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Mom Meets Linux - A Lindows 4.0 Review 565

JimLynch writes "We just put up the first review of Lindows 4.0, with a twist. I actually gave it to my Mom to see if she could use it. Find out if Lindows 4.0 passed the "Mom Test.""
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Mom Meets Linux - A Lindows 4.0 Review

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @02:56PM (#6286999)
    Linux: Nerd tested, Mom approved.
  • by Nix0n ( 649693 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @02:56PM (#6287000)
    I actually gave it to my Mom

    I gave it to your mom last night, as well.
  • mother test (Score:5, Funny)

    by noah_fense ( 593142 ) <noahtheman&gmail,com> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @02:56PM (#6287001)
    my mother can't stay awake for a whole movie, let alone try and learn a "new" OS
    • by Steve G Swine ( 49788 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:04PM (#6287101) Journal
      my mother can't stay awake for a whole movie, let alone try and learn a "new" OS
      Oh, you'd be surprised what your mom can learn - she surprised me!

      (This has been a generic "your mama" joke. Resemblance to any actual mom, living or dead, is purely coincidental.)
    • Well his 'mom test' was whether or not his mom could open up OpenOffice and type a document. Amazing.
      • Re:mother test (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Transient0 ( 175617 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:39PM (#6287503) Homepage

        The 'Mom Test' is a serious benchmark; it's name is not to be invoked lightly. The Mom Test involves nothing less than installing an OS on your mom's home desktop and seeing if she can figure out how to do all the things she would normally do with MS-Windows. If, after a month or so, your mom hasn't called you and demanded that you return her to Microsoft-Land, then (and only then) can the OS be said to have passed the 'Mom Test'.
  • My mom... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @02:58PM (#6287023)
    ... has been using computers damm near 15 years. She still calls me occasionally for a reminder on how to get a console window in Win2k (can't call it a DOS window can I?) so she can copy files to her floppy drive from c:\docs
    • Why doesn't she just copy the files using the file manager program thing? Seems like a lot of work to copy files. Is this the (bad) influence of a Unix weenie?
      • Re:My mom... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by marauder404 ( 553310 ) <> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:19PM (#6287302)
        I think that's exactly the problem that the poster was trying to show: people use computers in ways that designers may not anticipate. Even though Lindows looks a lot like Windows and has many equivalent applications, it may not pass usability tests like this, where people are so ingrained in their habits and only learn one way to do things and they stick with it. Sometimes, they learn the process and not the concept, so a small change in the interface may mean big changes for the user. In this case, the mom, may not be able to use Lindows without a learning curve.
        • Re:My mom... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Tyreth ( 523822 )
          That is exactly spot on. My mother does the same thing - has trouble remembering th concepts, and only remembering the process.

          But when you said it today, it reminded me of the slashdot article a few days back about autistic savants. Remember the story said their problem was that they only recalled the exact scene. If the shadows moved then they felt disoriented like it was a new place. Whereas for most people we can pick up concepts that allow us to comprehend it as being the same location.

          I wonder

      • Re:My mom... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jridley ( 9305 )
        A surprising amount of the time, the command prompt is a HELL of a lot faster. Say I want to copy all the MP3 files from a directory to a floppy, and they're mixed with a bunch of other files. In Windows Explorer, there's no way to sort by extension. At the prompt: "copy *.mp3 a:"

        I don't know how many times at work I've watched people spend 5 or more minutes going slowly through all the files in Windows Explorer, reading every filename, ctrl-click selecting all the *.blah files, so they can then drag.
        • Re:My mom... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:39PM (#6288208) Homepage
          In Windows Explorer, there's no way to sort by extension.

          funny... clicking on the view->details menu function and then clicking on the type tab sort's by extension for me.

          click on top boob.mp3 and shift-click on the last Zeeb.mp3 drag to Jaz drive/network drive/kazaa share and it's magically done.

          in fact I can do it faster than you can open a shell and type your command....

          I agree, most users are so brain-dead they smell bad, but you are just as mis-informed as they seem to be.
        • Re:My mom... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by rgsmith ( 473418 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:41PM (#6288227)
          You, my friend, are a genius.

          Do you realize there are now at least 5 responses telling you how to copy 'all of the *.mp3 files in a directory to a floppy'.

          I realize that the mp3 format may be used for things BESIDES individual songs ripped from CDs or downloaded, but the VAST majority of mp3 files are exactly this.

          So... back to the genius part - you just had some (presumably) computer gurus explain how to take a directory full of 3-4 meg (average) sized files, and copy them onto a floppy disk.


          Oh, and to ensure I don't get a shitload of 'offtopic' mods, I'm typing this from my parent's machine... with a fresh copy of Lindows 4.0 installed... and they are already enjoying it.
          • Re:My mom... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by orius_khan ( 416293 ) <> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @10:34PM (#6290907) Journal
            You, my friend, are a genius.

            Do you realize there are now at least 5 responses telling you how to copy 'all of the *.mp3 files in a directory to a floppy'.

            Do YOU realize the slight difference in wording between what he said and what all of those other responses are chastizing him for?

            HE said "there's no way to sort by extension". All of the replies calling him an idiot are telling him how to "sort by 'Type'". In most cases, "file type" is unique enough that each extension has it's own file type. However, the "file type" varies depending on what software you've installed on your computer that decides to 'claim' those extensions.

            If the software decides to just give multiple extensions the same file type name, you end up with multiple filename extensions that are sorted as though they are identical to each other. So in the example he gave: if you'd installed Winamp (or any number of those crap media player packages that many OEMs put on their computers before they ship them), then you COULD have multiple extensions including .mp3 that all appear to be "Winamp media file". (or whatever)

            So if you have a folder with lots of files in it, ending in .mp3, .mod, .669, .s3m, .voc, etc., they're all the same type of file as far as Windows Explorer is concerned, so clicking on the "Type" column won't do jack. The files will remain sorted by Filename. This is not just for sound files, it can happen for any extension.

            There ARE ways of getting a list of files that match a certain extension from within the GUI (like other people have pointed out, using the Search/Find tool), but what he actually said was correct, and does not deserve your sarcastic bashing. Your post should not have been modded 'offtopic', but rather 'flamebait'.

            Most people that don't want to learn console commands aren't going to want to learn "WindowsKey+F, copy current folder location, paste in 'Look in' box, type file extension in 'Named' box, click 'Find Now' button, select all" either.
        • Re:My mom... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:58PM (#6288418)
          Amen brother. Why the hell can't you filter files by extension? I won't rant for long, but I loved using IRIX in the early 90s because all I had to do was type "*.blah" in the (what is now called the address bar) of the graphical file manager, and, wala, only those files would appear in the window. How hard is this to do? Not very. Why doesn't ANYONE do it? Because no one does it, and IRIX did not penetrate far enough (carefully avoiding a mom joke) for that feature to gain attention. Maybe Apple OSes let you do it, but if so I would think M$ would have adopted the feature. Oh well, I guess my computer is only as usefull as the applications let it be.
        • Re:My mom... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Computer! ( 412422 )
          Dude, relax.

          I just had to tech someone in our marketing department on how to put a fucking file in a fucking directory. Not on the command line. Not via ftp or WebDAV. A regular Windows file into a regular Windows directory.

          People who claim to know how to use Windows in fact do not. They know how to use certain Windows programs. They are program-centric, not file-centric. I want to feel sorry for them, until I realize that they put "Windows use" on their resume, which was a fucking lie. Now I can hate the
    • Re:My mom... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:33PM (#6287444) Homepage Journal
      has been running Linux for several years now. I've tweaked and tuned it specifically for her needs.

      She still has problems, but I suspect they're mostly pilot error. At the moment, she has a 73MB inbox, and Mozilla mail seems to be having some trouble with it. I'm not sure how you make a system proof against stuff like this. I've got it set to email the logfiles to me every week, and a few cron jobs to check the health (disk space, temperature, voltages, etc) and log that on a regular basis. I reset her Mozilla preferences every login, (in .Xclients) but there are just some things I can't do.

      Supporting a senior citizen on a computer from a distance can be tough. My cousin (who lives in town, and is a Win-fan) put her on Windows for a while, when she was having hardware problems, and she had an even worse time. It's hard to know how to do best, but the ability to ssh in certainly helps.
  • by 2names ( 531755 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @02:58PM (#6287025)
    his mom is an electrical engineer, so of course she won't be able to understand Lindows...
  • then it must be *better* than Windows. Heck, first thing you know, they might have something that passes the PHB test.
  • by numbski ( 515011 ) * <> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @02:58PM (#6287029) Homepage Journal
    While I'm a mac user now (was windows, then linux, then OS X) I'd like to see a few more things done to round it out:

    Easy VPN setup (mentioned in the article already, but very important..PPTP and IPSec)

    Start the user off as a user with sudo privelages, but not as root...touchy I know for user privs, and it starts off a whole load of but "it's not important" but "oh yes it is" all over the place. OSX manages it nicely, I see no reason why Linux can't do the same.

    Bundle an office client. It's KDE...KOffice isn't there by default? ???

    I think that's about it. Other than of course throwing in a dock and putty a happy mac face on it. :P
  • by aridhol ( 112307 ) <> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @02:59PM (#6287037) Homepage Journal
    They indicated only one Mom-Test failure: Mom (in her role as an average user) looked for MS Office. To me, this is an example of Linux's biggest problem on the desktop: mindshare. Until we can convince people that there's more out there than Microsoft, it won't matter how friendly we can make Linux.

    Linux needs advertising in the popular media. Sure, I can see Linux ads in computer magazines; however, when I turn my TV on, I see ads about how much money you can save by switching to .NET. We need advertising to gain the mindshare we need to become popular. A friendly desktop is a good start; now we have something that we can advertise. Now we need to get the word out there.

    • Your statement is even less shocking than it sounds and more on point than it looks.

      A few years ago I was contemplating a new ISP, so I called several in the DC area (Erol's, ATT, etc.) and asked the "order takers" if their systems supported UNIX and/or Linux. ALL BUT ONE asked "What version of Windows are you running?", then they asked if I was running a Mac when I said "no, not Windows, UNIX". (no, I did not go into satire mode and say "X Windows" either :-)

      The one that understood right away? AOL and
    • Mindshare (Score:5, Interesting)

      by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:10PM (#6287192) Homepage Journal
      A friend just got back from an interview at NYU for grad school (MBA). For his job he reviews companies such as Red Hat. He told me when he ellaborated on what he writes about and mentioned Linux, the interview asked, "Isn't that the one with the cute little penguin?"

      There's very little marketing of the penguin to the general public. (Red Hat has their, well, red hat... IBM has just their logo and targets corporate users, etc.) Yet this non-techie person at NYU knew something of the mascot. With that and other stories I've been hearing I think Linux is slowly gaining some mindshare, even will little marketing.
    • by *weasel ( 174362 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:14PM (#6287239)
      didn't the mindshare concept die with the dot com'ies?

      i mean, counting eyeballs, mindshare ... weren't these things that marketroids just sold us when we had money and no idea where to put it, and so those best at marketing directed us to nice approachable terms that reflected the 'newness' of the market, and inevitably led back to lining their pockets with our money?

      'mom' failing to find a way to write a document seems to me to be a failure of the program-centric interface - rather than something 'task-centric'.

      why didn't they just have a 'compose' button or something on the interface?
      eg compose->[email | IM | local document | code]
      eg browse->[my documents | internet | network]
      and then launch an app accordingly. WHAM! mindshare problem solved.

      'mom' didn't even immediately assume there was a 'start' button if you notice. which should tell you that she doesn't immediately assume that's how desktops should work. she wanted/needed to write a document, and when she discovered lindows 'L' was apparently set up to mimic the windows 'start' she -then- figured that Office must have been there somewhere. because it was trying to be just like her trusty old windows box.

      don't fall into the 'mindshare' trap. windows is most vulnerable -because- it takes experience and training to know how to use it and predict how new apps/features should behave.

      mindshare indicates the problem is insurmountable marketing challenges (education and exposure)- and if you'll notice, the only solution to the 'mindshare' is ... marketing. rather like shamans of old, creating the boogeyman so they can be the savior.
    • by Artemis P. Fonswick ( 680020 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:26PM (#6287377) Homepage Journal
      No...what you need is an innovative desktop environment. You can put all the ads you want on TV, but it's not going to make a damn difference. Mom is never going to care about Linux. Mom has absolutely no reason (and never will have a reason) to switch over. Mom wants to read email and write documents, and she doesn't care how much it costs. The people you need to win over are people like me (and trust me, there are a lot like me). Advanced computer users who rely on their machines to get them through the day. I don't care about fighting over what suX0rz and what kicks ass...I do not choose my OS to conform to some image. I'm perfectly content with does everything I need without hassle and I could care less what anyone thinks about that. I've tried loads of desktop flavors for Linux...nothing caught my attention or made my daily routine any easier. BUT Apple almost had me with OSX, because of their desktop enivironment. (Unfortunately after using OSX for a month straight I realized it was still too tedious for my tastes)

      A computer is a tool. It helps me get things done. I'm naturally going to use the most efficient tool I can find. If you can find a way to increase my efficiency instead of just emulating the Windows environment and adding some fancy right-click menu, then you've got yourself a convert.
      • by bheerssen ( 534014 ) <> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @05:25PM (#6288662)
        A computer is a tool. It helps me get things done. I'm naturally going to use the most efficient tool I can find.

        That right there is the difference between a geek and a normal computer user, no matter how experienced. To me, a computer is nothing short of the world's greatest puzzle. It's to be toyed and tinkered with. If my tinkering breaks it, that's wonderful because I then have the opportunity to fix it. You can't fix what ain't broke, and where's the fun if it isn't broken in some way?

        But I understand that most people are not that way, and that's why Linux is so cool. It can be whatever you want it to be: a super easy desktop, a super powerful desktop, a server, an embedded OS - all in the same kernel, but with dfferent wrappers.

        Kudos to Lindows for trying to bring Linux to the inexperienced masses.
      • by lpret ( 570480 )
        No. You're wrong, thanks for playing. It's not the tech-savvy people who Linux needs to win over. Those users already have enough reason to move (they understand the uber-security of Linux) and have their reasons for not moving (gaming). Those who want to, will.

        The non-tech-savvy people, OTOH, have basic needs that can easily be addressed by Linux: e-mail, internet, instant messaging, mp3 player, p2p app, word processing. That is all they need and want. If someone will wake up and do this (I suspect

    • easy solution (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dh003i ( 203189 ) < minus physicist> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @06:05PM (#6288989) Homepage Journal
      Put an icon for OpenOffice on the desktop. Don't call it open-office, just call it Office.

      Sure, this will piss off 'lites, but so the fuck what? Elitists won't be using Lindows anyways: the person who's been using Macs and Windows all his/her life will, or who's never used an OS before.

      On the desktop, put things like:

      Office or Word Processor
      Slideshow Presentation Creator
      Music Player
      Movie Player
      File Sharing
      CD-Ripping/Burning ...and other commonly used apps by home users

      Or better yet, create a superior UI from the start. See some of my examples from my home page:

      a model desktop []
      some explanation of the desktop model []

    • My mom doesn't talk about computers very frequently, but she brought something up a few days ago.

      Mom: "I love that free office program that you put on my computer!"

      Me: "OpenOffice?"

      Mom: "Yeah. I was using it today. I can't believe that it's free."

      Before that, she was using MS Works. She's not the kind of person that wants to spend a lot of money on new software, so I suggested OpenOffice. OpenOffice meets her needs very well, as far as I can tell. People just need a little coaching at times. Yo
  • by thoolihan ( 611712 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @02:59PM (#6287043) Homepage
    A thought for GNU/Linux users, BSD users, Mac users, and even MS users:

    The more the desktop market becomes fractured, them more open standards have to be. The more companies will be willing to release hardware documentation (let the community write drivers, instead of attempting to write for 8 OSes). So, even if you don't like this distro, consider that the 'the average home user' buying a distro like this might still be a good thing.

    • by glesga_kiss ( 596639 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:18PM (#6287292)
      Buying the Distro is one thing, however upgrading to it is another.

      If "your momma" (sorry!) wanted to keep all her favourites, e-mail address and documents, there is no way that she'd be able to migrate between the two systems. It's relatively easy if you know how, but until Lindows can do this, they are only really viable as an OS for a new PC.

      The next step for Lindows would be a disk that you put in a Windows PC that does some trickery to store your set up somewhere, install Lindows, then restore it.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:47PM (#6288295) Homepage
        If "your momma" (sorry!) wanted to keep all her favourites, e-mail address and documents, there is no way that she'd be able to migrate between the two systems

        Huh? only windows has this problem... linux does not.

        Hell I can wipe my redhat or slackware or whatever I want this week and reinstall and magically my desktop for gnome and all my mozilla favorites, emails, and documents are there...

        it's called being smart and making /home on a different partition or drive.

        backing up a user completely is 100000% effortless under linux... it is a major pain in the ass that usually don't work in windows.

        until windows developers pull their heads out of their asses and NOT ALLOW users to put files anywhere but their home directory as default out of the box, and make it easy to migrate user 3256897 from one laptop to another without the ownership/permissions hell and that bulls**T that is the registry, windows will be very far behind linux in that aspect.
    • but lindows is one of the last distros i'd set up for my parents. They charge to download software, that's not what i'm looking for in a nice learning package to give to my folks. My mom is able to operate Mandrake (after i had configed it) as easily as she can run windows (which i also configed). Lindows is still a very rude company in my mind, and I won't support them.
  • Umm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twifkak ( 177173 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:00PM (#6287052) Journal
    Sorry, but in my case, Windows doesn't even pass the "Mom test."
  • by jas79 ( 196511 )
    Did they went through 4 major versions in one year?

    I hope that they are planing to slow down when the reach the same version as red hat.
  • by T40 Dude ( 668317 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:00PM (#6287060)
    but can I meet your Mom ??
  • I actually gave it to my Mom

    I gave it to your Mom, too!
  • Me: Mom, try Lindows 4.0
    Mom: what's that
    Me: New OS
    Mom: new what?
    Me: New operating system just like wind...
    • Up until the "ZZZZ" part, I was thinking you had enlisted the emacs psychiatrist as some kind of a surrogate mom. Now I realize that you probably just have a really buggy version of emacs.
  • Don't you mean the "Aunt Tillie []" test?

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

  • by Akardam ( 186995 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:05PM (#6287111) is also focusing on lower system maintenance with a Zero Maintenance Initiative â" which makes it possible for the user to upgrade the OS, apps or drives with one click.

    I see how this could be nice. Whenever I upgrade drives (hard, optical, floppy, or otherwise), it's a 5 or 6 click process... which is precicely the amount of times the screw falls off the end of the screwdriver and dissapears somewhere in the case with a metallic click, to be heard rattling around just waiting to short something.

    - Akky

    P.S. For the brain dead, yes, I presume that they meant drivers.
    • Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:11PM (#6287201) Homepage
      I feel like this "feature" is going to make or break Lindows. I can see there being a problem with updating that will screw up all the users and kill Lindows forever.

      Sadly, when Microsoft does this several times a year people just shrug and wait for the patch of the patch.

      I just don't know if Lindows will be able to survive if they don't implement the update process in any way less than perfect - they don't have the acceptance and power of the Redmond giant.

  • My mother would certainally benefit from this.

    Linux might or might not benefit. On one hand, this is it's chance to lose it's image as a cryptic, nerds-only OS.

    On the other, this open linux to AOL people.
  • by foxtrot ( 14140 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:06PM (#6287140)
    his patience is to be commended.

    My mom, about a decade ago, took a class on Word Perfect. She learned what all those F-keys do, which is really useful since nobody seems to use Word Perfect anymore Alas, she brought home one piece of information that is useful for pretty much anything having to do with computers, and only one such piece of information:

    "Read the whole screen".

    I never realized how much stuff I just scan through when I do something on a computer. Like, when you're installing something, it may note "This action will consume 100 megabytes of space on your hard disk drive and will take a few minutes. Continue? [Back] [OK]": My mother will specifically read the entire thing. She'll ponder on that hundred megabytes. She'll consider whether or not a storm is likely to show up in a few minutes. And as you know, no dialog box ever has that little text in it.

    I see "100 meg", "few minutes", instantly click [OK] and wander off for another Coke.

    My mother reads EULAs.

    I click [I Agree] while crossing my fingers with the other hand.

    And as such, it drives one or the other of us bonkers if I ever have to show Mom how to do something on the computer. Either she's frustrated 'cause she's not sure what's going on, even though I try to slow down, or I'm about to pull my hair out wondering why she just doesn't click something, ANYTHING, DAMMIT!!


    Anyhow, whether or not Linux is ready for Mom, I'm not ready to try to teach Mom Linux.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Don't tell her about dmesg.
    • Someone needs to write a virus that DOS attacks people like the ones you mentioned. The attack would consist of opening up dialog boxes with long paragraphs with Ok, Cancel or Yes, No buttons on the bottom.

      Computer users that HAVE to read everything and ponder over each bit will be so overloaded their brains will crash.
    • Alas, she brought home one piece of information that is useful for pretty much anything having to do with computers, and only one such piece of information: "Read the whole screen".

      My mom reads everything on the computer literally. When her Windows machine became unstable (typical Windows rot), she kept getting the requester box with "This program has performed an illegal operation.". She refused to click the "OK", and she would turn off the power. She thought clicking "OK" was an admission of breakin

    • by Mordibity ( 16804 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:43PM (#6288252)
      Ha! Actually, that's the exact opposite of what I used to tell my mother-in-law: "Read the Screen". 90% of her initial problems came from not reading anything the computer was trying to tell her!

      PC: Press the space bar to continue...
      Mom: What happened!? What do I do now?
      Me: Um, did you read the screen?
      Mom: Oh.
      Lather, rinse, repeat. ;-)

  • by BinaryCodedDecimal ( 646968 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:07PM (#6287145)
    It passes if he hasn't managed to delete some critical files after using it for 2 hours.
  • The title of the story is "Mom meets Linux", but Lindows is built on Debian (per the article).

    I don't get it. Is debian a Linux distro or a variant of Linux? If a variant, why is it not "Mom meets Debian"?
    • A quick and dirty explanation is that linux is a kernel. Debian, Red Hat, Suse, Mandrake (and a few dozen more names I'll omit) are operating systems built on top of the linux kernel. These are linux distributions, so your first statement is correct.
  • dumbing down? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PaulK ( 85154 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:09PM (#6287180)
    The most glaring issue that I see, was the ability to run "apt-get," without a root password.

    Ok, so Lindows can replace Windows on the desktop at home, so that the average user can be productive.

    But have we really done ourselves any favors?

    It seems that we have done nothing more than create a windows "clone", with a brand new feature set of security problems.

    Do we really want to compete with microsoft at that level? They have far more experience in the insecurity realm than we do.
    They'll beat us to death with experience.

  • XP Mom Test (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ToadMan8 ( 521480 )
    Shit, my mom doesn't pass the Windows XP mom test, she wouldn't stand a chance. Then again, I get confused on how to make programs run on a mac. Like that download to make them go thing is hard. Linux, you compile or unpack, easy enough. Windows you install. Apple, what.. this un-stuffing and copying around.... I don't understand how programs don't run with only one big file either. Come to think of it, when you screw up your configuration, how can you delete the .ini or .conf to start over and get th
  • by Plug1 ( 588101 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:14PM (#6287250)
    I know that this test wasn't stiving to be scientific or anything, but it appears that he had his mom play with Lindows for a couple of hours. Wouldn't a better test be to have her use Lindows for a week or so totally replacing her normal windows machine? This would offer better insights into what typical users of Windows are looking for in an OS and how Lindows can better meet thier needs. Just my 2 cents
    • I agree.

      Last year, I converted our home pc to RedHat. I spent about 15 minutes showing my wife how to open Word documents with OpenOffice, and how to browse with Mozilla (which wasn't a big deal, since we'd been using it on Windows previously.)

      For a while I got minor questions about things she couldn't sort out on her own; but within a month, she was totally independent. Almost a year later, I'm considering asking her to let me change distros for the hell of it.

      She's not a power user by any means. And
    • It's like the old coffee commercial with the nuns. "What they don't know is that Sister Methusela has switched their usual coffee with Brand Echs brand frozen, decaffenated, pre-creamed and sugared vile nastiness... let's see what happens!"
  • Designed by Gurus, built by hackers, crashed by mothers?

    Domesticated Pengiuns?

    "The OS Your Mother Would Have Made You"

    "Linux and Apple Pie"

    "Linux, with extra chicken soup"

    sorry... the idea of a 'mom test' blew my mind. my mom (at 65) has been using computers for more than 20 years, and i don't think there is any proof that age is a barrier to using linux. how about 'tried lindows on people with a measured IQ of one hundred'.
  • by buggered ( 442020 ) * on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:21PM (#6287322) Homepage
    After the thrashing that Consumer Reports gave the Lindows pc from in the latest issue, I hope they upgrade (one click?) to 4.0 and give it another go.
  • I'm not convinced (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cereal Box ( 4286 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:27PM (#6287383)
    If you read the article, you'll see that about two paragraphs are devoted to the "Mom Test" (which they conclude that she passed). Basically the "Mom Test" involved her watching a Lindows tutorial, clicking on the "start" menu, and launching OpenOffice. Color me unimpressed. Perhaps they should have extended the "Mom Test" to cover a week or two of normal usage. See how she reacts when she can't open those cute e-mail attachment programs (no, not VIRUSES) that her friends forward to each other. See how she reacts when she brings home the label-making software she bought that won't install under Linux. See how she reacts when the webcam she bought so she can send "video emails" to her family members won't work because Linux doesn't have drivers for it.

    Somehow, I think the results of the "Mom Test" will be a little different under those circumstances.
  • by rindeee ( 530084 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:27PM (#6287390)
    I set them up on Knoppix 3.2 (HD based install) with Synaptic for "point and click installs". They love it. They can install what they want when they want. They paid....ZERO. Besides, Knoppix is a much better and more "robust" desktop platform in my opinion. I have tried to like Lindows...but I hate it. Just my $.02
  • Not much of a test (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rjung2k ( 576317 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:30PM (#6287413) Homepage
    It's not much of a "Mom test," is it? I mean,all she did was boot it up, poke around the desktop, and eventually find the office suite. How about something a bit mor robust, like letting her use it for a week for everyday tasks without tech support?
  • by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:30PM (#6287417) Journal
    How many times do you think they'll be able to use 'mom' as a resource?

    "Hey?! Where's my big 'L'? I want to play Frozen Bubble!"

    "Sorry ma, we need you to preview this new version of Trustix."

    "But... But... There's no mouse pointer and the screen's all black!"

    "Adjust ma, adjust!"

  • by ktakki ( 64573 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:37PM (#6287487) Homepage Journal
    My mother was getting fed up with BSODs and unexplained freezes and the like, so I suggested that she try Linux and brought over a Knoppix CD. She was pretty impressed with it, but she had a few questions.

    "Can I play Counter Strike on Linux?" she said.

    "Counter Strike? You play that?" I'd been laboring under the impression that she was a Freecell addict.

    "All the time. I love fraggin' n00bs."


    "And what about my pr0n? Can I use Linux to view it?"

    "This isn't happening." I felt an icy ball forming in my stomach, a feeling of nausea rising in my throat.

    "Don't be ghey. I have needs too, you know." She opened up her browser; the home page was set to! I shut my eyes and put my hands over my ears.

    "LA LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA LA LA!" I felt as if my whole world was crashing down around me.

    So yeah, Linux might not be the best choice for my Mom. Also, if you play CS on a low-latency East Coast server, watch out for Mom. She likes to AWP wh0r3.

  • by LVWolfman ( 301977 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:47PM (#6287589)
    A number of years ago, I had a teen customer in my computer store getting his laptop upgraded and OS/2 installed. His mother was sitting there rather bored with our "geek" talk and asked was was the difference between OS/2 and Windows.

    I simply handed her my laptop, loaded with OS/2 and the normal office apps, games, etc. and told her to try it herself. (Though she was a computer novice, she never asked any other questions.)

    A couple of hours later when we were finished with the upgrades, we asked her what she thought. Her summary was... "It's just like Windows, only easier." And then proceeded to show us the things that she found better/different and that she'd done.

    When any version of *nix can get that kind of reaction, it'll be a good home user competition for Windows.

    BTW, she and I eventually got married (perhaps she was tired of paying for her son's upgrades!) and every time her Windows machine crashes ("get's stupid" as she puts it)asks why she can't have her OS/2 back.
  • Not A Valid Test (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmh_az ( 666904 ) * on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:52PM (#6287636) Journal
    Their test was biased: The mom in question already had a clue. They should have tried the test with my mom. Here's a typical "call for help":

    Mom: Hi. The power went off over here and now I can't get my computer to work.

    Me: Uhm, OK. Does it do anything at all?

    Mom: Well, the printer is on, and the screen says "Check connection".

    Me: Hmmm. Alright. Is everything plugged in?

    Mom: Yes, it looks like it. All the little doohickies are in the back of the computer.

    Me: (avoiding this until the last--it just can't be the cause) Is the computer turned on?

    Mom: I think so. There's something on the screen.

    Me: Uhm, I meant, did you actually push the power button on the computer?

    Mom: Nooo. Should I?

    Me: (after a pause) Yeah, that might be a good idea.

    Mom: Oh! There it is! Now it's working!

    Me: (sigh) Well, there you go. Let me know if you have any other problems with it.

    Now, if they'd tried their test with my mom, I don't think they would have faired quite as well.

    One of the biggest stumbling blocks to the adoption of Linux on the desktop has been the nerdish nature of the whole installation, configuration and user experience. Your average PC user (and most likely non-/. reader) is doing good to figure out how to get a printer connected to their Windows machine. The typical Linux distro is a no-go for these folks. Forget configuring a NIC, modifying the defaults for Gnome or KDE, or trying to figure out how to FTP a file from an xterm shell prompt. It just won't happen. MS has made Windows what it is not on its technical merits, but because it's been dumbed-down to the point where almost anyone can make it do something useful right out of the box with only a modest amount of coaching. A while back Russ Mitchell offered this [] rather negative view of Linux's chances on the desktop. While not everything he says is golden, a lot of it does apply, and should be seriously considered by anyone with dreams of seeing MS pushed into the backseat. Apparently someone at Lindows did bother to pay attention and start to make the Linux experience less painful for those without the inclination or ability to fiddle around under the hood.

    And before you poo-poo those poor sods who can't grok a regular expression or launch a background task from bash, just remember this: They're the ones with most of the disposable income, not us nerds, and Bill Gates et. al. know it.

  • by AntiGenX ( 589768 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:05PM (#6287829)

    Did anybody else notice the roll of paper towels next to the computer? [] And to think, he let his own mother type on that keyboard.
  • by afniv ( 10789 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:07PM (#6287852) Homepage
    This morning, a local TV news reported on Consumers Report's new research on cheap computers. The story centered on Walmarts cheap computer which (shockingly) did not have "Windows". They said it looked like "Windows", but isn't. The CR demonstrator showed the print manager window. He said there were too many icons, none of which were "Add Printer". He was confused with the "spooling" term.

    Also, he plugged in a digital camera and an error message popped up. He did the same with a Windows system and it immediately started an install process. The short story: stay away from Walmart Lindows computers and buy Dell 2350.

    Oh well. There are those who've used Linux and there are those who haven't learned it yet (like Windows used to be).
  • Lindows is... (Score:3, Informative)

    by praedor ( 218403 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:18PM (#6287996) Homepage

    Perhaps the most likely to get quick desktop realestate on common home user desktops due to its preinstalls, cheap price, etc, but it is also the most likely to ultimately give the impression that linux is not much better than windows wrt viruses and worms. The problem is the default root runlevel that lindows uses. NORMAL and proper linux users will be exactly that, USERS. Lindows users are root all the time. A proper linux user can, at worst, wreck their home directory if they are dumb enough to run an untrusted/untrustable script or application they've downloaded (at worst). A lindows user is quite possibly going to get owned like a windows user in relatively short order - and their entire system is vulnerable. Their system is rooted out of the box with full priviledges. No better, no more secure than windows.

    The only thing really saving them is the lack of a macro vulnerability, activeX, and other windows-assorted crap and builtin insecurity. They are marginally safer than a windows user but only just.

    Lindows should trust people to be smart enough and capable enough to deal with a separate root account. It can be simple. Have lindows setup a generic, invisable user account that anyone using the system would actually use. During startup/bootup, it would automatically start that account and take you to the GUI. During initial setup, have lindows ask for a password for root. The user never needs to use this until/unless they run a software update or install, at which point a dialog box comes up asking for a password. That's it. It would be at least minimally safe and no virus or trojan would have access to the system, only the generic system-wide user home.

  • What would be far more useful is to give "mom" a set of tasks to perform (surf the web, write a document, diagnose a disconnected ethernet cable, etc) in Lindows, Mandrake, WinXP, etc. Saying "mom had no trouble" doesn't convince me, "mom had less trouble than X" does.

    Also, does anyone else note that this article was posted on Extreme Tech? Not exactly what mom would read.

    I believe Consumer Reports reviewed Lindows-based computers in their latest issue, surely a rag much more likely to be read by mom. (I seem to remember it panned Lindows for anything more than web surfing.)
  • by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <> on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:42PM (#6288245) Homepage
    Linux always HAS been easy and user friendly for end users. You just have to give them a box that they log into that has their most commonly used stuff on a desktop, or in a menu, and you show them how to use the menu, the desktop, and how to close programs and shut down when done. For example "surf web" "write letter" "email" "spreadsheet" "chat with son" etc.

    Each user can then do whatever they please in their environment, as they learn it. If they screw up, replacing to defaults is as trivial as a file copy.

    USING linux is NOT hard. Administering it MAY be, but I find the guesswork with configuring and installing software on Microsoft's end-user offerings to be much more painful.

  • Lindows Rocks (Score:3, Informative)

    by antdude ( 79039 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:42PM (#6288248) Homepage Journal
    Maybe show your mom this music video (Flash): link [].
  • by fo0bar ( 261207 ) * on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @05:12PM (#6288550)
    June 11: I have been observing Mom for quite some time. She has been facinating over the last few months. Today I decided to give her a little test. I placed a computer pre-loaded with Lindows 4.0 in her habitat to see what her reaction will be. I hope this proves to be a valuable experiment.

    June 12: After ignoring the computer yesterday, she walked up to it this morning and stared vacantly at the monitor. I hope she figures out how to turn on the machine soon.

    June 14: Success! The computer is on, and is currently loading Lindows. Mom seems facinated with the fsck's progress bar. The desktop is now loaded, and... what's this? A flash presentation has popped up and is explaining how to get started with using Lindows. This frightened Mom; she is currently beating the case with a large rock.

    June 16: The computer has been replaced, and I took the liberty to disable the welcome presentation this time. It appears Mom is learning mouse movements fast. It took a few hours, but she managed to find and open Her concept of written language is improving; yesterday all she could type is random garbage, but now she's at a level equivalent to an IRC user. Now that I think about it, that's a step backwards.

    June 19: Like most mammals, Mom got bored of doing things like typing and playing solitaire. She found the shell and began exploring. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed to see that the first programming language she discovered was Java, and she has also been getting attached to Emacs. How unfortunate.

    June 21: Oh great, now she's starting a flame war on debian-devel. Where did I go wrong?
  • Dad test (Score:5, Funny)

    by Doug Neal ( 195160 ) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @05:20PM (#6288621)
    Interesting that this article came up today. Tomorrow my dad's borrowing my laptop to visit some relatives and scan a load of old family photos (he's into that stuff)... thing is, he's used to Windows and the laptop only has Debian on it.

    So, I set up SANE, plug the scanner into the firewire port, it all works perfectly. Nice. Set up a minimal, Windows-styled KDE desktop with a nice friendly icon, "Scan and OCR software". All he has to do is click his name on the KDM login screen. Cool. Even he can't get this wrong. I do a few test runs. It's dead simple, even more so than his Windows setup.

    So I sit him down in front of the laptop to see if he can manage this. He just about figures out the login. OK. Now we've got the KDE desktop, nothing there but a few icons. Mouse is right over the "Scan and OCR" icon. He sits there for about 20 seconds in silence before saying "which one is it?"

    If there's anything getting in the way of linux on the desktop, it sure isn't linux :P

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI