[lug] Linux for Dad

Michael J. Hammel mjhammel at graphics-muse.org
Sun Aug 17 13:23:34 MDT 2008

On Sat, 2008-08-16 at 22:55 -0600, John Dollison wrote:

> 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.

Re: Debian:  bad idea for dad.  Debian is for geeks.  Not the unitiated
Ubuntu is debian like (in that is uses deb files instead RPMs) but isn't
a geek distro.  I don't like it because it goes out of its way to keep
me from shooting myself in the foot - no root login from the desktop
unless you configured at install time, which I didn't know I needed to
do.  Sounds very MSish to me.  

If you're going to do this for Dad, and are willing to do his IT work,
then you can configure his new box with CentOS (and your desktop of
choice, probably KDE though I hate that even more than GNOME).  This is
a distribution intended to have a long life (10 years), so Dad can rest
assured of meaningful software releases for a while.

Along with CentOS, you set up his yum to look for a repository on his
DVD drive (assuming he has one of those).  Then once a month (or every
other month or once a year - whatever) you send a DVD that is the
repository and he does his update from the DVD.  Updates are fast and
don't cost a ton of money via a dial up.  Then he can use his dial up
for what it was meant for:  emailing you to thank you for saving him
from the Redmond menace.  You're work will involve maintaining the
repository at home ready to burn the DVD when the time comes.

Picking the distro for dad is mainly about how you update it and provide
new packages.  Even the Deb distros can have repositories that package
up non-free stuff, like DVD support and so forth.  What you want for Dad
is a distro that has a long shelf life so upgrades (new releases of the
OS, as opposed to ordinary updates) don't get in his way.  But even with
upgrades, you can make it fairly painless by making sure the OS is on
it's own partition and his stuff (/home) is separate.  Of course you
visit dad twice a year so you can do the upgrade yourself in this case.

Additionally, and before all this, send him a bootable DVD with CentOS,
Fedora or Ubuntu to let him try a Linux distro out.  If he feels
comfortable enough with that then go to the next step.  Of course, if he
doesn't have a bootable DVD then this isn't an option.
Michael J. Hammel                               Ximba End User Software
mjhammel at graphics-muse.org                      http://www.ximba.org
LFS UserID: 16857
   I'm happy in my little world.  I would appreciate it if you would be happy
              in yours - way over there.  --  Michael J. Hammel

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