Monday, 20 August 2007

Ubuntu frustrates but Vista angers

My new Acer laptop came with Windows Vista Home Premium preinstalled. I quickly installed Ubuntu on a separate partition - keeping the Vista install for the time being. I use Ubuntu Linux as my primary OS. However for a moment, I was pleased to have kept Vista around. Despite having over 6 years of experience with various flavours of Linux, I could not get it to play a DVD in the 30 minutes it took for my girlfriend's patience to run out, so for that single moment Vista had a use. Also, how can I meaningfully discuss the merits or pitfalls of Ubuntu without experiencing Ubuntu's primary contemporary competitor, Vista, firsthand?
This morning I was attending a meeting of predominantly Windows users, a good opportunity to get some Vista-time under my belt. I booted into Vista to set up Eclipse (a Java development environment although I'd not yet installed Java - I was going to after downloading Eclipse) so I could run through a few development issues with them. I downloaded Eclipse; the version I needed is distributed as a 125MB zipfile.
It is important note that I had only run Vista on 2 occasions prior to this - once when the laptop arrived and the aforementioned DVD incident. So, this was a "clean" Vista install with only the freeware version of AVG and Opera installed by me. Anything else is either a preinstalled application by Acer or part of Windows.
Once Eclipse was fully downloaded it should have been simple. Vista supports "compressed folders" out of the box, as did its predecessor Windows XP. Nothing new here - open, copy, browse to chosen location, paste. The result? Barely 7k/s unzip speed. Shocked, I think to myself, "Something must be wrong!" Well, AVG was scanning files - so I stop the scan, and try again. Problem solved? Nope - it steadily improves to a paltry 20k/s unzip speed. That is disgusting. Some will probably shout, "What do you expect, you only have Vista Home Premium!?" I'm sorry, but that just does not excuse this. I am truly appalled.
Naturally, I took screenshots. Thankfully MS Paint still works.

Unzipping Vista's impotence
Just to make matters worse, after losing patience with 15 minutes of waiting for the unzip operation to speed up, I attempted to cancel the unzip operation. Explorer hung. My Vista experience is only a few boots old and I'm already experiencing crashes. And they want this OS installed around the world in people's homes?
Maybe I have to mess around in Ubuntu to get around DRM centric formats like DVDs, but at least it's moving forwards as an OS and not backwards - Vista really made me cringe and I'll probably install XP to get on with any Windows-oriented work tasks in the future.


Charlie said...

I forgot to mention that I had installed the Gutsy version of Ubuntu - which probably accounts for at least part of the difficulty in getting Ubuntu to play DVDs.

kachumbali said...

welcome to the club - new dell, vista home premium. took everything out of the box, first boot was ok. but then I had 6 hard resets because of total hangups in the first 4 hours.

Well, I started with DOS 5.0 way back, so far experienced everything Microsoft could throw at me. I must say, after a little getting used to (and ignoring the odd system crashes - never had that on XP...) Vista rocks. Looks nice, keeps you on your toes with its crashes. I just love the search functions they integrated everywhere...makes it a really comfy OS if you ask me. Integrate that into Ubuntu (in a way people like me - Microsoft users for the past 17 years - can understand), and I will gladly switch.

Ian McDonald said...

I think you're looking for the fix mentioned here as this is a well known problem with Vista which has just been fixed.

Jim said...

I can do you one better.

A friend and I each bought very similar low-end laptops of recent vintage, one Toshiba and one Acer. Both single-core Celeron 1.6, 533 memory bus, Intel 950 graphics, 512megs RAM.

I added 1gig RAM to mine, got it running under Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty, tuned it up pretty good including setting video RAM to 128megs, etc.

I then added Innotek's Virtualbox. Ran XP as a task - gave it 64megs video RAM, 512megs working RAM.

Compared that to running similar MS-Office tasks in Vista Home Blooper edition on the other system with the stock 512meg RAM.

Anybody care to guess which was a LOT faster?

Yup. XP outperformed Vista while running as a virtual machine than Vista just sitting there on it's own.


kachumbali said...

Well...all very nice, but then I am not running Vista on an older machine. Vista's only good if you get it with a shiny new Laptop. Vista's not made for older machines. But if you have a new Dualcore with a minimum of 1024 Ram...why the heck not use Vista? It just works. I click on an application - it works. I want to watch a DVD - no problem. Other OSs might be more efficient - so what? I'm used to Windows.
And even if XP performs better...hey, I don't care if my OO opens a document in 0,4 or 0,6 secs. And as I said before, all the little things they changed in the GUI just makes Vista comfy. The only thing which bugs me from time to time is the stability issues Vista has...but hey, I used Win95 for quite a long time. At least since 2k I don't have to format my harddrive every 3 months or so. Vista's far from perfect, but I want to work with my Laptop, not take it out to dinner...

Adam said...

yes , ubuntu has a problem with some DVDs. Nothing to do with ubuntu being crap, but the legal nonsense.

Unencrypted DVDs work fine. Encrypted ones need libdvdcss , a decryption lib written by the infamous DVD jon. Very easy to install , very easy to get. I expect in most sane countries it isn't illegal. But its one of those things that does plague linux. If you can master that, expect 95% of things in linux to be a walk in the park.

Jeff said...

kachumbali, meta-tracker (or just "tracker") is integrated into ubuntu 7.10 (which will be released in october).

You can start thinking of the switch now :)

Short demonstration video I did of the magnificent tracker search at work:

For DVD playback, totem+gstreamer won't work anytime soon, so I have to use VLC (don't know if libdvdcss2 is needed for that one), it works without fuss.