Start Me Up with Windows 7


Start Me Up with Windows 7

computer_cat_01 © 2005 Steve Caddy

About six weeks ago I made two life-changing decisions: to migrate my office desktop PC from Ubuntu Linux to Windows 7; and to start this blog. Rebuilding my desktop proved to be an easier task to finish, being motivated by the need for a working computer on my desk, but of course it wasn't without its problems. And now, after a few spread out nights of learning and hacking WordPress, here is the blog. The title of this post seemed appropriate to me because Microsoft used the Aerosmith Rolling Stones song Start Me Up in its marketing blitz around the Windows 95 release.

Windows 7 is Microsoft's successor to Windows Vista, but since so few people adopted Vista, most people who get Windows 7 will be moving straight there from Windows XP. This includes the vast majority of corporate Windows desktops, as most enterprise desktop teams were not convinced to upgrade to Vista in the nearly three years since its release.

Personally, I am not coming from Windows XP. I abandoned my company's standard Windows XP desktop image three years ago; I couldn't stand all the issues of managing a Windows XP computer coupled with idiosyncratic internal corporate packaging of external packages. (If my company's desktop team is reading: I don't mean any offense; you know I'm just really picky.) More important though, at the time, was my strong preference for Ubuntu Linux as a desktop platform.

My dream Linux desktop at work proved to have a finite life, though. With Windows infrastructure all around me, it became increasingly tedious to fire up my Windows virtual machine inside my Ubuntu desktop for so many day-to-day tasks, particularly using my team's preferred IDE, Adobe FlexBuilder, which still lacks a Linux release, and won't run under Wine. So, I decided to go back to Windows, but I didn't want to take a step back to Windows XP.

Fortunately, for the last few months, Windows 7 RC (Release Candidate) has been available as a free download. You can register and then install it for free as long as you don't mind acquiring a real license and rebuilding your computer when it expires in March 2010. When I found out about that, I was sold. I have very little experience with Vista, but compared to Windows XP, here are some benefits I see for hackers using Windows 7:

While Windows 7 will undoubtedly be a crowd-pleasing success, I still have a lot of issues with being a hacker and developer living on a Windows box, for instance:

And there are some issues aren't particular to Windows 7; they are really problems with the Windows ecosystem and not something a new Windows release could resolve on its own:

So here's how I customized my Windows 7 desktop to work my way (all of these products are free-as-in-beer or better):

It was a lot of work, but I'm pretty happy with the results, and I'm definitely not a Microsoft-hater anymore.

In future posts, I will highlight some of the things above (for example VMWare 2 or Okular) that I find particular interesting. I also plan to review books and web sites. I also hope to be writing a lot about information portability and security, from the perspective of your personal data.


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Comments (2)

Doh! I'll fix it as soon as I get to a laptop where I can edit this post.

Rolling Stones shilled Win95, but no matter. That's almost looking back to an alternate universe.