Windows Vista

Back during RC1, I requested a key but never got around to installing it. Then RC2 came out. Now of course Vista has RTM’d and the official MIT release is supposed to be coming at the end of this month, but I finally decided to see what’s what and gave RC2 a go. I was not about to blow away any production machine, but there was already a Linux host machine running some OS’s via VMWare, so that’s where the install went.

I had only two small problems. One, I had to repartition the only drive because I believed Vista docs, which said it required a min of 15GB. (The nice tool “gparted” did the trick of non-destructive repartitioning — when it didn’t crap out!) Turns out 15GB is total BS. A clean install of Vista Ultimate took 4-5GB on the disk. (I don’t remember having any choice over which version to install, strange!)

The second problem: The installer also refused to begin on a machine with less than 512MB of RAM since it’s the “minimum requirement.” I was poking around for a workaround online and saw people asking the same question. No answer was ever given (no command switch that I am aware of), only a swarm of trolls boasting about their new machines and how Vista could not possibly be useful on anything less than 1GB. Well, utter BS. It’s running right now on 256MB of RAM … Inside VMWare … On a physical machine that actually only has 512MB of RAM … Rendered over a remote desktop connection with all graphics turned on …. And tunneled over an uncompressed PPTP link. The machine is otherwise a P4 1.7GHz. It does just fine. I’m writing this in Vista right this moment and I wouldn’t be doing it if I felt the slightest bit of inconvenience. On a clean boot, the system eats around 160MB of RAM. That’s a lot more than the typical 60MB/80MB of 2000/XP, but it isn’t bad. The way I got it to install was this: I had to set 512MB of RAM for the virtual machine just to let the setup start (and the machine thrashed a bit — due to VMWare paging, not even due to the setup program), but as soon as setup rebooted for the first time, I switched the VM back to 256MB.

It is working well enough that I’m thinking of putting this on a real machine. The usability improvements are good and the sort that exercise the hardware improvements over the years — the Start menu search among them. The metaphors and idioms are still very much what was seen in XP though, so there is much continuity here. Maybe that’s why people say it’s XP Service Pack 11. But I think that’s a good thing in this case.

Next up, installing RDP 6 client for XP and Office 12 beta.

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