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Thoughts on my dual boot setup?

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It's been a while since I was using Windows but it's time for me to add it as a dual boot along with Linux. I need it for some of the Microsoft 365 and Office suite apps, for work, and also some other Windows-only apps. I've been researching for a while for the most stable and clean version of Windows and it seems like Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 is by far the most stable, secure and least bloated version of Windows. I'm not a fan of Windows 11 at all, it's in fact much slower due to its GUI and has a ton more background processes, and just so much stuff is worse in it, e.g. the context menus, scroll behaviour, etc. The Windows 11 IoT LTSC will be coming out during 2024 (24H2) so I might try that one when it has been published (and hopefully they've polished up Windows 11), but until then the IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 will do for now. Previously I used to have Windows 10 Pro but it's just so much slower and has way more bloat. On top of that, the IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 has EOL support in the year 2032 so that's absolutely amazing. Continuous security updates until then. No feature updates beyond 21H2 though. Would've wished it came with the 22H2 feature update but I guess you can't have everything in this world.

So here is my current dual boot setup with focus on stability, security, longevity and also gaming for the next 5+ years to come.
Basically I want to have one setup for many years to come. Maybe even 8 years. So tired of switching things around and updating stuff all the time.
With the release of Debian 12 I finally feel at home.

Setup:
  • Secure Boot enabled on the SSD.
  • Windows (on C:/ drive) with Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 x64, BitLocker enabled.
  • Linux (on D:/ drive) with Debian 12 Bookworm x64, drive encryption enabled.
Haven't had any issues with this so far. I previously used Linux Mint and for some reason I had issues using Secure Boot together with Linux drive encryption. On Debian 12 it seems to be no issues at all, so I'm really happy about that. First time ever using any IoT LTSC edition. Anyone have ran into compatibility issues using it for something like gaming, or just various kinds of software?

Any other operating system(s) you recommend for security, stability, longevity and gaming compatibility?
 
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if ms office apps are the only reason for it then just go for office 365 lol
 
if ms office apps are the only reason for it then just go for office 365 lol

I have a business license to Microsoft 365 and would much rather use all of the native desktop apps for that. Not everything is accessible online through their web UI, I lose a lot of functionality that way. Microsoft 365 is a larger suite than Office. it includes Office apps but also some more stuff. Besides I will at some point use some Windows-only software, so it's just best for me at this point to install Windows as a dual boot. What I want though, is two stable OS's with as few updates as possible for next upcoming years and also be able to run most softwares/games, because I will use both Windows and Linux for work and gaming.
 
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If you're looking to debloat your Windows 10 installation without much effort, this repository with debloat PS-scripts is a very good reference.
 
If you're looking for really debloated Windows 10 version I would recommend https://atlasos.net/ + orginal Windows 10 from Microsoft media creation tool. Btw. Atlas OS is a playbook not an actual operating system.

PS. If you want change login screen wallpaper and user icons, before playbook init open apbx file using 7zip and unpack (password is 'malte') change what you want and pack again encrypted with same password 'malte'.

If you are using Bluetooth then after installation go to Atlas folder and search for Bluetooth enable, also consider enable UAC for security purpose.
 
If you're looking for really debloated Windows 10 version I would recommend https://atlasos.net/ + orginal Windows 10 from Microsoft media creation tool. Btw. Atlas OS is a playbook not an actual operating system.

PS. If you want change login screen wallpaper and user icons, before playbook init open apbx file using 7zip and unpack (password is 'malte') change what you want and pack again encrypted with same password 'malte'.

If you are using Bluetooth then after installation go to Atlas folder and search for Bluetooth enable, also consider enable UAC for security purpose.

I do not per-se want a fully debloated Windows, I still want the core features to work properly. But I have been looking into such OS's for a while over on Chris Titus' channel, he's been covering pretty much all of them in recent months, including Atlas OS (which has some security issues). It just doesn't seem like anything for me personally though. I value stability and security way more over a debloat. And I just would not be able to sleep at night knowing that I'd be running a customized OS like that. Especially when it's for business use and I've basically thrown away all chances of ever getting a Microsoft rep on the phone if I ever needed to.

If anything, I'd say Chris Titus' winutil on GitHub is a much better approach than the the OS variants that are out there.

In the past couple of days I've been doing a lot of benchmarking and compatibility testing on IoT LTSC 2021 and I must say I'm impressed. This is what Windows 10 Pro should have been like. A stripped-down, barebones Windows with no bloat, nearly zero telemetry stuff going on and has all the core functionality. It also gets security updates faster than other versions, such as Pro. And as I mentioned previously, it has full support until 2032.
 
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This is pretty interesting - are you able to get legitimate licence for IoT Enterprise LTSC as an individual?

Unfortunately no. Getting a license for IoT Enterprise LTSC is an absolute pain in the ass (even for large corporations) and costs thousands of dollars. I got my hands on the ISO at my former employer. Using MAS (Microsoft Activation Scripts) I was able to fully activate it, no problem. Just like with any other ISO it can be activated. I did a HWID activation in MAS and it worked perfectly. There is also an ISO available at Massgrave (same distributor as MAS), and I have checked its checksum and everything seems to be matching to the original one, no malware that I could find either and it looks identical to the one I got from my former employer. I installed both on two laptops and they are identical (same amount of processes, etc.).

If you have a Visual Studio Enterprise subscription (~6000$/year) you can download the ISO from here (which is what I did via the company): https://download.my.visualstudio.co...26190&h=6598e1ae25f0484870ef33823d0aff5c&su=1

Using MAS and the generic IoT Enterprice LTSC key "QPM6N-7J2WJ-P88HH-P3YRH-YY74H" works fine, if that is something you want to use as operating system. It's debloated af and has great performance. If I ever use Windows, it will only be on IoT Enterprise LTSC. Will see if I ever upgrade it to the Windows 11 one which is released next year.

Checksums (original ISO):
Name: en-us_windows_10_iot_enterprise_ltsc_2021_x64_dvd_257ad90f.iso
Size: 4851668992 bytes (4626 MiB)
CRC32: 188C9D0D
CRC64: C0F56274BA0EDAC8
SHA256: a0334f31ea7a3e6932b9ad7206608248f0bd40698bfb8fc65f14fc5e4976c160
SHA1: 76c3c10e38307d29fd8b4748522ed144dba35829
BLAKE2sp: eb701dd79038a4e3abe222f8eb2067f2eb8f92b1b46698215f7b4bd9d403bcbd
MD5: 2463B19BEAC328290E6A8ADCEDB7533A

Even some Microsoft reps themselves use MAS which is hilarious

Capture.PNG
 
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Small update on my setup: It is the same as before with the difference that I now use BTRFS instead of ext4 as filesystem on Debian 12. I've never used BTRFS before but it seems like a better option due to its great capabilities such as snapshots which can be handy. This improves the stability and security of the setup. It also appears to have been improved a lot in recent years and I'm actually getting faster write and read speeds with it, which is nice to see. I do notice a difference in it though and I already prefer this over ext4.

I will have to dive deeper into the BTRFS rabbit hole and learn more about it, but I really like the subvolumes aspect of it. It did take some time to set everything up and required a bit of configuration. Doing it a few more times in a VM should help me remember how its all done.
 
Hey guys. Got some news regarding the ISO file for Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021. I have not seen anyone else on the web mention this, so this is huge news and I am very excited to share it with you.

IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 is one of the hardest (most expensive) ISO's to get your hands on as you need to be a registered OEM and have an agreement with Microsoft in order to get it, or... if you have the luck that I had, I worked at a company that had a Visual Studio Enterprise subscription ($6000/year) and could download the ISO from there.

I had linked to it above in my previous post, but you could only access it if you are signed in to a Microsoft 365 account that has access to that platform. So instead, I linked to a third party website called Massgrave. I verified their checksum and ran it through anti-malware software and everything seems to match. But again, if that ISO is something you want to use then you are responsible for verifying its integrity.

But going back to the official download link from Microsoft: https://download.my.visualstudio.co...26190&h=6598e1ae25f0484870ef33823d0aff5c&su=1

That URL was not locked before. Instead, anyone with that direct link could download it when it first came out. But ever since then, Microsoft now requires you to be signed in to access it on the Visual Studio software platform. However! The Web Archive managed to archive it before they put a lock on it. So if you want the ISO straight from Microsoft (well, through Web Archive) then you can also use that link!

On Web Archive you can simply search for that URL and it will take you back to 2021 to the publishing date of the ISO. The Internet Archive is a legitimate website that never allows users to modify the content. Whatever they have archived is from that original URL. This means the ISO is technically straight from Microsoft themselves. I've just ran through the entire ISO with Malwarebytes Premium (with expert algorithms, rootkits, etc. [everything enabled]) and it is clear. The checksums matches as well to the original ISO I got from my previous employer. I highly advice you to use that one over Massgrave's, if you are paranoid. Downloading ISO's from any third-party site is never recommended. But in this case, it is simply an archive from Microsoft's own website. You can verify its checksums as well (you should always do that) and scan it.

So that was the news I wanted to share with you all. Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 has security updates until 2032. If you do not want to use Windows 11 this is the best bet (assuming you still want to use Windows) as it will receive full security patches. There is a new LTSC edition coming out next year (24H2) based on Windows 11, I might give that a shot if they have resolved some issues that Windows 11 has.

Web Archive link to the ISO from Microsoft's website: https://web.archive.org/web/2021111...26190&h=6598e1ae25f0484870ef33823d0aff5c&su=1

Cheers guys!

For others that have no clue what IoT (Internet of Things) LTSC (Long Term Service Channel) is about; it's essentially a stripped down version of Windows that only OEM (original equipment manufacturers) get access to. It has zero bloatware and no telemetry stuff. Almost zero background services as well. It is meant for certain industries like medical equipment, cash registers, banking systems, or even some laptop manufacturers. The benefit of using it is that you get much better performance with it. And unlike regular Windows 10 (Pro, Home, etc.) it has security updates until 2032. Regular Windows 10 will have its last security patches in 2025 and has already reached end of life (22H2).

Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSC 2021 is stuck in 21H2. Meaning; you will never get any feature/cumulative updates for it. Ever. The only updates you get are security patches. So if you like to remain in Windows 10, this is the only option for you (without doing any modifications). The IoT Enterprise line also gets security patches quicker and also some extra ones that regular Windows 10 doesn't get. This is basically the VIP version of Windows.

 
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Thank you for the Internet Archive link. I just installed it on my computer and it's really nice to have Windows 10 without any bloat. I don't know why Microsoft keeps ruining Windows by adding more and more bloat to it for each year that passes. They recently also ruined an update regarding a BitLocker security patch (KB5034441). Their workaround is mentioned here. It involves resizing the recovery partition. Microsoft is an absolute fool. Do they really expect the average user to know how to resize partitions inside diskpart? LMFAO. So many computers must have been ruined. I did the changes mentioned on their website and it works great now, but I shouldn't have to do that.
 
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