Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Liz McMillan, Robin Miller, Bob Gourley, XebiaLabs Blog, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Linux vs. Windows installation, part 2: Shoot-out at the XP Corral

Can Red Hat take a 2-0 Installation World Series lead over Windows?

(LinuxWorld) - I've received a lot of criticism about a comparison I did recently about (re)installing Windows 2000 (W2K) and Red Hat 7.3 on my Sony Vaio PXG700K laptop. The comparison was based on real-world events, it was honest, and it was accurate. Red Hat emerged the clear winner in both speed and ease of install. Still, many people have claimed it was unfair to Windows. As a result, the editors at LinuxWorld.com have asked that I do a sequel.

Most of the complaints had to do with the fact that I used Sony's system-restore CDs instead of a retail CD. In a real-life scenario, I doubt that any of those complaining would rush out and plop down $200 for a retail copy of W2K in order to avoid using the system-restore CDs, but many said they felt that is what I should have done.

Others felt that my experience with Linux and lack of installation experience with Windows tilted the field in Linux's favor. Even though I tried to stick with the suggested default options as much as possible, I don't deny that I do have considerably more experience installing different versions and distributions of Linux than I do Windows.

The third major bone of contention from disgruntled Windows users stemmed from the fact that I used W2K instead of Windows XP.

To address these three specific complaints, we are doing a new series of installation benchmarks. This week, the operating system to be installed is Windows XP Professional 2002. In the coming weeks, we will report on Mandrake 9.0 and Red Hat 8.0.

Susan keeps it fair

To reduce the "home-field" advantage, I've asked my friend Susan to do the actual installs. I play the part of a sysadmin, someone she could turn to if she ran into trouble. But she does both the Windows and the Linux installs without interference from me. I'll assist only when necessary. Susan is an experienced programmer, but she has never before installed an operating system. She has much more experience using Windows than Linux or any flavor Unix.

Each installation begins with the laptop starting in exactly the same condition. The hard drive is stripped bare of all existing partitions. A Netgear PCMCIA Ethernet card is installed and connected to a high-speed cable modem. An IBM USB PC Camera is also attached. Regular readers will recognize that this is the same configuration used in the original comparison.

Finally, defaults rule. It is very likely that experienced Linux or Windows users could achieve faster results by straying from the vendor-recommended actions, but the idea is to keep the field level. If a default or recommended choice of action is indicated, it is taken. This keeps the focus on each operating system rather than how much or how little the person installing the OS knows.

Each install will be measured in three different areas:

  1. The basic install
  2. Applying updates and fixes
  3. Attaching the peripherals

The basic installation includes partitioning and formatting the drive, installing the OS and any applications included as part of the OS package. The second segment includes registration, download and installation of vendor-provided updates and fixes. The third and final category is getting the NIC and camera installed, configured and working. Naturally, the NIC will need to be working before updates and fixes can be applied.

Susan spent a few minutes glancing through the installation instructions included with XP (the time spent reading instructions is not included in the official installation benchmark). Normally, she would read every word before beginning both the Windows and the Linux installations. In the interest of time, and to mimic the OS's installation by non-professionals, she agreed to simply browse the materials for a minute or two before starting.

The test begins... now

At 8:35 AM, Susan powered on the laptop with the Windows XP Pro installation CD already in the drive. Two questions appeared and disappeared from the screen before she had time to respond to them. About 2 minutes after powering on, a Welcome to Setup screen appeared.

Windows suggests creating NTFS partitions instead of FAT32. We followed that suggestion and NTFS formatting began. It took about 25 minutes to format the 20 gigabyte drive.

Next, the install process created and copied a list of files to the hard drive. This was followed by a reboot. Susan was concerned about whether or not she should have taken the CD out of the drive, but it wasn't a problem.

A Windows XP Professional splash screen appeared, followed by a setup screen. After collecting whatever information was needed, the install application advised her that "Setup will complete in approximately 39 minutes."

There are blinking icons on the bottom right hand part of the screen, giving an indication that something is happening. You can also see the hard drive light wink on and off, so you know things are happening under the hood.

Susan comments that "Installing Windows XP is boring."

Then she gets a chance to participate in the process, as setup moved into its "personalizing software" phase. She accepted the standard English default, entered my name as User, LinuxWorld.com as the organization, and then keyed in the 25 character product key.

Next came a name for the system and an administration password. Setup continued and Susan entered the telephone area code, date, and time. Under Network Settings, she accepted "Typical" and answered "No" to the question of whether or not this computer would be a member of a domain.

Setup then began doing its own thing again: copying files, installing menu items, registering components and finally saving settings. A little more than an hour into the install, the screen goes blank and the system reboots itself for the second time.

When XP returns it does so with fanfare to show the sound card is working. Then a wizard appears, saying "I am here to help you set up your computer." The first thing the wizard does is to ask how the computer connects to the Internet. Susan indicates a LAN with automatic IP and DNS assignments.

Then it is time to activate and register this installation. Susan fills in my name and address information and my e-mail address at LinuxWorld. She declines the opportunity to receive promotional offers.

It is then made clear to us that the install is not yet complete when the registration process says "Unable to connect to the Internet. Your computer is not connected." We go off the clock while Susan's sysadmin figures out how to get Windows to recognize the Netgear PCMCIA card. She ignores the question asking who else might be using this computer.

I then fumbled around for a bit to figure out how to get the NIC recognized and configured. The diagnostic program on the Netgear CD tells me "card / socket service is not found."

The "Add Hardware Wizard" shows that XP does see the card, but that it doesn't have a driver for it. We go back on the clock as I click "Finish" in order to get debugger help.

In short order, we were installing the driver "automatically" from the CD. The wizard complains first that the driver is not digitally signed, then that the software has "not passed the Windows logo testing." But at least it allows us to continue, and finally -- at 10:12 AM -- we have Internet connectivity.

Update antics

Now we can register and install the updates. We're told there are 21 critical updates, 19 Win XP updates and 2 driver updates. One of these is Service Pack 1, which must be installed all by itself. Acceptance of a new end-user licensing agreement (EULA) is required to begin the SP1 update. Immediately thereafter, a second EULA must be accepted. Then the process begins. About 45 minutes later, SP1 has been applied, and the system tells us we need to restart.

The reboot takes a very long time, and there's no indication that anything is happening other than the sound of the hard disk churning. After XP finally restarts, a pop-up appears telling us that "You've just connected to the Internet. You need a Passport."

We restart the Windows-update process and learn that now 1 critical, 4 XP and 2 driver updates remain. We try to get them all at once. One of them, a security update, requires that yet another EULA be accepted. Shortly thereafter, we're told "You must restart your computer to complete the update."

As we wait for XP to reboot, Susan says "It is not clear to me whether we got all the updates or not." And she's right; we'll have to go back and check. But not before being told "You need a Passport in order to use Windows XP Internet communications features such as instant messaging, voice chat and video." Not to mention it is required to access dot-Net-enabled servies. The suggestion is to "Click here to set up your Passport now."

We ignore Microsoft's flexing of its monopoly muscle and return to the now-familiar Windows Update process. This time, no critical updates are found, but there is one that is "recommended" and two driver updates -- one for the video card and one for the Netgear. Wouldn't you know it? The recommended update requires the acceptance of another EULA.

One more task remains: getting the Web cam working. Susan tries to install it using the W2K driver on the IBM CD, but XP won't allow it. The "class manager" rejects the attempt. I take the helm at that point and start searching the Internet to find an XP driver for the camera. It took about ten minutes to locate, download and install it.

Conclusions

Actual elapsed time for the complete installation process was about 3 hours. As you can see from the chart below, however, we only counted 2 hours and 20 minutes of that. I didn't count time I spent figuring out how to get the drivers for the NIC and the camera installed, only the actual time it took to do it. More "lost time" occurred because we cancelled one task and had to repeat it because we thought the system had locked up when in fact it was just working silently.

 Windows 2000Windows XPRed Hat 7.3
Basic Installation0:421:030:52
Office Suite0:03 0:00
NIC/Network0:100:130:00
Updates1:060:540:43
Camera0:040:100:00
Total Time2:052:201:35
 
CD swaps823
Reboots861
EULAs840

While most of the install was easy, there were a number of things that merit attention. There were at least two points in the install where the machine sat quietly for several minutes, with nothing to indicate whether or not the install was still running or if it had frozen up.

Those two messages that flew past Susan right at the beginning of the install are indicative not just of poor design but of total disregard for the novice user.

And finally, the update process is still a disaster. It took three passes -- four if you count the one that had to be repeated because we were disconnected during the download -- to finish the updates.

As you can also see from the chart, the XP installation took longer than the W2K-system restore and much longer than the Red Hat 7.3 install. Yes, there was only one Windows CD this time, but there were still multiple reboots and a whole bunch of EULAs.

I doubt that one Windows XP user in 10,000 knows what they have agreed to by the end of the installation process. You can see why Microsoft is working so hard to get UCITA passed into law: they need it to validate the con game they are running on their customers by unilaterally changing contract terms on the fly.

In coming weeks, Susan will tackle not one but two Linux installs. We'll add Mandrake 9.0 and Red Hat 8.0 to the mix -- not just as a comparison to Windows 2000 and Windows XP, but to see which of them gives the best install. I've already erased XP from the laptop in preparation.

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 (6) View Comments

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.


Most Recent Comments
Keith Leal 05/11/04 02:00:14 PM EDT

I have not yet picked up my Mandrake 10 disks, but did update my W98 with Windows XP Home....and what a headache! It's still not running properly. (Won't shut down). Wish I had stuck with old 98. Am looking forward to a LINUX OS.

Flex 03/26/04 09:19:06 AM EST

So...what's happened with the Linux installations? i see the data has been from 2002? it's not 2004!

Bonny m 12/04/03 01:32:51 AM EST

i want to know about the partition scheme i have to be used during the installation

Lee Cao 09/25/03 02:53:55 PM EDT

I thought this was a installation comparison between newbies installing windows and Linx. The Linux and Windows 2000 was installed by someone who has extensive Linux installation experience but limited Windows 2000 installation experience. And the Windows XP was installed by a pure newbie. Have her do a Linux install and see how far she gets trying to figure out which partition arrangement to use and what packages to select for installation.

Mary Lautner 08/29/03 05:06:26 PM EDT

Have her try Solaris 9 on x86...

Marc Bernier 07/03/03 03:32:25 PM EDT

This article does not mention that windows has an unattended installation and linux does not. Kickstart does not quiet make the scale.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at Dell EMC, introduced a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organization...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
With billions of sensors deployed worldwide, the amount of machine-generated data will soon exceed what our networks can handle. But consumers and businesses will expect seamless experiences and real-time responsiveness. What does this mean for IoT devices and the infrastructure that supports them? More of the data will need to be handled at - or closer to - the devices themselves.
Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the USA and Europe, we work with a variety of customers from emerging startups to Fortune 1000 companies.
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
The age of Digital Disruption is evolving into the next era – Digital Cohesion, an age in which applications securely self-assemble and deliver predictive services that continuously adapt to user behavior. Information from devices, sensors and applications around us will drive services seamlessly across mobile and fixed devices/infrastructure. This evolution is happening now in software defined services and secure networking. Four key drivers – Performance, Economics, Interoperability and Trust ...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi LTD., will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City. Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) will be featuring the Hitachi Content Platform (HCP) portfolio. This is the industry’s only offering that allows organizations to bring together object storage, file sync and share, cloud storage gateways, and sophisticated search an...
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound e...
@ThingsExpo has been named the Most Influential ‘Smart Cities - IIoT' Account and @BigDataExpo has been named fourteenth by Right Relevance (RR), which provides curated information and intelligence on approximately 50,000 topics. In addition, Right Relevance provides an Insights offering that combines the above Topics and Influencers information with real time conversations to provide actionable intelligence with visualizations to enable decision making. The Insights service is applicable to eve...