Windows fail

My shiny new contract starts Monday and it occurred to me that since the software I’ll be working on doesn’t support a Linux-based working environment, I ought to resurrect my Windows partition on Ifrit. And hey, there was a new release of Ubuntu in October and I should get around to upgrading while I’m at it. So I figured I’d spend a couple hours, first doing the upgrade, then performing some Windows Voodoo. The upgrade worked beautifully. I logged into Ubuntu just long enough to make sure it was still there, back up a couple things I forgot about before doing the upgrade, just in case, and then switched over to letting the Windows recovery partition do its thing.

So of course somehow, while Windows was supposed to be recovering itself, it instead destroyed my entire hard drive, rendering it so unreadable even my dark arts couldn’t do much more than choke at the sight of it. In case anybody wanted to hear my opinion of Windows again, it’s a petulant bitch and I do not like it.

One shiny new hard drive later (twice the capacity of the original and for less than $50, so it could have been worse) I have bummed a Windows startup disc off Sylvie (since my only means of recovering Windows went up in smoke with the hard drive; that’s some really thorough design you’ve got there, Microsoft), installed Windows on the new hard drive, installed the shiny new Ubuntu on the hard drive, and soothe my irritated nerves by hacking my Ubuntu display into my preferred minimalist glory. I’ve opted for a white and gray look, breaking from my long tradition of black, black and more black with maybe a dash of red. Once I’ve done all the display tweaking I can do without going into config files, which I am much too brain dead to risk, I decide it’s time to go make Windows safe for the world. I’ll install a better browser, a better firewall, some virus protection, maybe some anti-spyware stuff, you know, the things one has to do to keep their Windows machine safe from itself.

There’s just a problem. You see, Windows can’t for the life of itself find my networking hardware. “Wireless card? What’s a wireless card?” it says to me. Ubuntu can surf the web with my wireless card before I’ve even installed it, but Windows is fuzzy on the concept of network. It’s not even sure it knows what a network is, but would I like to install software from a disc given to me by my ISP? (To be fair, this is XP, but like hell am I buying Windows 7 or putting Vista on a netbook. I have a legal copy of XP, it works, if petulantly, I’ll stick to it) It literally took me twenty minutes of desperately searching through the drivers manager to realize that I am not in fact stranded with no recourse, but the same machine can get to the internet if I switch OSes, download the driver I need, put it on external media, then boot back for the install.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve just used a Linux install to rescue a Windows install from failure to cope with hardware. We’ve come full circle, except now the roles are reversed. I’m going to slap the next person who says they won’t use Linux, because they want something they can install which “just works.” Why? Because it’s ten hours later, and I have to reboot again to see if maybe Windows will recognize my hardware now so I can look prepared when I show up to work on Monday.

P.S. Thank god I didn’t decide this could wait until Sunday.

ETA: Either this is the latest stage of a vicious nightmare, or the network drivers do now work. I just have to keep telling this rassfracking system to stop being so bleeding helpfully unhelpful.

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Evidence

Some of you were skeptical about my glee over how very pretty my UI is now. This should put an end to that!

From Screenshot

Note: I have the panel at the top set to autohide, but hovered over it for the shot so you can see it in all of its transparent glory. It autohides completely, leaving me my full screen for doing other things.

Lucid Lynx

Something about finals motivates me to ignore studying and tinker with my laptop instead.

I slapped Easy Peasy, a netbook optimized fork of Ubuntu, onto Ifrit immediately after getting her. (Yes, that’s the correct pronoun. No, I don’t know how that happened). I’ve never been happy with it. I hated the menu system it came with and got rid of that. The sound didn’t quite work out of the box. The sound had a tendency to stop working after being booted for a while. I wound up tricking out the interface with a panel on the left side to maximize my vertical window space, but it was ugly. I’d stripped so much out of the interface to maximize my screen space that anybody without keyboard short-cut navigation hardwired couldn’t navigate to check their email. Somewhere along the line it started to get unstable too, I think as a consequence of taking mainstream Ubuntu updates on a fork that wasn’t being maintained. That’s where I started.

Last night, when I should have been studying, I installed the netbook edition of Lucid Lynx onto Ifrit. The liveCD boot (from a 2GB flash drive) was not painfully slow to run. The partition editor is easier to read. The graphics are just lovely. And during the fifteen minutes it took to install there was an informative video showing off the new features Ubuntu offers. Some of them, like the syncing across machines, look very, very cool. I wound up watching the video when I should have been writing up my “Cheat Sheet.” (What kind of class gives you two pages to take notes on for the exam? Either it’s open book or it isn’t, sheesh) Then I rebooted.

Ifrit can run in the 3D session, but she’s a bit slow when she does. If I want to work on a computer with a lag I’ll go for the 42 inch screen and use Edmond. Everything is gorgeous and smooth in the 2d session.

This is the space where I normally take notes on what I tweaked so I can remember for passing along to Clarity or when I tinker again. This time around there are no notes to take. The only changes I’ve made were replacing the things I’d stripped out of the interface before because they fit now and I can have them without eating my entire screen. Flash installed from inside the Firefox plug-in search. Flash installed from inside the Firefox plug-in search. Also, smooth full screen playback of youtube videos. This has never existed before in my Linux universe.

Did I mention that the interface is gorgeous? Seriously, its like I’m using a Mac designed for grown-ups. I’m in love with Ifrit all over again.

Next I’m going to find out of the Chrome beta is more stable on this version of Ubuntu than it was on Easy Peasy because everything is fast enough now that I can tell Firefox is being slow.

I wish this OS had been the one on the early Linux versions of netbooks. Instead of reinforcing panic about scary scary open source OSes we’d be talking about Canonical nibbling away at Microsoft’s market share.

So. Pretty.