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.
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