A linux guy’s experience with Windows 7

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am typically somewhat of an anti-Windows guy. I absolutely love linux, and get very frustrated by Windows in general. The only thing that I really dislike about linux is the lack of application support by a number of companies (ahem…. Adobe).  Before going to the Adobe MAX conference, I decided I should swap out OSes on my personal laptop so that I could run all the stuff I would need for labs without constantly cursing about being stuck in a VM, limited functionality, etc.  A friend had just bought a package of Windows 7 licenses and sold me one for 5 bucks, which I considered to be a pretty reasonable risk.  I opted for installing Windows 7 on my laptop.

Given that background and my previous feelings about Windows, I have to say that it is a pretty dang nice operating system.  It is by far the best offering to date by MS in my opinion.  There are a few things that they still haven’t managed to get right (native file copy still makes me want to stick forks in my eyes), but by and large they have done a great job with Windows 7.  Other than having to track down a few drivers for my laptop, the installation was painless – if not fast.  This is still an area that linux, and especially Ubuntu, wins hands down though.  Apps run extremely stable, and with the addition of a new concept of “Libraries”, directories that I need access to regularly are right at hand instead of having to tree down through big hierarchies.  I am also not finding what I expected would be an immediate degradation of performance after installing all the servers and development tools that I use on a daily basis.  Over all, so far so good.

A few things that I think are a *must* for the way that I use it.

  • I found a “sudo” program called Start++ that allows me to open applications from the terminal or start menu as Administrator by typing sudo notepad [or some other program].  It will prompt you for the UAC stuff and the program will open as administrator.  I use this regularly for editing system files like hosts, apache configs, and use it to open a terminal to fire off j2ee servers.
  • Install Teracopy which is a replacement for the Windows copy program.  While certainly not as fast/efficient as a linux terminal, it greatly increases file copy speed over the native windows GUI file copy.  No more “preparing to copy” waits while your system bogs down.

Things that annoy me

  • I still wish I could have a real terminal and be able to use VI in sudo, but that is just something I will have to get over I guess.
  • I hate that I now have to be so careful with regard to viruses and spyware.  I love the protection that linux offers in that area, and having to go out of my to stay protected seems a bit cumbersome.
  • I miss being able to easily try out software with the ease of the synaptic package manager.  It seems foreign now to have to download an exe run an installer and have settings being obscurely written all over a “black box” registry.
  • I miss built-in networking tools.  Even simply things like being able to run “whois” from the teminal.
  • My drive is getting fragmented far faster than with linux, and I find that I am running the defrag tool fairly often.  Linux just manages this under the covers and I never have to worry about it.

All said, after using it for about the past 4 weeks, I can honestly say that I am surprised (and perhaps even a bit disappointed) that I like it as much as I do.  I planned on just running it while I was at the Adobe MAX conference and going back to linux when I got home, but it looks like I will be keeping it for a while longer.