First my kid hates Linux, now I have to buy laptops with Vista

First my kid hates Linux, now I have to buy laptops with Vista

Summary: It's been a rough week. The drama club is performing the musical Into the Woods starting Thursday and was only able to practice with the band for the first time last night.


It's been a rough week. The drama club is performing the musical Into the Woods starting Thursday and was only able to practice with the band for the first time last night. Let's just say it was a little, well, discouraging.

Then there was the "Linux sucks" talk I had with my eldest. A crushing blow to Dad, for sure, although my 5 year-old piped in with "I like Linux, Dad!" My middle two sons have yet to weigh in.

Finally, yesterday I received a call from our central office. "So and so needs a laptop - order whatever makes sense and doesn't cost too much." My principal had made a similar request at the end of last week. Fortunately for them, I know what "makes sense" means, so I got a few quotes. Here's where my problem starts.

I know the laptops need to run Windows. Despite what many people believe, I'm not a typical ABMer. The Windows part is OK, even if it's not my personal preference; we have mission-critical Windows applications that both of these machines need to run and I don't have time to train the users in the alternatives (one will be outside my building and the other will be a machine shared by a large, heterogeneous group of users).

The problem lies in which version of Windows. There are some really sweet deals to be had on business-class notebooks with solid configurations (dual cores, 2GB RAM, big hard drives, etc.), but the deals largely require the use of pre-configured systems running Windows Vista. Configuring a system through Dell or one of the other major OEMs directly to get Windows XP Pro tends to really bump the price up.

I purchased a couple of Vista laptops a few months ago for our central office staff, again because of some great deals that were available at the time. While both users were able to make the leap to Vista with a reasonable amount of training, both have complained about performance. I've uninstalled the crapware, minimized the intrusiveness of antimalware applications, and the machines are still not performing as well as their hardware configurations would suggest. Notably, the two users are relatively savvy (at least as end users go), but they are hardly power users who would be pushing up against the capabilities of the machines.

Sure, I could downgrade to XP, but that requires a full re-install and purchase of appropriate licenses. So I'm buying laptops with Vista Business installed because budget and procurement constraints prevent me from purchasing laptops with XP Pro. Of course, XP Pro isn't much of a gem either. It's certainly getting a bit long in the tooth, but at least performance is fairly snappy. Can you say rock and a hard place? Chicken and egg? Until application support increases for Linux, there will certainly be times when there aren't viable alternatives to Windows. Windows XP Pro is on its way out and Vista performance (as well as compatibility in some cases) leaves something to be desired. I don't know about you, but I'm not holding my breath for Windows 7, rhetoric from Bill Gates aside.

Topics: Linux, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Vista

    A couple of things to note when using Vista. First on immediate boot up the Microsoft updates and possibly your antivirus programs will go out and check for any updates. That will cause a performance issue immediately after you logon but it is necessary as any operating system needs patched, even Linux. The second thing to check is the defragmentation program's schedule. The default is set to defrag the hard drive at 1:00 AM on Wednesday mornings. If however the laptop is off at this time it will defragment the drive the next time the system is used and left idle. Microsoft claims that it runs in the back ground on low-priority but on a laptop you are going to notice it running. Outside of that I have a Dell Latitude running Vista Business, Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB memory and it's performance is more than enough for the average user and most power users. I also use Avast anti-virus as it works great and doesn't bog the system down using to many resources and it's free for "Home users".
    • Thanks for the tips!

      I'll check out the scheduled tasks.

      • Unneeded services

        Check out for a list of services that run by default - a few can be turned off (such as the Tablet PC service, which for some reason is started by default in Vista.) Disable unneeded services, that'll save on boot time and resource usage. I did this on my laptop and my desktop PC, and performance is more than acceptable. A few web sites out there also list a few ways to tweak Vista for performance.
        • Websites?

          Not aimed at you or anything but let some of the folk here tell NEVER have to dig around on websites to find tips to fix and tweak Windows. They call Gates or Ballmer directly for real first class support.
          • ok...

            ...Must be some inside joke...
          • Naw...more like common FUD...

            It normally goes something like "Who's gonna dig around on websites for help or support for their desktop" when talking about Linux desktops. So I found it interesting to see this as an answer to Windows issues (as if I haven't done this countless times for Windows myself) :-)
    • Yep

      Get Vista done right, and its a joy to use.
      • I couldn't agree more

        From cold start to desktop in under 30 seconds.....multitasking in about a minute.....

        I am finding all the XP praise to be really overdone and utterly ridiculous.....once all the service packs have latched on, boot time started to look like windows 98.

        • Actually...much better than Win98 [nt]

  • RE: First my kid hates Linux, now I have to buy laptops with Vista

    Dude, whilst I hate windows with a passion you're talking BS. You do not need to purchase any licenses at all to downgrade to XP. Vista Business comes with the _right_ to downgrade to XP. Just grab an OEM CD, use whatever key you have lying around and activate it. It will probably fail. Nice, call the activation hotline, tell them you have issues with vista business and need to downgrade to XP, they'll probably ask the Vista key, give it to them and you'll get a code to enter to activate the XP.

    The best (well.. argubly) is you can even go back to Vista later on.

    So you can get your sweet deals, and get XP too. It'll just cost you some time reinstalling.
    • Question

      Can home users do that, too? My sister bought a new home system with Vista and hates it. I don't know anything about Vista but what I read here and on other technical forums, none of which seem to have anything nice to say about it.
      • why dont you

        If you want it to look like Xp why dont you turn off the stuff that makes it looks like Vista? you can turn off Aero, turn off UAC, you can turn off the stuff that slows it down and you will have a system that looks like XP, also make sure Vista SP1 is installed, that sped my machine up alot applying the service pack.
        • Why bother doing that

          When you can still get XP instead of Vista looking like XP.

          Kinda defeats the purpose, dont'cha think...
          hasta la Vista, bah-bie
    • Kids hate Linux?

      Of course kids (using their computers for games only) will hate Linux. Linux is not for games, Linux is for serious work, if you want to play games you buy windows.
    • Thanks for the tip

      I will check if it works in ISRAEL as well
  • RE: First my kid hates Linux, now I have to buy laptops with Vista

    See this 2:
  • RE: First my kid hates Linux, now I have to buy laptops with Vista

    When I hear about these Vista problems, I don't get it. I've been running Vista and loving it since last September.
    • I've had problems with Vista...

      Still don't have that much of a negative review about it though. It has it's driver issues but in general it's okay. Unless I'm watching it for strict performance by having apps watch I don't notice any differences.

      The problem is people noticing a 10% different that most users would not notice.
      • They're not even noticing that 10%

        They're just using it as a means to bash Vista.
      • But that is going away day by day and quickly

        As ye mentioned somewhere, it's funny people want to test Vista on a 399.00 PC but are fine with the fact you have to take out a second mortgage to get a Mac. Can you spell b-i-a-s. <br><br>
        But hardware is getting faster so quickly that the speed issue is pretty much moot already. last year's high end Vista screamers are pushing down toward 1,000.00 now. There's really no argument about hardware any longer in my opinion. Of course companies are only going to move on client refreshes, which they've done for ages anyway, such the move from win98 to 2000 or 2000 to XP. But the ABM crowd is trying to alter perceptions and claim companies have to buy all new hardware just to run it, when that's been the practice since the 90s. <br><br>
        Once again, hardware has come down so much in one year it's entirely moot anyway. It's a great time to do a refresh and roll out vista at the same time, like thousands of companies are doing right now.