The Windows Seat – Day 1: Shutdown

Windows Server 2008 has something that’s pretty neat and it deals with an area that I’ve never before thought about. Shutdown.

When running as the Administrator account, every time you hit “Restart” or “Shutdown” manually, a box pops up for you to enter the reason why the system is shutting down.

When you reboot due to upgrades, you’re not prompted. I assume that it’s possible to go back and look at the logs later but I’ve not confirmed this. There’s an overwhelming amount of data in the Windows Server logging and information center and I didn’t want to dig too deeply.

For a workstation or server, this is a neat feature. It would help me get a better overview of exactly what it is that brings my systems down. As a server administrator, uptime is important to me and my home desktops are run in a manner similar.

For the “average user” I can imagine this kind of prompt would quickly get annoying but I’d LOVE it and I know this is one feature that I’ve not seen in any desktop environment in Linux so far.

On the flip-side, I’ve got a complaint about Windows shutdowns too. They don’t happen if you’re restarting runaway processes. In specific, I was running VirtualBox (I’m noticing a theme… VirtualBox + Windows = Error) when starting a quickly after a shutdown and the VM froze. I then used the task manager to kill both VirtualBox and the VM process and it vanished like normal. Yet when I went to move or delete an ISO file that was mounted as a virtual CD drive within the VM, I got an “This file is in use” error. I then tried to do a shutdown (As Administrator – regular users can’t do this by default. Awesome!) and it actually hung on “Shutting down services”. After 3 minutes of seeing the blue-green screen, I physically reset the box.

I suppose it might be theoretically possible for Linux to be affected by the same thing, but I’ve never seen it. I was cringing to think how I’d feel if the runaway service has been my HTTP server and my remote server decided to lock up between “Break the internet connection” and “stop and restart power”.

I’m going to call this one a strong win for Linux, this hits to the very stability of the system. I would, however, love to have the interactive shutdown log on Linux. I’ll do some searching for something like it but as always, suggestions are always welcomed.

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