03 October 2005

Lest I forget

Last night was spent playing Don Quixote (well, Pancho) with dying hardware and scads of MS-Windows machines.

How shall I put this...?

I’ve been spoiled.

Really spoiled.

I’ve even griped that this “workstation” (it’s a busy server, too), with 512MB of RAM, can take up to ten seconds to start OpenOffice Writer, depending on how it feels.

Last night, I watched an MS-Windows-2000 machine wallowing along with a “mere” 1024MB (e.g. 47 seconds to start NotePad), several XP machines struggling to boot with 256MB, two which take more than a minute to start OOw out of 512MB of RAM. Eeeyugh. And that’s without any viruses.

What staggers me is that the people who use these machines daily don’t complain. It’s “normal”. Life goes on.

You’d never credit these same people with being the fanatical support crew for expensive (but amazingly capable) office appliances. They sure as heck wouldn’t put up with such randomness and misbehaviour in their own products.

I watched file-shares rez in and evapourate at will, and others go read-only without provocation. I watched while another consultant put up a file-share which didn’t appear. Fifteen minutes later, I took it down. put it back up again, et viola: there she was.

I watched “identical” machines: one wanted a reboot after a config change, the one next to it did not. Another suddenly decided that it was going to reboot in one minute, and could not be dissuaded. Down it counted, and — boo-wing! — there she went! Too bad if I’d had something open and unsaved, eh?

And on, and on, and on. Nearly 30 different workstations, each with its own bizarre trait.

To get me off Linux again, you’d need a chisel, a big mallet and considerable time. I don’t need the ulcers. I don’t need the hair loss.

I also watched a Novell server die. Halfway through a migration.

I think of Novell as unkillable, but an exploding hard disk will do it every time. I’m so glad we took a paranoia backup on Saturday night. My laptop is now a file server, until Mirage (a silver box to my right, currently developing chronic Mandriva) is installed later this morning.

Much as the “B” Ark’s captain enjoyed the bagpiping, I’m enjoying working on lots of MS-Windows machines. It’s teaching me to appreciate Linux so very, very much.

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