A Second Coat of Drying Paint

I suppose Windows is the slowest-installing program I know (and that’s on my mind because I’m going to have to upgrade my home desktop, my last XP box, to Win 7 soon), but Libre Office, the free and open source substitute for MS Office, has to come in second place. I have just been watching the installer for version 3.6.6 sit on my screen for more than the time it took Lou Reed to sing “Pale Blue Eyes”.

Oh #$**#U$W#**%$.

I got the 3.6.6 update by clicking the ‘download update’ button in response to a Libre Office popup (the automatic download has not worked pretty much ever). Fair enough. But now I just googled Libre Office to be sure I linked to the right website in the first paragraph above. And, guess what, THERE’S A VERSION 4.0.3 WAITING THERE that the updater didn’t tell me about. Being vaguely OCD about updates, I guess I get to watch some more paint dry. Bob Dylan will be long done with “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”1 before these (help files are separate) are downloaded, much less installed.

To be honest, I use the Libre Office spreadsheet much more than the word processor. I’m still using Wordperfect as my word processor of choice, and will use genuine Office when people send me files to collaborate on. Many versions ago the track changes feature of Libre Office didn’t play nice with Word, and I’ve been shy about it ever since.

Anyway at least I posted something here so my mother won’t call up to see what’s wrong. Talk about creating expectations.

PS If you download Libre Office, and I recommend it, it seems to install real fast until one of the later steps, when it just sits there a long time. Don’t panic. The progress bar is for each step, not for the whole process.


  1. Courtesy of my Pandora Lou Reed channel. []
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One Response to A Second Coat of Drying Paint

  1. Vic says:

    Being primarily a linux user, I’ve been using LibreOffice for some time now (and have been on version 4 since it came out). Two things I’ve found interesting:

    1). On linux, it takes seconds to download and install. Yet on Windows, it always seems like you are reinstalling a complete operating system. (I also have an XP box).

    2). People who advocate using OpenOffice (instead of MS Office) are almost always Windows users, and have almost never even heard of LibreOffice, while in the linux universe, LibreOffice is the defacto standard and OO is probably moribund.

    The second fact is probably just a marketing and use thing. Linux users are more aware of, and on top of, open software than Windows users and make choices based on a heap of real knowledge. Generally speaking, that’s less often true in the Windows world, where the vast majority of people just use whatever their computer came with, or whatever their work makes them use. So the little bit of open source software that becomes known in the Windows world, tends to remain small and limited by word of mouth (hence a fork like LO just never makes the radar). That’s what I think anyway.

    The first question is the technically interesting one. I think there are some genuine technical problems in Windows that makes things a lot harder for software in install and run. And I’m not just MS-bashing as a linux user here. There are two very interesting and telling videos available on the web that hint at my theory: One is a talk by Matthew Garret about UEFI and why it’s not a good thing.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2aq5M3Q76U

    The other is by a MS engineer talking about the same subject:
    http://channel9.msdn.com/Shows/Going+Deep/Inside-Windows-8-Chris-Stevens-Boot-Environment

    (I know you are a busy guy and these are nearly hour-long vids, but if the subject interests you, you might find them informative.)

    They are interesting and to my point for their contrast. The MS engineer blames BIOS for causing Windows to take up to a couple of minutes just to boot (which is just technically ignorant – a linux system on BIOS can boot in seconds – Windows boots slow because Windows boots slow, not because of BIOS), and he advocates UEFI for its extra abstraction layer over the hardware leading to Windows being able to DO more! [arghhh]. Garret in his talk pretty much debunks everything positive (or at least claimed necessary) about UEFI and shows very good reaons why.

    My point being that I believe that MS has (for reasons beyond what I want to go in to here) created an infrastructure in Windows that uneccessarily complicates matters. LO takes FOREVER to install on Windows, yet installs in seconds on Linux because Windows makes it hards to do ANYTHING important, unless you believe your computer is simply a content delivery tube. You want to download photos from your instagram account and then create a slick slideshow with music you downloaded from somewhere else, then share that with yet another person, Windows makes that all one-click-easy. But now you want to install LibreOffice? “Well…we’re not really set up for that, but if you hang on a minute, we’ll see if we can fit that activity into the schedule…”

    Windows is a product, not a tool, and is a symptom, not the disease. Until people, as a rule, start actively thinking of computers as more of a tool and demanding that they not just be fancy TV’s that can browse the web, it will still take a 10-20 minute time chunk to install software that didn’t come on the box.

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