Switching to GNU/Linux was my best Windows system update.

I use GNU/Linux most of the time. I keep a Windows partition into which I boot when somebody has a Windows question that needs a demonstrated answer. I don’t hate Windows. I just don’t rely on it for daily work any more.

This week at my local FOSS user group, one of those Windows questions came up right at the end of the session and I didn’t realize the building was about to close down. After my quick demo, though, we had to get out so the staff could close the building down. I wasn’t bugged by that. The staff at the community center have supper to cook at home, after all.

I was bothered, though, by the big pain of Windows updates. When I shut down my laptop using the approved menu steps, I got the very clear message. Do not shut down or power off your computer. You have 23 updates.There had been no warning before I committed to the shut down. The shutdown couldn’t be deferred once I saw the message. There was no way to put the updates on hold. I was a hostage to the process.

I didn’t quite panic. I couldn’t stop to plug the laptop in. Fortunately it was almost fully charged. I went out the door and off to the car with hope in my heart that this wasn’t one of those major update-upgrades that would go on for an hour or more.

I decided to carry the open laptop to my car. It had just started raining, so I tipped the laptop to get the rain to hit mainly on the screen’s back and not into the openings of the case. I rushed across the empty parking lot and used a napkin to wipe off the splattered raindrops on the computer once I was inside. On my way home, the updates finished and the laptop shut down on its own. No harm done.

What’s the problem, then?

Windows! I was totally at the mercy of default update options of the operating system. The message was clear. The OS is in charge, not YOU!

My GNU/Linux software updates work differently. I get a message in my system taskbar telling me I have updates available. I can check to see what they are. I can click a button to apply the updates when I’m ready. I can also ignore the notification and go on with my work or even TURN OFF MY COMPUTER when I want. I can put off the updates to a convenient time.

I know. I know. I have the ability to modify the settings of the Windows installation so that I can better control the update process. But Windows programmers set the defaults and I accept defaults because generally the developers know what’s best. Ahem!

For a desktop computer, automatic updates taking over my computer at shutdown isn’t so bad. I can turn off the monitor, the room lights and go home. The computer will whir along through as many updates as are needed. Then it will simply shut down, even if it is an hour after I’ve left the building. For a user on the go with a laptop, the automatic updates process is a headache. It is wonderful that the Windows headaches are now rare events for me.

I’m going off now to change my Windows update settings. See you later.