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Why I gave up on Linux and returned to Windows XP

I am a senior IBM mainframe software engineer and database administrator and in its day I was highly proficient in MS-DOS line commands. I have written thousands of lines of computer code and tested hundreds of thousands of lines of computer code. I recently tried several Linux distributions and after too much time wasted chasing solutions for issues which simply work or work simply in Windows, I made the decision to return to Windows XP to catch up on other projects.

I would like to begin by complementing all the software engineers, developers, and testers that have diligently worked and contributed to Linux.

On the positive side, Linux is void of one of the key architectural design faults of all MS Windows versions since Windows 95, that being the Windows Registry or what I often refer to as the Windows Landfill. I have been told that the entire Windows Registry is assembled from various files on the hard disk and loaded into memory upon start-up, regardless of which applications are running or not running. The Registry contains nearly all the critical Windows operating system settings along with settings and parameters for almost all Windows applications. Unfortunately many Windows applications do not completely remove all of their entries when uninstalled leaving heaps of junk behind in the Registry. There are numerous Registry “cleaners”, but I have yet to find one that can accurately removes all the junk left behind by uninstalled applications. Furthermore, applications including MS Windows, use the Registry as a temporary location for temporary settings but fail to remove these when they are no longer needed. Thus the Registry is forever expanding in size. Hard disk space is not the issue here. The issue is waste of RAM, operating inefficiency, stability, and OS portability. Fortunately, Linux is leaner and smarter.

On the negative side, I encountered a persistent font-rendering issue with Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Linux Mint. I live on an HP nc8430 notebook PC with 1680x1050 WXGA resolution, where increasing font size is a must. The feature works for system fonts, but did not work for key applications like Firefox. My research revealed that the issue has already been documented throughout the Web and is related to these distributions failing to update the standard configuration file which Firefox and other applications rely upon for their font settings. While the Ubuntu folks are aware of it, they seem uninterested in fixing it. The issue is also present in Linux Mint which is based on Ubuntu. The fonts worked as expected for both Gentoo and PCLinuxOS. However I was unable to get my internal Intel 3945 ABG Wireless card to work with PCLinuxOS (both Gnome and KDE versions).

In every incarnation of Linux that I tried, my notebook fan was ALWAYS ON even when no applications were running with CPU near 0%. This issue may be related to CPU throttling and fan throttling. Linux needs to resolve this before I can use Linux on a notebook without the associated side effects such as annoying noise of the fan on max, increased fan wear, and reduced battery life. There is nothing more this user would like than to depart the world of Microsoft Windows for Linux, but the path will have to be paved with far fewer rivers to cross or mountains to climb just to get there.

Comments

  • altNullaltNull Posts: 65
    While I have had these problems with older versions of Ubuntu and Fedora, the last 3 versions have seem to correct this. Though I run my setup on a desktop and a Acer laptop. It is really annoying to the community when hardware manufactures do not allow you to develop your drivers or do not do it themselves. Like ATI - I will not use them till they have updated their drivers to run properly. I have found this that might help you in your case

    Ubuntu Edgy - How to Control Fan Speed

    Man Fancontrol

    How to Control Fan Speed Manually

    Good Luck!

    Note: If you download a script you might have to mod it for your version or distro of linux!
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    A quick check of the specs of your notebook didn't tell me what wireless card it was using, but it did tell me it was certified for Suse Linux. It's shame that you tried so many versions of Ubuntu, if it didn't work on straight Ubuntu, it wouldn't be expected to work any differently on the offshoots, although I'm surprised that Mint didn't have a solution.
    As you stated, Gentoo and PCLinuxOS allowed you to change your fonts, which means there was a solution, it just didn't come with a distro that allowed you to have everything working within one distro.
    Looking further, I see that there were 3 different Wifi cards that could have come with your laptop. While I have met my match with some wireless cards, the Intel and Broadcom cards that are listed have drivers that work well with Linux. In fact, I have 2 Dell laptops, one with a similar Intel card, and one with one of the Broadcom cards that work well, and only took the installation of one driver (the broadcom-wl driver) to make it work perfectly.
    I'm sorry you had a bad experience, sometimes a particular model, your laptop for instance, will be problematic. You can't really judge Linux compatibility with hardware when your just testing on one model, and, I can see that your not judging, you've just come to the conclusion that Linux is not going to work for you on the laptop that you own.
    It's shame though, since that model laptop was sold primarily for business, and at the time it was made, HP was selling that model with Suse Linux installed, I'm just wondering if Suse, or even a RedHat based distro (like Fedora which I favor) wouldn't have been the distro solution you were looking for.
    It's also a shame that there isn't an easy way for a person to match, as in your case, a certain model laptop with a particular distro, so one doesn't have to waste time matching the features in each to find a perfect fit. I know many have tried hardware compatibility lists, but, to this day, I couldn't point you to one site where everything can be compared.
    Hey, maybe someday you'll try again. Next time though, if you have problems, come here and ask us how to solve them. We'd be more than happy to help.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    You have some good points.

    The registry is what I consider the single greatest issue for windows, if you view it as architecture the registry represents a primary support beam, every modification hacks at it a little more until it is unrepairable and causes a structural collapse. The only good solution I have found for the registry is backing it up and restoring from a clean backup, by using a diff tool on the backup and new registry file you can keep it under relative control, but it requires too much work.

    The ubuntu based font issue is not new, I can't fault them for prioritizing other issues that at more widespread and hardware based. I believe the reason why they are disregarding it is because adding a font caching script to the boot process would slow down the boot time, which they are currently very proud of their boot time. If you want I can pass the font caching script used in Slackware startup so you can add it to your ubuntu startup.

    The fan issue itself is a bit annoying, but in most cases the frequency scaling governor was able to fix it. Have you confirmed that frequency scaling is active and can you tell us which governor you are using?
  • altNull wrote:
    While I have had these problems with older versions of Ubuntu and Fedora, the last 3 versions have seem to correct this.

    Ubuntu Edgy - How to Control Fan Speed

    Man Fancontrol

    How to Control Fan Speed Manually

    Good Luck!

    Note: If you download a script you might have to mod it for your version or distro of linux!

    Thank you for the links! Like any newbee, I will have to learn how to install and run a script.
  • mfillpot wrote:
    You have some good points.
    Thank you. We are on the same page.:)
    The ubuntu based font issue is not new. If you want I can pass the font caching script used in Slackware startup so you can add it to your ubuntu startup.
    Perhaps you could post the script and instructions to install/run so others who runs into this issue can also benefit from it. - Thanks.:)
    The fan issue itself is a bit annoying, but in most cases the frequency scaling governor was able to fix it. Have you confirmed that frequency scaling is active and can you tell us which governor you are using?
    Frequency scaling / governor???:unsure:
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    dforionstar wrote:
    The ubuntu based font issue is not new. If you want I can pass the font caching script used in Slackware startup so you can add it to your ubuntu startup.
    Perhaps you could post the script and instructions to install/run so others who runs into this issue can also benefit from it. - Thanks.:)

    You can make a new text file called S70update-fonts in /etc/rcS.d (don't forget to make it executable), the contents will be:
    #!/bin/sh
    
    # This script makes the system update the font cache on each boot
    
    # Update the X font indexes:
    if [ -x /usr/bin/fc-cache ]; then
      echo "Updating X font indexes:  /usr/bin/fc-cache -f &"
      /usr/bin/fc-cache -f &
    fi
    
    The fan issue itself is a bit annoying, but in most cases the frequency scaling governor was able to fix it. Have you confirmed that frequency scaling is active and can you tell us which governor you are using?
    Frequency scaling / governor???:unsure:

    To play with the cpu-frequency scaling (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-cpufreq-1/index.html) to tell the system to reduce its cpu frequency when the demand is not needed, the result is lower power consumption, less heat and reduced fan activity. The easiest way to manage this is by adding the cpu frequency scaling monitor applet to the gnome desktop and playing with the settings or if you wish to modify it from the command line you can install cpufrequtils or use the instructions from the IBM link I included.
  • mfillpot wrote:
    You can make a new text file called S70update-fonts in /etc/rcS.d (don't forget to make it executable), the contents will be:
    #!/bin/sh
    
    # This script makes the system update the font cache on each boot
    
    # Update the X font indexes:
    if [ -x /usr/bin/fc-cache ]; then
      echo "Updating X font indexes:  /usr/bin/fc-cache -f &"
      /usr/bin/fc-cache -f &
    fi
    
    Thank you! I presume any font changes will only apply AFTER a reboot, is this correct?
    To play with the cpu-frequency scaling (http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-cpufreq-1/index.html) to tell the system to reduce its cpu frequency when the demand is not needed, the result is lower power consumption, less heat and reduced fan activity. The easiest way to manage this is by adding the cpu frequency scaling monitor applet to the gnome desktop and playing with the settings or if you wish to modify it from the command line you can install cpufrequtils or use the instructions from the IBM link I included.
    Wow! I briefly reviewed the link and some of the subsequent links-very comprehensive.

    To answer your original question, my notebook contains an Intel T2500 (Yonah) which supports ACPI and also seems to support Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (through WinXP), although the appropriate (2004) Intel utility could not identify this feature.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    Yes after a reboot it will automatically rebuild your font cache which should fix you font issue, you can also run fc-cache from the command line to do it manually.

    I gave you the comprehensive IBM link because I figured the massive in-depth information would not be wasted in your hands. The kernels do include a speedstep driver so support should be automatic in your case. Enjoy playing with it, I have seen a couple of cases where the bios fan control does not adapt to the lower temps and in those cases you will probably need to modify the fan yourself, but in most cases the bios will correctly adjust your fan for you.
  • Thank you mfillpot. You have given me plenty to work with. Very much appreciated!
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    dforionstar wrote:
    Thank you mfillpot. You have given me plenty to work with. Very much appreciated!

    We are here to help, feel free to return with further questions or to help others.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    Also on another note, due to your experience and my guess about your needs. I think you will need something a little more manual, configurable and stable for your preferences, if I am correct feel free to check out slackware or gentoo.
  • MikeEnIkeMikeEnIke Posts: 88
    mfillpot wrote:
    Also on another note, due to your experience and my guess about your needs. I think you will need something a little more manual, configurable and stable for your preferences, if I am correct feel free to check out slackware or gentoo.

    or Arch!
  • genomegagenomega Posts: 7
    If you tried PCLinuxOS & KDE and still had problems, I humbly suggest that linux is not your problem.
  • Ya i do agree with altNull i have face the same problem ....but it get resolved when i started using the updated version.....
  • SteristSterist Posts: 18
    dforionstar wrote:
    I am a senior IBM mainframe software engineer and database administrator and in its day I was highly proficient in MS-DOS line commands. I have written thousands of lines of computer code and tested hundreds of thousands of lines of computer code. I recently tried several Linux distributions and after too much time wasted chasing solutions for issues which simply work or work simply in Windows, I made the decision to return to Windows XP to catch up on other projects.

    I would like to begin by complementing all the software engineers, developers, and testers that have diligently worked and contributed to Linux.

    On the positive side, Linux is void of one of the key architectural design faults of all MS Windows versions since Windows 95, that being the Windows Registry or what I often refer to as the Windows Landfill. I have been told that the entire Windows Registry is assembled from various files on the hard disk and loaded into memory upon start-up, regardless of which applications are running or not running. The Registry contains nearly all the critical Windows operating system settings along with settings and parameters for almost all Windows applications. Unfortunately many Windows applications do not completely remove all of their entries when uninstalled leaving heaps of junk behind in the Registry. There are numerous Registry “cleaners”, but I have yet to find one that can accurately removes all the junk left behind by uninstalled applications. Furthermore, applications including MS Windows, use the Registry as a temporary location for temporary settings but fail to remove these when they are no longer needed. Thus the Registry is forever expanding in size. Hard disk space is not the issue here. The issue is waste of RAM, operating inefficiency, stability, and OS portability. Fortunately, Linux is leaner and smarter.

    On the negative side, I encountered a persistent font-rendering issue with Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and Linux Mint. I live on an HP nc8430 notebook PC with 1680x1050 WXGA resolution, where increasing font size is a must. The feature works for system fonts, but did not work for key applications like Firefox. My research revealed that the issue has already been documented throughout the Web and is related to these distributions failing to update the standard configuration file which Firefox and other applications rely upon for their font settings. While the Ubuntu folks are aware of it, they seem uninterested in fixing it. The issue is also present in Linux Mint which is based on Ubuntu. The fonts worked as expected for both Gentoo and PCLinuxOS. However I was unable to get my internal Intel 3945 ABG Wireless card to work with PCLinuxOS (both Gnome and KDE versions).

    In every incarnation of Linux that I tried, my notebook fan was ALWAYS ON even when no applications were running with CPU near 0%. This issue may be related to CPU throttling and fan throttling. Linux needs to resolve this before I can use Linux on a notebook without the associated side effects such as annoying noise of the fan on max, increased fan wear, and reduced battery life. There is nothing more this user would like than to depart the world of Microsoft Windows for Linux, but the path will have to be paved with far fewer rivers to cross or mountains to climb just to get there.

    that's quite an explanation, but aside from the 2nd post, i have two words :P

    dual boot
  • genomega wrote:
    If you tried PCLinuxOS & KDE and still had problems, I humbly suggest that linux is not your problem.
    Perhaps you could "humbly" suggest a solution to the problem. Hint: it has to to do with PCLinuxOS problematic handling of networking, a known issue that has been acknowledged and documented in the PCLinuxOS forums. In the future, perhaps you could "humbly" do some research before making non-constructive assumptions based on no evidence.
  • Sterist wrote:
    dual boot

    Thank you Sterist. Perhaps dual boot might solve the problem. However, Live installs of all the other versions I tried were able to quickly connect via Wireless. PCLinuxOS was the only one that could not. Other users have encountered the same issue, so hopefully the issue will be addressed.
  • mfillpotmfillpot Posts: 2,180
    The wireless issue can be varied per distro, based upon included driver modules and firmware. Some commercially backed distros have access to drivers and firmware that community based distros cannot use based upon licensing issues. I suspect that PClinusOS had was from their included modules, when the kernel was compiled they did not add support Dave's wireless card, generally it can be fixed by compiling a custom kernel.

    If in doubt you can run a distro that works, check lsmod to see what modules are present, then compare that list with a distro that did not work to see what is missing.
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