[svlug] Linux for my mom?

William R Ward bill at wards.net
Thu Oct 2 18:41:21 PDT 2003

Karsten M. Self writes:
>on Thu, Oct 02, 2003 at 01:32:26PM -0700, William R Ward (bill at wards.net) wrote:
>> My mom's been running Windoze 98 on her PC and is always calling me
>> with complaints that things aren't working.  She's probably got all
>> kinds of viruses and who knows what else wrong with the system and I
>> am tired of supporting it.  So I'm thinking of giving her Linux.
>> But she is clueless, and can barely function in Windoze.  I've been
>> using Linux so long that I'm not sure just how easy to use it can be
>> for a newbie.
>What's her current ISP?  If it's AOL (my parental units are
>suckers^Wusers), there's conversion issues here as well.  Pretty much
>anyone else, excepting MSN, should be pretty easy to set up for you,
>though official support is often lacking.

I would never allow my mother to have an AOL account!!  She's using a
local ISP.

>> Is it worth trying?  
>*If* she is willing to try it, then yes.  If she isn't, no.

Trouble is, I know Linux a lot better, and it's a lot more stable.
Like I said, I'm tired of supporting it.  "Can you come and fix my

>> If so, which distro is the easiest for newbies to cope with?  
>Given her current starting point:  legacy MS Windows.


>Given that she wants to change, in order, I'd look at:

Wants to change?  She doesn't know anything about this...

>  - Mac OS X.  Face it, this is the operating system for people who
>    don't know what "operating system" means.

I agree.  You want to pay for it?  Like I said in my previous post, I
have budgetary issues that prevent this option.

>  - A personally tuned Debian install.

That's my default, but I was hoping someone might have a better solution.

>  - Lindows.  They've addressed this problem already.  $50 for a digital
>    package (no media), plus andother $50/year for their package update
>    tool.  Or you can cut over to standard Debian.

What does LindowsOS provide that is worth the $$?

>  - Xandros.  Less experience with this, but it's a bit more grown up
>    than Lindows.

I will look into Xandros, it sounds promising.

>You don't state what your update / maintenance access is, but if the
>system is to be maintained remotely by you (as I suspect), I'd avoid RPM
>systems like the plaugue they are.  Particularly as you identify
>yourself as a Debian person yourself.

If her net is working, I can ssh in to it to fix stuff.  That's a huge
advantage for me, since she lives near Santa Cruz and I'm in Mountain

>> I'm a Debian person myself, but I suspect that RH9 or Mandrake might
>> be more user friendly for someone in her situation.
>After initial installation, hell sets in.  If you're lucky.  Sometimes
>it starts before.  Mandrake's on awfully shaky ground ATM.


>> Or maybe LindowsOS?
>Not a bad pick IMO.

I know nothing about it besides that you can get it at Walmart.

>> Basically she only uses it for email, and she is somewhat comfortable
>> with Netscape/Mozilla.  So from that point of view it doesn't matter
>> what OS she is on.
>A basic Debain install, KDE (hate it myself, but...), Firebird.  For
>mail:  evolution, sylpheed, or kmail.

Mozilla mail (the one that comes with the Navigator) works well for me
at work, and she is already using it on Windoze.  I'm pretty sure I
won't want to switch her to anything else.

>> I need to have it automatically dial into her PPP and automatically
>> disconnect when she's idle, and I am not sure how to do that in Linux
>> anymore, since I've been on DSL and cable for so long.
>KDE gives you kppp, which sits on the panel and indicates connection
>status.  I believe it can be set to disconnection on timeout (say 20
>minutes idle).

That could be good.  She has a plan with her ISP that is cheap but
only has a limited # of minutes.

>> Also I need it to update itself when security patches come out, since
>> I can't expect her to do it.
>I cron an "apt-get update; apt-get -duy dist-upgrade" nightly on my own
>systems.  You'll probably want to ssh in manually and apply updates.
>Running apt-get autoclean regualarly will keep your /var partition

Yeah, I'd probably do the cron job thing.


William R Ward            bill at wards.net          http://www.wards.net/~bill/

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