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Thread: "It just works" Linux aka "Anything better than Ubuntu?"

  1. #1

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    "It just works" Linux aka "Anything better than Ubuntu?"

    I've been "threatened" with the task to update my mom's computer. She's got the obvious Windows XP running and with its end-of-life, we've figured we should move on to a still supported OS.

    She's the typical "pointy, clicky" kinda user and does nothing than web browsing and email, so the obvious choice is a Linux-flavored OS. Ubuntu seems to be the obvious choice. But still being an absolute beginner myself when it comes to Linux, I wonder if there's an "it-even-breaks-less-than-Ubuntu/is-easier-for-a-Windows-refugee" distribution that I'm not aware of?

    Related question: once a distribution has been chosen, any recommendations to make it look/behave as XP-like as it gets? Themes or Window managers and such?

  2. #2
    Lana Torrin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hel OWeen View Post
    I've been "threatened" with the task to update my mom's computer. She's got the obvious Windows XP running and with its end-of-life, we've figured we should move on to a still supported OS.

    She's the typical "pointy, clicky" kinda user and does nothing than web browsing and email, so the obvious choice is a Linux-flavored OS. Ubuntu seems to be the obvious choice. But still being an absolute beginner myself when it comes to Linux, I wonder if there's an "it-even-breaks-less-than-Ubuntu/is-easier-for-a-Windows-refugee" distribution that I'm not aware of?

    Related question: once a distribution has been chosen, any recommendations to make it look/behave as XP-like as it gets? Themes or Window managers and such?
    So Ubuntu is not very windows like anymore. Unity is getting better but its nothing like most users expect. Personally I pick Debian every time, but you are going to get some issues (like firefox not being called firefox). You could go Mint as this seems to be what most people went to after Ubuntu...

    Your other options are of course Windows 7 and OSX (or wait for what, a month or 2 and see if Windows 9 fixes stuff). Get a mac mini?
    Quote Originally Posted by lubica
    And her name was Limul Azgoden, a lowly peasant girl.

  3. #3
    Movember 2012Donor ctrlchris's Avatar
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    Why not just put win7 on it and be done with it?

    Fucking about with putting linux on your mothers pc when you yourself aren't 100% confident with it just seems like more of a fuck around then its worth


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  4. #4
    Daneel Trevize's Avatar
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    Mint isn't terrible, it just worked on a netbook and desktop of mine. XCFE rather than Gnome, though personally I like KDE when the hardware's able to run something more than XCFE.

    TBH if she's used to Android/Apple devices (smartphones, tablets) then there's probably minimal issue learning to use a decent Linux desktop (package repository = app store). The real thing is still file format compatibility, which depends what she's trying to do on it. Obviously stuff like webmail, google/cloud office suites etc sidesteps this.

    I'm sure you can get Windows themes, XP style, 98 style or otherwise. But tbh most people probably get what the window decorations & UI widgets are no matter how they're styled, so I wouldn't bother try to hobble the default/official themes.
    The biggest thing will be understanding that /home/username/Documents is the new 'My Documents'. No more C:

    Oh and don't give her root, obviously. Set it up, backseat drive it for a few sessions to check all the basics like browser plugins are working, then leave her with a basic account. Same goes for you, no bad practice of desktopping as admin.

    Actually your biggest thing will be backing up (you do that already, right...) and later restoring any stuff she wants to keep. That's where the biggest file format issues might arise from. You might learn to love Wine.

    One last thing, as a transitionary measure, you could ensure she can do what she needs to with the current Windows machine but only using FOSS apps, like Open/LibreOffice, VLC, Firefox, SumatraPDF, 7zip, etc.
    Last edited by Daneel Trevize; September 6 2014 at 01:17:43 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by QuackBot View Post
    Idk about that, and i'm fucking stupid.

  5. #5
    Lana Torrin's Avatar
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    Chromebook?
    Quote Originally Posted by lubica
    And her name was Limul Azgoden, a lowly peasant girl.

  6. #6

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    Thanks for your comments so far.

    Summary answer(s):
    Personally I pick Debian every time, but you are going to get some issues (like firefox not being called firefox). You could go Mint as this seems to be what most people went to after Ubuntu...
    I'd also pick Debian if it were for myself. I had the assumption that Ubuntu was "smoother" than Debian. Things like Firefox called IceWeasel aren't that big an issue, if "it just works(tm)".

    Why not just put win7 on it and be done with it?
    Hardware is quite old and will be replaced in a year or so. No point in throwing money at MS for that time. Mom will then inherit dad's current machine, which runs Windows 7. If mom gets the hang of Linux meanwhile, I'd put it on that machine, too. Otherwise she can go with Win7.

    Actually your biggest thing will be backing up (you do that already, right...) and later restoring any stuff she wants to keep.
    There's is nothing to backup/move. All the "important" stuff is done/stored on dad's PC. The only thing to move would be her emails. Not quite sure what client she uses right now, hoping for Thunderbird, 'cause I could convince my dad years ago to move to it from OE. Assuming that TB file format is the same on Linux and Windows, I know how to move those.

    One last thing, as a transitionary measure, you could ensure she can do what she needs to with the current Windows machine but only using FOSS apps, like Open/LibreOffice, VLC, Firefox, SumatraPDF, 7zip, etc.
    As I said, she doesn't do anything on that machine besides Web browsing & email. And most (standard) applications my parents are using are already FOSS: FF, TB, OO. So I'm not so much worried about security holes in applications. My goal is to guard her from an unfixed OS exploit, which rather sooner than later will pop up for XP.

  7. #7

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    You may give a look to Ubuntu Mate https://ubuntu-mate.org/ , MATE is a desktop environment that has the same paradigm as Win XP, and can be easily made to look and behave like an XP desktop, it is still unofficial but is in the works to become an official flavour of Ubuntu.
    Also: http://winxp4life.tk/


    Tested on Ubuntu Mate, it works.
    Last edited by pazuzu; September 6 2014 at 03:06:26 PM.

  8. #8
    Daneel Trevize's Avatar
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    Who even let people use XP with that theme, seriously?
    Quote Originally Posted by QuackBot View Post
    Idk about that, and i'm fucking stupid.

  9. #9
    Administrator Movember 2012 Don Pellegrino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctrlchris View Post
    Why not just put win7 on it and be done with it?

    Fucking about with putting linux on your mothers pc when you yourself aren't 100% confident with it just seems like more of a fuck around then its worth
    This.

    Be ready to have to troubleshoot it every other day for weeks until she figures it out if you put any flavor of linux on it. But if you insist, I'd choose Mint.
    I use debian myself, but I spend 99% of my time in the terminal..

  10. #10
    Donor Aea's Avatar
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    Get her a Chromebook, a Tablet or a Mac. Frankly even the last one is a last-place option if she absolutely must have a full desktop OS.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  11. #11

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    1. get lubuntu
    2. put shortcuts for all essential apps on desktop
    3. set up automatic updates

    this is literally what i did for my mothers machine. all she does is browse the web, so it works great.

  12. #12
    Stormscion's Avatar
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    another vote for lubuntu

    ubuntu is 2 bloated and still not perfectly stable for old pc. 12.04 is ok version altho you can "risk" it with 14.04

    that is if you want to go with linux route.
    I think getting tablet or converatble with ios or android is better option
    In this world, is the destiny of mankind controlled by some transcendental entity or law? ... At least it is true that man has no control; even over his own will.

  13. #13
    Movember 2012 I Legionnaire's Avatar
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    Get her a tablet.

  14. #14
    thebomby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don Pellegrino View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ctrlchris View Post
    Why not just put win7 on it and be done with it?

    Fucking about with putting linux on your mothers pc when you yourself aren't 100% confident with it just seems like more of a fuck around then its worth
    This.

    Be ready to have to troubleshoot it every other day for weeks until she figures it out if you put any flavor of linux on it. But if you insist, I'd choose Mint.
    I use debian myself, but I spend 99% of my time in the terminal..
    I would seriously go with Mint with Cinnamon desktop. I like it so much I actually upgraded my VMWare Fusion for Mac to run it on my Mac. It "just works", and has all the stuff you need. It also acts in a similar way to Windows, i.e. Start menu thing. Just put links to the apps she wants on the desktop, i.e. mail, browser etc. and set it up for automatic updates. If you need to do support, set up SSH or VNC.

    If you have oodles of extra cash, then perhaps go for a Mac Mini or a Chromebox if you're really skint.
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  15. #15
    GiDiYi's Avatar
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    Hel, I know you.

    Hence I know you've got an eye for the odd one out, but what I Legionnaire said is true. Get your mom a tablet. No matter what tablet, they work wonders.

    I've seen it with my mother. Suddenly she's capable of doing that internet thing, she's communicating with her grandchildren over it no big deal, something that would have been unthinkablee just a couple of years ago.

    Tablets are doing wonders in regards to getting people not used to use the internet to actually use it.

    My hats are off to Apple, because they really saw that spot no one else did.

  16. #16
    Lana Torrin's Avatar
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    My dad was complaining his desktop was getting shitty. He had a laptop that never went anywhere but he hardly used it because it was slow. Took a look at it and it was the disk that was slow. Replaced the drive with an SSD, took his old PC away, used the monitor and keyboard he had for the laptop (re-installed windows), got him a galaxy note 10 (the tablet one). Worked out cheaper than replacing his desktop (it would have needed a full replacement, DDR1 ram, IDE disks, etc..) Now he says he never uses the laptop anymore.

    So TL;DR: Tablets are awesome for internet.

    (or get a chromebook/chromebox.. chromeOS is also awesome for internet plus you can run all the google apps like google office)
    Quote Originally Posted by lubica
    And her name was Limul Azgoden, a lowly peasant girl.

  17. #17
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    For browsing the web and super basic tasks ubuntu is fine, as is any distro based on ubuntu. I'm a bit skeptical of the lubuntu suggestions but if it's old hardware maybe you have to. There really is nothing else for your situation, everything else breaks and/or is shitty. I just recently made the switch as a newbie myself and basically you will have to spend a long time looking at stuff you'll forget next week and hoping that it installs and runs without a hiccup. If it does, the rest is fine and I don't know why people are saying it will break on you. Once it's running it's fine and very stable. Once its running.

    Unity is kind of stupid but I got used to it at work, and it looks the prettiest for all its derp. I run Kubuntu and Arch with KDE at home, and I will probably throw Arch away at some point because tinkering with it doesn't appeal to me.

    But yeah, why not just pirate windows 7 and be done with it. It's pretty good.

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  18. #18
    Stormscion's Avatar
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    i suggested lubuntu because it is actually light weight and based on ubuntu thus it is very stable.
    Ubuntu on the other hand is as heavy as windows7 aso it makes for me little sense to put it even on moderately old PC.
    In this world, is the destiny of mankind controlled by some transcendental entity or law? ... At least it is true that man has no control; even over his own will.

  19. #19
    Lana Torrin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stormscion View Post
    i suggested lubuntu because it is actually light weight and based on ubuntu thus it is very stable.
    Ubuntu on the other hand is as heavy as windows7 aso it makes for me little sense to put it even on moderately old PC.
    This is funny because Win7 is actually lighter than XP.. It just needs a tone more disk space because it puts everything on the drive in case you install it later...
    Quote Originally Posted by lubica
    And her name was Limul Azgoden, a lowly peasant girl.

  20. #20
    Muffinsrevenger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lana Torrin View Post
    Chromebook?
    This, get her a cheap and shiny new chromebook for like no money what so ever, show her the internet button and add her mail account
    bam
    done
    lived happily ever after

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