So, last night, I was trying to uninstall some software while using Windows Vista in ‘‘safe mode’’.
The screenshot comes from Windows 7 RC 1 but this problem also applies to earlier versions. Windows XP and earlier won't display any warning at all though — you will just be mercilessly thrown back to the Add/Remove Software control panel.
Apparently Windows is built upon the assumption that I won't want to save disk space and overall performance by disabling System Restore and, that way I cannot uninstall problematic software while in safe mode. Why would one to do that anyway? Well, some software components may run automatically whenever one logs into their account, and maybe the software isn't working properly and locks up the Windows desktop or maybe the entire systems when it runs. Granted, I could stop the software from automatically running when logging in using the Registry Editor or
msconfig.exe... and hopefully it's not a shell extension that locks up the Windows desktop, though — those are harder to remove by hand, but I guess there are third-party tools out there (um, hopefully certified by Microsoft to be safe?!) to help in such cases. Then again, why can't I enjoy mass-removing software with the improved performance that safe mode implies? So, why shouldn't the Windows Installer service be able to run in safe mode? (Why is it supposed to be a system service that runs on the background stealing precious system resources anyway? Okay, Windows doesn't start it automatically unless some application demands it, but it'll continue running on the background after it's finished.)
Maybe all these limitations are useful or bearable to the regular ‘‘non-computer person’’, but when the software I use doesn't let me do what I want, the way I want, I feel like it's secretly laughing at me as if it was some sort of evil trap.
Fortunately there are still sane software developers out there that don't use the Windows Installer system, even if that means that the user and application programming interfaces for managing software packages in Windows will never be as consistent as they are in GNU/Linux distributions such as Debian (dpkg) and Red Hat (rpm) based ones.
And talking about Debian, dpkg and apt-get run perfectly fine here on the single-user runlevel. YaST2 (which has, amongst other nice things, a rpm front-end) also works under such conditions on openSUSE.