Really, it is. I haven’t used Windows properly in a few months now, I’ve been using Ubuntu. But today I had to. I have to set up an Apache server on a Solaris machine at uni, via ssh. Compile it yourself etc and run it on a weird port that has been assigned to me. Cool. Done. Except it doesn’t look like they’ve allowed access to the port from outside of the uni network so I can’t see my server working unless I’m there. I can do all the set up from home, I just can’t see the results. Nice one.
So I was in uni today and I decided to check it out. Yep, it’s running. There were problems with the permissions so I set about fixing them. I could ssh in to the server and change this but I decided to look at a few other things too. Changing some of the config requires a text editor. This is a university Windows network, I can’t install stuff so I had to use notepad which can’t understand Unix file endings and it turns all Unix files to unreadable mush. Is it that hard to make a text editor that can detect the kind of line ending? Or are Microsoft just being awkward?
Also on these machines, the default browser is unsurprisingly Internet Explorer. Ick. What do you mean, “popup blocker”, “block images from…”? No such luck. Ugly ugly ugly. The Mozilla suite is there, but it’s the whole suite: click… wait… wait… splash screen… wait… wait… get bored… wait… Ping there it is. No Firefox here. In fairness, Firefox probably wasn’t really ready when these machines were installed. The presence of Mozilla is a reasonable improvement over recent years but this isn’t my biggest gripe, it’s the fact that the preferences and bookmarks aren’t persistent. Everytime I log out they disappear. Annoyed.
So anyway, I’m using IE and it sucks ass big time. It takes me ages to do anything because it feels slow, awkward and swamped in adverts. God, how I love Firefox by comparison. Also as I don’t have my own set of bookmarks, I can’t find anything and half of the module links on the uni website point at the wrong place.
Also context sensitive menus have been disabled on my open windows on the taskbar. Can a Windows system be so easily hamstrung by right-clicking open windows in the taskbar? Is there such a disaster waiting to befall Windows 2000 that I’m not allowed to right-click and close my browser windows using their taskbar entries?
I know most of this stuff is just to do with the fact that the uni button monkeys have disabled certain functionality to harden the system and it’s reasonable to expect IE as a default browser and to be unable to install stuff on a organisation’s machine, but damn. I so hated using Windows with it’s uncomfortable feel and crap software choices that I gave up and went home after an hour.
It seems the only thing I could do using the uni Windows machines that I couldn’t do better under Ubuntu at home was use the uni Outlook Exchange webmail faciility. Using Firefox on Windows or Linux means that I have to supply my username and password everytime I want to read an email, open a folder or indeed do anything at all. Even though I save the u/n and pass, it still asks me every time I do anything. Firefox 0.92 and 0.93 were ok if I recall correctly but since v1.0 I’ve had this problem, though I’m told this is to do with the Outlook Exhange server configuration at the uni.
This is as much a rant about the uni configuration as it is about Windows, but I’ll be avoiding the uni computers in future, or at least taking my Ubuntu laptop.