Arman's stuff
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Four Strikes, and You're Out

(Thu Mar 17 11:44:48 2011)

...Unless you're Windows. Sigh.

Ok, you know what? I'm seriously getting ticked off at Windows right now. Usually, I can stand Windows just fine. It's annoying sometimes, but I live with it. These past few days, though, working with Windows has become akin to attempting to lift a watermelon using nothing but my own nose hair. At this point, Windows is causing physical pain. And why is this, you ask? What could possibly make such a level-headed young man into this raging madman you see before you?

Let me start at the beginning.

Long ago, I began using VMWare at work. I could run multiple OSes inside a window, and I could resize the window and make the OS inside resize, as well. Want a screen that's 100 pixels wide, but 1000 pixels tall? I could do that. I still can - in Linux. Not terribly long ago, my Windows XP install stopped being able to resize automatically. And along with that loss, I was no longer able to drag-and-drop files, copy text outside the VM and paste it inside, and a small host of other useful features. That was the first strike - my VMs broke.

Much more recently, a friend of mine introduced me to a game: Magicka. It is, frankly, awesome. After a bit of testing, however, I found that it does not work with Linux. It used to, up to a point, but after the latest patch, it has completely ceased to run. Even so, it was so undoubtedly awesome that I resurrected my old Windows XP installation, even installing the hundreds of patches to make it marginally secure again. I purchased the game, and have enjoyed playing it - apart from the fact that I need to boot into Windows every time I want to play. That was the second strike - I'm irritated with Windows for being so dang closed.

A couple days ago, when I began working with Windows 7, I realized that I had been set up as a standard user, rather than an admin. Now, 7 has a wonderful, almost sudo-like property of being able to install programs or change settings using the admin account, rather than the user account you logged in with. The trouble is that this only works if you have the password to said admin account... which I don't. Now, in Linux, even without root access, I can install most programs locally - no one else on the system could use them, I certainly could. In Windows? Up a creek without a paddle. Strike three.

And finally... Internet Explorer. I know, I know, this is worth a strike on its own, but wait until you get the full story. You see, I'm testing a website - JavaScript, CSS, HTML, the whole nine yards. I use Opera, most of the time, so I know all the pages work there. I have Firefox 2.0 and 3.6 installed, so I could test those, too. I could probably even test Safari, if I wanted to. the trouble is, I have IE 8 installed. That means no IE 7 testing, and no IE 9 testing. This is a problem. So, I Googled around for an answer. Lo and behold, the "recommended" method is downloading three files for Vista (about 700 MB each), or one file for XP (again, 700MB). That's just IE 7 - and there isn't a file for IE 9 for Vista, or IE 8 in W7. These files, by the way, are packed virtual hard drives, for use in VirtualPC. Right, then, on to that - only a 30 MB download... and there is where the trouble starts. Once I start installing it, it gets about 1/2 done, and turns off my Internet - the hour and a half I spent downloading those massive files is gone. Then, once the installer gets to 3/4 done, it hangs. I leave it alone for half an hour - nothing. I only manage to get rid of it by killing it (and its half-a-dozen child processes) in Task Manager, then restarting. That's right, folks - the only way to test more than one Microsoft browser, and it crashes my machine. Strike four, with a vengeance.

The entire time I've been working with these files and such, I've been thinking of what Linux would allow me to do. I could install multiple versions of IE, for one; just sandbox them away with the files they need, and boom, done. Installer crashing? Check the console output; that'll show you exactly where it's going wrong, and if you can fix it or not (who knows, maybe it was just hung up asking a question - I'll never know). No user permissions? No problem! Just sandbox those files, too, and run 'em in as your local user.

I can do a lot with Linux. Yeah, it takes a bit of messing about sometimes, but then again... I'd rather do that, than be forced to quit entirely because Windows isn't behaving. And yeah, I know that Windows probably has a way to do all the things I've mentioned... but in Linux, it's as easy as typing "./setup.exe" in a console instead of double-clicking on it. And good luck finding any documentation on the Windows Installer command line stuff...

Linux may not be perfect, but it sure is useful... and that's more than I can say about Windows right now.

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This blag is tagged: Browsers, Ie, Linux, Virtualpc, Vmware, Windows, All