When I compared the startup Windows 7 for x64 memory footprint (1.24GB) with the Windows Vista for x64 memory footprint (1.34GB) on a machine with 8GB of RAM, most of the resulting discussion had to do with Linux, its footprint, and the relative merits of Linux and Windows. Please, guys, try not to step on my punch lines.
On the same machine, Ubuntu 8.10 takes...wait for it...
349MB of RAM. In other words, a whole gigabyte less than Vista. The discussion veered off even farther when it got to Xubuntu, which can run in 127MB of RAM.
One of the issues I knew about when I was setting up a machine to quad-boot Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Ubuntu was the difficulty of backing up the whole schmear. As it turns out, Acronis True Image Echo Workstation can do this without breaking a sweat.
While Acronis is not yet certified to run from within Windows 7or Windows Server 2008 R2, the Windows version I tested from within Windows Vista backed up everything, including the Linux partitions that Windows itself won't touch:
That 74GB full backup to an external disk took about an hour. I imagine that incremental backups will take much less time.
Acronis also makes Linux versions of its software, but I haven't tested any of those yet.
[Update: the incremental backups revealed that Acronis for Windows has a problem with 256-byte Ext3 i-nodes. Sigh.]
Meanwhile, like my colleague Galen Gruman, I've been exploring Ubuntu as a desktop, only my needs are a bit different from his. Connecting to my networked all-in-one HP printer as a printer and fax was a snap. I imagine that to use it as a scanner I'll have to connect to its internal Web console from Firefox.
My MIDI keyboard hasn't been recognized. That's all right, because I don't think there's a version of Finale or Sonar for Linux, so my composing will have to stay on Windows.
I'm enjoying the strong programming support on Ubuntu. Installing emacs 2.2 took a "sudo apt-get" command, although I found out later that I could also have done it with the Synaptics installer. Plenty of language compilers were pre-installed; I have also added Steel Bank Common Lisp (SBCL) and SLIME, the Superior Lisp Interaction Mode for Emacs. Once I edited my .emacs file, I got them to work together on the first try. It's been a long time since I hacked any Lisp, and doing it again should be fun. I used emacs on DEC machines when it was still written in TECO, and before that I used TECO raw. It should all come back to me soon.
My biggest unsolved Ubuntu issue is connecting to a remote Windows Server 2003 farm I manage over a VPN. I have downloaded and installed the PPTP add-on to Ubuntu's network manager and added the VPN connection, but I haven't been able to get it to connect. If any of you know how to make that work, please let me know.