Author Topic: Equipment running Windoze?  (Read 22153 times)

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Offline free_electron

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #50 on: March 24, 2013, 05:41:17 pm »
IMHO trying to avoid regular Windows on test equipment does make sense.
the windows versions installed in these machines are not run of the mill windows.
they are either :

windows CE
windows embedded
windows with an imaging system like deepfreeze or steadystate.

you can sit there and pull the plug out of that thing. you can plunk viruses on it all you want. at powerup  the known good state is reloaded and you are back to factory settings. especially a thing like deepfreeze is impressive. fully infect and corrupt a machine. powercycle it and not a trace of any crap anywhere.
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Offline nctnico

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #51 on: March 24, 2013, 06:31:01 pm »
First of all Windows CE isn't Windows at all so that one doesn't count. Putting a Ford logo on a bicycle doesn't make it a car.

Windows embedded is just a stripped down version of Windows. Because it is hard to determine what must be included and what can be left out it usually is just plain Windows with a custom startup image. Storage is cheap...

Running Windows from a fresh image does make some sense but would severly confuse the user if he/she tries to install something on it. After a power cycle its gone. Another problem are updates. Without updates Windows is very vulnerable. Now imagine running a scope 24/7 in a rack. It never gets updates and is free to run whatever virus got onto it forever. So running Windows from an image is not a viable solution either.

All in all running Windows on an oscilloscope makes it an IT maintenance nightmare. Just read the Lecroy web page on security. I bet oscilloscope software is required to be run with administrator privileges which makes things even worse.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #52 on: March 24, 2013, 06:41:48 pm »
With the firmware image that gets reinstalled each time you get an update from the manufacturer to do updates. Normally only done on expensive devices, where they will give you an image that can be reimaged on the hardware.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #53 on: March 24, 2013, 07:18:06 pm »
exactly. there is no need to apply updates. Agilent gives you a new system image when they deem it necessary. This is free. They ship you a cd , or you can download the image from their ftp site. simply burn to cd and boot from the cd. the installer uses ghost. they nuke the entire bootvolume and drop on the required files. the userspace is stored on drive D so that one is unaffected.

if software needs to be installed you get it through agilent. those installers know how to work with deepfreeze. essentialy they reboot the machine clean, enter in admin mode , do the install and request deepfreeze to update its system snapshot. done.

it's not hard at all. the scope software does not need to run in admin mode.

i run deepfreeze at home on several machines. really cool piece of software.
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Offline nctnico

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #54 on: March 24, 2013, 07:35:33 pm »
Still the makers of Deepfreeze recommend using anti-virus software:
http://news.softpedia.com/news/New-Chinese-Worm-Bypasses-System-Rollback-Software-113677.shtml
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline Rerouter

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #55 on: March 24, 2013, 07:44:33 pm »
free electron, your deep freeze option is actually a built in feature on embedded windows 7, not actually sure if they are using full blown 7 for there test gear though....
 

Offline Narmaraktuk

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #56 on: March 25, 2013, 12:45:11 pm »
Offtopic warning: I want to react to this recurring "open sauce" argument:

- 'you got it for free', They don't care about your problem. Microsoft does , as their paycheck is depending on it..
-' you got the source' . I don't want the source , i want a fix !

I prefer open source software in the same way you prefer schematics to the tools on your bench. It allows you to fix it when/if it breaks. You can understand what a tool is good for, simply because the schematic / source shows that it was intended for a particular purpose.

If you do not want to do it yourself you can buy support. And because it is an open market place there are companies out there that will work hard to help you, even if you are in a small company yourself.

- too fragmented : there are hundreds if not thousands of builds of linux based OS... which one to pick ? ( remember we need not only the kernel , we want networking , file exchange, usb , display drivers etc .. drop and run...)

You pick a kernel version that you like and a userland that fits. Open Embedded, for instance, has a buildchain that makes it possible to quickly setup a taylored distro. Networking and usb require little userland support, file exchange a bit more. Display drivers depend on how standard the hardware is.

You are right that going this route means more software selection, manual configuration and maybe even custom programming. If that is not your cup of tea, so be it. Don't dismiss it for all of us though...  ^-^. You can get a tight ship with little or no superfluous code and no license money that needs to change hands at the end.
 

Offline hammil

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #57 on: March 25, 2013, 01:22:18 pm »
I'm gonna agree there. A linux based system doesn't take long to build at all - which is why so many network equipment manufacturers use it. Besides, Microsoft aren't going to build and configure your WinCE system for you - they'll only give you a license to use it. They'll send patches for their core systems, sure, but anything that's third party will be up to the manufacturer to deal with.

I reckon there's a couple of reasons why Agilent and co. use WinCE: They have the clout to 'make MS dance' as one commenter pointed out, so /some/ of the support workload is taken off them, but there's a much bigger reason in my opinion: it's not GPL. Network equipment manufacturers don't give a toss if they release their practically off-the-shelf driver code, but Agilent won't want to release their proprietary waveform analysis algorithms and user interface that they spent millions developing and that the chinese would almost certainly copy, if given the chance. And yes, they would have to release it, since it's included in the same product as the linux code they might use.
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #58 on: March 25, 2013, 01:39:33 pm »
Response from Rigol:

"None of our instruments use a Windows OS"

Dayton this year will cost me, 815TG and likely a DS4000 series.

Offline nctnico

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #59 on: March 25, 2013, 02:05:07 pm »
I'm gonna agree there. A linux based system doesn't take long to build at all - which is why so many network equipment manufacturers use it. Besides, Microsoft aren't going to build and configure your WinCE system for you - they'll only give you a license to use it. They'll send patches for their core systems, sure, but anything that's third party will be up to the ng and that the chinese would almost certainly copy, if given the chance. And yes, they would have to release it, since it's included in the same product as the linux code they might use.
That is a very common misconception. You don't have to publish the source of proprietary software unless you link to a GPL library. None of the system libraries fall under GPL. Most are BSD or LGPL.

Using Microsoft software just gives managers a warm fuzzy feeling they could get support. In reality MS doesn't really care. I've seen people struggle with Windows CE and back then it was far from complete. You have to buy a lot of add-on software from third parties to get something which is actually useful. The big advantage of Linux is that you'll always have a full blown OS at your disposal. You can use a light-weight X-windows system or the full blown Xorg. The choice is yours and in both cases the development effort is the same. I regulary make software which runs on embedded Linux systems and Windows. By using a cross platform framework I can use the exact same source.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline ivan747

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #60 on: March 25, 2013, 02:16:16 pm »
IMHO trying to avoid regular Windows on test equipment does make sense.
the windows versions installed in these machines are not run of the mill windows.
they are either :

windows CE
windows embedded
windows with an imaging system like deepfreeze or steadystate.

you can sit there and pull the plug out of that thing. you can plunk viruses on it all you want. at powerup  the known good state is reloaded and you are back to factory settings. especially a thing like deepfreeze is impressive. fully infect and corrupt a machine. powercycle it and not a trace of any crap anywhere.

Some embedded devices run the full version of Windows modified to hide the Windows interface away. Some don't even hide it away.  |O
 

Offline c4757p

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #61 on: March 25, 2013, 02:19:00 pm »
That is a very common misconception. You don't have to publish the source of proprietary software unless you link to a GPL library. None of the system libraries fall under GPL. Most are BSD or LGPL.

Very true. That argument gets made a lot. Linux software does not have to be open source. Kernel-mode drivers do (though there are ways to dance around that - e.g. the closed GPU drivers), but there is no reason you need to do any of your special, proprietary stuff in a driver. If you need a driver, you just make it expose the hardware via the standard interface and then your closed-source software works from there.
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Online dr.diesel

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #62 on: March 25, 2013, 04:09:08 pm »
And a response from Hameg:

"None of our devices are based on Windows technology"


Offline hammil

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #63 on: March 25, 2013, 11:53:12 pm »
That is a very common misconception. You don't have to publish the source of proprietary software unless you link to a GPL library. None of the system libraries fall under GPL. Most are BSD or LGPL.

Very true. That argument gets made a lot. Linux software does not have to be open source. Kernel-mode drivers do (though there are ways to dance around that - e.g. the closed GPU drivers), but there is no reason you need to do any of your special, proprietary stuff in a driver. If you need a driver, you just make it expose the hardware via the standard interface and then your closed-source software works from there.

Interesting... Well. I guess I learn something new every day :) But... the original question is still open. While upper management can indeed be silly, I doubt that a slight hint of support from MS would affect such a huge design decision.
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #64 on: March 26, 2013, 12:22:21 am »
Well a lot of people call themselves software engineer when they can dabble a bit with .Net so on paper it looks like there are lots of software engineers out there.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline warp_foo

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #65 on: March 26, 2013, 04:09:50 am »
Quote
The reason is simple : it allows the designers to quickly develop the UI code with standard tools like microsoft studio. they get networking / usb operations / etc thrown in for zero effort.

Using linux doesn't mean that they would suddenly need to write network and usb drivers.

Quote
There is no need to worry about viruses and hacks and other crap as these things are NOT pc's. They are ARM based to begin with , the processor is an ASIC ( Spear600 ) of which zero info is available to the unwashed masses / script kiddies/ pfy hackers , and they are set up to run 1 and only one application. you can't run anything else on them. the roms are most likely statically compiled.

Nope. I'm going to disagree on this one too. If it's on the network, and it's running an OS, it can be hacked. I'd argue that using linux or a *BSD is superior here because you can remove functionality at the source code layer and potentially harden the box a bit more effectively. Hint: hackers are going after the software, not the hardware. It doesn't matter if it's running on a PC or another CPU architecture.

Quote
you can argue 'why not linux' and the answer is very simple. Too fragmented , no tools, no ports for xyz , no support.
Before you blow a fuse reading the above let me explain :

- too fragmented : there are hundreds if not thousands of builds of linux based OS... which one to pick ? ( remember we need not only the kernel , we want networking , file exchange, usb , display drivers etc .. drop and run...)
- no tools. : name me a ready out of the box environment like visual studio for linux: graphical ui builder , debugger ( remote debugger ! ) code wizards , that can also can cross compile to non-native cpu... ( develop on x86 , run on arm .. ). an environment that simply needs one to launch 'setup' and works. out of the box , without configging , mucking with link scripts , install scripts and other 'tripe' like eclipse and the other 'spit and duct-tape' requiring tools...
- no ports : remember this thing is running on an ASIC featuring an A9 core. Microsoft happens to support that one. yeah , linux too.. but you end up with the endless which flavor question ? and you wil have to spend an immeasurable amount of time tweaking and porting it and you will have to do all the work whenever a patch is required. use a prepackaged system and you do not have to spend time on that. your engineers can focus on the instrument and don't need to muck with the OS itself. that's what you pay MS for.
- no support : you are not depending on the goodwill of a bunch of goodhearted people trying to make it work. or relegated to forums where the question will end up in flamewars between vi-emacs and kde-gnome. you pick up the phone , call the paid support line and you WILL get an answer WITHIN a fixed amount of time.

Pretty much everything here is FUD. It's only fragmented if you need to support all of the various distributions on your hardware. Possibly a problem for Dell. Not a problem for a company selling linux as an embedded OS. Pick a distribution, customize it for your needs, and call it a day.

As for ports - actually, linux doesn't need them. It's actually compiled for the architecture it runs on. Currently supported architectures include:

x86
x86_64
Itanium
Sparc
MIPS
ARM
Alpha
PA-RISC
Blackfin
PowerPC/POWER
S390

As for support, its readily available from the various vendors (Red Hat, IBM, SuSE). Whether or not that support costs more or less than MS is a different question.

Quote
remember : you work for a big-name outfit like Agilent who HAS the power to make microsoft dance... your time-to market is driven by time to develop. it only makes sense to use a prepackaged build that is supported by its maker and let's you focus on your part of the design ( the instrument ). you don't need to know how the os works or how to configure it. drop it on and run. if you pick up that phone and call the supplier you will get first class support. you will not have to disclose anything to the outside world and you will get a solution in time to release.

I work for a company *much* larger than Agilent. (Not an electronics company)  We certainly can't make MS dance. I'm not at all certain what you mean by 'disclosing anything to the outside world', unless you think merely using linux binds you to the GPL. If you modify GPL code, you do have to release that code. If all you do is link to libraries, use the LGPL. Or *BSD.

Quote
that is why you find windows CE in such machinery. because in the long run it is the cheapest solution. you as an instrument maker don't need to muck with anything. you develop your application and hardware , compile it and sell it. you never touch the OS. the OS is only there to make your life easier and provide things like netwrorking , remote operation , user interface etc. stuff everyone does these days and you don't want to spend a single dime on development.
Buy it. If there is a problem : yell at the supplier and demand a fix. Good luck yelling at the linux supplier ...

- who are you going to yell at ? the thousands of unconnected people spending their free time coding ?
- 'you got it for free', They don't care about your problem. Microsoft does , as their paycheck is depending on it..
-' you got the source' . I don't want the source , i want a fix !
- 'sorry we are on vim we don;t deal with emacs suckers' . OS abd devtools come from 1 source. no endless banter and fingerpointing...
- 'you got the wrong color scheme or desktop',
- 'don't be a noob everyone knows its grep-$ blah.blip >vim -u -t -e:50 -e -$option .....'. I am developing an application. i don't want to muck with the OS !
- ' and you MUST post back the fix.. because it is 'open sauce' .... yeah right. like i'm going to let the competition in on what i'm doing ...

that does not fly in the real world...
More FUD.
Where are we going, and why are we in a handbasket?
 

Offline Bryce

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #66 on: March 26, 2013, 05:04:21 am »
I just wanted to say that the fragmentation of the linux world is a problem for people making commodity linux software, not for people who are using GNU/Linux or other open platforms for embedded hardware - too many flavors is not a problem; that's like saying you can't design circuits because there are too many kinds of op-amp available. Picking something that meets your specs and going with it is a skill that no-one designing test equipment could lack!

Really, picking a variety of linux is a part of a larger problem, "pick an OS for this embedded system" of which Windows CE, various Linux flavors, and so on are all choices. You're still picking an operating system even if you arbitrarily discard many good options because they are "too fragmented." That's illusionary. Linux may be fragmented, but once you pick one, you're just dealing with that one, just as if you'd picked Windows CE.

Commercial support is available for open source systems from various providers. Many of the main developers of open source libraries are available for hire - the response to a feature request may well be "how much will you pay me?" rather than "you have the source."

Finally, while I agree that calling it "windoze" and so forth is unprofessional and immature, you have here someone who is at least attempting to consider the ethical implications on some level. One-man boycotts are irrelevant? Ethical consumerism is a folly because there are greater ills than the alleged doings of Microsoft? Perhaps, but maybe if more people thought about ethical consumerism, we wouldn't have little Chinese girls picking through piles of old computer monitors in the first place.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 11:04:37 am by Bryce »
 

Offline hammil

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #67 on: March 26, 2013, 07:42:38 am »
Absolutely. It's not really 'fragmented' at all - just modular. Which means you can pick and choose exactly what libraries and components you need, which is perfect for embedded applications. Any quick features you need added, or hardware-specific bugs you find can be fixed in the code to begin with. It's not too tricky, either.. I could cross-compile an entire linux system from source within.. a day, in a pinch? and I'm an 18-year-old self-taught nerd.
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #68 on: March 29, 2013, 09:42:30 am »
I went ahead and emailed a couple others:

BK Precision - Non Windows based.   :-+
Agilent - No response yet. (I'm pretty sure all of their new Scopes are Windows based)

Still no response from Tek < disappointing as I used to be a big fan of their equipment.

Edit:

Anyone know, are the BK Scopes rebranded?
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 09:57:09 am by dr.diesel »
 

Offline effectivebits

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #69 on: March 31, 2013, 08:21:07 pm »
Hi Dr. Diesel,

(current Tektronix employee speaking here)

The Tektronix DPO/MSO/MDO4000, DPO/MSO3000, and DPO/MSO2000 all run embedded Linux (I think version 2.6 on the latest).  It's not user accessible - the scope boots right into the application.  The scope does support USB memory sticks, USB keyboards, and can be placed on a network for printing to network printers and mounting network drives.  You can also print to supported printers, or just use PictBridge.  I never want people to think such products are unhackable - I suppose anything could technically be hacked.  But since it doesn't run a commercial OS, it's not like there are legions of people writing viruses.  I don't know what Agilent runs on their low-end scopes - it appears to be some sort of embedded OS.  On their higher end scopes, they also run Windows.

As for Windows on oscilloscopes, the Tektronix DPO/MSO5000 and up does run Windows.  These products used to ship with a recovery CD, but now the drives ship with a recovery partition and Acronis to make the scope "like new".  Why?  Because there is extensive interaction between Windows and the acquisition hardware.  Many people install third party apps with no issue, but sometimes one of them messes up the scope application.  Starting fresh is easier than trying to figure it out.  I had one customer install some sort of low level part programmer on his scope for programming a DSP he was evaluating.  I have no clue what happened, but suddenly he couldn't save screenshots.  Acronis recovery was the easiest way to fix it.  I've also seen oscilloscopes come back from third party calibration labs acting kind of funky - once again, recovery fixes it.

As long as the scope works, I suppose it doesn't matter what OS it runs.  Our scopes running Windows 98 still function as they did when they were introduced.  But since I believe there is a limit to security updates, many people avoid putting such products on networks.

Hope that answers your question.
Joel
 

Offline madshaman

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #70 on: March 31, 2013, 10:08:49 pm »
Just my two cents, some people rag on windows, but if you look at how the NT and future kernels work, it's actually a very good OS, very well designed.  Not commenting on user libraries or the desktop and file browsing programs just the OS itself.
To be responsible, but never to let fear stop the imagination.
 

Offline Wuerstchenhund

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #71 on: April 01, 2013, 01:52:12 pm »
Just my two cents, some people rag on windows, but if you look at how the NT and future kernels work, it's actually a very good OS, very well designed. 

Indeed. NT came with a lot of modern concepts like a highly granular privileges system which only came later in other operating systems. Which is not surprising as WindowsNT took various design concepts from VMS which was DEC's high end operating system, one of the most secure OSes on the market, and the first OS that supported WAN clustering long before anyone else.

This was in stark contrast to the world of UNIX which at that time had been a very ugly mess of lots of incompatible derivates which merely served their vendors to lock-in customers into expensive support contracts. And quite frankly, it's still mostly a mess, albeit the situation got much better. Nowadays there's Linux which and Apple OS X which both are perfectly useable for day to day work, but it's easy to forget that UNIX started as a shitty hack for awfully underperforming hardware, and unfortunately was able to carry lots of its nasty drawbacks and idiocies through the decades. UNIX was a dirty hack, and should have died decades ago, instead wer're still stuck with this mess while most of the different OS concepts which were far more advanced and which came up over the years had died or are in a zombie-like state (Plan 9 anyone?).

The thing with UNIX is that people think it's rock-solid. The reason UNIX was rock-solid is that it used to ran on large servers and expensive workstations, thus high quality and highly reliable but also awfully expensive hardware. And still, there were many occasions were an expensive UNIX server would just crash for no obvious reason or behave strangely otherwise. Many Windows installations on the other side run on self-build PCs (which are made from standard components made to a low price point with minimal testing and short product cycles) which more often than not are crap, or on ready-made consumer PCs which again more often than not are crap, too. Then add that people run excrements like software firewalls, crappy antivirus products (which nowadays consist more of a threat to the computer's stability than actually increasing security) and software/drivers written by imbeciles, and happily fiddle in registry settings they have no clue about what they actually do, and it's not surprising that many Windows PC run unreliable.

Most users have no clue about IT in general or even just about how computers work (albeit many think that being able to assemble a PC from standard components and installing Windows makes them an expert), so they look for an easy target to bash.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2013, 01:55:57 pm by Wuerstchenhund »
 

Online dr.diesel

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #72 on: April 01, 2013, 02:19:32 pm »
Hi Dr. Diesel,

(current Tektronix employee speaking here)

The Tektronix DPO/MSO/MDO4000, DPO/MSO3000, and DPO/MSO2000 all run embedded Linux.
Joel


Joel, thank you for taking the time to post this.  A TDS210 still sits on my desk and is used quite frequently when appropriate!

Offline quarros

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #73 on: April 01, 2013, 07:13:20 pm »

The thing with UNIX is that people think it's rock-solid. The reason UNIX was rock-solid is that it used to ran on large servers and expensive workstations, thus high quality and highly reliable but also awfully expensive hardware. And still, there were many occasions were an expensive UNIX server would just crash for no obvious reason or behave strangely otherwise. Many Windows installations on the other side run on self-build PCs (which are made from standard components made to a low price point with minimal testing and short product cycles) which more often than not are crap, or on ready-made consumer PCs which again more often than not are crap, too. Then add that people run excrements like software firewalls, crappy antivirus products (which nowadays consist more of a threat to the computer's stability than actually increasing security) and software/drivers written by imbeciles, and happily fiddle in registry settings they have no clue about what they actually do, and it's not surprising that many Windows PC run unreliable.

Most users have no clue about IT in general or even just about how computers work (albeit many think that being able to assemble a PC from standard components and installing Windows makes them an expert), so they look for an easy target to bash.

Well I believe there are some truth to the stability aspects of Linux although please don't bash my skull for it.
It is my personal experience that Linux handles faulty memory (blocks or modules) far better than others.
In the past on many x86 based computer I was able to run/use Linux relative reliably with partially faulty modules,
and feats like that are the reason I think why the common man thinks it is more reliable.
But on the other hand one could argue if that's a good thing... because it can hide faults for a longer time
and can cause mysterious errors.

PS: I'm not one for Linux or Windows or BSD or OSX or ... I believe all OS has their respective uses,
and blaming a certain type for problems are childish and stupid. Nowadays most operating system reached
the maturity needed for widespread use on different architectures. So now it only boils down to personal preferences
which i think should be accepted and respected
 

Offline Hydrawerk

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Re: Equipment running Windoze?
« Reply #74 on: April 01, 2013, 07:43:04 pm »
Anyone know, are the BK Scopes rebranded?
BK Precision oscillocopes are produced probably by Siglent and Tonghui. http://www.tonghui.com.cn/en/goods/index/122.html
« Last Edit: April 01, 2013, 07:46:04 pm by Hydrawerk »
Amazing machines. https://www.youtube.com/user/denha (It is not me...)
 


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