Saturday, March 31, 2007

Finally, VISTAfied

I resisted Microsoft's flagship operating system, Vista, for so long. I avoided every single bit of it from the moment it was announced years ago. Not that I intentionally decided to do so; on the contrary, I basically lost faith in products coming out of Redmond. It is not the technological advancements that I dislike, but the rotten business practices of the proprietary software corporates in comparison to what is happening in the Open Source Movement. That's a story for a future book, if you allow me to dream :) , not a short blog post so I'll cut it short and jump to the point. Ok, Ok, you don't need to say it, yes I gave in, ohh yeah, whatever !!!

It was in a moment of weakness, when Ubuntu Linux was really misbehaving, that I decided to give Vista a try. I got a DVD ISO image from a friend some time ago and I thought no-big-deal; I'll install it, (fore)play with it for a couple of minutes then get back to my lovely Linux. My dual boot system at home, WinXP and Ubuntu, wouldn't mind triple-booting it.

I'll not go through the drill of installing an extra bootable OS on my PC but I'll share you some of my latest findings in this matter. The first thing is, throw away all of your partitioning software and make room for the new/old KING on the block gParted. It is an open source partitioning software than can be run from a LIVE or bootable CD. It smoothly shrank my NTFS partition to make room for Vista. I also found out that I already have 4 primary partitions on my harddisk and gParted wouldn't allow me to create one more. And Vista needed a primary partition for it to install on. After some mingling, I deleted the UTILITY partition that comes by default with most DELL computers, and maybe other ones also, then created what Vista needed.

The installation was smooth, but took a lot of restarts, and it detected my nVidia geForce video card but failed to detect my Creative Audigy Z2 surround sound card. It took a few minutes to download the latest drivers from Creative's website and Vista was no-more mute.

The first thing I installed was my beloved Firefox browser and its add-ons I can't live without like the gmail notifier, search, and several others. Then of course I needed an Anti-Virus so I opted for a 1 month trial from Trend Micro.

Vista's user interface is different and appealing to an extent. The sidebar with its gadgets is a cool idea but not very much revolutionary since the idea was long available on WinXP using Google Desktop. The Aero effects are interestingly nice but I've been doing Xgl/Compiz on Ubuntu for sometime with cool 3D rotating desktops and window transparency and movement effects so nothing super here. That's all without comparing it to eye candy effects on Mac OS X which is a different universe by itself.

One thing I noticed is the need to elevate account privileges when you do installations since by default the Vista users don't run as an administrator. This is a good step forward for Microsoft but barely comparable to the well-established practice on Linux and other OSes.

When I wanted to get back to my Ubuntu, I found out that the stupid Vista installation screwed up my Master Boot Record and I lost my GRUB boot loader, I thought. But to the rescue came the Super Grub Disk, which is a bootable floppy application that amazingly helped me restore my GRUB based MBR and made me boot back into my Ubuntu.

It's been several hours since I installed Vista and I must admit it, it is not bad; not bad at all. So here I am ending my first blog post written completely on Vista after months of blogging hibernation.


Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

welcome back!

I detest Windows now, maybe like you, I have tried every other OS to escape the shackles of Microsoft, not because their applications and OS is bad, but because they are too dominant for my liking that makes them less creative and certainly less flexible. Add to that their stifling licenses and you get my meaning.

I've been a happy user of Linux and Open Source software for several years, so much so that I standardised my office on OpenOffice for at least 5 years now and use MySQL and SugarCRM as well as SMEserver and we're set.

Linux does get tiresome when you want to do Arabic though, and that is one of the reasons that I chose to keep Linux on the server, but get a Mac for my desktop use and as that is based on BSD, I didn't look back to Windows once since I got it!

Ayman said...

So you gave in ha?

I hate Windows, and I hate Microsoft. And not just because of their licensing issues or business practices. I hate their OS too. It really sucks! Bloated to a great extent. And Vista is no exception.

I just got a new Dell laptop a few weeks ago, and it had Vista Home Ultimate. It did not take me more than a week to format it :).
I still had to re-install Vista for some reason, but I always boot with Ubuntu 6.10.

Yes, Ubuntu did screw up a few times, but that is just because I went to install Beta Beryl manually. And fixing that did not take much time. Even with Beta stuff, Ubuntu is very stable. It detected my wireless network, sound, Windows partitions, everything, except for the ATI Radeon card. I had a generic adapter that did not utilise the resolution of my laptop. I installed the ATI driver manually, and then installed Beryl for some very cool eye-candy.

And I just saw Skype for Linux, so no more Windows for me.

Cradle of Humanity said...

I never whole-heartedly hated Microsoft. I didn't love them, but didn't hate them either. I hated the way their OS crashed, but preferred Office to OpenOffice. Vista, however, was a big disappointment. The way it resembled my Mac was so distracting that I couldn’t look at it as something genuine at all. Office 2007 was dramatically changed in a way that it took me 15 minutes to look for the print command, when the keyboard shortcut came in handy.

Boiling Ice said...

When vista (long horn) was introduced and with it's super features I was sooooOOooo excited; I mean finally MS started to think right like other OSs and have a stable, secure and reliable OS. But by time, you see that Microsoft kept dropping features out of vista again and again; till the moment where vista seemed like XP with SP3. I know that's not true and -so far- it is quite secure and stable.

In any case I'm not that excited to have Vista as my main OS and it won't be for a while, but I guess -for PC gamers like me- eventually I will install vista as some of my games will only work on vista in near future.