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Anomalous CPU utilization on Windows build node caused by ads (twitter.com)
255 points by luu 6 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 249 comments





A related observation: I have between 4-8 *nix, MacOS, iOS, machines running on my home network at any given time. I’m using piHole (with base config) to block ad traffic. My blocked percentage hovers around ~10%... until I boot up my one Windows 10 machine, which spikes the blocked ad traffic to ~25% and remains that high -with zero applications running mind you - until I shutdown the machine, after which it quickly drops back ~10%. It seems that Windows 10 is essentially an ad and surveillance OS built for mining user data at this point.

Similar experience here.

Not to mention the seemingly-continuous/mysterious "update bandwidth". When I boot up a Windows machine at my vacation condo with a 2Mbps DSL line (okay, yeah, but it's all I can get), it sucks it completely dry for an hour or more, with nothing about updates or anything meaningful appearing on the Windows screen at all.

What's it doing? Who knows.

edit: clarity


Windows 10 has a "this is a metered connection" option that might help in that situation. I use it when tethering my work laptop to my phone, and it seems to prevent that sort of abuse.

Windows 10 has a P2P Windows Update service, maybe that's it. Look under the Delivery Optimization settings.

Windows Defender's realtime protection in Windows 10 is also terrible. Practically monopolises an entire core at all times. To make things worse, you cannot permanently disable it without a GPO. And Microsoft is known to keep taking GPOs out of Pro.

It's light-years better than the Symantec garbage my employer force installs on every machine. It literally takes over thirty seconds to open vscode, compared to less than five without it. Every single operation, from reading an email to opening a file takes a factor of 5-10x longer than it should. It makes me want to scream. I tried to tamper with it once in a fit of rage and got permanently booted off the network. That was an awkward visit to the IT office.

reg add "HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows Defender" /v "DisableAntiSpyware" /t REG_DWORD /d "1" /f

reg add "HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\WMI\Autologger\DefenderApiLogger" /v "Start" /t REG_DWORD /d "0" /f

reg add "HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\WMI\Autologger\DefenderAuditLogger" /v "Start" /t REG_DWORD /d "0" /f


I’ve seen less on the Windows 10 Pro version (switched off all datasending features on install).

Enjoy having them silently re-enabled on the next update. Enterprise is the only version where you can actually disable and it'll stay disabled, because most regulated corps would consider "telemetry" a data breach.

There was one update that turned Cortana back on. I think it was the major feature update before the "Creators Update". It was the one where everyone (or at least me) thought they got hacked like in a movie. My computer was randomly turned off. I turned it back on and instead of the login screen, it just was a glowing "All your files are exactly where you left them..."

Took me like 5 minutes of not being able to use my computer to get through, only to find that I wasn't hacked... but that was something Microsoft hired and paid employees to do.

With that in mind, they haven't done anything like that since. Hopefully people are super mad about it.


>> Hopefully people are super mad about it.

Unusual windows activity, random rebooting associated with "updates", is a force of nature. People are beyond anger. They just accept it as part of the natural world. Linux guys like me are the angry man standing on the corner saying that the world doesn't need to be this way, that we can choose not to live like this. But if you believe that something is natural and unavoidable, eventually that guy in the corner looks genuinely crazy.


I check them periodically and have never seen any of the settings turned back on.

Me neither from updates, but I have random components of my system fail. Like the start menu search if you disable some telemetry services.

It is telling that deactivating telemetry is the most significant feature of the enterprise edition.


Odd. On the dozen Windows 10 PCs I've maintained from mixed vendors and self builds, some fresh installs, some upgrades from 7 or 8, I've never had any of these options reenabled. No fancy registry hacks or 3rd party blockers on 3/4 of the machines. A few have more aggressive telemetry disabling changes, and let me check this one... yeah, no changes. And this system has been abused, tweaked and untweaked 15 ways to bacon over the last 2 years on the same install.

My guess is that people screw up their machines in a way that triggers some type of registry repair, or they encounter a problem and do a rollback or refresh in safe boot themselves, which will reset things like active services and scheduled tasks. Those fire up, see an unrecognized configuration, invalid entries, or missing entries, and reset those settings to a default.

Seriously, I see these comments on things happening by magic in Win 10 - full apps installing themselves, setting gremlins flipping switches, advertisements eating people's children, etc.- and I've literally experienced NONE of them. Actually I had Error Reporting reenabled once after using the troubleshooting settings to clean the DNS cache instead of ipconfig. I've had plenty of issues to troubleshoot, mostly from my own tweaking, some out of my control, but the level of Win10 FUD is bizarre.

tl;dr - More MS FUD. Don't use every hack posted by internet randos and check any deep customizations after using any automated repair tools.



That first article is just a random journalist (user) Windows rant. I'd give it a 90% chance the root cause was user error.

The second mentions:

1) Drivers being replaced, which is often cited as the overwhelming contributing factor of system instability. It was a huge factor specifically when the driver model changed in Vista and shotty 3rd party drivers is often credited as the single biggest reason Vista flopped. They're anal about drivers, but MS provides ways to prevent drivers from being updated automatically. They list printers being uninstalled as a separate thing, but probably same root cause. Printers and their software hold the top ranking on the "WTF is all this shit?" Scale.

Ads turned back on? Never happened on any of these systems. There might have been some feature that was added in an early release (both articles were written in 2017), but if there was, it was a toggle in the settings to disable it.

Default apps being reset actually DID happen to me once, now that I think about it. It's literally a 5 second fix, which is why I forgot about it.

That article also links to MakeUseOf articles that promote installing 3rd party apps to do things like redirect Cortana, set default programs, etc. Gee, use some rando internet person's hack to change default apps and at the next update the default apps are reset to default? Must be Microsoft's fault. Let's mess with Cortana, which can be used to recommend (advertise) apps and services by examining the user's history (telemetry). What? All the telemetry tweaks and ad settings have changed. OMG MS you so bad! Sorry, M$ you so bad! (Gotta have that late 90s childish Developers Developers Developers rage.)

The overwhelming takeaways are:

A) If you're going to spend hours of your life at the computer, spend 30 minutes looking over the settings for each major release, which happens once every year or so. Same goes for your phones/tablets.

B) Use the tools provided to tweak first and resort to 3rd party hacks only if they're reversible, you know exactly what they do, and you could perform the same changes manually.


"less ads" for $99 [1] isn't a great value proposition to me.

[1] https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/upgrade-windows-10-pro/


How does one do that?

I have two windows 10 behind pihole with over 1.051.698 domains blocked and I am rarely over 10%

Did you customize the allow domains?

What do you mean the allow domains?

It seems windows pro receives less ads than home so it may be that. Anyway there have been times where I was doing heavy browsing where I got over 20% and some times over 25%. I also block everything from facebook.

My top blocked domains today are: self.events.data.microsoft.com, activity.windows.com, watson.telemetry.microsoft.com and reddit.map.fastly.com


These don't even sound as ad site:

self.events.data.microsoft.com, activity.windows.com.

Maybe you are blocking some legitimate traffic, forcing it to retry many times?


Collecting telemetry against user's will is not a legitimate traffic.

I was in the Windows org for a bit and this is one of the reasons why I quit Microsoft. I couldn’t live with myself that I am working on something that frustrates users by shoving ads in their face.

Every time our tests ran the windows menu showed ads. Edge default home page showed ads. An OS was supposed to be on the users side and Windows wasn’t.

I quit and have been much happier. Although I work for a tracking company so may be I am a hypocrite. But my current employer has strong ethics when it comes to GDPR, DNT cookie, No cross domain tracking Yada yada.


The duality of modern Microsoft is absolutely astounding. How they can simultaneously do incredible things for Github, and open source Windows components, while continuing to not fix the most user hostile Windows ever produced, is completely bonkers.

My litmus test for whether Windows is finally fixed is whether of not it’s possible to install it without Candy Crush, but unfortunately without killing the network and applying a registry patch as far as I know it can’t be done.


> The duality of modern Microsoft is absolutely astounding.

See: http://bonkersworld.net/organizational-charts

I don't work there, but I've heard Microsoft is more like a federation of organizations than one giant consistent, cohesive team.


Because its buried far down and I can’t edit my post, I want to hijack this post to point out that it turns out in newer builds MS has actually removed the Candy Crush auto installation.

https://mspoweruser.com/rejoice-windows-users-candy-crush-is...

I didn’t notice because my Windows 10 image is out of date, presumably getting the latest ISO would fix the problem.


Nope. This feature bootstraps from the web and it's still in the latest update post-fresh install. This article is incorrect.

I will investigate, but if you have a solid source for that it would save me the trouble. Thanks anyways. I’d really like for MS to stop doing this if they haven’t, I have a personal ban on running Windows outside of VMs until its over.

UPDATE:

Sigh... you are correct. Fresh install, Win10 Pro, same garbage.

https://i.imgur.com/zDWo4Hb.png


Are you signed into Microsoft account or using local account?

I've heard that Microsoft account sync the start menu layout, so it might come from your previous install.

I'm using Win10 1903 fresh install (local account) and I haven't get candy crush tile ever.


Previously a fresh install was enough to fix windows. Does it mean that you need a new online account every time you reinstall?

Local account. If you are connected to the network it tries to download it.

most people think that the start menu ribbons are things that are installed. however with windows pro for home users you might also get candy crush, but there is also windows pro for business which only has some ribbons like bubble witch that would install it, when clicked.

i'm still always confused why somebody creates two versions and label them 'as business' and as home use.


So are most big corps methinks. Here about Nokia death caused by internal tension between depts ? Sony sub-units more or less completely independent (selling cd and cd-burners).

Sony is NOT like that.

For example their phones have extremely complicated DRM that makes everything slower (and reserves tons of memory and even affects things like camera) because of their movie and music business.


Oh man, I couldn't stop giggling looking at the Microsoft and Oracle org charts. Those two pictures capture those two organizations completely.

I've talked to some Microsoft employees who use the Server edition of Windows on their primary development machines, especially instead of Windows 10, since they can legally do that easily. Apparently it's somewhat popular to do that. I think it's quite telling when its own employees avoid Win10.

I don't think Microsoft is doing incredible things. They are baiting the developers and just use the strategy of locking people into their constellation of spying services. Acquiring GitHub they got access to all private repositiories and insight to what other companies are doing. This is despicable.

> Acquiring GitHub they got access to all private repositiories and insight to what other companies are doing. This is despicable.

Spreading disinformation in 2019 is despicable itself.

- Microsoft already handles data from competitors in other portions of their corporation. If it was discovered that Microsoft and / or GitHub actors were acting in bad faith with private repositories, that would immediately erode the trust of their Azure platform.

- Most projects are more than just the code. It's often build toolchains, pipelines, and other specific knowledge around said code.


You're not looking at the big picture. Microsoft already has - and has had for 30 years! - the most valuable data in the world flowing through Excel and Word.

Code is cool, but they could already know everything every company in the world is doing.

I don't think they're abusing the trust put into them, we'd know by now.

They'd also probably be blown to smithereens by governments and other corporations, through lawsuits.


> How they can simultaneously do incredible things for Github, and open source Windows components, while continuing to not fix the most user hostile Windows ever produced, is completely bonkers.

Developers, developers, developers.

When they stopped singing that, they nearly failed. Now they are back. It doesn't include being nice to end-users.


Honest question and I am absolutely not starting an argument, but what have they done for Github? All I'm aware of is making private repos free, but I haven't seen anything beyond that. I must be out of the loop.

I have no idea how much they had to do with Github’s recent developments, but:

- Github Sponsors with donation matching for some limited time period

- Github Pro which based on browsing user profiles a surprising amount of folks have bought into

- Github Package Repositories.

- Github Pipelines.

Generally I have been waiting for Github to start sucking but it has only gotten better imo.

I have been a pretty big Gitlab fanboy for a while so it’s weird to harp on Github’s progress but they’ve done a good job flipping the script.


> - Github Pro which based on browsing user profiles a surprising amount of folks have bought into

Not a statement either way, but AFAIK everyone who has the Student Pack[1] gets the PRO badge. I have it and I haven't spent a penny on GitHub (though my employer has).

[1] https://education.github.com/pack


Their PR UIs have recently gotten some much-needed improvements too.

We finally got a dual sided "more context" button for diffs, that was so annoying when that was missing (and a declined feature request when I asked).

The latest development that I'm aware of is the package registry they are launching: https://github.com/features/package-registry

> My litmus test for whether Windows is finally fixed is whether of not it’s possible to install it without Candy Crush

https://mspoweruser.com/rejoice-windows-users-candy-crush-is...

What's you new litmus test?


Sadly, this story is wrong and stems from a misunderstanding of how this feature works. The OS bootstraps these suggested apps from a configuration hosted by Microsoft servers, not anything present in your ISO. (e.g. https://twitter.com/thurrott/status/1122847063312613377)

Thank you.

I installed Windows as early as last month (in a VM) and still got Candy Crush. This is probably because my ISO image was not fully up to date.

I was not aware of this change but it is greatly appreciated. I can no longer modify the parent comment but if dang or anyone else with permission wants to please feel free.

No need for a new litmus test, though solving the problem of Edge opening MSN ads after updating would probably buy some goodwill.


Correction: It still happens with a completely fresh install, just like withinrafael claims.

https://i.imgur.com/zDWo4Hb.png

Very sad.


It's still an stupid mistake MS made that could be once back. That's enough for me for staying away from the MS tax for life.

Mac OSX comes with chess. What's the difference?

Chess doesn't encourage spending money.

Looking over my library I’d have to disagree about that. :)

Chess is a noble activity.

Candy Crush is pure garbage.


I just checked my Windows 10 machine that I use every day for 8 hours to get real work done. There's no "Candy Crush" on it.

this past weekend my windows 10 host installed candy crush (and other stuff) without asking me. I honestly thought I had been hacked. My other favorite thing is bing in the start menu. They changed the gpo/registry setting to disable it like twice, and didn't even have safe search enabled on it!

It mirrors the new structure of the industry: developers are a totally separate market from users and generally get paid to work on software whose purpose is to exploit and "farm" users through surveillance capitalism and AI/ML powered soft mind control.

In other words developers (and their employers) are customers while users are a product or resource to be exploited.


Seems to me that DirectX is the last remaining barrier to finally getting the majority of the Windows user base to migrate to Linux. That and driver support.

You are ludicrously incorrect, just as everyone for the past 2 decades has been when they have predicted the year of the Linux Desktop. This trend will continue until Linux Desktop people stop underestimating what users actually do with computers.

> people stop underestimating what users actually do with computers

Oddly, this is the factor that underlies most of my personal beefs with both Microsoft and Apple. What's wrong with my wifi? At least I can look in journalctl on linux. My laptop doesn't have enough screenspace - I can use i3wm on linux. I want double-click to include '*' and '/' and ':' in a "word", hey I can change xterm config. I want left-mouse-button to start a selection, and right to continue it, and middle-mouse-button to paste, and I want F2 to paste, X11 can do that. I don't want the focused window to pop to the top? Can do on Linux. There's so many things that Windows and MacOS make the decisions for you and make it very, very hard to do otherwise that really cramp your style on a basic level.


Most people don't do these things on their computers:

> journalctl, i3wm, xterm config, non-standard mouse configurations

The versatility of Linux is frequently touted as its best feature, a feature that 99% of humans don't care about, and would confuse that same 99% of people.

People are used to what Microsoft and Apple imposed on them. For better, or for worse, they honestly couldn't give a damn about being able to do stuff like that. Their style is the Apple style, or the Microsoft style and, most importantly, the no-terminal style.

Linux is the perfect desktop for developers. It hits all the wrong checkboxes for end-users.


Agreed, most people don't do much more than open "Edge" and "Outlook", some people Use "Word", a few people use "Excel" because "Word" doesn't do tables very well. The point being two-fold:

1. The argument that a Linux desktop won't fly because people do so damn many things that a Linux desktop just can't do is false. 2. Windows and Mac really push you hard into a single style of interacting with your computer.


> a feature that 99% of humans don't care about, and would confuse that same 99% of people.

This is precisely the kind of condescending bullshit I'm talking about.

> People are used to what Microsoft and Apple imposed on them.

A convenient fantasy for Linux Desktop evangelists to soothe their egos.


Trackpad drivers on linux are not even close of the kind of gesture MacOS allow, with the help of a third party app.

And to configure the said trackpad, I have a nice GUI allowing me to define dozens of mouvement, triggers and response events for whatever application. No need to study the obscure documentation of xinput or whatever, if you're even successfull to find it on the web, only to dicover the possibilities doesn't go over of what you were able to do 10 years ago, which was very basic, e.g single tap, double tap, 2 fingers tap and that it. Last time I checked, 3 fingers swipe was not even registered.

Desktop interface of Linux computers feels like outdated copy of Windows. XFCE and LXDE looks like windows 95. Gnome, Mate and Cinamon never made it past 2008 and KDE is buggy as hell and a mess to configure.

And most desktop application feels like they have been made by a company going broke before being able to polish the interface.

With MacOS, you have the best of both world: a standard nix system, with a nice interface, a repository system (brew, macport) and polished commercial applications from an app store or from the wild.

Linux is good for niche applications: server, embedded systems, and a few specialized distro like kali or tails. For regular desktop application, that's still functional, but without the happiness.


XFCE and LXDE looks like windows 95

Most of all, it looks exactly like it looked last year. That's a feature.


> This trend will continue until Linux Desktop people stop underestimating what users actually do with computers.

Nothing. They use apps on their Linux phones, or happily use any OS that runs a browser since everything is web based today. Oh and for gaming there is consoles of course, which crushes the PC gaming market in pretty much any discipline.

The only people remaining dependent on desktops (or laptops) will be office workers, and I'm pretty sure they don't care about DirectX so much, so replacing those with Linux seems very doable, it's just the question if companies care enough. Last I checked, even office 365 worked on Linux.


You are discounting a very very large professional worker segment that relies of domain specific tools. We need more than a netbook with a browser. For e.g. In pharma, we wouldn't get any work done if we didn't use Windows. All of our software requires windows - analysis software, control software, automation software etc, etc. In our labs we're using software made for Windows XP on Windows 10, because it just works, and buying the newer version would cost thousands of dollars. If we were an architecture company we'd buy autocad or whatever, or if we were an accounting firm, we'd buy quickbooks or quicken, etc, etc.

I wonder if WINE will ever be enough to cover all these cases. Though the cost of Windows licenses is generally trivial for businesses and they want support. I don't know how good RHEL for Workstations is but maybe that'd get more adoption in business if WINE was perfect and that desktop experience was as good as/better than Win10, or even had a DE made to be as similar as possible to Win10 to make it easier for employees to switch.

How can WINE ever be as good as Windows when it is forever doomed to play catchup with a vast team of developers and decades of secret compatibility hacks that make Windows behave differently for different applications on purpose? I know that the hacks exist in a special shim layer and Windows has a database of applications that require certain sets of shims enabled. But details like an actual documentation of the individual shims are secret.

Well the WINE folks have their heart in the right place, but its not really a good idea to re-implement a proprietary API for the purposes of binary compatibility. In any case, it makes sense for Windows Version N+1 to ensure compatibility with buggy applications that worked in Windows Version N. From an end-user standpoint I would hope all operating systems invest resources in ensuring application compatibility.

That shim layer makes sense. The real problem here is the lack of documentation. You can either reverse engineer aplication behaviour one application at a time to create your own layer or you can try to reverse engineer the database of hacks, which is skirting reverse engineering restrictions in the Windows EULA. Either one is time consuming.

Maybe if a big company started funding it.

Our industry is regulated so if you run the software using anything other than the vendor sanctioned way, the vendor will not validate your system, and without validation you cannot use it to produce or test any clinical material. Well you can try, but the FDA will simply close down your company. There simply isn't any business justification to change anything since what we have is working just fine. My larger point was that "office workers" includes lots and lots of industries where the domain-specific softwares are largely windows based.

WINE will never work for these use cases because the professional software is purchased and licensed for Windows. Not on Windows? No support for you. And each one of these (let's call them "Professional Computing Niches") has its own ecosystem of plugins and extensions and scripts and nonsense that have been built up over decades and are essential to keep things running. As a business you'd be bonkers to "switch" a working system.

> Oh and for gaming there is consoles of course, which crushes the PC gaming market in pretty much any discipline.

PC overtook console gaming in terms of revenue over five years ago. There's a vastly more players on PC nowadays.

https://www.pcr-online.biz/2014/04/25/pc-games-have-surpasse...


Except it's almost entirely Dota 2, LoL, and exploitative F2P games that make up those market figures. The only thing this indicates is that the mobile gaming culture is extending to the PC. Personally, I wouldn't really flaunt these numbers as PC being having more revenue for most developers, just the lucky few that have their games run on low-end hardware and/or use exploitative tactics.

> They use apps on their Linux phones

Somehow I doubt Android is what Linux Desktop evangelists imagined. At best this is moving the goal posts significantly.

> or happily use any OS that runs a browser since everything is web based today.

Apparently that doesn't include Linux, despite it being free, not having invasive telemetry, and not having ads in the application launcher.

> Oh and for gaming there is consoles of course, which crushes the PC gaming market in pretty much any discipline.

And yet Steam is a ridiculously huge money maker and people are buying more PC games than ever.

> The only people remaining dependent on desktops (or laptops) will be office workers

Incorrect, but let's entertain your fantasies anyway.

> I'm pretty sure they don't care about DirectX so much, so replacing those with Linux seems very doable

Then why hasn't it happened? You think companies like paying licensing fees to Microsoft?

Consider that there are good reasons people do not use Linux Desktop instead of just assuming they're all idiots.


> Somehow I doubt Android is what Linux Desktop evangelists imagined.

You must be confusing Android with a desktop OS. It's mobile so they don't fall into the desktop category at all. Which was exactly my point: they simply don't need a desktop OS anymore.

> Apparently that doesn't include Linux

That reads like you're looking at some statistics that show that 0% of desktop users run Linux. Care pointing to it?

> And yet Steam is a ridiculously huge money maker and people are buying more PC games than ever.

So? It's completely overshadowed by the console market, not even including mobile games here.

> Then why hasn't it happened? You think companies like paying licensing fees to Microsoft?

You're asking why it hasn't happened yet in reply to me using future tense.

But let's put aside that pretty much everything you said was deliberately besides the point. Why it hasn't happened yet is pretty simple. Companies weigh the cost of switching vs. The cost of just keep paying for Windows (so no changes, no initial setup cost, no training, ...). That's gonna be cheaper for quite some time but eventually everything will be in the cloud so there is less and less reason to keep up a huge and complicated windows domain network with software rollout and other brain damage. You might keep a basic AD in place for user management that the web services talk to but that's it. Funnily enough my current and previous employer is still on win 7 because of the frequent messups you read about regarding 10, and how even in a corporate environment it's near impossible to disable all telemetry. I'm curious what they'll do at 7's EOL.

As for the average home desktop user, you're not seriously expecting your mom to go ahead and download and install Ubuntu are you? As long as most OEMs still exclusively sell machines with Windows preinstalled, there really shouldn't be anything surprising about the fact that most people use Windows. We already see some of the larger ones offering machines with Linux though, and with the desktop keeping to lose relevance and everything moving to the web I wouldn't be surprised to see this getting more prevalent over the next decade if Microsoft doesn't get their act together regarding Windows. It currently looks like they're cutting costs in that department, normal users seem to get the beta versions now so they could cut down their QA.


Alright, ignoring everything else, here's what you said:

> Seems to me that DirectX is the last remaining barrier to finally getting the majority of the Windows user base to migrate to Linux.

To which my point was simply "you are very wrong". As far as I can tell, you agree that there are a lot more barriers to moving to Linux from Windows than just DirectX (again, if that were true why haven't office workers moved? Oh yeah, lots of other reasons!).

So what exactly is the point you're trying to make?


The point I'm trying to make is that the desktop will continue to lose relevance, while web based apps become prevalent. To a point where it's not "this doesn't run on Linux" but rather "I'll use whatever is in reach" (since all you need is Chrome), which as of now happens to be Windows mostly. So it's shifting from Linux being unable to serve your needs to it simply not being the default, or not being what people are used to. Which is something that shouldn't be underestimated when trying to predict how things are going to play out in the long run.

Obviously there's gonna be special software in certain fields that's going to be around for quite a while, like the pharma example from this other reply, but even there the point was rather that upgrading from the XP version is too expensive....

And ultimately the question is at which point maintaining or even improving Windows becomes economically unfeasible. With Windows 10 being "the final Windows" there was already a big shift in paradigm. Microsoft is very busy expanding in the cloud/SaaS business, so it's not like they don't see how Windows might lose relevance over time. This in turn sends signals to software vendors who still make software that requires desktop machines.


> The point I'm trying to make is that the desktop will continue to lose relevance, while web based apps become prevalent. To a point where it's not "this doesn't run on Linux" but rather "I'll use whatever is in reach" (since all you need is Chrome), which as of now happens to be Windows mostly. So it's shifting from Linux being unable to serve your needs to it simply not being the default, or not being what people are used to. Which is something that shouldn't be underestimated when trying to predict how things are going to play out in the long run.

Ok, in this scenario, why would I choose Linux? Linux is literally irrelevant if "all you need is Chrome" (among the more dystopian futures I can imagine for computing, btw). Chrome is the platform then and everything is just a Chromebook. In this scenario no one reaches for Linux, they just buy some horrible proprietary locked down no-user-serviceable-parts thing like they do with phones and personal computing is declared dead.

I don't buy that that is true anyway. People have been predicting the death of desktop PCs for a long time too and it still hasn't happened. Cloud is just the latest in the thin-client/fat-client cycle of hyped up computer industry bullshit as far as I'm concerned.


> Oh and for gaming there is consoles of course, which crushes the PC gaming market in pretty much any discipline.

You're obviously not a PC gamer. The question of console vs PC is still widely debated, with no clear winner. At least to me, they both have their own uses. There are things that are much better on a console than a PC, and vice versa.


> The question of console vs PC is still widely debated, with no clear winner.

In terms of graphical computing power, there's no debate. All the current-gen consoles will get absolutely demolished by a 3-year-old mid-grade gaming computer.

The only things a console will beat a PC on is the upfront price of the machine (which ends up being meaningless as the console game stores don't have the killer sales Steam is known for) and exclusives. If you prefer a controller over mouse/keyboard, you can use a controller on a PC. If you prefer to game on a 50+ inch TV rather than a monitor, you can either plug your computer into your TV, or use a SteamLink, or get the SteamLink RPi app.


Gaming streaming is going to muddy that further. It won't replace consoles or pcs for gaming, but it will definitely create a third market for people with decent internet connections.

Yes I see how I worded that wrong. I get how counter strike etc. Won't move to the console for serious e-sports any time soon. :-)

I bought a used Xbox One for the sole purpose of some exclusives and for multiplayer with a few people I know who use Xboxes. There are a few nice points like it being totally separate from the stuff going on on the PC but I'd have no reason to own it if it weren't for the two primary reasons I mentioned. It doesn't even support my new monitor's 1440p res apparently and there's no way I'm buying a new one just for that.

I'm hoping the rumors about Win10 eventually supporting all Xbox games natively are true.


Play XBill and write manifestos with LaTeX?

Nothing. They moved to mobile instead

This is the correct answer. Even Ubuntu's famous bug #1 (Microsoft has a majority marketshare) was closed many years ago [1] as PC operating systems have declined in importance. Steve Jobs's comment about PCs being "trucks" has also come true. Almost all leisure computing has moved either to mobile devices (phones and tablets) and/or to the web (which overlaps mobile devices), making the OS less and less important. Gaming is about the only leisure activity left where desktop OS matters, but that's a relatively small marketshare comparatively.

[1] https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/1/comments/1834


And yet, Linux Desktop still is not dominant, even only counting desktop computers. Hmm...

As people use desktops less and less, they care less and less about what runs on them.

That narrative of the post-PC world collapsed when the sales of tablets like iPads collapsed.

Couple of things:

1) Tablets aren't the only "post-PC" platform. Most of the leisure computing is done on smartphones when it would have been done on a laptop or desktop 5-10 years ago.

2) If we're considering tablets to be PC replacements, we should expect their sales trends to be along the lines of PC sales. People keep PCs a lot longer than smartphones, so we should expect people to keep their iPads a lot longer than their phones too.

3) Tablet sales have absolutely not collapsed [1]

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/272595/global-shipments-...


From what I could tell, iPads are the only tablets still going strong and getting even better. It’s Google who threw in the towel on tablets.

See the recently revealed iPadOS: https://www.apple.com/ipados/ipados-preview/


Along with everything else that could be said about this, I don’t think that is even a major problem. Everything I’ve tried to run on Steam Proton runs at 60 FPS with highest settings. My guess is that Vulkan has enabled much better Direct3D emulation.

(Of course, I don’t play much and I didn’t bother to benchmark. It probably is still worse than native in many cases. But hey, glitch free and fast enough for me. Was very surprised to see games with Denuvo running great.)


Things like these is why most Mac converts never want to return to Windows. Not just the issue in TFA/post, which may seem trivial, but the overall “telemetry” debacle and experiences like jtdev’s comment.

For all their claims of having reformed, Microsoft will always be that ex you don’t want to do anything with ever again.

There are worse horrors than the lack of a physical Escape key, waiting on the other side of the fence.


I love the idea of Apple being more privacy focused, and helping us keep our data more secure. I have a touchbar macbook pro, and a headphone-jackless iphone. I just wish they wouldn't beat me with their opinionated hardware and software choices.

Deprecating open gl. Eliminating 32-bit support. Forcing me to use dongle after dongle (ethernet, usb-A, HDMI, and SD card)

Magic mouse has such a terrible sensor, not to mention the charging port location. I actually replaced it with a logitech because it's pretty much unusable for any precision work.

Heck, I bought an eGPU enclosure recently because I had a set of nvidia cards lying around.. I can only use it in bootcamp though, because of course macs only support AMD cards...

Microsoft may be an abusive ex, but apple is pretty much the same melody with different lyrics.


Perhaps we should all keep and maintain a Linux machine in the event that Apple and Microsoft both decide to screw us over.

What do you mean keep a spare machine for emergencies? Some of us have always had them as primaries, rather than leaving that world.

20 years ago, the type of person analogous to a typical HN type would have been on Linux. Thread after thread on places like Slashdot started from a position of Linux advocacy as a common baseline. Then in the early 2000s there was a massive shift to Mac among those types.

Personally, I miss the days of rank and file in such communities being desktop Linux advocates. We lost something of our soul.


I, for one, don't miss it. Linux Desktop evangelists are horrifically annoying people to deal with because they look down on everyone, believing themselves superior for using it. Tell them Linux doesn't work for what you're doing and they'll say you should change what you're doing, tell them it is missing essential functionality for you and they'll insist you don't need it, tell them you don't like the way parts of the system work and they'll list a dozen reasons you're wrong. Then, after roundly dismissing all criticism, they'll gaze into the heavens and shout "why won't more people use the Linux Desktop? Is it not pretty enough!?". In short, they're condescending assholes and I'm glad they aren't nearly as prevalent as they used to be.

I think your comment itself is a little presumptuous of motives and commits some of what you accuse others of doing.

But that aside. The free unix-like desktop has a lot of choices to be made, and one person's setup isn't going to be the same as another's. To me, that is the opposite of looking down on somebody for what they use, if we all agree that these are legitimate choices. And there is a little bit of a spirit that if something is lacking, you can try to pave your own way, which I don't see as a bad thing, though I can see others rejecting it.

If anything I think the current community is a little too homogeneous, with a lot of people opting for stock Ubuntu or whatever, than it used to be, and that's a criticism I would make.


I don't have a problem with people who use Linux Desktop, they have their reasons for their choices just as I do, many of which I would agree with[0]. My problem is with evangelists, people seeking to convert others to their chosen religion of Linux Desktop. Unfortunately because Linux Desktop users have a lot of overlap with Linux Desktop developers these attitudes still pervade the community. Case in point, how often do you hear a variation on the phrase "normal users don't need that"?

[0] and in fact I have a higher quantity of my devices running a Linux Desktop than I do Windows, but my main rig is Windows and that's unlikely to change for many reasons.


> Linux Desktop evangelists are horrifically annoying people to deal with

Agreed, and I am a Linux user. I would much rather spend my time with people who are interested in using Linux rather than promoting it. The discussions are much more meaningful. Besides, evangelists from one side tends to attract evangelists from the other side (with each side being as bad as the other). Once that happens, annoying advocacy tends to transform into belittling bickering.


It's ironic, Linux today is in a better state than its ever been. Chrome is Chrome, dependency hell is more easily mitigated by containerization, desktop environments have mostly become stable, hardware from Purism, System76, and Dell is quite good.

I think a lot of us just end up with Macs because work IT hates the idea of managing Linux machines and macOS gets you 95% of what you need.


> I think a lot of us just end up with Macs because work IT hates the idea of managing Linux machines

Many of us end up with Linux precisely because work IT doesn't manage Linux machines. (What's worse is when they think they can manage Linux machines.)


Everything you say is true, but I also remember every time slashdot would publish browser usage percentages it was something like 70% IE. visible perception did not match reality, even then.

How much of that was people accessing the site from their workplace? IE was mandatory in many places back then.

It seems that GP forgot to include the sarcasm flag.

Linux machines are fantastic if you don't need to use commercial software for things like graphics, as many web-focused developers do.

I do graphics, but on the scientific side, we all use Linux. Except when the lab provides us Macs, then we get frustrated and just remote in.

I'm just trying to detangle the type of graphics being mentioned. I do wish Nvidia drivers were better, but maybe that'll happen with ROCs coming out soon.


> I do wish Nvidia drivers were better

Get AMD. Why do people insist on getting Nvidia cards and then complain that those aren't aimed at them? Get the one that is selling to you.


Cannot reply to sibling... Nvidia doesn't have simply the best OpenGL implementation, it has the fastest and most forgiving implementation. No argument about speed (or Cuda), but by being forgiving of code that shouldn't work according to spec, it creates lock-in and makes more conformant implementations look bad.

Also, on Linux, AMD's OpenGL implementation - which is just Mesa - is very high quality.


> but by being forgiving of code that shouldn't work according to spec

So they are not following spec, and that's a good thing?


If you're trying to run a non-conformat application that you are unable or unwilling to modify, then yes. It is a good thing.

Because you simply can't do much ML experimentation on AMD; it lacks the entire CUDA ecosystem. I'm sorely tempted to run two GPUs, but also worried they'll probably clash.

I am interested to see ROCm. AMD has the contact for the exascale machines and there's a big push for ML at the DOE. So I hope there's some real competition coming (looks like it's already integrated into pytorch btw)

Because Nvidia has faster hardware (assuming you want that) and the best and most complete OpenGL implementation.

At least that is the reason i get Nvidia GPUs.


Except Nvidia is selling to me. I use cuda. At the end of the day a higher performing GPU is (MUCH) more important than running displays. There's lots of legacy code using cuda as well, so there's some lock in (AMD is tackling this issue but that's to be seen. We also use data parallel primitives - good for portability between super computers and things with different architectures - for many things but not everything, so when ROCm comes around this may not be an issue at all). But as of right now I'm locked in, at least with my priorities.

So please just stop telling us to get AMDs. That trades a small issue for a bigger one. Nvidia is selling is 90% of what we want and we're annoyed that they just don't care about that other 10%.


Because until recently, on Linux AMD's driver story hasn't been good and performance has lagged. The driver situation is improving but it will take time to win people back. It also doesn't help that they don't (yet) have a Ryzen-like story on GPUs.

Does the new driver architecture support controlling fan speed yet? I've been on both team green and team red, and not being a purist I have just used their proprietary drivers. It wasn't until AMD shifted to their new driver architecture (with most people suggesting to use the "high quality" open source one that required baking firmware into my kernel (I run Gentoo)) and I had so many issues with both the new open source one and proprietary one that I accelerated my time-to-update-card timeline and went back to NVidia, emerged nvidia-drivers, and have never had a problem since. Nvidia has been rock-solid for me on Linux (even when I first had an old card in 2009-2012 or so) using their proprietary drivers. There's also the continuing fact that while you can get 2 AMDs to match the performance (and cost) of one Nvidia, I'd rather just have the one card every time.

Don't know as I'm right there with you using nVidia myself right now. While I'm going to be picking up a new Ryzen-based system soon, AMD's GPU offerings aren't where they need to be for me to shift away from nVidia yet.

Because both times I bought an AMD (ATI at the time) card, it failed prematurely (out of warranty, but < 2 years of life) and the drivers sucked balls.

Where are you buying graphics cards with less than two years of warranty? If your GPU budget is that slim, you should probably be relying on integrated GPUs.

Probably in every place that is not the European Union which mandates 2 year warranties. Rest of the world iirc is 1-year.

I did check about five brands of AMD graphics card on Newegg US before posting, and didn't see anything shorter than two years, with three and five years quite common. I also once bought an AMD card with a lifetime warranty, though I believe that particular manufacturer has since stopped offering those terms on any of their models.

So the question remains valid: what are the GPUs being sold with super short warranties, and are they even worth buying in the first place?


The situation was much different 5 or 10 years ago.

One year was the best you'd get, 90 days was common.


Even on AMD you can have awful problems. The modeset xorg driver froze for me for a month until someone finally told me there's also the radeon xorg driver, awful.

Creating scientific graphics is a much different job than doing graphic design.

May I ask what ROCs is and why is it making Nvidia drivers better?

Not ROCs, it's ROCm. AMD's GPU compute libraries. It won't make NVidia better, but will provide an alternative to those who are stuck with NVidia for doing tensorflow, PyTorch stuff.

https://rocm.github.io/


Between Gimp, Inkscape and Krita, what are the things not covered in this domain?

It’s worth mentioning Blender 2.8 too. This is software people are leaving top tier commercial 3D apps like Maya for because it is better. The stereotype of unfriendly UI and UX in open software is breaking down and does not have to be a given.

Blender is good for character animation, but it's learning curve is higher and there aren't as many QoL improvements as in other 3d software. 2.8 is a step in the right direction but I still find cinema4d to be much much much faster to get results with for my purposes of motion graphics.

Speed really is the crux of the biscuit. It's not like you can't get the same results using FOSS, but the amount of time and effort to do so is significantly increased.

For some simple photo manipulation Gimp works - but it seems a lot harder to use. Plus it's missing non-destructive adjustment layers, and the brush engine is nowhere near as advanced as photoshop.

Inkscape is similar - everything is a little harder to do - and there's some basic things that don't seem to be in the application at all. Does Inkscape support multiple artboards yet? What about exporting multiple resolutions without duplicating the assets? The symbol support also was very lackluster when I used it last.

Krita lags horribly every time I've tried to use it.

I like the notion that there are open source replacements for these systems.. and I'd love to drop my $50+ per month subscription - but the alternatives aren't yet equivalents.


You're not wrong, but we all know why it's not better: nobody's paying to make it better, so the only way to get it better is via adoption and a larger community actively trying to make it better.

Basically, yes, it hurts, but maybe try using it more? It's certainly better than nothing, which is what we may have if, I dunno, Adobe collapses or something crazy and all our Photoshop licenses suddenly stop working.


You can use such stuff more if you don't want to be productive, and this is coming from a 100% Linux user for nearly half of my life. Unless you write code then the contributions are basically useless.

> but it seems a lot harder to use

I actually feel the exact opposite - it's easier to use than Photoshop - but that's probably because I used GIMP before I ever had access to Photoshop.

100% agree about Inkscape, though.


Using those tools for professional graphics work is like being a software developer and using notepad as your text editor, or being a chef and using a residential electric stove in your restaurant. Sure, it's possible to achieve similar (or in some cases equivalent) results, but it's just not worth the hassle.

Also, when you're making artwork on a deadline, fooling with virtual machines and things like that just doesn't make sense. There are just too many moving parts. Having to deal with layers of technology is a serious impediment to letting your creativity flow.

I first installed Linux off of floppies in the mid-90s on a hand-me-down 486— my distaste for that workflow isn't born from lack of experience or technical knowlege— it's born from the knowledge of the very real consequences of having an overly complicated toolchain when doing time-sensitive work.


GIMP: My understanding is that at some point the UI design brahmins at GNOME decided that GTK+ must not support MDI (as in the UI paradigm where you have a container window with subwindows floating around inside it), and moreover the same kind of user interface should be implemented at the top level because a good window manager should be able of keeping an application's windows together. Well, no such window manager ever emerged, and as a result using GIMP is a perpetual search for what workspace a particular tool window disappeared to, or having to fight with it deciding that the minimum size of particular windows (tall toolbars, large viewports) is greater than the 1366x768 of my laptop screen. This is frustrating to the point of unusability.

Krita: Constant random crashes, like seemingly every complex Qt application.

Inkscape: I grew up on CorelDraw so maybe I just have the wrong set of expectations, but the UX is full of papercuts and inexplicable choices. For just one example that annoyed me recently, it seemed completely impossible to get snapping to grids and guidelines to behave; some objects would just refuse to snap to certain targets (different set for each object), and generally the snapping seemed to be based on arbitrary "basepoints" (only one per object; can you change those?) rather than bounding boxes.

(Blender, brought up elsewhere: actually quite good (modulo maybe the confusing refcounting/resource management), once you get on top of the learning curve. I hope 2.8, which I haven't tried yet, hasn't changed this.)


> GNOME decided that GTK+ must not support MDI (as in the UI paradigm where you have a container window with subwindows floating around inside it), and moreover the same kind of user interface should be implemented at the top level because a good window manager should be able of keeping an application's windows together.

This is what macOS does, and does it well. Aqua/Quartz (is it still called that?) doesn't support (or at least doesn't encourage) MDI either, but unlike Windows it's app-centric instead of document-centric, which can annoy some Windows users when ALL of an app's windows come to front when they click on its icon in the dock.


Does gimp feature non-destructive multiple filtering on layers yet ? Photoshop CS2 (and you know why I mention that specific version) from more than ten years ago has it.

Gimp/inkscape are not drop in replacements for ps/illustrator. Unless your use case is very basic.

Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects? Many people do really need them!

I've gotten way too addicted to DxO. But it runs fine in a VM.

That said, I only use it a couple times a month. If I had to run it professionally, I'm not sure I'd be down.


It depends on the software (and associated hardware if you're talking about graphics) of course, but between wine (and its extensions like proton that are successfully handling many AAA games old and new), qemu, and virtualbox, the need for actually having to dual boot from Linux or have a dedicated Windows box grows less and less each year.

Just wanted to throw out a plug for photopea.com .. discovered it recently and it handles everything that I, as a programmer ever needed from Photoshop.

Woah this is great! Spent about 3 minutes with it, but already like it a lot.

How does it compare to pixlr?

What is it specifically you are needing to run? I only ask because I’ve been running Linux for the last 15 years exclusively, in and out of the commercial corporate world, and have yet to feel limited software wise.

One of the reasons I'm so thrilled with Figma and that it completely covers (and more) what I had to use Sketch for...I'm now seriously entertaining the thought of migrating from Hackintosh (on a laptop) to Linux for my web dev / UXD stuff, and potentially just using KVM / Xen for any rare cases when I'd need OSX...For now, I think I'd just sorely miss Postbox (can anyone recommend a Linux alternative?), that's actually all I can think of...

Had my Linux machine up and running somewhere since the day Linus announced it on minix-list.

Still though, also have my stack of MacBooks.

Apple becoming a Unix vendor lured me to their hardware, which functions as a terminal server in most regards, for my needs. For everything else, there's a fat Linux machine.

Windows: just, no. Only use it if I get paid to use it.


It's the apples and mickies I keep on a shelf "just in case".

I pull them out a few times a year for that odd doc or onerous requirement.

Otherwise I've been happy with debian for a decade.


Guess who's on the board of the Linux Foundation?

At the platinum level, even.

> Perhaps we should all keep and maintain a Linux machine in the event that Apple and Microsoft both decide to screw us over.

It's already happened.


I have a lot of the same dramas... but then my Windows computer and ecosystem has so many equivalents (in terms of frustration and lost time, more than specifics) that frankly I’m exhausted with computing in general at this point.

Question: what enclosure did you get? I’m thinking of getting the Razer Core X myself, for an AMD card for bootcamp and macOS


I got the Razer Core X.

There is an issue where I have to plug it in right after windows starts to boot because the mac tries to disable the integrated graphics if it's plugged in when the laptop boots (which causes windows to not boot). But if you don't plug it in while windows is in the early boot stages then windows doesn't seem to want to identify it. Apparently this is solvable with a custom efi module but I haven't explored that yet.

Otherwise it works solid in windows. Pretty much the same performance as when the card was in my desktop.


I've recently gone through the eGPU enclosure drama after reading an article linked here. I'm using one of the 2019 refreshes of a MacBook Pro, with a Radeon Pro Vega 20. I bought a Radeon RX 5700 XT at launch this week, paired with a Razer Core X, like you've got. (I can go into more detail, but AMD dGPU + eGPU is a ridiculous battle of knowing which obscure config setting to add to drivers to get them to install [Google for EnableFalcon=true]).

rEFInd successfully gets Windows to find the Intel UHD integrated graphics, so that's good. That let me uninstall the Vega 20's drivers and disable it entirely.

Even then, I still don't boot with the enclosure attached - it seems to ignore its presence? Unplugging and plugging it back in triggers Windows to go find all of the hardware, and then I have to wait 30 seconds while things grind to a halt as devices install. I'm eagerly awaiting AMD Navi 10 driver support in OS X, which I suspect will come around since people have found the names in kernel extension strings earlier this year.


I agree that the lack of hardware choice (or different "opinions" like a matte screen or smaller phones) is probably Apple's biggest flaw. But they're on a different level. One is an inconvenience, the other is utter disrespect of your privacy.

> like a matte screen

By the way, if you need a matte screen, third-party screen filters can help there.

I got a Kensington “Privacy Guard” that attaches magnetically and can be flipped around between the gloss or matte side. It may be slightly blurry at times but after getting comfortable with the reduction in glare and reflections, I dislike going back to the default Mac screens.

https://www.apple.com/shop/product/HLXJ2ZM/A/kensington-mp15...


>> lack of hardware choice (or different "opinions" like a matte screen or smaller phones) is probably Apple's biggest flaw

it's a strength, not a flaw

choice fatigue is real, just go dell.com and try to pick a laptop


Apple has a lot of inconveniences that pile up. I want to like their ecosystem to the point where I dropped thousands of dollars to be here - but there's SO many day to day issues that I can't stay. My next laptop will most likely be a linux laptop and leaving my production workflows on windows on my desktops.

If they would pay attention to the usability of their machines they'd be amazing. But I can't afford pay thousands of dollars to work slower.


How long do you think a major OS should have 32 bit support? Everything cant be supported forever.

Why not? We live in a world where the latest processor from Intel still boots into 16 bit real mode, and we have emulators and virtual machines.

There is a real cost to supporting old architectures and associated risk in telling users they can run production workloads on them.

There is also a real cost to dropping support for software working perfectly fine.

When a big company explains away how they are not doing something because of engineering resource constraints, put your skeptic's hat on, it's likely an exaggeration.

You can still use emulators on macOS Catalina (the version that drops 32-bit support.)

Aside from the noticably lower memory usage due to smaller pointers - Microsoft found that x86_32 is the lingua franca for WoA emulation. If all the binaries are x86_64 and there are legal problems emulating it, there might be problems switching Macs to ARM CPUs.

> and an emulation layer is a legal nightmare

It really isn't. And Apple can win that fight even if Intel tries to cause trouble.


What about the case of Zoom? Not that privacy focused

Did you start experiencing the random auto double click bug on your logitech yet?

Nope, I've never had that problem with any of the Logitech mice I've owned. Which model has that issue?

> Things like these is why most Mac converts never want to return to Windows.

This sounds like a false dichotomy. There are, of course, other and cheaper ways of getting out of using Windows than buying an Apple computer.


Yes, but in all the recent Touch Bar hatewagon pile-ons, many commenters try to suggest moving to this or that Windows laptop, without understanding that it is Windows we want to avoid in the first place.

The discussion is about a Windows build node — you can't even run MacOS on typical datacenter hardware!

These are just the incentives that capitalism creates. Microsoft's abusive ad practices, Apple's abusive hardware lock in. C'est la vie. The only stack that isn't structurally abusive to users is Linux, but of course it's Linux.


All my exes live in ... Win32 DLL's: CreateThreadEx, CreateFileEx, WaitForSingleObjectEx, ...

No, it's not. This is a build node, not a consumer PC.

Apple does telemetry as well.

I think the endgame you're looking for is probably Linux-based.


laughs in Linux

chortles in BSD

snickers while writing group-theory proofs on a blackboard

So the objection is that Internet Explorer has msn.com as its default homepage. This is fair, it's ridiculous and a relic from a long gone age.

But so is Internet Explorer. What kind of super old Windows version were these people running? What caused IE to open out of the blue? Windows has plenty flaws but randomly open browsers is not one I'm familiar with.


I've seen IE launch itself at times after a reboot. When the OS updates & reboots, a lot of apps take this opportunity to update themselves, or maybe its the default behavior on system boot, who knows. After the update they decide to send you to their website - but they fuck up the API call and so IE just shows the default homepage.

But why IE? Why not Edge? IE hasn't been the default browser for years.

And iirc Edge shows some shitty news feed "new tab" screen (without ads). It's still crap, but less crap than msn.com :-)


After updating to any of the semi-annual releases in the past few years, Edge is what brings up a page to tell you that your computer updated. I think they're just using it as a glorified and guaranteed installed safe to run HTML viewer.

IE does not start up automatically.


The kind of app that fucks up the API call is probably also the kind that hardcodes IE.

I suspect it actually was Edge and the OP didn't realize

It was IE. I'd have to hand my nerd card in if I couldn't tell the difference :P

They probably did some hacky shit like

CreateObject("WScript.Shell").Run "cmd /k C:\Progra~1\Intern~1\iexplore.exe" & Blah

and then forgot to set Blah, or it used to be set but somehow got unset in a later update script, etc.


And the admin had hand-configured msn.com as the Edge start page?

IE still ships in Win 10, even though Edge is the default.

Yes, it sucks, but there are tons of archaic corporate programs and government sites that require it. Some oddly coded old programs will still launch IE if you click links in their About windows (probably hardcoded to launch IE instead of using the system's default url handler).


The comment on randomly opening windows is fair (I don't see what caused it either), but this was a build VM, not a workstation - there is no reason to upgrade the browser. A more pertinent question is why are MS still shipping IE by default.

It was a "build VM" running the client edition of Windows. Do you install Ubuntu Desktop on your build VMs and expect Firefox not to be bundled?

TBF it costs licensing money, like twice as much. Yes, I know, it could be chalked up as cost of doing business, I’m just saying it’s a different question than just choosing between free linux distros for a VM.

Agreed, I'm not saying that everyone needs to be using Windows Server for every build task, I'm just saying that it's silly to complain about Windows client being engineered for clients by default. If you're knowingly going to take that cost-cutting measure then you ought to accept that the default config will have to be tuned for your use case.

A lot of enterprise software from Oracle still requires Java 6 and a J2SE plug-in, which only run in IE for whatever reason.

> which only run in IE for whatever reason.

Java Applets (and Flash) were built on the NPAPI APIs (as "plug-ins"). Historically NPAPI was supported by every major browser.

NPAPI/Plug-ins are insecure/cannot be sandboxed. After Flash died, browsers quickly dropped NPAPI support (namely Opera 2016, Chrome in 2015, Firefox in 2017, Safari in 2018, etc) and Edge never supported it.

Internet Explorer is the only browser with a large install-base that still supports native plugins and by extension Java Applet. It is essentially Microsoft's "compatibility" browser, a safe haven for the last remaining ActiveX/NPAPI Plug-ins/Flash/Java Applets/etc.

Extensions by contrast are much more secure, as they run completely in a browser's context and can be isolated/sandbox/have permissions, but aren't suitable for running a full speed virtual machine (although Web Assembly could change that) like Java or Flash.


> Internet Explorer is the only browser with a large install-base that still supports NPAPI and by extension Java Applet.

I though plugins on Internet Explorer used ActiveX, not NPAPI. Wikipedia agrees with me (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NPAPI): "Internet Explorer versions 3 through 5.5 SP2 supported NPAPI [...] Support came via a small ActiveX control (named "plugin.ocx") that acted as a shim [...] Microsoft dropped support in version 5.5 SP2 onwards for security reasons."


Changed one word to resolve.

Right? Is it so hard to change the default homepage / new tab page to do nothing?

The default settings for IE are for the masses - they want to see a search bar / news site as soon as they open the web browser. If the browser did nothing, a lot of non-technical people would think their internet / device isn't working.

Technical users probably don't want to see msn.com, and are OK with opening a blank window. So just change the settings! It's on the first tab!


>What kind of super old Windows version were these people running?

Build-servers.


Why aren't they running Windows Server if it's a server?

MSN does not load on IE in Windows Server.


Dunno, maybe they have it set up this way to build something, and one of the tools requires IE/Internet access?

OP should install Windows Server Nano or Core to run these or use a non-interactive user session to run builds, e.g.: by running a service with a service account instead of a login session with a user account.

The OP is making the equivalent complaint of running a full Ubuntu shell complete with the Ubuntu One store running in the background after starting up Gnome, and complaining that Canonical owes him CPU-time.

Well, yeah, you logged into a interactive user session in a desktop user-oriented operating system!

This is the case of the person who goes to a doctor and says, "It hurts when I do this". The answer: "Then don't do that!"


> Well, yeah, you logged into a interactive user session in a desktop user-oriented operating system!

While it certainly is preferable to use a headless session even a desktop session should quiescence by default, otherwise the operating system would be wasting gigawatts across its install base.


Commonly on windows, build pipeline tools don't work when they don't have a desktop environment even though there's no requirement for human interface (indeed, requirement for no human). The advent of Server Nano motivates a first class headless windows reality but even so, we been out here running xvnc because whatever tool required an X server.

I sympathize with the pickle, but this sounds more like a case of misconfigured build node. Why Internet Explorer is even on it? If OP RDP'd to the machine and saw IE window open, wouldn't this mean that build processes are running under whatever account interactively? Why?

Yeah, I have to agree here. If this is a build server, I'd argue that they should be running Windows Server and just disable the UI all together.

Maybe it runs selenium tests as part of the build process

  @shipilev Dear God, @danluu posted this at HackerNews, and now I have
  people blowing this out of proportion and/or implying I should feel
  bad about "misconfiguration". Jeez, it is at-home build node, not 
  the enterprise build farm. Most of the time I'm surprised it works
  without problems :D
Tweets don't make great HN content. They're not fully-formed articles, they don't provide context, they miss critical information, and people always over-react to them.

I see people talking about ad farming - but this seems like for whatever reason IE was opened - and it's default home page is MSN, which has ads.

Not saying that IE should've ever been opened in the first place but this doesn't sound very malicious? It is pretty sad how much resources pages like that take though.


Server editions have IE/edge in locked down mode by default and all the crap removed so he should just stop running builds on client versions of Windows?

For anyone curious like me, the standard editions are 139~199$ for the license, 501~6155$ for the server editions.

So the price to not get ads every update is 300$ I guess.


Microsoft's hard-on for shoving ads down its users' throats is exactly why the only versions of Windows I'll touch nowadays (and probably ever again) are the following:

- Windows 2000 and prior releases - Windows 10 LTSC (formerly LTSB) - Windows Server

And this would be only in cases where Windows is absolutely necessary; otherwise, why take that risk when Linux (and more recently OpenBSD) has been nice and good to me as a daily driver for 10 years now?


This sounds pretty bizarre. I wonder exactly what version of Windows they were using? Sounds like maybe not a server version? I've run a bunch of Windows computers, and while they have some annoying habits, I've never had one spontaneously open a IE window on me. Maybe he got malware on it somehow? Though getting malware on a server would be very disturbing.

Most of my most-annoying OS features are around updates these days. Windows Update loves to just spontaneously force-reboot whenever it feels like it, too bad if you had some unsaved files or some process you intended to leave running. OS X is nicer about its OS updates, but the Mac App Store seems to like to silently download and install updates whenever it feels like it. Pretty annoying when you're trying to do something on your last few % of battery, and it decides to burn up the CPU updating XCode or iTunes or something, with no indication what it's doing or how to make it stop.


The ads were because they had, for some reason, launched a browser, and the default homepage had ads. I'd like to know how this browser launched and why before I'd point fingers.

Windows does have an annoying feature (which can be turned off, but it's not obvious) where apps will relaunch after reboot, perhaps that was the cause, but we don't know.


Everything wants to startup and run in the background on windows, all those game update installers (steam/orgin/etc), adobe products, drivers, apps, its crazy. Not even counting all the win10 apps.

As the response notes, this should be a headless Windows installation. Installing and running a GUI and IE are the results of choices made by the Tweeter.

Maybe don’t use windows for your build machine.

He is building JDKs for Windows, mind you.

Presumably they're building for Windows?

Why are people still trying to use non-Enterprise versions of Windows for serious work?

does anyone else think that windows defender is a surveillance tool, not a security tool? To hash all known files, so that when a file is later deemed illegal, it can be traced back to its origins using this private file hash database? wikileaks, etc.

Leaving Internet Explorer installed on a Windows machine is like buying an old building and not removing the "whites only" sign from the bathrooms.

Say whatever you like about Apple, they don’t do this.

Windows is just a spyware at this point. Never use it for anything serious. Microsoft having more money that they can ever spend, play the "good person" and seduce developers with shiny things, but the underlining strategy to f*ck everyone hard is in play at all times. Don't be a fool.

> Windows is just a spyware at this point.

I'd encourage you to avoid hyperbole, in the interest of keeping the discussion productive.


But they use a heart emoji to prove their love to me and my ecosystem. They can't possibly be misleading me!

The guy probably has infected machine... which is far more likely than MS runing ad farm

Have you used windows 10 recently? I didn't realize how bad it was until I installed a fresh copy of windows 10. My backup windows machine has so many registry patches to disable the crapware that I didn't recall how bad it truly is by default.

Ads in the start menu and on the lock screen are apparently perfectly normal to end users now. It's honestly just sad.

I don't see any ads on my W10 machine and I haven't done anything to disable them. Where are you seeing this?

In the start menu. It could be that there are different definitions of ads. But on my windows system I get ads for games and other applications that they want me to install. I think they even install some of them like candy crush without asking me first (I disabled this in registry). Figured companies pay microsoft to promote their apps.


But these weren't ads on the start menu. He was talking about ads in a web page that the browser he chose to run (Edge is now the standard browser, not IE) displayed.

The unmodified login screen sometimes features ads. Have only seen stuff from MS itself though.

"Show suggestions occasionally in Start" in the useless redundant new settings app is something that should be a completely optional component and not intrinsic to the operating system.

I mean the pictures are nice, but it is personalized by proclamation, so they have to farm at least some data.

All this stuff needs to be patched out yesterday in my opinion.


Despite of having a smooth upgrade/update from 1803 to 1903 (which for first time in my case carried group policies and tweaks done with 3rd party tools) I also still had to do the various tweaks in registry, mostly with help of rights elevation tool because with standard administrator I couldn't do a literal, pardon the word, shit because MS has decided I shouldn't tamper with stuff, settings they decided are best for me.

every day on my laptop and my desktop pc. all runing without disabling the telemetry. laptop has 5hrs of battery daily, pc is runing fine. Except when i open chrome... chrome eats my ram

I meant no disrespect, I'm/was curious to know about your experience with windows. Personally I use linux distros 95% of the time and notice a significant increase in battery life and decrease in ram/cpu utilization compared to when using windows on the same system. ~8Gb (or more) vs 2.4Gb for the ram and 80% cpu utilization vs 10-15%. I'm curious how much of that difference is the background processes installing candy crush etc. But good on you if your system meets your use case and what not.

edit: clarify utilization I've experienced is cpu


I've been using windows for the past 15 years. First 6 as a normal user/gamer then as a developer with php then as .Net developer. I do use linux but only on servers/vms. I've had the occasional issues with windows, not gonna lie, it's far from perfect. But i've rarely seen CPU hogging when idle. One time i can recall is when the windows update service was doing something and for few hours i had 80+ % cpu usage then it updated and it stopped. And one time something was wrong with the search indexing service, rebuilding the search cache fixed that issue.

As for ram, i have no problem of windws/apps using all the ram i have available, that means they will hit the disk less often and be snappier, in most cases


That's interesting, most people (myself included) usually find poorer battery life on laptops, often substantially worse.

The reasoning boils down to power management, but using linux cuts an hour or two off my laptop's battery life.


Originally I had terrible battery performance like what you are describing. I have a dell xps 15 9560 with a 97Wh battery. With bumblebee installed with proprietary nvidia gpu drivers I can get all day battery life no problem (easily 10+ hours of active usage). The same cannot be said for when its booted into the windows partition. Yes this is because of the gpu settings but why would windows need to utilize it with everyday tasks like google docs or casually browsing the web? It took some work to get the battery under control but after I did some reading about drivers and bumblebee I didn't have any problems. Been on this install for a bit over a year now without any show stopping issues.

We have all the proof we need that MS is running an ad farm from the base windows experience. What proof do you have that he was infected with malware beyond that?

Where's that proof? I also run windows 10 at home, no issues with cpu or ads. The build servers at work? Same. no IE cpu hogs, no ad farms ... That's why i think this is some malware that has gotten by, and not ad farm.

From my other comment:

I see people talking about ad farming - but this seems like for whatever reason IE was opened - and it's default home page is MSN, which has ads.

Where are you getting ad farming from?


And what is the proof?



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