I have this machine at home, running XP, and all of a sudden it is getting incredibly slow at startup. I installed Ad-Aware to make sure i don’t have any hidden spamware running. It found nothing.

So then i tried to find ways to make XP run or boot faster again. I know that the really failsafe way is re-installing my XP but i don’t really have the guts to do that, reinstall all drivers and programs. So i tried my friend, Google.
I found several articles allowing me to tune my xp-performance and startup time, i applied the ones i found sensible, the ones that were mentioned accross different pages.

In short i think the best things you can do is uninstall unneeded programs, make sure that unwanted programs in the background can’t start (msconfig). Bootvis seems interesting too, not entirely sure if it helped a lot. Defrag of course! :) Making sure your pagefile can’t get defragged by making it large enough, preferable on a separate disk from your boot-drive. These changes seemed to improve my boot, although it is no where near a quick 20 seconds now :) It still takes a few minutes to get my computer completely ready.

But suddenly i also lost my network connection. I was puzzled, did i stop one service too many? :)

Everything seemed to work fine, but my network-card did not look for an IP address (DHCP). I tried to start my Firewall and i got an error stating the WSAStartup had failed to start, or was not started. WSAStartup? What is that?

Looking on the internet i found a small tool, fixing WinSock problems, possibly related to de-installing programs. You never know. And i had no other clues to follow anymore. The tool is called WinsockXPFix. It supposedly could also backup my registry, but that failed in my case. So i just started it, in blind faith, knowing i had to re-install anyway if it wouldn’t work. But guess what: i did!

The program ran, rebooted automatically, and everything was back in working order!

Windows XP, at the time, was promoted for its boot performance, it’s self-tuning capabilities, yet over time it only becomes slower and slower. How does Vista handles this? Or Windows 7? Or is it inherent to Windows OS, and should we look at other alternatives. Sometimes i hate how much is done behind the scenes, how much is added. Each vendor or software installs its own version of “Automatic Updates”, slowing down my system. Should I look at Mac OS X? Or Linux? Yet Linux still feels to “hardcore” for me, but maybe i am wrong. Should we look at different open source alternatives (in order of viability):

  • Visopsys? this seems like a single developer’s playground. Not quite sure what kind of future this holds. But what a great effort to complete alone, though :)
  • Syllable? not quite sure about this one either, either a Linux-based server, or a desktop which is based on Amiga :) That is very nice, i sometimes long for the old times with all the different operating systems out there: QDOS (Sinclair QL), AmigaDOS, Acorn Archimedes, Next. But reviving something like that will never be able to compete with anything commercial. Although i know Mac OS X is heavily based on Next, and rightly so. Next was anyway far ahead of its time. Not to mention they looked nice. I have a soft spot for matte black :)
  • SkyOs: this seems promising, seems to be based on BEOS, which was very promising at the time. It has a lot of applications (open source) available, and a concept of a Software Store: a central place to find all software. A bit like AppStore maybe, and sounds like a good idea.
  • Linux, it all its different flavors
  • Wine allowing to run Windows-application under Linux, makes Linux even more interesting :)
  • Hackintosh: running Max OS X on cheap intel computers. Sounds like a viable option too, albeit a little illegal, since Mac OS X is only allowed to run on Apple hardware. That is a shame though. Would be tempted to try that, just to know for sure Mac OS X is my thing before i buy such a machine.
  • ReactOS: i have no idea how good this is at the moment, but this sounds like an extremely interesting idea to me. Create an open source, improved, version of Windows XP. You can run all current Windows applications on it. I guess they hope to stay up to date. Looks like a very interesting option.

So i am also not quite sure what the impact should be, changing OS. I guess application-wise it doesn’t matter too much nowadays. There is Open Office, AbiWord, .. which allow you to most of the day to day jobs. Not sure if i could miss PhotoShop though. There is GIMP, and GIMPShop should make switching a lot easier. And such a new OS could revive my older hardware. Maybe.