Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Flint Brenton, Gordon Haff, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Is Windows or Linux easier to install?

Microsoft's been at this longer so Windows should be easier to install, right?

(LinuxWorld) -- I've been preparing my Sony Vaio for an extended tour of duty at my girlfriend's new home. To make it as familiar and easy to use as possible for her, I decided to make it a dual-boot system. That way she can run Windows if she wants, and Linux awaits when I inflict her with my presence. It turned out to be a great opportunity to compare the installations of a popular Windows release with the latest from Red Hat. I kept copious notes as evidence.

My goal was to install each OS, get Internet connectivity via a Netgear PCMCIA NIC working, make each OS recognize a USB IBM PC Camera, and apply the latest security and bug fixes to the OS and default applications. Since Microsoft has been in the operating system business for exactly 21 years (DOS 1 debuted August 12, 1981), and employs 50,000 souls, I expected Windows 2000's installation would be seamless, fast, and lightyears ahead of upstart Red Hat's by any measure I could concoct. It turns out the Windows 2000 Pro installation is superior to Linux, but in two dubious categories.

First batter, Windows 2000 Pro

The clock was striking high noon as I inserted the first of three Sony System Restore CDs supplied with the laptop. I sat back to see what might happen.

Right out of the starting gate, Microsoft wanted me to accept the EULA. It didn't show me the EULA, but rather referred me to the Introduction to Windows 2000 Pro manual for a copy. Half an hour later and all three CDs had been fed in, it was time to reboot and continue the adventure.

Windows took a long time to boot, evidently checking everything to make sure it was to its liking. Then a Setup Wizard appeared. First order of business? You guessed it, accept the EULA. Then I set the time and time zone. Again, it rebooted to continue.

When Windows awoke from the reboot this time, I was attacked by a flurry of competing screens. One was a hardware wizard, another wanted me to register the Sony Vaio, and yet another was a sales pitch for McAfee's Virus Scan. But that's not all. There were three more under all those: a guided tour for getting started with W2K, a second hardware install wizard, and a request for me to insert the first Application Recovery CD.

Sticking to my game plan, I closed everything but the Applications Recovery process. Then I inserted the appropriate CD and clicked the OK button. After a brief period of no visible activity, a new prompt appeared asking me to insert the Word 2000 CD. A minute or two later and it was time to reboot, you know, in order to continue.

The hardware wizards reappeared following the reboot, but thankfully, they came one at a time. I installed the Netgear CD and unclicked the "Specify location" radio button. It breezed right past the needed files on the CD. I clicked Back, selected the "Specify Location" option, and tried again. This time it found the file it needed. I gave up trying to puzzle out the connection between specifying a location and it searching the files on the CD.

Next came the IBM PC Camera CD. I avoided a big problem by refusing to accept the Win98 .inf file it suggested for the device, pointing it instead at the Windows 2000 version. I knew from previous experience that had I accepted the default offering, the camera would not have worked.

Up popped the Internet connection wizard. A couple of clicks and I could try to connect. The first time failed, but on the second attempt it worked. A very intrusive popup from Macromedia appeared wanting me to install a plugin. Finally, the screen was cleared of unwanted clutter and I could begin the final part of the installation, which was updating the OS and apps.

I selected "Windows Update" from the Control. A scan of my system revealed I needed a number of patches. Guess what? Several must be installed by themselves, and each had its own EULA to click through. Amazingly, or perhaps not, each required a reboot to continue. (If you're not keeping score at home on the number of times I had to reboot, don't worry; I reveal the final tally later.) Ah, Windows, no wonder I haven't missed you.

First came SP2 for IE 5.01, then came IE 5.5, and then Windows 2000 SP3. The SP3 update took the longest -- 30 minutes for that update alone. Finally, the remaining three critical updates could all be installed together: two security updates for IE 5.5 and one for the Windows Media player. There were more upgrades for W2K that did not fall into the critical category. They required another 30 minutes to apply. When all was said and done, the entire process had taken 2.5 hours.

Second batter; Red Hat 7.3

Then it was Red Hat's turn. I inserted the first installation CD and rebooted Windows. I chose to manually partition the disk using fdisk. First, I deleted the partition I had originally created for Linux. Then I created a 256-megabyte swap partition and gave the rest of the drive to Red Hat, choosing the ext3 journaling filesystem.

Red Hat asked a few more questions about the system than the Windows installation did, but the default selections were always satisfactory. I chose to use the GRUB boot manager, to place it on the MBR, and for the Linux to be the default. Next, I accepted DHCP as my network settings, medium security, and picked my time zone. The installation asked for a root password and then let me set up as many user accounts on the laptop as I needed.

Next came package selection. I selected three package groups: GNOME, development tools, and Games & Entertainment. Red Hat's installation correctly identified my video card as an S3 Savage. Then I was all set to start reading the packages from the CDs. My group selections resulted in 697 packages to be installed. The process of reading the packages from the CDs began. After 20 minutes or so, the Installer asked me for CD No. 2, and 10 minutes later it asked for CD No. 3.

After all the packages had been read and installed, I was given the opportunity to create a boot diskette, test the default display resolution and color depth, and choose whether I wanted a CLI or GUI after booting. Those tasks done, it was time to reboot.

When the GNOME 1.4 desktop appeared, I closed the "Start Here" window and looked around. A round icon with a bold exclamation point in it caught my attention on the toolbar. I clicked it and learned there were critical updates awaiting my attention, which totaled 59 updates in all.

It took a few seconds to register at Red Hat, and then I launched up2date. It took about 30 minutes to download and install the updates. I checked the IBM PC Camera by starting xawtv and sure enough, Red Hat had it working without any effort on my part, just as it had done with the PCMCIA NIC. The install was soup -- no dependency insanity, and just one stinkin' reboot.

The box score

Windows 2000 Pro vs. Red Hat 7.3 installation facts

Now let's compare and start with the facts. W2K itself took 2 hours and 5 minutes, and required CDs to be fed eight times during the installation. It required eight reboots.

Red Hat 7.3 was considerably quicker, taking only 1 hour and 35 minutes. It was much less pesky, too, requiring three CD loads. Red Hat required one reboot. Red Hat did ask the user to get more involved in the installation than Windows, though the defaults were usually correct for my situation.

What annoyed me most about the Red Hat installation was reading not one, but three tales explaining how Red Hat came by its name. Did it result from Marc Ewing always wearing a red cap during his college days, or from an affinity he had for his grandfather's red lacrosse hat? On the other hand, is it because of what red has symbolized throughout history? Not that I really care, but it bugs me that Red Hat can't stick with one fable, or lacks the cleverness to poke fun at its myriad tales.

Several things bothered me about the W2K install. First, the jumble of windows popping up following the first boot after loading all the data from the three restore CDs. That is simply stupid design.

Next, the default security of W2K seems to be create the Administrator account with no password and to use it for normal computing. This is not the stuff of trustworthy computing. I've been told that Setup asks for the Administrator's password to be set, but I don't remember seeing it if it did. No password becomes the default simply by being accepted.

The number of reboots is another aggravation. It is also a clear sign the RPM package system is superior to whatever Windows uses. One of the Red Hat updates was a new version of the kernel. A screen appeared recommending a reboot so that the new kernel could be tested, but otherwise "reboot to continue" is just not a part of the Linux experience.

Another area of comparison is the question of functionality right out of the box. I call this category a draw. Sony ships Microsoft Word with W2K Pro, while Red Hat 7.3 has AbiWord. The real answer depends on the functions you require. Need a full-featured spreadsheet? Red Hat Linux wins by providing Gnumeric. Need a video camera editor? W2K comes out on top. I should point out, however, that if I had wanted to, there were hundreds of applications I could have selected to be part of the Red Hat installation. Not so with W2K.

Lastly, the constant click-through of EULA's and supplemental EULA's is tedious and legally pointless from the consumer's perspective. If you buy an operating system and you agree to its license terms, that should be the end of it. But I had to click-through a mind boggling 8 EULAs to get W2K installed and updated. On the Red Hat side, there were none.

Post-game analysis

Do Windows users have a choice? Sure. They can continue to run the older version of Windows with the original license, but if they do they are begging for someone to crack them.

Bruce Sterling had it right when he said at the recent O'Reilly OSCON, "Microsoft Windows is slowly but surely becoming an armed terrorspace. It's like an airport. You go into an airport nowadays, it's really kind of amazing that the people who run them still expect you to spend money in there. They still pretend to you that you are this pampered jet-set consumer, instead of a captive under armed guard, which is what you are."

For example, to get a more secure version of Internet Explorer, consumers must give up their freedom of speech. That's right. By clicking "I accept" you agree not to "disclose the results of any benchmark test of the .NET Framework component" unless you have written permission from Microsoft.

But there is more. We're talking about gagging consumers with the sheer volume of the licenses, not just their terms. How can anyone keep up with all they have agreed? Multiple Windows EULAs are a shell game on steroids. I didn't read each EULA carefully, and may have pledged allegiance to the French Foreign Legion.

Hold it. What am I doing? I can't do this. I've changed my mind. I'm going to wipe W2K off the laptop. If she wants Windows, she can install it herself. There won't be an end anytime soon to the problems with Windows software. Or with the egregious terms Microsoft imposes on its customers. I should have known better. Friends shouldn't help friends run Windows.

More Stories By Joe Barr

Joe Barr is a freelance journalist covering Linux, open source and network security. His 'Version Control' column has been a regular feature of Linux.SYS-CON.com since its inception. As far as we know, he is the only living journalist whose works have appeared both in phrack, the legendary underground zine, and IBM Personal Systems Magazine.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, shared examples from a wide range of industries – including en...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Rodrigo Coutinho is part of OutSystems' founders' team and currently the Head of Product Design. He provides a cross-functional role where he supports Product Management in defining the positioning and direction of the Agile Platform, while at the same time promoting model-based development and new techniques to deliver applications in the cloud.
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
delaPlex is a global technology and software development solutions and consulting provider, deeply committed to helping companies drive growth, revenue and marketplace value. Since 2008, delaPlex's objective has been to be a trusted advisor to its clients. By redefining the outsourcing industry's business model, the innovative delaPlex Agile Business Framework brings an unmatched alliance of industry experts, across industries and functional skillsets, to clients anywhere around the world.
Headquartered in Plainsboro, NJ, Synametrics Technologies has provided IT professionals and computer systems developers since 1997. Based on the success of their initial product offerings (WinSQL and DeltaCopy), the company continues to create and hone innovative products that help its customers get more from their computer applications, databases and infrastructure. To date, over one million users around the world have chosen Synametrics solutions to help power their accelerated business or per...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...