Windows breaks everything again

Last week I booted Windows 7 on my Dell Laptop. It is not something I do very often and now I can't remember why I did. Generally I only use Windows 7 for very complex Powerpoint presentations (Openoffice does not import complicated MS Powerpoint animations perfectly yet) or new bits of hardware that don't come with proper Linux support (eg TomTom for map updates).

As I boot Windows so rarely it always needs to update the anti-virus definitions and update windows. It always takes an age.

Last week it did a big set of updates and then needed to reboot. Problem was that somehow in the process it broke Grub (the software installed by Linux that presents a menu allowing me to choose which Operating System to start up). So when Windows rebooted the system Grub crashed with an error and I was stuck.

I had to leave it for a while due to a combination of being sick with a cold and then a few busy days. However, I got to it this evening and fortunately there was straightforward help on how to fix the problem. So now everything is hunky dory again. Ubuntu has of course installed a few updates while I have been typing this and I'll be installing the brand new version of Ubuntu next. I am confident that it will be a simple process (it has been every other time) and I am certain it won't break Windows. I'll have a better system, it won't have cost me anything and will be fully legal).

So why does anyone still use Windows?

4 thoughts on “Windows breaks everything again

  1. Peter Kirk

    So why does anyone still use Windows?
    Because some of us, like you, want to use applications which are not supported by Linux and don’t want to mess around with reloading OSs all the time like you have to. Why don’t you just use Windows and not bother with reloading Linux?

  2. Dave

    “reloading Linux” not quite sure what you mean. With my laptop I tend to shut down when not in use, when it starts it automatically loads Linux unless I interrupt to say I want windows.
    Ubuntu gives major upgrades every 6 months. Between them security and bug fix updates are automatic and are for all applications.
    I don’t have to reload Linux in terms of reinstallation the control of applications, libraries and data is so much better than windows that problems of cruft don’t happen.
    Remember it was windows that broke my system not Linux.
    As I said the number of things I really need windows for is very very small and with each big upgrade (every 6 months remember not like windows) there are lots of improvements.
    This time I get OpenOffice 3.2 for example, so looking toward to the improvements.

  3. Dave

    My reply was done quickly on my htc Desire (running Android which is a Linux derivative) just before the Joan Armatrading concert.
    To expand a little.
    For most people there are plenty of applications available on Linux (and few that are not bundled with the Linux distribution). I keep a copy of Windows around so I can handle some of the very strange things people do with MS Office (not least MS themselves in trying to create lock-in and upgrade purchases).
    The number of applications for which I need Windows just keeps falling. For example for service projection I now use DataSoul or OpenOffice as Ubuntu on the laptop gives better projector control than windows. I have stopped using SongPro on windows. With the latest update on my laptop I plan to move off iTunes which is on an old laptop. Now that the excellent Google Picasa (we love the face recognition) is in beta for Linux I hope we will be able to move all our photos onto the server soon.
    Our shared server used by the whole family (we use Sun Ray thin clients to run full Ubuntu desktops with all the processing done by one server) is running a two year old version of Ubuntu. It gets shutdown when we go on holiday and rebooted when Ubuntu updates the Linux kernel. So is usually up for months at a time.
    This is a five year old server that has had one upgrade. I added more RAM, as our sons like to have so many firefox tabs open – seems like 50 in each window.
    As I glance at the system now (at 1:30am) there are 370 processes running (remember each Google Chrome tab is a process) and about 50% of the RAM (16GB total for 5 terminals) is being used.
    Speed is still great, very responsive. When I compare to my lovely new Dell laptop (with a 64bit processor) I never notice the big system as being slower (just love the silence in my office as there is no fan in the thin terminal).
    How many 5 year old Windows desktops still perform this well?
    The benefits are not just performance and stability (remember nobody closes an application or logs out for weeks at a time). They are also in the time saved in keeping the thing running. It takes much less time for me to administer a server used by 5 people than it does to keep one windows laptop going (with hassles from anti virus, windows updates, programs that stop working for one user, crashes, …).
    I think I will use a bank holiday later in the month to upgrade the Ubuntu on the server as in two years there is lots of nice new stuff. But it will be different from upgrading say Windows XP to Windows 7:
    - It won’t cost me anything
    - It will probably run faster (how many times does a new version of Windows run faster than the old version on the same 5 year old hardware).
    - It will take less than a day including installing a full set of applications (no hunting for CD’s and license keys – but it will all be legal software)
    - All our data will be untouched as it is on separate partitions
    The only time consuming bit is the Sun Ray support as Ubuntu is not officially supported so I need to do some manual configuration. Because the system gives me so little to do I am so out of practice that it is a bit daunting :-) But then setting up thin clients for Windows is not exactly easy (oh and it is not cheap either).
    Plus there are now stable ways to run Windows within Linux. It is just I just don’t want to. Partly because I am stubborn and awkward but also because I want to make sure our kids go out into the world with a better understanding of IT than only using Windows and MS Office can give.

  4. Jaydee

    I am also using ubuntu and windows at the sametime.
    compatibility is one of the main issue for not switching 100% to linux.
    I would love to do that but not our office. :(


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