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Software Tool Strips Windows Vista To Bare Bones 472

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the if-it-works dept.
Preedit writes "A free download that can cut Windows Vista's gargantuan footprint by half or more is developing a big following on the Internet. vLite is a configuration tool that lets users automatically delete a lot of unnecessary Vista components — such as Windows Media Player and MSN installer — to pare the OS down to a reasonable size. The software is catching on. An InformationWeek story notes that a forum that asks users to suggest new features has drawn nearly 50,000 page views. Meanwhile, Microsoft officials have themselves conceded that Vista is "bloated" and are developing the next version of Windows on a core called MinWin, which is smaller than Vista by an order of magnitude."
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Software Tool Strips Windows Vista To Bare Bones

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  • Vista XP is here! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:25AM (#22208278) Homepage Journal
    I'm failing to see any reason to upgrade to Vista at all (I don't even like Halo, so Halo 3 is a no no.. and if a lot of games start requiring Vista then I'll just have to move to console gaming).
    • by dave420 (699308) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:29AM (#22208342)
      It's much faster than XP, uses your memory and other resources far more intelligently, and the performance benefits of DX10 over DX9 (even with some DX10 trickery involved) are things you simply can't find in any other OS out there, open source or otherwise. That's just an FYI.
      • Re:Vista XP is here! (Score:5, Informative)

        by somersault (912633) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:33AM (#22208400) Homepage Journal
        That's funny, I used it on my uncle's 2.2Ghz Core 2 Duo (0.2 Ghz faster than my laptop, and they both have 2GB of RAM), and it was a pig compared to XP. Taking up 15GB of HD space and half my video memory for a fancy 3D interface what is essentially a file and program manager isn't what I call intelligent use of resources either.. even Microsoft seem to have noticed that, if you actually read the article..
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Loconut1389 (455297)
          how did you determine how much video memory was in use? is there a generic tool for that?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by kmike (31752)
            Rivatuner [guru3d.com] can plot a nice graph of local and non-local video memory in use, among a zillion of other cool things.
        • by Firehed (942385) on Monday January 28, 2008 @12:11PM (#22208880) Homepage
          I certainly can't think of a better way to manage resources than to make sure there's as much free RAM as possible. It's not like it's two or more orders of magnitude faster than reading from the hard drive or anything.

          Seriously, is anyone going to ever realize that unused RAM is wasted RAM? As long as it's smart about what's being swapped in and when, then so much the better. I'd love to see apps pre-cached.

          I'll give you hard drive space, not that it really matters these days with half a terabyte at under $100. But the rest of the system's resources are not consumed the same way, and as such unused resources are being wasted. I didn't buy 4GB just so I can win a pissing contest about how much RAM my system has free. I bought 4GB so my computer can use it. I don't care how it's allocated so long as it provides me a snappier experience (and it does).
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by crmarvin42 (652893)

            is anyone going to ever realize that unused RAM is wasted RAM?

            Of course unused RAM isn't wasted if you're not doing anything. I want my OS to use some ram, but most I want to be used by the applications I'm running on top of the OS. Most people don't do most of their work inside the OS itself. They do their work inside the applications running on top of the OS and if the OS is hogging all of the RAM then their work will take longer as RAM constraints get tight and everything slows down. No OS in this

            • by Firehed (942385)

              Of course unused RAM isn't wasted if you're not doing anything. I want my OS to use some ram, but most I want to be used by the applications I'm running on top of the OS. Most people don't do most of their work inside the OS itself. They do their work inside the applications running on top of the OS and if the OS is hogging all of the RAM then their work will take longer as RAM constraints get tight and everything slows down. No OS in this day in age should require 4GB RAM just to make the OS run "snappier"

          • As the other respondent said, the RAM should be there for the apps, not the OS. It is hardly wasted, because your OS is there as a servant, it is not something that should need a large amount of processor power or RAM just to manage the hardware and power a GUI. If you're needing 4GB just so that the OS runs snappily (presumably because it's no longer having to page 2GB of OS crap the whole time) then obviously Vista is wasting a lot of RAM, and you have to ask - WHY? When you can have a perfectly usable Li
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        It is not faster than XP. Possibly if you have a computer with 4 GB of RAM it might run a little faster, because it has smarter caching, but I highly doubt that anyway. And also, in that case, you probably would have a computer so fast, that any speed improvement would be extremely small. I have a laptop with 512 MB of RAM that came preinstalled with Vista, and trust me, XP runs a lot faster. Linux runs faster than both.
        • Re:Vista XP is here! (Score:4, Informative)

          by everphilski (877346) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:47AM (#22208604) Journal
          Add a gig of RAM ($20-$30) and you will notice a market improvement in Vista performance. I bought a $300 Vista laptop computer back in August and added a gig of RAM. Dual-booted XP and Vista for awhile and wound up getting rid of the XP partition because there was no noticeable difference in performance.

          Yes, Vista loves the RAM, but the other part of the equation is the 512M of RAM you have (which is minuscule by today's standards) is also being shared by the video card. By default, at least on my machine, it would share up to 128M with the video card, that's 25% of your RAM!
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by CastrTroy (595695)
            My video card has it's own RAM, so no problem with that. I'm also running Mandriva Linux 99.9% of the time, and haven't noticed it slowing down at all. I know RAM is cheap lately, but I just haven't gotten around to buying RAM, because the amount of RAM seems to work fine for all my needs.
          • by Viol8 (599362)
            Windows has brow beaten you into thinking that you need crazy amounts of RAM for an OS when in fact thats just BS. I've got Linux happily running on a 128M machine and I don't think I've seen it thrash the drive yet even when using open office.

            Any OS that needs 1 Gig of RAM to run properly is a bloated , badly written POS which should never have escaped from the lab.
      • Re:Vista XP is here! (Score:5, Informative)

        by lucifig (255388) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:36AM (#22208440)

        It's much faster than XP...
        Wha wha what? Maybe on paper but not in the real world. I have a 2 processor 3ghz Xeon machine with 2 gb of ram. Not made for Vista admittedly but still a fairly decent machine. With a clean install of Vista it takes me around 5-10 seconds to delete a file. To delete a simple file sitting on my desktop. Again, I live in the real world things may be different in the Marketing world.

        • by Sciros (986030)
          What the? How the heck does it take 5-10 sec to delete a file? You must be running something really wonky there. I have a comparable machine (3 gb of RAM, quad-processor CPU) and it takes, um, a fraction of a second? The same time I'm used to having it take. You need to run some maintenance on your machine to get it to run the way it's supposed to...
          • Re:Vista XP is here! (Score:4, Interesting)

            by cHiphead (17854) on Monday January 28, 2008 @01:19PM (#22209592)
            Try using an off the shelf name brand computer with Vista, without any customization and cleanup, and you'll see the 5-10 secs to delete a file. Out of the box speed is a must for a consumer OS, in that realm, Vista is epic fail. Core2Duo 2.4ghz, 4GB ram (of which only 3 is being used, apparently. !!!WTF!!!) I'm glad its so terrible, though, its great job security. (What, you thought that pos was anywhere near my own machines?)

            Cheers.
        • Re:Vista XP is here! (Score:5, Informative)

          by everphilski (877346) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:49AM (#22208640) Journal
          Something is wrong then because I have a low-end Sempron notebook with 1.5gb RAM, vista home and deletion is almost instantaneous...

          Vista isn't perfect, but it's better than most of the (uninformed or lacking in experience) critics give it credit for.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by russ1337 (938915)

          With a clean install of Vista it takes me around 5-10 seconds to delete a file.

          I had the same problem. My first experience with Vista was on my Presario c700 with 1GB RAM. After the first boot ( and once everything had settled) I started doing all the things that needed to be done like deleting the majority of the unnecessary desktop shortcuts. After hitting the delete key, I got a dialog something like "Vista is calculating the time to carry out this action"...... And it took about 15 to 20 Seconds for

      • by poetmatt (793785)
        Faster than XP how?

        You know plenty of games (crysis [neowin.net],hellgate, etc use their full DX10 capability [techmixer.com] on DX9 and DX10 capable hardware and also in windows XP, right? It's not like vista uses up a drastically larger amount of memory or actually adds features you couldn't find in say linux [ubuntu.com], is it?

        All DX10 has done is added small graphic effects for transparency with water and smoke, that although they look beautiful, aren't the real reason DX10 was created. DX10 was created with virtualization in mind [chase.net.au] so microso
      • http://www.anandtech.com/gadgets/showdoc.aspx?i=3034 [anandtech.com]
        (although the first page with charts I see is here: http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=3044&p=1 [anandtech.com] )

        If Vista has better memory management than XP, then explain how the same program uses 250 to 500MB MORE on Vista than XP.
      • mods need to be given a sarcasm 101, the parent is either a troll or funny not informative. Vista and DX10 are slower than XP and DX9 and it has been well published.
      • by Hatta (162192) on Monday January 28, 2008 @03:03PM (#22210946) Journal
        Are you high?

        by dave420 (699308) on Monday January 28, @10:29AM (#22208342)
        Oh, I guess so.
  • Beta worked well (Score:4, Informative)

    by psychicsword (1036852) * <The@@@psychicsword...com> on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:26AM (#22208284)
    This software has been out for a while as a beta I have used it and it works well. I haven't used the newer version yet but I assume based on nLite that it can only get better from there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by russ1337 (938915)
      I used nlite after needing to slipstream my RAID drivers into my windows install. (no floppy drive.) At the same time I removed all the bloat (media player, explorer, msn, explore XP intro etc, and included a bunch of updates with the tool offline-updates [heise-security.co.uk].

      I considered trying vlite on the recovery disks that I made with my laptop (presario c700 (1GB RAM)) right before I overwrote it with Ubuntu. But there wouldn't be much point as the Ubuntu has proven to be much more responsive and offers the encrypte
  • Slashdot = Clicks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ynososiduts (1064782) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:26AM (#22208302)
    Well they (just got/are going to get) a WHOLE lot more..
  • by Chonnawonga (1025364) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:26AM (#22208304)
    Great. Now somebody turn this into a virus, and we're all set.
  • by niceone (992278) * on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:33AM (#22208382) Journal
    .. and then pushes it into a freezing lake?
  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:33AM (#22208396)
    ... unless and until it removes the draconian, RIAA- and MPAA-friendly DRM from the OS, and returns control of the PC back to the user who bought it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dave420 (699308)
      Care to enlighten us to this crippling DRM that is dragging Vista down? As I've yet to be stopped doing anything with any media I have. I rip DVDs, I take off DRM from downloaded tracks, everything I've done on XP and Linux.
      • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:48AM (#22208628)
        I think people are upset because it will preempt you from doing these things with next-generation media. DVDs are technically protected, but only the hardware enforces this. People are upset because MS moved some of the support into software, and at such a level that it actually slows things down a bit and makes the OS more complicated even for people who do nothing at all with video.
      • by Experiment 626 (698257) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:55AM (#22208726)

        Care to enlighten us to this crippling DRM that is dragging Vista down? As I've yet to be stopped doing anything with any media I have. I rip DVDs, I take off DRM from downloaded tracks, everything I've done on XP and Linux.

        Okay, so suppose I wanted to install a backdoor on your system (this is more or less what DRM is, a way for hostile third parties to exercise control over a computer that trumps the owner's wishes). It'll only sap your system resources by a few percent; you probably won't even notice it's there. And in return, you'll gain the ability to do something completely useless with your system, like how DRM opens the door for you to enjoy "protected media".

        Not a very good deal, is it? Vista's DRM may not be "crippling", but it definitely should be an optional install.

  • nLite (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nimey (114278) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:36AM (#22208442) Homepage Journal
    The same people also have a tool called nLite, which does the same stuff for Windows XP. It works well for stuff like slipstreaming SATA drivers, but I've had a few problems when I used more advanced features like removing un-needed Windows components -- when installing stuff like .NET from Windows Update, Windows required me to put in the XP install disc, which obviously is non-workable for user desktops.

    To be fair, that was an older version (1.3?), and they've had a couple of releases since then.
    • Re:nLite (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sentry21 (8183) on Monday January 28, 2008 @01:49PM (#22209896) Journal
      nLite is definitely worth mentioning. I took a Windows XP Professional CD (580MB or so) and stripped out all the drivers that I never use, apps I never use, and functionality I never use, and it took it down to about 150MB. I also added in Service Pack 3, Firefox, Acrobat Reader, and drivers for my hardware, then customized it with registry tweaks beforehand (e.g. turning off the 'Welcome to Windows' page, disabling 'hide inactive notification icons', and so on), set it up to join a domain, added a new Windows theme (Royale, from MCE), and then set it up with an automated install with our company's volume key.

      The end result? A tedious two-hour install procedure ('Oh, is it asking you something? Ok, just click 'Next'... greyed out? Click on the... yeah, there you go...') turned into a TEN MINUTE INSTALL. The only thing I haven't managed to do yet is to set up a USB drive as a bootable volume, to install from a flash drive to speed installation even further.

      Definitely check it out if you have to do XP installs more than once a year.
  • by adonoman (624929) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:37AM (#22208472)
    MinWin is a non-graphical kernel that doesn't do much more than boot up and host a webserver. It's not exactly a full functional operating system, so yes it's going to be considerably smaller.
    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:43AM (#22208538)

      MinWin is a non-graphical kernel that doesn't do much more than boot up and host a webserver. It's not exactly a full functional operating system, so yes it's going to be considerably smaller.

      Point is that by getting the cruft out of the kernel customization will be easier and the result probably still overall smaller.

      Amazing ideas these MS boys have these days. Imagine an operating system with a small, even micro, kernel. To this the user can add the operating system toys that he needs around that kernel, resulting in a lean, mean operating system that does what he needs and nothing more.

      I hear some crazy Finnish guy had a similar idea once but nobody listened to him.

  • Add free version (Score:5, Informative)

    by christurkel (520220) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:39AM (#22208504) Homepage Journal
    A free software tool that promises to strip down the Windows Vista operating system -- which even some Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) officials have called "bloated" -- to a minimalist state is attracting big interest on the Internet.

    vLite, created by developer Dino Nuhagic, automatically removes a number of non-essential Windows Vista components in order to pare the OS's heavy footprint by half or more.

    vLite allows users to preselect numerous Vista features for automatic removal prior to installing the OS on their personal computers. Among them: Windows Media Player, Windows Photo Viewer, MSN Installer, Wallpapers, SlideShow, Windows Mail and other utilities.

    "It's not just about hard disk space. There is also an increase in OS responsiveness and you don't have to tolerate all kinds of things you don't use," said Nuhagic, in an e-mail to InformationWeek explaining why he launched the project.

    vLite, however, isn't for the technically timid. The software warns that the changes it imposes on Vista are "permanent, so be sure in your choice."

    Nuhagic said he doesn't know exactly how many downloads vLite has seen -- but a forum that asks users to submit suggestions for the next version has drawn almost 50,000 views.

    The emergence of tools like vLite reflect the frustrations voiced by many computer users over Vista's bulk and resource requirements.

    Loaded with an abundance of features and tools designed to ease navigation and bolster security, the Home Premium and Ultimate editions of Vista both require a whopping 15 GBs of available disk space for installation. By contrast, Windows XP -- Vista's predecessor -- requires 1.5 GB of available space for installation of the Professional version.

    With Vista bearing a footprint 10 times larger than XP's, even Microsoft officials are expressing concerns about Windows' growing waistline. Speaking last year at the University of Illinois, Microsoft distinguished engineer Eric Traut said the operating system had become bloated.

    "A lot of people think of Windows as this large, bloated operating system. That may be a fair characterization," said Traut.

    In response to such concerns, Traut said Microsoft has adopted a new, modular approach to OS development that will yield more streamlined products beginning with Windows 7 -- a successor to Windows Vista that's expected to be available some time in 2010.

    The approach calls for Windows developers to use a bare bones version of the OS -- dubbed MinWin -- as the building block for their next programming effort. MinWin is built on about 25 MBs of data -- making it smaller than Windows Vista by an order of magnitude.

    Until it's ready, there's always programs like vLite.
    • by jago25_98 (566531)
      "vLite allows users to preselect numerous Vista features for automatic removal prior to installing the OS on their personal computers. Among them: Windows Media Player, Windows Photo Viewer, MSN Installer, Wallpapers, SlideShow, Windows Mail and other utilities."

      >> I thought that was deemed non competitive? I'm looking for a summary on that
  • by gsslay (807818) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:43AM (#22208542)
    I don't think it's fair to call Vista a bloated operating system. You look at the list of crud that this tool removes; that's not Operating System, that's application crud that should be optional in the install anyway.

    Just because MS wants it to be part of the compulsory install (all the better to monopolise your computer and online profile) doesn't make it part of the operating system. I mean, come on, what makes MSN Installer part of an OS?
  • I think the person that said that MinWin is smaller than vista by an order of magnitude needs to rethink their description or check their numbers. The article says that Vista Ultimate requires 15GB to install (I am not sure if it is saying 15GB is only needed during the installation process or it needs that much after installation). However, the article also states that MinWin is based on 25MB of data. The article does not say how large an entire installation of MinWin will be. However the article phrases t
  • nLite let you tune the core OS install - exposing uninstall options the 'default' installer, letting you fold in service packs and patches, drivers, pre-sorting license keys, users, and custom settings. When you get done, you can do a clean slate install and end up with something that won't take another four hours of tweaking to get where you wish was a starting point directly from the ISO.

    I started using nLite to build an XP distro that would run on a CF card. Running minimal services, I noticed how much faster it was too -- became the install for my gaming rig. Space was also a concern when building VMWare images, so starting with a mean clean install was a godsend. Granted, it took a couple tries - it is very easy to kill off a critical bit when you do this sort of chainsaw sculpture to the OS. Once you get it right, it is a fantastic (free!) tool. It is wonderful to see the same technology available to Vista.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sentry21 (8183)
      If anyone is curious, I took screenshots of a default XP Pro install vs. a customized (for my uses) XP install, both running in Parallels with the Parallels Tools installed.

      Default XP Install [flickr.com] - 22 processes, commit charge 105 MB
      Custom XP Install [flickr.com] - 17 processes, commit charge 52 MB

      The difference is astronomical. It installs faster, boots faster, runs faster, and shuts down faster. Definitely worth the time, even just for one install.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:51AM (#22208672) Homepage
    Yeah, right. A big company's approach to all difficult problems is to imagine a solution for them and create a name for that solution. Problem? Vista is bloated. Solution: create the name "MinWin."

    If Microsoft wanted to reduce Vista's bloat, they'd just reduce it.

    They might, if they had any good faith about it, analyze and SQA vLite and license it or offer and approved version. Or structure the present Vista so that it installs a reasonable core and allows you to "opt in" to the extra stuff.

    What's likely happening is a turf battle between all the managers that want their bloat in the product, are threatened by any suggestions that it be trimmed, and will fight it's being trimmed to the death--or at least for a couple of years when they move on to their next assignment.

    If MinWin happens at all, what will happen is that they'll trim Vista by 20% and then pack on 100% of new bloat.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Hal_Porter (817932)
      Microsoft would never offer something like vLite or nLite to end users.

      It's hard enough to test the current limited set of installation options. vLite gives far more possibilities and would therefore need far more testing. Most likely a commercial company that did it would get a reputation for producing unstable software. Microsoft don't have a perfect reputation with the limited options they offer now of course, but offering nLite would make things worse.

      Open source stuff can do this of course, but that's
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by secPM_MS (1081961)
      Actually, look at Server 2008. When you install, you get the choice of standard GUI or server core. Server core is for headless servers and does not come with a GUI or the windows explorer - you get a command line. If you install the standard server configuration, you server with no roles or features enabled. No media player, no sidebar, et. This is what I run on my notebook. I added the wireless feature and the search indexer from the file server role. It runs well on low power on my notebook and ran well
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday January 28, 2008 @11:53AM (#22208694)
    Microsoft alway said Vista wasn't fat, it was just big-boned. Now they can prove it!
  • by filbranden (1168407) on Monday January 28, 2008 @12:11PM (#22208878)

    First, they said that 95 was buggy and that 98 fixed them. Then, 98 was too unstable and XP was rock solid. Last year, XP was too old and Vista was new and shiny. Now, Vista is bloated and MinWin is lean.

    Could perhaps Microsoft decide if their products are good or bad?

  • Really, there are two scenarios for getting Vista:
    a) New PC. Has at least 400Gbyte HD (ok, maybe 120 if its a laptop). 15Gbyte is a very minor fraction.
    Windows 3.1 used a larger part of the 120Mbyte HD my first PC had.

    b) You buy it, and pay $$$ for it: 15Gbyte right now is the equivalent of 3 bucks. Thats about 1% of what you payed for the OS. Neglectable.

    I rather have the convinience of never having to touch the install medium again, _and_ shadow copies of system files, ect, than having a 99.5% instead of
  • Benchmarks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toreo asesino (951231) on Monday January 28, 2008 @01:34PM (#22209700) Journal
    What I'd be interested in seeing is benchmarks for desktop and 3d performance. It's all very well saying "ooooh look at how much shit it removes!" if it has no actual impact on performance. Most of the things it appears this thing removes will have barely any impact on hard disc space, cpu cycles or memory usage - MSN Installer for instance; removing that will free up a couple of megabytes of hard-disc space at best.

    Anyone got any useful benchmarks?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by immcintosh (1089551)
      Not really what you're asking for, but somewhere up above in the chain of comments somebody posted screenshots of XP before and after having been reduced by the XP version of this utility. I don't want to go find it again, but it about halved the memory footprint of a fresh install. I can only imagine that Vista has more to trim off than XP.
  • by Captain Sarcastic (109765) * on Monday January 28, 2008 @01:40PM (#22209790)
    I tried it, and it did such a thorough job of stripping down my system that my wallpaper of Pamela Anderson was replaced with a skeleton.

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