Join 3,557 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


It is now safe to turn off your computer
March 2, 2011 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Man upgrades to Windows 7, from Windows 1.0. One...version...at...a...time. [SLYT]
posted by schmod (182 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
This video will take approximate 13 hours to complete.

TIME REMAINING: 45:32:12
posted by shakespeherian at 2:42 PM on March 2, 2011 [38 favorites]


This guy's voice sounds amazingly like text to speech software.
posted by theodolite at 2:45 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm somewhat amazed that it is possible to install Windows 1.0 and Windows 7 on the same machine.
posted by grouse at 2:47 PM on March 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


Nerd!
posted by tomswift at 2:47 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is just dying and spending eternity in Hell an option? Because I would take it under serious consideration.
posted by Danf at 2:47 PM on March 2, 2011 [16 favorites]


Name: twatface

Nice touch.
posted by phunniemee at 2:48 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


What, no WinMe? Pfft.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:48 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Awesome. I'm no fan of Microsoft but I can't help but feel a bit sorry for the programmers that they have to work under such serious backwards compatibility constraints. Really impressive that they manage to pull it off to the extent they do.
posted by ChrisHartley at 2:48 PM on March 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


SHENANIGANS!

That's right. I called it. Why may you ask? Because this person skipped the one version of Windows that would have prevented this from working: Windows ME.

Also: Done on VMWare, not an actual computer.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:51 PM on March 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Really impressive that they manage to pull it off to the extent they do.

Microsoft is like the United States Postal Service in that respect.

People always focus on the ways they fuck up. There is seldom recognition of how stupefyingly difficult is the stuff they do manage to accomplish.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:53 PM on March 2, 2011 [48 favorites]


I'm no fan of Microsoft but I can't help but feel a bit sorry for the programmers that they have to work under such serious backwards compatibility constraints.

The continuity of a Doom II install is anything but trivial.
posted by clearly at 2:55 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


x86ftw!
posted by domnit at 2:56 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: Done on VMWare, not an actual computer.

VMWare has a couple of nice features that likely facilitated this experiment. For one thing, you can easily modify the amount of RAM and hard drive space available to the VM. I noticed that at one point (Windows 95 or 98, I think) the VM had 128MB, whereas it was surely increased for later installations. This is important because trying to show, say, 2GB of RAM to DOS 5 probably wouldn't work. Similarly, I don't think the DOS 5 file system supported the amount of hard drive space required for even the most minimal install of Vista or 7.
posted by jedicus at 2:56 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I HAVE TO GO DEEPER
posted by Rhaomi at 2:56 PM on March 2, 2011 [28 favorites]


I've fantasized about capturing malware coders and locking them in a hot, unventilated metal building and forcing them to do this. They can get out once they've finished installing Windows 7, but it will always crap out on them in the last 1%, and then they have to start all over again at 1.0.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:01 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


He skipped over Windows ME, because you can't upgrade from 2000 to ME, and you can't upgrade from ME to 2000. It's like they exist in parallel, which is confusing, as ME was quite similar to 98 SE, so you'd think a 2000 upgrade would be easy.
posted by mccarty.tim at 3:03 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


That was a great little experiment. Bonus points for being quick to the point, having no terrible background music and not subjecting us to hours of "progress" bars.
posted by zephyr_words at 3:06 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


That was more interesting than it ought to be.
posted by clvrmnky at 3:08 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


I miss 3.1
posted by Hoopo at 3:12 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


no MS Bob?
posted by porn in the woods at 3:13 PM on March 2, 2011


Showing more than 512MB to Windows 98 or earlier would result in straaaange things happening. You had to edit a config file to limit it to 511MB addressable or risk random driver crashes and paging problems.
posted by tmt at 3:13 PM on March 2, 2011


And seeing that Windows 95 "Windows is starting up for the first time" splash screen made me feel like I was 12 years old all over again.
posted by tmt at 3:14 PM on March 2, 2011 [17 favorites]


People always focus on the ways they fuck up. There is seldom recognition of how stupefyingly difficult is the stuff they do manage to accomplish.

Yeah, throttling competition from your monopoly position over the years while crying "we're innovating!" was real hard work. ;)
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:18 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah the Windows 95 screen gave me a nice twang of nostalgia, which was soon replaced by a shudder after seeing the Vista screen.
posted by afx237vi at 3:19 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


"It's like they exist in parallel, which is confusing, as ME was quite similar to 98 SE, so you'd think a 2000 upgrade would be easy"

As I understand it, they were in parallel. ME was the last of the not-NT kernel windows. Of course, this should only affect drivers and maybe the filesystem. Perhaps there was a filesystem upgrade from FAT to NTFS that the 2000 installer could handle that slanted the choice to 2k over ME?

Its not quite the same, but I do have a hard drive from a computer I've upgraded from every version of Ubuntu. Unfortunately the RAM is dying on the machine it's in, so I'm not sure if I should ghost it for posterity or try to move the layout to a new FS on SSD. I guess you could extend this video to include Ubuntu, after they implemented the "import windows settings" feature.
posted by pwnguin at 3:19 PM on March 2, 2011


It is nice to see that this is possible, albeit on the most stripped-down, bare-bones environment that could be theoretically arranged.

Most people's headaches, though, have always come from starting up your freshly upgraded install and discovering that your hardware doesn't have up-to-date drivers, your legacy applications won't run, and your documents from legacy applications won't open in the latest version. The OS itself has always been rather trouble-free, as long as you don't do anything insane like try to install 3rd party software...

It's also sort of misleading to simply show that his DOS games still exist as program groups, because anyone can tell you what a headache it is to actually play your old DOS games since Windows stopped being built on a DOS kernel (circa Win2000, iirc).
posted by overeducated_alligator at 3:23 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah, basically this is a bit of a strange path to follow because 98 to ME would have been the path to take for home users, and NT to 2000 for network/professional installations. These two paths merged with XP.
posted by evilcolonel at 3:24 PM on March 2, 2011


I don't have time to watch the entire video, but in the opening splash screen sequence, Windows 3.11 wasn't included. WFW was a huge improvement over Win 3.1, IMO.

I'll have to watch this later tonight.
posted by Xoebe at 3:26 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


That this worked on the first try means that there's some room full of guys in Redmond whose job is to do exactly this, and report any problems when it fails.
posted by ardgedee at 3:26 PM on March 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


"Perhaps there was a filesystem upgrade from FAT to NTFS that the 2000 installer could handle that slanted the choice to 2k over ME?"

There is a nice utility called convert that is built-in to Win2k and XP for converting filesystems from FAT32 to NTFS.
posted by tmt at 3:28 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


VMWare can't emulate a serial mouse? TSK TSK TSK.
posted by jaduncan at 3:28 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well that was... interesting. Dunno how useful.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 3:30 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


"There is a nice utility called convert that is built-in to Win2k and XP for converting filesystems from FAT32 to NTFS."

Can you do this while running the OS from the filesystem? It seems like there's a pagefile and demand paging that would make that one hairy pickle...
posted by pwnguin at 3:31 PM on March 2, 2011


Ah, I remember when I received SimCopter for Christmas which only worked under Windows 95. However, my dad was dead set against upgrading his machine to 95 from 3.1 due to all the headaches it might cause and general anti-Microsoft grumpyness.

So every afternoon after school I would install Windows 95, play some Sim Copter, and uninstall when I heard the garage door opening.

Also, I'm not sure that the 95->2000 path was really all that unusual. ME was a known disaster, and 2000 was seen as the first '95-like' release. 2000 was everywhere for a while.
posted by xorry at 3:32 PM on March 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


I built myself a nice new computer yesterday and installed Windows 7 on it. The whole thing, from boxes in my living room to me installing the various little applications that I like, took something like 4 hours. I spent the whole rest of the day marveling at how ungodly easy it all was.

I've been a hobbyist for a long time, you know? Since my parents bought me a Commodore 64 and a box of warez floppies from the flea market. Playing around on my uncle's old hand-me-down Tandy. I know the desktop is dying and blah blah, and I agree. And it's probably about time. I only built it because I needed something to serve video files around my house and my laptop is getting a little long in the tooth for playing the (very very) occasional game that I still have time for. But whether or not it's a dying format, we are living in a damn Golden Age of hobbyist computing. I remember trying to install Windows 98 over Windows 95 and having to literally GO TO SLEEP during the install process, so I could wake up at some later time and complete it. Having one computer in my house with multiple 56k modems in it so it could share an internet connection. The nightmare grinding of hard drive heads teetering, then crashing onto the platters. I had one of the Pentiums with the floating point error that had to be recalled; I remember digging around in that Dell case back in a day when nobody had ever even heard of cable management, when there were no thumbscrews or even fans. It was like pulling the stone lid off a sarcophagus. I think I caught Legionnaire's disease from that box.

Jumpers — uncountable, merciless, fundamentally integral jumpers all over the goddamn place.

I spent a few hundred bucks and a couple hours, and I have far and away the best, cleanest, sharpest, most capable computer I have ever owned. I bought components on the internet, and companies delivered them to my house for free in two or three days. Everything just fucking works. Windows 7 installed quickly and is intuitive without being deceptive. I finished, cleaned my desk, and sat in my chair feeling like Louis CK in that "everything's amazing" clip. I had forgotten things could be like this.

Great post.
posted by penduluum at 3:34 PM on March 2, 2011 [74 favorites]


I am slightly embarrassed to say I enjoyed watching that. I feel a little dirty.
posted by jaduncan at 3:36 PM on March 2, 2011


canyon.mid
posted by danb at 3:37 PM on March 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


Can you do this while running the OS from the filesystem?

The installer could do it, I think. I seem to recall doin this when upgrading 98 to XP a couple of times.
posted by bonehead at 3:43 PM on March 2, 2011


I once did something similar: http://imgur.com/UdKHX.jpg
posted by broken wheelchair at 3:44 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Windows startup sounds from 3.1 to Vista.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:44 PM on March 2, 2011 [8 favorites]


canyon.mid
posted by overeducated_alligator at 3:44 PM on March 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


Windows95 reminds me of a magical time when all you had to do was mention installing Windows95 and your neighbor wanted to pay you some crazy sum to put up a static web site. And when you're like 13 and your neighbor is offering you $3k ($3k!) to put together a website, you think that life is going to be so easy and you'll be cool and everyone telling you how lucky you are "to be good at computers" and you'll be set for life and you see people not quite 6-7 years older than you skipping college to make as much as your dad and you think, "Sweet!" and you're like, "Well better enjoy life while I can!" and then suddenly there's all the stupid companies going bellyup but those are the stupid companies, right? and then Enron, but that's not really that related to computers than 9/11 OH MY GOD then you suddenly begin to realize that no one is making crazy money anymore and when people stop making crazy money it is not the same as when they start, and it just happens sort of quietly and now you're doing things with web sites that wasn't even thinkable to your younger self and you're actually adding to the bottom line and the only one making money is that kid you went to high school with who was seriously stupid but whose dad owns a concrete company, and you're like "Dot com, motherfucker, dot com."
posted by geoff. at 3:45 PM on March 2, 2011 [69 favorites]


Canyon.mid, Canyon.mid, Cayon.mid (alternate version), and Canyon.mid (live)
posted by filthy light thief at 3:46 PM on March 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is turning into the Canyon.mid Appreciation Society.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 3:48 PM on March 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm somewhat amazed that it is possible to install Windows 1.0 and Windows 7 on the same machine.

It's easy to do with a virtual machine.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:52 PM on March 2, 2011


The whole thing, from boxes in my living room to me installing the various little applications that I like, took something like 4 hours. I spent the whole rest of the day marveling at how ungodly easy it all was.

OMGWTFBBQ 4 hours?!?!

I mean, I'm the same boat as you, Commodore fan, lived and died by my Amiga 500, but holy hell, when it came time to upgrade from my old Powerbook to a new Macbook Pro, it took twenty minutes of doing a Time Machine restore. Not trying to re-ignite holy wars, but christ, it's the 21st century, you shouldn't have to suffer like that...
posted by mark242 at 3:52 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm in the process, right now, of building a brand new computer. It will have a 64 Gig SSD boot drive. I will be skipping many of the steps in the video. Well, all of them, except the Win7 install. I'm expecting a slightly more streamlined timeline. YMMV.
posted by Splunge at 3:53 PM on March 2, 2011


I mean, I'm the same boat as you, Commodore fan, lived and died by my Amiga 500, but holy hell, when it came time to upgrade from my old Powerbook to a new Macbook Pro, it took twenty minutes of doing a Time Machine restore. Not trying to re-ignite holy wars, but christ, it's the 21st century, you shouldn't have to suffer like that...

He built the machine from parts bought separately, and assembled by him in his home. It can take a few hours to do if you're fussy about things.

It's a dying art, I feel, but it is one of my favorite things about computing. You apple zealots have no idea what you're missing.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:57 PM on March 2, 2011 [18 favorites]


when it came time to upgrade from my old Powerbook to a new Macbook Pro, it took twenty minutes of doing a Time Machine restore. Not trying to re-ignite holy wars, but christ, it's the 21st century, you shouldn't have to suffer like that...

You did notice that he was talking about building a computer from components and installing an OS from scratch, right? Which bits of the Macbook Pro did you assemble in those 20 minutes? And you did a clean install of OS X in those 20 minute as well? That is impressive.
posted by kmz at 3:57 PM on March 2, 2011


It's easy to do with a virtual machine.

Yeah, I didn't notice that until Mister Fabulous commented. I'm considerably less impressed now.
posted by grouse at 4:03 PM on March 2, 2011


In case anyone is curious:

1 x ($75.99) CPU COOL CORSAIR| CWCH50-1 RT $75.99


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($129.99) MEM 2Gx3|CORS TR3X6G1600C8D R $129.99


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($164.99) SSD 64G|CORSAIR CSSD-P364GB2-BRKT R $164.99


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($299.99) MB ASUS ROG RAMPAGE II EXTREME X58 $299.99


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($274.99) CPU INTEL|CORE I7 930 2.80G R $274.99


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($259.99) VGA ASUS| ENGTX470/2DI/1280MD5 RT $259.99


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 x ($119.98) CASE CM|RC-932-KKN1-GP BK RT


1.5 terabyte drive HDD, monitor, power supply and Fatality sound-card will be transferred from present system.

Then my present system will be fixed up for the wife who is really in need of a new computer to do work on and play Farmville. ::baaaa:: ::baaaaa!!!::

The hard drive is still in the box, unused since it was a waste to use it in what I have now. The my present OS is a windows95>98>XP Pro kludge that literally takes 13 minutes to boot up. Yes that's right 13 minutes. I have timed it.

The Registry is probably a cesspool of scum and villainy. I intend to make a copy of it for archaeologists in the future to laugh at.

The new case weighs a ton but it's gorgeous. Enough room for a family of four to live in, in comfort. (Well, a family of Hobbits.)
posted by Splunge at 4:13 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Man, dude loves purple and red.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:29 PM on March 2, 2011


Try running Windows 7 on a 386.
posted by Chuffy at 4:31 PM on March 2, 2011


I really enjoyed this. I played around with running Win 3.11 in DosBox under XP a few years ago (and I imagine I "obtained" that copy of Windows in much the same way as this guy "obtained" his, nudgenudgeknowwhatImean), and was surprised by how well it worked. It was even possible to run Microsoft Office version 2 in there.

The thing that I found most interesting about it was that neither Windows nor Office had much of a concept of networking, far less the Internet, so they'd do things like ask you to register your copy by printing off a form and posting it to Microsoft. I was almost tempted to do exactly that and see what happened.
posted by ZsigE at 4:33 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ogod. What a cowardly thing, to skip WinME and go to Win2K. Then again, that would have lengthened the video significantly, and would have ruined continuity as well.
posted by nj_subgenius at 4:35 PM on March 2, 2011


That was pretty impressive, even on a VM. I do system testing on a proprietary operating system for a living and maintaining an upgrade path (and application support) through 20 years of versions is just madness. Our newest version just doesn't have any upgrade path to it because it would have been too much of a handicap to maintain that and try to support the new features and hardware. The fact that MS managed that feat seems a little ridiculous on their part, Apple managed to survive after breaking backwards compatibility more than once, but it is impressive.
posted by octothorpe at 4:35 PM on March 2, 2011


It's a dying art, I feel, but it is one of my favorite things about computing. You apple zealots have no idea what you're missing.

Yah, I love it too. I built myself a new desktop a few months ago. I don't know how much I believe the hype about the death of the desktop - I think that perception is the result of the common mistake of assuming consumers drive markets. Maybe cloud computing will change everything, but I would guess it's sometime off yet. The fact of the matter is, these days I can build myself a small server for less then 1000$.

And arguing with mac people, ho boy. FWIW, I frequently recommend macs to people. I am nevertheless nonplussed when people with no understanding of computers try to tell me what I need. And I don't need to spend twice as much money on hardware that isn't to my specifications. And I do enjoy building the thing from hardware to software, and I'm okay with it not behaving like fisher price for 30 year olds.
posted by Alex404 at 4:44 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am reminded of the story of the company that booted up a 10+ year old backup of a VMS machine (or something like that) to retrieve some obscure piece of data. They had to find a machine, find the tapes, make sure they could read the tapes, etc, etc. Finally they booted it.

When they got to the password prompt they all realized no one recorded the system password.

And fun times seeing Windows 1.0 there although I'm disappointed he didn't use a obscure Windows 2 variant, like Windows/286. But Windows 2 seemed pretty great at the time. I recall my unnumbered version of Excel with fond memories.
posted by GuyZero at 4:51 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


He built the machine from parts bought separately, and assembled by him in his home. . . It's a dying art, I feel, but it is one of my favorite things about computing. You apple zealots have no idea what you're missing.

Wait, wait, I know! Is it thermal grease?
posted by The Bellman at 4:57 PM on March 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Back in 1998-1999, I ran Windows 1.0 (downloaded at the library and brought home on floppies) on my Tandy 1400LT. Eventually I upgraded to Windows 2.03 for the better window management, but I mostly used it as a shell to run my DOS text games (Adventure and Zork, oh Zork) in.
I couldn't get it to work with a mouse, by the way- and back then, you had to essentially re-build the Windows kernel (WIN200.BIN or somesuch) to insert all the proper driver resources.
Oh, the fun times.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:03 PM on March 2, 2011


I managed to get a Windows ME system to run without crashing all of the time. There was a fix, but Microsoft wouldn't advertise it, and ultimately for good reason.

The fix in Windows ME was to replace the version of DOS it used. Yes, ME used DOS, a crappy version somewhere in the realm of 7.x or 8.x. Anyhow, if you replaced command.com, io.sys, a couple others that escape me, and created an autoexec.bat and config.sys, you had was essentially was Windows 98 3rd Edition. The only problem was that the old File Manager would crash on the first load every time.

The reason they didn't add in a proper version of DOS was because Microsoft knew they were moving to XP, and generally eliminating the DOS aspect out of the program at that point.

The Desktop may be dying for most, but I don't think it's dead. There are power users (ooo! pick me!) who still want some gonads in their system.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 5:05 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


IIRC DOS 7.0 could still be accessed with a boot disk in Win 98. That was the last truly usable version.
posted by Splunge at 5:09 PM on March 2, 2011


In case anyone is curious

I7 985 EE, 12 Gb RAM, ~6 Tb spread over 3 x 4 @ RAID 5 in a real case.

My dev box calculated the last digit of π before I even plugged it in. It's badassitude is the stuff of legend.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:16 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well... Mine is just for games. ::sigh::
posted by Splunge at 5:20 PM on March 2, 2011


I'm somewhat amazed that it is possible to install Windows 1.0 and Windows 7 on the same machine.

I'm more impressed the upgrade path works. You'd be hard-pressed to find too many other operating systems from the early/mid 80s that can roll forward to their latest versions in such a fashion; the ones I can think of are all mainframe/minicomputer class, very niche stuff that doesn't have to deal with anything like the complexity of hardware.
posted by rodgerd at 5:21 PM on March 2, 2011


I built myself a nice new computer yesterday and installed Windows 7 on it. The whole thing, from boxes in my living room to me installing the various little applications that I like, took something like 4 hours. I spent the whole rest of the day marveling at how ungodly easy it all was.

Not to be all uphill both ways, but the computer I'm currently typing on came in pieces (i.e. a CPU, a power supply, some RAM, etc) which I put together and installed Ubuntu on in probably under 2 hours. I'm guessing the discrepancy comes from all the time spent typing in CD keys and putting the Windows disk in Drive D:.
posted by DU at 5:29 PM on March 2, 2011


and yet still nothing is as much fun as Alternate Reality on my Atari 800XL. The colours, the colours...
posted by ciderwoman at 5:33 PM on March 2, 2011


rodgerd: "I'm somewhat amazed that it is possible to install Windows 1.0 and Windows 7 on the same machine.

I'm more impressed the upgrade path works. You'd be hard-pressed to find too many other operating systems from the early/mid 80s that can roll forward to their latest versions in such a fashion; the ones I can think of are all mainframe/minicomputer class, very niche stuff that doesn't have to deal with anything like the complexity of hardware
"

I think that's the whole point of Microsoft's upgrade policy. And it's also the problem with Windows. They grandfather in old code that should, truthfully, be excised. The OS grows and grows. But brings with it the need for constant updates. I had heard that Win 7 was going to break that cycle but I haven't installed it yet and so really don't know. I'm guessing that the 64 bit version had to have a lot of pruning done. Or so I hope.
posted by Splunge at 5:43 PM on March 2, 2011


ciderwoman: "and yet still nothing is as much fun as Alternate Reality on my Atari 800XL. The colours, the colours.."

I have yet to play a game that I enjoyed as much as Red Storm Rising on my Commodore 64. I even submitted my final save disk for the contest that they had. I was something like 330 out of 1500 entries.

As well, I sent in photographs of the win screen for Autoduel and they sent me back a poster and a congratulatory letter.

Ah the old days...

Now I have to go on Quantum Link on my 300 baud modem.
posted by Splunge at 5:51 PM on March 2, 2011


64 bit versions of Windows 7 (and presumably Vista) no longer run 16 bit code, which one of my clients found out the hard way after upgrading to new machines and trying to run CRM software from 1996.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:51 PM on March 2, 2011


For 16 bit code on Windows 7/64 however, virtualization is a saving grace, albiet with a bit of overhead. (vmware, virtualbox, dosbox, etc)
posted by samsara at 5:58 PM on March 2, 2011


I want to add this to the beginning of all of our technical SOPs:

"Once Monkey Island is verified as working, and a suitable number of imps are dispatched..."
posted by odinsdream at 6:05 PM on March 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Veesta?
posted by aerotive at 6:10 PM on March 2, 2011


It's a dying art, I feel, but it is one of my favorite things about computing. You apple zealots have no idea what you're missing.

I've built a fair number of PCs in my time, including several for personal use. Let me tell you, it's pretty damn nice to be able to open three boxes and be working literally five minutes later. Mac mini - extra RAM - monitor.
posted by odinsdream at 6:18 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing the discrepancy comes from all the time spent typing in CD keys and putting the Windows disk in Drive D:.

Eh, mostly it was from not having done it from scratch in a while. I reused a couple hard drives that were full-up of data, and just out of superstition I didn't want to install them until the OS was up and running, so I had to reopen it once and stick them in. And I didn't have a stopwatch running — 4 hours was an estimate, it might have been closer to 3.

However long it took, I had a blast. I've never put Ubuntu (or any distro) on something that wasn't near the end of its effective life and not purpose-built, so my experiences have been mixed. I love 10.04, though. It's a great OS.
posted by penduluum at 6:19 PM on March 2, 2011


And I understand the appeal of Macs, I truly do. I have an iPhone because it does exactly what I want it to do, and does it much more effectively and directly than any other phone option at this point. And for that matter, even if a better option came along, I'm locked into the ecosystem now and I'm okay with that. It's a good ecosystem. It's a beautiful little machine. I would never hold Mac use (or not wanting to build a computer themselves) against anybody.

But I've always felt like people telling me how good Macs are are like people telling me how good Esperanto is, or how much faster it is to type in Dvorak. And by that I don't mean the implication of fringe-culture. It's more like: I believe you, truly. I'm sure that if I taught myself Esperanto I'd be able to express ideas more quickly and more directly with less fucking around and mistakes and misunderstandings. But English is my idiom. It feels right to me. Choosing English is not an intuitive decision, at this point, and whether it ever really was is debatable.

When my dad was a kid, he messed around with hot rods. If I had been his age I don't know whether I would have. Probably not. I probably would have just gone out and bought a car, maybe a really nice car, and enjoyed driving it, and never really given it a second thought. But that was fun for him. This is fun for me. Although if I never have to use another jumper in my life I'll be completely content.
posted by penduluum at 6:31 PM on March 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yeah, throttling competition from your monopoly position over the years while crying "we're innovating!" was real hard work. ;)

The iPad thread is down a bit.

I kid, I kid.
posted by maxwelton at 6:34 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I built myself a nice new computer yesterday and installed Windows 7 on it. The whole thing, from boxes in my living room to me installing the various little applications that I like, took something like 4 hours. I spent the whole rest of the day marveling at how ungodly easy it all was.

So, I have this box that sits on my desk at home. It's a cookie tin with a computer inside. It's been running linux since it was first built four years ago. It had a dinky, dinky processor made by VIA, with poorly supported integrated graphics card and 512mb of RAM, and kind of sucked at life. I recently put the new version of Ubuntu on it , which helped a bit, and then decided to get a new mainboard for it. Went with an Intel Atom and 4gbs of RAM, with integrated video (it needs to fit in the cookie tin, after all, and run on less than 25W and be passively cooled). Basically, the only things retained were the hard drive and the tin.

Just as an experiment, I decided to try booting off the Ubuntu install on the hard disk that I had done with the Via board.

Things booted up like a charm, no re-install necessary. Freaking amazing. The main time spent on the install was spent with the Dremel tool, cutting a bigger space in the back of the cookie tin for the connectors to poke out of.
posted by kaibutsu at 6:40 PM on March 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


penduluum; I hear you very clearly - that makes a lot of sense. I went through several iterations and I was definitely in the Windows as Idiom way back when. Then I was in the Linux camp for awhile, with ION as a window manager, then just CLI without any graphics at all. Now it's Mac for awhile, with a heavy amount of sever-side CLI for personal work, and a shitload of Windows severs for paying the bills.

Whatever works.
posted by odinsdream at 6:41 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


When my dad was a kid, he messed around with hot rods. If I had been his age I don't know whether I would have. Probably not. I probably would have just gone out and bought a car, maybe a really nice car, and enjoyed driving it, and never really given it a second thought. But that was fun for him. This is fun for me. Although if I never have to use another jumper in my life I'll be completely content.

The car buying vs tinkering is actually very close to the main theme of the Stevenson essay, 'In the Beginning was the Command Line.'
posted by kaibutsu at 6:46 PM on March 2, 2011


I was actually thinking: yeah, try that on a mac but then realized that backward compatibility was chucked a long time ago and the chip architectures for Apple machines went through similar changes.

Still, a fascinating exercise.
posted by TNLNYC at 6:47 PM on March 2, 2011


My partner recently ditched a 4 year old G4 that was becoming increasingly unstable as support for the chipset dried up. It amazes me that a piece of hardware should be almost completely useless just four years out of the gate.
posted by kaibutsu at 6:49 PM on March 2, 2011


samsara: "For 16 bit code on Windows 7/64 however, virtualization is a saving grace, albiet with a bit of overhead. (vmware, virtualbox, dosbox, etc)"

Yeah, but you have to have working copies of the old OS to be able to do the virtualization. Which has killed my dream of kicking total ass and finally finishing the Castle of the Winds saga.
posted by Night_owl at 6:59 PM on March 2, 2011


My Apollo workstation mocks you all! GUI deployed to the desktop in 1981, bitches! Domain/OS will never die...
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:59 PM on March 2, 2011


because anyone can tell you what a headache it is to actually play your old DOS games since Windows stopped being built on a DOS kernel (circa Win2000, iirc).

It got hard with Windows NT. There's a DOS emulation mode that's actually pretty good, but the NT version didn't have any sound support. You could run a program called VDMSound to emulate a Soundblaster, and that worked quite well. In Win2K and later, the OS included a Soundblaster emulator out of the box, so you didn't need VDMSound anymore.

But to get either setup working, you had to go in and manually edit two files, config.nt and autoexec.nt.... they were a bit like the old autoexec.bat and config.sys, and you were configuring them to do pretty much the same things, but with different syntax. For games, you're generally worried about the Sound Blaster emulation and configuring RAM properly. DOS was limited to 640K for programs, but could run code in the upper 384K. You could both load device drivers and such up there, freeing lower RAM, and also set up a bank of paged RAM, using the 386's memory management unit, that would allow DOS programs to see almost all of the RAM in your computer, 64K at a time.

So you're still configuring device drivers and EMM for DOS programs, even under the much advanced NT lineage, and you're doing it very much like you did with DOS, by editing text files. If you're an old hand with DOS, it's not that difficult, but if you didn't grow up with that stuff, I think it would be pretty damn impenetrable.

Compounding this was the fact that AMD silently took out support for EMM on their Athlons, without really telling anyone. EMM is required for many of the good DOS games. There were a couple of later standards, VCPI and DPMI, that would allow DOS programs to switch into 32-bit mode and see all your RAM, and those work fine on AMD chips, but there are lots of good 16-bit games that require EMM to run. That means they flat will not work on a 32-bit AMD chip, unless you actually put them into 16-bit mode by booting DOS directly. Intel chips worked flawlessly, and if you liked to run old games, Intel was a much better purchase. But this wasn't commonly known, and a lot of people (like me) got bitten by that silent removal of backward compatibility.

Then AMD _really_ fucked us over with the transition to 64-bit -- they completely removed all support for 16-bit code. I'm still very angry at them about this, because I still have old games I like to play from the early 90s. (1830 is probably the main one -- a truly amazing AI opponent in a completely deterministic, non-random game. It's one of the best computer opponents I've ever played.) And Intel, for the first time, followed their lead and also abandoned backward compatibility in 64-bit mode.

As strange as it sounds, this is the primary reason I won't buy AMD chips these days. 1830 is an absolute beast for all the CPU grunt it can get; it does run under DOSBox, but you really need about a 750Mhz chip to make the late game turns on Advanced difficulty run at reasonable speed. And without 16-bit support in 64-bit mode, you're forced to use DOSBox, which even with the advent of the dynamic code recompiler, couldn't get much past 100Mhz until recently. So I had to either play against a much weaker computer opponent, or wait a hell of a long time for turns.

Fortunately, Intel has kinda-sorta ridden to my rescue again... the new Sandy Bridge K chips overclock very nicely to 4.4Ghz on stock voltages, and they are just BEASTS at running DOSBox. I haven't spent a lot of time with 1830 since I bought the chip (on a downswing with it... some years I'm into it, other years not so much), but it seems to run pretty well at an emulated 400Mhz, which isn't quite as fast as I'd like, but it's way, WAY better than 100.

I'm still really pretty angry with AMD for screwing us retrogamers over that way. I would very seriously like to take a rolled-up newspaper and whack the absolute crap out of the manager(s) that made those two decisions, to first abandon EMM, and then 16-bit entirely. I don't actually want to HURT the guy(s), but expressing extreme displeasure physically would be most, most gratifying. Lots of thwacking, shouting, and general bedlam strikes me as extremely appropriate.

I want to throw a four GIGAHERTZ processor at those old CPU-intensive games, without having to run in 32-bit mode, but instead, I'm forced to choose between lots of RAM and high speed for 16-bit. Pisses me off in a major way. I wish Intel hadn't followed their lead. And because of that, I personally don't buy AMD chips anymore. I don't harp on the issue, and tell others that they're okay chips, but I won't personally buy them, because I have no freaking idea whether or not my old code will still run.

I realize I'm a tiny minority, probably not worth catering to, but I really, really appreciate the extreme lengths that Intel and Microsoft went to, in order to maintain backward compatibility. It made their jobs at least an order of magnitude more complex, and I love them for it. I have many criticisms of Microsoft, but that's one thing they've been just super about.
posted by Malor at 7:19 PM on March 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


23 years of being an embarrassment to computing. Here's a nickel kid...
posted by stp123 at 7:27 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


And arguing with mac people, ho boy. FWIW, I frequently recommend macs to people. I am nevertheless nonplussed when people with no understanding of computers try to tell me what I need. And I don't need to spend twice as much money on hardware that isn't to my specifications. And I do enjoy building the thing from hardware to software, and I'm okay with it not behaving like fisher price for 30 year olds.

Wow! It's like seeing an Japanese Holdout stumbling out of the brush in 1972!
posted by Scoo at 7:34 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Check this out vbscript uses many of the same error codes as Altair Basic. That's right. Vbscript still uses many of the same error codes from Microsoft's first product, Altair Basic written by Bill Gates and Paul Allen in 1975.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:34 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


But I've always felt like people telling me how good Macs are are like people telling me how good Esperanto is, or how much faster it is to type in Dvorak. And by that I don't mean the implication of fringe-culture.

Then perhaps your should use non fringe-culture metaphors.
posted by Scoo at 7:38 PM on March 2, 2011


Pshaw!
posted by Splunge at 7:47 PM on March 2, 2011


Then perhaps your should use non fringe-culture metaphors.

If you (or anybody else) were offended by what I wrote, I sincerely apologize. I thought pointing it out and disavowing it would be enough.
posted by penduluum at 8:01 PM on March 2, 2011


Wow, those installers brought back tons of memories. Remember that nice, fresh feeling that a new install of Win9x had? Just like a new car.

Oh, who am I kidding, it's all because of the canyon.mid nostalgia.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 8:33 PM on March 2, 2011


You apple zealots have no idea what you're missing.

Reseating video cards? Putting hard drives in the freezer? Getting your hands scratched up from the undersides of motherboards? Sharp edges in cases? Finding a floppy disk drive for the sole purpose of hitting F8 to "load SCSI drivers?" Slipstreaming service packs? Booting up to 640x480 screen and trying to download video drivers through the pixelation? Having to download drivers at all? Updating Direct X?

Fuuuuuuuck that, dude. I'd bet money that I've put together more computers than you. But I have an iMac now, and I don't even know what it looks like inside of it. And I've never been happier.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:37 PM on March 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


Yes sir.

It pains me to say it, but a box of components fresh from NewEgg, some cable ties, installation media and I am a happy camper on a Friday night.

I love building my own machines. I love it.

Your iMac can go blow.
posted by kbanas at 8:46 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Finding a floppy disk drive for the sole purpose of hitting F8 to "load SCSI drivers?"

I had to do this a couple of months ago and it just seemed hilarious. It didn't work, of course. I had to slipstream the storage drivers onto a new CD.
posted by grouse at 8:48 PM on March 2, 2011


Hell, in the new version of OS X (Lion) there's not even a visual signifier that an application is open. It's all ' behind the scenes' - so you don't have to know what your computer looks like on the inside, or even think about what it's doing - it's all behind the veil. If that works for you, great.

But I don't see how it works for an enthusiast.
posted by kbanas at 8:54 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can you do this while running the OS from the filesystem?

Some temporary files are installed when executing the installation from inside Windows and then the system restarts into the actual upgrade or installation.
posted by zephyr_words at 9:02 PM on March 2, 2011


kbanas: a box of components fresh from NewEgg, some cable ties, installation media and I am a happy camper on a Friday night.

Yeah, I really enjoy shopping for components and building them myself. I get exactly the computer I want, and nowadays, the whole process involves neither jumpers nor IRQs. I don't have to settle for substandard anything, and can replace any piece I want at any time.

Yes, it takes some time to do the build; I can't just plug it in and turn it on. Some assembly required. But it's not frustrating, or difficult. It just takes an hour or two, another thirty minutes or so to install the OS, and another hour or so installing drivers. That's a pretty small investment, compared to the amount of time I'll be using the machine; a half-day of effort to ensure that the machine will do exactly what I want for years strikes me as an excellent way to spend time. And, of course, I typically end up with a faster machine, for less money, with top-shelf parts.

It used to be really involved and difficult... I remember having to do low-level formats with an MFM controller, by using an assembler to jump into the card's BIOS. And you had to know things like the optimum interleave for the sectors on the drive, that sort of thing. You had to know IRQs and port addresses to get your cards all working, and it was quite common to have to take the computer apart again if you did something wrong.

But all that pain has been abstracted and abstracted and abstracted away, and now it's mostly just a matter of choosing parts, physically assembling them, and installing your chosen OS. On Windows, you usually have to install a bunch of drivers, which is kind of a pain, but on the free OSes, about the only hassle is telling it to install the closed-source NVidia driver, which they can't legally ship on the CD.

Now, I own a Macbook Pro; I do see the value in a well-engineered portable solution. And I owned a 2006 Mac Pro, until it died. (probably my fault). But as nice as that version of the Mac Pro was, the modern ones aren't too hot, and I feel I get more useful value out of building my own machines. They're faster, cheaper, and give me a LOT less pain for running Windows applications. The time I'd save by buying a MP would be eaten up within a week or two, as I wrestled with the machine to run Windows programs the way I wanted. And I'd keep wrestling for the lifetime of the machine, probably. I'd rather just budget a half-day at the start, and get a faster, less troublesome machine for a lot less money.

I run OS X stuff on the laptop, Windows stuff on my desktop, and almost never the twain do meet.
posted by Malor at 9:14 PM on March 2, 2011


Then AMD _really_ fucked us over with the transition to 64-bit -- they completely removed all support for 16-bit code.

you know what really gets me? - i bought a gateway vista 64 machine a couple of years ago and discovered that neither the operating system or the onboard sound card has a midi synth - and i'm a musician

yeah, i can run reaper and reason and all that vst stuff and use midi equipment, but i can't doubleclick on a lousy midi file and play it through the sound card - i've got to go to a DAW, load up the midi file, assign soft synths to each part ... or just say to hell with it and walk over to my xp computer - (or one of the emulated computers i have on vista, which emulate soundblasters)

it's amazing to me that they eliminated this very basic functionality that had been in previous computers
posted by pyramid termite at 9:15 PM on March 2, 2011


Not to be all uphill both ways, but the computer I'm currently typing on came in pieces (i.e. a CPU, a power supply, some RAM, etc) which I put together and installed Ubuntu on in probably under 2 hours. I'm guessing the discrepancy comes from all the time spent typing in CD keys and putting the Windows disk in Drive D:.

I put my new Win 7 box together in about the same time if not less. I'd say factors for time include how quickly you work, how many phone calls you took, etc. I doubt many of us are on the clock timing it for some bizarre reason.

Got to assemble a box exactly to my own spec and it's extremely easy, no more thermal grease even.

Win 7 off of USB eliminates Drive D. SSD performance is spectacular. All very easy.

As for the death of the desktop, I don't believe it for a moment. I'm afraid my netbook is a poor substitute for the work I do and an iPad even moreso. I much prefer design work and admin work with a 30" monitor on a box that is extremely fast and plays more than dinky games. That said, love the netbook to for what it does. Tablets aren't bad but I personally find their cost to be outrageous.
posted by juiceCake at 9:16 PM on March 2, 2011


I recently installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 from a retail DVD, and the actual full installation took less time than the subsequent downloading/installation of all the security patches and updates.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:19 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


kbanas: Hell, in the new version of OS X (Lion) there's not even a visual signifier that an application is open. It's all ' behind the scenes' - so you don't have to know what your computer looks like on the inside, or even think about what it's doing - it's all behind the veil. If that works for you, great.

That's actually exactly the kind of thing that bugs me about OSX. Users need to know what programs are open. They need it for performance, for security, and for privacy. So hiding that information is bad, as is encouraging users not to think about it... and what is gained? Maybe it looks a little better?

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Apple does a lot of things very well (their security model and program installation/removal is strictly superior to Windows), but they don't understand usability from the perspective of anyone trying to use their computer for actual work. The one-button mouse proved that.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:19 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Got to assemble a box exactly to my own spec

i7-930, 6GB Corsair 7-8-7-20 DDR3 1600, 128GB Mushkin Io SSD, 3x 1TB Samsungs, NZXT Tempest Evo, Radeon 5850, Blu-ray/DVDRW combo drive, DVD burner 2nd optical, Scythe fan controller, Hyper 212 heatsink, corsair 750hx, gigabyte ga-x58a-ud3r, and blue cold cathode lights. Attached to a 40" Toshiba LCD TV. All to my personal spec. 1 year old, faster than any of my friend's weakling Apple kiddy toys. It definitely will play Crysis.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:23 PM on March 2, 2011


That's actually exactly the kind of thing that bugs me about OSX. Users need to know what programs are open. They need it for performance, for security, and for privacy. So hiding that information is bad, as is encouraging users not to think about it... and what is gained? Maybe it looks a little better?

You can always check the box to turn it back on, you know.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:37 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


My partner recently ditched a 4 year old G4 that was becoming increasingly unstable as support for the chipset dried up. It amazes me that a piece of hardware should be almost completely useless just four years out of the gate.

Going to call BS on this. Apart from the fact that the very very last G4s were made more than 4 years ago, I'd go out on a limb and call the G4 one of the best-supported consumer hardware platforms in history.

I bought a 450 MHz G4 tower in 1999. It shipped with Mac OS 9.1, and currently runs OS X 10.5 Leopard, which it is *more* than capable of supporting at a reasonable speed. The core OS actually got faster and more stable as time went on. (It also doesn't hurt that this particular machine inexplicably supported up to 2GB of RAM all the way back in 1999 -- there are PCs sold today that still don't do that). I completed a rather large video editing project on it in 2005 with Final Cut Pro, which it ran without breaking a sweat (FCP is a surprisingly lightweight application).

By comparison, the lifespan for a PC in 1999 was about 2.5 years. Yeah, things started to lag for the G4 line once Apple started running into the limitations of the PowerPC architecture (or IBM/Moto stopped caring, depending on who you ask). I have a G4 PowerBook from 2005 that I'll probably be demoting or retiring this year -- I'm sad that Snow Leopard wasn't supported, because Leopard is still pretty usable on it, although apps are getting hungrier and hungrier these days. Photoshop runs fine on it; lightroom does not.

Microsoft deserve some kind of medal for preserving binary compatibility across 20+ years (They also deserve to be put in the stockade for compromising their security model by doing so, but I digress). Similarly, Apple deserve commendation for transitioning the Macintosh product line through 3 major CPU architecture changes without causing too much pain and suffering. That all said, thanks to the G4's unexpectedly-long lifespan, their programmers made sure that the OS ran comfortably within the chip's limitations for over a decade. You sure as hell can't put Vista on a 450MHz Pentium II.
posted by schmod at 9:37 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


And seeing that Windows 95 "Windows is starting up for the first time" splash screen made me feel like I was 12 years old all over again.

For me, Windows is like New Jersey in a lot of ways (Bear with me on this). Yeah, it sucks on a great many levels, and is the metaphorical whipping post for everyone on the outside -- you'd have to pay me a lot of money to go back. But....it's home. I spent my childhood there, and it's permanently etched into my memories, and is in many ways responsible for my development into who I am today. When I go back to visit, I notice that it hasn't really changed, and is unlikely to ever going to do so, and also notice the occasional reminders of the small things that made it great.

So, there you have it. I just got misty-eyed about Windows 95. I should probably go to bed now...
posted by schmod at 9:43 PM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Reseating video cards? Putting hard drives in the freezer? Getting your hands scratched up from the undersides of motherboards? Sharp edges in cases? Finding a floppy disk drive for the sole purpose of hitting F8 to "load SCSI drivers?" Slipstreaming service packs? Booting up to 640x480 screen and trying to download video drivers through the pixelation? Having to download drivers at all? Updating Direct X?

Fuuuuuuuck that, dude. I'd bet money that I've put together more computers than you. But I have an iMac now, and I don't even know what it looks like inside of it. And I've never been happier


Yep. All those things you mentioned, I still have fun doing. There's something fun about getting your hands dirty, when you want to. I put together a very involved media center PC with a tower I built myself with very specific parts, a custom-kernel Ubuntu install, a built-from-source to my specs copy of xbmc and some off the shelf RAID stuff for storage, and it was a blast and works beautifully, and I enjoyed myself immensely putting it together.

It works so beautifully that a friend paid me to put together something that works that way for them. So I got a MacMini and ran the default xbmc installer. Took about 6 minutes. Does the exact same thing, just as well.

And eventually I'll be recompiling binaries to maintain library compatibility so I can watch Star Trek after an ill-advised dist-upgrade, and they'll just press play after Apple Software Update finishes and never have to worry.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:49 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


afx237vi wrote: "Yeah the Windows 95 screen gave me a nice twang of nostalgia, which was soon replaced by a shudder after seeing the Vista screen"

I could swear that was OSR2, not the original Windows 95. The original version of Windows 95 had arrows at the bottom of the starting screen rather than the more abstract colors.

The Bellman wrote: "Wait, wait, I know! Is it thermal grease?"

Youngin' ;)
posted by wierdo at 9:51 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The most amazing thing about that is that the guy can make it through so many hellishly annoying, godawful Windows upgrades, but can't manage to change the battery in his smoke detector.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:56 PM on March 2, 2011


Threeway Handshake: "You apple zealots have no idea what you're missing.

Reseating video cards? Putting hard drives in the freezer? Getting your hands scratched up from the undersides of motherboards? Sharp edges in cases? Finding a floppy disk drive for the sole purpose of hitting F8 to "load SCSI drivers?" Slipstreaming service packs? Booting up to 640x480 screen and trying to download video drivers through the pixelation? Having to download drivers at all? Updating Direct X?
"

You forgot loading drivers into memory by hand and using stuff like:

DEVICE=C:\Windows\HIMEM.SYS
DOS=HIGH,UMB
DEVICE=C:\Windows\EMM386.EXE NOEMS

Loading chunks of drivers into memory like playing command line Tetris! Then having 621 kb of free memory for a game and bragging about it to your friends.

I purely LOVED that stuff.
posted by Splunge at 10:01 PM on March 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


Count me in the "I bought a Mac precisely because I knew what I'd be missing out on" camp. There's a difference between enjoying tinkering and being a dick who endlessly derides anyone who dares bother with an automatic transmission instead of building their car from scratch.

Also, anyone who complains about the "one-button mouse" on Macs should just follow it up with complaints about the black-and-white 9" screens they all have, in order to make it obvious that they are deliberately being sarcastic instead of just openly vocal about their ignorance.

Incidentally, very cool idea for the video. Microsoft deserves kudos for backward compatibility, though on the other hand it's pretty easy to wonder whether it's been worth preserving (nearly all of) the past at the expense of the present and future.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:02 PM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Terminate and Stay Resident for life, baybee! Repesent!
posted by Splunge at 10:06 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's actually exactly the kind of thing that bugs me about OSX. Users need to know what programs are open. They need it for performance, for security, and for privacy. So hiding that information is bad, as is encouraging users not to think about it... and what is gained? Maybe it looks a little better?

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Apple does a lot of things very well (their security model and program installation/removal is strictly superior to Windows), but they don't understand usability from the perspective of anyone trying to use their computer for actual work. The one-button mouse proved that.


I'd normally agree with you, except that Android actually manages to execute this exact concept quite well. If you're loading (or swapping) your programs from a fast SSD, a lot of the normal contraints don't apply. I'm not quite seeing the security concerns, and do agree that this concept would be very tricky (but not impossible) to implement successfully, and may make us slightly rethink the role of desktop applications (which I'd argue is somewhat overdue). If anybody's up to the task to make this change, it's Apple.

I see apple's logic here -- people don't use their computers to run programs. They use them to complete tasks. The idea of the "Dock" will finally make sense.
posted by schmod at 10:19 PM on March 2, 2011


1830 is an absolute beast for all the CPU grunt it can get; it does run under DOSBox, but you really need about a 750Mhz chip to make the late game turns on Advanced difficulty run at reasonable speed.
Hmm, my first thought was to try using FreeDOS + VirtualBox, but I just tested 1830 inside my virtual FreeDOS installation, and it runs quite slowly. I'm guessing the 16-bit emulation in VirtualBox just isn't optimized that well.
posted by jcreigh at 10:21 PM on March 2, 2011


schmod: I'd normally agree with you, except that Android actually manages to execute this exact concept quite well. If you're loading (or swapping) your programs from a fast SSD, a lot of the normal contraints don't apply. I'm not quite seeing the security concerns, and do agree that this concept would be very tricky (but not impossible) to implement successfully, and may make us slightly rethink the role of desktop applications (which I'd argue is somewhat overdue). If anybody's up to the task to make this change, it's Apple.

All of those constraints come back into play the second you do anything actually taxing. You don't see it on Android because most phones are a different sort of platform. As far as security concerns go, the biggest one I can think of is how easy that makes it for the user to leave things running without realizing it. For instance, I can totally imagine a user loading up their banking site, and then leaving the browser window open at a cybercafe because they clicked the window away and didn't realize it wasn't actually closed.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:30 PM on March 2, 2011


DoctorFedora: Also, anyone who complains about the "one-button mouse" on Macs should just follow it up with complaints about the black-and-white 9" screens they all have, in order to make it obvious that they are deliberately being sarcastic instead of just openly vocal about their ignorance.

Alternately, maybe I'm just bitter because I have to use one of those old Macs at work. It's slow, it won't run anything resembling recent software, and the UI does its absolute best to throw itself in your way. On a positive note, at least it lets you attach a less horrible mouse to it (it's not only that it was one-button - did they get it free out of a cereal box? The quality is laughable for what was a $4000+ computer at the time.)

On a positive note, it's 8 years old and it still works, so it does have that going for it.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:48 PM on March 2, 2011


Mitrovarr: "As far as security concerns go, the biggest one I can think of is how easy that makes it for the user to leave things running without realizing it. For instance, I can totally imagine a user loading up their banking site, and then leaving the browser window open at a cybercafe because they clicked the window away and didn't realize it wasn't actually closed"

Wait, what? How is that any different from the way things exist as they are? What do you mean by "click the window away," and how is any definition of that different from how things are in any other significant OS? Not snarking, just genuinely curious what you meant by this, because I can't for the life of me understand what you mean.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:51 PM on March 2, 2011


it pains me to say it, but a box of components fresh from NewEgg, some cable ties, installation media and I am a happy camper on a Friday night. I love it.

"Com...po...nents"? A-assembly? Wait...you can't possibly mean...*gasp* you OPEN the magic box!? NOOO! You can't do that! That will let the Apple spirit escape! The Jobs will be angry and smite us with thunder and plague and lawyers!

I must now flee to huddle in my cave and sacrifice sheckles to appease the the Jobs!
posted by happyroach at 10:55 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


DoctorFedora: Wait, what? How is that any different from the way things exist as they are? What do you mean by "click the window away," and how is any definition of that different from how things are in any other significant OS? Not snarking, just genuinely curious what you meant by this, because I can't for the life of me understand what you mean.

It was mentioned above that the new Apple OS doesn't give a visual indicator as to whether an app is open or not. Thus, one could minimize it, and not realize it's still running.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:00 PM on March 2, 2011


jcreigh: Hmm, my first thought was to try using FreeDOS + VirtualBox, but I just tested 1830 inside my virtual FreeDOS installation, and it runs quite slowly. I'm guessing the 16-bit emulation in VirtualBox just isn't optimized that well.

Yeah, I thought of that too, but I don't think a 64-bit chip can run 16-bit code natively even in a virtualized 32-bit guest. I don't know what's actually going on under the hood, but the performance was terrible. DOSBox is much better.
posted by Malor at 11:04 PM on March 2, 2011


(oh, and I was testing with VMWare. I just don't think the hardware can do it, period, even through the extra level of indirection.)
posted by Malor at 11:06 PM on March 2, 2011


This inspired me to pull out my old Doom2 CD and install it on Win 7x64.
Not compatible!
posted by clarknova at 11:21 PM on March 2, 2011


They have all kinds of programs, like zdoom, to let you run Doom on modern platforms. Most of them give it all kinds of badly needed updates as well.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:22 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Try using the Compatibility Mode. I've had a fair amount of luck running all sorts of old stuff that way.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:25 PM on March 2, 2011


Even a fairly slow machine ought to run that fine through DOSBox -- I think Doom ran pretty well on a 33Mhz 486, didn't it? If you use the 'dynamic' core emulation, I think most CPUs in the last five years or so should be quick enough.

I barely remember the technical details on Doom, but if it's 16-bit code, I don't think compatibility mode will help much. It'll probably RUN if you fire it up through Virtual XP Mode, but it will be glacially slow.
posted by Malor at 11:29 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mitrovarr: "DoctorFedora: Wait, what? How is that any different from the way things exist as they are? What do you mean by "click the window away," and how is any definition of that different from how things are in any other significant OS? Not snarking, just genuinely curious what you meant by this, because I can't for the life of me understand what you mean.

It was mentioned above that the new Apple OS doesn't give a visual indicator as to whether an app is open or not. Thus, one could minimize it, and not realize it's still running
"

I'm not sure which Mac OS you've been using, but it's pretty hard not to notice a window minimizing in Mac OS. There's a fairly flashy animation, and then the window itself appears in the dock as an additional icon. If anything, it's harder to not notice it on Mac OS than on Windows. Even as-is. The main thing about the lack of a "running program" indicator in the dock in Lion is that in Mac OS, a program can be running but not have any windows open. I guess my point is that it sounds to me (as a nerdy Mac OS user of several years) like you're basically inventing an issue that's essentially divorced from the way the actual OS works.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:35 PM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah, well, without actually trying Lion, it's hard for me to speculate on how that particular feature will work. Still, I think it sounds like a waste of resources.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:39 PM on March 2, 2011


I'd agree with you if 90% of computer users came anywhere near taxing their hardware's resources. I suspect it'll be along the lines of how iOS does it: stuff that gets "closed" just gets stored in memory as-is in case it gets reopened again before that chunk of memory is needed by something that's actively running.
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:45 PM on March 2, 2011


DoctorFedora: I'd agree with you if 90% of computer users came anywhere near taxing their hardware's resources.

Yeah, but that's the issue. I'm in the 10%. I don't know, though - if the system kicks things out of memory intelligently, it could work.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:52 PM on March 2, 2011


That made me miss Alleycat. And Cosmo's Cosmic Adventures.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:04 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


You apple zealots have no idea what you're missing.

I have scars on my index fingers and thumbs from building cheap PCs.

I don't miss it much.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:45 AM on March 3, 2011


Also, anyone who complains about the "one-button mouse" on Macs should just follow it up with complaints about the black-and-white 9" screens they all have, in order to make it obvious that they are deliberately being sarcastic instead of just openly vocal about their ignorance.

No, we're still locked into the legacy of the stupid one-button mouse all these years later. For example, I use Photoshop a lot, and to this day it still drags you down into the one-button mouse interface.
(Instead of right clicking or middle-clicking, you need to hold down a keyboard key with your other hand while you click with the one mouse button.)

I assume the reason Photoshop never updated their UI is that such a fundamental change would cause pain more obviously for more users than not updating, but it sucks to be stuck with it when I have a wacom pen-screen system that would be a lot more versatile if I didn't need the other hand always on a keyboard to kludge the effect of having more than one mouse button. When I actually do have more than one mouse/pen button.

Actually, I realise I've given up on photoshop and not even looked for settings options for this recently - so maybe there is some hack or setting these days that allows you to update the interface, even though the one-button is still its default? That would be cool.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:58 AM on March 3, 2011


schmod: "You sure as hell can't put Vista on a 450MHz Pentium II."

Probably not, but you can run Windows 7 on the 600MHz Pentium III that came out in 1999 like your G4 tower.

Also, I assume people realise you can buy boxed PCs too right? You don't have to build from scratch. A few weeks ago my 65 year old mum decided it was time for a new computer (co-incidentally I think she had a Pentium III, it might have been an early P4). She ordered a $500 box off the net that has basically the same specs as my gaming PC, it showed up at her house a few days later, she plugged it in and was done.
posted by markr at 2:00 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, harlequin, if true that sucks mightily. Of course, it mostly affirms negative impressions of Adobe, rather than Apple, but to be frank I can't imagine too many people expect much better of Adobe nowadays anyway.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:40 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I LOVED Microsoft Bob. I just used it as a game. Also I was 10. But it was awesome. The house decorating was really fun, you got to pick everything. I didn't even realize it ran programs.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:13 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The video reminded me a lot of the first PC that Hogshead Publishing bought in late 1994--at the time a state-of-the-art Dell Pentium 90 running Windows for Workgroups 3.11. It was our high-end machine, used for book layout and Photoshop work. It was so amazingly fast it felt like a lump of the future on my desk.

When I sold the company in early 2003 we still had it. Then running XP (and having been through 95 and 98 in the intervening years), it had become the office accounts and occasional editing machine, mostly running Quickbooks and WordPro. But it ran them at acceptable speed, booted like a sweetheart and was still stable as a rock.

The joke, of course, is that it was one of the Pentiums with the floating-point error, and we'd never bothered to fix it.
posted by Hogshead at 3:22 AM on March 3, 2011


I assume the reason Photoshop never updated their UI is that such a fundamental change would cause pain more obviously for more users than not updating...

No, it's that Adobe is simply actively hostile to users. They often take years and years past everyone else in taking advantage of new paradigms and technologies, and I have no doubt they'll continue to lag behind any one else on the planet when it comes to updating their software.

Flash alone should have caused users to abandon them in droves years ago. It'll be a good day for computer users of all platforms when they finally die off.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 4:25 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your iMac can go blow.

Sorry, it can't, because it neither needs nor has 7 fans.
posted by eriko at 4:45 AM on March 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Hell, in the new version of OS X (Lion) there's not even a visual signifier that an application is open. [...] I don't see how it works for an enthusiast.

What? You've never heard of ps -x?
posted by paulg at 5:25 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


pyramid termite: i bought a gateway vista 64 machine a couple of years ago and discovered that neither the operating system or the onboard sound card has a midi synth - and i'm a musician

Yeah, in Vista they pretty much tore out the entire old sound system and replaced it with a much simpler setup. It still does multichannel, but almost nothing else. Soundcards in Vista+ are very stupid devices with almost no intelligence. I suspect, though I don't know, that this was explicitly done to kill off Creative, because they just suck so, so horribly. If that company HQ were to catch on fire, my prescription would be gasoline.

In Win7, Microsoft seems to have added a software MIDI synth back in -- I can see it mentioned in the audio properties, with a credit to Roland Sound Canvas. I haven't had any trouble running MIDI games under DOSBox, and it's configured to just pass MIDI through to the OS, so there's definitely a synthesizer available.

My old .MID files do launch and kinda play in both Windows Media Player and Media Player Classic, but they're all messed up. I think the files I have were in a somewhat different format that Winjammer used, and the files are all screwy on timing and missing many notes. And the patch bank is pretty tinny.

Creative cards used to come with excellent MIDI capabilities. While I despise that company utterly, you might still be able to get a good synth that way, even under Vista. You'd want to confirm that it would work before purchasing, of course.

I have some very large freebie patch banks for the X-Fi that sound incredible. Don't have the X-Fi anymore, though, so they just sit there. The last time I was messing with Creative patchsets, pretty much the entire MIDI stack blew up under 64-bit mode... those cards use main RAM for storage, and DMA the sound data as they need it, and in 64-bit mode, that totally didn't work. But they might have fixed it by now in their PCIe cards.

If you want copies, drop me a MeMail, and I'll see if I can remember which ones were good.
posted by Malor at 5:47 AM on March 3, 2011


Sharp edges in cases?

A thousand times yes
posted by fusinski at 6:41 AM on March 3, 2011


Flash alone should have caused users to abandon them in droves years ago. It'll be a good day for computer users of all platforms when they finally die off.

"Years ago," Flash wasn't an Adobe product.
posted by schmod at 6:46 AM on March 3, 2011


I LOVED Microsoft Bob. I just used it as a game. Also I was 10. But it was awesome. The house decorating was really fun, you got to pick everything. I didn't even realize it ran programs.

Back in early the 2000's I embarked on a quest to track down an elusive copy of Microsoft BOB for Dummies just for its absurdness value. It wasn't until 5 years later I found out how to contact the author himself, who mentioned it never actually went to print. Ah oh well...

But yea, BOB was way ahead of its time...now that everyone has computers (not just us nerds) it should really make a comback as a real OS UI. Google Chrome OS would come nowhere near to its sheer awesomeness.
posted by samsara at 6:50 AM on March 3, 2011


so you don't have to know what your computer looks like on the inside, or even think about what it's doing - it's all behind the veil. If that works for you, great.

The "veil," in this case, being a GUI on top of what is essentially FreeBSD.

Open a terminal
Type "ps ax"

You don't even get this on Windows.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:13 AM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wikipedia says that you can toggle whether or not applications are shown to be open in Lion.

I still don't know what to think of it. It looks like they're mostly just trying to make the UI more iPad-like. And they're dropping support for Front Row and Rosetta. And the JRE is no longer pre-installed. But I like that you can install OS updates without closing your applications, although I imagine that might not actually work as well as they say.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:22 AM on March 3, 2011


> My partner recently ditched a 4 year old G4 that was becoming increasingly unstable as support for the chipset dried up. It amazes me that a piece of hardware should be almost completely useless just four years out of the gate.

I only recently retired a ten year old Mac Cube which I'd been using as an office development server. And I have a six year old iBook running as a fileserver at home. The Cube was working fine, running 24/7 uninterrupted for months at a time until I finally announced its retirement and powered it down. It still runs fine when I occasionally boot it up to check something.

By contrast, on my desk right now is my second top of the line laptop in four years. I will be upgrading the hardware when I can, and will probably buy another one next year. We are continually more demanding of the computers we interact with directly. For example, the next version of OS X will have built-in journaling and versioning; everything you do, ever, will be archivable and restorable. Setting aside the potential Orwellian aspects, that can be incredibly demanding on the system, the hard drives, especially to do this while continuing to stream Flash, play music, and run all those other processes you expect to run uninterrupted. A four year old computer can't do that and provide you the smoothness of interaction and ease of use you expect, regardless of whether we're talking Windows or Mac.

Computer hardware has a natural use life cycle which is somewhat shorter than its natural operating life expectancy. That Mac Cube had become inconveniently slow for production work compared to what's available now. It didn't literally slow down; the rest of the world, and my expectations, had sped up. By contrast, the iBook, as long as all I expect of it is to push files on demand, will probably be useful for at least as long. But I'm not going to kill an evening with it watching YouTube videos.
posted by ardgedee at 7:35 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "veil," in this case, being a GUI on top of what is essentially FreeBSD.

Yes, but I counter with angry outdated misconception!
posted by grubi at 7:37 AM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have an iMac from 2002 that still runs, although I think there's something in the fan. Those iMacs were beautiful. Piece of art. Movable monitor was a pleasure.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:48 AM on March 3, 2011


You don't even get this on Windows

On Windows, getting a full process list is as simple as right-clicking on the task bar, and selecting Task Manager. Or opening a command-line and typing tasklist.
posted by grouse at 7:55 AM on March 3, 2011


Is there a formal corollary of Godwin's Law stating that as any online discussion relating to technology grows larger, the probability of a comparison involving Macs or PCs approaches 1? Because there totally should be.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 7:59 AM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Malor wrote: "Yeah, I thought of that too, but I don't think a 64-bit chip can run 16-bit code natively even in a virtualized 32-bit guest. I don't know what's actually going on under the hood, but the performance was terrible. DOSBox is much better."

It should be able to run 16 bit code just fine if you aren't running an x86_64 OS. Back to the days of rebooting to play games, I guess. ;)
posted by wierdo at 8:02 AM on March 3, 2011


I don't think a 64-bit chip can run 16-bit code natively even in a virtualized 32-bit guest. I don't know what's actually going on under the hood, but the performance was terrible. DOSBox is much better.

It's been a long time since I was conversant in the specifics - but gist of the problem arises from the fact that modern processors are no longer purely x86. There exists a translation layer inside the processor that takes the x86 instructions and translates them, does the work, and then recompiles the result.

This can be much faster than trying to do the work natively, but places limitations on how you can address certain problems.

Anyway, the 16 bit instruction table, as these things do, wasted a bunch of space (for various reasons, certain instruction addresses make more sense than others for a given instruction). And well, they weren't used much so maintaining a translation layer for them wasn't very useful. So they got removed or at least not optimized for.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:24 AM on March 3, 2011


i7-930, 6GB Corsair 7-8-7-20 DDR3 1600, 128GB Mushkin Io SSD, 3x 1TB Samsungs, NZXT Tempest Evo, Radeon 5850, Blu-ray/DVDRW combo drive, DVD burner 2nd optical, Scythe fan controller, Hyper 212 heatsink, corsair 750hx, gigabyte ga-x58a-ud3r, and blue cold cathode lights. Attached to a 40" Toshiba LCD TV. All to my personal spec. 1 year old, faster than any of my friend's weakling Apple kiddy toys. It definitely will play Crysis.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:23 PM on March 2 [+] [!]


2.26 Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM, 160GB HD, DVD burner, Native Instruments Audio 2 USB sound card, 24" LCD I picked up for $120, uhh... a couple mice... some USB hard drives... all to my personal spec of "I only have $500 and need a computer yesterday 'cause my laptop just asploded." I think it's a 2009 model.

But this "weakling Apple kiddy toy" is my work machine, and it does me just fine for video editing, audio editing, Photoshop, After Effects, and Traktor. Not sure how it is on games.

So keep a civil tongue. Not all of us can drop a few grand on VeblenTronics to eke out some more FPS on this year's hot shooter.
posted by jtron at 9:21 AM on March 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wish it were possible for my 64-bit Windows 7 to run a virtual 32-bit Windows 7 under the same license.
posted by Night_owl at 9:36 AM on March 3, 2011


I wish it were possible for my 64-bit Windows 7 to run a virtual 32-bit Windows 7 under the same license.

Hm. No, but it does allow you to run a virtual 32-bit XP on the same license.
posted by schmod at 9:52 AM on March 3, 2011


Going to call BS on this. Apart from the fact that the very very last G4s were made more than 4 years ago, I'd go out on a limb and call the G4 one of the best-supported consumer hardware platforms in history.

Maybe it was at one time, but the support for PPC-architecture is drying up like you wouldn't believe. OSX had slowed to a crawl, and Flash has stopped supporting the PPC, which means that watching YouTube isn't even possible. I can see using the machine as a file server or whatnot, if we had a need for a file server, but we don't really... We bent over backwards trying to keep this machine in service, because we don't like buying new hardware if we can get existing stuff to function at a reasonable level.

You sure as hell can't put Vista on a 450MHz Pentium II.

Perhaps a good point, but in my house, the comparison isn't Windows, but Linux. Xubuntu is specifically designed for running a lightweight window manager, and will absolutely run on old or slow hardware. Indeed, my eee pc sports a 900mhz Celeron processor factory underclocked to 600mhz and it runs like a dream using Ubuntu with the Fluxbox window manager. (Taking a quick glance at the task manager, it looks like Fluxbox is using a whopping 5mb of the system memory... Firefox is using about 160mb, by comparison.) I think this is important: the window manager - the part that draws stuff on the screen - is taking a decided back seat to the running of actual tasks and programs, which frees up resources for the things I actually want to do. It's not as shiny, sure, but then again, Fluxbox doesn't need to sell anything...
posted by kaibutsu at 10:27 AM on March 3, 2011


Yeah, schmod, you have to have one of the fancy versions of the OS to do that. (Ultimate or Premium or something) I don't. And I don't have copies of XP or 98 or 95 or anything, so I can't use DOSBox.
posted by Night_owl at 10:30 AM on March 3, 2011


Maybe it was at one time, but the support for PPC-architecture is drying up like you wouldn't believe. OSX had slowed to a crawl, and Flash has stopped supporting the PPC, which means that watching YouTube isn't even possible. I can see using the machine as a file server or whatnot, if we had a need for a file server, but we don't really... We bent over backwards trying to keep this machine in service, because we don't like buying new hardware if we can get existing stuff to function at a reasonable level.

I don't disagree on any individual point. It's been 4.5 years, so the "dry-up" was somewhat inevitable, although I'm frankly a bit worried about why so many programmers are using X86-specific code, and wish that Apple would have kept PPC support around for one last version.

Flash was *always* unusable on PPC, and ClickToFlash makes YouTube and some other sites usable.

I actually used Xubuntu on a 600mhz G4 at work a few years ago, because they couldn't afford to buy me a better computer, and because the OS X port of MATLAB was painfully slow. (I actually ended up running MATLAB from another colleague's PC using X11 forwarding with Xubuntu -- nerdery FTW). In any event, that PC was also pretty usable thanks to Xfce, which is both lightweight and pretty (albeit a bit fatter than Fluxbox). You really can have your cake and eat it too! It's a great little distro, although nothing quite makes you feel like an unwanted redheaded stepchild like running PPC Linux does.
posted by schmod at 11:12 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, schmod, you have to have one of the fancy versions of the OS to do that. (Ultimate or Premium or something) I don't. And I don't have copies of XP or 98 or 95 or anything, so I can't use DOSBox.

Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate all support it. ($63 on Amazon for an "anytime upgrade" to Home Premium if you don't already have it)
posted by schmod at 11:15 AM on March 3, 2011


The Lurkers Support Me in Email: "Is there a formal corollary of Godwin's Law stating that as any online discussion relating to technology grows larger, the probability of a comparison involving Macs or PCs approaches 1? Because there totally should be."

You know who else bought IBM?
posted by pwnguin at 12:06 PM on March 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


although nothing quite makes you feel like an unwanted redheaded stepchild like running PPC Linux does.

So very, very true....
posted by kaibutsu at 12:37 PM on March 3, 2011


On Windows, getting a full process list is as simple as right-clicking on the task bar, and selecting Task Manager. Or opening a command-line and typing tasklist.

Hardly. Task Manager routinely lies about process specifics. Take svchost for example. At least on a Unix system you can be reasonably confident that the process list is realistic.
posted by odinsdream at 12:49 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Task Manager routinely lies about process specifics. Take svchost for example.

What exactly do you mean by this? That it's not telling you what services are hosted by svchost? You can use Process Explorer to do that, but you will have to download it from Microsoft.
posted by grouse at 12:56 PM on March 3, 2011


Yeah, svchost opens many instances to access the dreaded .dll files. You can also go to a command prompt and input "tasklist /svc" to get a detailed list.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:00 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What exactly do you mean by this? That it's not telling you what services are hosted by svchost? You can use Process Explorer to do that, but you will have to download it from Microsoft.

That's exactly what I mean. I'm well aware there are options to get around it, but the claim was how transparent and easy it is in Windows to see running processes, as opposed to the Mac hiding everything.

The truth though, is that Activity Monitor and ps are included in OSX, and they're much more truthful about processes than Task Manager.
posted by odinsdream at 1:50 PM on March 3, 2011


the claim was how transparent and easy it is in Windows to see running processes, as opposed to the Mac hiding everything.

The claim was that it is easy to see running applications, and yes, this is very easy. Task Manager does not "lie" about processes in the way the people who speak English usually use the word "lie". All the processes are, indeed, listed. There is no deception. If you want to see what services are running, that's what Services console is for.

I think this is a goofy argument, in any case. I'm convinced by the original claim that seeing which application processes are running is a necessarily beneficial thing. In an ideal world, we should be able to focus on documents and not have to worry about whether applications are running or not.
posted by grouse at 2:13 PM on March 3, 2011


Windows CE, Windows ME Windows NT whaddaya get? CE-ME-NT! No really, I like Win more than Apple, but prefer ubuntu.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 2:22 PM on March 3, 2011


No really, I like Win more than Apple

That's just weird.
posted by grubi at 3:15 PM on March 3, 2011


"No, we're still locked into the legacy of the stupid one-button mouse all these years later. For example, I use Photoshop a lot, and to this day it still drags you down into the one-button mouse interface.
(Instead of right clicking or middle-clicking, you need to hold down a keyboard key with your other hand while you click with the one mouse button.)

I assume the reason Photoshop never updated their UI is that such a fundamental change would cause pain more obviously for more users than not updating, but it sucks to be stuck with it when I have a wacom pen-screen system that would be a lot more versatile if I didn't need the other hand always on a keyboard to kludge the effect of having more than one mouse button. When I actually do have more than one mouse/pen button."


Actually, it's because it's much faster to work with one hand on the mouse and the other on the keyboard. Right clicking to access commands and modes is much slower if you've memorised the keyboard shortcuts. That may not matter to you, but to any professional who has much to do and a deadline, it makes a difference.

There are plenty of things wrong with Photoshop these days, but the keyboard shortcuts are not one of them.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 4:41 PM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's just weird.

I use OS X, Win7, Ubuntu, and Debian on a daily basis. I think I prefer Win7 to OS X as a desktop. While I liked OS X a lot better than XP, for routine GUI use, I prefer Win7 to both.

If I were somehow forced to run just one OS, I'd probably do OS X, because it has a full-strength Unix command line available. But, with the advent of virtualization, I can run a Linux guest under Windows and get most of the benefits of both environments. Between the four 4.4Ghz processors and the 16 gigs in my Sandy Bridge machine (which was cheap! Four 4gb sticks cost a mighty $200), I can be running several operating systems at the same time without visible impact on the host.

I'd have no particular problem with running guests on a Mac, but Apple doesn't want to sell me a machine with a decently kickass video card. Until they fix that, they're always going to be supplemental computers at best.

Nice place to visit, but I don't think I want to live there anymore.
posted by Malor at 4:56 PM on March 3, 2011


the claim was how transparent and easy it is in Windows to see running processes, as opposed to the Mac hiding everything.

So again, CHECK THE DAMN BOX TO SHOW WHICH APPS ARE RUNNING. Sheesh.

"Years ago," Flash wasn't an Adobe product.

It's been six years, dude. I stand by that that counts as a plural.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:21 PM on March 3, 2011


(not you, odinsdream)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:22 PM on March 3, 2011


I too am kind of suprised at how much I've ended up liking the "OS X " like taskbar on Win7, given that I've never liked it on OS X. I fully expected to be finding a way to get rid of it in settings straight off the bat, and yet here I am still with it. TBH I'm pretty much liking everything about Win7, and finding it a huge leap up from Vista in pretty much every way (not that that's saying that much - even without running into the major problems others did with it there was a certain awkwardness to it).
posted by Artw at 6:32 PM on March 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Malor: I don't think a 64-bit chip can run 16-bit code natively even in a virtualized 32-bit guest.

x86_64 CPUs, both AMD's and Intel's, still can run 16-bit real and protected mode code just fine when in legacy mode (almost all BIOSes are still 16-bit real mode). You can boot right into DOS on any of them. 16-bit protected mode (but not real mode) code can even run when the CPU is in 64-bit long mode. All running "natively" and without any emulation.
posted by zsazsa at 10:23 PM on March 3, 2011


Right, understood, but you can't be running in 64-bit mode and run 16-bit code in hardware anymore, period. I find that very frustrating.
posted by Malor at 12:30 AM on March 4, 2011


Well, you could run 16-bit protected mode code, which unfortunately is pretty rare. 16-bit protected mode had many disadvantages.

Your EMS problem on Athlons doesn't seem like an intentional decision on the part of AMD, it seems like a motherboard problem (integrated peripherals with memory-mapped IO stomping over the EMS window). I'm seeing plenty of people on teh Googles using EMS for DOS programs in Windows on 32-bit Athlons.
posted by zsazsa at 3:30 AM on March 4, 2011


Are you confusing XMS and EMS? Windows flat WILL NOT provide EMS on the Athlon series, at least up through the first Athlon 64. When I researched it at the time, I was told that it because Athlons didn't do EMS in 32-bit mode, period.

They might have changed it since, but I'd be willing to bet you $25 that you can't get "expanded" (as opposed to "extended") memory running on an Athlon XP in DOS compatibility mode under Windows XP. It works beautifully on every 32-bit Intel chip I've ever tried it with.
posted by Malor at 4:29 AM on March 4, 2011


Night_owl: "Yeah, schmod, you have to have one of the fancy versions of the OS to do that. (Ultimate or Premium or something) I don't. And I don't have copies of XP or 98 or 95 or anything, so I can't use DOSBox"

I still have, for whatever reason, versions of Windows including 3.0, 3.11, W4WG, ME, 2000, 95, 98, and all versions of XP most with valid key codes.

I do not have Vista.

I have a brand new Win 7 Professional waiting to be installed.

As well I have floppies for DOS from 5 to 6.22.

I am a Microsoft packrat.
posted by Splunge at 9:22 AM on March 4, 2011


Up until my most recent move I still had my OS/2 2.1 and Warp floppies. The old 1.2 floppies, complete with shelf boxes containing the real IBM manuals (God, those were great) had been disposed of in the late 90's. OS/2 2.1 was ten or twelve 3-1/2" disks, if I recall correctly. The upgrade to Warp also required a lot of feeding the old floppy drive---I had a pre-release floppy distribution stright from the OS/2 users' group IBM rep. Those (free!) Redbooks were awesomesauce; in those days MSDN was unaffordable on grad student wages.

Going from Warp to Win98SE felt like a downgrade in many ways, but the supported hardware was getting long in the tooth and how else was I going to play Civ? Installing from a CD rather than floppies was soooooooo nice, though. It felt like the future!
posted by bonehead at 10:38 AM on March 4, 2011


I have a beta copy of Windows ME that I got from a TechNet subscription. I think it might be objectively one of the worst CDs that I've ever owned.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:40 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the reasons for Windows binary compatibility constraints is that the OS is primarily targeted and used by corporate businesses. The Mac did not take off in that world. So you had a gazillion businesses each running old versions of Windows and not wanting to upgrade. As a business, MS couldn't ask them to go jump if they didn't upgrade.

Apple had no problems, because the general consumers it targeted had a different set of preferences about their machines. It could afford to not maintain backward compatibility as much, because people would buy a shiny new computer every 3-4 years anyway.

In the end, the needs of the target market will result in the choices the respective companies will make. Comparing them would then be an apples-to-oranges comparison.
posted by theobserver at 11:30 AM on March 4, 2011


It could afford to not maintain backward compatibility as much, because people would buy a shiny new computer every 3-4 years anyway.

This seems to be a commonly-held misconception that wasn't even partially true until a few years ago. Mac users were notorious for holding onto their hardware for 4-8 years, while the PC-upgrade cycle seemed locked around 2.5-4 years. (Hell. I saw Apple ][s being used in schools well into the 2000s)

Apple hardware has only been "shiny" for about the past 12 years. The platform existed long before then. People didn't start upgrading their machines frequently until the Intel transition took place and the platform broke into the mainstream.

Also, I'm pretty sure that Apple's users would have mutinied if the PPC->Intel transition didn't ensure compatibility in both directions (which was quite an engineering feat, I might add). The 68k->PPC transition was deeply unpopular because support for the older platform evaporated pretty quickly, and the OS9-OSX transition was somewhat rough for the same reason. Even though few businesses had legacy applications that needed to run, there were plenty of people who didn't want to pay to upgrade their copy of Photoshop, etc.

I still find it remarkable that support for PPC has only just recently begun to dry up (and mostly among 3rd-parties at that), despite the fact that those machines have been out of production for over 4 years.
posted by schmod at 2:00 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


« Older Can you get hooked on diet soda?...  |  How We Train Our Cops to Fear ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments