Thursday, December 15, 2011

Configuring Windows updates

This morning, I had an idea to boot into Windows, to make sure all my Windows patches are up-to-date before going into the holiday break. I'll admit that it's been well over a month (or has it been 2 months?) since I've booted Windows, so I expected there to be a bunch of updates.

I wasn't wrong. There were 48 updates to apply. And they were all huge. It's interesting to note the process by which Windows installs the updates:

Run Windows Update, let it download and apply the 48 updates. This takes forever and really bogs down my machine. I tried doing some email while it was working, but there was so much going on with the updates that my Dell Latitude E6410 seemed unusable at times. I don't recommend doing this when you're trying to do anything important.

After the updates are applied, they aren't really installed. You need to reboot for the changes to take effect. Sure enough, Windows applies a few of the updates as it shuts down. But we already know about that. It's been that way since at least Windows Vista.

I guess not everything gets installed at shutdown? As I rebooted my computer, I watched as Windows was "preparing" to install updates, then "configuring" Windows updates, before finally installing them. When it got to 32%, it kind of sat there, spinning the disk, like it was hung. I had enough time to get out my phone, and snap a photo, all while Windows was at "32% complete":

After all the updates were applied, Windows finally came up, and I was able to get back to work.

I never get tired of reminding that in Linux, when you reboot or shutdown, you actually reboot or shutdown. None of this "let me install a few updates before you really get to shut down your system." Reboot means "reboot", and shutdown means "shutdown". I guess I got spoiled for how cleanly Linux systems apply updates. Microsoft sure could take a lesson from that.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Gnome Shell extensions made easy

My impressions still hold on Gnome 3: it is a change, but I kind of like it. I only had to tweak it a little bit to get back my blue title bars, and I'm fine. I guess Gnome 3, and specifically the Gnome Shell, is something you either love, or something you hate. There doesn't seem to be much middle ground.

If you miss the extensions and themes of Gnome 2, I thought I'd point you to where to get Gnome Shell extensions that might make you happy. We've talked about Gnome Shell extensions before, but now all those nifty extra features have been collected into a Gnome Shell extensions web site:

They have some neat extensions listed there. Here are a few to interest you:
  • Applications Menu: adds a menu that is very familiar to Gnome 2.
  • Connection Manager: puts an item in your top bar to quickly open an ssh (or other) connection.
  • gTile: lets you tile your windows in a particular way.
  • Window List: adds a window list in the top bar, similar to Gnome 2.