I finally bought a netbook, an Asus EEE PC 1015PEM-PU17. Purportedly, there should be EEE PCs available with Linux, but I don’t see those actually for sale, so I ended up paying the Microsoft tax and receiving it with Windows 7.
I decided to leave it there, both because it’s a useful beard (no one’s going to suspect you’re concerned with security if your machine boots into Windows), and because it would be difficult or impossible (it didn’t come with OS CDs) to restore it after the fact, which I might want to do to resell it. Some people would actually want it that way. Takes all kinds to make a world.
So I planned to do the minimally intrusive thing and install Linux to the 100+ GB empty D: drive it was set up with. But I wasn’t sure whether Windows would end up confused if I simply reformatted that out from under it, so I wanted to delete the partition within Windows. Which meant interacting with it.
This was my first experience with Windows 7. I never used Vista, and I’d heard a lot of good things about 7. From my brief and shallow interaction with it, I couldn’t see much difference from XP. You’re still not prompted to make a separate admin account from your ordinary user account. That was a bad call ten years ago, and it’s a bad call now. I tried to figure out how to delete the partition, and I could find a couple of places to get at info about the drives, but no luck, so I resorted, of course, to Googling.
> Control Panel → All Items View → Administrative Tools → Computer Management → Storage → Disk Management. Mmm, can’t you just smell the discoverability? The intuitiveness? I’m not suggesting that this is harder than it would be in Linux, of course, where you’d also need to google to find that you wanted parted. But once things are so complicated you’re resorting to web searching to figure out how to do what you want, I’m hard-pressed to see how navigating through 7 levels of interface is any easier, either. Sure does involve more pointing and clicking, though - gotta give it that.
I did the web-searching in MSIE. Had a wonderful Windows moment in which it immediately prompted me for whether I wanted the Bing bar. I said no. Another box popped up saying the Bing Bar wanted to run some software. Did I want to let it? I said no. Back to the first box. You see, you have to say yes to the second box to let it run software (which is actually an uninstall program, but you’re not told that) in order to effect your no to the first box.
Meanwhile, there were things popping up all over the place with Trend Micro this and Asus Warrantee that. These aren’t directly Windows’ fault, but they are of a piece with the software ecosystem of irritation that has grown around Windows. I made the mistake of walking away from the computer and lying down on the couch, and nearly as soon as the kitty had settled on my chest, it started playing annoying music. The default screensaver was some sort of instructional/advertisement video.
As usual, I wondered how people could live this way.
So I deleted the partition and installed Ubuntu 11.04. I thought I’d try another Debian Unstable derivative, but I shopped around and really didn’t see that anything else offered a comparably attractive combo of currency, stability, and support. Maybe tomorrow I’ll dist-upgrade to the 11.10 Alpha 3.
And then I spent several hours installing software and in a couple of important cases, like for my window manager and terminal emulator, downloading the source so I could have the latest versions compiled with exactly the options I wanted, and generally did a lot of things that would leave most people wondering how I could live that way.
But absolutely nothing pops up.
Not even when the battery runs dry.
Yeah, I need to do something about that one.
Updated: Lest I mislead anyone, the defaults for most of the Linux installations in this modern world already take care of laptop battery warnings without thought or effort on the user’s part. It’s because of my extreme customization that I’ll need to do something myself.