JH at Linux in Exile got a new laptop with the wrong version of Windows installed on it. So he had his tech department wipe the drive and install a new version of Windows, and they kept track of how that went. Then, JH installed Fedora 13 on the same computer.

Here is a description of the outcome of that test.

Comments

  1. #1 Moopheus
    October 4, 2010

    And on my iMac, I dropped in the CD, clicked on “Install,” went and made dinner, and then it was done. So what? I mean, how often do you even have to do this?

  2. #2 Eric Lund
    October 5, 2010

    Moopheus: I don’t have firsthand knowledge, but I hear from various sources that past Windows OSes often accumulate enough malware or other problems to become FUBAR and require a reinstallation. The frequency depends on your level of use and how careful you are about e-mail and web stuff, but having to do this annually is apparently not unusual. There is an iMac and a Linux box in my office, and both of them only need to go through this during a major OS update (which has not yet happened for my year-old iMac, and has happened once or twice with my four-year-old Linux box, which our local IT specialists handle for me).

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    October 5, 2010

    If you run a lab full of Windows computers that are not virtually locked down (i.e., users can’t install anything), you probably have a scheduled wipe and reinstall every few months in which one or two people spend a whole day or two doing this. One way to avoid this is to not allow the users to do a lot of things that computers are actually supposed to be used for. In other words, you have a Windows system that is either hobbled on a day to day basis or hobbled every few weeks.

    And, either way, you are probably devoting some huge hunk of actual computer cycles to things like virus checking and defragging, etc.

  4. #4 Virgil Samms
    October 5, 2010

    But very occasionally it has problems initiazing itself during boot. My temporary solution has been to reboot, and that seems to work. I sort of blame nVidia for that; the error message indicates the card wasn’t ready for use by the time Nouveau loaded itself.

    It is the Nouveau driver’s fault if it is not handling the hardware properly, but this is traceable to nVidia’s lack of cooperation with open source efforts; everything must be reverse-engineered.

    The only thing you’ll need to do is disable the Nouveau driver.

    Which is more difficult than it should be. It took me several steps in addition to the one he mentions.

    You may need to re-install the nVidia driver whenever you update your kernel package…

    Not if you install it using the rpmfusion distribution site packages. You can find instructions for that at Fedora Forum.

  5. #5 James
    October 5, 2010

    Eric answered Moopheus correctly. Windows systems are still very vulnerable to drive-by malware and virus attacks. Even in 2010 (unacceptable, BTW.) If you get nailed by one of these, you’ll need to burn down your Windows system and reinstall from scratch.

    In some virus cases, you’ll need to secure-erase the entire drive before installing Windows, since a few really bad viruses can survive a reinstall (they live in the MBR.) Reformatting and re-insatlling doens’t get rid of these viruses.

    I see lots of people who have to reinstall their Windoze system every few months due to a virus or something else. But I guess they’ve been going through this long enough that they just accept a 6-hour re-install process.

    And I’d say 6 hours is a bit on the short side, but the post mentions he hasn’t installed any other apps yet (Office, etc.)

    Personally, I’d rather have the 20-minute re-install.

  6. #6 James
    October 5, 2010

    @Virgil (#4)

    “It is the Nouveau driver’s fault if it is not handling the hardware properly, but this is traceable to nVidia’s lack of cooperation with open source efforts; everything must be reverse-engineered.”

    Nouveau is necessarily experimental, because as you point out, everythign must be reverse engineered. They do a good job, but it’s hard work.

    By contrast, the Intel GMA video card on my Dell laptop works flawlessly with Linux. The X driver handles the hardware, and I get 3D acceleration, everything.

    Then again, that’s an example of Intel cooperating with open source efforts. Intel actually writes this driver, and makes it open source, and shares documentation for F/OSS developers. Unlike NVidia which writes its own driver, but closed source, no developer docs.

    That’s why I like buying systems with Intel graphics.

  7. #7 Virgil Samms
    October 5, 2010

    Pretty soon AMD should have some competitive offerings in the netbook and small laptop markets. AMD cooperates with open source driver efforts, and the “radeon” open source driver is fairly good (although support of the latest hardware is considerably behind the Windows drivers).

  8. #8 Paul
    October 5, 2010

    Looks like a tie to me. A properly configured Windows system, both at home and at the office shouldn’t have to be reinstalled every few months as some people have suggested.

    I have not have a malware infected Windows home computer in over ten years. This isn’t difficult. Anyone smart enough to install and maintain a Linux distribution should be able to achieve the same result in Windows. Install good anti-malware software, like NOD32, and don’t be stupid.

    The corporate users I manage also have a very low infection rate. This is due to education and smart domain policies (and frequent Adobe and Java software updates).

    People who complain about and get infected and need to reimage Windows computers constantly just aren’t being smart about things.

    I’m not poo-pooing Linux by any means. I like Linux. I’m just questioning the all too common notion that Windows is so vulnerable and bug ridden. Note: I am talking about Windows XP and Windows 7. Vista sucks.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    October 5, 2010

    A tie = 6 hours vs 20 minutes? Would you like some more Kool Ade?

    Windows is bug ridden. Some of the bugs are viruses, most are expected behavior by the OS and the dumb-ass software that runs on it.

    But Windows is truly the best operating system for most people. Linux is not for everyone .

  10. #10 James
    October 6, 2010

    Paul: A “properly configured” Windows system may not need to be reinstalled every few months. If you run AntiVirus on your system, do regular scans, apply all updates immediately, never run any third-party software, tweak your configs to lock down your Windows system and services, run a software firewall, never use IE, run Firefox with the NoScript and AdBlock extensions, generally avoid running anything that you find on the web, never plug in any kind of external media, including DVDs and CDs and USB drives – yes, that would give you a pretty safe system that may not need to be reinstalled every few months.

    But that kind of “proper config” requires a LOT of in-depth knowledge about Windows. I’d guess most users out there (and it’s safe to assume over 95% of them, and probably closer to 99%) won’t know how to do this. So it just doesn’t happen.

    Linux, on the other hand, comes with a secure config by default. All the distros (Ubuntu, Fedora, etc.) run a software firewall, make updates as easy as clicking a button, and are by default immune to Windows viruses. That happens by default. You don’t need to know ANYTHING about Linux to get that.

    So which is better for the user? Windows, or Linux?

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    October 6, 2010

    James: So, an excellent Windows IT manager is the same as an excellent tailor: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2010/07/apple_screws_pooch_with_iphone.php

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