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Switching to Windows, Not as Easy as You Think 803

rchapman writes "Mad Penguin writer Simon Gerber has published an amusing review of Windows XP as seen from a Linux users point of view. He really makes you feel like you are trying to use Windows for the first time after exclusively using Linux. The article covers everything from the hideous installer and its lack of partitioning/formatting capabilities to the utter wasteland that is the Windows desktop, devoid of useful applications and everything in between. A fun read."
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Switching to Windows, Not as Easy as You Think

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  • Old News / Rip off (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2006 @08:43AM (#14426416)
    I've read at least 5 different versions of such "reviews" over the last 5 years.
  • No partitioning? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 09, 2006 @08:45AM (#14426419)
    Bullshit. It IS possible to partition and format the hard disk in the installer. Is this so old or is it simply inaccurate?
  • by kestasjk ( 933987 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @08:46AM (#14426427) Homepage 33216&from=rss [] Not sure if the author of the new one got the idea from this.
  • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @08:52AM (#14426462)
    Just because a summary says something doesn't mean that the article says the same thing. The article acknowledges the presence of a partition tool but bemoans the limited features of the tool.
  • Re:RTFA (Score:4, Informative)

    by Southpaw018 ( 793465 ) * on Monday January 09, 2006 @09:00AM (#14426502) Journal
    One of the failures of the Linux community is recognizing the fact that most users don't want and don't care about such a tool. If you want full Linux-installer-style partition and format control over a Windows install, it's there, and it's not that hard to find.

    For most users, a partition is something that's between them and the guy in the next cubicle. They don't want to know what a computer partition is, they don't care, and they don't even want to see it - not even "Do you want the computer to partition for you?"
    Forcing such a thing on them is annoying at best, and for some especially inexperienced computer users, it can actually be scary. One of the things I had to get used to on the job was two of my users (out of 35) who would call me at the slightest hiccup because they simply didn't want to deal with anything at all out of the ordinary. That's my job, they'd say.
  • by Atuin the Great ( 766999 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @09:00AM (#14426503)
    reading the TFA's disclaimer:
    Disclaimer: Kudos to NewsForge( 5/05/18/2033216 []) for the idea, and Microsoft for the inspiration. I also declare that all events described in this piece are factually correct, they really, honestly happened. Just not necessarily all at the same time, on the same computer.

    I'll go out on a limb and say 'most likely' ;-)
  • by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Monday January 09, 2006 @09:07AM (#14426554) Homepage Journal

    Someone has already mentioned the fact that you CAN partition and format drives in the installer, so thats wrong for a start.

    The summary is inaccurate. From the article:

    Anyone who complains about a Linux partitioner obviously hasn't tried installing Windows. Your only choice of file system is FAT32 or NTFS, and although you can create as many partitions as you like, you can only format the one partition - the partition you select for the Windows installation. Obviously, this gives you no chance to create a separate home or boot partition, or even a swap partition. Apparently Windows automatically creates a swap file for you on the main partition. A user with suitable expertise could create a separate partition for the swap file after installation... but this is still an annoyance. Worse, the Windows partitioner hoses your MBR, and installs it's own MBR with no attempt to detect and provide for any other operating systems you may have installed.

    And what is Microsoft supposed to do about applications? If it bundled Microsoft Office in with Windows, the anti-competition people would be on their backs the day it hit the shelves.

    No one would complain if Microsoft bundled non-Microsoft applications. For example, back in the mid 90s, if Microsoft had cut a deal with Netscape, offering to bundle Netscape Communicator with Windows and paying Netscape $5 per copy, Netscape would have jumped at it, and no one could accuse Microsoft of trying to leverage their OS monopoly to acquire a web browser monopoly

  • by fionbio ( 799217 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @09:36AM (#14426727)

    Making Windows Usable for Old Linux Farts []

    Still shows that making Windows workable is rather hard task.

  • Re:XP is a bit older (Score:2, Informative)

    by CubicleView ( 910143 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @09:41AM (#14426748) Journal
    I have to disagree with that. I've had problems in the past (getting my computer to recognise my SATA drives that is) but the mother board should supply the required drivers. And you can always create slipstreamed backups of windows that include new drivers, service packs, applications etc ows&meta= []
  • by radarsat1 ( 786772 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @10:03AM (#14426898) Homepage
    Yup, I was going to suggest this as his problem. Bad ram can cause random patches. I have some bad bits on my ram, and Windows occasionally just DIED for no apparent reason. Linux was FAR more stable, but still occassionally strange things would happen, like segfaults out of no where. Almost always in user space, but once or two my filesystem driver crashed, which was a bit scary, though no harm was done. Anyways, I since installed the BadRAM kernel patch, and it's been completely stable so far... no more segfaults. I wish such a thing existed for Windows. Why through out $60 RAM when a couple of bits are bad?
  • Re:Flawed. (Score:3, Informative)

    by WhiteWolf666 ( 145211 ) <sherwin@amir[ ]us ['an.' in gap]> on Monday January 09, 2006 @10:50AM (#14427235) Homepage Journal
    Chicagoland retailers are slowly picking up OEM Linux.

    Microcenter, and Fry's both sell Linux pre-installs. I believe some of the local CompUSA are doing it on the custom built boxes they sell.
  • by ehrichweiss ( 706417 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @11:14AM (#14427371)
    This is probably very off topic but...
    There was a joke going around in the mid-1990's that was about what you would have to do to a Cray supercomputer to convert it into an IBM PC. It involved taking most of the extra terminals and putting them in an infinite loop and disabling extra CPU's, etc. It was really quite funny(to a geek anyway). Problem is, as it is always, I had the only copy I've seen in ages stored on a hard drive that went bad the day before I was scheduled to back it up so I have no recollection of the exact text. It was the 90's..backup wasn't cheap for anything over 100mb and I had GB's to do..floppies were not the answer..heh. Anyway, I don't suppose anyone knows where the text to that is? I've searched with no luck.
  • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:01PM (#14427736)
    Having multiple partitions is very nice for running multiple linux distros, because having a common home directory saves space and makes life easier. Also, I probably reinstall more than I switch drives, so putting /home in the fstab makes things easier. Also, I have a FAT32 partition reachable from both windows and linux, though that obviously doesn't matter to non-dual-booters.

    It's also a good idea to put /var on it's own if you're running a webserver, just in case your logs somehow get enormous, it's a fail-safe way to ensure that a growing logfile doesn't cause the main filesystem to run out of space. Yes, I know there are better ways of doing this, but it's a nice backup plan to make absolutely sure.

    Finally, I usually leave one primary partition and about 10-20 GB free just in case I want to install a new OS. Who knows when I'll want another free partition hanging around and don't feel like scrounging for another drive?

    Bottom line is it's not particularly hard to create partitions, and there are times where it could be advantageous to have things separated, so there's no reason why not to do it.

  • Re:Wow. (Score:2, Informative)

    by level_headed_midwest ( 888889 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:06PM (#14427777)
    I agree that the Start menu in Windows is set up terribly initially. But configuring it is pretty easy. First, you switch to the Classic style if you're in XP and then you make folders in the Start Menu folder that are categorized, like the ones in Gnome and KDE are. Then plant shortcuts to applications that fit each category in the category folders. The downside is that unlike Gnome or KDE, you manually have to put newly installed apps' shortcuts in the right folder, it's not done automatically.

    My university did just that and made it a group policy, so all machines on the IATS network have all of the apps sorted according to usage: office, graphics, mathematics, statistics, drafting, etc. It sure made it a lot easier. And since the machines are all centrally-controlled, new apps are put into the right folder once on the server(s) and then all of the machines are updated.
  • by bheer ( 633842 ) <> on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:31PM (#14428024)
    > I guess I'm supposed to doubt my own eyes, now

    The problem begins when you generalize the evidence of your own eyes onto the entire population of Windows PCs. In this particular case, it'd be nice to know what stop error caused the blue screen. Was it a device driver? an intermittently working fan causing random mobo failures? (something Linux is just as susceptible to) A genuine Windows install or an ISO grabbed from piratebay? Without knowing these, 2 crashes *on computers you do not own* are just anecdotes.

    In my experience, the bulk of deployed/OEM-installed XP PCs (modulo virus/spyware infections) do work well, even after 3-4 years. Yes, computers fail and cause the OS to fail and _sometimes_ it is the OS' fault. But esp on 2000 and above, most of the time it's the hardware's or a device driver's fault. And randomly posting 'OMG Windoz is teh cr4sh' on messageboards doesn't make me want to believe "the evidence of your eyes", it just marks you out as an excellent instance of the not-very-complimentary Slashdot stereotype.
  • by Fweeky ( 41046 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:43PM (#14428152) Homepage
    Pay a bit extra and get ECC memory, enable Chipkill, set up Machine Check Exception handling/logging; there's your SMART for memory.

    Cookie to whoever comes up with a list of ECC supporting S939 motherboards.
  • by cloudmaster ( 10662 ) on Monday January 09, 2006 @12:56PM (#14428270) Homepage Journal
    Managing swap partitions? What "management"? You run mkswap, put the line in fstab, and either reboot or run swapon. Oh, man, what a hassle! Never mind, of course, that you really oughtta have an idea of how much memory you'll need to run your system ahead of time - and never mind that Linux has supported swap files for years...

    Anyway, what partitions is it that you have growing out of control? I separate /var/log so an out-of-control log file (or attack) can't fill up the whole system. I separate /home so I can easily manage space there. I separate /tmp so I can add space as needed. I separate /var and /usr because I want to keep the root small, managable, and read-only. I keep /boot separate so it can be read-only on the rare time when I want to write to the root. /opt is separate. Some machines have a separate /music and /video partition. This all sounds very complicated, and difficult to manage, right? I mean, what if a partition needs some more space, and I've allocated too much to another partition? Three words all compressed into one handy acronym: LVM. With LVM you essentially virtualize your partitions. Combine that with reiserfs (or another filesystem that can grow on the fly) and you can add space to a partition while an application is writing to that partition. You can remove space from a partiton by just unmounting it. You can move partitions around, span disks, etc. It also makes backups easier - simply don't span devices. Did I mention that you can add another drive and integrate it into your existing structure without having to screw with partitioning and symlinking? Oh, and did I mention that your whole system won't be ground to a halt by some memory-leaking program creating an ever-growing swap file that fills your drive, or by some badly written program that generates mountains of log files which you don't notice until too late?

    If you're avoiding good partitioning practices because partitions are "too hard" or "inconvenient", look into LVM/EVMS (even if you just make one huge volume that can grow onto another disk later). If, rather, you're avoiding it because you're convinced that every other sysadmin out there is stupid and has been wasting their time for no reason over teh last few decades, well, I can't help you out there. :)
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt ( 931443 ) * on Monday January 09, 2006 @02:32PM (#14429241) Homepage
    I don't even buy the idea of having swap space in its own partition.

    Then don't. You don't *have* to have a swap partition. I have one because it (presumably) gives better performance, since the filesystem layer isn't involved in every swap to/from disk. At least you have a choice.

    What if you need more swap? Then you have to create a swap file on an existing partition and manage two separate swap files in the future. Ugh.

    Or, if your swap is at the end of your main filesystem, you can shrink your main filesystem and make a new, larger, swap partition (depending on the availability of resizing tools for your filesystem, of course).

    I'm not sure what's so difficult about "managing two swparate swap files", anyway. You create an empty swap file of the desired size (owned by root, with mode 0600, of course), format it with mkswap, add an entry for it to /etc/fstab, run swapon -a (or reboot), and never think about it again. What's to manage?

No problem is so large it can't be fit in somewhere.