Monday, August 04, 2008

Scrapping Vista

I'm spending a good chunk of today stripping Windows Vista from Laura's laptop, replacing it with Windows XP. It'll be a huge performance improvement; a machine with 2GB of RAM is barely adequate to run Vista, but it'll fly with XP. And, it'll crash less. This will be the third or fourth time I've had to reinstall the operating system, and we finally decided to install an actual functional OS instead of Vista.

If the second disk partition were a little bigger, I would've installed XP as a dual-boot; we could keep all the settings and software on Vista, and only use it when absolutely necessary. As it was, I overwrote Vista and reformatted the disk. I mostly followed the directions here, with only a few minor modifications. My XP disc is only as new as service pack 1, so I downloaded SP3; that, plus the wi-fi drivers and a virus scanner, were the first things I installed on the shiny new OS. It was time-consuming, but not really difficult, to find all the drivers for her hardware, and it's mostly done now.

In the interest of embracing the future, almost all the software I installed is open-source and free. We're running ClamWin anti-virus, OpenOffice for productivity software, Firefox 3 for a web browser, Gmail for e-mail, Spybot for protection, and Toucan for backup software. This is all good stuff, generally better than the expensive versions you can buy retail. Laura's got some professional software, like LightWright and Vectorworks, that's not open-source. Vectorworks is extremely not open source; it even requires an irritating USB dongle to function (and, 100% of the software's down time has been due to dongle issues, not program issues). It's shocking, going from software whose source code is readily available to software that's so locked up I can't even run it without constant hardware authentication. It's irritating, and this is the last software I'll ever buy that distrusts its users so much that it's willing to spend $25 per copy (which, of course, they pass on to us) to make their software less functional and more difficult to use. In fact, I'm in the process of figuring out how to hack the dongle; it's not about security, it's about ease of use, and the dongle radically reduces it. Ironically, it makes the software glitchier and harder to use while simultaneously not really increasing security; if it's relatively easily hackable by a non-hacker like me, that's pretty sad security.

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