Reader MarkByers calls the article "stupid":
To this, mwalleisa points out that "When talking about using Symantec Ghost (or other), the author is referring to Windows XP installations, not Vista."The final linked article starts with this dubious sounding statement:
"The bottom is about to fall out of the market for imaging tools like Symantec Ghost ... The Vista install DVD is, in fact, just one big system image."
But then immediately contradicts itself by pointing out:
"But this flexibility only extends to the installation of Windows itself. To clone a full system with apps installed, Symantec Ghost or a similar utility must be used to create that image."
People don't use Ghost to make a copy of an unconfigured fresh install of Windows, they configure it first, then Ghost it. This new installer will have no effect whatsoever on sales of Ghost, or any other imaging software. After such a terrible start to the article, I'm not sure it's even worth reading the rest.
neonprimetime had a different objection:
This wasn't a Pros & Cons. It was a love-fest [for] the new image-based install process. Everything he wrote in that article was happy go lucky, no cons in sight.
- "This means that the image isn't a bit-for-bit image of your disk layout, and hence you can apply the image to a new system without destroying the contents of the hard drive."
- "Vista is hardware-agnostic, so you can use a single system image as a source for multiple hardware platforms, even if they have quite different hardware configurations.
- "When capturing a system to a WIM file you can specify exclusions. For example, you can have a work directory on the system with temporary data.
- "Interestingly you can have as many images contained within one WIM file as you think you can manage, and any one of them can be marked as bootable."
brunes69 mocks the article's introduction ("However, all this is about to change. Windows Vista is based entirely around Microsoft's Windows Imaging Format (or WIM), a file-based imaging standard rather than a sector-based. this means that the image isn't a bit-for-bit image of your disk layout, and hence you can apply the image to a new system without destroying the contents of the hard drive."), writing
Along similar lines, namityadav wonders
Wow how revolutionary.
Oh, hang on a second while I untar this archive ....
When it comes to installing an OS, not everyone wants a one-size-fits-all install which can later be trimmed; "[C]opying a bunch of files is the right way," contends reader radarsat1, who doesn't look forward to the change in Windows' installer:So is this revolutionary install concept an exact copy of what we see in Ubuntu?
Reader yagu has a related complaint about the difficulty of installing Windows as an equal player along with other OSes:Damn it, one of the things that always annoys me about Windows is that it's not as simple as copying a bunch of files. This is mostly due to their inane and outdated drive lettering scheme.
In Linux (or any Unix), I can move my installed system to a different drive or partition just by copying it. I can install an entire system within a folder of another system. All I have to do is change my drive mounts, add some symlinks, or use chroot, and I can put the entire system anywhere and it's as if nothing changed.
When my Dad bought a new hard drive because his old one was dying, we tried in vain to copy his old system over to the new drive. First we tried imaging it using "dd" on a liveCD, but that didn't work. Then we tried making a new filesystem and using "cp" to just copy the whole thing. That didn't either. We didn't want to spend money on Norton Ghost, just for a one-time thing.. He ended up having to re-install and re-activate XP, re-install all his MS Office software he'd had some trouble with installing in the first place, and finally setting up a whole new system. Just because he wanted to replace his drive!
That, compared to the number of times I've moved my Linux system without a single hitch... I can't believe people put up with this crap. Now instead of keeping things simple, they're moving even further away from a file-based approach?
Reader dreamchaser sticks up for Microsoft's decision not to make multi-OS systems easy to create:This reminds me of other Microsoft installs I've done over the years, and it smacks of such disdain for the rest of the OS universe. Nowhere in the article, nor can I find evidence anywhere else is there an accomodation for an install where XP is just another OS. I remember my first experience with this, when I installed a Win98 on a Linux box, and not only did Win98 not offer a dual boot, it (seemingly) gladly removed my Linux MBR and formatted my partition without asking if it was okay, and without saying it had done so. That was quite a surprise.
Does anyone know if there is a way to do this? (Though, knowing XP can point to more than one OS to boot, I'm guessing Microsoft is more gentle if there is a pre-existing Windows OS there.)
I've googled for dual-boot information, it looks to be similar to what I already know.
kailoran points out one big difference, which is a pretty persuasive one to anyone who doesn't care to have Microsoft dictate the layout of their hard disk:Just to play Devil's Advocate here, but why SHOULD they facilitate the use of other OSes? Look at the customers who make up 99% of their base:
- Home users who buy a machine with Windows pre installed. No worries about dual boot here.
- Corporate users who load a custom Windows image on new machines. No worries about dual-boot here either.
Also, if it really is just an image it would be a simple matter to just load it onto a partition then set up dual boot using GRUB. Anyone who feels they need dual-boot probably already knows how to do it. Most modern Linux distros do a pretty good job of it for newbs too.
Very very very few people NEED dual boot. Some do. Most do not. From Microsoft's point of view, why should they facilitate it when the people who really need it (i.e. developers) will have no problem either setting up dual boot or using virtualization?
An image-based install from Microsoft isn't completely new; Aslan72 says he "hated it when it was called RIS," writingThe thing is that unlike the Windows' MBR, grub can actually be configured to run the other OS if the user wants. Most distros auto-detect and add the appropriate configs, so that there's zero effort needed.
Installing Windows just nukes the existing MBR and the only thing you can do is run Windows, or start searching for a rescue CD/floppy.
I'm partly responsible for an image that goes on around 5-600 machines at a Midwestern University College lab. We tried RIS when it was out, but although it was cool, it was simply not practical. The savings of having 'one' image really didn't outweigh the impracticality of it taking 2-3 hours per workstation per lab.
This is no different; currently it doesn't support multicasting and so although it's 'revolutionary' (read: RIS) it still doesn't beat the ability to push down and image to a workstation is less than 20 minutes...oops, did I say a workstation, I meant a lab.
It still won't beat Ghost any time soon, IMO.
To that complaint about multicasting, reader gruhnj writes
Windows Deployment Services, the replacement for RIS that will be coming out around the same time Vista ships, does exactly that. RIS only does the OS install well. Once you create your master image, you can place that onto a WDS server and multicast it out to as many computers as you have bandwidth. My current image when run deployed with imageX comes in at 25% less space (both images on max compression) and deploys in aprox 12 min for the image copy, plus the normal mini-setup time.
Ghost aint going away, but it will be eaten away from at the bottom with WDS.
Elsewhere, readers discussed the image formats and metadata in greater depth: To EXMSFT's query "I don't believe TAR includes ACL and metadata information related to the filesystem. Or does it?", reader pavon says "They can be," and provides some details:
The tar file format, like most unix things has undergone several revisions and branches. In POSIX.1, a new format, called the Pax Interchange Format, was created as a backwards compatible extension of the tar format, that allowed for storing of arbitrary metadata. How this metadata is used is naturally left up to the system's implementation of tar and pax. I don't know how widely these extensions are used. I know that in Mac OS 10.4, metadata including resource forks are supported, but I think they implemented them using thier normal flat-file hacks (._myfile holds metadata for myfile), and not the pax extensions. This man file has a little more information.
There are complexities beyond simple metadata capabilities, though. An anonymous reader points out that
There's even more to think about besides ACLs. There are a lot of components in Windows and not all of them come with every version (Home, Media Center, Server, etc.) plus computer vendors want to customize by adding software or changing the default configurations of apps. Many of these components need to be installable as runtime as well as during install, and some components may be incompatible or require complex logic to integrate (for example, installing a component might require adding a new user or group to the system).
What you see during a Vista install is only a small part of the new world of the Vista installer.
Many thanks to all the readers who took part in the discussion, especially those quoted above.