Tag Archives: Windows

I miss Linux

I started using Linux around 1992, I started using it full time around 1999. I stopped using it just a few months ago when I bought an Oculus Rift and decided that was more important than the Operating System I was using. Now a couple of months later, I find myself missing Linux, it is nothing major really, just a lot of little things.

  • It is nearly impossible to get things to look the way I want them to. In Linux, I have control over every part of the user interface and it is pretty easy to get everything just right. In Windows, I can change some colors and choose a background, but that is about it.
  • Windows command line still sucks, even PowerShell blows the big one. In Linux I would regularly drop the the command line to do quick and dirty tasks that are just faster and more efficient than a GUI. The regular Windows command line has a very limited command set which makes it very difficult to built decent scripts without adding a ton of 3rd party programs. PowerShell tried to do better, unfortunately all the new commands are terrible and badly structured.
  • Windows 10 is head and shoulders above Windows XP in security. The problem is, while Windows 10 is kind of “Good enough” it is still not as good as it could be. In Linux I didn’t need a virus scanner or an anti-malware program, heck I almost did not even need a firewall. With Windows, a dedicated virus scanner, a dedicated anti-malware program are absolute MUST HAVES. Anytime a popup appears you had better read every word of it before you click on anything and 99% of the time you are better off killing it than clicking on anything.
  • Windows 10 is also head and shoulders above Windows XP in stability, and again we are solidly in the “Good enough” territory. But you know what, I still get weird error messages and yes the very occasional unhappy face that is the new blue screen of death. In Linux when things went wrong, it was usually because I was being stupid, in Windows, errors just happen out of the blue for no apparent reason.
  • In Linux it was easy to cut off all the internet Ad’s, in Windows even with ADblock Plus and an anti Ad host file, the bloody Ad’s still sneak in and Facebook is the worst.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Thoughts on Windows 10

So I have been comfortably using Windows 10 for a week now. There was not any real bumps in the road since I had been using it at work for the last year or so. Most of the software I was using in Linux is available in Windows as well; Thunderbird, GIMP, LibreOffice, etc, so I have not really needed to learn anything new. The only thing I am really twitchy about is malware and such, using Linux I simply never had to worry about it before and now I cringe every time the odd browser redirect occurs, but so far so good.

Windows has come a long way in the last 15 years, I really did not like Windows XP or any of iteration prior, it was buggy, unstable and insecure. Even Windows 7 and Windows 8, while serviceable just did not really settle with me very well. Windows 10 seems to finally be more or less where it needs to be. I have not suffered a single crash or weird glitch since I started using it. It seems to be handling all the weird beta stuff I have been throwing at it, like WebVR sites and it continues to run smoothly.

Things I don’t really like are of course the lack of true configurability and flexibility. I mean sure, I can change my wallpaper, move the task bar, and change some colors, but really not much more. Linux I could literally change my windows manager and significantly change how I interacted with the machine. I have for the most part left it alone, not really even changing from the default Alienware wallpaper. I kind of feel since I cannot do anything major, then the minor things are probably not worth much effort.

RE: VR and Linux

I have replaced my old Alienware X51 with a new Aurora R6. It has everything I wanted a 7th gen i7, 16GB of RAM and a 1060 Nvidia card. The price point was exactly where I wanted it. The only thing I skimped on was I did not get a solid state drive, I already have one and adding it to the order would have sent me over my price point, so I settled for a regular spindle drive.

I got the system last Monday, I initially setup the system to dual boot, it took me about a half hour to remember how to add a EFI boot path and update grub so it presented me with a menu to boot to either Linux or Windows. This was mostly because if I had an issue with the system, when I called tech support, I would not have to panic them with Linux.

On Tuesday I had a discussion at work about my new computer and the reason I bought it was to eventually buy an HTC Vive or an Oculus Rift. This initiated a very exited conversation about VR and the future of computing. The fact is, I have been waiting for VR since the mid 80’s, even before I read Neuromancer or saw the Holodeck on Star Trek: The Next Generation. So I went to Best Buy and bought myself an Oculus Rift, because I just did not want to wait anymore.

Linux support for the Oculus Rift is non existent and is very unlikely to see anything for at least another year. Support for the HTC Vive has just entered beta and everything I have read on it, says it at least 4-6 months from being usable. So here is the reality of VR on Linux, we are at least a year from having a stable platform from which to work and then we are at least 2-3 years from having any interesting application of it. So at long last, I believe I have come across the killer app that makes me move to Windows and give up Linux.

So I am making another foray into using Windows as my primary operating system. I have tried this before and I always end up going back to Linux. It is very possible that in a moth I will say screw this, hook up the Rift to PezWitch’s machine and go back to Linux, but for the time being, I have switched to Windows 10. I used a nice little utility Called Paragon SSD Migration Tool to clone the Windows 10 install on the spindle drive to my SSD, it took less than an hour and was very easy, although afterwards I did have to reinstall a couple of applications, though I am not sure why. Then I formatted the spindle drive and moved my data to it. I saw a significant improvement in the performance of Windows 10

Windows 7 VM

Yesterday I finished getting my final virtual machine running headless on my server. This one is my Windows 7 VM, which I really do not need running 24/7, but that never stopped me from before. Fortunately Linux has a really good Windows Remote Desktop (RDP) client called Vinagre, so I did not have to do anything particular beyond activating RDP in Windows to access the VM across the network.

Moving all my VM’s to a dedicated server was the one of the best things I have done in the last few years. I see now why VM’s are becoming so popular. They are not that tough to get up and running, they make managing multiple machines very easy and I can allocate just the resources needed for each machine. Most modern machines have more than enough CPU cycles and memory to run several VM’s. A 6 core processor with 16 GB of RAM runs my three VM’s with plenty to spare, so if need be, I can add another one later on.

Windows 10???

So every time Microsoft updates their Windows OS there seems to be a resurgence of the Windows vs Linux debate on the internet, specifically on Slashdot. I long ago gave up the fight for Linux on the desktop, for a variety of reason. I really don’t care what operating system other people choose to use just as long as they do not call me when it breaks. So here is my official opinion slash stance on Windows 10;

“If it came pre-installed on your system and I don’t have to fuck with it, I think Windows 10 is great!”

 

Die Windows XP Die!

Microsoft is finally dropping support for Windows XP. As with the last three times they said they were going to do this, a considerable amount of whining has taken place. There are people who are in denial, who are saying Microsoft will continue support at the last minute, as it has done in the past. There are people who are asking Microsoft to open up the source code so third parties can support it. There are people who are demanding the government step in and force regulations on Microsoft to for them to support Windows XP until Jesus returns to earth.

You have two choices here. The first choice is, you can stick with XP. Yep, its true, no one is going to come and force you to install Windows 8.1 on your system and XP will not cease to function. All that is happening is XP will not longer be updated. Your second choice is to give it up and move on, you probably need to buy a new computer anyway and you can get a low end laptop these days for $400.

Either way, please god stop complaining.

Western Digital Black^2 Dual Drive

This week I had a windfall of cash and decided to buy myself a Solid State Hard Drive. Since my Alienware X51 only really has room for 1 hard drive and a dinky 256 SSD would not be terribly suitable, I decided to opt for a Western Digital Black^2 Dual Drive. This device is a 128 GB SSD and a 1 TB mechanical drive built together into a single laptop sized hard drive. The pro to this is I get two drived in a single package, the down side is mediocre  performance. While the Solid state is several magnitudes faster than the mechanic drive, it is sharing a single SATA data channel with the mechanical drive and so you loose some performance there.

My first problem with this drive was fitting it securely inside my computer. The X51 has a fixed SATA data/power connector where the hard drive pushed into it, rather than cables. So I had to do some serious garage engineering to get it in there all nice and snug.

My second problem was when I booted into the Linux install, it only saw the SSD drive, it did not see the 1 TB drive at all. I assumed this would probably be fixed with an updated kernel.  I found this was not the case. I went to the internet and found the USB key they sent with the drive was not just Windows drivers. It actually takes you to Western Digital’s website where you down load a program that unlocks the 2nd hard drive. So I installed Windows 7 on the system, got the unlocking program, ran it and sure enough, the 2nd hard drive shows up. In hindsight, I probably could have just plugged in the spiffy USB cable they sent with the drive, hooked it up to PezWitch’s system, downloaded the unlocking program there, ran it on the drive and saved myself the trouble of a Windows install.

Once I got back into the Linux installer, I found the two hard drives actually looked like a single drive, with two partitions, three if you include the 100 MB Windows boot loader. I left the partitions as they were except to change the file systems. the Windows boot loader I converted to a FAT 16 table, figuring I might eventually use it for a quick boot hack. The second partition, which would be the rest of the SSD I formatted as Ext4 and mounted to root “/” and the third partition, which is the mechanical drive, I converted to Ext4 as well and mounted to /home. Magically, this worked, I was able to install Linux and boot up with no issues.

It was at this point I was getting the nvidia card going and things went REALLY wack on me, and the system would not go into the GUI. The nvidia driver was borked or an update screwed me over, I am not sure if it is related to the hard drive or not. I was now nearly 24 hours and three OS installs into this mess and I still did not have a functional OS. Sadly it was time to relegate this technology to the “Not Ready for Prime Time” category. I put my old hard drive back into my system, I just can’t have shit flaking out on me. I have now installed it into my Laptop and giving it one more try, if I can not get a stable OS, it will be crossed off the list of Linux compatible devices and I will foist it off on PezWitch, maybe it will perform better in her M11x.


 

PezWitch reminded me of one thing I forgot to mention, While I was removing the old hard drive from my X51, I cut myself and bled all over the new drive. Take from that what you will.

Windows 7 etc

I readily admit I was in a bad mood this morning when I got up and that was very definitely a contributing factor. However, one of the reasons I was in a bad mood was, during last nights game, OpenRPG/Traipse kept lagging on me for sometimes 2-3 minutes. I am certain this is a problem either with Windows 7 or Python for Windows. It is not a network issue, because no one else was having the issue and I was connected directly to the server on my internal network and my ping times to the server were constantly at around 0.250 ms and stayed that way even when OpenRPG was lagging. I realize this is a problem with my system and its configuration, because many people use OpenRPG under Windows with no issues. But for whatever reason, it was not working for me.

So, this morning I blew away Windows 7 and reinstalled Linux Mint 12, two weeks short of my promised 30 days of Windows. I am now very nicely back in Linux where I belong. I guess I have been using it too long to be comfortable with anything else on my personal system. I think I am going to install the Enlightenment Desktop Manager along with a Giger theme just because I can.

Lifes little oddities

Okay so here I am in the middle of my month of using Windows 7 and I am now in a situation where I need to renew my LPI-1 Linux Certification. Oddly, this means I need to setup Linux running on Virtualbox. I am not sure of this is Irony or a weird Juxtaposition. They say the LPI test is distro neutral, but the last time I took it, it was heavily weighted towards RPM based distros like RedHat and CentOS. Since RedHat requires a chunk of cash to get even update support, I went with CentOS. I am very use to installing Windows into a VM under Linux, but not so much installing Linux into a VM under Windows. This all good practice I suppose.

RE: Windows 7 and Magic: The Gathering

So here I am in my first week of using Windows 7 and it does not completely suck. I am annoyed that I must now care about malware and such, but otherwise things have went smoothly. My only real comment at this point is Windows is not a very amusing operating system.

The thing that has brought me back to my Magic: The Gathering addiction is, PezWitch, for whatever reason thought it was a good idea to buy me Duels of the Planeswalker PC Game. This is the moral equivalent of giving a recovering alcoholic a drink and saying, “Just have one, it won’t hurt.”. We will see how she feels about this when I have spent our life’s savings trying to acquire a special edition foil wrapped Black Lotus.

30 Days of Windows 7

It has been several years since I have used Windows for anything other than work, Linux has been my OS of choice for more than decade and frankly, I am very satisfied with it. So being the type of guy I am, I periodically try different technology to make sure the universe is working the way I think it is. I am going to give Windows 7 an honest try for 30 days, to see how things go. Yesterday I backed up my data, wiped my hard drive and installed Windows 7. Admittedly, I installed Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice onto the system right after installing drivers and updates, to make my stay in Windows more comfortable. The adventure begins.

Happy 30th birthday to MS-DOS

This week, MS-DOS is 30 years old. I do not bring this up out of some misplaced sense of nostalgia, god no I do not miss DOS in the least. I bring it up to point out how far we really have come, from 1981 to now. My only complaint with the linked story was the reference to Linux and the implication it was purely a command line only operating system, when by the late 90’s, Linux had a perfectly functional GUI.

Ubuntu, Windows 7 and Virtualbox

I rarely use Windows outside of work for anything. I have one Windows program that I use with any regularity and it runs under WINE just fine. One of the things I do every so often that does require Windows is helping other people out. For this purpose I have always maintained a copy of  Windows XP in Virtualbox for answering those odd questions I don’t know off the top of my head. Lately I have noticed fewer and fewer people asking me XP questions and increasingly asking me Windows 7 questions. So yesterday I took advantage of my MSDN account (thanks to my employer) and I downloaded a Windows 7 Home Premium iso and COA. So now the question becomes, how long should I leave the XP image on my system. Most everyone with a clue has moved to Windows 7, only the most stubborn people are hanging onto the last vestiges of XP and my usual response to people asking me questions about it is usually, upgrade to Windows 7, buy a new machine or reinstall Windows XP (and stay off the Russian porn sites). I suspect this will surprise a few people, who would expect me to tell them to install Linux instead. The problem with that is, then I would be supporting Linux for people who know even less about it, then they know about Windows, no thanks I say.