A Windows chain around my neck

I have a Nokia 770. It's a nice Linux-based PDA, with a Debian core plus some proprietary bits and bobs (e.g. Flash, RealPlayer) incorporated. I use it at home if I leave my laptop at work for simple web browsing and checking email. The main bonus being I can use it lying down :).

A couple of days ago, the latest firmware was released. As there were major improvements (e.g. fingertip input support, password saving in the web browser, GoogleTalk integration), I thought it was worthwhile to upgrade. And there my troubles began.

At the weekend, I had installed a Windows 2000 VMware image, so at least I had the tools available without having to take home a different laptop. But as soon as I tried to install the Nokia 770 firmware update wizard, I encountered a hulking, rusty chain of dependencies:

  • I wanted to use the Nokia 770 firmware update tool, which needs...
  • .NET Framework 2.0, which needs...
  • Microsoft Windows Installer 3.0, which requests...
  • Your Windows serial number to enable Windows Genuine Advantage; which needs...
  • Service Pack 3, which necessitated...
  • Windows Update, which required...
  • A new version of the Windows Update software to be installed

On my home machine, it took about an hour (over slow ADSL) to download all the bits of software, find my CD case with serial number, and install everything. The Nokia update took another 20 minutes on top of that. Hmmm, don't think I'll be switching to Windows any time soon. Granted, I am running an ancient version of Windows, but so are lots of businesses who, like me, can't afford to upgrade. It's so much easier on Ubuntu, with a nifty apt-get install. Anyhow, I suppose it's worth the effort to upgrade the Nokia, as the improvements make a big difference to usability.

Update: to add insult to injury, when I tried to follow the same procedure to update Jono's 770, it completely screwed the firmware, so it won't even boot. What is wrong with treating the 770 as a big USB hard drive and dropping the new firmware into a specially-named folder? (This is how I upgrade the firmware on my iAUDIO M3 - nice piece of kit, by the way, except I think the headphone jack socket is wearing out through over-use, and I get occasional wierd freezes which require a reset.)


Shocked and horrified...

...that you need a Windows host to update a Linux device? Why on earth didn't Nokia provide a Linux updater (or someone code one)?!?

As Rob says, keeping your OS up to date is imperative. Catching up is easier with Debian/Ubuntu, but it's still an annoyance.

Not convinced

I'm not convinced this is an argument against Windows.

If you were an active Windows user, most likely you'd have those dependencies already. Certainly not having the latest service pack and having to run Windows update shows that it's not an "in-use" installation :)

Linux has a similar issue. e.g. If you are running Ubuntu Hoary (which again you haven't used in ages) and want to run the latest version of Krita (say) you have get a load of QT/KDE stuff that Krita depends on that you don't have. They'll probably be a fair few security updates coming down the wire too. That's assuming that the latest Krita is in Hoary's backports which is unlikely. The main difference of course is that apt-get is a one click thing, rather than relying on multiple sources to pick up the right bits and pieces.

Another alternative is that you update your entire OS the the deceptively simple apt-get dist-upgrade :) Whilst it is cost free in terms of money, that's not cost-free in terms of time and possible configuration hassles.

From what I can tell, regardless of your OS choice, keeping up to date with the release cycles of the manufacturer is vital.

That said, the Nokia 770 looks like a really nice bit of kit!



This is a Windows issue (to

This is a Windows issue (to my mind), as Windows doesn't (and can't) manage dependencies the same way you can with an open source OS: with Linux, the package manager can track what's missing and pull that in too. Plus, because an open source system is more modular, you can pare down the OS and applications so you are only updating the things you want to update (it's likely Service Pack 4 contains fixes for stuff I don't want installed but can't get rid of).

I would agree that apt-get upgrade-dist in the olden days had a tendency to break stuff. But with Ubuntu Breezy I used the update manager to move to Dapper, without a hitch (fingers crossed) a week later. I'm not sure there will be such a simple way to move from XP to Vista. Again, due to the system's monolithic nature, I'd suggest.

True, this isn't a real Windows installation (it's a secondary OS for me). But if I was installing Windows XP from scratch I would still need to install the service packs and dependencies. Yes, I would do the same on Ubuntu, but again modularity helps here.

The other point in there is the need to keep entering serial numbers (requiring physical media) and accepting digital signatures, which is plain irritating. No need for this in Ubuntu if you stick to "verified" software.

I think it was just the endless "you need this, then you need this, then sign this" which annoyed me. Most software on Linux I just install through Synaptic and I'm ready to go within minutes (not hours).

It is absolutely ridiculous that there's no Linux firmware installer for the Nokia 770, too!

To a Degree

I agree to a degree that Windows doesn't have a unified installation system like Linux distros. However, with XP, you can pick up all your dependencies from the Windows update system, so it is in one place...

One thing that most Linux distributions do is hide the modularity. i.e. Vim7 is out now, but I can't go to vim.org and get a copy for Ubuntu like I can for Windows. I have to wait for the backports or use an "unsigned" repository. If I compile it myself, I then need to work out how to ensure that the one built into dapper isn't ever used. Similar problem with Firefox as I want to run the Mozilla one because certain extensions don't work with the Dapper one. Fortunately there are wiki pages to help!

I'm suprised you have to keep entering serial numbers. The last time I installed Windows I had to enter a serial number once for Windows, once for Office and once for UltraEdit.

The test Vista upgrade I did worked fine, as did the Ubuntu Breezy to Dapper upgrade :) I'd expect nothing less of either to be honest. Of course, there will edge cases in both OSes.

Essentially my main argument is that your particular installation of the Nokia software was more hassle for you than it would be for most Windows users, and that this is not a reason to move to or away from Windows. There are plenty of better ones for moving away!

Of course, If I could get IIS and SQL Server to run on Linux, I'd move away full time too...