Wow. I’ve been dying to make this post for several days. All I ever hear about from Windows Zealots is how easy it is to use, how it’s user friendly, supports all kinds of hardware, etc, etc, etc. Well, I say nay! But let me start at the beginning. For some time now my wife has needed a far better computer then she had. So I decided to try my hand at putting together a sub-$500 gaming rig. I think I did a pretty decent job of it.
AMD Athlon XP 3200+
AOpen AK77-600MAX mobo
425Watt Power Supply
AOpen Mid-tower case
512MB ram (Expandable to 3GB)
Chaintech Nvidia Geforce 6600 with 256MB ram
Now, after I built this I find this guide from Tom’s Hardware (actually it found it’s way to /. the day after all my parts got here. The really surprising thing is that I built almost the same system they did! The difference? They sacrificed a bit of clock speed for a 64 bit processor (they got a AMD Athlon 64 3000+). Not something I’m too worried about since not many applications take advantage of 64 bit processors yet. I got the same amount of RAM, but got it in a single 512 stick instead of the two 256 sticks they got, which makes me think I got a bit of a better deal. I also got a larger HDD (they got 80gigs), which for my wife is REALLY important, she’d already filled up a 60gig drive, so 80 was just not going to cut it.
I will readily admit that the mobo they got is better than the one I got. I’m not disappointed about that, since I can always pick up a new one and throw it in the case I have currently while keeping everything else (except maybe the processor). The mobo they chose has AGP8x, PCIExpress 1x and 16x and 3 normal PCI slots. My AOpen has has AGP8x, and 6 standard PCI slots. So, I (or rather my wife) misses out on the possibility of a PCIExpress video card. That’s okay since I think her current card will do for quite a while. I also got a better power supply then they did (their 350watt compared to my 425watt). So, we made some trade offs, but mine actually came in under $500 (~$475) while their’s came in just over at $516.
Now that all that is out of the way I can get to what I really wanted to say. I sit down to install Windows on Mandy’s new computer (after we put it together, which was actually quite fun). Now, I’m a System Administrator and I have over 25 Linux installs under my belt. I figure, “eh! Windows is user friendly, should be no big deal.” I drop the disk in the drive and boot. It comes up just fine and away we go while it loads up all kinds of…whatever…to allow me to install it. Then BANG! It gives me some stop error and promptly reboots (before I can actually right down the error number). I did manage to catch something about USB, so I opened up the computer and unplugged the front-side USB. Tried again…ahhh….now it’s going fine. I select the partition I want it installed on, hit enter, and it joyfully starts installing. Now, with Linux, you give all the user input upfront, then it installs and you only need to visit it once every few minutes to put the next CD in the drive. Windows only has one CD, so I figure, we’re off and I can go eat. I come back upstairs about 30 minutes later expecting my nice new Windows XP SP2 OS to be waiting for me. BUT NOOOOO! It’s sitting there waiting for more user input! So I set the stupid timezone, and it continues the install. I come back 10 minutes later, expecting it to be almost done. Nope! It’s only three minutes closer then when I left and needs still more user input. It is at this point that I decided Windows utterly and completely sucked, and so I decided I’d baby sit it while it installed. I did, and it’s a good thing because it needed user input about 4 more times before it was done. It finally finished (and required a reboot…of course, can’t complain too much since even Linux needs to actually boot itself). So it’s finally booted and we are looking at the standard desktop (stupid green rolling hill!). Now, when I’ve done Linux installs (on a variety of hardware) I’ve not had many problems. Though I will admit that from time to time Compaq computers would refuse to work. But Windows is supposed to auto-detect, plug and play everything…right? Isn’t that what the Windows Zealots tell me? Well, if it is it does a terrible job of it. I had to actually install drivers for the onboard sound card and NIC…I have NEVER had to install drivers for onboard sound and NIC in Linux. NEVER! But Windows needs it! Oh yes! So I get all that installed, and I go to bed. Thinking, “Well, okay…that was not easier then Linux, stupid Windows Zealots.”
I wake up the next day (Saturday), and my wife is joyfully gaming on her new computer when….BOOM! Her game crashes, Windows reboots, and on bootup gives a pretty, incredibly annoying…BLUE SCREEN! With a stop error that my wife had just enough time to write down before the system rebooted. It then went into Windows just fine. After an afternoon of looking, we’ve found that the problem has something to do with winlogon.exe….we think we might have solved the problem, but who knows?
So, so I blame Windows? Not really. This isn’t about bashing Windows XP (though that part of it has been extremely satisfying). This is about countering the Windows Zealots who continue to spread untrue FUD about Linux. I mean, let’s be fair. Linux has an easier install, and…at least on the machines I’ve done…detects onboard stuff no problem. Windows on the other hand does not, at least not on this machine. My Linux machines get installed and WHAM! They work. Windows…not so much. So, what does Windows have going for it? I’ll be fair…gaming. Hands down. All the games are made for Windows. Not even OS X comes close. All that to say this, the next Windows Zealot who tries to tell me that Windows is,
1. Easier to install
2. Detects hardware easier
3. Easier to use
will get an earful about this install experience I’ve had…or maybe I’ll just spam their inbox with links to this article.