Thursday, May 25, 2006

Just Give Me What I Want, Not What You Think I Might Need

When purchasing a PC with Windows pre-loaded from the factory, chances are you are getting software that
  • you will never use,
  • eschews hard disk space that can be used for something else, and
  • clutters your desktop with icons you do not necessarily care for.
Granted, there may be some software that you might need, such as hardware drivers for your particular installation, or software to perform a specific task. But you will also get trial software for office productivity, virus control, an ISP connection, among other useless things.

What to do?

If you would want to stay with Windows--my sincere condolences, by the way--you could purchase a brand new copy of Windows XP Home or Professional, depending on your current installation and/or needs, and blow away the current installation of the OS on the hard disk. That might also infer the need to surf the 'net on your own for hardware drivers to support your particular installation, but in the end, you will have a clutter-free desktop, although at a cost of two(!!) Windows licenses: one for the copy you purchase on your own, plus one for the version that shipped with your PC.

There are also those who may contend the same results may be achieved by taking the PC with the factory-installed OS and uninstalling programs not anticipated to be used via the "Add/Remove Programs" icon in Control Panel. Well, maybe. Unfortunately for the user community, the way those programs are set up at the factory, some are more obnoxious than others; in other words, some remove themselves cleanly, while others leave behind, among other things that you might not clearly see, icons for removal from the "Add/Remove Programs" list--even after selecting the program to remove it from the system! They will remain nameless, but there is a certain ISP who is known to do this time and time again.
How about attempting to wipe the PC clean with the System Restore CD that shipped with it? Don't press your luck. That will only re-create the image of the hard disk as the PC was shipped from the factory.

Current Linux distros let you decide what you want installed on your PC, through what is known as package management. Depending on the distro you choose, the mechanism varies, but all let you pick and choose what you want installed on your PC either when you're starting fresh, or later as your needs grow. It's your machine, so you decide what goes in.


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