A Rant (long, sorry)

I’m usually a pretty reserved kind of person who take things in stride but this morning I finally had it. I’m not trying to start an argument or a flame war or “convert” anyone but I had to get this off my chest.

Last Thursday I did a complete reformat of my Windows partition (it had been about a year and was overdue). So I get XP (Pro SP1) up and running nice and clean, optimized the way I like it, internet connection ready but not yet active. Then I spend all weekend doing work in Linux (on another partion). I manage several small websites, troubleshoot computers, as well as some desktop publishing and computer graphics. On the side I also publish a monthly newsletter for an organization I’m involved with. I’ve slowly been migrating all of these activities to Linux. Well, it’s time to get the newsletter done for this month but it has yet to be moved over from QuarkXpress to Scribus and I’m on a deadline. I’ve got to use Windows. No problem except:

Over the weekend I noticed a significant number of (failed) attempts to infiltrate my computer (both in the security logs in Linux and through Snort). Further research shows that there is another rampant worm on the loose (W32/sasser.worm). I’ve got a completely virgin unpatched version of Windows that I need to get on the net. Now I’m a patch as I go sort of person and thought I’d give something a shot. Download the patch for this specific vulnerability from the relative safety of the Linux partition (unaffected), move it over to the Windows partion, boot into Windows, apply the patch, double check that the firewall is up, and then go patch up the rest of the system. Microsoft’s website complains right off the bat that I need to be running Windows to download and use this patch. Ok, “Use” makes sense, but download? Microsoft’s own security bulletin states that you should not have an unpatched Windows system on the net. Hmmm, how are you supposed to download the patch unless you have an already patched system handy? Ok so I guess I’ll have to take the chance. Boot into Windows, Firewall enabled (supposedly will block the worm) and off I go to get the patch. Click on it. Nope! You need to be running IE5 or higher. I avoid IE like the plague (seems lately that everytime I use it I end up with some kind of spyware, adware, garbage) and use Netscape instead. At this point I’m no longer finding this amusing. Against my better judgment IE it is. Now it’s telling me that I need to run a complete auto update in order to use the current patch (no wonder it need IE). One of the reasons I like to patch as I go is that from past experience not all of Microsoft’s patches (band-aids) do what they are supposed to and on occasion they actually do more harm than good (better to read up a bit on each one first). It seems I have no choice. So here goes…wait…“SERVER HAS ENCOUNTERED A FATAL ERROR!” in big bold red letters. Don’t they know it’s not polite to yell, not to mention if my mother saw this warning (average computer user) she’d probably think it was something she did (so much for user friendliness). Reload the page, “page not found”, once more, “server busy”, and again…ah, finally. 15 security updates need to be installed, nearly 20 megs. Fine, I have broadband. Download starts at 7Kb/Sec (I guess their site is a bit busy serving patches today). It took 20 more minutes to download and install (excruciatingly slow). Now in true Windows fashion the machine needs to reboot. Which of course means I now have to go and hunt down the page again for the patch I needed in the first place since it wasn’t included in the auto-update for some reason (even though it’s been out for over three weeks). Out of curiosity I check the firewall once more and guess what, it’s been disabled. I did a little further reading later on and found that Microsoft Update does this to avoid any disruptions in the download, how nice. Now this type of thing pisses me off. They didn’t warn me, they didn’t ask me, they just disabled it. Just for kicks I re-enable it and go get the last Patch. Reboot yet again, re-enable firewall yet again (yes it was disabled a second time). Now I should be good right? Less than 5 minutes later, I get the “…NTAUTHORITY… your computer will be re-started in 60 sec.” Runaround (symptomatic of the worm I was trying to protect against in the first place). Like hell it will!

In the hour or so I had to use an unpatched unfirewalled Windows system (read as insecure all around) I was infected. Microsoft offered me no other choice if I wanted to fix what shouldn’t have been broken in the first place! As a side note Microsoft kindly provides a detection tool for this worm which you can run from your web browser (rather their web bowser). Or can you? Seems not with a firewall and/or the latest security patches for you browser unless you disable everything. Huh? I finally got everything fixed up by obtaining a third party removal tool (after wasting half of my morning doing so).

So the question I’m asking myself now is why use this OS at all? User friendliness? My experience this morning, killed that argument for me. My mother would have been pulling her hair out. Support? Not even going to go there. Software availability? Sure but becoming less of an issue every day (sourceforge.net comes to mind)

Linux has it’s own flaws and certainly isn’t for everyone, but I’m sick of watching my choices of how I use my computer being taken away from me with every new release of Windows. I’m sick of someone telling me that they took that feature out (Dos! probably the most functional part of the whole damn thing) because they didn’t think I should need or have access to it for my own good. OMG let me decide. If I break it, I’ll deal with it. Most people still won’t know it’s there so MS tech support shouldn’t be real busy with this and everyone else will have a handy tool for getting around known issues like they used to. I’m sick of them telling me I need to use this browser, this software, turn this and that off or on, just so that I can fix their mistakes or use the computer the way I need to. I just want my choices back and Linux gives me that. And for that I will put up with the slight inconvenience it sometimes causes. I don’t mind fixing things (I usually enjoy it in fact), but I certainly to want to pay for the privilege anymore.

Sorry for the long rant. It’s just a personal opinion and the events of this morning piled up on top of a week of such things and I’ve had it.

Got to go and reformat a partion again. Bye, XP! :slight_smile:

I’m thinking of writing a rant on operating systems in general.

Why I think Windows, Linux, Unix, and Mac OSX are essentially the same BS with different decor.

I’ve used Linux (So theorettically I know what mac os x, and unix are like as well), and windows, and I have to say I’m not terribly impressed with any of them.

BeOS was, IMO the best operating system that ever graced my PC, simply because it wasn’t complex like Linux and windows, it wasn’t fat like mac os x, and best of all even my grandma could use it.

When OpenBeOS hits version 1 point oh, you can bet It’ll be on my PC.

I know it’s too late to do any good, but:

You can download the update for a specific vulnerability as an exe from microsoft without going through windowsupdate. Which no doubt means no need for IE or even windows. You just need to know where to look - you can generally get a link from the virus’s page on http://securityresponse.symantec.com/avcenter/ and probably other virus databases too.

The “your computer will shutdown in 60 seconds” can be cancelled. Just go Start->Run and run “shutdown -a” (the a is for abort)

All FYI, and might save others from the same problem you sent through…