As the OS Turns

Well I had a really bad crash in XP. Actually I don’t know if it was so bad or just stunningly inexplicable. The file open dialog quit working. In every application I tried on the system, clicking on file open would cause the application to stop responding. I looked into the problem for a while and then said,”You know, I’m going to do an operating system reinstall anyway, so why not try Vista again using the lessons learned from last time.”

So, I tried to upgrade to Vista, which worked well enough, but left me with a blizzard of incompatibility messages from the system about device drivers and enough conflicts to take another week to work out. So I did a clean Vista install. It was pretty easy because I had already downloaded all of the Dell drivers so there was no hunting around the web to find the right video or wireless driver.

I must digress at this point to note that I read a review of Ubuntu 7.04 (I promise there is a connection), comparing the Ubuntu install to the Vista install. The reviewer said the Ubuntu install was very slow, slower than Vista but that the consolation was that, at the end of install, you got a fully functional system. I don’t know if the reviewer was smoking crack or what, but Ubuntu, Mepis, and even CentOS all install much faster than Vista. That is the slowest install (my clean install took almost an hour) I have seen on a recently released OS.

What did I learn from my first install of Vista that I hope not to repeat?

1) Don’t move the user directory around . I had the brilliant idea that I could make Vista more *nix like and have a users~ directory that acted like a *nix /home/~ folder. Well you can’t really do it. All the redirecting I did with the Windows equivalent of links for folders did something to the system that made it wonky. However much I may want it to be more like *nix, it’s still Windows and must be accepted on its own terms.

2) The foregoing was compounded by trying to link the Documents folder in users~ to an remote directory. I have learned to distrust offline files under Windows. Only use them like you would use a server’s files, not as a replacement for a home directory which I was trying to mirror offline. I recommend not using offline files at all, but the sync on demand services of the SyncToy for Vista.

3) Don’t install the CD/DVD burning software for XP that came with the Dell laptop. Instead, use the native ripping/burning facilities of Vista/WMP11 and install ImgBurn which will let you burn all of those Linux iso’s you download. I don’t really do anything fancy ripping and burning wise and I find this combination works quite well for me.

4) Don’t let vista index the whole hard drive, you won’t really be searching outside of your user directory and email store much anyway and the occasional wait on a search is more than offset by not having your disk thrashing all the time. Especially don’t have it index any remote locations.

With those things in mind, Vista seems much better this time around.

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