There is only one reason left why Windows exists
by Walter V. Koenning, for the Reallylinux.com Opinion Section
156 minutes of pain compared with 26
minutes of success. That's the difference between a Windows installation and a
Linux installation. After two and a half hours fiddling with a Windows install
on my Toshiba laptop, it became pretty obvious what is one major reason why
Windows remains a viable operating system.
Let me start by sharing a simple premise.
I wanted a dual boot laptop, with Windows and Linux. Since Windows has an
attitude problem it has to be on the primary partition and master drive to
work correctly. No problem. I decided to simply start with a reinstall of
Bad idea. Reinstalling a base Windows to
my laptop was going to be an event to end all installation events.
I am using a simple configuration on a
Toshiba Satellite Pro 1GB RAM, 80GB 5400rpm disk, wifi, 10/100 and integrated
video/sound run with Realtek. Straightforward stuff I thought.
So I began with my PAID FOR FULFLEDGED
LICENSED AUTHENTIC Microsoft Windows CD. I have the little cert sticker, all
the reminder notices about Windows authenticity and peal the shrink wrap off. My foolish assumption was that when you buy a full fledged expensive
as all version of Windows, it will be an easy installation.
WATCHING LIFE PASS BEFORE MY
It's true that the initial setup for
Windows was pretty simple and quick. I used the windows installation
configuration to slice the hard disk in two partitions and to choose to load
Windows on the primary HDA1. No real issue.
However, it then began a series of
unbelievably slow installation processes that make installing Gentoo on a
Pentium II appear speedy.
I watched my life pass before my eyes.
The Windows installation took 53 minutes
before I finally got the Windows welcome screen and was finalising setup and
configuration, which in this case meant connecting to the Internet and
registering my Windows license to ensure it was legit.
What I did not realise was that the 53
minutes of pain only included the BASE WINDOWS INSTALLATION.
For some reason that is beyond me, all
those thousands of files I installed were not driver or application files. I
have no idea to this day what all those files were for, but installing for 53
minutes got me to a Windows GUI. No applications, and no real drivers. All I
had were poor generic video drivers available.
THE FIRST GIMMICK LED TO THE NEXT
Okay, so my next step should have been to
install applications, like OpenOffice.org 2.0, Firefox, etc.
But before I could do that, I now had to go
on to the internet to find a number of drivers for the various Toshiba hardware
components that apparently were not on the Windows CD. What did I pay for in
the first place? I think to myself, as I begin to scavenge the internet for my
supported Windows drivers.
Off I went to my friend Google and sure
enough, I found many of Toshiba Satellite Pro driver files needed to make
Windows work correctly.
I visited the first site that had what I
needed, a realtek audio driver for the satellite pro and clicked download.
What I got next was a you need to register pop-up followed by a note that I
could also order the whole set of Toshiba Satellite Pro drivers on CD for $20.
I'm thinking to myself, how can you sell someone else's drivers? More over,
why am I registering to download from a free drivers download website?
Then it hit me. Like anything linked to
Windows, money and more money is the fundamental. The value of the customer and
customer service are dictated by how much more money can be siphoned from
I decided to forgo paying someone for
drivers they didn't even create and went to the trusty Toshiba website.
I should have started there in the first
place. Thankfully, after some probing I found all of the driver files I needed
and downloaded and installed them to the Windows PC. Now I spent about another
16 minutes installing all of the drivers and finally I was ready to install
The process was long and seemed to be
getting longer. After installing the core applications, the total time to
install Windows was over 2 hours.
One example of the installation pain came
when I found out that Microsoft Media Player does not support DVD codecs out of
the box. What is the use of a media player that can't play media?
I wanted to watch DVD movies, so off I went
into my closet to search for any CDs I had that would include some base DVD codecs.
Thankfully my Iomega DVD drive came with drivers and codecs and an application
that allowed me to view DVD movies. Finally, after installing them I could
watch a movie on my Windows system.
But the total installation time was now 156
LINUX PROVES THE POINT
It was time to get my Dual boot option
working. Next, I inserted a Linux CD and began the process of installing it on
the secondary drive partition. The particular version I was using was PCLinuxOS
Live-Boot CD.The primary reason had to do with the fact that the senior
editor insisted I test this flavour out, hence I caved in and tried it.
Now, it could have been any installation: Ubuntu,
Kubuntu, Fedora Core, SimplyMepis, OpenSuSe, and the result would have probably
been almost the same.
In my case, installing the PCLinux OS was childs
play. Insert the Live-CD, let the OS boot, then select the Install icon. The
process was just as straight forward as the Windows installation, figuring out
drive partitioning and getting it going was easy.
However, the total time involved was
Where the initial process had taken me 53
minutes with Windows, it took me only 26 minutes with PCLinuxOS.
The next step was installing drivers.
However, I was surprised to find that this was not an issue for the Linux
Apparently, where Windows fails to include
core hardware drivers, the Linux distros are now ahead of the game.
My sound worked fine without issue and
video settings were great. In fact I had none of the driver issues that
occurred after installing Windows from a shrink wrapped version. I did not
have to scour the internet for Toshiba drivers because the hardware was already
supported! I scratched my head.
How can this be? How can Linux offer
better out of the box driver support than Windows?
Next I wanted to install several of the key
applications I always use regardless of OS. However, I was surprised to see
that they were already installed!
I had Firefox, OpenOffice 2.0 and Mplayer
(a simple DVD movie player). Everything was already installed by default and
fully working with Linux.
The total time it took for Windows to get
me to this point was 156 minutes. Here I was 26 minutes into a Linux
installation and I was ready to enjoy using my desktop system.
WINDOWS LIVES BECAUSE OF OEM RELATIONSHIPS
Reinstalling Windows verified what I had
suspected all along. The only primary reason Windows is so prolific has to do
with existing Microsoft vendor relationships.
If instead, every PC owner had to go
through the same pain to install Windows, find drivers, and install
applications then Linux and OSX would have been on 90% of PCs world-wide years
ago. I can only imagine what will happen in the future as more Windows users
need to reinstall the OS and then realise that the process is not worth the
Perhaps then, they too will do as I did,
and reinstall Linux on the primary partition without dual boot.
This opinion piece should not be construed as factual information. It contains the opinions and personal
experiences of the author at the time of publication. However, the opinions and personal experiences that have
been posted do not necessarily express the opinions of Reallylinux.com. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus
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trademarks in this opinion piece belong to their respective owners.