[lug] Linux for Dad

David Morris lists at morris-clan.net
Sun Aug 17 10:58:35 MDT 2008

On Sat, Aug 16, 2008 at 10:55 PM, John Dollison
<johndollison at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Looking for some advice...
> My dad tells me he's sick of dealing with Microsoft problems and virus
> issues, and has heard about this "Linux thing..." lol!  I explained the
> basics to him, and he seems willing to try it.  However, I have the
> following concerns:
> 1. Dad's got dial-up, so I'd have to send him a CD or pre-loaded PC to get
> him started.
> 2. Dad's in another state, in the woods, far from anywhere.  I doubt there's
> much in the way of face-to-face help if he needs it.  Usually he just calls
> me.  And I'll admit right now that I don't know much (don't tell my boss).
> 3. Dad's not a computer geek, but stubborn enough to figure things out if he
> really needs them.  Otherwise, he just says "screw it."
> I called System76 to see about buying a pre-loaded system, but they said
> their boxes don't have dial-up modems, and that dial-up support is
> problematic in Linux. The guy also warned me that even though there aren't
> Windows-style "critical updates" all the time, the constant updating of
> packages means that there could be even more downloads under Linux than
> under Windows.  Another issue is that System76 uses Ubuntu, which follows
> Debian's strict all-free guidelines.  That means more downloads and tweaks
> for dad, for things like DVD support (VLC / libdvdcss), Google Earth, etc.
> I just found a distro called Foresight Linux, which sounds like the kind of
> works-right-out-of-the-box solution my dad needs.  It uses both free and
> non-free software, and claims to "eliminate the need for users to know
> Linux" (I'm not trying to start a flame war; I'm just trying to consider my
> dad's technical abilities.)  I'm thinking I might send that to him.
> Anyway, I'm open to any ideas you might have.

I think you're headed in the right direction.  I haven't heard of
Foresight Linux so I cannot comment on that, however from what I know
of various distros I would be tempted to use Debian Stable.  As
everyone always notes, the packages will be a bit old.....but it
sounds like that isn't an issue compared to having a stable system
with minimal user intervention required, which Debian Stable provides.
 Pre-configure a system with it so any non-obvious hardware setup is
out of the way (which will include the modem), and setup an easy to
use window manager.

If you move forward with this, I'd be curious to hear later how it
worked out with whatever solution you chose.


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