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Why I Run Windows, 2008

Created by dave. Last edited by dave, 9 years and 209 days ago. Viewed 2,552 times. #3
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So as of May 2008, I'm running Windows Vista Business on my company-provided Dell laptop.

Periodically I wonder if I really should be doing this, if I'm inadvertently causing all kinds of havoc because I am running a dangerous, weak operating system.

I always end up concluding that I am doing what's best for my getting my work done; this is sort of a summary of why this is true, today.

My Employer is a Hosted Exchange service provider.

In the computing world, there's a concept known as "eating your own dogfood". That is, you should be using whatever service or product that you make for your own purposes. That way you will find problems with it just as quickly as, or faster than, your customers do.

So since we do a Hosted Exchange service, the company mail is on a Hosted Exchange server. Which means that our bosses want us to use the built-in Calendaring that Exchange provides.

While I am sure that I could use something "reasonable" for my mail, such as Mutt or Thunderbird, the integrated calendaring is the show-stopper. So I have to use Outlook 2003 or higher.

(Anyone who mentions Evolution as a viable solution will be shot. Seriously. Evolution just doesn't work well. I don't know if it's our environment or our server; but it doesn't work well enough to be depended on, so we don't.)

As a result, I've learned to live with Outlook and have adjusted >>how I deal with my email, ways which would probably not be as easy if I used Mutt or Thunderbird.

Multihead "just works"

...for the most part.

Multihead is where you have more than one monitor (see Multiple Monitors). The catch is, when you have a laptop you will sometimes have a second display; and you will sometimes not. And for those of us on the roll, the second display will vary from place to place; as you can see in the link above, I currently could have one (or none) of any one of four or five distinct monitor types connected to my laptop.

I'll also mention that when playing with a new external monitor, I can dynamically change the resolution, refresh rate, or bit depth of the monitor I am fiddling with, without having to logout and log back in, a function that X really really needs.

...I say "for the most part" because when you are suspending Vista like I am, if you use the external monitor as your primary monitor, and then you suspend, when you unsuspend the login prompt will be on your detatched external display; it isn't until you log in that the computer reacts to the external display's absence.

Most haredware "just works"

There's always a Windows driver. It almost always works better, is updated more frequently, and is more likely to be supported than the Linux driver.

There are tons of examples, but let's pick wireless adapters just for giggles. Once you've installed the driver (which is usually a lot less painful than it can be on Linux), you just let it run. It notices networks you've told it about previously and joins them. None of this ifup/ifdown nonsense.

I'm addicted to Suspend

Life is just easier when you can suspend your laptop, close it up, take it somewhere else, open it up, and everything is there waiting for you.

Less, of course, the applications dependent on network connectivity; however since Windows is going to notice that there was a change of networking and renegotiate everything. But this inconvenience pales next to the trial of

  • saving everything
  • waiting for a shutdown to take place
  • at the other end, waiting for a startup to take place
  • selecting my desired applications and then waiting for them to load
I'm lazy, I'll admit it.

Suspend in Linux has never worked consistantly for me on a laptop. It would suspend, or not suspend completely and then drain the battery as if it had never been shut down, or it would fail to unsuspend and take all my applications with it (plus the need to insert "wait for suspend to fail before rebooting" into the sequence of tedious steps listed above, plus "curse lost data" to the end of it). Maybe it's gotten better, but why risk it?

If I really need another OS, there's VMware.

I've got several VMs that I use all the time. The kicker though -- the three that I use most frequently are all Windows XP VMs. I do have a couple of CentOS VMs, and I toy with Solaris, but the vast majority of the time, if I have a VM going, it's an XP VM.

Religion doesn't do it for me

There are fabulous things to be said for the BSD and GNU philosophies. They've produced an amazing array of software and systems which can meet many needs. In fact, I use these products almost exclusively for high-availability systems, or services which are facing the public. I also have a large number of free, or free-derived, products installed on my Vista laptop, tools that I spend a great deal of my day using.

However, for all the posturing of those who have the religion, I don't really see it changing what I do on my laptop.

I don't want to do anything I can't do

...or, there's no driving reason for me to switch.

What could I do differently if I was running Linux or *bsd or *Solaris? I could probably run XP (or even Vista, should I be suitably crazy) in a VM on any of the above, but that does nothing to solve the multihead and wireless issues I mention above.

There isn't enough pain in staying to tolerate the pain of changing.

I just want to get some work done

Window is bad enough for being a time sink. I've lost a hard disk on each laptop I've owned, and each time it's about a two day loss of productivity to rebuild, reload, and restore from backup (your backups are good, right?)

With Linux, there was a constant fiddle to get things working. Basic stuff, like dealing with email. (ie: how do you email out from Mutt when you could be anywhere in the world? well, you use SMTP-AUTH, which means you get to figure out how to do that.) X displays. CDR drives. Software hacks to use the Exchange Calendar thing that your employer wants you to use.

Or, you had to run everything in a VM, which kinda defeats the purpose of having a non-Windows OS.

I'm not 21 anymore. I have a wife and kids; I don't have six hours a day to fiddle with things any more.

Fiddle-time isn't billable time.

In Conclusion

The last two reasons are the big ones why I don't switch: there's no reason to, and fiddle-time isn't billable time.

Windows meets my needs for my laptop use today.

I'll keep trying other alternatives, in VMs if nothing else. Recently I downloaded and ran the OpenSolaris 05-08 LiveCD image and played with that (at least, until >>odd things happened). If there is a compelling reason to change, I probably will.

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