Windows Frustration

15 09 2008

Every once and a while I actually begin to like using Windows. Why not? You install software, and it actually runs. No fighting with kernel modules, package managers, and DHCP settings. Sure, it runs a little slower than my Linux install on the other partition, but I’ve got 2GB of RAM and CPU speed to burn. But then, one double click of an EXE, and it all comes back to me why I dislike Windows. Let me start from the beginning and highlight the annoyances along the way, with parenthesis and bold text (such as here).

The main Windows desktop that my parents use crashed (reason to hate Windows, instability), for no apparent reason. It would blue screen when booted, with or without safe mode, debug mode, or anything else. We tried using the recovery CD with no results. So, we pulled off an old backup copy of the partition and installed it. After a few hours of updates, it was back to the way it should be, and everyone was happy. Unfortunately, I forgot to update Internet Explorer (reason to hate Windows, Internet Explorer).  My parents then proceeded to browse the web, and within a week locate a page with a browser exploit which downloaded a pile of Trojan viruses to the machine (reason to hate Windows, viruses). I try to kill the program that was running manually, but end not getting anywhere. Where’s the killall command in XP (reason to hate Windows, lack of killall, grep, and other useful tools)? Perhaps there is such a thing hidden somewhere, but I don’t know how to get to it off of my head. The virus kept spawning more copies of itself faster than I could kill them. I boot up my laptop, stupidly into XP instead of Gentoo, and begin Googling for a fix. I find some files that look promising, scan them with Mcafee just in case they’re viruses themselves, and then click on one to see if it’s a demo or a full version of this virus software.

Nothing happens. A chill runs down my spine, the last time nothing happened when I clicked an executable file in Windows, bad things happened. My assumptions turned out to be correct; as I loaded up the task manager I saw processes such as a.exe, b.exe, c.exe, and video1080.cfg.exe sproouting up and consuming resources on my laptop. A moment later, a spoof of Windows security center launches itself and begins to tell me that it’s an unregistered version, and to remove infected files I’ll need to purchase some software.  My first response was to disable the Wifi as fast as possible. That likely saved me from even more of a hassle, as most viruses I’ve gotten have a habbit of going out and downloading more viruses. Safety in numbers? Perhaps they just get lonely. Either way, I killed this one’s connection to the outside world before it could download all it’s little buddies, or upload all my personal files to some hacker. I managed to kill all the running processes, disable them in msconfig, and track down where they were running from. I then Googled a bit and found some registry keys and DLL files that the virus modified. After fixing all that, things appear normal, but I’m still unsure if there isn’t some residue of the virus lurking in the corners of my registry (reason to hate Windows, registry). After spending hours hunting down every trace of the virus on my laptop, I don’t even feel like getting started on the desktop again… Note: both computers had up to date copies of Mcafee installed and running. Neither detected the virus.

So there you have it, wandering the Internet in Windows bliss, to spending hours attempting to remove viruses and hope that all your data isn’t destroyed, virus filled, or being uploaded to someone in Turkey. I think I’ll go back to Gentoo.. right after I finish this full system scan to make sure nothing’s left of the virus on my laptop.