And they say Linux is a pain to install

I’m in the middle of installing Windows XP on the shiny new hard drive in my parents’ computer. (ObLinuxGeek: after copying the data off the old hard drive, Ubuntu’s going on there.)

I haven’t yet installed Linux on the computer, but comparing the XP install with the Debian install on kryten — and keep in mind that Debian is notorious for its allegedly painful installation process — let me tell you that installing Windows XP is no walk in the park.

Fun facts, more of which I’ll be able to share once the whole thing’s back up and running:

  • Even though I swapped the old and new hard drives, Windows insisted in calling the old hard drive C and the new one F, with no choice to switch it. The solution: unplug the old one for the time being. [Linux: doesn't bother with silly drive letters at all.]
  • You’d expect an OS restore CD (instead of a true vanilla XP installer) would, I don’t know, have the drivers needed by the computer, right? Wrong. No good video driver for the graphics card. No sound support. No freaking Ethernet support! Come on, this is onboard Ethernet! I need a special driver disk for that?! [Linux: comes with drivers for most non-exotic hardware. Certainly onboard Ethernet would be covered, at least.]
  • Many of these drivers insist on rebooting the system after installing. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to reboot since installing the OS; at least five, I’d guess. Installing updates from Windows Update will probably require a few more. Wasn’t this supposed to have been fixed in XP? [Linux: you only need to reboot if you upgrade the kernel itself or seriously hose your system somehow, which requires some effort.]

Hang on, I need to reboot it again.

Ooh, how much you want to bet whenever SP2 finally downloads (and the system update tray icon doesn’t seem to let you get a progress dialog for the download process, *sigh*), it wants to reboot too?

And this is just the OS, folks. I’m sure there’ll be more fun once I start reinstalling the actual apps on here.

4 Responses

  1. Yeah, and add to that the joys and pleasures of having lots of really crappy drivers which insist on rebooting in the middle of the install process so it can proceed correctly, and then after rebooting it asks you to reboot so that it can proceed correctly… (something I had to deal with at work recently just to install a simple driver for a simple USB cable for uploading data to a cellphone!)

    Also, the product activation step seems to be designed specifically to just piss you off. At work we have like three different site licensed copies of XP and we can never keep track of which license goes with which CD. One of the CDs is a Dell OEM version and so if you try to install it on something other than a Dell system it won’t activate – even though it lets you install and it only fails (and lets you know it’s a Dell version) when you actually get to the activation screen. Ugh.

  2. Another fun “feature” of XP is its ability to automatically download and install critical updates. Now, if implemented properly, this might actually be useful, since I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in my family who would regularly make sure they’re getting installed otherwise. But since this is XP, most of the updates require rebooting, so if you installed updates automatically, the computer would reboot itself without any warning.

    Microsoft’s solution to this? They suggest you save your work frequently.

    No thanks.

    (I saw some mention that you could have it install the updates at shutdown, right before you power down, which would nicely sidestep the problem here. But I can’t for the life of me figure out how you actually configure it to do this, if it’s in fact possible at all.)

  3. To be fair, I suppose, I ought to give credit where credit is due. I haven’t seen the problem that Win9x would have where the install program couldn’t find a file it’s looking for on the CD, and would ask you to find it. And by “find it,” I mean enter the exact path of the file without being able to actually browse the CD to look for it.

    When the installer confuses itself like that, you know you’re in trouble. XP doesn’t seem to have that problem, at least.

  4. I’ve had that problem with XP, actually. In its own installer.

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