Lately I've been breaking my own "don't help friends with
their Windows PCs" rule. Now I remember why I made that rule in the
You know what the worst part of trying to troubleshoot and fix
any Windows PC is? The endless waiting. Waiting for it to reboot.
Waiting for hung processes to finish whatever they are doing.
Waiting for apps to install or uninstall, and why is that always so
dog-slow? For extra amusement, hook up a sniffer like Wireshark or
tcpdump just to watch how many Windows apps phone home.
On a nice sane Linux box there are many ways to do things. This
is great when something doesn't work and you need to try something
else. Let's say X is all horked, and screen redraws are taking
forever, and the cursor is stuck in compound low, and the CPU is in
the red zone. Usually you can still get to a command prompt, and
find and kill offending processes. There are keyboard tricks like
Ctrl+Alt+Backspace to disconnect an X session, or the Sysreq key
for fancier rescue tricks. If your local access is too messed up to
use you can try remote administration. If those are hopeless, boot
a rescue CD or DVD. If that doesn't work pull out your hard drive,
stick it in an external USB enclosure, and hook it up to a working
PC. There is always a way.
If your Linux is broken and you're in a hurry, boot a live Linux
CD, DVD, or USB and finish your work.
Worse-case scenario, blow away Linux and reinstall it. If your
home directory is on a separate partition, no sweat. You can plan
ahead and have some shortcuts in place, like maintaining a package
list and keeping configuration backups so you can quickly reinstall
all of your applications, or roll your own custom image, or use
something like Clonezilla to keep an exact duplicate of your setup,
or setup a customized network installer...there are many ways to
restore a Linux system.
Windows? Don't make me laugh. The worst of all worlds is being
stuck with a Home edition and a special "restore" disk that is not
a "full" Windows version, but a crippled one keyed to your PC. You
can't move it to another machine. There is no such thing as a
surgical repair, it's reformat and reinstall or nothing. There is
still no live bootable Windows, except for some unreliable
third-party efforts that may get you in trouble with the license
police. (Though the reality is everyone is in trouble with the
license police from birth, that is their default policy.) The
default installation still dumps everything into a single
partition. Windows 7 is far behind Linux in speed, flexibility, and
ease of installation.
Windows 7, depending on which edition you get, weighs in around
13 GB. That's just Windows and a few apps like Minesweeper,
Notepad, a nice screenshot program, and Paint. No real productivity
apps, and it's still a security joke. Installing Windows is just
the beginning, you still need real productivity applications and
security software. The various Windows editions are crippled in
various silly ways to justify different price tags.
My fattest Linux system is Ubuntu Studio with all the bells and
whistles. A little over 6 GB, and that includes OpenOffice,
Abiword, Gimp, Tuxpaint, Audacity, Ardour, JACK, Hydrogen, and
bunch of other audio production software, a bunch of games,
multiple Web browsers, FTP, instant messaging, email, text editors,
a huge set of networking tools, KDE, GNOME, Fluxbox, IceWM,
Digikam, a complete build environment, file managers, spreadsheets,
partition editors, cloning tools, astronomy programs, and on and
on, I think you get the idea. It's a feast.
Windows is all about walls. It's nothing but barriers. Want to
do something? The answer is no. The best way to diagnose and fix
Windows problems, other than the reformat-and-reinstall dance, is
to use FOSS tools like bootable rescue Linuxes, Cygwin, and
I suppose you could call Windows easier if you believe that
reformat-and-reinstall, or throwing everything away and buying a
new PC, is easier. If that is what "Windows is easier" means, then
I accept that definition.