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Is Linux or Windows Easier To Install? 887

Mark Cappel writes: "Joe Barr, a LinuxWorld.com columnist, compares Linux and Windows installations. He expected Windows to be faster and easier since Microsoft has been at it for 21 years. (DOS 1.0 was released 21 years ago today.) It turns out Red Hat is quicker and less manually intensive."
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Is Linux or Windows Easier To Install?

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  • Sounds like a source for unbiased reporting in all facets of the computing world.
  • Technically... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by taernim ( 557097 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:16PM (#4057752) Homepage
    then shouldn't the article be comparing RedHat and Windows installs?

    If he is only testing with Redhat, it seems unfair to lump all of those installs as "faster" than Windows, based on the performance of only one type.

    Just something to think about.
    • Have you tried the mandrake install as of late? If you think the Red Hat install is easy, mandrake is much easier! My mother could install mandrake, and she can't even remember the url to http://mail.yahoo.com, her login, (or even her damned password for that matter!)
      • I imagine the partitioning screen and the package manager throw a lot of people off...

        I think the main mistake this article made was automatically assuming reboot = "hard". I don't really see the logic here - it reboots automatically, not really much of an inconvenience.

        Also, they installed Win2000... WinXP is more geared towards the "general audience" whilst Win2000 is more of a business-oriented OS intended for install by the techs, not the users.

        Oh well...

        • The partitioning screen and the package screen are for people who choose "expert" mode. You don't have to see those screens if you don't want to.

          That's functionality that has been denied by Microsoft to its users based simply on the fact that they don't want you to have that level of freedom.
      • I run Mandrake and Win2k in a dual boot. I must say that Mandrake has the best installer for linux I have ever seen. It is easy, graphical, doesn't fail, has lots of hardware support and other good stuff. Mandrake may take less time to install, but Win2k requires less user input. All you need to install win2k is to press enter once, press F* to agree to the EULA, then format/make partitions and select one for the OS. Done.
        For Mandrake you have to select many many things. Half of which are very obvious and easy. One of which is package selection. You can make package selection easy and quick, but to get the most out of linux you need to select individual packages, takes forever, and I have to be there to do it. I can install win2k with 3 minutes of my time and 45 minutes of the computers time.
        When linux AND linux software install as easily and quickly as windows and windows software it will have a chance on the desktop. G-d forbit it could actually maybe install easiER!
        • Re:Technically... (Score:3, Informative)

          by davie ( 191 )

          You're comparing the install of an OS with a couple of cheesy little editors, a browser, a broken mail client and a couple handfuls of system management utils with the install of a complete Linux distribution including professional-class programmer's editors, development tools, multiple browsers, multiple shells, RDBMSs, the Apache Web Server, Perl, Tcl, Tcl/Tk, Python, X, the GIMP, Office apps, etc.

          Most distributions allow you to select a default install that doesn't require selecting any packages, if that's what you prefer.

    • Re:Technically... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by NanoGator ( 522640 )
      Here's what bugs me: Redhat is on 3 CD's, Windows 2000 is on 1. There's 3 times the chance of something going wrong.

      When I installed RedHat 7.3, turns out disk 3 had a media error on it. Did it let me recover from it? No, it said "you have an error, press OK to quit." No 'retry' or 'attempt it again'. It just died. I had to start the install all over from the very beginning. The Windows 2000 installer is much more graceful in a situation like that.

      Just to be clear, I'm not drawing any lines in the sand between Windows and RedHat, I'm just saying that there are most definitely cases where the RedHat installer could be drastically improved. I lost quite a bit of time on that little endeavour.

      On the flip side, if you install everything across all 3 CD's, you get much more stuff right away than Win2k does. (I.e. Office, etc.) Apples to apples? I think not. However, you're in for a major headache with RH if one of your disks is bad.

      To be honest, I don't see the importance of this. Let's say that Linux installs faster 100% of the time. So? It might save some precious IT time, which is a fine argument. But I don't consider this to be anything more than a pro or a con when figuring out which OS for somebody else to use. The whole venture is worthless if, for example, you install RedHat on a laptop and for some stupid reason or another the DVD player won't play DVD's on it.

      Maybe I'm just reading too much into this article. The differences between Linux and Windows are great enough that install time is not a greatly weighted factor.
      • Well, if 1 of three disks is bad, you can choose to install packages that dont reside on that disk theoretically, however i have had experience with bad Win2k disks, it doesnt recover more gracefully it just continues to prompt for Ignore, Rety, Skip, if you choose skip your more then likely looking at a situation of random crashing because some file missing, you should really check your media before installing. Data loss is invetiable make backups
      • Re:Technically... (Score:2, Informative)

        by tacocat ( 527354 )

        I have a single disk for Debian

        I also have a single disk for Gentoo

        Perhaps your Red Hat is too big for you

      • by 0101000001001010 ( 466440 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:50PM (#4058055)

        Wouldn't it be great, if the Red Hat ISOs were put through a hash generating a 128bit number. Then you could compare your downloaded ISOs with that number to see, if they are different.

        Then, after you have burned your CDs, you could let your burning software check for physical errors whilst running the hash once more. That should eliminate almost all errors.

        The only problem that could arise is, if the a corrupt image and a correct one produced the same number. We should avoid this by using a well known hash like MD5.

        All in all my idea sounds so good, I should apply for a software patent right now. I shall christen this technology... checksums!

    • Re:Technically... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by telecaster ( 468063 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @09:18PM (#4058596)
      I've installed a lot of distro's.

      Recently, I had the opportunity to install Lindows. Yeah, go a head and laugh, but I have to say that its one of the easiest, fastest and trouble-free Linux installations that i've used.
      Its also Debian!!! So that made it sweet.

      Here's what you have when you install Lindow's.
      You get 1 CD-ROM, theres about 360mb's used on the disk.

      1. You pop the CD-ROM in, it autodetects your machines configuration and determines if windows lives on your machine.

      2. If you have windows, it gives you the opportunity to install WITH windows or wipe your hard disk and install Lindow's.

      I've done both, and here's how the install went:

      On a Thinkpad A20m with Windows 2002.
      Detected a windows partition and I chose to have Lindow's Co-Exist. The install was fast and flawless. The sound card was detected, graphics card (ATI) detected, Ethernet card (which is known to be a little tricky) was detected, even picked a reasonable XFree86 configuration with KDE 2.2.2. Lots of applications, and a really nice desktop to boot, very slick looking boot manager to choose Windows 2000 boot, or Lindow's Boot. Installation time: 10 mins Score: 10!
      I have to admit to being shocked at the simplicity and autodetection... I've installed Mandrake, Debian, Red Hat and Suse on this laptop, and i'm either building drivers or sacrificing something because theres an "issue". This distro worked better than the recent Windows XP Home Edition that I did for my kids (which hung because it didn't like my network card).

      On a homebrew AMD 750 with a Geforce2 card.
      Netgear 311 (yep, you heard that right).
      PlexWriter on this machine, and about 256 mb's of memory... Decided to do a "Wipe disk" install.
      Installation took 7 mins. Detected the FA311 without a problem... amazing.

      Now, some would argue why do I care about Lindow's? I don't actually. But when I found out it was based off of Debian, I said "I gotta see this", because if you know anything about Debian, installing a desktop workstation with X and KDE can take a good day to get it "right".

      Folks, if the Lindow's folks failed at Windows compatibility, they succeeded at the installation.
      Its THE SINGLE best distro installation I've ever seen, and I'll continue to use it as a workstation install because its Debian (which is my fav. distro), and its lighthing fast to install.

      May I make a suggestion to the Lindow's folks: You completely nailed the installation and "ease of use" factor -- its very close to Windows.

      I could really see this eating into low-end sub $500 machine revenues. Hey, if they get the Wine stuff working reasonably well --- WHOAH! I just had a marketing/sales brainstorm! Lindow's folks, listen up: Drop the whole Wine crap that you've done, it sucks, and cut a deal with the CodeWeavers folks for CrossOver. Ship Lindow's with that CrossOver thingy and you might have a winner at the low-end.

      That idea should be worth a million bucks. Please send it to my favorite charity... me. :)
  • by Wrexen ( 151642 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:16PM (#4057757) Homepage
    The answer, of course, is yes
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Rush Limbaugh has released an objective account of the Clinton presidency.

  • The main criticism of Linux was (and still might be) that it's hard to install. Life's not fair, but to overcome that criticism, parity is not enough. Linux must be far easier to install than the competitors before the criticism will go away. Good to see that might be real soon now.
    • by Ctrl-Z ( 28806 ) <tim@tLAPLACEimcoleman.com minus math_god> on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:24PM (#4057829) Homepage Journal

      Unfortunately, for most consumers, that will never happen. How much easier than "it was already there when I got it" can you get?

      No matter how easy a Linux installation gets, if Windows comes pre-installed, then Linux can't win in this department.
      • That's it in a nutshell, especially in the consumer market. I know people who buy a Dell or somesuch generic brand-name PC, and never touch anything. They get their generic MS apps installed at the factory, the machine gets shipped to them, they plug it in and use it for three years or so. Then they give it to their nephew and order another new machine.

        Linux preinstalled is every bit as generic as Windows.

    • The reviewer compares a Rescue CD Install of Win2K with a RedHat install! If the sales pitch for McAfee Virus Scan didn't tip him off, the fact that he got 3 installation CDs for Win2K should have. Win2K doesn't come with any applications, and of the hundreds of times I have intalled it, I have never seen more than 1 main window during the OS installation process.

      In fact, a proper, full installation of any operating system will have certain unavoidable parts that all responsible Operating Systems have to consider having -- the partitioning, the component selection, hardware setup and configuration. If you objectively time any operating system on the same hardware through the entire process, you'll notice all operating systems take more or less the same amount of time.

      The article mentions 8 reboots for Win2k? WTF? If you aren't a moron that reboots after installing each driver and each application, installation should give you at the max 3 reboots. That's simply because Win2K first has to have a non-windows installer to copy the system files over with. If you look at any Linux's installation system, you'll notice you load with one kernel to install the system, but then reboot with another on the system itself to do configuration. And rebooting after installing drivers...are you telling me you can compile and add modules to the linux kernel at runtime?

      It mentioned the problems with upgrading to SP3. I found it funny that it didn't bother including a similar upgrade from a RedHat released then to the latest version, and then upgrading to the latest releases via the online updates. I think only Debian has a packaging system that handles dependencies/uninstall/upgrade issues properly and cleanly, but I don't think you'll ever see anyone comparing Deb's install to Windows anytime soon.

      Ultimately, we all knew what the conclusion was gonna be before we clicked the link. But they could have tried to be atleast a big more fair and objective, not to mention truthful. Free speech, EULA, whatever, that's why we all use Linux and GPL... but spreading reverse FUD about an OS we already got beat? Do we really have to sink this far?
      • And rebooting after installing drivers...are you telling me you can compile and add modules to the linux kernel at runtime?

        Well, um... yes. With linux, you often have to have a kernel compiled with module support for that class of device -- I imagine pretty much everything is compiled with module support in redhat -- but once you do, then you can insert modules with impunity (removing them is often a trick). Not that NT doesn't have a modular kernel either. I've been able to install sound and video drivers numerous times in win2k without rebooting.

  • System Restore (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bobgoatcheese ( 455695 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:19PM (#4057769)
    Does anyone else think this review would have been more fair if he had used a retail win2k pro disc instead of using the Sony system restore cd's?
    • Good point - alot of the complaints in the article seemed to be caused by the OEM's bundled software, not the Win install.
    • Re:System Restore (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NumberSyx ( 130129 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @08:30PM (#4058340) Journal

      Does anyone else think this review would have been more fair if he had used a retail win2k pro disc instead of using the Sony system restore cd's?

      Personally I think he was cutting Win2K alot of slack by doing it with the restore CD. Think about it, a standard worksation install of RedHat 7.3 installs alot of software that does not come standard with Win2K. At the very least you'd need to install Visual C++, Office and a couple of those MS Entertainment Packs after you finished with the OS install, to get anything near what RedHat installs.

  • by Jacer ( 574383 )
    Finally, the remaining three critical updates could all be installed together: two security updates for IE 5.5 and one for the Windows Media player. Oh man, I never plan on upgrading windows media player. I don't want to give someone permission to root my box!
  • by wizarddc ( 105860 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:20PM (#4057783) Homepage Journal
    Most people who are using Windows didn't install their OS, it came on their machine when they bought it. So practically, when someone buys a PC, they spend no time installing their OS. Just a thought.
    • Unless they ever had any problems and called M$FT support. The standard support call goes su\omething like this:

      MSS> How many times ahve you rebooted the computer?

      Hapless User> I lost count.

      MSS> Try it one more time.

      HU> What if it still doesn't work.

      MSS> Then re-install Windows.
      • Actually a friend of mine works for M$ Support, and hes not allowed to tell the customer to reinstall the OS. He has to fix the problem with registry edits, dll's, or re-install the application.

        I was always joking about the "Re-install" M$ support line also.
  • Linux installation wins over Win2k in Linuxworld.com? What a shocker! This article is biased within the first 3 paragraphs stating twice in a condescending way how MS makes you read and sign the EULA in the beginning of the installation. Big deal, Microsoft wants you to know what you're getting yourself into. Also, what does clicking "I accept" in the beginning have anything to do with ease of installation?
  • easier to install than any version of Windows I have ever installed! I mean BY FAR! Not trying to be a troll, I'm serious.

    Windows makes you reboot two or three times. RH doesn't (only once at the end, then you boot into a ready-to-go system).

    Windows often doesn't install drivers for video/sound cards, or even Ethernet cards. But assuming the card has a driver for Linux, RH has always set it up for me during the install, no problem.

    Software -- with a fresh RH installation, you already have most of the software you need, ready to go. Office suite, e-mail programs, servers, plenty of games (far more than come with Windows).

    The ONLY particularly difficult part of installing RH is the partitioning, and even that is getting easier with each version.
    • I agree totally..

      I re-installed WinME on my pc the other day as well as Mandrake 8.2 on a seperate partition (new hard drive for those wondering why I was re-installing..) anyway for windows i had to do the following...
      1. Install ME (with numerous reboots...)
      2. Install VIA motherboard drivers
      3. Install SBlive drivers
      4. Install EPSON 740 drivers
      5. Install NVIDIA drivers
      6. Install Realtek 8139 drivers
      7. Install Office

      with mandrake and using most of the default options I only had to do the following..
      1. Install Mandrake
      2. Install NVIDIA RPM's
      everything else was installed for me (Printer drivers,Network modules,sound modules,openoffice)

      can it be much easier than that? Even my girlfriend could install Mandrake!.
    • assuming the card has a driver for Linux

      Yes, and if it doesn't, tell me that most users won't turn tht Linux disk into a coaster.

  • Windows..? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FuzzyMan45 ( 451645 )
    This is a comparison of installing windows and linux. It seems to me that it looks like it's comparing a sony operation system restore and linux. The REAL win2k install (without things like mcaffee) only takes (if memory serves) 3 reboots also and no cd swaps. In my opinion, this is not a very professional article/study/benchmark and should be taken with a grain of salt.
    • Re:Windows..? (Score:3, Flamebait)

      by spongman ( 182339 )
      grain of salt? the guy's a fucking moron. firstly he should be installing XP, a consumer OS for a consumer girlfriend (not 2K, never designed to be installed by consumers), secondly why did he upgrade 3 different versions of IE? why not just install 2Ksp3 which includes IE6. dumbass. then, he should know an OEM setup from the real thing, no wonder he got a whole bunch of adverts for stuff, and a blank admin password. has this guy never installed a REAL version of win2k before?
    • It only takes 3 reboots if you don't use windows update to upgrade your system to the latest. If you do add another 6 or 7 reboots.

      If you don't I hope you don't ever intend to either accept email or web browse.

  • Having reinstalled Windows many times, I know what makes it better for me: automatic hardware detection. Most of the right drivers and all that gets me up and running fast. It can be pretty easy to create an unattended installation as well.
  • I can not speak for RedHat because I have never installed it. but i have done solaris a couple times and have to say that UNIX installs are, or, *SEEMS*, a lot easier for people who are familiar with terminologies like "root", "/opt", and somesuch. Or at least not as frightening.

    I just want to say that "easy" is a very subjective idea, and any results need to be taken with a grain of salt. I would not be surprised if a MCSE find UNIX / LINUX installs very difficult, not because it's difficult per-se, but rather simply the scared and don't know what's comming mentality
  • Faulty Comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by numark ( 577503 ) <jcolson@ n d g o n l ine.com> on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:23PM (#4057807) Homepage Journal

    This test has one serious fault in it that I can see. The tester didn't use a stock W2K disk on a clean system, he used a Sony restore disk, which is a lot different than what Windows 2000 would normally be installed as. A lot of that time installing Windows could be attributed to the restore disk installing all of the myriad programs that come with new computers

    Sure, I truly believe that Linux can come out on top with new installs. But do we really need to bias test results in our favor, and then expect corporate users to take us seriously? If Linux users want to show the superiority of the OS, they need to present fair, unbiased tests that are indicative of real-life situations, instead of twisting tests around in subtle ways.

    • by drsoran ( 979 )
      This test has one serious fault in it that I can see. The tester didn't use a stock W2K disk on a clean system, he used a Sony restore disk, which is a lot different than what Windows 2000 would normally be installed as. A lot of that time installing Windows could be attributed to the restore disk installing all of the myriad programs that come with new computers.

      That's not really a fault though, that's reality. When you install Red Hat Linux you're getting 3 cds worth of applications. When you install the Win2k disc you're getting the OS, IE, and Windows Media Player and that's about it. No Office suite or games (well, minesweeper probably which doesn't count). To compare RH Linux and Win2k you need to compare them both fully installed with all their final apps in place which is difficult to do as system application configurations vary considerably on the different platforms.
  • A better test (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:23PM (#4057810) Journal
    I'm a Lunix-loving looser (tm Trolls, Inc.), but I think this could in no way be called a proper test.

    A better test:

    2 identical stock computers, fairly recent but not top-of-the-line hardware
    1 copy of Windows XP
    1 copy of the latest version of Red Hat, Mandrake, or other selected distribution
    2 clueless users
    2 clueful users
    1 administrator to wipe the machines after each test
    1 instruction manual per OS
    No gurus
    4 runs - one with the cluebies doing Windows, one with Linux, and one of each with the clued-in pair.
    Neither user can help the other; both are isolated

    We know Joe's a Linux advocate. Let's have a real test.
    • would those two "clueful" users know fdisk?

      That would make the test a REAL test.

      That's the main complaint of anyone I have known who has installed Linux. Most people have not a clue about partitions or setting one up (nevermind fdisk's archaic, horrid interface).
      • Re:A better test (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jandrese ( 485 )
        Beware the Fdisk on the windows install disc. I tried using that once and not telling it to eat the entire disc. It did exactly what I told it to, it took about half of the disk, right from the middle. I kid you not, I pulled the disk up in Partition Magic after it was installed and was horrified to discover that the windows installer stuck its partition smack dab in the middle of my disk. I had two quarter sized unused blocks on either side of the windows install. That blew my mind. How could the Fdisk be so stupid? Fortunatly Partition Magic has no troble moving windows paritions around.
  • I found it rather odd that he had a fairly decent and professional approach towards his description both installs; however, the conclusion completely ignored the installation process and instead was an anti-EULA, M$ is taking over the world rant. It's like he was saying, "The numbers speak for themselves, now, while I've got your attention..."

    That stunt really weakened my opinion of the article. I would really hesitate to use it as evidence in favor of the ease of installation of Red Hat.

  • This article = troll (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GoatPigSheep ( 525460 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:23PM (#4057818) Homepage Journal
    First of all, windows2000 is not 3 cd's, it is one. This was not a real install of win2000. This was a use of a propreitary 'recovery tool' supplied by sony. The ads and cd swapping do not occur when you use a fresh install of windows.

    Lets show you what a windows install is REALLY like.

    When I installed winXP corporate edition, here's what happened: I inserted the cd, set up the bios to boot off cd. Once the install window appeared, I had complete mouse support with my usb mouse, choose to do a typical install, waited about an hour for it to complete, let the pc reboot a couple of times, put in my serial number, and that was it. I had complete video, sound, and net support. I upgraded my video drivers, and ran windows update, and that was it. Total install time: about 1 hour 15 minutes.

    • by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:27PM (#4057852)
      And if you do that install with win2k pro on a modern system it takes nearly a whole 20 minutes. (40 if you need to reformat the drive)(60 if you need to hunt down drivers, which most people won't)

      IMO it's patently simple to install win2k or RedHat these days, and is a non-issue.
    • eh, how often do you get the "real" CDs anymore? this "recovery" nonsense is what most people have to deal with.
      • That's not the point. He's comparing one OEM OS distro to another but then generalizing the results to the OS's themselves. Linux is easier to install than W2K, uh yeah, right. Why doesn't he get a few "most people" users and have them install it and see which OS is truely easier (at least for the "common" user").
    • First of all, windows2000 is not 3 cd's, it is one. This was not a real install of win2000. This was a use of a propreitary 'recovery tool' supplied by sony. The ads and cd swapping do not occur when you use a fresh install of windows

      Ok, good point. This isn't a truly fair comparison- installing from a *real* Win2k is probably a lot easier. That said, obviously to those who get their computers from sony, this is a real install. I've done a few of these for a friend (courtesy of the HP pavilion's "you don't really get an os with this computer so use our 'recovery' disks" policy) and they are a pita.

      Even given the limitations of the story, i think the punchline is a message to emphasize when talking about linux. People are unneccessarily intimidated by the idea of installing linux.

      I recently installed Mandrake8.1 on my win2k system at home. I was shocked (last linux install i did was slackware about 4 years ago and it wanted to know the dataword size on my machine, how big the clusters on my hd should be, etc). Mandrake not only auto detected my hardware, it automatically detected my adsl connection and installed a PPOE client and connects automatically when i boot into linux. By contrast on my win2k partition i had a 3 cd procedure to get my alcatel modem drivers, the ethernet drivers, and run a custom app (<sarcasm>cleverly<sarcasm> named Enternet) in order to get my connection up and going.

      So am i saying that it's easier to install mandrake than win2k? Not yet, but getting close...I wouldn't rate the article a complete troll

  • As someone who installs RedHat on a regular basis since the 4.2 days, I much prefer the RedHat install. It is easy and fast.

    Windows 2k seem to take forever to install, even on a fast machine. I can do a similarly sized (in data) RedHat install in much less than half the time it takes for Windows 2000.

    I dread installinf Windows 2000.

  • by bogie ( 31020 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:26PM (#4057838) Journal
    Linux for the most part became easier to install then windows with Corel linux years ago. That is like 5% of the end user experience when talking about OS's. Its after the install which is really the only part that matters.

    BTW he's lucky he didn't have a Orinoco wireless NIC because with RH 7.3 it can be a real PITA. That alone would have put a damper on his "review". Don't get me wrong I'm a longtime Redhat booster, but it just goes to show how subjective a review on "OS installs" can get depending on hardware.
  • How about a Linux vs. Windows vs. MacOS X installation three-way bout?

  • macos (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:27PM (#4057850) Homepage
    The interesting comparison is with MacOS, which is by far the easiest OS I've ever installed. I don't recall it taking more than 30 minutes, and I've never had a single problem, or even had to read any documentation. Of course, Apple has the advantage of controlling the hardware. Some of the hassles and failures I've had with Linux installs had to do with unusual hardware.

    Why compare with Windows? The interesting thing about Windows is how long it takes to erase.

  • Put the XP CD in, boot. fix the partitions, start it, let the stuff run until it says "I'll reboot your computer now", make sure it doesn't boot the CD this time, w8, enter name, w8, enter timezone/language etc, w8, enter IP(etc) or choose dhcp. w8, log in.

    What is the problem? I can't run the redhat install for you since I haven't installed redhat for a very long time (and I won't do it again unless someone pays me for it), but I am quite sure it is very much similar. Heck, the Gentoo manual install isn't even tricky if you read the instructions. Heck, it is even REAL easy.

    Comparing install proceedures doesn't say much at all (even less if the OS is pre-installed). I don't know about you, but the time I spend installing OSes is wastly much less than the time I spend using computers. Comparing everyday usage in an objective way would have been much more interesting for sure.
    • Heck, the Gentoo manual install isn't even tricky if you read the instructions. Heck, it is even REAL easy.
      He he. I've got it down to about ten minutes (stage3 tarballs). After having to do it nearly a dozen times while I hosed my system continuously trying to prelink it, I got to the point where the install commands had commited itself to muscle memory. Finally got a clue and just xfsdump'ed an installed system image*.

      * Which, btw, is just one of the cool things you can do totally easily in Linux (just man xfsdump; xfsdump [options]) yet you need to read tons of MSDN articles and figure out complex GUI programs to do in Windows.
  • I installed Redhat 7.3 on my nephew's laptop (about 2 hours). After using the machine for a few weeks and finding the installation of games too difficult and confusing, he wanted to go back to Windows. My brother tried to perform the installation, but kept running into problems. It took him several weeks of spare time effort to get it all put together with vendor website driver downloads and updates.

    Windows is easy because someone else installs it (usually the PC manufacturer). These days, I find installation on Linux generally easier than Windows on the same hardware.

    As a side note, when my brother finally got Windows XP installed, my nephew complained that it was running much slower than Linux was. :-)

  • After the installation was complete, which machine was more functional?

    The windows machine with tons of built-in, modern, driver support, or the linux machine where you still need to download, compile, and install thousands of packages in order to even have a chance at using favourite video card, soundcard, or even just regular software applications? :)

    • Hmm... have you tried Mandrake? When I installed Mandrake 8.1 (still harder than WinXP IMO, but a pretty good installer nonetheless) it detected all my hardware and had the drivers needed for all of them - no downloading, no compiling.
  • Installing from scratch about 6 months ago, Mandrake (8.1?) was slightly easier to install the the first production release of Windows2000 off of the MSDN CD. Windows was missing several drivers that I had to download from various sources (including one for my now discontinued 3com Ethernet card); Mandrake had everything on the CD (including support for my obsolete Digital camera!). Linux required 1 boot floppy; windows required 4!!! I beleive 2002 will go down in history as the point where Linux Desktop ease of use actually surpassed that of Windows.

    This also points out a flaw in the current market: comparing pre-installed windows to install-it-yourself Linux is NOT a fair comparison. Why can't we get a choice of which operating system is preinstalled on our new PCs? Shouldn't offering that choice be a part of the DoJ settlement?

  • Wrong Comparison (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkHelmet ( 120004 ) <`ten.elcychtneves' `ta' `kram'> on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:34PM (#4057918) Homepage
    Windows 2000 Pro and Redhat 7.3? What kind of rigged game is this?

    I'm sure the Slashdot groupies would get a laugh if Microsoft compared Windows XP to Redhat 6.0.

    This is like comparing a 1.5 ghz Athlon and a 1.5 GHZ Pentium 4. You don't... There's no point. Stop comparing apples and oranges people.

    Flamebait, maybe. So what, reply. Prove me wrong.

  • Jim Independent, a WindowsWorld.com columnist, compares Linux and Windows installations. He expected Windows to be faster and easier since Microsoft has been at it for 21 years. (DOS 1.0 was released 21 years ago today.) It turns out, Windows is quicker and less manually intensive."

    Honestly, it is easy possible to find configurations where I can prove either view. In general, it is still a pain to get all hardware supported and configuered under linux; wlan, firewire, cameras and high-end audio devices are just a few examples I usually spend days to make them work properly.


  • Linux wins (Score:3, Informative)

    by iamdrscience ( 541136 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:35PM (#4057932) Homepage
    I'm not very much surprised by this at all. About two months ago I installed Windows 2000 and Mandrake Linux on my brother's laptop, the Linux installation was rediculously easy while the Windows 2000 was a pain because (1) it took longer and (2) I had to download a couple of drivers (Linux worked fine!). Also once I had Windows installed I had to run Windows update like 8 times and restart like 3 before I was even REALLY done.

    I know the Mandrake installer now is much easier than most the distributions, but I believe that other distributions will be similarly easy soon. I know that the Debian installer is/was supposed to get a revamp so that it would be way easier, which is good because Debian is sexy.

    However, an easier installer doesn't mean much because hardly any of the regular computer users of the world actually installed their OS. If Linux really wants to crack into "the regular user" (does it?) what really needs to happen is they need to infiltrate the companies selling ready-to-run systems.
  • Falacy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by EdMcMan ( 70171 ) <moo.slashdot2.z.edmcman@xoxy.net> on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:36PM (#4057937) Homepage Journal
    The reason most people think installing Linux is harder is because they make it harder. Most people starting with Linux have used Windows first, and therefore want to dual boot, which requires repartitioning and other fun stuff. Now, if you were going to Windows from Linux and wanted to do this, you would have the same problem.
    • Re:Falacy (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fferreres ( 525414 )
      After you install linux first-time-ever, you don't understand anything at all. You undertand only what's been mirrored from the windows experience. Ok, you can use an Office suite and some apps, but that's about it.

      You don't really understand anything not to mention that the names of the programs and utilities are really confusing. With Windows you need to know much less, because it's been specificaly tuned to easiness. It asumes you don't know skwat. Windows for a power user (system and tools, not apps power user) may be a little lacking. The security may be crap. But it's pretty straightforward. Linux can setup easily, but administrating it and customizing it is a pain. And if some distro makes a tas easier (ex: mandrake font importer) it's not because Linux is simpler, it's because there is a little tool to hide the underliyng complexity. And this is different than just droping some fonts in a /windows/fonts folder.

      I would install Linux for a newby that wants to try it, but I don't expect him to know how to use Linux. I only expect him to fire up some apps and close them when done. He couldn't do anything else without learning quite a bit.

      I am not mentioning compiling stuff, putting things in the right places (correct prefix when needed), lddng, recompiling a kernel if he's using some hardware that wasn't supprted earlier.

      It can be made easier, but it's NOT easy, you can only hide it. Windows on the other hand always asume the user will know nothing, and all installers (not just windows) inherit that view.
  • by WndrBr3d ( 219963 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:37PM (#4057942) Homepage Journal
    Is not which OS installs faster, but which OS installs with less exploitable services off a fresh install.
  • by erat ( 2665 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:37PM (#4057944)
    I dislike MS as much as anyone else, but come on! This installation competition thing is like comparing apples to BMWs...

    First off, a Linux newbie would have absolutely NO clue about half of the stuff Mr. Barr did for the Red Hat installation. Clearly Mr. Barr is a seasoned Linux guy and can breeze through partitioning, network configuration, boot manager selection, package selection, etc. Try any of that on a Linux newbie ("...What's DHCP? And what the hell is this GRUB thing it's asking me about? I'm calling tech support...").

    I agree that the Windows installation is slow, has too many reboots, and is not fool-proof as far as hardware detection goes. However, the installation of all Windows products except for the so called "enterprise" editions is set up for people who don't know all that much about hardware. The old 80-20 rule kicks in here: if 80% of the folks are covered by the installation, that can justify the remaining 20% who need hand holding. I still have not encountered a Linux installation that does not assume prior knowledge of technical acronyms, Linux-isms, and common package names (how many new Linux users do you think have any clue that Samba offers Windows network connectivity? How many Linux installations present Samba as a "Windows networking" option and not as "Samba"? None that I know of, that's how many).

    As a pro-Linux, pro-BSD, pro-open-source guy, I'm giving this comparison two thumbs down. Sorry, Joe...
    • by El ( 94934 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @08:47PM (#4058449)
      Likewise, a Windows newbie would have no idea how to configure Windows. True, whichever OS you have the most experience with will seem easiest to you. Having experience with BOTH operating systems, I still find Mandrake easier to install than Windows 2000 -- and I have a lot more experience with Windows. Installing ANY operating system is not for the faint of heart. Of course, my DVD ROM drives don't seem to be able to boot a CD, which makes things harder.

      Ask yourself if this is a symptom of "bloat": the Mandrake Linux installation requires 1 boot floppy. The Windows 2000 installation requires 4 boot floppies!

  • Both pale in comparison to the ease of installing BeOS (back in the day). First, a nice graphical menu allowed you to partition your disk, or simply choose the whole disk as the target. Then, a simple list allowed you to install the base system, the examples, and the japaneese support pack. After that, it was a single reboot, then one quick trip to the preferences menu to set up your display resolution and network IP. Everything else was autodetected.
  • anyone reading this who is a journalist, the lesson is:

    objectivity is for lame-os.

    write from your own point of view! people like it, your articles will become more popular -- you will become more popular!

    it's the american way!
  • by greenfly ( 40953 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:38PM (#4057956)

    Then it was Red Hat's turn. I inserted the first installation CD and rebooted Windows. I chose to manually partition the disk using fdisk. First, I deleted the partition I had originally created for Linux. Then I created a 256-megabyte swap partition and gave the rest of the drive to Red Hat, choosing the ext3 journaling filesystem.

    Ok ok, let's stop right here at the first paragraph. So, he already had his drive partitioned from a previous install (meaning he didn't have to mess with fips, partition magic, etc.) and he used fdisk to partition. And exactly how is this easier than a Windows install?

    Granted, I've used Linux for years, and fdisk isn't difficult for me to use, but having to use fdisk raises the difficulty of an install considerably. I know that RedHat doesn't require the use of fdisk in their install, but this reviewer should have known better.

    I make it a point to try out the various latest Linux installations on a spare machine here just to see how far they've come, and when one compares Redhat to something like SuSE or Mandrake, it still lags behind. RedHat is competing in the Windows NT/2k/XP Workstation/Server market, and isn't apparently too interested in the home desktop market, and their installer reflects this. There are still many questions asked throughout a Redhat install that would require some sort of background in Linux to answer.

    Something like SuSE's install would work better for such a comparison, as it best combines ease of use with configurability. The SuSE install tries to autodetect and autoconfigure everything the best it can, and then presents you with a summary of everything it has done, along with the option to change anything if you want to. The new Linux user would probably just click the "Next" and accept these defaults, while the experienced Linux user still has the option to change anything he wants.

    • Dual-boot is much more complex to configure. If he was willing to let Linux take over the whole hard drive, it prompt him once, then repartition the drive automaticially. Note that Linux is much more friendly to dual boot than Windows. You MUST install Windows first; if you install Linux first, then the Windows installation will render Linux unbootable. Hard to say whether this is by design or just laziness, but it does point out a certain arrogance on the part of the Microsoft programmers.
  • by ktakki ( 64573 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @07:38PM (#4057963) Homepage Journal
    Windows is a fairly quick install, which makes those yearly re-installs a breeze!

    And I see that MS-DOS 1.0 is 21 years old. Let's take DOS out to a bar and get it drunk, watch it stagger home and puke in the bushes.

  • Why, back in my day, we were PROUD of how hard our OS was to install. "It took me 83 floppies and three whole days, catching catnaps on the floor," we'd say. 'Course, in those days, we didn't have any fancy damn GUIs. We had to build our own interface to connect through the serial port, using nothing but chewing gum and twine that we found while rummaging through our co-workers' desks. Why, I once installed the OS on a PDP-11 by licking my finger and feeling the shocks through the serial line. I had an onion tied to my belt, as was the style at the time.
  • While I don't disagree with the findings, the author lacks objectivity and is clearly biased.
    "Friends shouldn't help friends run Windows".

    Had this been a proper test rather than an opinion piece he would have tested the installation process using different methods (CD, network etc) and left out the rhetoric. If he had wanted effect from this article it should have been published in a main stream PC publication and he should have kept his opinions to himself.

  • Both Linux and Windows (simplifying names) are pretty easy to install and the "masses" do not care about this. They care about the apps and familiarity.
  • I haven't installed this particular version of Linux, but have installed older Red Hat others and tried to install yet other Linux versions. I consider myself technically knowledgeable, but I often had to abort the install , reboot windows, and determine some simple setting that I would have expected the software to determine on it's own. (To be fair, the documentation made it clear that this was going to happen and the first time I installed Linux I did my homework and was ready. Later times I got cocky and had to go back to get something simple like an IRQ setting.)

    Are the Linux installers (at least Red Hat, hopefully others,) getting better at this? I noticed when I tried both Virtual Linux and Demo Linux recently that neither spotted my very typical dLink network card, and they even had trouble with my Nvidia GeForce3 based Video card. I expect Barr knew off of this information for his Linux install, but to be fair, if the install needs the human to look this information up and feed it in, then any time spent resolving these questions for Linux should be factored into the measurement.

  • This is one of these "memory hole" things. I seem to be the only person on the planet that remembers that in the waning days of Windows NT 3.51, one of the promises Microsoft made for Windows NT 4 was that it would almost never be necessary to reboot in order to install new software. I believe they said this was one of their major goals.

    I've tried to find documentary evidence of this claim, but haven't succeeded so far (so who knows, maybe I'm just wrong?)

    What I'd really like to see is a shootout between the UNINSTALL procedures on these two platforms. Windows Uninstalls are a joke. I would say the percentage of times an Uninstall simply a) run to completion without b) saying "Some components could not be uninstalled, you must delete the manually" or c) asking ME to tell WINDOWS whether some QQXXZZ314.DLL is needed by any program anywhere is about, and d) leaves the machine in a state where there are NOT obvious chunks of the software still embedded in the system, is about 5%.
  • He states right from the start that he was installing from Sony's VAIO recovery discs... 3 CDs according to the article... Basically a custom set that (apparently) includes Microsoft's setup package as part of the autoboot sequence...

    However, even Windows XP takes up ONE CD on its own...

    Maybe if he tried installing a base Windows OS instead of the kludged and bloated installation CDs that came with the computer, it would have installed faster?

    He is, essentially, damnning an OS because of how an OEM repackaged it, NOT because of how it came from Microsoft...

    Linux users using FUD? Whodathunkit!
  • An accurate comparison would have been based on release dates. 7.3 vs. Windows XP, which is what home users are getting these days, would have been much more appropriate.
  • Linux (Score:2, Insightful)

    by necrognome ( 236545 )
    Any distro (well, most of them anyways) requires fewer restarts than Windows during the install.
  • by bwt ( 68845 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @08:01PM (#4058146) Homepage
    ... vendors install it for you!

    I don't care how "easy" Linux ever is, 90% of people will never, ever install it. Unless more vendors start offering it pre-installed (hooray for Wal-Mart), Linux will never be adopted by any sizable percentage of desktops.

    The whole conversation about "ease of installation" is completely wrong-minded.
  • it depends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by passion ( 84900 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @10:33PM (#4058985)

    I tried installing the latest Debian release this last weekend.... took me the whole weekend, and 6 re-installs. The best I could get was running, but had some serious problems, such as: no networking installed, didn't recognize my mouse, couldn't run X because it didn't know how to work with my monitor, and top it off, it couldn't read the damn floppy drive.

    So I downloaded the latest Mandrake... first shot, I got everything loaded that I wanted, and it took me less than an hour.

    How does that compare to Windows? Who knows? I wouldn't touch that shit, but I would believe that Windows users experiences range anywhere between the two. Hell, my OS X installation was about as smooth as the Mandrake install.

  • Funny (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nhavar ( 115351 ) on Monday August 12, 2002 @11:20PM (#4059170) Homepage
    Funny I just had to install WinXP/98/Linux Mandrake last night. While XP took the longest it was the most complete and useful when logged in and took the least amount of fidgeting with, with only my digital camera not having at least base drivers. 98 would have been a close second except that it refused to load either my sound or my network card without a hassle. It still came in second because Linux Mandrake was hell to install (and it has one of the better installers). First the install choked half way through. Often the 'focus' caret wouldn't show and since it refused to recognize my logitech mouse either PS/2 or USB then I was often left guessing or unable to choose a button. Once completely loaded KDE ran just fine - good picture, sound, network everything but still no mouse and when I tried to switch to another mouse the system choked when shutting down (USB problems). Oh BTW why does it have to be so difficult to download a plugin. One step - prompt for download! Boolean YES I want - NO I don't. Instead of "Hey let me look and see if I can find a plugin for you! Oh yeah here it is on this page! Click here, then here, then wait, then all your browser windows close... then??? What page was I trying to look at?" All for shockwave?

    Anyway I digress... I personally would like to see a comparison between a desktop install of RH, WinXP on say 5 different configurations of computers. The scoring would be based on all the basics a user needs to get started 1)Video 2) input (mouse/keyboard) 3) audio 4) network/connectivity 5) E-mail/browsing 6) Setup time. This would be an out of the box test - no additional downloads or penalties for "Oh he doesn't have the latest driver". Get both installs off the shelf at Best Buy - yeah I know it kinda of knocks RH for a loss when you can't just download the latest distro repleat with updates, but it's "fair".
    Face it each system is going to need some patching and a check for latest drivers and probably a security review to be safe. Time how long it takes for each system and the ease in which it can be done - then score. Then go down the list of "useful" apps that each distribution has "bundled" and where they rank and how they compare and what it would take to get a comparable product should the "bundle" not have it included - then score.

    A few itterations of that procedure and you'll find all of the gaps in the competition and be able to make some serious improvements.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?