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I dual-boot Ubuntu 9.10 and Windows XP. In Ubuntu, most application uninstall in 0-10 seconds. In Windows, it can take up to an hour (rare, but times of ~15 minutes are fairly common). What is Windows doing that takes so long?

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Related question (though not exact duplicate:…) – Gnoupi Dec 31 '09 at 8:31
up vote 13 down vote accepted

Not all uninstallers are slow. The uninstallers that are particularly slow are the ones that create a system restore point (mainly .msi), which takes a fairly long time. Installers that access the registry a lot are also a bit slower as the database isn't all that great.

Uninstallers that simply unlink files are typically very fast on the other hand.

In Ubuntu, uninstallers don't make system restore points or access a registry for settings. Most settings are contained in flat files which are simply unlinked.

Edit: In case anyone is unfamiliar with the term "unlink", it is what actually happens when you "delete" a file.

A good description is found in the unlink Linux man page:

unlink() deletes a name from the filesystem. If that name was the last link to a file and no processes have the file open the file is deleted and the space it was using is made available for reuse.

This is why recovery programs can find files you deleted a long time ago. If the space that was marked as "available for reuse" hasn't been overwritten, the data can easily be re-obtained.

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yah, additionally: maybe there are services ('daemons' for the unixer in you) to shut down, check here and there if a dll is used by some other process, waiting for some handles to be freed etc. it really depends on the uninstaller, as john said. – akira Dec 31 '09 at 8:14

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