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Ask Slashdot: Linux For Grandma?

Unknown Lamer posted about 8 months ago | from the gnu-slash-grandma dept.

Linux 287

First time accepted submitter BlazeMiskulin writes "With XP approaching end-of-life, I find myself in a situation that I'm guessing is common: What to do with Mom's machine (or 'grandma's machine' for the younger of you). Since a change has to be made, this seems like a good time to move to a Linux distro. My mother (82) uses her computer for e-mail and web-browsing only. I know that any distro will be able to handle her needs. I've been using Linux (Ubuntu, CentOS, and Redhat--usually with KDE interface) for about 10 years now, but I know that my preferences are quite different from hers.

I have my own ideas, but I'm curious what others think: What combination of distro and UI would you recommend for an old, basic-level user who is accustomed to the XP interface and adverse to change?"
My Grandmother seems happy running KDE on Debian.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Ask her if she will accept any little change (2)

Bugamn (1769722) | about 8 months ago | (#46428853)

If she does, I would suggest Linux Mint, as it will have a reasonably familiar interface (icons, start menu) and is also an acceptable system. Keep in mind that you will have to keep adjusting it to her tastes, for example, editing menus or creating icons for her. If you are familiar with another systems (say, Unity), you might try that. As you will have to give her support, it's very important that you are familiar

And pray she doesn't want to stay with Windows. My mother learned to use Windows 8 out of spite enough so she doesn't need Linux, but not enough so she can keep her own computer clean (by the way, I need to go back there check how is the new antivirus working, does anybody have good recomendations?).

Re:Ask her if she will accept any little change (1)

denisbergeron (197036) | about 8 months ago | (#46429149)

I will settle for Linux Mint also. All my family are on it, even the older one with only knowledge in literature ;-)

Re:Ask her if she will accept any little change (1)

anmre (2956771) | about 8 months ago | (#46429153)

Seconded. I have my wife's parents using Linux Mint and they took to it very quickly. The interface is very familiar with the Menu and Task Bar defaulted to the bottom just like it would be in Windows XP. They only really use their computers for online banking and facebook and it's worked beautifully. They also loved it when I welcomed them to the dark side of computing!

Re:Ask her if she will accept any little change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429511)

I have three kids (16, 14, 12) and all were converted from windows to Linux.
Two went to Ubuntu, while the youngest selected Mint. If you want a "minimal change" type system I would go with Mint.

slight tangent...

No offense to the windows fans, but i just go tired of them getting infections (they ran Avast and they had non-admin accounts).
The "last straw" was with windows activation issues even though the PC's were HP's and had the windows stickers on them.
Since one of them had a virus prior to this no setup programs could run leaving me with a rebuild. It was rebuilt to ubuntu in far less time and amost fully functional out of the box (no drivers, additional software, etc).

The only thing they sometimes miss is powerpoint. For some reason Libreoffice has some difficulties dealing with powerpoint files vs excel or word.

A simple dock with the basic apps (5, Insightful)

Himmy32 (650060) | about 8 months ago | (#46428855)

I setup a Linux station over 10 years back for my mother, who at the time was used to XP. Worry less about the distribution and more about the ease of the steps that it takes to do the tasks she wants to accomplish. I setup up an AWN dock with Firefox, OpenOffice Apps and VLC. In the end it kinda looked like ChromeOS does these days... I handled patching, updates, support via VNC. The amount of support calls dropped signficantly because it just worked. Change usually isn't the problem trying to memorize new series of complicated steps is.

Re:A simple dock with the basic apps (1)

Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) | about 8 months ago | (#46429023)

My experience is the simpler the better. I replaced my 60 year old mother's XP with Xubuntu. I didn't apply much of th eye candy, made sure to install Teamviewer and a cron job to pull security updates once per week. Her only complaint was that her ancient Canon printer wasn't compatible. Five minutes on NewEgg fixed that.

I'll second that (4, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | about 8 months ago | (#46428857)

KDE on Debian or any other distro tends to provide the most "XP like" user interface that I've seen. You just need to enable double-click mouse behaviour instead of the default single-click, add a few of their favourite apps to the desktop, and they're good to go.

If you're on an old system, you'll want to disable the file indexing daemons as well, as they can consume a lot of CPU and slow the machine down. If all the main user does is email and web browsing, they're not going to benefit from the indexing.

Linux Mint XFCE edition (4, Informative)

arfonrg (81735) | about 8 months ago | (#46428861)

..and that is coming from a die-hard Slackware user.

Re:Linux Mint XFCE edition (5, Informative)

arfonrg (81735) | about 8 months ago | (#46428935)

I have moved several parents to Linux with Mint. The XFCE edition is the most windows like (especially if you select the Redmond theme) that I have found. Email, web-browsing and solitaire all work so they are happy.

Re:Linux Mint XFCE edition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429043)

Mint is great for this kind of user. Either LXDE or KDE is what I usually install. LXDE is familiar enough and works very nicely and quickly ;-)
I'd personally install Arch if I knew that I'd have regular access to the computer. I've done that for my Mum whom I visit regularly. She doesn't know the difference and, it has the advantage of never having to reinstall.
I really like Mint's upgrade philosophy though (at least for distros that a periodic release); back everything up and reinstall. That's probably the best way of getting a stable system every time.

Do you really need to change to Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46428865)

Seriously. Why even bother updating if what she has works, and that's all she does with it.

Re:Do you really need to change to Linux? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46428947)

Why? Because an unsupported operating system from Microsoft is a security problem.

Fixed Re:Do you really need to change to Linux? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429045)

Why? Because an operating system from Microsoft is a security problem.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Do you really need to change to Linux? (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 8 months ago | (#46429391)

I don't know why people are getting their shorts all in a knot about the lack of patches for XP. If they were really concerned about security they wouldn't be using Windows at all. The newer versions of Windows are still full of vulnerabilities (something like 70% of Windows 7 malware also runs on XP). Windows (all versions) are vulnerable and are targets. Moving to Linux or Mac is the only solution if you are concerned about security. If not, just keep running XP.

Re:Do you really need to change to Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429509)

"If they were really concerned about security they wouldn't be using Windows at all."

So damn true.

And not just of grannies. Corporations with a Windows monoculture can only be explained through self-dealing by the IT department.

Re:Do you really need to change to Linux? (4, Insightful)

randomErr (172078) | about 8 months ago | (#46428975)

I think its more of a concern of the machine's age. Its not going to run forever. Windows has changed so much that to many its unrecognizable. Why not look for something open source and that grams may like?

Re:Do you really need to change to Linux? (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about 8 months ago | (#46429267)

I think its more of a concern of the machine's age. Its not going to run forever. Windows has changed so much that to many its unrecognizable. Why not look for something open source and that grams may like?

That is a very good point. I set up a new computer for my sister with Windows 7. Even that was enough to give her some issues. W8? Truly unrecognizeable. fuggidaboutit!

But her old computer was about to crap out, and it was A Windows XP Pro system that was - beyond all belief - not one update. It used a lot of programs that aren't in existance any more, and/or not compatible with W7. No compatibility mode, nothing - they wouldn't even install.

This is an extreme example of what people are up against. But still an example.

So I just sat down with her and explained that we'd get close to what she had, but 14 years is a log time in computer terms, so she'd have to learn a little bit.

Path of least resistance type stuff. Windows 7 allowed for it. W8? Not hardly.

To the topic at hand, installing W8 is not really a good option for a lot of people, especially if they don't have a touchscreen. Yeah, we can do this and that, and do something to make it looks sorta like kinda something. But it's such a huge step, and not even a step forward. It's learning almost everything new to do the same thing you were doing before. And some things end up arbittrarily different, like on my Wife's W8 Laptop, the integral mail program won't do POPMail. or only certain programs can be turned into desktop shortcuts.

And since whenever you set up or fix a computer for a friend or relative, you own every problem that happens afterward, I simply won't install or work on a W8 computer aside from my wife's touchscreen laptop. Linux or W7 is the only thing I'll support.

And I heartily recommend Mint.

Re:Do you really need to change to Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429117)

Upgrade to Windows 7 then.

My father in law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46428867)

Uses Ubuntu. He is retired in his 60s.

Chromebook (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46428871)

I'm recommending a Chromebook to my mother in the same situation of web browsing and web-based email only. I like it for her since it's low cost, difficult to do anything software-wise to mess it up, and as close to zero maintenance as I can find.

Re:Chromebook (4, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | about 8 months ago | (#46428927)

That's an excellent choice, if she has a gmail account. Especially if you get one with HDMI (external monitor for her older eyes) & USB jacks (external keyboard for her older hands).

Xubuntu would also be a good choice...

Re:Chromebook (4, Informative)

ToasterTester (95180) | about 8 months ago | (#46429107)

I agree Chromebook is excellent choice for anyone who just wants email and web browser and on rare occasion a bit more. I know even younger users (in 50's and 60's) tired of tweaking computers or expensive Apple devices have happily moved to Chromebooks.

Re:Chromebook (4, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | about 8 months ago | (#46429385)

I bought a chrome book to replace my mothers imac. On paper this seemed like a really good idea since simply put ChromeOS removes everything you don't need. it's a browser that self updates and stores stuff on line. Unfortuntatley this did not go as well as I hoped and the imac is back.

what went wrong: chromebooks can't use your existing printer unless it's one of a select few, or you have another "real" computer in the house to network a piggybacked connection off of. I see no point in expensive chromebooks because things like a Pixel are more expensive than a better macbook. But the cheap chromebooks (e.g. Acer) have unusably bad speakers and the trackpad clicks and tracking suck (super duper suck). I added a nice apple mouse to it, but for some reason chrime doesn't respond smoothely to apple mouse (I dont' see why this should be the case, but empirically that's my experience). Finally the browser was just enough different than chrome on mac that she just got all confused. Frankly to me the two are nearly indistinguishable but not to her. I figured she'd get over this after a couple weeks but somehow the mac exerience was much smoother and intuitive for her. Finally, imac screens are just awesom compared to most inexepnsive monitors. Simple things like effortless tilting and easy adjustment of brightness, along with really good font display are marks of high polish and ease of use for older folks.

So I came away chasened and with a new found regard for the Apple Human interface and polish of the little details. I now use the chromebook myself as a backup computer and to be a media viewer, because overall chrombooks are not versatile like a mac. They are just good at one thing and that's geting rid of the complications of having an OS layer just to run a browser. Every other good feature, like fast books, autoupdates, and good speed even on cheap hardware pretty much stems from that simplification.

Now what was true was that there was no app that my mother needed that required a mac. Everything she needed to do was available on the chromebook so that's a plus.

If I were doing this over again I'd buy the printer and external speakers and test out mice beforehand. My approach was to give it to here then adapt to these problems as they emerged which made the transition for her rougher than in needed to be. Perhaps the transplant would have not been rejected

FInally the biggest dissappointment for me with the chromebook is that they totally suck for linux use. The problem is the hardwired requirement to run in developer mode if you want to boot linux. The firmware offers to erase your disk if you will kindly touch the spacebar at every wake. one mistake and poof your configuration is gone. The easiest ways to install linux end up not having full network access so are crippled. and you can't change the firmware behaviour without some fairly bangersous and unspported reflashes of the firmware, sometimes involving hardware jumpers. Since I'm using this for myself, not granny, now, I'd like to just erase the chrome and go to linux totaly. But the chormebook walled garden won't allow this in any conveneinet way.

Re:Chromebook (4, Informative)

dwheeler (321049) | about 8 months ago | (#46429467)

I've had better luck with Chromebooks. Cloud printers are now very common, and in many cases buying a new printer costs little and is a big improvement anyway. For a list of printers that can work this way, see: http://www.google.com/cloudpri... [google.com] I hate trackpads anyway, and I've had excellent success with normal mice on a Chromebook. Apple components often don't like working with non-Apple components, that may be the problem there. And all built-in laptop speakers are bad; if it matters, get speakers, they're cheap.

Re:Chromebook (2)

goombah99 (560566) | about 8 months ago | (#46429481)

Oh the other sucky thing about chromebooks is that, ironically, they are the one platform that does not support google remote desktop! Moreover, since they don't run java at all, you can't even use any of the other desktop sharing viewers out there. so you can't remote admin the computer or even help by seeing the other person's screen. The good news is that chromebooks have very little to admin and can be set to autoupdate everything, so there'smuch less need for a remote desktop or viewer.

Overall I'd reccomend a chromebook over linux. But unless you are a cheapskate, I'd reccomend a mac over either for granny.

Mod article -1 Troll... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46428875)

Why is this crap even posted here...seriously?

Re:Mod article -1 Troll... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429013)

I'm not sure either. The asker seems like a smart guy who could have completely autonomously solved the problem, and I don't see how it requires further discussion. Ah well, why not.

At least it ignites a nice OS/distro wars discussion with the possibility to inject some tasty trolls there somewhere. ;)

Who Fucking Cares? (-1, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46428877)

Whatever OS a clueless user is on will be trashed as soon as you step away unless you completely lock down their ability to do anything.
Just upgrade to Windows 8.1 and be done with it. A user so adverse to change that they can't deal with the new start menu won't need anything more than desktop + browser, which you can configure to open on boot.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (-1, Troll)

arfonrg (81735) | about 8 months ago | (#46428963)

Spoken like a true Windows-cluebag.
1) If you give them regular user privileges on Linux, they can't trash the OS.
2) The next version of windows is going back to the 'traditional look and feel' so forcing them to adapt is retarded.
3) We know that's you Steve Ballmer, go back to your forced retirement.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46429303)

Spoken like a true Windows-cluebag.
1) If you give them regular user privileges on Linux, they can't trash the OS.
2) The next version of windows is going back to the 'traditional look and feel' so forcing them to adapt is retarded.
3) We know that's you Steve Ballmer, go back to your forced retirement.

The sure as fuck can and will trash the OS. Whether they're just trashing their user profile doesn't matter. It'll require you to fix it for them.
No it isn't, and whoever told you that is an idiot.
I wish I was Ballmer, and so do you. He's got money out the ass.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (3)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46428987)

Support is support then. If you have to do a lot of hand holding for them anyways, then you might as well do it with whatever YOU the support person is most comfortable with.

Unix has the advantage that it can be remotely supported through a 2400 baud dial-up connection.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 8 months ago | (#46429061)

Just upgrade to Windows 8.1 and be done with it.

I would generally agree, as these force-Linux-to-relatives plans are always a bit cringeworthy. But in this case I have heard reports of the Windows 8.x GUI causing problems to ordinary folks too, so I would look into other platforms as well.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about 8 months ago | (#46429221)

Indeed, Metro is both horrendous and confusing. You can save Windows 8.x with ClassicShell or equivalents, which put a real Start Menu back, though.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46429335)

8.1 allows you to boot straight to the desktop.
A tech-illiterate user will see the desktop and the usual icons for browser, windows explorer, etc.
8.1 also has a visual start button so people will know where to click to turn the thing off.

The only real difference is the start menu. Coming from Vista/7, you do the same shit. Hit start, then type.
Coming from XP it's a bigger change, but it's a huge improvement and well worth the 2 minutes to learn how to use it. If your particular granny thinks otherwise, there are plenty of 3rd party solutions to restore a "classic" start menu.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429115)

That presumes that Grandma's computer can even run Windows 8.1, which may not be the case if her computer is too old.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46429397)

That presumes that Grandma's computer can even run Windows 8.1, which may not be the case if her computer is too old.

If the computer is so old that it can't run 8, then it's time for a hardware upgrade anyway just to use the modern web.

Windows 8.1 System Requirements:
  - Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2 (more info)
  - RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  - Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  - Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

7 has the same requirements (and 8 runs better than 7 on the same hardware).
Vista has only slightly lower requirements.

Of course, this is a completely separate issue from an OS upgrade.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429157)

Really? 5 years ago I left a live image CD in my wife's laptop accidentally. 4 days later, she complained that she "couldn't find the e, and please stop messing with my laptop". That was 5 years ago with a kindergarten teacher who hates computers and gets mad when they change the yahoo front page and "hide" things.

Re:Who Fucking Cares? (1)

xvan (2935999) | about 8 months ago | (#46429427)

I do hate when yahoo "hides" things? Have you recently tried to download an attachment in the webmail?

Re: Who Fucking Cares? (1)

james haydon (3567537) | about 8 months ago | (#46429201)

My mother who is 83 has been running Kubuntu turn since the Vista days. She has learned to trouble shoot her printer problems. Even grannies can learn linux.

Re: Who Fucking Cares? (4, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46429405)

My mother who is 83 has been running Kubuntu turn since the Vista days. She has learned to trouble shoot her printer problems. Even grannies can learn linux.

Pics of your mom hitting up man pages and googling her own solutions and fixing her own printer or it didn't fucking happen.

LXDE on Mint Debian (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46428879)

Mint is an excellent team and the Debian based distribution is a rolling release distro (so fewer fresh installs for you) Also. LXDE is about as basic and standards compliant as it gets. Start menu, task bar, desktop icons, standard window manager, file manager, and with Network Manager, it's virtually a clone of the Win95/XP design.

I think you'll find that pretty much any solid distro (such as mainstream Fedora, Ubuntu and Debian derivatives) with either XFCE, LXDE or KDE (if you don't mind a lot of bloat) will accommodate most people fairly well, while being relatively easy to learn in a short amount of time. After all, I bet she spends most of her time in Firefox :/

I'm also interested in hearing what others recommend.

-PM

Windows 7 may work or even mac if you can (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 8 months ago | (#46428891)

Windows 7 may work or even mac if you can take on the cost of one.

gen2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46428895)

Install Gentoo

Why not let Grandma choose? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46428897)

One hour and a usb live stick should be all that is required to let Grandma try out KDE, Gnome, XFCE, etc.

Let her pick, she is the one that has to actually use it after all.

End of Life (1)

CodeArtisan (795142) | about 8 months ago | (#46428901)

Of course, end of life doesn't mean it will disappear in a puff of smoke. However, I do understand the risks associated maintaining an unsupported OS. I second the Linux Mint idea. I run a distro with Xfce desktop on my netbook and it's lightweight and would take grandma 5 minutes to learn where the browser and email applications are.

why change (1)

blueskies1977 (1841970) | about 8 months ago | (#46428903)

The reduction of Microsoft support shouldn't have a massive impact on your Mom, unless she has sensitive information stored on her machine or uses it for card purchases then the risk posed by malware is minimal. Like you I've been a user of Linux for around ten years and converted many people to using Linux. Sometimes this is not appropriate though and this is one of those cases.

Chrome OS (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46428907)

If all she is doing is basic email and web browsing, why not use chrome os.

And yes, it is Linux

Grow up (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46428913)

She doesn't want Red Hat. She doesn't want Ubuntu. She doesn't want Mint (well, maybe she does, but not the distro). She doesn't want Linux.

She doesn't want any form of Mac OS either.

What she wants is for you to stop yelling at her to replace her computer. XP's end of life just means she won't be getting those updates that reset her machine overnight. Your assertion that "a change has to be made" is completely false. Now, stop whining, try one of the cookies she just baked (they're delicious), and try not ruin this visit like last time.

Linux Mint (1)

zethreal (982453) | about 8 months ago | (#46428915)

I'm a huge fan of Linux Mint. They release fairly regularly and have several "sub-flavors" as well. I'd try something like Maya(13). That's their Long-term support version. If you're concerned that she'll have issues, download it & run it as a LiveCD ( the default ). If she likes it, it is set up for easy installation right through the booted liveCD. It's very easy to use & my almost 10 year old laptop has no problems with it. It actually was a faster/easier install than any Windows version & updates are (mostly) seamless. http://www.linuxmint.com/relea... [linuxmint.com]

Linux Mint on a USB stick (1)

rwa2 (4391) | about 8 months ago | (#46428921)

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/ [pendrivelinux.com]

Running a recent version of Linux Mint with the MATE desktop
http://linuxmint.com/ [linuxmint.com]

Create a big 4GB casper file on the USB stick.

Have it mount the existing hard disk and create shortcuts so they can get to their photos and stuff.
Maybe put on http://www.playonlinux.com/en/ [playonlinux.com] to help get some of the old Windows software working under Wine

Bring a new stick with you over the holidays with upgrades.

They may or may not use it (they can just remove the USB stick and reboot to go back to their old getup), but at least you feel good that you've done "your part" without spending more than a few hours downloading and twiddling while you're there, and they don't go running off to all their friends complaining about how you came and now their computer is all different.

Get a Chromebook. (3, Informative)

sfsetse (573727) | about 8 months ago | (#46428925)

http://www.google.com/intl/en/... [google.com] I've moved my mother from WinXP to a Chromebook three months back, and because she was already using Chrome beforehand, she took to it while hardly noticing it was different. I haven't needed to help her once to do what she normally does (email and web).

Simple (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 8 months ago | (#46428933)

Just go with KDE. Of the big desktops, it runs the fastest and has best quality assurance. Also the UI resembles XP, which was one of your requirements.

So Debian with KDE or the Fedora KDE spin.

If she needs Flash, Google Chrome is pretty much the only option. If not, then Firefox is fine too.

If you have extra money, I would just go with a new Chromebook or a tablet.

Live Image? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46428969)

I had a different situation with my aunt, 71, and her amazing ability to corrupt an OS in less than 2 months. Ultimately, what I did in her situation was to run a live CD distro of Ubuntu and that finally solved her situation. No disk writes, no problem.

My thought for your Mom is maybe try slowly introducing her to Linux via a live CD, and let her slowly get used to it. This will give her time to learn while still not having to immediately have a daunting learning curve ahead of her. Have her try using it an hour or 2 a day and this can give her the experience she needs to not be intimidated by something new, and if it becomes too much. She can stop, pop the CD and reboot into XP and get what she needs to get done in the short term.

Zorin OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46428983)

This distro seems to be able to mimic a number of OS layouts to ease transition: http://zorin-os.com/

My mother (4, Insightful)

dskoll (99328) | about 8 months ago | (#46428997)

My mother (who is a grandmother to my kids) runs Debian Wheezy with the XFCE desktop environment. The machine is fairly locked down and I've made quick-launchers for the apps she uses 99% of the time: Email, web-browsing, word-processing, music player and video player.

She's happy and I can administer the machine remotely, so I'm happy.

Bad grandma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429005)

I bet that soon grandma will start hackin' like a nutcase, posting patches on lkml and eventually switch to HURD :-D

Buy her an android tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429007)

Buy her an android tablet

ChromeOS (1, Informative)

zoid.com (311775) | about 8 months ago | (#46429019)

ChromeOS is perfect for Grandma.

Re:ChromeOS (0)

spasm (79260) | about 8 months ago | (#46429387)

In fact that's about all it's good for :)

Amazing timing on this topic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429021)

NEXT WEEK my Mom's moving 2000 miles closer to my sister and me, and she's wondering about her PC. I almost have her convinced to try a DVD-based distro before changing her hardware or upgrading from WindowsXP.

The best pre-transition moves are to:
1) Start using tools available on both platforms. For my Mom, that's Firefox and LibreOffice.
2) Identify Windows apps she can't do without. Search for Open equivalents, and also test the program to see if it will run under Wine/PlayOnLinux.
3) No matter what distro is selected, plan on a year or so of dual-booting, to be sure nothing important is missed.

Once the apps are handled, the distro itself won't matter much. I'll probably push her toward something in the Ubuntu family, because I'll be her IT department, and Ubuntu is easy for me to manage.

Re:Amazing timing on this topic! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429051)

Forgot to mention the whole transition plan:
1. DVD boot.
2. Dual-boot, wiht Windows primary.
3. Dual-boot with Linux primary.
4. Move Windows to a VM and test it.

obligatory xkcd (1)

mckwant (65143) | about 8 months ago | (#46429035)

http://xkcd.com/934/ [xkcd.com]

My 70 year old parents have been running Mint for four years, largely without incident. It's on a dual core Atom / 2G / 80G. I kinda want to trash that box, but the damn thing refuses to break badly enough.

Note that just about any (grand)parental use case outside of browsing fries this implementation. The sole "major" issue we've had is when Dad tried to get Picasa going on Wine. I'm sure it's possible, but it was far simpler for him to install it on his Windows laptop.

Mint 13 Mate LTS (1)

mexsudo (2905137) | about 8 months ago | (#46429049)

I suggest Linux Mint 13 Mate. easy to adapt to coming from XP, and being a Long Term Support version nearly maintenance free. my wife is a parallel, she adapted within a couple days.

My parents have been using ubuntu for 5+ years now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429053)

All they're doing is surfing and using webmail. They understand firefox. The OS is almost irrelevant.

Telikin (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429059)

It's linux-based, locked down, with simple interfaces for web browsing, email, contacts lists, calendar, etc., all integrated. Designed for older users.

System updates are handled automatically, and included for the life of the product (or the company, I suppose), and basic technical support is free, so she doesn't have to call you. More detailed support (which includes how-to on using the system, problems with accounts at various websites, internet connectivity issues, and so on) is also available as a non-free extra.

(it's not a distro, it's an all-in-one desktop system that comes with the software installed.)

i second windows 7 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429065)

windows 7 is far better option than linux, If your mom use office, powerpoint, etc. Even for reading emails, there are tons of powerpoints loaded with cats, that will render wrong with openoffice.

Re:i second windows 7 (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 8 months ago | (#46429105)

Emails laden with powerpoint? For a granny?

Are you kidding?

If anything, that's the best argument right there to dump Windows in general.

Run something else. ANYTHING else. Just run. Run quickly.

Re:i second windows 7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429181)

He's not kidding. My father (88) and his friends dote on powerpoint files with pretty, scenic pictures and cheesy music. They send them by email all the time.

Re:i second windows 7 (1)

dskoll (99328) | about 8 months ago | (#46429295)

My mother does receive quite a few PowerPoint-laden emails. So far, Libreoffice has opened them all perfectly. My mother doesn't even know what "PowerPoint" is; she just knows that she gets cute slideshows when she clicks on the attachment.

Good choice looking at Linux... (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 8 months ago | (#46429071)

... as Microsoft has made Windows a dead end with the Windows 8 fiasco.

.
If all she really needs is email and a browser, look for the simplest, cleanest UI you can find that provides that very basic functionality. Then configure the UI to looks like what she is used to - Windows XP.

Don't over complicate the transition with things you might think are cool, just keep it complicated enough to meet her needs, no more.

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius --- and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction."
--Albert Einstein

Slackare (1)

armanox (826486) | about 8 months ago | (#46429079)

My grandmother's on a laptop with Slackware + KDE. No issues since I gave it to her, told her click firefox for internet, and showed her where KDE games are located.

(My mother, on the other hand, is quite happy with Windows 7. My step father stays somewhat current on technology, and handles most of her troubles).

Kubuntu for Grandma (1)

jfbilodeau (931293) | about 8 months ago | (#46429081)

My mother (who is a grandmother!) has been using Kubuntu for years now. No complains from her.

If I were to reinstall the OS today, I would consider Mint.

Elementary (1)

twocows (1216842) | about 8 months ago | (#46429095)

Of all the distributions I've seen, Elementary seems to be the best in terms of UI. They've got a sensible set of human interface guidelines that are very easy to find and pretty much everything on there by default seems to work exactly how you would expect it to. I'm a big fan and am looking forward to their next release.

Mandriva/KDE (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | about 8 months ago | (#46429103)

Should be a piece of cake. My mother was using Linux for a while on one of those little Dell netbooks they used to sell, and she didn't even know. Just gotta set up Firefox and Thunderbird and you should be good to go. Maybe Libreoffice too.

The old Dell netbooks had a somewhat interesting interface, which was quite easy to use (particularly for such a small screen) -- but if you're not buying a new machine I'd suggest Mandriva or OpenSUSE. Definitely want KDE -- once you start up, just set it to use the classic launcher, and she should feel right at home!

No Slumlord Apps (1)

JoeIsuzu83 (1005645) | about 8 months ago | (#46429109)

I would have done this for my mom, but she absolutely had to have slumlord software (she used Quicken Rental Property Manager). It was so kludgey even on WIndows, so I wasn't going to try it on Wine.

OpenSUSE and KDE (3, Insightful)

ipb (569735) | about 8 months ago | (#46429121)

My Mother (now in her late 80's) has been using Linux and KDE since I gave her a computer back in the 90's. I had it dual boot for a while but finally gave that up when I spent far to much time fighting windows. By then she was comfortable with Linux and only needed one windows program that I was able to run under Wine.

Other family members have accounts on the same machine so they have net access when visiting ( less of an issue now with tablets and laptops) and I handle the admin details. I'll be visiting her this weekend and will probably spend less than an hour updating and checking logs. My last visit to do this was Christmas.

It's a no-brainer.

bigger problem (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 8 months ago | (#46429127)

There are certain things in the kernel itself for Linux that my customers have found drastically confusing and I've found difficult to explain. So really I don't think Linux (or computers) are great for old people. Single purpose devices seemed more popular for a bit years ago like e-mail only devices but I don't know what happened to that big market.

Slax is easy small expandable XP like eonought (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429159)

It boots from everywhere so why install, it has office options (I prefer Open 3.4.1 but everybody has it's tastes, so You avoid also thath other office 2003 unplug by M$) save on a pendrive flash hdd run from ram it's light and fast I only miss a good cad (trying Dassaults Draftsight) and MathCad (trying something now ) and its all U need and mama does'nt care about passwords or users eitherway she did'nt use Xp sigle user autologin.
Just windows7 will give the same problem in a few years and windows 8 8.1 is wrong by design 4 a PC not to say 4 a Phone (they killed Nokia) and 4 a tablet, there are so many good one around why choose the last bad and underdeveloped with the worst interface, at that point u can choose ~buntu it's bad the same

Hey the too successful software reminds me of FORD make it break so the customer will switch microsoft wrote me today (8 Xp machines to turn to 8 8.1 I'd rather install OS/2 )

My choice is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429177)

Crunchbang Linux!

Re:My choice is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429477)

Crunchbang is an excellent distro for netbooks, especially if one happens to also be a web developer. If that describes you, yay! there is a (debian-based) distro which is designed to make your life easier.

But somehow I don't think that your personal preferences have anything to do with anyone's grandmother.

Occams razor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429179)

To be honest at her age there probably isn't much point, it will be much less effort (for both of you) to periodically update an image of windows which is re-written weekly.

You could store her emails (if not webmail) on a separate partition, and favorites (if she uses them) using one of the many favorites syncing browser add-ons.

75 years old grandma using ubuntu (1)

mmichielin (3567523) | about 8 months ago | (#46429195)

My mother is 75 and she has been using ubuntu for about 8 years. She wrote a book with all the instructions I gave her to send/receive emails, write docs, surf the web, print, scan. She NEVER used a computer before starting with ubuntu, so I had no transition problem to address, but on the other side I had to teach her EVERYTHING from scratch.

iPad (2, Interesting)

Bram Stolk (24781) | about 8 months ago | (#46429207)

Please, give her an iPad.
Less problems for you, less problems for Grandma.

Zero maintenance, easy to use.
This is no contest.

Windows 2000 Pro (1)

Java Pimp (98454) | about 8 months ago | (#46429217)

No one is targeting that anymore!

Linux Mint + Cinnamon should be fine (0)

wile_e8 (958263) | about 8 months ago | (#46429219)

I've been running Linux on my home computers for about 8 years, starting with Ubuntu and switching to Linux Mint + Cinnamon to get away from Unity and Gnome3. I've had some issues with hardward peripheral support (less lately), software availability (less lately with everything moving to the cloud), and Office documents getting mangled formatting as they went through Open/LibreOffice and back, but as long as your Grandma doesn't do anything of these things and just uses the browser for surfing the web and email she should be fine. Linux Mint also comes with a lot of multimedia support built in - I was able to add the same stuff in Ubuntu, but it was more convenient to have it from the start in Linux Mint, so you're less likely to have to come back and figure out why some song or video won't play.

iPad (4, Informative)

John Bokma (834313) | about 8 months ago | (#46429237)

Maybe not the answer you're looking for, but let your (grand)mother try an iPad. My mother (who is also a grandmother) loves it, and keeps telling me so.

Re:iPad (1)

Ravaldy (2621787) | about 8 months ago | (#46429277)

I agree. Or a Android device. They are bullet proof and will do all she asks and have a very small learning curve.

I have the same problem with a different twist (1)

nomad63 (686331) | about 8 months ago | (#46429245)

I don't want to hijack the discussion, but I noticed nobody mentioned anything about watching video streams on Linux. My mom, 85 years old and not an anglophone, uses her computer to read newspapers and watch online broadcasting TV channels from the homeland, here in the United States. Her laptop has win 7 on it but due to being 4 years old and only having a Intel core-2 duo processor, the effects of aging started to manifest themselves with a lot of freezing while she is on firefox, watching a tv show (in some sort of shockwave plug-in) and I noticed with the lot of updates pushed by micro$oft, the boot times are getting lengthy or feels liket hat to me. I want to be proactive and nip it in the bud before it blooms into a full fledged problem. I am also considering Linux but due to her extensive use of streaming videos, I can not decide which distro to go with, if any.

Suggestions ? I'm all ears...

Re:I have the same problem with a different twist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429475)

Buy her an antivirus software and reinstall win 7. My guess is that her laptop might be full of malware.

Two years and counting (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | about 8 months ago | (#46429325)

My mother will be 80 this year. She's been on Kubuntu 12.04, loaded on a retired laptop, for the last two years and does just fine. Of course, everything she cares about can be done with a web browser. The occasional Word or Excel document can be done with OpenOffice. ( Hey, Ma? Is that Open or Libre? I don't recall at the moment ). She has poked around some other stuff, like playing mp3 of her favorite music. She hooks up her camera and pulls her latest pictures over. The machine is all she needs or wants and its free. She still remembers her Windows stuff and helps the other seniors with their computer based needs.

Mine also uses Mint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429339)

I've switched my Grandma to Mint a few years back.

The best part is perhaps the lack of malware attacking the OS, it will save you considerable support time ripping viruses off the machine.
Don't forget a way to get into her computer and help out, I find teamviewer works well if you are willing to accept non-free (as in FOSS) software.

Libre Office will handle most attachments friends may send in Word format.

People think they need Windows, but many casual users simply live in the browser and edit a Word file on occasion.

Moved wife to Ubuntu (1)

mknewman (557587) | about 8 months ago | (#46429343)

She seems happy enough, her Firefox works the same and Thunderbird works ok for her.

Lubuntu (1)

misfit815 (875442) | about 8 months ago | (#46429351)

I'm a bit of a Luddite myself - very attached to the XP-style interface, and not inclined to upgrade to the latest and greatest unless I have a reason. And I've been using Lubuntu for years now and am very happy with it. All of the things that spoil Ubuntu users, but with an interface that suits us crotchety old folks. Plus, it's designed to run fast and light on older hardware. Now get off my lawn.

My grandma loved Ubuntu (1)

barlevg (2111272) | about 8 months ago | (#46429357)

My grandma wanted a simple computer to check her email and Google. I loaned her my Ubuntu netbook to try out. She loved it.

Unfortunately, the rest of my family decided they knew better and got her a giant, heavy Windows laptop which has proceeded to sit on her desk, collecting dust, ever since. Sigh.

With XP approaching end-of-life????? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429365)

Ok, tell me this - is WinXP suddenly going to die? I don't think so.

Simply slide an inexpensive boot-from-cd or flashdrive SoC computer between the WinXP machine & the DSL or cable modem, run a linux-based firewall & clamav on it, & keep on running the XP computer 'til the hardware dies. How difficult is that?

iPad? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46429379)

Not popular hear I know, but my mom has an iPad. Best decision I ever made.

My 65 year old retired neighbor uses Mint (4, Interesting)

scorp1us (235526) | about 8 months ago | (#46429415)

Wednesday I got a visit from my neighbor asking for help with his computer. My heart sank. I had set him up with Mint 15 on his laptop and he was happily using it for the past 6 months. "What's wrong?" I asked. He said "something about "user profile service"". Oh, he means his desktop (Vista) so I fix it by doing a system restore. I asked about the laptop. "Its working fine, no complaints."

For this man to have no complaints, you have to understand what a dramatic experience computers are for him. He was a truck driver for the county. Never worked a day of his life at a computer, but his wife was a secretary. (She has passed on). So he tries to do stuff.. but any little thing that changes is a big deal. MSN shut down MSN messenger service and replaced it with Skype. That generated two visits from him - one the "little man" disappeared. And the new Skype icon that they installed for him. He even added his own MyFi to it.

And that is why I recommend Linux. It's never generated a support call to me from him.

It's probably too late (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 8 months ago | (#46429447)

I've installed Linux on computers for various non-computer oriented relatives. None were my grandma but for the sake of this discussion they may as well have been. My annecdotal experience is this:

If they were previously using Windows it will not work. It's not a matter of Windows being more user friendly than Linux. It's just amazing the level of detail with which a non-computer person will memorize the interface they are used to. You can try some desktop manager that attempts to clone the Windows look. Even if you don't see the difference yourself your relative will. Non-computer people learn to use a computer differently. Where we learn a generalized concept of what the various parts of a user interface are and quickly recognize variations on the same theme they only memorize exact instructions. Click on this. It looks like that. Now click there. It's a horribly painful process and once they have learned it once they DO NOT want to do it again!

Otherwise they will be happy with Linux at least for a while. So long as their friends aren't using computers. If their friends are using computers then eventually one will show them some shiny thing (usually a silly game) which is Windows only. Then your relative HAS to have it. It doesn't even matter if there are a dozen equivalents that are only an "apt-get install" away. They want what their friend has and they want it now! Despite what one might think desire to conform to the herd is no less strong in the elderly than it is in a high school teenager. This is actually the one exception to that first rule, that they don't want learn how to do things over again. They will do so to learn Windows so they can run that stupid little app that their friend has. Then they will distrust you and always take the exact opposite of your advice for leading them down a different path in the first place.

For my relative where I experienced this it was silly time wasting Flash games. That was back when there was no up to date version of Flash for Linux. We even tried Crossover but it didn't work for everything. Thankfully now there is an up to date Flash for Linux. Even better Flash is dying. DIE DIE DIE Flash! As applications move from the desktop to the browser the opportunities to hit this problem are getting smaller. Maybe there is hope!

But for now... if they don't have friends (on computers). And they haven't already been exposed to Windows... then just about any easy to use desktop environment that "gets the job done" will do just fine!

If you haven't guessed, each of these scenarios represents one relative that I have attempted to put on Linux. So far I am 1 for 3. Better luck to you!

If Granny is Happy with KDE on Debian (2)

Geek Hillbilly (2975053) | about 8 months ago | (#46429457)

Then use KDE on Debian.You can overthink the solution if you will take time to puzzle it through.If she is happy,then use that.No need to get too fancy with the distro.

Sure (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 8 months ago | (#46429521)

Both my dad and my sister are running Xubuntu without issues. My sister is ok with basic tasks on a computer but far from a technophile and my dad knows almost nothing. His only use is really for fantasy football websites.

Neither really plays games - both just do web browsing and not much else. Honestly as long as there's a Chrome icon on the desktop many people wouldn't know they were using anything different.

Keeping that on their systems keeps me from the headache of supporting Windows and all the associated spyware.

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