Is Microsoft making an effort to improve update transparency and quality?

windows security updates november 2018

Respectfully, I remember Ubuntu Linux repeatedly installing a non-functional driver when I was dual booting anound a decade ago. I found a work-around that let me install the Windows driver for the wifi card with some sort of wrapper or program creating compatibility, but Ubuntu kept randomly replacing it with the driver that didn’t work, and seemed to get more forceful about it with every 6 month update. I believe what finally led to me deleting the Ubuntu partition and just using Windows was when I spent 7 hours trying to get Ubuntu to accept the driver I gave it, the only driver that had ever worked, and it really dug in it’s heels more than it had in the past and forced its driver, which didn’t work. I finally had enough and moved on.

Fortunately, I could fix the issue with the wifi driver until the time where it became unfixable by using an ethernet cable to get the wifi driver working. These days, a lot of people don’t have ethernet cables, and there are plenty of devices out there without even Ethernet ports.

So, its not just a Windows problem.

And, yes, I tried Ubuntu again in a dual boot situation briefly a few years ago. That time, it worked fine on a different set of hardware, *but* it eliminated Windows from the boot screen and made it impossible to restore a working boot option for Windows from GRUB. The old edit the text file thing for GRUB didn’t work. It took me two weeks of trying before I gave up and instructed Windows to restore its bootloader and eliminate everything else, and deleted Ubuntu again.

Maybe its just because I’m not a computer expert, but I remember spending a lot of time looking up answers and trying to engage online with experts and people I knew in real life, nd no dice. I had a friend who was an IT professional with Linux specific certifications who knew I was having issues about 15 years ago with a used Windows XP machine that was so overrun with issues and malware, with no restore disks available, that was borderlone useable, so he sold me on just wiping it and installing openSUSE Linux. I didn’t have wifi yet, and he literally started working on this when I visited him to watch a football game on television- he could not get the Ethernet port working. The sun rose the next morning and he was still working on it, knowing it was my only PC, I couldn’t afford a replacement, and he had sort of gotten me into it. We called it because he had been working forever and needed sleep and I needed to go home. I think he did finally come over another day and fix it or something.

But to pretend that the driver issues on Windows are worse than the ones on Linux is just not accurate. I will say I have heard of more people having driver issues with Windows 10 than they used to have with Windows, and more people not having driver issues with Linux than they used to have, but it hasn’t flipped to where Windows is worse than Linux on this.

Linux distros are somewhat handicapped in terms of being able to have consistently good driver support because they have less income and fewer employees or volunteers to throw at the problem, and because Linux is not usually preinstalled on PCs, which means that a lot of users are installing Linux on machines that the manufactures did not design with Linux support as a primary concern where they’d have to put a lot of effort into having great Linux drivers for it and maintaining compatibility with subsequent versions of any given distro (Or Linux in general).

The answer to issues like that is probably to buy a Linux PC from a company that sells it preinstalled and maintains its only repositories with drivers that it keeps updated, and for the user to minimize chances for things to go wrong by sticking to LTS releases with just security updates and bug fixes rathet than upgrading to the newest feature version of the OS every 6 months, *but* stuff like System76 is more expensive than Windows PCs with comparable hardware, and doesn’t offer real lowcost options, and its one of the less expensive pure Linux companies that sell laptops with big screen and enough specs wise to be someone’s only computer. Its also not the sort of thing that you can search for big sales on from resellers or search for no credit check financing on or whatever. Its just a lot easier and less expensive to get a Windows machine, and then run Windows, because that’s what the drivers were specifically made and are maintained to be compatible with.

I’ve often though if System76 or some other reputable Linux company could just find a way to do a good laptop for under $500 with, say, a 15 inch screen, an i5 processor, 8 gigs of ram, and a one terabyte harddrive, and keep those drivers working hassle free for the next 10 years, it’d be very successful. Even better if they could do it at $300 or $400, or offer financing to everyone and not just people with qualifying credit. Either that, or do like a $100 or $200 Chromebook-like laptop or harddrive, but with a much bigger harddrive and native non-web apps, and sell it as a secondary device, that’d do well, too.

I doubt the above would be immediately profitable, but that’s the direction to go in to increase marketshare- inexpensive and with drivers that work and stay working. In the long-run, if the gamble worked, economy of scale might turn it from unprofitable to profitable.

There are of course some known models of Windows PCs that have hardware that is well supported by Linux that people buy specifically to wipe and install Linux on immediately. But there you get back into having potentially higher costs and less hardware choice than one can afford or that one would find desireable.

With so many manufactuers and sellers out there and competing for Windows sales, its easier to find something affordable and what someone wants if they look around.

I feel like System76 really has its act together, but in the end if the cost is too high for some, its too high.