An economic analyst vs Microsoft Windows Vista

Lets face it, most operating system installers aren't fun. If Microsoft Windows weren't pre-installed on more than 90% of desktop PCs, I suspect more than a few PCs would be sitting at BIOS boot prompts. But if the experience of my favorite blogging economist is any indication, even when you have a monopoly and your OS is pre-installed on 90% of new PCs, you can still screw up the initial user experience. Michael Shedlock is a economic analyst with an interesting view on everything from global property bubbles to currency carry trades to the goofy and dangerous actions of the Federal Reserve board. But give him a new laptop with Windows Vista pre-installed and pretty soon there's blood on the floor (literally!)

One of my pet peeves about the old Solaris installer is that the Java GUI installer takes more memory than the minimal requirements of the installed operating system. The same can be said for most GNU/Linux installers I've dealt with and probably Microsoft Windows installers also. I once tried installing Windows 98 on an old box and left the CD churn overnight. When I woke up it had burnt out the CDROM drive.

Fortunately OpenSolaris installers are improving and targeting smaller machines. But until an OpenSolaris distribution is pre-installed on your average Wal-Mart laptop, you'll probably need to read some docs and blogs on openSolaris.org. Here are some notes from an install on a low-end machine:

Don't use graphical install!

To check the md5sum of a downloaded package or ISO on OpenSolaris:
digest -a md5 {filename}

To see if any errors occurred during install:
cat /var/sadm/install_data/install_log | grep -i error

To see a verbose list of the devices on your system:
prtconf -v


Comments:

Brian, While installing multiple vendor GNU/Linux distributions these past eight (8) years a 'textural' interface option was NEVER required. Simply stated, comply with the HCL then install. A troubled installation implies another vendors software is suggested. It is now time for ALL vendors to live in a GRAPHICAL interface world. (I.E., GNOME, KDE, OS-X, WA. ware, SUN Project 'Looking Glass')

Posted by William R. Walling on April 19, 2007 at 11:20 AM GMT+00:00 #

You might have more memory available than I. Some hand-me-down wintel Wintel PCs I'd set aside for Solaris each had less than 512M. One laptop has 128Mb, the other has 16Mb (and succesfully ran Slackware 96 with X11!) The Solaris graphical installer's memory usage is a pet peeve for me, but I'll admit that this problem is becoming less severe. In 18 months hand-me-down PCs designed for Vista will be available and I'd expect most of those would have to have at least 2G.

Posted by bnitz on April 20, 2007 at 05:23 AM GMT+00:00 #

I've since found that the limitation isn't caused by the Java graphical installer, but the grub boot loader! I was able to install SXDE on a Sony with 256 MB, but bugs in grub can cause the initial bootloader to fail with Error 28: selected item cannot fit into memory erros on machines with 256MB or even on machines with up to 2GB!

Posted by bnitz on April 26, 2007 at 04:45 AM GMT+00:00 #

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