Rant about Windows and a possible alternative



  • I mean Bill Gates is worth 67 Mil, so why couldn't he have just left XP supported! When it is no longer supported with the likes of cumulative security updates and so on, a lot of businesses and home users are going to have to think about a new operating system and the costs involved. There's so much Malware out there for windows users and of because of so many of the servers are Unix or Linux based they can host Windows Malware but aren't effected by it. So if it's not affecting the server adversely then the system Administrators have no real incentive to clean them off I suppose. Just been today to take a look at W8, Mmmmm! Not that impressed so far I'll have to try on a touch screen laptop next time. Yes it was pretty, it seemed quite fast but on a nice new machine and apart from AV software, no other programs on it.I'd like to see how quick Publisher starts and DVDFab for example. What will it be like in six months when there's a load of software on it and the registry is a mess? Not forgetting the way Windows seem to indiscriminately scatter files all over the hard drive forcing you to defrag it. Despair! I'm now using a free operating system called RoboLinux, it has a nice Mac feel and look to it. It's the best Linux distro I've come across and it says it can't be infected by Malware using 'secure coding'. Installs with a plethora of programs ready to go and according to them all securely coded. It writes to the hard disk in contiguous file blocks so no need to defrag and is less than 5 Gib with all the programs installed. No it's not like your precious Windows but for free it's a very good alternative, just takes a little bit of getting used to is all. Looked at the Forbes web site to find out how much Bill is worth, there are so many obscenely wealthy people out there, I just wish someone would invest in an alternative like this and give Windows a hard time for a change like it's been doing to us for years, updates, more updates, constant updates and the Malware. OK Rant over, it's called RoboLinux go and have a look and no I don't work for them, just might help some folks maybe! Regards, Ian.



  • Hello, Ian. Good to see you here. :)

    You write a good rant. I disagree on a few things but nevertheless, I recognize we all come at this from different perspectives. No truly successful company has complete backwards compatibility and there comes a point at which support for older products is simply no longer viable. I remember my anger when I discovered that Minolta Corporation had changed the lens mount in their newest cameras (back in the early 80's) and that my lenses would no longer mount without losing the automatic metering capability. Man, was I upset. Then I learned that this was pretty common practice among camera makers. Instead of re-tooling and the costs accrued, consumers were advised to simply buy a new body. :angry:

    But that is business reality, Ian. XP is old… very old by software program standards. It's remarkable that MS kept supporting it as long as it did. However, the time has come to put its resources elsewhere (even MS does not have limited resources) and Bill Gates' wealth really does not play into the picture. Bear in mind that Gates now has 4% of the company's stock and by April Balmer will surpass him. He's selling his stock in MS and using his wealth for many good purposes. In fact his plan (as is Warren Buffet's) is to essentially have given away all of his money by his demise. I applaud his many charitable projects and wish other wealthy men (i.e. Larry Ellison for one) would spend less time in buying islands and private jet planes and more following in Bill's footsteps.



  • Thank you James, It's just XP especially on fairly modern machine is nice and fast and It's a shame!

    Yes that bothered me as well on a camera I had as well, I still remember my old trusty Russian made L2.

    Xp had to be continued because of the catastrophic failure of Vista and no other reason IMHO.

    I didn't know he'd sold most of his stock and your are quite correct in applauding him for his charity work.

    Yep a very greedy world, this Robolinux founder purports to be a Christian and 20% of the profit goes to charity.

    But if this software is the real deal, then maybe it could save a lot of people a lot of money.

    Nice chatting thanks for the friend request and the replyreply.

    Regards, Ian



  • Anti Rant, to be taken with a grain of salt like every rant. ;)

    Defrag? Oh yeah - didn't do a user started defrag since the first Win7x64 install and I just looked how many of my files are fragmented: 1% …
    (Yes, I know that Windows does it in the background if you use a HDD - and I know that it does not matter at all if your data is fragmented or not with a SSD)
    ... and there is always http://www.ext2fsd.com/ for all who want to use Ext2,3,4 or Reiser with Windows or ExtFS which works even with Win8.1. It is just a file system and with the right driver Windows can use different file systems like any other operating system can.

    Other than that:
    Yes, Windows is a bit bigger when installed but the hardware compatibility of Windows and the backward compatibility to older software is almost unmatched. One example: I own a thermo-sublimation printer for pre-press proofing - there is no Linux driver for this printer at all and I am sure there will be no person who will write one for me unless I don't bail out a pile of money. The same goes for monitor calibration - no, it is not just a mere gamma calibration, it must be able to do it zone-wise. No chance with any Linux, not even with one of the ultra-all-inclusive bloatware distributions from the buntu family.
    Video drivers? C'mon, the latest NVidia driver for Linux is still c
    *p, almost the same as the AMD/ATI driver, I can hear the usual swearing from the Linux fraction in our company (and experienced it by myself, especially because of my limited Linux experience) ...

    Security?
    Windows with its more than 2 billion user base got severely hammered over the last 20 years. I wonder how many security problems Linux would have had if someone had bothered to hammer it like that. The simple reason why Linux seems to be more secure is that nobody bothered because it wasn't worth the effort: Why hack 20 Million of freebee users when you can hack 2 Billion of all kinds of users? There is no money in it.
    BTW: Android is Linux based too, it got hacked several times and it is getting worse - simply because now there is a big enough user base - even better: A really big base of users who have no clue because all they know is how to install another app from an app store and press some big, shiny buttons.

    About Bill Gates: He had the right Idea at the right time (and the existing *X people, which were already in business for about 10 years, did not) and he earned a load of money. Good for him - in the end he now has about 30 USD from every Win user, which is not that much for 29 years of Microsoft with all of its products and I bet it is not all on his bank account but working elsewhere …

    In the end: If you want a system that "just works", install Windows. If you are willing to learn something about your OS and if you are willing to tinker around occasionally, you can give Linux a try.

    (Yes, i have a computer with a Debian based system too (rolling, with much stuff from testing in it). It works and does some things better than my Windows based computer, but in the end Windows still wins for me and my use cases - but your mileage may vary)



  • Hi Ian. Our company refuses to update… even to Windows 7. We're still on XP Professional in all of our locations and the bank we deal with still uses it as well. I don't know what will happen when April rolls around but like everything else, I guess we'll find out. :(

    Robolinux sounds interesting and if the founder's words are true, I'm very pleased to hear them.

    There are some things in this life that we just can't change (Lord, give me the grace to accept what I cannot change, eh?! LOL). My wife insisted we transform our home office into another bedroom. That meant getting rid of our desktops (two five year old Dells...but still in very serviceable condition). Being a HUGE MS fan (blood is thicker than water, right?), she told me to order two laptops. Evidently we are now going for portability versus whatever. So, being the dutiful husband I was able to get a fairly good Black Friday deal on two Lenovo Carbon x1 laptops with touch. Not that "I" wanted to go this way but once again... it is what it is and I don't like hitting my head against a brick wall. They arrived last evening and we set them up... she excitedly and me remembering the ticket price...even a sale price. I don't really want touch but she does. I don't really want portability but she does. I want my office back but she doesn't. Bottom line: I love my wife so I'm willing to change.

    Is there a point to all of the above? Haven't a clue.... uh... well, perhaps and it even relates to your rant but you have to find it. I'm not telling ya! :P

    Take care.



  • HI, salt cellar in hand.

    Well after a defrag I must be hallucinating, because it always feels a lot faster to me and really with the size of hard drives now what's wrong with writing contiguously to the drive?

    It's over three times the size on disk than just Windows alone has all the software programs loaded!

    There are driver issues with this version as well I'll freely admit, no problems with the monitor or wireless.

    Yes the user base impacts heavily on Windows as a target and as I said Windows malware cannot cause harm to a Linux, Unix or OSX server and since Linux servers are getting more popular every day it's a problem of hosting the malware.

    Personally gave the smart phone away and I am still using my old Nokia.

    I will eventually by there VM box $28 Dollars and re install Windows in a virtual machine.
    I love the look and feel of windows, not 8 yet and to run DVDFab and stuff like hard drive analysis software I need windows.

    It's just every time we have a leap in processor technology the next version of Windows eats it!

    Yes a lot of people have made a lot of money out of Windows software an absolutely obscene amount and the linux comunity is different.

    Ta for the reply, Ian.



  • I guess it would be a good thing if there were less XP users it would attract less attention from the hackers.

    How unstable and vulnerable XP will get without the updates I,ll have to wait and see, I have friends that aren't going to change either.

    You could always use your laptop for work and pleasure, use it when you have to check the bank and payments etc…

    I sometimes plug the laptop into the LCD and using a wireless mouse and keyboard, recline on the couch surfing and so on very comfortably.

    I think touch screen will be far better with W8!

    I spotted some software earlier called 'deep freeze' what purportedly does is I think make a secure back of your registry etc... Then when you re boot it returns the machine to it's previous state, so if something was changed by say malware it would be undone?
    There is a freeware and a shareware download for it and I didn't care for some of the sites supplying the download, I'll guinea pig it on a spare machine and run everything I have antivirus etc...

    Regards, Ian.



  • @ianmcqui:

    I spotted some software earlier called 'deep freeze'

    This was nice too:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_SteadyState
    worked like a charm with XP. I think it is still available at some download portals like c|net …



  • I'll have a look thanks.

    Another gripe with Windows why is DCOM (Distributed Component Object Module) switched on when Windows is installed because Windows doesn't use it and as far as I'm aware no software does either?

    It leaves port 135 open for any installed software or more importantly malware to gain access to the internet, without you knowing!

    Because all the other OS have it MS were just ticking a box to say yep we have that too!

    Switch it off I say,and forgot about it for the main rant. LOL



  • I will have to partially disagree with QuHno … compared to XP and earlier versions anyway, Linux is more secure. Not everything runs in administrator mode, there is simply less opportunity to create havoc. Then again, FreeBSD is even more secure - so secure there are some things you can't even do on it ... so there are limits to security.

    Linux is used in many server environments, but if there is no desktop then you can't compare it to a home or business user system. There are some aspects of Linux which may be considered well tested, but you'll probably never use them.

    Having said all that ... avoid Windows 8 if at all possible. My experiences may be skewed by the fact my Windows 8 system is a netbook, but it just isn't that stable. If you can find a Windows 7 system, that is much to be preferred. I haven't seen 8.1 yet and can't speak to that either way.



  • I have 8.1 and frankly like it. And in April the next big update will arrive which I believe will restore the Start Menu.



  • @sgunhouse:

    I will have to partially disagree with QuHno … compared to XP and earlier versions anyway, Linux is more secure. Not everything runs in administrator mode, there is simply less opportunity to create havoc.

    That's true if you have configured your system in that way - but there was once a very comprehensive guideline to harden an XP system - made by the NSA (no joke, and it was really good).
    Alternatively you could run SuRun, which made it possible to work with XP or Vista without ever entering the Administrator account after the first setup. It works with a special user group called "Surunner" if something has to be installed (reminds a little bit of sudo, doesn't it ;)) and the password had to be entered in a secure environment - basically you worked in an environment very similar to Linux et. al.
    I know of a user who never used an active AV software and never got any malware (No, that user was not stupid and did the occasional deep scan with an offline checker.)

    @sgunhouse:

    Then again, FreeBSD is even more secure - so secure there are some things you can't even do on it … so there are limits to security.

    Yes, BSD is very hardened, simply because of its strict separation between executables and data. May be that is the reason why Apple nowadays uses it as core - but still: I can remember the "carpet bomb", which hit the Apples quite hard at that time …

    @sgunhouse:

    Linux is used in many server environments, but if there is no desktop then you can't compare it to a home or business user system. There are some aspects of Linux which may be considered well tested, but you'll probably never use them.

    … and there we see the the main weakness of all systems:
    You do not really need administrator rights to execute malicious code, you only need a vulnerable program|application and a method to restart your code. Guess why about 20-30% of all servers in some regions are hacked (I am looking at some very extensive IP-tables that help blocking those). It is not the OS, but the Joomla|Wordpress|vBB whatever install, which is flawed and allows injecting and executing all kinds of malware.
    Those servers are not only hacked, but most of them are infected. For me an infection is a piece of malicious code that gets executed - and there are hundreds of ways to do that on many servers.

    @sgunhouse:

    Having said all that … avoid Windows 8 if at all possible. My experiences may be skewed by the fact my Windows 8 system is a netbook, but it just isn't that stable. If you can find a Windows 7 system, that is much to be preferred. I haven't seen 8.1 yet and can't speak to that either way.

    That is a typical case of "your mileage may vary" - but you are right: 8.1 is more stable.

    One final thought: The operating system of the venerable Commodore Amiga was (and in many parts still is) an extremely hard nut to crack (not speaking of that abomination called bootlock, which was widely exploited). It would be really nice if someone would give that a spin an program a new OS based on that …



  • @QuHno:

    I know of a user who never used an active AV software and never got any malware (No, that user was not stupid and did the occasional deep scan with an offline checker.)

    Can't tell about XP but I have run w2k for more than a decade with root privileges and for the last ~7 years without an AV (I had once Kaspersky 3.5, but since it became a bloat I gave it up). No infection during all that time. All I have done was to harden the OS (closing ports/services) and practicing safe hex. No InternetExplorer, virtually all the software I was using with w2k was third party software.
    Same applies to Win7 I'm using know. However hardening Win7 is a little bit more complicated than it was with w2k. For those interested there a lots of references on the web. I still don't use an AV. I've deactivated the one shipped with Win7 (nobody should take it as a recommendation!!! :D )



  • @sgunhouse:

    Having said all that ... avoid Windows 8 if at all possible. My experiences may be skewed by the fact my Windows 8 system is a netbook, but it just isn't that stable. If you can find a Windows 7 system, that is much to be preferred. I haven't seen 8.1 yet and can't speak to that either way.

    I totally disagree with you on this. While Windows 7 was the first Windows version I consider good and secure, Windows 8 is much better in all ways except backwards compatibility. It is considerably more efficient than Windows 7. It was too much oriented towards touchscreens, though. There is not much difference, but 8.1 is slightly more keyboard and mouse-friendly even in the apps (which I really do not use). Actually, I use 8.1 in excactly the same way I used 7. XP I really only used for games, in that time I much preferred OS/2 and SuSE Linux.

    Admittedly, my perspective is from a new high-end workstation. I do not need any legacy device drivers for ten year old printers or add-in cards. On the other hand, stuff with device drivers that have not been updated since XP is not likely to be very reliable.



  • Hi Ian here, so do you agree about my reference to DCOM being turned off as a wise precaution?

    What tips have you for hardening W7, i'm interested if you have any.

    Regards, Ian.



  • I remember my Amiga 3000 with fondnes, what a machine in it's day and I think the first Windows like GUI based OS, well before Windows?

    Funny the Motorola 6800 being discontinued, Amiga dissapears and suddenly the CPM machines,NEC's, Compaq's IBM's and the clones arrive!

    Ta for your thoughts, Ian.



  • You guys remember when Windows Millenium came out. I always hear complaints of Vista but remember that Millenium worse by far. :woohoo:



  • Yep I remember! Wasn't too bad for me I couldn't afford any software so a pretty bare system really, the occasional crash.

    I remember the first CPM machines, SCSI drives, hard drives and that God awful WD ROM BIOS formatter that you had to invoke through DEBUG G=C800:5 was the HEX address of the ROM BIOS chip on the motherboard.

    You ran the software and did a sub level format, partition the drive and then the high level format and what a pain in the ass it was for a measly 20Mb.

    OK in those days a huge leap forward compared to 'floppies' but getting old and pretty much liking the computer industry advances, plug and play cheered me up no end!

    But if you remember the BBC micro, ZX 80 Spectrum and the commodore 64 you'd even appreciate vista!

    Lots of LOLS! Ian.



  • @ianmcqui:

    Hi Ian here, so do you agree about my reference to DCOM being turned off as a wise precaution?

    What tips have you for hardening W7, i'm interested if you have any.

    If the computer using Component Services is part of a network, Component Services needs the DCOM wire protocol to communicate with Component Object Model (COM) components on other computers.

    If you don't have any use for it it's safe to turn it off. I had always DCOM turned off (w2k, win7).

    There are many references you can find by searching the web.
    Here are just two of them:
    Black Viper
    Harden Windows 7 for Security

    My personal advice:

    • Make a back up of your system before applying any changes.
    • Before making any changes read carefully what the changes are effecting and make sure you don't need the stuff you are going to disable.
    • Write down all changes you are doing and save that file so you can easily revert all changes you have done.


  • @ianmcqui:

    … It's just every time we have a leap in processor technology the next version of Windows eats it! ...

    Heh :) . I have an old DOS-based Lotus Symphony spreadsheet program (ca. 1985) that I still run at least monthly on this quad-core, 3Ghz, Win7x64 system using DOSbox's good offices (16-bit programs won't run directly). I originally created my Symphony application long ago on an Intel 286 box running at a couple of MHz, with 5-1/4" floppies. If you really want to see the impact of processor technology in the ensuing years, I suggest doing something like that. When I do a manual "recalculation" of the very complex spreadsheet which took about 15-20 seconds years ago, it now executes so fast I sometimes double-check to make sure it actually did… it's faster than instant. Moreover, the full spreadsheet program installation files consume an entire 4.02Mb on the drive - hardly a decimal point compared with the latest demands of MS Excel.

    You make a good point about the fact that technology and Windows file-space demands seem to both increase in lock-step. No matter how fast your system, or how large your drive, it will barely be enough for other than the current versions of Windows OS and apps installations and data. Yet I find it somewhat difficult to identify a corresponding increase in things that are useful to me in that progression... things are prettier perhaps, but not all that much more useful. I sense the cost/resource efficiency rate of Windows computers has been dropping steadily for years, at least for the things that I need a computer to do.


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