Blog Post

Quit comparing us to Windows

Despite it being the latest ISO image I could find, the first thing the system did when it saw the Web was to download 104 updates – roughly 60 per cent more than a new install of Windows XP SP2 asks for.

This was taken from a recent Inquirer article. I have a problem with this. Why?

  1. After a fresh install of Windows XP SP2, there are 73 updates.
  2. After a fresh install of Kubuntu Edgy, there are 65 updates (dist-upgrade) and with Ubuntu Edgy there are 72 upgrades including 4 new installs.
  3. Take your 104 updates, to the 73 from a fresh XP SP2 install, and that is roughly a 42.5% increase, not 60. ((104-73) / 73)
  4. Truth be told, it is just over a 12% increase in updates from Kubuntu Edgy and pretty much the same with Ubuntu Edgy to Windows XP SP2.

Let’s not forget that with Windows XP SP2, you also have to install your Office application, your virus scanning application, spyware detection, graphics suite, and then some. So there is hours upon hours of installation and updates, or days upon days if you are using a dial-up connection.

Well, I’ve only been playing with computers since 1972 and I couldn’t make it work. Linux can see the Windows boxes and vice versa, but any attempt to access files is met with a login dialogue box that refuses any username and password I enter. Now my learned friends tell me I should be using something called Wine. I’ve been a heavy user of wine for many years and it certainly helped relax me but did absolutely nothing for my connectivity dilemma.

I will give you the Samba issue, however it is doable as I do it at school and here in the house. Granted you partially have to edit /etc/samba/smb.conf and change the network setting to equal your workgroup. Then some tinkering with file sharing and you should be good. I am speaking from a Kubuntu standpoint, as I don’t have any experience with Samba and GNOME, however it can’t be all that different or difficult. Concerning your friends telling you to use something called Wine means either you should be new friends as Wine and connecting to Windows machines and vice versa have nothing to do with each other. Oh, and a fine Tequila such as Cabo Wabo or Patron is better than wine, however you can’t drink the same amount, unless of course you feel like learning how to crawl all over again.

The Ubuntu box now awaits rebirth as another Windows XP machine. I have neither the time nor the inclination to persevere with its perversity. Maybe I’ll try Linux again in another ten years. Maybe by then it will have grown up.

Next time start your story off with this line, so people know your mindset from the get go. Obviously you aren’t one for patience. Well, I take that back, as installing Windows XP SP2 and updating will definitely require patience, and an ass load of wine. So, we want to “BEAT” Microsoft, “NOT BE” Microsoft. Yes, out-of-the-box, gaming, and some other things will just work with Windows, but please don’t look at that as a Linux or Ubuntu issue. If the manufacturers of the equipment that just works with Windows would cooperate, then it would just work as well if not better in Linux.

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  • MDL

    “fine tequila” is an oxymoron 😛

    In all seriousness, Ubuntu’s little updater beats the snot out of Microsoft Update (Windows Update and Office Update together).

    It takes FOREVER to scan for updates (when there are more than just a few of them) and it also takes an eternity for them to install once they’re all downloaded.

    I have an old computer laying around. I should time both update scenarios. I’m willing to bet that the comparison would not be flattering for Windows.

  • Also remember that with winxp you are installing the SP2. To be equal, if we count all the updates it has, we would reach hundreds of updates!

  • MDL

    I don’t think counting the SP2 updates as separate is really fair. I think the retail discs included it after it was released, and more experienced/advanced people created (or otherwise acquired) slipstreamed SP2 discs. XP without the service packs was released ages ago (Oct 2001), and even SP2 is pretty old (Aug 2004).

    However, yes, if you do exclude them, the amount of updates is extraordinary. But that would be the case for any five-and-a-half year old OS.

  • MDL I definitely have to disagree with the “fine tequila” remark ;p Patron and Cabo are pretty good, Cabo is my favorite though (Sammy Hagar junky).

    I just scanned for updates, oh lord, updating is insane with XP. If I remember correctly, Windows 98 and such back then updated way quicker. Windows has to validate everything now and make sure nobody is stealing their junk 🙂

    Pochu: that is a very good thought. I didn’t even think about that. Hell, We could take Dapper, the first release and probably beat an initial XP update 🙂

  • MDL, damn I didn’t realize SP2 is 2.5 years old already. That is crazy.

  • Stefan Potyra


    actually I’d like to compare us to XP, please forgive me 😛

    I recently needed to a laptop with an almost virgin installation of XP and it took me about 7 hours (and tbh some beers as well).

    It went like scan for updates, install updates (taking ages), reboot. Scan for updates, install updates (again taking ages) reboot. IIRC that was the point where SP2 got drawn in. Then of course scan for updates, install updates (taking ages again) and reboot. Scan for updates, no more updates :).

    Right now I’m trying the same thing with ubuntu, as I want to install edgy on my girlfriends laptop. Unfortunately I only have a dapper cd and no more blank CDs, so I cannot use the edgy iso I downloaded.
    So far it took me 2.5 hours (most of the time spend chatting on irc and fixing grub though, since this laptop contains instant-on ™, and after my first test-reboot to XP it wanted to rewrite the MBR and I was dumb enough to let it – not XPs fault I must admit).
    Currently it’s finished with downloading updates and I’m quite sure that I’ll have it configured in ~half an hour. I guess I’ll need to make some tweakings which will cost me another half hour.

    Even worse was once I got my new box last summer and tried to reuse my existing windows installation as well as my existing ubuntu installation.
    XP: 7 days! (and I could only fix it after reading through various knowledge base articles and copying the old image of XP to the new disk a few times).

    Ubuntu: no problems at all. I guess I have to admit here as well that I later reinstalled, since I switched from i386 to amd64. Didn’t take me too long either though, as I fortunately had /home on a separate partition.


  • SilentDis

    From what I’ve seen in the past, it’s always people with a ‘set mind’ who write articles such as this. They simply do not want to give another operating system a fair shake, and instead focus on finding and nitpicking everything that’s different from one to the other, and calling it a problem.

    The author of the Inquirer article has no intention to provide a fair and balanced opinion from the get-go. They are happy with Windows, and seeing some people happily using Linux seems to bother them. I’ve never personally understood the whole idea of “my pain should be your pain” mentality. If you are happy using Windows, I’m perfectly OK with that. I will happily point out where there’s problems and better ways in the FOSS world if you ask, but I won’t lambast your choice. There’s no need to write horribly biased articles about my choice, either.

    I think this is part of the problem with the adoption of FOSS in general. People fear change, in general, and do not want to learn something new if at all possible. While I believe it important to get an in-road in early learning areas (schools for example), I don’t believe ‘forcing’ it upon people is good either. That’s where the original article comes from, some boss probably required a linux article, and assigned this guy to it.

    For now, I’ll sit here in my panacea of stability and freeness, and offer a great big helping hand to any and all people who approach with honesty 🙂

  • jldugger

    Maybe you’d like to contest Bug number 1?

    Seriously though, Samba in Ubuntu needs some loving. For most people, it’s used to share printers and maybe files, with other Windows machines. The default configuration does not play nicely with the concept of publicly shared files, asking for passwords and users that nobody knows, because Samba by default maintains a separate authentication scheme.

    But even if the “share a folder” scheme worked the way you’d expect, GNOME totally tanks on browsing Samba from my edgy server. Windows can see it fine. Both my Ubuntu systems can see non-Ubuntu shares. But for a perpetually changing set of reasons, the two can’t communicate between each other.

    It’s unfortunate that another member of the technical press tried Ubuntu and found it wanting. I’m tempted to suggest a team to offer special assistance to our most “special” users, but I fear that their own journalistic integrity would be compromised, and that those resources might be better spent on people who haven’t already given up on Ubuntu.

  • Windows is EVIL, we all know that 🙂 I think a lot of people think a majority of us using Linux or BSD have never used Windows. They see sunshine, however we see the toxic cloud above their heads. Oh, and I love how they call us Fanboys because of our dedication to something we love and have passion for. Like I told the board at my university, you want to teach students creativity, passion, and openness, yet you encourage them to use systems that prevent this. Once the XP addiction is in place that everything else is inferior, you just let me know that 1) your creative abilities are lost (and I am not talking about art type creativity either for you Windows users waiting to tear us a new arse), 2) you have no passion, except for maybe MySpace, and 3) openness isn’t what you and your significant other share (you men are damn liers, you aren’t open).

    For my computer science classes, I have already made it known to the instructors that using Microsoft and other proprietary applications goes against my philosophy, and if that doesn’t get them, then hell, I hit them with the Church of Emacs and that it is against my religion. Even if I am full of BS, you hit the religion note on an educational facility, they draw up tight and crawl away like 8 month old babies. And because I sit in class with my shiney Kubuntu Linux operating system, it draws attention, and the kids who have 4 million MySpace friends (most of who are 50 and want to do dirty things with them) want to learn more. Our recent LUG event was proof positive of this. We drew in more “NEW”, never before used Linux, people than we had regular attending members. Out of my 2 main compsci classes, we will say 60 students, even though that isn’t even close, it is way lower, I have half of them on Ubuntu and/or Kubuntu. So what if they are dual-booting. I have shown them an alternative and they are actually spending time trying to learn it.

    I think no matter where you stand, patience is a virtue. If you are a close minded person and already have a mind set on what it is you want or are going to do, and someone says they need opposite, be a man/woman and politely say no. Otherwise you not only make yourself look ignorant, but you make those who you are writing for look ignorant. I think we need start getting our children into Linux. My daughter is 11 and never has owned or had in her possession a computer running Windows. She rode along with me, started out with some SUSE back in 2000, did a little Debian, got familiar with Slackware and BSD a little, and now she is loving her Edubuntu install. I talked to her on the phone recently and she even went through with vim, edited her /etc/apt/sources.list and did a dist-upgrade on her own. Man, talk about a proud papa 🙂

  • OH! And let’s not forget about the many reboots that are in store for small updates to XP and/or Vista. Why can’t they just do everything in one swoop, and then if you have to reboot, do it later?

  • You forgot to mention that connecting to other boxes via a proprietary network layer that has been reversed engineered with no spec sheets to go by is EASY!!!

  • PS

  • Some Guy

    Alternate CD (or minimal CD) will install with “no” updates. Of course, it’ll still download the new packages, but it’ll be transparent to the user. If they want to be so asinine and whiny about ‘needing updates’.

  • Oliver Beer

    I recently decided to give the saxophone a go. Well, I’ve only been playing flute since 1972 and I couldn’t make it work! The instrument now awaits rebirth as conversation-piece plant pot . I have neither the time nor the inclination to persevere with its perversity. Maybe I’ll try sax again in another ten years. Maybe by then it will have grown up.

  • TG

    Oliver Beer, you are my hero.

  • Jon

    Forgive me but you seem to be missing the point, too. The number of updates is not important. The speed at which security problems are fixed and the ease at which those patches can be applied is the key. More patches to me is a *good* thing, it means more problems fixed. I don’t believe that the number of patches is an effective metric for how bad a piece of software is, security-wise.

  • Tenco

    Despite it being the latest ISO image I could find,

    I bet he tried Herd4…

  • Jon, I wasn’t missing the point, but I do thank you though for stressing that point, which of course I do find more important the shear amount of updates. Thank you!

    Over Beer for President!!! Dude, you made my day with that one brother 🙂

  • fdoving

    “Problem #1: Linux isn’t exactly the same as Windows.”

    Go read
    It’s good.

  • Tex

    I just sent the following email message to the author of that article:

    The article in question:

    Your article was the most tired diatribe of unprofessional, biased BS I’ve read in a long time.

    You can’t simultaneously be a clueless innocent end-user just trying SO HARD to get your computer working, and *ALSO* “having worked with computers since 1972”. Make up your mind.

    If your technical expertice extends only to saving word documents and opening email attachments, you could’ve had 120 years of computer experience and it wouldn’t make a difference.

    I suspect that you put the WINE reference in there for the sole purpose of making your bad pun, because if any of your ‘learned’ friends told you that WINE has anything to do with networking, they’re either playing a prank on you, or you should have their ‘learned’ status revoked.

    The reason networking with a windows machine doesn’t work ‘out of the box’ is that the protocols are proprietary and secret and Microsoft won’t tell anyone how to make their products work with them. Networking on linux works great, but it requires some tweaking to work with windows machines because it’s all reverse engineered.

    But even this is not difficult. If you had taken 3 seconds to Google for ‘linux windows network’, you’d see the first 200 tutorials on how to setup Samba so it works.
    There is simply no excuse for not taking 5 minutes to read one of these and set up your home network. Don’t you spend a lot of time installing windows drivers as well?

    What is with the preconception that everything just has to work instantly in linux before it’s worth even talking about, but it’s okay sitting for entire weekends trying to beat a Windows machine into doing what you want it to?

    You even based your entire article on a false metric. How many updates? In what universe is this relevant in any form, way or shape?
    How about, the size and importance of updates?

    How about counting the amount of time spent rebooting after every update?

    How about, Windows SP2 is already a version that contains several hundred updates and patches?
    Did you factor in the time and resources you used to download SP2, or slipstream your XP disc?
    Try a pre-SP1 install of XP and let’s count it again, shall we?

    I also find it suspicious that you never mention the number of Windows updates so we can check your 60% claim.

    A guy called Oliver Beer on the nixternal blog post on this ( summed up your entire article with poetric precision:
    “I recently decided to give the saxophone a go. Well, I’ve only been playing flute since 1972 and I couldn’t make it work! The instrument now awaits rebirth as conversation-piece plant pot. I have neither the time nor the inclination to persevere with its perversity. Maybe I’ll try sax again in another ten years. Maybe by then it will have grown up.”

    The catchphrase: “Open source, closed minds” at the top of the article was unintentionally accurate on your part.
    You never had any interest in getting linux working on your machine, and your total and utter failure to be able to search help forums for the solutions to whatever problems you might encounter has *nothing* to do with linux. Or with Microsoft, for that matter.

    Good day, sir!

  • Tex, simply outstanding and well put. I have noticed that the Ubuntu forums also say something about the editor being a Windows fanboi who posts stuff like that to get the reaction he has received from us. Man, I have tried for more than 4 hours to get the same 60% as he came up with. Dapper 6.06.1 still didn’t have all that many updates, even with all the repos enabled. I have no idea how and where he got those numbers, or he is flat out silly and don’t know basic mathematics.

    I even Googled the damn equation to make sure I even had it right. Even asked on IRC before I made the post. I would have looked silly posting and my math was wrong, but thank god the guy who wrote that for the Inquirer beat me to bad mathematics, horrible analogies, and false accusations. He must have searched MySpace for his answers 🙂

  • mpt

    So now you have all thoroughly reassured each other that the Inquirer columnist is misguided and ill-informed and so on. Wonderful. But that doesn’t actually do anything to help Ubuntu.

    People pay too much attention to the number of updates rather than their total size? Then stop printing the former in large bold text and the latter in small normal text. People have to “partially have to edit /etc/samba/smb.conf”? Then fix Gnome so they don’t have to do that. You don’t like people comparing Ubuntu to Windows? Either get used to it, or give up on taking market share from Windows.

  • Atypical Linux User

    If you want more users you should compare your operating system to the current leader (at least here in the US as few people I know run any sort of Linux).

    I run XP and Ubuntu Edgy both on two computers and prefer Linux but use Windows most of the time for compatibility issues. You could blame it on the hardware/software manufacturers not cooperating but who in their right mind would program for 99+ distributions that share different foundation programs (window managers, desktops, etc).

    Linux needs to pick ONE official standard that best suits the majority of users and programmers goals and work with that. Maybe if there was one major distribution it would get better support.

    The inclusion of closed source programs has to be allowed. Not EVERYONE wants to give their code away.

    Finally, programmers that want other people to use their software need to make it as easy to use as possible. I have tried Debian, OpenSuse, Slax, others and Ubuntu and I understand why Ubuntu is so popular. GET RID OF THE COMMAND LINE unless it isn’t possible to do so. Most people aren’t even close to being programmers, and some don’t even have the basic understanding of computer components.

    Linux and open source people have great ideas and a lot of them make me smile at the ingenuity people can have. Too bad many people will never get to see them.

  • Hardware wise you just have to open the architecture and that’s it. There are millions of willing hackers to take care of the rest. If you are a manufacturer and you want to write the driver for Linux, then you write it for just Linux, yes the kernel. There is only ONE Windows and we see where that has gotten us. With Linux, having the thousands of available distros makes competition a bliss and causes communities such as Ubuntu, Debian, SUSE, Red Hat, and others to work hard on creating the best damn implementation that they can.

    Software is similar, you create your application to suit Linux in general, then you get millions of other people to package your application for the various distros. This also helps the upstream developer because now he/she has a pool of a million or so thirsty developers who want the application to work flawlessly, so now the upstream author starts receiving patches to make his/her application even better.

    The inclusion of closed source programs is allowed and we leave it up to the end user to choose what they want to do with it.

    You can never get rid of the command line. Think of the millions of available command line options you would have to gui’fy, it would drive end users made. Plus for a lot of end users the command line makes a lot of things not only easier, but quicker. Granted there are many people who look at the cli and about die because they are lost and you are right, they shouldn’t be there unless it depends on their life 🙂 However…I knew this was coming, being from the US we tend to “dumb” everything down, and that is the one great thing about Linux, it causes creativity, learning, and a sense of completion.

    Back to the command line thing, another big problem is the documentation. People tend to document an application and gear the inner workings and tweaks towards the command line, when they can do it just as well through the application. Personally I can’t live w/o the command line and that is what I consider one of the worst lack of features Microsoft has.

  • mpt

    Linux needs to pick ONE official standard…

    Stop anthropomorphizing operating system kernels. They don’t like it. 😉

  • I tried a trackback to this article with a follow-up I posted on p.u.c but obviously failed 😛

    You may be interested in the reply I got from him:

  • mp035

    I’d like to post support for Atypical Linux User’s view. He/She made some very Valid Points. Especially on the point of commercial Software — LINUX NEEDS COMMERCIAL SOFTWARE IF IT IS TO CONTINUE EXPANDING IT’S USER BASE — And what’s going on with the hardware support issue — Linux user’s hate the fact that a lot of hardware manufacturers don’t support linux, but then don’t support the distribution of proprietry Linux Drivers.

    Some people want open source, and they should have it. Some people (esp. Businesses) are willing to pay for something that “Just Works”. Linux only caters to the first group.

    I use Linux, but I have to have a windows machine because there is no commercial products available for linux that suit my business, so I’d like to give a shameless plug to the following companies who suport linux with NON FREE linux drivers – NVIDIA, and ATI, and then a plug for BROTHER PRINTERS who actualy GPL their drivers.

    SUPPORT COMMERCIAL LINUX PRODUCTS! (but don’t drop the free ones!)

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