cause damage, but if you run as a normal user then you can really only destroy your own account's files. This is why a non-personal work account is better since, if you do something stupid, then you only lose your code and not your entire life's work.
You will need to download and install the following software:
- NodeJS LTS -- LTS means "Long Term Support" and as of January 2021 that is version 18.12.1. These lesson should work with Node after version 14.
- VS Code -- If you are comfortable with another text editor then use that but VS Code will work if you know nothing. In the videos I use an editor called Vim.
- Cmder -- This is an excellent PowerShell terminal manager and comes with most of the tools you need. Install the full download, not the minimalist one.
- Chrome -- You will need to install all of the major browsers for testing and development. If you already have it installed then be sure to update it.
- Firefox -- Firefox is another browser you need to install. If you already installed then be sure to update it.
- Edge -- Since you are running Windows this should already be installed, but if not then add it. It owns a small part of the web, but is used on Windows.
- Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) -- Even though you use Windows there are some times when you'll need to use Linux for small tasks and testing.
- When you install WSL go through the process of installing Ubuntu Linux.
Confirming Your Installation
To confirm you've installed everything correctly attempt the following tasks:
- Find cmder.exe file and create a shortcut for it on your taskbar.
- Start cmder.exe to access a PowerShell terminal.
- In this terminal type:
- You should see a version similar to 18.12.1 which could be slightly higher or lower.
- In the same Cmder terminal type:
- You should see a version like 2.19 with the word "windows" in it, but closer to 2.37.1 is preferred.
- Hit your Windows key to start the taskbar menu search, and type: chrome
- Chrome should start and work. Do the same thing with firefox so you can make sure they all run.
- Hit the windows key again and start Visual Studio Code. Usually just typing "vs" will find it.
- Finally, use the windows key to run WSL by typing: ubuntu
- You can exit ubuntu type typing: exit
If you can do all of these tasks then everything should be installed and ready to use. If not then confirm you actually installed the software correctly. The video for this lesson shows how to install the software on Windows and perform all of these checks. It might have clues for your own installation.
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