Sunday, October 21, 2012

OS Comparison: Part 1

I use Linux.
I use Linux every day -- I try to avoid Microsoft Windows, believe it or not.
But, there is always that one application that prevents me from leaving Windows forever. On the other hand, I managed to do quite well without Windows for 8 months.
Today, I installed Windows. And let me tell you, it was an adventure.

First off, when I had installed Fedora 17 many months ago, I opted for a Fedora-only installation. This wiped my hard drive, and reformatted it with the GPT scheme. This prevented me from reinstalling Windows later, as it would have meant that I would go through a multi-step process to get my documents back. Try this sometime:
  1. Install Windows 7
  2. Install Fedora 17/18/whatever
  3. Boot up Fedora
  4. Recover documents from a Linux-only external hard drive (due to formatting, not inherent limitations of the drive)
  5. Remove Fedora partion and backup drive partitions

To say the least, it wasn't something I wanted to do.
Then I found out that Windows could boot on GPT partitioned hard disks, and I tried to install it. But it would reformat the hard drive still, and not have the GPT partitioned hard disk.

So I did nothing for months. Then, one day (last Friday, as it happens), I decided to give it another go. This time though, I had another trick up my sleeve: I would force Windows to install in EFI mode.
This brought me to rEFInd, a program which allows you to boot from a USB drive in EFI mode. After a day of tweaking, I managed to get everything working properly, although I still don't understand the drivers.

After I managed to get rEFInd working, I had to have a USB stick with Windows 7 on it. This also took some tweaking, and the steps I followed can be seen here.

I now have Windows 7 on my computer, but I suspect that it will only remain so that I can update the BIOS of my computer. After all, the manufacturer only makes Windows executables...

Things to look forward to:
Review upon Windows 7, Fedora 18, Ubuntu 12.10, and Gentoo in the areas of boot times, power off times, ease of update (update times) of all software, ease of installation, just-work factor, and ease of running games.
Also, some benchmarks.
Spoiler: Windows 7 loses on update times.