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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Linux Promotional Rant - Windows Recovery versus Windows

I saw this quote in an Ubuntu Forum thread and I felt like making my own reply.

Quote source from

A post by jgalley:
"You are doing an automatic upgrade of your OS and in the middle of the application of the patches the power fails and your system crashes hard. What OS do you want to be running? From my experience if it is Linux then you are about to see firsthand why Ubuntu is free and Vista costs 400 bucks.

If I have to rebuild my worstation and development environment even once then the actual cost of Ubuntu is more that the cost of Vista. In fact, for every extra time my Ubuntu system crashes hard and fails to boot I could have purchased a new Vista system from Dell, thrown my old system in the trash and still come out ahead.

Linux is the best, if what you like to do is rebuild and reinstall operating systems or endlessly search the internet for cryptic instuctions on how to edit /etc files to make some piece of hardware or software sort of work."
Yeah, I know anything from the Microsoft forums is pretty much flamebait, but let's go with this.

This entire speech totally belies the fact that in my experience a Windows Machine tends to bug-out after a sudden power loss, while nothing so palty even shakes a Linux system.

Right off, this guy is not being specific with his arguments. Let's get specific.

Harddrive Hardware Failure
When dealing with hardware failure due to spontaneous power loss, then RAID systems and backups are all you have to deal with. Shockingly those have very little, if anything, to do with the Operating System. The same goes for any other hardware you have die from the experience.

Harddrive Filesystem Failure
When dealing with software file-system problems due to spontaneous power loss, then there is no contest. Linux journaling File-Systems just win.

I occasionally see print claiming that NTFS is a journaling file-system like EXT3/4. To be bluntly honest, I don't know if I would believe ithad journaling even if I saw the source-code myself, because NTFS sure as fuck doesn't act like it has journaling.

At least not journaling like I have enjoyed with Linux file-systems. Of course, that assumes one is using NTFS, which is a fair assumption now days, but again this poster did not mention that. For all we know, there are Fat32 systems involved and let me tell you from experience, doing scandisks on huge Fat32 formated Harddisks takes hours.

Maybe it has been a few years, or maybe Vista has something magically under the hood, but no NTFS file-system I have even heard of makes serious recoveries as quickly and thoroughly as a Linux journaling file-system.

Fixing A Broken OS
What about when the OS is broken and won't boot properly. Of course, exactly *how* broken has an significant impact. Misconfigured files? Broken drivers? Broken kernal? The poster does not mention the specific methods of restoration.

He might mean throwing in some vendor provided disc and hoping its magic works. I would not know, Linux does not need these things. But since he's not specific, let's assume he means doing some manual work on a recovery console. In fact, this is very likely exactly what he means.

I need to stop here for a second and point out something: Is this n00b actually claiming it is easier to do something in the console/command-line in *Windows* than in Linux? ...? The next question of course is WTF? Yeah, let's move on. Alright, so it is safe to say it is going to be easier to do work on the console/command-line in Linux than Windows any day of the decade.

But what kind of work you ask? Well, whatever work you need to do to restore your system. Let's hope you know enough about the clearly documented and well designed Windows system architecture. Let's also hope that you can do all your recover from a console text environment and nothing requires a graphical session. At this point alone, Linux recovery is more certain than Windows, because in Linux literally anything that can be done from a graphical session can be done from a console, while the same is certainly not always true for Windows.

As for what exact work is to be done, I don't know since each situation varies but I'd like to see him edit his registry through a console Microsoft Console and call that "easy." Meanwhile I will just be using my Vim editor to modify human-readable-flat-text-configuration-files and browsing the Internet from command-line via eLinks for further help.

In Linux, one can completely recompile/reinstall anything needed without a graphical session. Debian Software Packages and shell-scripts for the win. That does not happen with all the numerous variety of Windows installer programs.

Using a boot disk, with some careful work, one can even do recompilation/reinstall for a non-booted system. I would like to see any Windows machine compile from command line as easily as Linux. Hell, I would like to see Windows compile ANYTHING as readily as Linux tends to.

The poster mentions "Cryptic instructions." Well, I won't say Linux is easy to use as a Fisher Price toy, but few powerful tools are. Since turnabout is fair play, if he wants to talk cryptic, then let's go all the way and discuss poor instructions. This, of course, leads to Microsoft Help Files/Manuals.

I certainly will not claim every Linux/BSD Man-page ever written in the world is great and has all the information needed. But in my experience, easily 90% of the time, man-pages will give provide most if not all ones needs. I have yet to even hear of a single good Microsoft Help file. (And I have talked with career technical writers on the subject).

Of course, this side-steps the point about the architectures and system designs themselves.

Full OS Reinstall
Now, if the poster is talking about a full OS reinstall, I can fucking-money-back-guarantee-you Ubuntu Linux will be fully installed and have completed any updates with all my software installed well before Windows has the 2nd Service pack installed (if even the 1st), let alone all other personal programs and virus/firewall software.

And that does not even address the issue of live-booting. :P

Development Environment
The guy mentions rebuilding his development environment. ... I am going to assume that means installing Visual Studio, or something of the like, and a train load of additional software libraries.

I got news for the poster, in Linux that is as easy as a few mouse clicks with my package manager, or a single Shell-script execution to send commands to apt-get. In a word: Owned.

Further Laughs
This guy identifies himself as a ripened idiot by going on further to state: "In fact, for every extra time my Ubuntu system crashes hard and fails to boot I could have purchased a new Vista system from Dell, thrown my old system in the trash and still come out ahead."

Even from my longest recovery time, my time has never been equal to the couple thousand dollars to build my new powerful desktop, and certainly was not worth the recovery of my irreplaceable data files. Maybe this guy takes his computer to the Geek Squad and has to wait two weeks for recovery? (Yeah, I know they don't do Linux, but you get my point).

Lastly, what sort of piece of shit computer is he running that is worth less than $400 + New Deskstop that he casually throws away?

Shear Idiocy -- Economics of Morons
"If I have to rebuild my worstation and development environment even once then the actual cost of Ubuntu is more that the cost of Vista."

I really have to address this one. So, "free" is somehow going to become more than $400 through just one occasion? Are you fucking kidding me?

Beyond the fact that the poster is utterly failing to take into account the 10 to 1 ratio of Windows system breakdowns versus Linux, he arbitrarily states that any recovery with Linux will be more than $400. The logical converse of this argument is that any recovery with Vista will be automatically less. (And that does not even address repeated recovery costs, which Linux most definitely trumps Windows on because of better system longevity).

Is he claiming that any recovery done with Vista will be less costly (time and money and effort invested) over Linux? Really? Seriously? ...I actually think this person is claiming exactly that. Well, he's completely wrong.

Situations vary and thus recoveries do. In the 1 out of 10 situations where Linux has a problem like Windows, the situations is going to be specific and relate to the knowledge of the person doing the recovery. I am not going to claim Linux recoveries always cost less than Windows recovery because making such a blanket statement about all situation is foolishness, and the same goes for Windows over Linux.

I will just say this: Linux recoveries happen less frequently... and chances are, you can find the "cryptic" instructions online, and you will be able to access your configuration files through console easily and recompile/reinstall any software necessary. Windows can't claim that people. It just can't.

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