Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Operating System Upgrade Updates

This past weekend was devoted to upgrading computers. My Dell Mini 9 netbook received an upgrade from Ubuntu 9.04 ("Jaunty Jackalope") to the release candidate of 9.10 ("Karmic Koala"), which has to be the best Linux version ever produced. All went well, as expected. The official roll-out of "Karmic Koala" will be this Thursday. I have been playing with Linux in various flavors (Suse, Puppy, Freespire, Ubuntu) for several years now, and this is the first distribution that I think is ready for a mass audience. Canonical has done a very good job of making a nice, useful operating system.

The big surprise, however, was Windows 7. I have a Compaq laptop that shipped with Vista, and I absolutely hated it. Sam's Club had a Win7 upgrade package of three Home Premium licenses for about $123, which I purchased Saturday morning. Some of the Compaq proprietary hardware was problematic with Linux, especially wireless networking, so I needed to keep it in the Windows world, and it only made sense to purchase the 3-pack for $123 when the individual licenses were $109.

I performed the upgrade of the Vista laptop, and all went smoothly. The machine is much faster, the OS uses far less RAM, and this laptop is finally a pleasure to use. Windows 7 has a fresh, clean feel to it, and all of my software works without any problems.

As a result, I also decided to try out Win7 on my wife's Acer Aspire One XP netbook, and it works great. I was not able to upgrade directly from XP, but needed to perform a fresh install. That was no problem since I back up files nightly on a networked external 1 TB drive and also have all of the installation software for her configuration loaded on a USB jump drive. In fact, doing a fresh install, re-loading her software, and restoring her files was quicker than the upgrade from Vista on the Compaq.

I am sure glad that Microsoft got it right this time. I still have the one extra Windows 7 license, but the other machines don't really meet the requirements, and are happy running either Ubuntu or XP, depending upon their roles. We don't seem to ever get rid of computers, I just find a way to deploy them in other capacities, such as one old XP laptop which is used exclusively for our Magic jack VOIP and another somewhat newer XP machine that serves as an amateur radio RMS gateway into the Winlink2000 network.

I am so glad when things work well!

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