Brief Revisit to XP – DSL Problems and Kudos to Earl


I’ve been having intermittent problems with my DSL service over the past couple of months. After behaving itself through most of December, it seems to have reared it’s ugly head again in the past couple of weeks. I won’t go very far into it except to say that it sometimes drops the connection and resyncs every 30 seconds. Other days it stays up steady for hours.

Tonight I got frustrated enough to call technical support. But before I did, I decided to boot up into XP so that I wouldn’t frighten the tech support staff away by telling them I’m running Linux. Of course my worry is that once they hear I’m running Linux they’ll claim that they don’t support that OS and possibly put the blame for my troubles squarely on that.

Now it’s been months since I’ve booted this machine into XP and after 10 minutes I noted three things:

1. Man.. does it ever take a long time to get to a workable desktop!

2. Man.. does it ever load a gi-normous amount of applets into the system tray!

3. Man.. does it ever hound you about updating spyware databases, anti-virus updates, windows system updates, and firewall software updates!

It’s amazing how many little bubbles can pop up once you don’t boot XP for a couple of months. If there’s one thing I love about running Linux (and the Mac guys are no different) is that you don’t have to be running 5 different third party security apps every time you boot up. I made the mistake of double-clicking Firefox before all the applets were loaded, so it took almost a minute for it to appear – all this on a P4-3GHz machine with 1GB of ram. Good god man!

Now just like when you hear a rattle in your car for a week but it seems to disappear when you bring the car in for service, my DSL seemed to be working fine almost the whole time I was on the phone with tech support. But after 10 minutes of describing and discussing the problem, he noted that my line was showing NO DSL service at all from his end. All this while I was clicking and browsing the web. So definitely something is up with the line. He created a ticket (whatever that is) for me and told me my problem was a level 2 tech support staff issue and that they would contact me within a few days. I guess it was out of his league.

So in the end I never had to run through the usual check of DSL settings and connectivity settings in the OS, which means I never really had to boot into XP anyway but at least it reminded me of why I started running Linux. šŸ™‚

In a related note, Earl Moore has a nice writeup of his opinions on running Ubuntu. He gives some honest and practical comparisons between XP, Ubuntu and OS X. And while he prefers OS X (yes Earl, it *is* a slick interface, I’ll give them that), he’s honest in his criticisms and praise of Ubuntu. And kudos to him for trying it out before giving his opinions – nice to hear some realistic non-fanboy real world comparisons.

I’ve never really criticized OS X either way since I’ve never tried it (apart from clicking around on a few machines in the Apple store a couple of times). I’m not a huge fan of Apple’s proprietary nature (nor Microsoft’s) but I do realize they’ve set the bar for UI design. It, (along with honest criticism like Earl’s) gives the desktop Linux community something to shoot for. I think it’s getting there, it’s only a matter of time.

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