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Innovation

Linux: No bloatware, popups, and annoyances

Just today I had to help somebody that had an annoying popup from the "HP Software Update", which would pop up about every 2 hours on his Windows XP PC. In addition, he could not get the popups to go away because his account runs as a restricted user (he would see an error saying that it could not disable them because he's not an administrator), and he did not know what to do.
Written by Chris Clay Clay, Contributor on

Just today I had to help somebody that had an annoying popup from the "HP Software Update", which would pop up about every 2 hours on his Windows XP PC. In addition, he could not get the popups to go away because his account runs as a restricted user (he would see an error saying that it could not disable them because he's not an administrator), and he did not know what to do. The fix: to open regedit as an administrator account, and remove the HP Software Update entry in the "Run" area that triggers it to appear every time the PC is booted.

Popups like this are everywhere in Windows. Simply installing a printer with HP's proprietary software will no doubt create these popups about software updates, and even others to urge you to their website to buy more ink or toner. It's all for marketing, but users get quite annoyed at them. Quite often when I sit down at somebody's Windows PC and reboot, popups like this come up all of the time for some product or another.

The other things I notice are tons of applications running in the System Tray. I've seen close to 10-12 applications running, which do everything from check for some software updates, to watch for other events on the PC like a device to be plugged in, etc. Some of these applications are not present in the System Tray but run when you log in, sitting there in the background.

GNU/Linux has the answer to these annoyances, and it is this: they are simply not there. Why? Because the software is written by developers that are not trying to sell you something. So, the software is designed to work for what it was meant to do, not entice you to do something else with your PC. Most tasks like software updates are all handled with one central application, that will pop up with a bubble in the upper right corner near the clock when you log in. It can be disabled with a couple of clicks in Gnome (in Fedora: System menu / Sessions / PackageKit, uncheck the box). When disabled, simply running the Software Update application will manually check for updates where you can select what you want to upgrade. The only downside with the Linux Software Update is that it checks for ALL software on your system at once, so the list of updates can be overwhelming if you manually want to pick and choose. I find it useful to use the "yum" utility to manually search for updates and install them from the command line. A simple "yum search {packagename}" or "yum upgrade {packagename}" works very well.

Other services like checking for new devices and things (where Windows needs extra processes running), is all done with the Linux kernel which is extremely efficient to begin with. It's always running, and does an excellent job of detecting new hardware, then loading the appropriate drivers behind the scenes. Usually, new devices (mice, keyboards, joypads, USB drives, etc.) are detected and instantly available without any user intervention needed. This is even true for printers in the newest distributions of Fedora and others. Simply plug in a printer, and it shows up within a minute in your list of attached printers and is ready to use. No searching for CDs or downloading drivers. This is simply brilliant.

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