miércoles, 25 de febrero de 2009

Windows = Antivirus = Pollution?

I just read an article by the University of Calgary where the author claims (and I think he's correct) that IT is a huge pollutant. For example, we have hardware that becomes obsolete, we have to produce electricity to pump into our gadgets, etc.

Not long ago I read another article where it's calculated (or so they say) how much pollution is produced by each search on google.

But, man.... I just couldn't resist the temptation of asking myself "... then how much power is spent on Windows implementing DRM protection mechanisms?". It has been disputed that it be a lot of energy to implement DRM mechanisms. It has been argued that this is not too much of an effort... that DRM in Vista is rougly a couple of LOC on the whole system. I just couldn't care less about it.. but then the next even more obvious question was "then how much pollution is produced by the usage of antivirus?". And here you won't tell me that it's just a little effort. Antiviruses checking whole computers (millions of them) weekly (at the very least), an operation that can take a while to complete, plus the effort of checking every jpg file that gets into a system. And using the antivirus is no low-cpu-ussage activity. I know that when a computer running windows is dragging behind a turtle for no apparent reason, I could just check processes to see if the antivirus is doing its stuff, if the box hasn't already being been invaded by the random virus that's hot at the time and that is eating all of the CPU sending all those beautiful Xmas mails.

What bothers me the most is that windows users are still paying for the ultimately bad design that was implemented on Windows early on (every .exe you downloaded from internet could be executed right away, default user is administrator, programs that won't run unless the user is an administrator, Firewall? What's that?, the usually long etc.). Vista is barely trying to fix all those problems, and we all know the backslash that things like UAC has been for Windows Vista (at least in its inception).... but we know where Vista is staying in user's preferences... so people are sticking with XP design flaws instead... and seems like it will be a little longer till it fades away into oblivion.

So... coming back to the question: Windows = Antivirus = Pollution? Can anybody try to make a wild guess about how much pollution is produced by antiviruses?

PS And I didn't mention hardware that's not capable of running today's systems. How many times have you being forced to buy more hardware (or another computer) just to get the latest incarnation of Windows to work acceptably well turning your perfectly working system (so far) into digital trash? That's another thing where at least GNU/Linux will help you avoid as well. As a matter of fact, I'm using the very latest release of Kubuntu, patched to use KDE 4.2 (using some of its 3D eyecandy, by the way) in a computer that's a little dated (I guess 4 or 5 years is a safe guess) on a box with a D865GVHZ motherboard (4 years old? Maybe 5?). I wonder if I could run Vista with Aero on this box. I guess that makes up another equation: Windows = New Hardware = Pollution? By the way, I'm sure other OSs will help you avoid those update cycles as well... but my experience is with GNU/Linux, so I won't speak for other OSs.

9 comentarios:

  1. "Windows = New Hardware = Pollution?"

    I made that argument a long time ago, back in mid-2006, I think, but I can't find the post on my own blog.

    I haven't *replaced* a computer in the last 5 years, I run Ubuntu on most of my desktop systems, Windows XP on one, and a few servers on Gentoo.

    All but one of them are 5yrs or older, and one of them is 2.5yrs old.
    (http://befreely.blogspot.com/2009/01/it-just-works.html)


    Microsoft just can't compete.

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  2. I know.... hardware that becomes pollution as soon as another windows release makes it to RTM has been named time after time after time (with good reason). But given the fact that someone took the task of calculating how much carbon is sent into the atmosphere for every google search (task that sounds pretty much overwhelming), how about if someone tries to figure out the tons of carbon that are sent into the atmosphere for using antiviruses (therefore, for using windows)? If it's too much (and I would expect it to be so), then it's another reason to drop using windows. Are representatives from green parties reading this? :-D

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  3. I think that Puppy Linux is the best anti-polluant around.
    I have installed it on over 50 different low end machines over the past 2 years, mostly P2, P3's that were gathering dust. That's 50 boxes that would have ended up at the garbage dump and are instead serving kids at rec centers.
    My faithful laptop died recently, it was a 10 year old IBM Thinkpad T21 with 8mg video and 256megs ram which hummed beautifully under Linux as does the 4-5 year old Acer laptop I got my mom for under 200$ and which runs Mandriva2009/KDE with full eye candy.
    My dad's friend bought his wife a Mac laptop for over 3000$ when all was calculated.
    Dad thinks he is nuts.

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  4. I agree. Years and years i have polluted earth and waste rawmaterials coz every 3 years i have to buy a new computer coz Windows started to suck. Now when i started to use Linux Ubuntu on my OS i'm planning to continue using my current pc for years and years. With 2 Ghz:s and 1 GB RAM i have relatively good chances to update Hardy Heron to next Ubuntu LTS (10.4.0) next year.

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  5. Pollution, occurs when there is overpopulation. In cases of computer virus pollution, sometimes the infestation becomes so bad that the users give up on the use of the infected machine. They get it repaired or replaced. More aggravation, more wasted time, more money spent, another computer headed to the landfill.

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  6. I'm surprised nobody tried to do a back-of-the-envelope calc on this. I'm not doing any research before I do this so some of my numbers could be way off but that's the point of this kind of estimation...to get the order of magnitude about right. Assuming a weekly scan, that takes 15 minutes, and increases power consumption of a desktop by 20 watts, and assuming 200 million desktops I get: 15/60*20/1000*200,000,000 = 1 million kilowatt hours per week globally. 52 million kilowatt hours per year globally at the rate we pay of $0.13 per kilowatt hour is a global expenditure of roughly $6.7 million per year. I don't know jack about carbon output but feel free to extend the calculation from the kilowatt hours. Visit trygnulinux.com to get or provide support for free software and subscribe to our new podcast!

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  7. Well.... 200 million desktops? I think desktops running antivirus should be much more than that... and 15 minutes weekly... I don't have the slightest clue. I haven't used an antivirus in my GNU/Linux box in ages so it could be a good estimate.

    Anyway... I don't have any hard numbers but assuming that http://lightbucket.wordpress.com/2008/10/22/carbon-emissions-from-electricity-generation-by-country/ is correct, then using world average at the bottom of 555 Kg CO2 / MWh then we've got that those 52 MWh produce 28860 Kg of CO2 per year. Now.... could anybody put this number into context against other pollutants?

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  9. I didn't really get the point of the article until the footnote, when you made the point about upgrading to run Windows. Still, I think there is a trend with antivirus companies making easing the CPU load a priority, while others just seem lost in that regard.

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