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How Long Does it Take You to Tweak a New Box?

Cliff posted about 7 years ago | from the a-never-ending-process dept.

Operating Systems 463

An anonymous reader asks: "When you get a new computer, how long does it take to make it 'home'? On a Windows system, there seem to be a huge number of preferences I have to choose before it is really comfortable (doing things like: installing software; changing the wallpaper and color schemes; start menu layout; and so forth). How long do you have to fiddle with computer until you have it set up the way you like? Do you use any shortcuts to speed up the process?"

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On linux... (5, Funny)

peterpi (585134) | about 7 years ago | (#18624069)

Nobody's found out how long it takes on linux, they're still working at it! ;P

Re:On linux... (3, Insightful)

ivanmarsh (634711) | about 7 years ago | (#18624181)

Ha farking ha... 1h 45m from install to having a working, up to date and configured system running http, https, php, java, tomcat, mysql, mail server, ftp server, remote X access, and the desktop set up the way I want it... fully firewalled and secure.

Windows: 6 hours from install to just having the current updates.

Any more funny jokes?

Re:On linux... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624407)

*cough* get the stick out your @#$ and learn to laugh.

But hey, you just got (will get) free karma for going with the flow. Congrats.

Re:On linux... (1)

peterpi (585134) | about 7 years ago | (#18624603)

Who said anything about Windows?

OK, so you're happy with the absolute defaults that come from an apt-get (or equivalent). Good for you.

But if that really is the case, then surely that makes you unusual, no? Isn't the whole point of this fun little project called linux that we've all jumped on board is that you can spend a lifetime tweaking this bit and that to make it just right?

As for me, I'd definitely need my .vimrc. What else... Probably a copy my firefox bookmarks from another machine, and thunderbird settings too. It'd also take me a while to install all the little tiny things that don't come on the default install of my distro of choice (Etch). IIRC, you get 'less' but not 'more' by default. Maybe it's the other way round. Oh, and you need to explicitly allow X over ssh. And 'sudo' doesn't come by default either. Little things like that would pop up for maybe the first three or four days before becoming negligable. But as you point out, you'd have something within 2 hours.

Re:On linux... (5, Insightful)

Sparr0 (451780) | about 7 years ago | (#18624751)

Why arent you just keeping your /home partition backed up? When I installed Kubuntu I let it run overnight with a huge batch of things to download and install. That took about 10 minutes to set up. Then another 15 minutes to copy /home from my old machine. So, call it 25 minutes of work for a fully customized and tweaked installation?

Re:On linux... (1)

peterpi (585134) | about 7 years ago | (#18624947)

Because I'm stupid. Also, because the last time this happened to me, the new computer isn't a straight replacement for the old one. /home on machine a had no business on machine b.

Re:On linux... (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | about 7 years ago | (#18625151)

Say what? You can move /home from cygwin to linux to bsd and suffer virtually no ill effects. .vimrc and .bashrc and .profile and yada yada are the same everywhere.

Re:On linux... (1)

HomelessInLaJolla (1026842) | about 7 years ago | (#18624955)

If you have many real system tweaks you'll want to keep a backup of /etc as well.

I can install potato on blank media and upgrade to sid in about three or four hours depending on network transfer rates. Over the years I've managed to whittle the time it takes to restore all of my preferred system configurations from the next two or three days to the next two or three hours. Most of that process is comprised of installing and test using the applications which remind me of the greatest number of things which need to be tweaked.

Re:On linux... (5, Funny)

paeanblack (191171) | about 7 years ago | (#18624689)

1h 45m from install to having a working, up to date and configured system running http, https, php, java, tomcat, mysql, mail server, ftp server, remote X access

Connect a fresh Windows ME box to the net and you can get all that in 1 minute and 45 seconds.

Re:On linux... (1, Redundant)

Cervantes (612861) | about 7 years ago | (#18624737)

Yeah, a great deal of that is because you can download a linux ISO that is already mostly up-to-date with patches. With Windows, you're stuck with whatever you have pressed on the CD.
And if it takes you 6 hours to do updates, WTF are you using, RC1 on a P120? I install XP frequently (I do a lot of side work), and I use a stock XP SP2 disk, figure on an hour, maybe 1.5 at the outside, for downloads, I tweak it while those are running... I can have a fully set up and updated XP box inside of 3 hours... 1.5 if I use a slipstream disk.

Yeah, it does take a bit longer when you have an extra 200mb of downloads and updates to do... but your post was a little too FUD-y, even for a linux zealot.

Re:On linux... (1)

Nos. (179609) | about 7 years ago | (#18624769)

6 Hours? Wow, you on dial up?

I set up an XP system a couple weeks ago. It was up and running with full updates and most the basic software installed in < 2 hours. That's all updates, Firefox, Thunderbird, OO, Gimp, etc. installed and configured (all downloaded in that time frame as well).

While the grandparent was obviously joking, it is true to a point, regardless of OS (well, I don't have a MAC, so I can say for sure). My Windows and Linux machines are constantly and regularly tweaked here and there. To get a machine to basic usability from dropping the install disc in though is usually a couple hours.

Karma profit! (4, Funny)

BecomingLumberg (949374) | about 7 years ago | (#18625027)

1. Wait for someone to make a joke at Linux's expense 2. Blast 'em! 3. Completely ignore your sense of humor's pleading, from inside the locked closet, that it is a joke. 4. ... 5. Karma!

Re:On linux... (1)

me34point5 (916399) | about 7 years ago | (#18625131)

My laptops take about 24 hours get Gentoo up and running. After that, I have it down to a science and can get my WM tweaked just right in about 15 minutes. Of course, I have a little script that handles most of this for me.

My desktop machine would certainly take a lot less time given the quad Xeons it's housing, but I haven't had a need to test my script on it yet.

Windows took closer to 3 days to get comfortable, but I haven't had to put up with that garbage OS in quite a while, so I'm sure it'd take longer now. And, of course, I wouldn't want to have to do any of this on Vista cuz I know that nothing is where I expect to find it anymore.

Re:On linux... (1)

bassgoonist (876907) | about 7 years ago | (#18624191)

I never really stop tweaking my windows box really. Always something new to try out ya know? But I guess installing all my basic software(not games) and setting stuff take usually about 2 hours once installation is done.

Re:On linux... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624417)

Apparently, you've never used linux, because technically its all stored in a folder and that folder can be copies from machine to machine.

Re:On Windows... (0, Troll)

Phreakiture (547094) | about 7 years ago | (#18624585)

Nobody's found out how long it takes on linux, they're still working at it! ;P

Whereas with Windows, it doesn't take long at all... before you realise that it is impossible. :-)

Re:On linux... (5, Funny)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 7 years ago | (#18624593)

Windows - Tweaks for about 4-6 hours and spending about $400 on extra applications
OS X - Tweaks for about 1-2 hours and spending about $600 on extra applications
Linux - Change desktop background. Done.

Re:On linux... (1)

LoveShack (190582) | about 7 years ago | (#18624753)

> OS X - Tweaks for about 1-2 hours and spending about $600 on extra applications

This hits a little too close to home for me to be happy about. Before I bought my Mac, I couldn't have imagined spending money on a file manager. But the Finder was just too bad and PathFinder just too good. So there ya go.

Re:On linux... (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 7 years ago | (#18625163)

awesome, thanks I just started the 21 day trial. Let's see if it is worth it. I must say the terminal may almost be worth it.

Re:On linux... (2, Informative)

Technician (215283) | about 7 years ago | (#18624663)

Nobody's found out how long it takes on linux, they're still working at it! ;P

I keep finding things to continue tweaking it. Earlier this year Flash 9 is out. For my kids, just last month the MTP lib came out so they can sync their Zen player. I just found a decent replacement for my stage light console program and I'm just now getting it compiled and installed (Q-Light).

Not bad as a nubie since I first installed Ubuntu when Dapper came out.

Personally (5, Insightful)

geek (5680) | about 7 years ago | (#18624111)

Not very long. After years of working with computers (over 20), I've found keeping it simple is best. I change the background, arrange icons how I like and that's about it these days, whether it's windows or OSX or Ubuntu. If the OS can't accommodate this simple style I don't use it.

Re:Personally (2, Interesting)

alta (1263) | about 7 years ago | (#18624783)

Ah the icons... First I tell XP not to display anything but a garbage can(trash). It goes on bottom right (thanks apple) Then files that I'm working on get saved to desktop. Files i'm done with go in My Docs (also not displayed) and things that I was working on, and never finished go in a 'drop box' shortcut...

All together, there are only 2 icons that get to call my desktop home, Recycled and dropbox. I'm thinking about remove recycled.

Then I go find a desktop background that's not a corporate endorsement, or a woman, car, sports team. They're usually something abstract... and contrast with the icons rather well... meaning large fields of solid colors. It needs to be something that will span 3 screens. I tried a pic of the kids once, but it was too hard to find the icons against the background.
  The 3rd one on this page has been my favorite for a long time. http://www.9xmedia.com/Pages-products/2000-Backgro unds.html [9xmedia.com]

Re:Personally (1)

geek (5680) | about 7 years ago | (#18624961)

Sounds like we have very similar work styles. I usually have a scenic background from interfacelift.com or some other place. I have a really big 23 inch flat screen and it looks nice in the apartment with a "pretty" background. My gf appreciates it a lot more than an ugly solid or something.

Weeks. (3, Informative)

strredwolf (532) | about 7 years ago | (#18624133)

It'll take me a week or two, depending on the distribution, to tweak it to my liking. Some items like KDE I'll just copy over a known good install directory. If it's a system I'm transitioning to, I'll just copy $HOME over and make sure everything's nicely compiled right.

It's never over with (4, Informative)

igotmybfg (525391) | about 7 years ago | (#18624149)

The time I spend tweaking the settings asymptotically approaches something like 5-10% of the time I spend on the PC.

Never (1)

normuser (1079315) | about 7 years ago | (#18624153)

I never really stop tweaking. But just to get slackware installed and the necessary extras installed (libdvdcss and my personal apps) and setting up the x server and my desktop takes about an hour to an hour and a half ish. But that depends alot on why im setting up the machine.

The only real shortcut.... (4, Informative)

ProppaT (557551) | about 7 years ago | (#18624155)

The only real shortcut is to setup your system how you like it the first time and make a system image so you can restore it if you ever have to nuke your system. The first time is always gonna be time consuming. The only other thing I could see that would shorten the process would be to use MS's system settings transfer option to move settings from your existing box.

Also, how the heck did this one make it through the filters? Who the heck cares how long it takes people to set up their system? Although I will brag that I can assemble a new box in under 10 minutes without troubleshooting.

Re:The only real shortcut.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624669)

Or just back up your home folder...

Oh wait, you're a Windows noob. Sorry, you'll have to do it the hard way forever. Bill Gates hates you.

Tweak away (1)

themadman123 (965641) | about 7 years ago | (#18624163)

I usually spend about an hour or two or three at most. But most of that is all installing programs and hardware. I would say about 30 mins or so on arranging and uninstalling crap that I don't need.

Re:Tweak away (1)

Southpaw018 (793465) | about 7 years ago | (#18624547)

I'd agree with that range. From blank hard drive to a reinstall of Windows, restoring data, installing programs (games excluded, that's later), and basic tweaks to get "moved in," that's 2.5 hours, maybe 3. The next few days of full use get minor tweaks here and there.

That's for my home system, though - only do that process about once a year. At work, taking a workstation from blank to a functional install of XP with the latest patches and Office is about 90 minutes, most of that unattended.

Norton Ghost? (2, Interesting)

CmdrChillupa (166635) | about 7 years ago | (#18624171)

Just tweak it until your happy and then ghost it to a backup drive. When it gets filled with cruft wipe and restore.

Re:Norton Ghost? (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 7 years ago | (#18624515)

That'd be great if nothing every got updated. I actually tried this once and by the time I was ready to start over from scratch I realized it was almost easier to do an actual clean install with current-version apps than try and upgrade everything from 0.4-2.0 versions ago. Now I just keep a directory around with all the commonly installed apps, and when I get an update, I try to remember to put the new install version in the appropriate folder. I've almost given up that for a simple list of apps, and a directory with critical drivers. Things change too fast to have a "stable" image that's good for more than 6 months or so, and with XP running stably for longer than that (my current install is 2.5 years old), the image is just useless.

Let it evolve (4, Interesting)

jermz (6352) | about 7 years ago | (#18624185)

When I do the whole burn-down-rebuild on a system, I let it evolve to my tastes. I like a change of scenery now and then, and a new OS install is the right time for me to get that. I try new apps, new desktops, new ideas all around. I might do KDE next time, I might stick with Gnome. I get new icon sets, experiment with new color schemes and wallpapers. It keeps me entertained and I always end up with a usable desktop in the end.

20 minutes (4, Informative)

iusty (104688) | about 7 years ago | (#18624189)

Let's see:
  - copy old /home/username dir
  - "debconf-get-selections" on old computer and pipe to "debconf-set-selections" on new one
  - "dpkg -l |grep ^ii" on old computer and replicate the package list
  - go drink some tea while the apt-get proceeds
  - done!

I carried my home dir with its settings across about three or four new computers in the last eight years or so, and I didn't have to tweak things very much. Only upgrading major components require some maintenance, but other than that, it's simple.

Re:20 minutes (5, Informative)

umeboshi (196301) | about 7 years ago | (#18624481)

For replicating the package list, try this:
  dpkg --get-selections > packages.txt on old machine,
then do:
  dpkg --set-selections packages.txt on new machine,
then do:
  apt-get dselect-upgrade on new machine.

Re:20 minutes (2, Interesting)

josephdrivein (924831) | about 7 years ago | (#18624871)

My biggest concern are not the packages, which can be quickly enough downloaded and installed as you described (though I use dpkg --get-selections/--set-selections) but changing the default configs.

That's particularly annoying when the program depends on the particular hw (eg xorg.conf) because I can't copy a config from another box.

Another thing that makes me lose time is downloading the latest stable kernel sources from kernel.org, changing the default config, compiling, installing and troubleshooting the new kernel. I'm always missing something... I use make-kpkg, that helps compiling installing and archiving my pre-compiled kernel packages. I'm not sure it's a good choice, from the security point of view, not to use the debian kenel, but I often need something that's stable enogh only in newer kernels.

Installing the packages takes just 20min, but adding up the rest, it takes me from 2 to 3 hours usually to finish, depending on what the box runs.

Home (5, Informative)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about 7 years ago | (#18624209)

That's the clincher. About a week, simply because I don't do it that often (once every 3-4 years) that I don't have a list

Classic-ize windows display settings
Give the system an enema (remove all the windows default crap, any ads or OEM-given crap)
Install the necessities (ad-aware, avg, firefox, powertools, other windows registry hax)
Install a few benchmark things and test (diablo 2, doom, zsnes, media player classic + fddshow)

Dump data from old backup. (Over my last 3 installs this was via diskettes, then CDrs, then DVDrs). Then over the next week I'll just install new stuff as needed. Winamp, AIM, mud client -- I save all these executables but by the time you do a reinstall they're outdated anyway.

On linux... (1)

fishybell (516991) | about 7 years ago | (#18624211)

At my work I need to periodically add a new process server, it takes roughly 3 hours to get it to a "home" feeling. Most of that time is waiting for yum to run an upgrade, and 95% of it is completely hands off. Aren't scripts wonderful?

On windows, I can never get that "home" feeling. Mostly because of the select-to-copy/middle-click-to-paste idea hasn't been "innovated" yet on windows.

Re:On linux... (1)

MyOtherUIDis3digits (926429) | about 7 years ago | (#18624567)

Mostly because of the select-to-copy/middle-click-to-paste idea hasn't been "innovated" yet on windows.

VanDyke SecureCRT gives you this behavior in telnet/ssh sessions, and the AutoCopy extension gives you the select-to-copy behavior in Firefox.

I just had to replace my hard-drive (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 7 years ago | (#18624223)

About a week ago.

I spent about a week or so writing some simple programs(bmp to transparent gif converter, hex editor) and adding a few registry hacks to make them context menu accessible. I'd imagine my case is a bit different from the normal person's, but for me it's about where I want it in a week.

allll riiiight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624229)

tweak a new box?
back in high school I was in bed by 8 and home by 11
giggity giggity

My configuration (1)

Pyrex5000 (1038438) | about 7 years ago | (#18624233)

With Gnome, I usually make a changes: setting my background, configuring the Workspace Switcher how I like it, adding a few icons to the application bar at the top, and a few hotkeys. I also like to map the F1 key to maximize the window, so that when I hit it by accident, I don't get inconvenienced by the pop-up. Who needs documentation anyway?

Do it right, just once (1)

MikeRT (947531) | about 7 years ago | (#18624235)

I used to spend hours building up my computers, and then I spent $20 on a site listed on Froogle for a copy of Norton Ghost 2003. After several hours of building it up the way I wanted, I just popped in a DVD and now, when the system needs to be rebuilt, I can rebuild it in less than 1/3 of the time, all of which is automated once I get it started. Every sane person should buy imaging software for their PC so that if they have any failure, or want to play around, they can easily restore their system.

Subversion (1)

gregRowe (173838) | about 7 years ago | (#18624257)

I keep my main configuration files (e.g. .bashrc, .emacs) in a subsversion repository. When I get on a new machine I checkout the "my-etc" project that contains those files. I have a Makefile with a target "links" which automatically creates sym-links and makes backups of the original files. It has worked well for me for quite some time now. It gives me the freedom of making config changes and easily importing those changes (svn up) on other machines.


On a Mac: 4 hours... (1)

nweaver (113078) | about 7 years ago | (#18624267)

Run the updator.

Install X11

Download and install development tools

Download and install subversion

Download and install firefox & opera

Find the Office disks, install and update office.

Re:On a Mac: 4 hours... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624483)

Fuck you you microsoft shill!

Macs come out of the box READY TO USE.

Why dont you suck bill gates cock and check for polyps in ballmers ass you FUCKING ASSHOLE.

Re:On a Mac: 4 hours... (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 7 years ago | (#18624563)

If you're setting up a Mac and you already have one Mac, try the firewire upgrade option. It will copy over all your data, applications, X11, updates, dev tools, MS Office, security certs, etc. while you go get lunch. It is so much easier than, well, anything else I've used.

Re:On a Mac: 4 hours... (1)

jZnat (793348) | about 7 years ago | (#18625165)

Both Xcode and X11 (XFree86) come on the Mac OS X DVD thankfully, but how do you go about installing svn? I had to do it from source, and the dependency hell that is makes me not want to do it again anytime soon...

Not long. (1)

arcade (16638) | about 7 years ago | (#18624271)

I've worked with computers for quite a lot of years. The installation usually goes this way:

Put "Favorite Distro of the year" into CD tray and do a default install with my partitioning scheme (1-2 hours).
Do the security patch routine (30 minutes)
Change mouse behaviour to "Focus follows mouse" (2 minutes)
Change panel behaviour in KDE to 'auto hide' (30 sek) .. and then now and then when I see that I miss an application - install it with apt-get or yast or whatever the tool of the day is. .. and I'll probably fetch my .bashrc from somewhere.

So.. I'm set to go in about .. 1.5-3 hours.

Depends on how cute she is, or how drunk I am.. (3, Funny)

stratjakt (596332) | about 7 years ago | (#18624309)

ask your mom, she'd know better than me

badump ching

Re:Depends on how cute she is, or how drunk I am.. (1)

MS-06FZ (832329) | about 7 years ago | (#18624633)

They said a new box - so if anything it'd be a sister, or a daughter. :)

Parent post is too funny to be "troll" IMO. :P'

3 days (4, Funny)

fistfullast33l (819270) | about 7 years ago | (#18624311)

I use gentoo, and because I'm sadistic I love the install process. The acutal gentoo install is about two hours I think now that they've eliminated stage 1 and 2. But I like to compile everything from sources after that so it takes me another day (not straight through, I usually do it while I'm at work) to compile open office, firefox, x.org, and the like. Then it takes me another day or so to make sure my laptop can handle things like ACPI (I always forget to compile it for some reason), 3D acceleration (stupid ATI drivers), suspend-resume, framebuffer, E17, gensplash, and whatever else takes a bit of time. I don't mind it because I like the feeling of starting fresh without all those packages that you use once and never again being installed.

Yeah right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624313)

This is slashdot, no one here ever gets with wome...oh, nevermind, I get it now.

Easy Peasy (1)

i_ate_god (899684) | about 7 years ago | (#18624315)


Step 1: Install Windows
Step 2: Change to Windows Classic
Step 3: Desktop Background to image of my choice or color black

Computer is now customized to my liking.

Step 1: Install FreeBSD
Step 2: Locate the ports I want installed and compile a list of make install clean commands into one command
Step 3: Periodically check for config menus

Computer is now customized to my liking.

Blah... Forget abount Windows... (1)

creimer (824291) | about 7 years ago | (#18624317)

Re-installing video games can be a pain. If I was re-installing UT 2004, I'll need the installation DVD, the patch, the four or five community map packs, and any save files. Newer games are worse when it comes to save files. Both F.E.A.R. Extraction Point and the Supreme Commander demo store the save files on the C drive under the user's profile. That's a bad location since I keep a mean and lean C drive. I want my save files to stay in the game folders where I can find on them.

Re:Blah... Forget abount Windows... (1)

Jesterboy (106813) | about 7 years ago | (#18625149)

I feel your pain. Reinstalling WoW and Guild Wars takes forever... WoW is 4 disks to get me to version 1.7, then patching, then 4 discs to Burning Crusade, then more patching, then installing UI mods...

Even Guild Wars more streamlined patcher takes quite a long time from a fresh install. Since everything is instanced, it seems to patch/decompress areas I visit on the fly, as well as downloading patches in the background while I play.

Months here... (1)

specofdust (981044) | about 7 years ago | (#18624331)

Perhaps I run an overly customised GUI or something, or like hacking the registry too much - but I find it takes me months to before I truly feel that a system has everything I need on it the way I want it. I know many people say a re-install takes a day and that's true enough, but getting everything you want on a box set up the way you like it takes a fairly long time I reckon.

Re:Months here too... (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 7 years ago | (#18624941)

This is especially because I have shuffled temporary solutions for a long time. I'm aiming for one last long haul Windows machine which I will take several months to set up perfectly, because I expect it to last 5 years minimum.

On my lazy temp systems, I have the necessities done in 1-day's-work spread over a week.

No time at all.... (1)

asdef (261823) | about 7 years ago | (#18624353)

I'm a Linux user, so the process is simple:

1 - install new version of favorite distro (currently Ubuntu)
2 - use package manager to install any additional apps
3 - Use and enjoy!

This process takes me about 2 - 4 hours, including time to download and burn the iso, and does not require a backup of my home mount point because it sits on a seperate physical drive (actually SATA RAID array) in my box which I simply reference and mount during the install.

Re:No time at all.... (2, Interesting)

GrayCalx (597428) | about 7 years ago | (#18625001)

I'm a Linux user, so the process is simple:

Heheh, I love this comment because it is so indicative of the "my OS is better than your OS" that, unfortunately, a small number of Linux users suffer from. Let me restate his build with mine using windows...
1 - install new version of favorite distro (currently Ubuntu)
2 - use package manager to install any additional apps
3 - Use and enjoy!

1 - Install new version of current stable windows version (right now msce)
2 - Install all additional apps from my backup/media storage drive
3 - use and enjoy!

Hehe, just awesome... the ignorance... the egotism. Like windows users are suffering at home in a brightly lit office, sweat pouring down our face. Constantly on hold with a Dell representative (because we only use Dells of course) begging the operator to explain to us why our computer came with a cup-holder and not the DVD-RW we paid for!!! Oh noes!!!

fast (1)

nothing now (1062628) | about 7 years ago | (#18624363)

took me about 5 minutes on the dock and desktop and then an hour or two cleaning and an hour putting in new apps. (opera, firefox ,sketchup,google video) and modifing settings.

OS X Plus Firewire (5, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 7 years ago | (#18624369)

You boot the old computer in Firewire mode by holding down a key. You plug in a firewire cable to the new computer. You click the install from old computer button. You go get some coffee and a bagel.

So basically, it takes me about 60 seconds and it takes the computer an hour or so. That includes pulling over my Windows and Linux desktop installs within a VM. Seriously, this is one of the main reasons OS X is my base workstation OS instead of Linux. Who wants to waste a bunch of time manually copying things over, only to find not all of it works anyway and you still have to reinstall a few things and tweak a few more?

Location of files vs GUI (1)

tsa (15680) | about 7 years ago | (#18624393)

I used to tweak the UI until I was completely satisfied with the way it worked, but I find that nowadays I don't bother so much with it anymore. If I can find my files easily I am satisfied. So I make sure I make shortcuts to easily find and/or mount network drives, make the 'right' subdirectories in my home directory, and I make sure that I know what gets backed up. I hate the way Windows has a My Documents folder that you can move to another drive, but the settings keep getting written in obscure dirs everywhere on the harddrive, depending on the program. In that way you always lose settings during a crash.

About 5 minutes (1)

Medgur (172679) | about 7 years ago | (#18624423)

About 5 minutes of work from me and another 30 minutes waiting for the transfer. (The first time).

I have a high turn-over rate within my set of machines in common use. In the past 7 years I've owned about 9 distinct machines.

Some time ago I began exploring my options for rapid deployment of, as you put it, "home". First off I began minimizing the number of packages I have installed, and of those I do actually use I can rapidly recall and install with ease via aptitude. Anything I forget is either unimportant or recalled and installed at a later date.

For my home directory I loooked at using rsync, but that seemed to lack simple bi-directional unification and simple gui interaction. I looked at version controlling the entire thing but that seemed overkill. Eventually I ran across Unison.

Unison, though a little crufty, performs bi-directional syncing adequately. Now switching across Laptop/Desktop is relatively seamless, where in the worst case I merely have to perform a sync. Depending on how long it's been this can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 20 minutes, but that deviation is more my fault and an inevitable result of my tardiness.

I believe Unison has a Windows port, but seeing as how Windows lacks a decent package management and deployment system I suppose your stuck with iteratively installing each application.

Not long with a reference (1)

moore.dustin (942289) | about 7 years ago | (#18624429)

I have 5 boxes I use everyday. Whenever I have a fresh, clean install of anything, I will just compare the new box with an existing box to make sure I have all the essentials and that everything is working good. Then I have a master directory I keep of installers and different archives so I know where and what I have installed. I reference that folder whenever I set up a new box and it goes really quick. After that only have a few windows settings to adjust and I am good to go.

Never, except with Linux (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | about 7 years ago | (#18624433)

In Windows or FreeBSD, I typically do changes as needed. I do a lot of stuff with my computer, and it's rare for me to go a month without installing a new app, as such I'll need to give it a proper home on a well organized start/k menu, and I'll want to configure it's UI settings, if it has any...

In Linux, I usually get sick of trying to figure out how to get a program to work/run properly, and give up.

puppetd --test --waitforcert 15 (1)

getha (97821) | about 7 years ago | (#18624459)

These days it's just a few commands:

cd /usr/src
wget https://reductivelabs.com/downloads/facter/facter- 1.3.7.tgz
wget https://reductivelabs.com/downloads/puppet/puppet- 0.22.2.tgz
tar xzvf fac*
tar xzvf pup*
cd fac*
ruby install.rb
cd ../pup*
ruby install.rb

and then finally:

sudo puppetd --test --waitforcert 15

and then either have the puppet server autocert the new machine or do it by hand (for the paranoid)...

So, about 5 minutes, I'd think.

Check out puppet, it's really a great (albeit a bit new) project: http://puppet.reductivelabs.com/ [reductivelabs.com]

Windows Update (4, Informative)

Hijacked Public (999535) | about 7 years ago | (#18624465)

It has probably been mentioned and I just skipped it, but just the process of securing a Windows reinstall can take days, unless you have the time to babysit the whole thing.

I have reinstalled XP a few times, from an SP1 disc. Visit Windows Update. It can't Update until I install some ActiveX stuff so I can use the latest version of the site. That done, it recommends maybe 50 or 60 updates. Reboot. Go back to the site, spend a half hour downloading SP2 and another 2 installing it. Reboot. Go back to the site. More updates, maybe only a dozen this time. Reboot. IE7. Reboot. Patch for IE7. Possibly a couple of driver updates. Reboot.

And if you leave to go to the store without accepting the EULA for the patch....more wasted time. And this whole process is just to secure the machine, no app install of setup or tweaking.

Vista seems slightly better in this regard as it can download updates during the install process, but it still isn't up to the level that most Linux distros are.

I don't even know what the OSX install process looks like, or if there even is one. And I own more Macs than anything else.

Re:Windows Update (2, Informative)

ewhac (5844) | about 7 years ago | (#18624875)

I have reinstalled XP a few times, from an SP1 disc. Visit Windows Update. It can't Update until I install some ActiveX stuff so I can use the latest version of the site. That done, it recommends maybe 50 or 60 updates. Reboot. Go back to the site, spend a half hour downloading SP2 and another 2 installing it.

No no. Download the SP2 update on another machine and burn it on to a CD.

Yank the network cable. Install XP from your install media (SP1). Insert SP2 disc and run the update from there. You are now (relatively) safe from network attack -- even better if you're behind NAT. Crank up the Windows firewall to "fsck off, dickweed!" plug in the network cable and visit Windows Update.

By installing SP2 first, you save yourself the trouble of downloading/installing fixes from Windows Update that SP2 already has.


On a mac.... (1)

foom (29095) | about 7 years ago | (#18624495)

15 minutes of activity, followed by 3 hours of waiting. Which is how long it takes for Migration Assistant to copy over all my apps & data & configuration from my old mac.

Wrote a script ... (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 7 years ago | (#18624499)

For work, for lab Linux boxes, I wrote a perl script that customizes the box almost immediately.

It copies some skeleton and data files from a NFS share, and uses these to edit a bunch of config files if needed (it also detects if it's needed, and leaves things alone if not. And backups are kept of the files in case it makes a mistake.)

Things updated include: /etc/hosts /etc/passwd /etc/shadow /etc/group /etc/syslog.conf /etc/inittab /etc/mail/submit.cf /etc/mail/sendmail.cf /etc/auto.master /etc/exports /etc/ntp.conf /etc/samba/smb.conf /etc/mail/aliases /root/.bashrc and others.

It also looks for certain packages, and will install them if missing (if it knows how to for this particular distribution.) It turns off services we don't use, and turns on services we do use.

It can even be added to rc.local and run every time the system reboots, and will look for changes and apply them. If the script itself has changed (there's a copy in the NFS data directory it uses) then it'll get the updated version and update itself.

It's pretty slick. It took a while to write, but it's now pretty well set up, and it can handle most of the distributions we've ever used or even looked at. I even had it working for Solaris as well, but it didn't do quite as much for Solaris, and we don't use Solaris as much so I haven't really maintained that part of it.

So, to answer the question, less than five seconds.

what I do... (1)

way2trivial (601132) | about 7 years ago | (#18624519)

all of windows update
install the 3 or 4 system heavy utilities I'm using now
(wow, studio, ms publisher/office currently)
and stick my old box under the desk and connect to it via MSTSC (remote desktop)
then I share it's hard drives completely open.
New PC is used only for trusted, normal, I can type the domain by memory websites.
some blogs, slashdot, news sites, and google summary/cache searches only.

anything I want to 'download and try' I do it to the old pc.. under remote desktop...without drives connected via remote.
if it's REALLY GOOD, then I'll add it to the new PC.
email, I keep on the old PC (which has antivirus & popup blockers) the new PC has no antivirus.. just the CPU heavy apps.
or access via exchange webclient (I have a SBS server)
keeps my ace PC clean and quick.
old pc session is the only one used for googling of random internet lookups...

Keep a checklist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624541)

>Do you use any shortcuts to speed up the process?

I keep a set of files in a directory that has my initial set
of tweeks when I install a new OS.

One file has the commands I run on a new install. A second file
keeps the list of software packages I install. Another file
has the network setup, including the IP addresses.

If I edit any configuration file, I use ln -s to the changed
configuration file.

This could come in handy if I lose my harddrive. I only need to
go through my check-list. And yes, I do keep a backup of these files
on a place off hard drive.

The hard part is having the discipline to keep these files up-to-date.


My Setup (1)

KenshoDude (1001993) | about 7 years ago | (#18624555)

My tuning begins before even installing the OS. I make the C: drive about 20 to 40 gigs, depending on available space. If I have multiple drives, I might dedicate C: to one. The point is, I always will create another partition or two, usually D: for data, G: for games, and J: for junk. That way if I need to format and reinstall the OS or back up important data, its much easier to deal with. Data I want to back up goes on D:, for example.

I will place the page file on J: as well. J: is for things where I don't care if files are fragmented or optimized so much. The pagefile goes on before any other data and is static in size, so I don't figure fragmentation is a problem there.

After windows is installed, I obviously update to the latest hotfix level, install missing drivers, directx 9.x and etc. This is probably the most time consuming step.

I always change the start menu to "Classic" so the "My Computer" and "My Net Places" are on the desktop. And I don't care for the "improved" start menu so "classic" is a quick and easy fix. I usally take the bitmap off the background as well.

From there I go through the services and disable all the lame ones that I never really found useful, like the wireless one (where my PC doesn't have a wireless device installed). I used to have a batch file for that to make it more convenient, but I am too lazy to make a Cd or have a usb key to make it available.

After that, if I am on a home network, I will set up a XFER share (usually on J:) with everyone ALL permissions. That makes it easy to share files, and its standard across any of my PCs on the network. I might do things like statically assign the IP, in case I need to for NAT / port forwarding.

Thats about it, all my tweaks are generally function related over form. I don't need my OS to be pretty and gadgety looking. Give me a shortcut on either my desktop (if its EXTREMELY common for me to use) or on my start menu and I am good. All in all it takes me the better part of an afternoon to get it set up and ready to go.

I just use portable apps, nlite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624569)

I have gotten a reputation for reinstalling windows among my friends. The most time I've done it to a single computer was 5 times in a single week (don't ask... I'm just a little bit neurotic). I found that the simplest way of doing things is to have stuff that takes forever to get setup to liking (Firefox and all it's add ons and extensions, etc.) setup as a portable app. Shuffle it off and on the computer or just leave it on a usb key. I made an automatic installer with nLite, including automatic setup of MS Office - now I just drop the dvd in the drive, setup the partition and come back in about 45 minutes. The rest of my setup and apps change frequently, but all the common installers fit on the dvd with the windows installation. You can make a profile for all your other settings and/or use tweakui for the rest. People tell me I should just ghost the drive, but eh... this way I get to do something at 3 am when I can't sleep, but am too tired to be productive.

For linux users: Just keep a copy of /home (1)

beoba (867477) | about 7 years ago | (#18624581)

I've found it handy to keep /home on a separate partition, so that if I feel like switching/updating distros, all my settings are kept across the change. There's the possibility of an application which does not use the same settings across versions, but I haven't yet found this to be a problem.

Even better, if you're feeling particularly geeky, would be having /home stored on a networked fileserver, then just mounting it on each of the computers that you use. I haven't tried this, but have been thinking about doing it for some time.

For Windows? No clue, haha!

The whole box's life! (1)

Drizzt Do'Urden (226671) | about 7 years ago | (#18624611)

Yeah, that's right!

With my server (Linux), it's about 4h work getting from a wipped disk to functionnal, but sometimes it's a couple of days before I remmember the little tweak I did last year that made me happy.

With my clients (OS X), it's about 2h and everything's there (home directory, games, updates). Than it's a couple of days before I remmember the little tweak... you get the idea ;)

Than, if I get to read about some new tweak, utility, parameter or anything that could be usefull to me, it get's tried that's for shure!

Use VMWare (1)

mddevice (74422) | about 7 years ago | (#18624649)

I've switched to using my computer's OS as just a shell for running VMWare. When I get a new computer, I stick the old HD in there with it. If I feel that the new HD is sufficiently faster, I'll transfer the image over; otherwise, I'll just double-click the image on the old HD and continue as before. No tweaking required.

Back in the day... (1)

earnest murderer (888716) | about 7 years ago | (#18624799)

I would toil endlessly with utilities and settings for days on end. Now I just disable font smoothing on the PC(technical reasons, I'd leave it on if I could) and pick my favorite wallpaper. On my Mac's I shrink and disable scaling on the dock. I really really hate the dock, if someone knows of an application that basically makes the dock a menu and utterly eliminates it I'd like to know. Display extensions/invisible files on all platforms. Total time about a minute. Add another minute for all the miscellaneous things I may have forgotten. Two minutes.

Ubuntu... I'm the guy who liked brown. Sorry.

(For the purposes of this post, I don't consider installing applications I actually use to be tweaking.)

The time I was spending tweaking was never even being close to made up in productivity. Tinting scroll bars might be nice to look at, but making wavy windows in Ubuntu is nothing more than a distraction. What I need is a quick stable platform. Even if I were inclined to tweak again, stability and performance are way more important to me and most of these sorts of things compromise that.

What I have found that has made my life so much easier... Figuring out what the developer decided what was the "right" way to do things and just do them that way. Relenting and just doing things the MS/Apple/Ubuntu way ultimately made me more productive. I still think there are some pretty questionable practices going on (Apple I'm looking at you) but for the most part installing a new file manager/gadget/accessory/widget or whatever doesn't actually save me as much time as it takes to install it.

You know what's funny... I love my Mac and Linux PC's you could even think of them as an extension of my old tweaking ways. But I keep coming back to my XP box for the bulk of my work. Why? This isn't the thread or crowd for that but I'll leave you with my favorite Guy Kawasaki quote.

I'd love to discuss advocacy with you, but I've got a check to cash.

Does pre-install count (1)

timmy_o_tool (657118) | about 7 years ago | (#18624815)

I usually spend about 3 hours using nLite before I install windoze... then about an hour after its up and running

Everything is at $HOME (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about 7 years ago | (#18624851)

I simply tweak /etc/fstab, /etc/passwd and /etc/groups to use my NFS and NIS exports of users and home dirs. That means, I add 2 lines to the first (to handle email too) and one to each of the other files...

When the server dies (already happened) I simple exchange the hardware, and keep the disks (sometimes I have to insert a new module into the kernel, but it is rare). When a disk die I'll have to restore backpus. That takes time.

I don't tweak (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18624975)

I configure the system to be usable, that takes a few hours for each physical install, VM image or jail. On windows it's GVim, firefox and bblean and removing or disabling flash if that's already installed. For unix, it depends what role the machine will be filling. I do build my own nix kernels, usually removing stuff I don't need (like USB) but I don't consider that tweaking. These days my desktops are all flux/Xfce and the only consistent tweaks I make are to pine when I update the OS on my main shell box (every few years).

Then there's my laptop which runs gentoo, I don't tweak that either unless you count instances when portage breaks or a major package upgrade requires some action (fairly often).

I don't understand tweakers, it's like a manifestation of OCD or something.

Is the job ever really finished? (1)

singingjim1 (1070652) | about 7 years ago | (#18625005)

I can screw with a machine to get it "just right" for months before I would consider it truly mine. Especially if you consider software installation part of the tweaking process. But then I'm just silly like that when it comes to messing with my machine(s).

Xbox? (1)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | about 7 years ago | (#18625011)

Well, the xbox 360 really only takes a couple minutes. Get your HD video settings, clock, and Xbox live setup and you hit the ground running.

Windows, on the other hand, takes at least a couple weeks. Even after creating a unattended install disc. Just too many little settings to change here and there.

Linux (Fedora), took me about 6 months, but I am somewhat a Linux novice, and I spend less time on my linux box. For a basic web or file server, it doesn't take long, but for an everyday PC, it does take alot of tweaking that isn't always easy to do. You have to install alot of Plug-ins manually, and getting the thing to be able to play certain media files can be a hassle if you're like me and just know enough about Linux to be dangerous. Linux tends to make the important things (web server, firewall, port management) easy to do, but the trivial things (media players, browser plug-ins, etc) that you want in a PC tend to be difficult. At least they seemed to be for me.

About 6 hours (1)

Refried Beans (70083) | about 7 years ago | (#18625013)

It took me about six hours a few weeks ago. I bought a new Dell Optiplex 320n to replace an old homebrew P3 box. Most of the time was trying to get in initial install on the box. After that, I just dumped/restored my old environment onto the new hardware.
  1. Try booting with a USB drive for a network install. Doesn't work because the b44 driver isn't available.
  2. Pull optical drive from old computer and try CD install.
  3. Restart install with pci=nomsi option so SATA works.
  4. Restart install to use LILO because GRUB doesn't work
  5. Install hard drive from previous system and start dumping and restoring to the new disk.
  6. Install i686 kernel so I can boot to my old environment.
  7. Boot to my old environment running on new hardware.

Which OS? (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | about 7 years ago | (#18625025)

For OS X, it takes about 10-15 minutes: long enough to set a homepage, turn on the middle and right buttons of the mighty mouse, and install Quicksilver.

For Windows, it takes about half an hour to get to the point that I no longer feel unclean for using the machine. This includes turning off pretty much all the eye-candy, stripping the system of the most common bloatware, and disabling as many MS apps as possible. But the process never truly ends. Months later, I will try to find a file and end up seeing that f****ing dog. He takes about five minutes to kill.

On Linux, I am always tweaking unless I have an important deadline looming, or if I'm surfing the web while waiting for a compile to finish.

with suse, it takes me ... (1)

timerider (14785) | about 7 years ago | (#18625041)

... about 1 hour, about 55 minutes of which are spent for adding 17 additional package sources (packman, guru, kde base from buildtree, etc etc) and installing massive amounts of software from there.
the actual configuration after a clean install is done in about 15 seconds, thanks to dhcp/nis/automounter... the _only_ setting i have to tweak is to make the dhcp client send a release packet before quitting on shutdown.

It takes 2 Days... (1)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | about 7 years ago | (#18625159)

for me to setup windows XP to the way I like it with updates, patches, utilities, codecs, and game installs. I usually start installing in the afternoon with a beer in my hand, and switch to whiskey and 7up later. As the evening closes in I find myself crashing more frequently then the computer and end up going into sleep mode and finishing the next day.

My boot comes in suppository form, but only for you...
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