[Beowulf] Sidebar: Vista Rant

Gerry Creager gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Wed Jul 18 06:27:06 PDT 2007

If I want to stay on the leading edge of technology, why would I look to 


Jon Forrest wrote:
> Robert G. Brown wrote:
>> Just as a matter of curiousity -- are you running Vista Home (deluxe or
>> not) or Pro or better?
> Vista Business. My department has a volume license with Microsoft
> that covers that.
> Also, since you and many other people on this list are
> at various universities, you might look into the Microsoft
> Developers Network Academic Alliance. From the www.msdnaa.net
> web site:
> "MSDN AA is an annual membership program for departments that use 
> technology in support of Science, Technology, Engineering, and 
> Mathematics (STEM) courses. The membership provides a complete, 
> inexpensive solution to keep academic labs, faculty, and students on the 
> leading edge of technology."
> In practice, what this means is that you can legally put almost
> any of Microsoft's products (except Office) on any number of
> PCs used for instruction or research. It costs about $800 a year
> the first year, but IIRC, it goes down later. It's worth every penny.
>> Also, when you say "do a fresh install" does
>> that mean that you go out and buy a full retail version and pitch the
>> OEM version that comes on the system?  The systems I've bought recently
>> no longer even come with Windows media at all, and I've recently learned
>> the hard way that OEM Windows reinstalls are likely to fail the Genuine
>> Windows test when it comes to upgrading them, EVEN when they are done
>> from media, even if one has a perfectly valid license code.
> Both MSDNAA, which my old department, Civil and
> Environmental Engineering, had, and Chemistry, my current
> department, have licenses that give us access to the Vista
> (and XP) CDs that have the full, unadulterated versions of
> Windows on them. Without these versions I doubt I would have
> had the positive experiences with Vista that I described.
>> The main point being, what do you spend?  
> I'm not sure what Chemistry spends but for departments, probably
> such as Physics, that qualify for MSDN AA, the cost is not
> significant.
>> The other point being that consumers don't ever do this.  They don't
>> know how.  Either Vista works as delivered when they bring it home from
>> Best Buy or it's broken, no middle ground.  Where "works" means a mix of
>> "runs my existing applications without additional investment" and "runs
>> them NOW, without annoying lag or delay".
> Dell is now offering Vista without any craplets installed. I hope
> other vendors get the word and start this too. But, I agree
> with you that fixing vendor-supplied versions of Windows is a
> necessary dark art.
>>> The primary reason I run Vista, instead of Linux,
>>> is that no version of Linux I've seen looks as
>>> good on an LCD screen as Windows with Cleartype.
>>> I've run tests on the same hardware, switching between
>>> Linux and Windows. It isn't even close.
>> Wow.  I'm speechless.  And here I thought people chose operating
>> environments intended to support their work primarily on the basis of
>> applications and at least nominally to optimize cost-benefit.  So I'm
>> guessing that you also routinely invest in $200+ graphics cards and
>> ultra-high resolution displays as well.
> Nope. I'm typing this on a Dell Dimension E521 with an el-cheapo
> NVIDIA 7300 LE connected to 2 garden variety 19" LCD monitors.
> The first thing I do with Vista is to turn off all those annoying
> graphics effects and that Sidebar program. I have enough distractions
> in life. I don't need any more from Microsoft. They're trivial to
> turn off.
> I do have 2.5 GB of RAM but that's a luxury. Of course, these
> days with 2GB of desktop RAM easily available for $80 it's
> not a very expensive luxury.
>> Me, I spend my life typing into a text window of one sort or another.  
> Me too. I hardly ever use Word. But, what I use most is Firefox,
> Thunderbird, and SSH, all of which look much better on Windows
> than they do on Linux. The difference between Firefox on Windows
> as compared to Linux is striking.
>> When I remote manage systems, code, run applications, write novels or
>> poetry, I do so with layers of xterms (and a few X applications) on six
>> different desktops I can swap between or cycle to the top with a
>> keystroke.  I can easily reprogram key combinations to launch
>> applications without a mouse.  I can create iconified application
>> launchers quite simply, and have multiple bars full of real time
>> displays and one-click application launchers WITHOUT cluttering up my
>> desktop(s).
> I don't do this but there are all kinds of desktop managers
> on Windows that you can install that do these kinds of things.
> What you should do sometime is to sit down with a well informed
> Windows person who knows how to do these kinds of customizations.
> I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.
>> What I gain in XP is the ability to run one or two Windows-only
>> applications.  What I give up is the ability to run one or two HUNDRED
>> applications (all of them free) and more importantly the ability to
>> navigate, switch applications, enjoy the convenience of a rich
>> environment tightly and securely coupled to the network.
> I'm not arguing in favor of abandoning Linux for Windows. That
> would be insane. I'm only saying that to an old pair of eyes
> like mine, Windows looks better on LCD screens. With a good
> ssh client and a good X server, I can have the best of both
> worlds.
>> It may be happy, but it probably is slow...
> The vast majority of the time, when something seems slow to me,
> it's because either my fingers or my brain are slow, often both,
> not my computer. Note that I'm not talking the HPC applications
> themselves. I always run those on Linux.
> Cordially,

Gerry Creager -- gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Texas Mesonet -- AATLT, Texas A&M University	
Cell: 979.229.5301 Office: 979.458.4020 FAX: 979.862.3983
Office: 1700 Research Parkway Ste 160, TAMU, College Station, TX 77843

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