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Journal Journal: An Open Source Vista Service Pack 2

I write a blog on Education and I had wanted to leverage the purchase of a low-cost PC with a brief tutorial on installing Ubuntu as an inexpensive alternative for educational institutions. I am trying to convince local [and national educators] to purchase low-cost PCs for students in high school so that they can search information, blog, and participate in the world as we all do these days (An entirely different conversation).

I have been in conversations with some educators who were currently using Macs but had no sustainable budget to keep that up and who were looking at Ubuntu. So I wanted to talk about real life experience.

After much laptop deal searching, a Best Buy ad enticed me into buying a sale laptop last Sunday. At the store, the salesman convinced me that the sale brands were being returned often and to consider another brand. I bought a Toshiba instead, preloaded with Vista but dual-bootable I was assured.

From Monday until today, Saturday I spent 3-5 hours a day trying to install Ubuntu (and later Suse) on this machine (Toshiba Satellite A215-S4747). Searching the internet and Ubuntu's site was encouraging. Numerous people had claimed success at dual-booting Ubuntu on Vista - it just worked according to these claims. So I followed the instuctions. I used Vista Disk Manager to shrink the Vista partition and create a 90GB space for Ubuntu.

I burned the latest Ubuntu 64-bit OS and it failed to recognize any partitions. I burned the latest 32-bit version and it failed to recognize any partitions. I reverted to my commercially purchased Ubuntu 6.0.whatever DVD and it failed to recognize any partitions. I tried them all two and three times.

I tweaked the partitions. Nothing helped. I downloaded EasyBCD - waste of time. I tweaked this that and another thing following internet recipes 0-1000. No dice.

Friday night, the last straw. I decide to reformat the C: drive completely. Vista refused to allow it. I try with an old copy of Partition Magic. It dies trying.

Saturday morning, I called Toshiba customer support. How do I get rid of Vista? Hold on!... Go out and purchase a copy of XP!

No, maam, I don't want Vista or XP or any such thing... what do I do?

(No local Toshiba service stations nearby - the Toshivba website is worthless - you're more likely to find a drinking fountain in the Sahara)

Uh, take it back to Best Buy... here's a ticket number...

I pack the machine and take it to Best Buy.

I have a defective drive... it won't allow me to format the C: drive.

Oh, we'll do that for you for $59!

No, you don't understand. I bought this product because I was told it was dual-bootable. It is not.

We can fix it for $59.

No, I'd rather return it.

I walk over to returns.

This machine is defective... blah, blah, blah...

No it is not - there are free internet utilities that will allow you to format your disk.

Really. What are they?

Oh, I don't know.

Okay. Hook the machine to your internet connection and find me one.

That will be $30 - I don't work for free.

The popping cork sound was my temper. I stormed out of the store leaving the machine and taking the receipt. I left and cooled off and returned. I asked a store clerk to witness the conversation. Techy #1 disappears.

I believe you're committing consumer fraud by claiming that such a free utility exists. I've been searching for days.

Techy #2: I don't know if one does.

Well, what do you use?

Techy #2: That's a Best Buy secret (I suspected they simply replaced hard drives).

Miracle on 34th Street this wasn't. I told them I planned to complain to the Attorney General's office next week. Regardless, they had lost my business for good.

On the way out, Techy #2 pulls me aside.

C'mon. Don't you know any hard drive manufacturer's disk utility will do the job? Trrrrrrrrrr.....yyyyy it.

Thanks, I will.

I get home and the machine no longer boots at all. It asks for the rescue disk. By now, "Longhorn" is synonymous with "long uncomfortable shaft".

On my PC I download Seatools. It dies trying to format the drive. I'm tired, exhausted and pissed off.

What I have decided would be worthwhile is an open source Vista Service Pack.

I can only offer my lessons learned:

1. Microsoft is to operating systems what George Bush's administration is to foreign policy. The concept of "dual-boot" is proprietary market-speak. So is "operating system". Vista owns your hard-drive and maybe other computer internals.

Vista is anti-competition in ways that should frighten us. If it is okay for a corporation to hold our computers (re; extensions of ourselves) hostage, who else will follow?

2. The best way to protect yourself in a market glutted with pre-loaded Vistas is to buy the model with the smallest hard drive so that when you throw it out and replace it with a blank you cut your losses.

3. Stop complaining about Microsoft. If you can't dual-boot linux, haiku, unix, or whatever - call business help lines often. Corporations whose cost to handle complaints skyrocket will listen when profits shrink.

4.) We need products that can be purchased free of hard drives and the hard drives components need to be designed for easy snap in. Enough with the manufacturer's dictating product.

5.) We need companies who will buy unwanted Vista infected hard drives and swap them for clean drives.

Frank Krasicki

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"When the going gets tough, the tough get empirical." -- Jon Carroll