Windows Progress Report

Well it’s been about a month since I switched to Windows, so I thought I’d mention how it’s going.

Advance warning: This is just a braindump of some thoughts and is not particularly coherent.

It’s going… OK. One of the interesting things about switching from a niche to a mainstream implementation of the same thing is that you find out that a lot of the things that you thought didn’t work correctly because of your weird life choices actually just don’t work correctly. In particular, the following work less well now that I’ve switched to Windows:

  1. WiFi
  2. Suspend
  3. Copy and Paste

As you can imagine, I have been somewhat frustrated to discover this.

My original plan of trying to use Windows purely as a host and running a desktop environment on a VM didn’t work very well, for a variety of reasons. I’m tempted to start trying it again, as the alternatives are also annoying me and it might be worth trying. Instead I’ve been running local VMs using Vagrant setups for each project.

To be honest, I’ve had a long-standing prejudice against the local use of VMs and this has mostly reinforced it. They work pretty well on the server where someone has already done the hard work of management and you don’t have to care about the interaction with the host OS at all, but locally they’re just pissing me off. In particular:

  1. Hyper-V looks nice but doesn’t support shared folders
  2. Virtualbox alleges to support shared folders but the reality is that it doesn’t even slightly work when trying to share between a Linux guest and a Windows host unless you have a definition of “work” that involves routine data corruption.
  3. Virtualbox also has completely unusable graphics performance
  4. VMWare… mostly works. Though you will have to fork out a significant amount of money for this option (both for VMware itself and Vagrant if you end up wanting to use it on VMWare).
  5. About the only way to actually get a stable way of SSHing into a local VM is to use Vagrant. Installing iTunes so that Windows understands zeroconf might work, but I didn’t really feel like trying it.

My current development environment involves vagranting all the things, using the windows command prompt (it’s surprisingly OK in Windows 10) and gvim. I was trying to use IntelliJ for a while, but I found it pissed me off too much in too many different ways.

One of the most annoying things in general so far has been getting tools to understand that yes I really do want Unix line endings. No I do not want any of this carriage return nonsense in my files. Even tools that should know better seem determines to try to guess and do the wrong thing as a result.

One of the most pleasant surprises is that actually Windows 10 window management is very good. It’s more or less a tiling window manager with good keyboard controls.

Overall: I hope I can install Linux in a working manner on this laptop again in the near future. It’s been nice to have the non-development stuff Just Work to a slightly higher degree, but to be honest I’ve had more random breakage on Windows than I did running Linux on a well supported set of hardware. That being said, this hasn’t been awful and has merely been slightly annoying. It’s certainly a viable way of working.

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