Saturday, August 19, 2006

Microsoft's Genuine Advantage

I have an older IBM Thinkpad T23 laptop which I purchased after sending most of my scrapyard through eBay. I bought it with the intention of running 90% Linux, and occasionally using Windows when I need some odd utility, or have to connect to something that only speaks Windows. The T23 is a rock solid machine, and being far from the bleeding edge, also has pretty decent hardware compatibility. With 1GB of RAM and a 1GHz CPU, the machine is plenty fast for it's intended role as a terminal web browser, email client, and occasional OpenOffice platform. I bet the most used application on it was gnome-terminal if I really analyzed the accounting records; Nothing stressful.

When I first loaded Fedora Linux it was a simple process to get the machine useable. Useable and optimial turned out to be divided by a full-strength, adult size, bang-a-roo of a headache. The little things like getting it to play MP3s didn't phase me too much. In fact, taken one by one the entire list isn't anything that can't be handled. The problem is that I'm tired of having to handle things. I just want my computers to let me do what I want without HAVING to hack. I'd rather hack by choice than for base survival.

I was able to get Wireless ethernet working after some digging, but what really sent me over the edge was ACPI. My power consumption was awful, and getting it to be even close to Windows proved as complex as tuning 100 Oracle instances fighting for the resources of a SparcStation 5. Not fun at all. Eventually, I decided that despite my inability to mentally mesh with Window's gears I would dump Linux and stick to the main stream.

I bought a copy of Windows XP Pro off eBay, complete with hologram media, funky sticker, and all of those gimmicky little things they do to make ou think you're getting something official and important. I downloaded all the updates, I filled out the registration, I did all the things someone would do when they are an IT professional who wants to be legitimate. After using it for about a year with no issues, including the "Windows Genuine Advantage" thingy which used to think I has a legitimate copy.

Today, after a long hiatus, my laptop was booted and it informed me that Windows Genuine Advantage had changed its mind. Warning boxes were popping up left and right, and graciously giving me the opportunity to "purchase genuine Windows". You know what? I already did. It was shrink wrapped, and had so many gimmicky little security things that it was gaudy. And now you want to give me an opportunity to do it again? No thanks. From a quick Google search it looks like I'm not the first person to be annoyed.

I did notice that my system clock was really goofed up, and I've heard that the validation process involves hardware checks, so maybe something in my configuration triggered it. I don't know, but frankly I don't care. I don't want to know why it happened. I'm going back to a world that doesn't include helpful paper clips and other rediculous instantiations of a help system.

Since my battery is nearly dead, I've decided not to worry about ACPI. Windows is being scrapped tonight and I'm going to either run Ubuntu or Fedora linux. I'm not crazy about Solaris on the desktop because it has less standard productivity software, and the updates for non-Solaris software are not convenient. I'm the #1 fan for servers, but on the desktop I'm a Linux guy until I can afford a PowerBook or MacBook.

I'll post more about the final choice I make, but I felt it necessary to document this eve of liberation for all to see. And now I must end this post as I have a date with fdisk to catch...

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