Posted tagged ‘software’

Wubi – the painless and easy way to dual-boot Ubuntu

October 19, 2008

For some time now I’ve been wanting to delve into Linux, both for resume points and for a software dev environment  I tried Slackware and found it a little difficult to configure for a total newbie.  I’ve been thinking Ubuntu would be a good one to start with; its autoconfig is very good and it requires very little as far as setup is concerned.

Enter Wubi.  I read about Wubi on TechRepublic and gave it a try.  I must say, I’m impressed with how hands-off it is.  I know that would drive most Linux nerds nuts, but it’s great for someone who is used to plug-n-play.  I downloaded the installer (http://wubi-installer.org – less than a meg) on my Win XP laptop and fired it up.  In less than an hour Ubuntu was installed on a (virtual?) partition with a dual-boot scenario.  I booted to Ubuntu and was able to get things usable (I’m writing this post on Ubuntu) within another 30 or 45 minutes.  I still have some stuff to work out (for some reason, my wireless card doesn’t fire up right at first – I have to go into the settings, delete the old settings, and reenter them before it gets going.  It’s probably something I’m not doing right though.

I just can’t describe how painless this is for someone with some good skills in configuration of other OSes.  At any rate, Wubi gets a high recommendation from me for anyone who wants to run Ubuntu in a dual-boot scenario.  I would imagine it would be an excellent way to deploy Ubuntu as an optional desktop environment in a corporate setting.

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Vista UAC “designed to annoy users” per Microsoft manager

April 15, 2008

This is ridiculous.  We all knew that Vista had problems.  I made the mistake of buying it for my latest build and have regretted it numerous times.  And one of the most – well, annoying – features of Vista is UAC (User Account Control).  And now we know why they did it.

According to News.com, Microsoft group program manager David Cross admitted at a recent conference that “the reason we put UAC into the [Vista] platform was to annoy users – I’m serious.”  Somehow they felt that annoying users would cause independent software vendors to write more “secure” code so that it would not trip the UAC prompts.

The second annoyance is that he states some rather slanted statistical information.  He states that:

  • users don’t blindly accept prompts, according to their information
  • only 12% of users actually disable UAC

OK, here’s my rant about this.  MS only bases this on OPT-IN information.  That means that if you’re smart enough to not opt in (I NEVER opt in – if they want post-production beta testers, they should give them the software free!) then you aren’t telling them that you turned all their garbage off.  And to be honest, it’s probably the folks who know better than to opt in that also know to turn UAC off.  Not to mention that his statistics don’t tell us anything, because we don’t know how many people opted out!  I’m one of the ‘didn’t opt in’ users, and I will tell you this: I blindly accept prompts, and as soon as I figured otu how to turn off UAC, I did.  Take that, Mr. Biased Statistics.  I bet there’s fifty thousand more just like me.

OK, rant is over.  Really, I don’t think it’s just UAC that annoys us – it’s Microsoft.  This was in keeping with their track record.  But then again, if we all used Ubuntu, I wouldn’t have a job.  So thanks for being annoying, and thanks for finally admitting it.  But really – don’t use partial stats to try to prove something.  That’s worse than just annoying.

I got the tip on to this article from TechRepublic.

Yet another business without file backups…

January 31, 2008

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/local/news-article.aspx?storyid=100625

I love the part in the article where the sheriff says, “The lesson to be learned here is that you can’t depend on having just one set of records or files and having your employees have access to them. You’ve got to have some kind of backup.”

I would bet that this company paid more in stress, time, and money to have a professional recreate seven years worth of work via an NTFS reader than they would have paid to have limited-access offsite backups.  Is secure backup expensive?  A little.  Is it worth it?  Well, let’s just say I hope they are looking into it.

vLite gives an edge for Windows Vista enterprise deployment

January 29, 2008

My PC is no slouch.  I’m running a Core 2 Quad Q6600, 4 GB RAM, and a slew of other nice hardware.  So why is it that, when I run Windows Vista (especially the first few times after install), it takes longer to boot than my XP box did (it ran a Core 2 Duo E2160 with 1 GB RAM)?

If you have wondered this kind of wonder, vLite is something you might be interested in.  This is a freeware tool for customizing Vista installations.  The vLite website is http://www.vlite.net/ – have a look.

If you don’t do technospeak, here’s what they are saying.  This program lets you manipulate Vista BEFORE you install it – this way, you’re not trying to rip out components that are already installed.  In other words, hopefully we can keep from breaking it while getting it to be a little more resource-friendly.

Now, after looking at this, I see some good points.  Here’s some of the highlights for me as an enterprise IT tech:

          remove components/tweak installation
If you’re an IT tech, you probably have found things in the OS that your users could waste time with.  Minesweeper, FreeCell, Paint, Windows Movie Maker, and the list goes on.  This gives you the option of adding, removing, or customizing components prior to install.  Enterprise techs use this kind of technology all the time (called a transform when used on individual programs).  Most recently, I used it on Adobe Reader, though it also comes in handy on MS Office installs.  Using this technology helps you set up default options, remove garbage, and keep your users out of the Games folder.

          unattended setup

We’ve seen this on other OSs, and though I haven’t used it much (we clone our HDs, so I don’t have to do many OS installs).  You get to start it and walk away.

 

          driver integration

If you have lots of PCs with the same hardware configuration, here’s your ticket to get it all set up ahead of time, so when you boot the system after the install, you’re all set.  Enterprise techs LOVE this kind of thing.

          create ISO and burn bootable CD/DVD
Here’s another one we IT people love.  You can save your work and burn a DVD – presto!  Your own customized Vista install.  As I mentioned before, transformed installs are popular in the IT world.  But this is the first I have heard of one for Windows Vista.

So here’s the downside.  Two that I can think of.  First, you have to know what you are doing with operating system installations.  You have to know what the program is talking about before deciding you don’t want it.  Otherwise, you may not be able to get your hard drive to boot, or who knows what else?

Second, you actually have to do the customization BEFORE you install.  So, that means that you would have to reinstall your OS to make any changes using this program. 
 

Bottom line for me – if you aren’t comfortable working with a few technical terms and some things that could seriously mess up your PC, I don’t think I’d worry too much about vLite.  Either that or you could get your Vista-savvy cousin to help you.  But if you’re a PC tech who has to widely deploy Vista, this tool (properly learned and tested) could be a real time and resource saver.

 

Ben

BTW, here’s the post that tipped me off to this tool.

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/tech-news/?p=2016