Dave installs Windows XP

We needed an XP box at work for testing. Duty to do the dirty deed fell to me. So after ghosting the Windows 2000 station several of us share, I pulled out an XP CD. It installed surprisingly quickly–less than half an hour. The system is a P3-667 with 128 MB RAM and an IBM hard drive (I don’t know the model).
It found the network and had drivers for all the hardware in the box. That doesn’t happen very often with Microsoft OSs, so it was nice.

I booted into XP, to be greeted by a hillside that was just begging to be overrun by tanks, but instead of tanks, there was this humongo start menu. I right-clicked on the Start button, hit Properties, and picked Classic view. There. I had a Win95-like Start menu. While I was at it, I went back and picked small icons. I don’t like humongous Start menus.

I also don’t like training wheels and big, bubbly title bars. The system was dog slow, so I right-clicked on the desktop to see what I could find to turn off. I replaced the Windows XP theme with the Classic theme. Then I turned off that annoying fade effect.

Still, the system dragged. I went into Control Panel, System, Performance. Bingo. I could pick settings for best appearance (whose choices are certainly debatable–I guess they look good if you like bright colors and have a huge monitor) or best performance. Guess which I picked? Much better.

Next, I went into Networking. I saw some QoS thing. I did a search. It’s intended to improve the quality of your network, at the price of 20% of your bandwidth. Forget that. I killed it.

After I did all that stuff, XP was reasonably peppy. It logs on and off quickly. I installed Office 2000 and it worked fine. The apps loaded quickly–just a couple of seconds. That’s how it should be. If I went in and edited the shortcuts in the Start menu to turn off the splash screens, they’d load instantly.

WinXP brings up a bunch of popups that I don’t like. If I wanted unexpected popup windows, I’d run a Web browser. I couldn’t quickly figure out how to disable those.

I couldn’t run Windows Update. It froze every time I tried.

I found a Windows XP tuning guide at ExtremeTech. I suspect turning off the eye candy will help more than most of the suggestions in that article. I suspect if I dug around I’d find other things. We’ll see if I get some time.

XP isn’t as bad as I expected, I guess. But I’m still not going to buy it.

This, on the other hand, is worth a second look. And a third. You can now run MS Office on Linux. No need to wait for Lindows, no need to abandon your current fave distro (at least if your fave distro is Red Hat, SuSE, Mandrake, Debian, or Caldera).

It’s 55 bucks. It’s available today. It brings Office 97/2000 and Lotus Notes r5 to your Linux desktop. Other Windows apps work, but their functionality isn’t guaranteed.

You can get some screenshots at CodeWeavers. It even makes the apps look like native Linux apps.

11 thoughts on “Dave installs Windows XP

  • March 28, 2002 at 12:32 pm
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    Here’s how you kill the XP popups. Run msconfig, then go to Startup and search for the entry msmsgs or msmsgs.exe. Disable that, and no more annoying popups.

  • March 28, 2002 at 1:21 pm
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    All right, I’ll bite… what did you mean by "If I went in and edited the shortcuts in the Start menu to turn off the splash screens, they’d load instantly." Is there something like /nosplash you can add? The shortcuts I have just point to the executable.

  • March 28, 2002 at 1:56 pm
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    With more and more developers working on the Wine project, I think the new CodeWeavers Office product will be obsolete within a year. Of course, during that time period, CodeWeavers can release another commercial version of Wine (1.x or 2.0 or whatever they want to call it) and make even more money from it.

    I appreciate CodeWeavers effort, by the way. They are really helping Linux make waves on the corporate desktop.

  • March 28, 2002 at 2:01 pm
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    You can disable the splash screen for Word with the /q switch. But it doesn’t work with Excel.

  • March 28, 2002 at 2:04 pm
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    Yes, Dave, there are /nosplash-like switches you can add for many (but not all) apps. They’re poorly documented and they’re never consistent, but this page will help.

    In this day and age, many programs spend more time displaying splash screens than they do loading.

  • March 28, 2002 at 4:00 pm
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    When I loaded WinXP, I stripped it down so bare, it was running smoother and faster than my old W2K and with less mem usage.

    I used a number of different tools. First off, I disabled all the froo froo eye-candy garbage like Dave mentioned. Then I went to http://www.tweakxp.com and used a bunch of the tweaks there. If you search through some of the tips there, you can find out how to uninstall MSN Messenger and a bunch of other apps that M$ makes you think you can’t uninstall.

    Then… once you’re done with those tweaks, definitely go to http://www.blkviper.com/WinXP/servicecfg.htm This guy has mapped out every single service that XP runs. He then categorizes them by their necessity, function, and dependants… and then you can decide which ones to leave running or disable. He’s got a complete graph showing you which ones to enable/disable if you’re running a gaming rig, or a network server. I disabled a bunch of ’em that I know I’ll never need. My RAM usage at idle dropped by 30MB and I’ve never had the slightest bit of instability as a result.

    I’m pretty happy with XP overall. I still wish it had less bloat, but none of the stuff I need is available for Linux, so I just have to settle for what I can force Windows to do. :o)

    WATYF

  • March 28, 2002 at 5:18 pm
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    I just built myself a "new" computer last weekend with pretty decent specs: 1GHz AMD Athlon, 512 megs of memory, 60Gb hd, Soundblaster Live, Geforce2, Pinnacle PCTV TV card yada yada.

    I didn’t even consider installing Windows on it. I didn’t even think of it. I finally made the switch from using Windows on my main system and Linux on my secondary system. I am now pretty much Linux only. I got MS Office documents, sure, but they are simple ones that can be converted easily. Besides, I don’t really care about MS Office apps as long as I can find others that can do the same stuff. I can hear many saying that comparable Linux apps don’t have the functionality. Well, I am one of the few that will actually admit to using only about 10-15% of the functionality found in those MS products so I don’t need the bloat. I don’t trade documents from my private computer all that often either. Work provides me with Windows machines and MS software so I can use it there.

    Thing is, I have been loosing sleep since I installed and got this system up and running. Why? Well, I have been sitting here late nights, poking around, tweaking, tuning, testing new stuff, learning and having a blast. All of a sudden I remember why I got into computers in the first place. I haven’t had this much fun in ages! It pretty much feels like the time I had my Amiga, where I could loose myself for way too long without really feeling it.

    I have worked with XP. My opinion? Simple folks will like it and it will hopefully make them more productive (if not poorer since it costs quite a lot and they will need to buy new hardware to make it play nice). But I am simply unimpressed by this product and I won’t be buying it for home use. I got a Windows 98SE license here at home. I will continue using it on a box here at home, mostly for my wife and if the need would ever arise. But it is also the last OS I buy for home use from Microsoft.

    /Dave T.

  • August 29, 2003 at 3:20 am
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    disabling certain uneeded services like MESSENGER and INDEXING SERVICE from start>run>msconfig also helps a bit speed wise, though I agree completely that turning off visual affects gets the biggest speed boost.

  • December 10, 2003 at 1:00 am
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    commentMy emachine with xp will not boot up to window. The restore disk at the end says ghost…. wasnt’installed. Then I hit a key and it should go to window but. Loads dos and say hit centrl,alt and delete everytime… any ideas or have I confused you. thanks

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