Windows is WAY harder to use than Linux

We went to visit my parents this past weekend and, as always, I ended up doing a little tech support. This time, it was actually for my brother's new laptop. He needed to get his data off his ancient Windows 98 box and his best idea of how to do it was to transfer all 12GB of it to the new system over IM. I didn't bother to explain all the myriad ways in which this was completely crazy.

Moving data from a Windows 98 PC to a Windows XP laptop proved to be slightly more difficult than I initially anticipated. Plan A was to use a handy-dandy USB thumb drive. However, Windows 98 doesn't natively support USB mass storage devices, so I needed drivers. However, for the one device I did have drivers for, I couldn't get Windows to pick them up. They installed with no errors, but when I plugged in the drive, it wasn't recognized. So plan A was a complete failure.

Plan B was to set up a good, old-fashioned network share. That didn't work very well either, though. After setting both PCs to use the same workgroup, the 98 machine couldn't connect to the XP machine, and the XP machine couldn't even see the 98 machine. So, fool that I am, I tried the XP home network setup wizard. After that, the 98 box couldn't see the XP system anymore. Of course, it might have something to do with the fact that I didn't run that network setup disk XP prompted me to create on the 98 box. Not that I could have if I'd wanted to. The setup wizard apparently can't put the disk on a CD-R, the laptop has no floppy drive, and the 98 box can't do USB drives, so how was I supposed to make the disk?

So plan B was a bust. Apparently I'm just not smart enough to figure out the magic of how Windows networking functions. I must admit that I don't know much about it, but apparently it's another one of those opaque Windows things: it either "just works" the first time or it doesn't and you're completely screwed. I guess I'll have to do some reading to figure out exactly what went wrong there.

So that lead me to plan C: when all else fails, use Linux. I remembered that my mother's system runs Xandros, has an SSH server, and has a mostly empty 80GB hard drive. So I did a quick web search and found WinSCP, a free graphical SFTP and SCP client for Windows. I installed that on both Windows boxes and problem solved! Just upload all the data from Win98 to Xandros, and then download it from Xandros to XP. Plan C was a success!

Too bad it took so long. I wasted way too much time on trying to set up a network share, and I never did figure out what the problem was. So much for Windows being "easy to use."

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