Monday, August 25, 2008

Having to Feed the Windows Monkey

I haven't done much "Windows bashing" here - a very popular sport among Linux users in general - because I tend not to 1) think it's a good idea to do so when my goals are about free software promotion and 2) care all that much. Since I began this project, the Windows partition on my original hard drive has become smaller and smaller, and I boot into it less and less. As others in my dual-boot situation probably know, however, this can become a problem - I'll explain what I mean through a short Ubuntu vs. Windows comparison.

If I were to take the Ubuntu Hardy Heron installation disk that I burned in April and put a fresh install on my computer, the necessary software updates required to bring my computer up to the state it's now in would number in the hundreds and take, oh, I don't know, 25 minutes at the most to process with a high speed Internet connection. I'd probably have to reboot once during this process, but that's only because the Ubuntu kernel has been replaced at least once since then, and you can't (or shouldn't) run a new kernel without booting into it. All told, though, I'd be done with this maintenance and ready to play Same Gnome within a half hour or so. This process is no fuss and you can usually do other things on the computer while it's all processing.

Well (and you know what's coming), when I booted into Windows XP last night to use iTunes (which I almost never use anymore, but I have an older iPod shuffle, for which Linux alternatives are limited), I was confronted with several competing programs that all wanted to automatically update at the same time (including iTunes). Windows Update, McAfee antivirus (which comes free with my ISP), Adobe Reader (which is its own story - why do we have to work so hard for a program that only occasionally opens PDFs?!) and Java were all jumping up and down saying "Update me first!" " No - me!". I felt hijacked! All I wanted to do was to see if Apple had a $0.99 song to download (and they didn't even have was I was looking for!). My computer seemed to be pushed to the limit and I finally gave up on browsing the web because it was requiring too many resources just to process the many updates. I had to reboot twice. Then I went ahead and set McAfee to scan Windows and went to bed. And this was after not booting into Windows for maybe 2 1/2 weeks!

With Ubuntu running so well (the cooling fan, which was blowing at full speed in Windows, almost never comes on during normal use), and doing all the work I need my computer to do, I wonder sometimes why I keep Windows at all. Maybe I'll start seriously looking into using Wine to run my necessary Windows programs and finally moving to a full Ubuntu box. Using Windows is just too much work for an OS that I don't even like that much anymore!

No comments: