Hasta la vista, Vista

OK, so I’m probably the ten-millionth blogger to make this lame pun, but whatever, it was that or try to think of something original.

I try to have an open mind, so when I got a new laptop at work today, with Vista preinstalled, I decided to just shrink the NTFS partition and install Feisty Fawn in the free space. I didn’t expect I’d use Vista much, but it’s the company’s laptop, and someone else might.

To my surprise, neither Ubiquity nor GParted succeeded in resizing the NTFS partition, even though it was nearly empty. The only explanation I could think of was that the partition was fragmented, so I decided to boot Vista, defragment the drive, and try again.

About an hour later, I was finally able to start defrag, except it isn’t defrag any more, but a third-party tool called Diskeeper (probably Lenovo’s doing rather than Microsoft’s). Anyway, Diskeeper confirms that yes, ThinkPads now ship with the disk pre-fragmented for your inconvenience.

Problem is, Vista looks nice (at least until you notice the system tray icons, which really break the theme) and Aero is surprisingly snappy, but the system runs like it’s embedded in treacle. This is no dinky little Celeron, mind you, but a T7200—a Core 2 Duo running at 2 GHz. Granted, it only has 1 GB RAM (though I’ve got some more on order), but I still think it should be able to defrag its frigging drive a little faster.

All those ugly system tray icons are probably bogging the system down, I say to myself, so let’s reboot in Safe Mode and try again. But I made the mistake of connecting to the Internet, so Vista won’t let me reboot without first installing the updates it helpfully downloaded for me while I was trying to defrag the drive.

A few zillion CPU cycles later, I’m finally in Safe Mode.

And Diskeeper refuses to run.

It has been two hours since I first booted the laptop.

Thirty minutes later the disk has been wiped and Ubuntu is up and running.

12 thoughts on “Hasta la vista, Vista”

  1. I think your title translates roughly to “See you later, Vista” which is probably not what you want…

    Given who you are, why Ubuntu — choice or necessity? I use it myself and would recommend it to windows users who’re tired of windows or scared of the Vista upgrade. But I’m getting tired of many aspects of Linux, not least its performance under load, and am considering FreeBSD 7 (when it’s out) for my next machine. All I’m looking for is stability (especially when plugging/unplugging USB peripherals, which is what caused me to abandon BSD about 3 years ago) and hardware support.

  2. Why Ubuntu? Partly because I work in a Linux shop, partly because it supports my hardware better, and partly because FreeBSD isn’t quite there yet on the desktop. The FreeBSD ports / package system does not scale well enough for even a plain Gnome desktop, which weighs in at around 500 packages (assuming modular X.org, which FreeBSD still lacks) before you start adding Firefox, Evolution, OpenOffice etc. The ports people are working hard to improve this situation, but to be honest I believe it will take a complete redesign to get that kind of scalability.

    There is also a psychological aspect—with Ubuntu, there is less temptation to tinker with the OS instead of doing actual work.

    I still prefer FreeBSD—by a mile—on servers, and on machines I have to tinker with. I am convinced that we have a better kernel and a more consistent userland, and as a software developer, I prefer the FreeBSD C library over GNU libc in many ways, not least of which is the amount and quality of the documentation.

  3. Ah… About the ports/packages, I’d have thought that with binary packages installing isn’t any harder than with Ubuntu. But upgrading is a different matter — I’ve hosed my FreeBSD system many times. I’ll probably stick to releases if I do try out FreeBSD.

    Totally agree about the quality of manpages — I generally browse the FreeBSD ones online even when programming on Linux.

  4. Upgrading is the name of the game… but even installing is not as simple as it could be. Many ports (screen, for instance) do not build packages. Those that do often have unsuitable options, or massive dependency lists: what would be a “suggested” or “recommended” package in Debian or Ubuntu is usually represented as a RUN_DEPENDS in FreeBSD, and although it may be optional when you build the port, it is not optional when you install the package.

    Debian and Ubuntu get around many of these issues by splitting each piece software into multiple packages. For instance, a RDBMS will be split into one package for the server binaries, one for the dynamic client libraries, one for the headers and static client libraries (which you only need if you want to write your own client applications), and one for the command-line client. Often, the documentation will be in a separate package as well. FreeBSD, on the other hand, will split it into just two pacakges: one containing the server binaries, one containing everything else. And that’s if you’re lucky; in most cases, there is only one everything-and-the-kitchen-sink package.

  5. Hm… I don’t see why “RUN_DEPENDS” should be like “suggested” or “recommended” — the latter are explicitly not run-time dependencies. If what you’re saying is that FreeBSD ports maintainers include unnecessary packages in “RUN_DEPENDS” because there’s no “suggested” or “recommended” mechanism, then I’d see that as the fault of the maintainers: the “suggested” information could be put in the description file. But I agree with your point about big kitchen-sink packages — that hadn’t occurred to me.

    But the kitchen-sink problem is there with Ubuntu too, at a different level: if you install the full desktop, you get loads of junk that you’ll never use, and if you don’t install the ubuntu-desktop package and choose to manually select what you need, you may not get a fully functioning system (unless you really know what you’re doing).

    Luckily, hard disks are big these days.

  6. My IT department issues laptops with about 3/4 of the drive unallocated, so that when people request upgrades they can be performed w/out new expenditures… Our company writes software.

    Anyway, turned out to be a handy place to put an unapproved operating system.

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