When did Operating Systems stop being something that came on a bootable disk, and start being something you had to install before you could use it? When did the manufacturers of software decide that they had to send the user through a lenghty, complicated procedure, making them give hopeful answer to questions that in 90% of the cases, they had no chance of understanding? Do I want ALSA or OSS? Well, durr…
It’s funny how long you can live in this world and not challenge that assumption. Every vendor is doing it, right? Well, no. Back in the days of my first PC, DOS 3.0 came on a floppy disk (with an extra disk for tools) and other than having it in the right drive, you didn’t need to do a thing. On the Apple ][, it was the same thing. The Amiga had a floppy with Kichstart on it. The C64 had everything in ROM. So who started this usability disaster? Was it Apple with the Macintosh? I remember installing one of those early ones, and boy, was I clueless when it came to those questions. I lived thoroughly in a PC world at that time.
And today, I’ve seen the end of it. I booted from a Ubuntu CD and realized that I didn’t have to run the installation to use it, and that this was fundamentally different from a Windows DVD. I could start right away with no installation. Network was up, Firefox was already there. And INSTALL is just an icon on the Desktop that makes me not need the CD anymore. But it’s almost an optional step.
As a matter of fact, I’m writing this post while the installation is running. On the same computer. Try doing that with your fancy Vista.