Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 22nd Jan 2010 17:06 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes Taking a break from reporting on the latest netbook or phone rumours, Engadget posted an article yesterday about several elements in desktop operating systems writer Paul Miller finds outdated. While there's some interesting stuff in there, there's also a lot to discuss.
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merkoth
Member since:
2006-09-22

Yes, the registry sucks for the user but, truth be told, it is much faster than any config file. It doesn't seem like much nowadays, with the average PC being equipped with CPUs running @ 1+ Ghz, but back in the 133 Mhz times it was relevant. Specially for apps like Office with a bazillion configuration options.

Reply Parent Score: 1

darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

You make it sound like the registry is magically free from file latency. Guess what, underneath it all the registry is composed of files as well. It might be faster as far as an API goes, but these days you can do the same thing just as quickly with XML. Gconf on Linux, as well as OS X Plists, are XML files and both have APIs that are simple like that of the registry. At this point, the registry has become a complicated rat's nest and is being used for too many things. I hate trying to remove some unwanted ad-ware and having to go into a registry path such as:
HKEY Classes Root\CLSID\0xa2d9ff48\001a4dd3... etc etc. Ridiculous, and pointless to boot. It wouldn't be so bad if legitimate programs used the registry in a sane fashion, but they don't. At least with OS X Plists and Gconf the legitimate keys and folders have sane names, anything odd sticks out immediately.

Reply Parent Score: 3

strcpy Member since:
2009-05-20

Funny that you recommend complex, convoluted, and hard-to-parse-for-humans solution (XML) to overcome complex, convoluted, and hard-to-parse-for-humans solution (Registry). Oh well.

Reply Parent Score: 1

merkoth Member since:
2006-09-22

You make it sound like the registry is magically free from file latency. Guess what, underneath it all the registry is composed of files as well.


Guess what, every part of the OS is composed of files.

It might be faster as far as an API goes, but these days you can do the same thing just as quickly with XML. Gconf on Linux, as well as OS X Plists, are XML files and both have APIs that are simple like that of the registry. At this point, the registry has become a complicated rat's nest and is being used for too many things. I hate trying to remove some unwanted ad-ware and having to go into a registry path such as:
HKEY Classes Root\CLSID\0xa2d9ff48\001a4dd3... etc etc. Ridiculous, and pointless to boot. It wouldn't be so bad if legitimate programs used the registry in a sane fashion, but they don't. At least with OS X Plists and Gconf the legitimate keys and folders have sane names, anything odd sticks out immediately.


I don't know anything about OSX's internals, but gconf is just as ugly as the Windows Registry. The fact that is stored in plain textfiles doesn't make it any more understandable than browsing regedit. On the bright side, you can edit it even from text mode.

In any case, I never stated that the registry was any better than other configuration methods. I only tried to give one of the reasons Windows developers actually used the registry in the first place. Why do they keep using it today is something I don't understand at all.

Reply Parent Score: 2

computeruser Member since:
2009-07-21

You make it sound like the registry is magically free from file latency. Guess what, underneath it all the registry is composed of files as well.

One system registry file and one registry file per user. The entire thing can be loaded once and kept in memory. No need to load some other file and then parse it when starting an application.

Reply Parent Score: 1

license_2_blather Member since:
2006-02-05

I'm not sure I buy performance as the reason for the registry, or a monolithic binary configuration store like it. Unix ran on those same slow platforms and managed to get by with text config files, as it mostly still does. VMS did, too, IIRC.

I suspect something more sinister was afoot....

Or maybe just stupid.

I don't like the XML trend these days, but even XML, like other text files, has one thing that the Registry does not: Comments.

Edited 2010-01-23 03:35 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

funny_irony Member since:
2007-03-07

1) There is a myth that putting all the configuration files into one windows registry will make things faster. However, they never expect registry to grow to hundreds of megabytes and take up system resources.

2) A corrupted windows registry will cause boot up failure.

3) It is easier to launch Malwares with windows registry since it didn't have any good protection. Registry is the weakest link in system security.
Malware attack your registry and your system will not boot up.

4) Uninstaller usually forgot to remove the entries in the registry and force people to use registry cleaner to clean up.

5) People use to copy the aplication to a folder just to install the application (no installer required). Registry make installation complicate.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Bending Unit Member since:
2005-07-06


1) There is a myth that putting all the configuration files into one windows registry will make things faster. However, they never expect registry to grow to hundreds of megabytes and take up system resources.

It's probably a tiny bit faster but it hardly matters nowadays. Your point is however irrelevant as ini-files will take up much more space. No other relevant system resource is involved here.


2) A corrupted windows registry will cause boot up failure.

Not inherent to the registry. Could as well be due to corrupted/missing/hacked ini-files.


3) It is easier to launch Malwares with windows registry since it didn't have any good protection. Registry is the weakest link in system security.
Malware attack your registry and your system will not boot up.

Not inherent to the registry. A software running with admin privileges can do anything.


4) Uninstaller usually forgot to remove the entries in the registry and force people to use registry cleaner to clean up.

Not inherent to the registry. This is an issue on every system. They don't know if you want to keep the configuration or not so they often choose to leave it. And using a registry cleaner is never a good idea. Unused entries do no harm.


5) People use to copy the aplication to a folder just to install the application (no installer required). Registry make installation complicate.

Not inherent to the registry. Installers are another issue. Uncompressing and copying an application to a suitable folder is an unthinkable scenario for most users. That is partly why installers exist.

Reply Parent Score: 2

tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

The windows registry has nothing to do with performance..

It is convoluted by design, the last thing Microsoft and other software vendors in the windows ecosystem want portable applications. "Portable" in the sense of moving one app to another windows system freely. The registry provides a hacked up way of tying a copy of an app to a single system. And that is exactly how Microsoft et al want it.

Furthermore, the registry is microsoft's implementation of as similar unified configuration framework that VMS used. NT was developed by a team which had been greatly influenced by the design and implementation of VMS (since most of the initial research team for NT inside microsoft had come directly from the VMS team at DIGITAL). Of course, in typical microsoft fashion they took a mildly good idea and botched it beyond recognition.

The registry add absolutely no performance improvement of any significance (in the 133MHz days, as well as in the multi GHz days, when dealing with configuration files... the bottleneck is the disk I/O and a monolithic hard to parse file is no more efficient than multiple simpler files). As it stands, with its design, the registry in windows is a liability. Since a corruption in a single file can lead to a catastrophic system failure.

Reply Parent Score: 2