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Reinstalling XP

2003-08-04 16:41:14.745786+00 by Dan Lyke 13 comments

I'm just going to send everyone elsewhere today. Too many good entries other places on the web. Mark outlines How to install Windows XP in 5 hours or less.

Each successive revision of Windows has a slightly longer half-life. Windows 95 lasted about 3 months. This copy of Windows XP has lasted me almost 9. I?m not bitter; when you realize that you?re measuring on a logarithmic scale, a factor of 3 improvement is really quite impressive.)

The sad part is that he's right: Windows has less time between installs than Linux does between reboots.

[ related topics: Free Software Microsoft Open Source ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-05 13:49:52.590405+00 by: meuon

This is a production system at HTS, hosting a few thousand people's shell and personal webspace:

Red Hat Linux release 6.0 (Hedwig)
9:40am  up 163 days, 15:17,  3 users,  load average: 0.00, 0.00, 0.00
model name      : Pentium II (Deschutes)
cpu MHz         : 400.912734

I think I physically moved this server 163 days ago, and before that it had been up for over a year.

of course, servers don't count, right? OK.. My workstation ran RedHat 7.0 until I upgraded to redHat 9.0... same hardware.. still runs great.

#Comment Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-05 14:16:47.034463+00 by: topspin [edit history]

Ugh. Problems I was having (with WinMe) just forced a format/reinstall. Jeeeeeez.... sometimes I wish I was a geek.

I am SERIOUSLY considering giving a turnkey Linux package a try for my basic machine. It needs to browse the web and handle email via my USB DSL connection (ya know.... the Alcatel StingRay), sync my Visor, and be able to deal with the Microsoft Wireless/Ethernet router to share the DSL connection with my laptop and my "music/media" machine.

Any suggestions?

#Comment Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-05 15:15:48.611037+00 by: ebradway

Once again, I'll make the Microsoft/VW analogy:

Microsoft puts alot of effort into making sure Windows reboots quickly and installs easily. Of course, if you ever call their tech support, the solution tree looks like this: check a check box, is it fixed? reboot the system, is it fixed? reinstall the OS...

Volkswagen put alot of effort into making sure the Bus/Beetle engine is end-user servicable. Of course, if you ever have a problem the solution tree looks like this: make sure you haven't blown a fuse, is it fixed? tune up the engine (timing, plugs, distributor cap, etc), is it fixed? remove the engine and rebuild it...

I find that Windows does great as long as you don't install alot of different software (especially non-Microsoft software) and you don't change hardware. Buy a complete system from someone like Dell and only ever run the OS that came on it. A machine really only has a lifespan of about three years. Despite the rows of P200's running NT4 staring at my back... But even those machines were built specifically to run NT4 Workstation and ESRI ArcView 3. That's all they do, and they do it well.

Rick: We need to find a way to either get rid of the USB DSL modem or find a way to isolate it. That's where you'll have the biggest issues. Your wireless router shouldn't be an issue unless Microsoft, in exchange for putting their mark on the box, screwed with the insides so that it only works right with Microsoft operating systems (but Microsoft would never do that...).

#Comment Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-05 15:44:57.630388+00 by: other_todd

I just don't do mix and match hardware. One reason that I only buy systems-in-a-box is because I must replace my video card every two to three years and my sound card every three to four years. I have enough trouble just getting those to work with the rest of the system. If I buy the absolute fastest processor I can get at the time, and a premade system where all the OTHER parts are meant to work well together (i.e. Dell), then I can get maybe five years out of the computer. (I use the machine mostly to play very video-intensive games, so the obsolescence curve is centered around the video card.)

But it helps that I simply don't have problems with the OS, aside from very minor insanities once in a while. I got this computer late in 2001. It is running WinME. I hear over and over that WinME is a dog, and it probably is, but I have NEVER had a problem, NEVER needed to reinstall any part of the OS. I've installed several CD recordable drives, USB 2.0, other extra goodies and cards, even some remote utilities that are meant for XP! All has been well. The worst that ever happens is that some leaky apps sometimes bring everything else down with them and I reboot.

I ain't no M$ cheerleader. (You might note that I don't run ANY M$ software on that system other than the OS - no Office, no Outlook, there's an old version of IE on there that never gets used.) But clearly some folks are having a very different experience with Windows and I'm curious to know what makes the difference.

#Comment Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-05 16:00:30.186464+00 by: Dan Lyke

One of the things I've noticed around our office is just attitude. My boss will scoff at any suggestion that XP isn't stable, yet he spent a day last week trying to recover a machine from what was apparently a hosed video driver upgrade. (That I eventually gave him the answer, and that the answer was essentially "trust that the installer will do the right thing", makes me gloat a little...) I honestly think that people who feel like they're having good user experiences from Windows are just glossing over the issues; they've become so inured to the occasional crash or blue-screen that they just think it's part of computing rather than a flaw in Windows.

Todd, as you say: "The worst that ever happens is that some leaky apps sometimes bring everything else down with them and I reboot." To a Linux user that's completely unacceptable. To a Windows user that's a fact of life.

#Comment Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-05 17:34:02.684755+00 by: topspin

My issues began doing the "right thing" and heading to the M$ site for a security update for WinMe. I agreed to several "critical updates" and almost immediately upon installation, Explorer went lame. It would repeatedly show up as "not responding." I'd "end task" and it would reappear, only to be "not responding" in a minute or so.

Eric: checking the Alcatel site, they have a driver for Linux for the modem, so that wouldn't seem to be a problem. Whether Linux would happily share the DSL feed from USB via ethernet..... might be what you mean?

The Visor issue is stickier. A custom kernel seems to be needed and I'd sooner sync with another machine than try to compile a kernel, so that's not a huge issue.

#Comment Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-06 02:49:51.692634+00 by: ebradway

topspin: If Alcatel has a driver, then the device will show up as a network interface. Routing (and firewalling and all kinds of other goodies) are easy after that. As far as custom kernels go, it's really not that big of a deal. But, I wouldn't think you need a custom kernel but maybe a later kernel. I've been doing alot of USB work in Debian lately. It was intimidating at first, but once things started happening it was an almost religious experience.

#Comment Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-06 15:25:06.232637+00 by: Larry Burton

Topspin, download the Knoppix ISO, burn it and boot up under it. That ought to tell you what problems you might run into without actually installing Linux on the harddrive.

#Comment Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-06 17:03:51.988534+00 by: other_todd

Hmm, ok, I see your point, Dan. I admit that the isolation of various apps in the unix world is a lot better - rarely do I ever see a unix app even slowing down other apps, let alone spoiling the party for others.

On the other hand, as a Perl defender I think that being given more than enough rope to hang oneself, no protections or fences, is not so much a design flaw as a way of weeding out the bad. So Windows is lousy at enforcing protected memory boundaries, making it possible for a rude app to trash the whole place? Well, now you know something valuable about that app: Don't use it, or use it very carefully and know its limitations.

On the third hand, some of that blame DEFINITELY gets laid at the feet of Windows, not the app designers. I haven't worked with Windows since the 3.1 days but I do definitely remember API calls that didn't clean up after themselves as documented, and given the incontrovertible fact that ALL graphical games under Windows leak and rebooting after a few hours of playing them is always a good idea, I can't imagine the OS code has improved much since those days.

I think what gets me is not so much what I have accustomed myself to living with - as I say, I consider those issues minor now - as the fact that the M$-written apps are generally the rudest, messiest, and most badly behaved of the lot. Way to set an example, gents.

#Comment Re: [Entry #6405] Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-06 19:01:03.944828+00 by: Shawn

On Tue, 5 Aug 2003 14:21:03 +0000 (UTC), topspin wrote:

> Any suggestions?

IME, Redhat (http://www.redhat.com) is an excellent turnkey system, although I've also heard non-geek newbies swear by Mandrake. (They've had recent financial troubles though.)

My Visor is working great under RedHat 9, after a bit of research. The information is pretty straightforward, but it was a bit hard to find at first.

Evolution (http://www.ximian.org/products/evolution), essentially an Outlook clone, comes with RH9 and includes all the wiring for syncing with your PDA. If you prefer the Palm Desktop interface, however, take a look at JPilot (http://www.jpilot.org).

Never used an USB modem, DSL or otherwise, so I can't speak to that, but the rest of your requirements are met by the standard install.

#Comment Re: [Entry #6405] Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-06 19:06:03.374366+00 by: Shawn

On Tue, 5 Aug 2003 15:16:03 +0000 (UTC), ebradway wrote:

> A machine really only has a lifespan of about three years.

Yes, this is an accurate axiom but it doesn't reflect usage reality at the consumer end. The only people I've ever seen follow this are businesses and power users - and even among those two camps, such turnover is not universal.

#Comment Re: [Entry #6405] Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-06 19:16:04.377117+00 by: Shawn

On Tue, 5 Aug 2003 15:46:03 +0000 (UTC), other_todd wrote:

> But clearly some folks are having a very different experience with 
> Windows and I'm curious to know what makes the difference.

I have a pretty stable Win2k installation here, but it took me about five years and three complete re-installs to get it. Even so, there is a noticeable drop in performance over time the longer it stays up without a reboot. Specifically, Mozilla (I also don't run any MS software other than the OS) slows to a crawl after about a week of uptime.

I set up a removable hard drive system and can reboot into RedHat 9 on the same machine. Applications under RedHat are noticeably snappier.

I also have a lot more control over a Linux system. On of the things that has driven me away from MS products has been that, with each new release, they remove more and more configuration/customizeablity functionality. I used to have a lot more control over how Word did what it did.

This is why I'm currently working on transitioning to Linux as my primary desktop OS. I don't like the way MS products are going. They may be fine for the average, joe-blow user but they are rapidly no longer meeting my needs.

#Comment Re: [Entry #6405] Re: Reinstalling XP made: 2003-08-06 19:21:03.705353+00 by: Shawn

On Tue, 5 Aug 2003 17:36:03 +0000 (UTC), topspin wrote:

> The Visor issue is stickier.  A custom kernel seems 
> to be needed and I'd sooner sync with another machine than try to compile a 
> kernel, so that's not a huge issue.

I was able to get my Visor working fine with the default kernel in RedHat 9. There's been a lot of loud knashing of teeth over getting a Visor to run under Linux, but it's really not as hard as everybody makes it sound.

- Shawn