Skip to comments.Linux is easier to install than XP
Posted on 07/23/2008 5:54:47 AM PDT by twntaipan
When you buy a new PC today, unless you hunt down a Linux system or you buy a Mac, you're pretty much stuck with Vista. Sad, but true.
So, when I had to get a new PC in a hurry, after one of my PCs went to the big bit-ranch in the sky with a fried motherboard, the one I bought, a Dell Inspiron 530S from my local Best Buy came pre-infected with Vista Home Premium. Big deal. It took me less than an hour to install Linux Mint 5 Elyssa R1 on it.
As expected, everything on this 2.4GHz Intel Core2 Duo Processor E4600-powered PC ran perfectly with Mint. But, then it struck me, everyone is talking about having to buy Vista systems and then 'downgrading' them to XP Pro, how hard really is it to do that.? Since I had left half the 500BG SATA hard drive unpartitioned, I decided to install XP SP3 on it to see how much, if any, trouble I'd run into. The answer: a lot.
First, thanks to my Microsoft TechNet membership I could download an XP disk image, which included all the patches up to and including SP3. Many people aren't going to be that lucky. They'll need to install XP and then download perhaps hundreds of megabytes of patches. Boy, doesn't that sound like a lot of fun?
If you don't have a MSDN (Microsoft Developers Network) or TechNet membership, there are two ways to approach this problem. The first is to manually slipstream the patches into an XP installation CD. You can find a good set of instructions on how to do this in Slipstreaming Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Create Bootable CD. While the article is for SP2, the same technique works for XP SP3 as well.
The other way is use nLite. This is a program that allows you to customize Windows XP and 2000. While it's primarily so that you can set up Windows without components you don't want, such as Internet Explorer 6, Outlook Express, MSN Explorer, or Messenger, you can also use it to create fully patched-up boot/installation CDs. I highly recommend it.
This time I didn't need to use either one. I simply put in my newly burned XP SP3 CD and went through the usual XP installation routine. Within an hour, I was booting XP.
If this had been Linux my work would have been done. With XP, I soon discovered my job was just beginning. I soon found that XP couldn't recognize my graphics sub-system, a totally ordinary Integrated Intel GMA (Graphics Media Accelerator) 3100; the audio system, the Realtek HD Audio chipset, or, most annoying of all, the Intel 10/100Mbps Ethernet port. How can an operating system in 2008 not recognize an Ethernet port?
Well, XP doesn't.
Fortunately, Dell includes a CD with the full range of Windows drivers on it. With it, I was able to install the drivers for all the equipment without much trouble. Within another hour, I finally had a working XP SP3 system.
That wasn't so bad was it? Well, here's my problem, except for Dell, I don't know of any vendors who ship their PCs with driver disks anymore. The usual vendor answer for when you have a driver problem is for you to go online, search down the right driver, download, and install it. Except, of course, had that been my only course of action, I would have been up the creek without a paddle because XP wasn't capable of letting me talk to my network.
Mint, on the other hand, let me point out, had no trouble with any of my hardware. Thus Ubuntu-based Linux recognized the equipment, it set it up and let me get to work. It was Windows that proved to be a pain in the rump.
Greg Kroah-Hartman, a prominent Linux developer, is right. Linux Journal recently reported that he recently told an audience at the Ottawa Linux Symposium that "Linux supports more different types of devices than any other operating system ever has in the history of computing."
Linux isn't perfect that way, as Kroah-Hartman would be the first to admit. Based on what I experienced, though, Linux is much better than Windows at supporting modern hardware.
We have this illusion, that's just because Windows works on the systems it comes pre-installed on, that Windows has great built-in driver support. No, it doesn't. Once you move to installing Windows on a new system, you'll quickly find that Linux, not Windows, has the better built-in hardware support.
Yes, that's right. Linux, not Windows, is easier to install on a new PC. Just something to think about as you get ready to strip Vista off your new computer.
These are interesting times. Linux bridges well the current situation and you can't beat the cost.
Now if only Linux were intuitive for the computer illiterate.
I think we all need to suffer in life, and God has called Vista and Bill Gates to make our lives miserable. I suggest we just stop complaining and give them the money, because they are not going to be happy if they can’t make money off of new enhanced programs that need more and more patches. It’s just life. I can’t wait to see what headaches the next edition that comes along that follows Vista. These guys that program this stuff probably live continually with headaches.
New user interfaces certainly can be confusing, which is why many people struggle with Vista or Mac if they are used to XP.
But if your experience with Linux, especially Mint Linux or Ubuntu, you would be very surprised at the experience.
That’s been my issue. Is LInux for the masses or just the techies?
the u.s. government should thank bill gates for adding to fuller employment.
it takes legions of college educated and some not educated geeks to
defend corporate castles and homes from hackers and criminals.
How well did Ubuntu recognize the network configuration? That’s the one problem I had. I installed Ubuntu on my laptop as a second operating system (with XP). But under Ubuntu I couldn’t get my second PC recognized no way no how (no problem when running XP).
I suspect having to use Sudo for operations is the biggest problem facing newbies. I know it was for me. I hated it. I’ve since removed Ubuntu and am back with XP SP3. Enough with the typing commands and trying to figure out why what I typed wouldn’t work. Ridiculous.
The article utterly fails to prove its thesis.
XP installation hasn’t changed one significantly since it was issued. Service packs, drivers and updates have always been issues of course but the writer is attempting to make it sound as if XP installation can’t/won’t complete without the “hundreds of megabytes” (an exaggeration) in downloads referenced.
Linux may indeed be easier under the conditions specified but open-source advocates have railed against the FUD of the big software & hardware companies for years - why are they relying on it now in order to make their case?
I’m seriously pondering the switch to Linux. I’m not very tech savvy but it looks like something even I could do.
Bump for later.
This guy may be computer literate, but I think his literary skills stopped there.
I think his point was/is that with new machines that don’t come with XP preinstalled (thus resolving the driver issues), “downgrading” to XP from Vista will have significant challenges because M$ is/will no longer be developing drivers for new hardware, whereas Linux will.
FWIW I’m pretty much a bottom rung user in the computer world.
The Toshiba HD on my 5 yr old Dell laptop suddenly shot craps.
I bought a new drive on eBay for 50 bucks (4x bigger and much faster) and did a XP reinstall from scratch (had the original Dell CDs).
Took about 3 hours total - about an hour of that was looking for drivers that I didn’t have backed up and weren’t on the Dell reinstall CDs.
I tripled my RAM for another 20 bucks.
The thing runs great now, if I get another 5 yrs I’ll be happy as could be. :-)
I guess you would have to clarify. Underneath wifi or ethernet (wired) connections are protocols. Linux excels at TCP/IP—the stuff of the internet, but can be finicky about Windows networking (called Samba in *nix), but I have found Vista to be finicky about Windows networking as well.
Vista does essentially the same thing, prompting you to enter an administrative username/password almost constantly, if you don’t choose to run your system as an administrator.
I’ve been running Debian for years, so I guess I’m used to it, but I don’t have to use sudo for all that much.
It depends on which distro you choose. Some are easier than others. I have found SUSE to be great for the uninitiated.
I had a laptop running XP SP2 and Ubuntu 10.0. A second PC was running Windows 2000. The laptop is “wired” to a Linksys wireless router (I only use wireless when away from the desk). The W2000 PC has a wireless router that can contact the Linksys). The Linksys router is wired to the cable modem.
Running XP on the laptop, both PC’s can communicate together as well as access the Internet. Running Ubuntu on the laptop, I could in no way get the two PC’s to communicate, although both, again, could access the Internet.
I finally had a problem with XP and had to reinstall. In doing so I gave up on Ubuntu and am now using XP SP3 exclusively on the laptop. Still no problems communicating with the other PC.
A friend has some old PC’s he’s getting rid of. I’ve thought about getting one and putting Linux on it. But if I can’t add it to my small network, I’m not interested.
As I mentioned in another post, the whole Sudo thing is a real imposition to the uninitiated. It’s like having to do DOS commands under Windows to perform certain tasks. Who needs it? That’s a second reason I’d hesitate putting Linux on another PC.
True to a point. But having to enter username/password to install applications and such is nowhere as involved as having to know/understand Sudo commands. It's like having to run a DOS window in Windows in order to do things. Ridiculous, IMO.
At one time I had 11 different Linux versions installed here on old clunker PC's. I set them up as multi-boot computers, and the main one had 5 versions on it and others had 3 or 4 versions on them.
I sometimes had to swap video, audio, and network cards around until each PC had Linux versions on it that were happy with that hardware combination. The problem is that the hardware vendors don't publish the source code for their drivers, so the Linux packagers have to reverse engineer them as best they can.
No operating system vendor can keep up with every possible hardware combination, especially with the profusion of integrated motherboards that are around. Sometimes I had to disable the on-board audio, video, or network subsystems and plug in a conventional I/O card that the OS could recognize.
Anyway, I learned a LOT setting up 6 PC's multi-booting a dozen different operating systems. And yes, most Linux versions are more fiddly and twiddly than most Windows versions. I've reduced the number of Linux versions to about 6, based on the vendor and Linux community support for that version. Some versions don't see much progress and expansion a year or two after they were introduced. Those "clunkers" come with the usual basic program assortment, but a year later nothing much more is offered. Other versions have many thousands of program packages to choose from, and continually add more. I went with the well supported brands.
I’m trying to imagine in what context you would be having to use sudo as an ordinary desktop user, and cannot, so I don’t really know what you mean.
sudo is a command that lets you run another command as root.
Incidentally, in Exchange 2007, you do have to use a command shell for certain things.
It's the secret language of a secret society. If you are a 30-year-old virgin living in your mother's basement and tend to measure your self-worth by your degree of immersion in cultural shibboleths, Linux is exactly what you want.
Now, having fanned the flames of a religious war, and as a IT guy going all the way back to BSD 4.1 on a PDP-11/44, let me make this clear: XP, Vista, OS/2, Mac OS, Unix, Linux, HP-UX, AIX, Solaris, DOS, CPM, VMS, etc, etc, etc, they all suck! (There, I said it!)
Anyone who spends any significant amount of time defending his favorite operating system seriously needs to reexamine his priorities.
Does Information Technology seem like a strange profession for a Luddite?
I think you’re selling yourself (and others) short with this statement.
I’ll bet you a cup of coffee that ANYONE reading this who can boot a computer, use a browser and make a CD from an image can download, and BUILD a computer using Ubuntu in a short period of time.
I rebuilt two computers, a laptop and a desktop machine I use as a VOIP server in less than an hour, configured them and had them both running (and yes to secure things a bit more took a little more time and more knowledge than most have) - BUT, the computers were BOTH working in less than an hour and I had email up and running quickly (using Thunderbird).
The ONLY hold up I had was my ISP whom I have since fired and gotten a new cable connection.
By the way, this version I loaded works better than Windows and IS intuitive - at least it looks like something you’re used to using and you should not have to “relearn” anything.
It’s been awhile, but I had to run Sudo commands because of some hardware and software issues. IIRC, one application (or more) had to be installed through Sudo.
Probably you were doing things like:
sudo apt-get install kmail
But I think you have to do pretty much the same thing in Vista to install software (provide the local Administrator password).
I buy my PCs from a custom builder with no OS on it. I load WinXP then use the driver CD that the builder includes with the pc. Next time I’m going to bed or going to be away for a few hours I download and install the updates or, since I’m networked with another PC I just copy the service pack over and run it. It’s not that big of a deal. I used to build them myself but nowadays it doesn’t cost much more to have someone else do it for me.
First, I don't use Vista. I use XP and/or W2000. So I don't have do this when installing an app. Second, typing a username/password that one commonly recalls, when prompted by a window, is far different than having to type a command fitted for a specific function. "Sudo apt-get install kmail" or whatever, is only one of many, many Sudo commands. For a person familiar with Windows application installations, where all one has to do is run the EXE file and answer questions, the Sudo requirement is significantly backwards, IMO.
It's too late for me, save yourselves!
Well, the difference is that you had to go get that exe file, so it’s a bit different. The apt-get command goes out and downloads the package, installs and configures it. Apples and oranges.
There is also Synaptic, which does all this in a GUI interface. I thought that’s how Ubuntu users generally install stuff.
I prefer the command line myself; it’s easier.
This is a bunch of baloney. For most people Vista or XP is an easy install and update. This guy sound like a Lunix Geek.
I'd always try the application install program, or Synaptic, first. But some applications did not install well. I'd go to the website and it would say to use Sudo commands.
Sorry, but I find XP to be far easier. And going to "get" an application is no big deal to me. I like browsing sites to see what is said about an application before I download/install it.
Linux requires someone with technical skills to administer it.
Here's the real surprising thing: So does Windows.
Microsoft has said for years that you do not need to be technical to run Windows. There are differing views on whether those statements were wishful thinking, cluelessness or deliberate lies. Regardless of the motiviation, however, it's simply wrong.
Windows requires administration.
If you haven't been administering your Windows box, then someone else is doing it for you.
Hopefully, you pay them to do that. Otherwise it's probably the bot net owner that administers your machine.
... or one of those perpetually afflicted with computer
Did you file a bug report?
I'd go to the website and it would say to use Sudo commands.
Synaptic and Adept both already trigger sudo automatically when installing.
I like browsing sites to see what is said about an application before I download/install it.
Synaptic and Adept both provide a lot of information about available packages. And you can still go browse the 'net about them if you wish.
Getting the program from an authorized repository is much safer than grabbing an exectuable from some random website and hoping it isn't a trojan.
Well, considering Microsoft does not develop those drivers, I don't think you can expect to see them in the future.
Microsoft publishes guidelines for device driver development and can help you certify your drivers once created. But drivers are the responsibility of the device manufacturer to provide. Just like that Dell CD with all the drivers that took care of the issues the author complained about.
MS provides the OS; the device manufacturers provide the drivers. I don't really see the problem. Most Linux guys decry "OS Bloat" because of extra things in the OS install. Does that include drivers? Apparently not...
Now THAT’S funny!
The current Linux kernel driver directory, with ALL drivers installed, including the restricted, proprietary drivers is 113M. That's about 470 drivers.
The typical Linux driver is between 20K and 200K.
A typical Windows driver is dozens or hundreds of megabytes. THAT's what is decried as bloat.
How can he expect a seven year old OS to ship with drivers for equipment not made until the last year or two?! And as for not shipping driver disks, never ever buy a computer from ANYBODY that doesn’t include the drivers, and a lot more companies than Dell ship those disks.
MS doesn’t develop drivers for new hardware, the hardware makers develop the drivers. MS ships a bunch with the OS, but with rare exceptions they don’t actually make them.
Actually most Windows drivers are pretty small, in the same range as Linux drivers. The difference is that with Windows the company will also generally ship some sort of configuration utility (which 99% of the time is completely useless) which has all that GUI overhead and gives you megabytes of stuff. But the ACTUAL driver, the part that’s needed, is tiny.
There's a lot of truth to that. A hardware manufacturer will provide a package that has both the driver and the utility. And quite often that utility provides a lot of garbage that just mucks up the system.
With Linux, the utility is generally provided by the distro and is much smaller.
The reason for this is that many manufacturer's software is driven by marketing: "Now with the Gunkulator 3000! A new tool to do what the old tool did! Buy some more of our stuff!"
Under Linux, the drivers are written (mostly) by the people that write the kernel. The utilities are written by the people that write the distribution. So you get a leaner, more efficient OS.
Microsoft has always let manufacturers provide drivers and utilities, many of which do horrendous things and violate basic security protocols. They decided to do something about this (theoretically) with Vista and only allow drivers that Microsoft has signed off on.
This hasn't been nearly as successful as hoped. Either you don't get drivers at all because either the manufacturer won't provide a driver or Microsoft won't sign off on it, or the company puts pressure on Microsoft to ship a faulty driver (Intel graphics chip) so they can sell their product.
So, while the theory is good, it really has ended up being just as bad as before as far as driver stability, or worse, with no driver at all.
Never had a trojan from an installed application. I only install applications I know are safe and widely used.
Sorry, but Linux is not for everyone.
The vast majority of hardware is rather generic. A network card should be recognized and initialized by the OS using a generic driver. If there is a more specific driver for the card provided by a newer update, that's fine, but the card should at least be seen by the OS and run in some simplistic mode.
And drivers are from the manufacturer. Is it MS’ fault for the size of HP’s printer drivers?
The stock drivers (generic) that ship with XP or Vista are about the same size - 150-200K. It’s the ones from the manufacturers directly that are huge.
The beef over driver size should be with the device makers, not Microsoft.
A lot of the junk is advertising showing you all the cool features in that thing you just bought, stupid advertising since you already bought the product, but basically advertising. But it’s part of the Windows PC world, of course with harddrive space as cheap as it is I just delete the icons and don’t worry about the junk.
Vista and 2008 actually will let you install and use non-signed drivers. They just whine about it, and then only if you haven’t turned off some options and install the drivers the way Windows likes (through the “new hardware” dialog).
i use Windows (various versions from W98SE to Vista), Linux (mostly Ubuntu) and OpenBSD computers every day. Trust me, on any random PC, unless you are using the system restore CD that came with it, Linux is MUCH easier to install than any version of Windows.
It was not alway so, until four or five years ago Linux would always require some fiddle to get something working. These days, only multiple monitors have given me trouble. Everything else is pretty automatic.
I'm sure lots of people feel this way. That's why there are millions of unsuspecting users whose computers are members of bot nets.
Sorry, but Linux is not for everyone.
Neither is Windows. But that's never stopped Microsoft from pushing it.
My default XP installs all recognize - as generic - the network cards I use. Including some ancient 3COM cards (which still have coax connections on them).
This article is nothing but FUD... Starting with "Vista infection" and moving on to condemn Microsoft for NOT bundling Dell's custom drivers to building a slipstreamed CD (when the by-far-easier AND faster approach is to do the default XP install then install the patches).
I guess I should condemn Linux for requiring archaic command line interfaces, for not including MS Office as a standard configuration option through Dell, and requiring me to use apt-get a ton to get what I need?
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