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Ask Slashdot: Linux For Grandma? 287

First time accepted submitter BlazeMiskulin writes "With XP approaching end-of-life, I find myself in a situation that I'm guessing is common: What to do with Mom's machine (or 'grandma's machine' for the younger of you). Since a change has to be made, this seems like a good time to move to a Linux distro. My mother (82) uses her computer for e-mail and web-browsing only. I know that any distro will be able to handle her needs. I've been using Linux (Ubuntu, CentOS, and Redhat--usually with KDE interface) for about 10 years now, but I know that my preferences are quite different from hers.

I have my own ideas, but I'm curious what others think: What combination of distro and UI would you recommend for an old, basic-level user who is accustomed to the XP interface and adverse to change?"
My Grandmother seems happy running KDE on Debian.
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Ask Slashdot: Linux For Grandma?

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  • Chromebook (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 07, 2014 @01:27PM (#46428871)

    I'm recommending a Chromebook to my mother in the same situation of web browsing and web-based email only. I like it for her since it's low cost, difficult to do anything software-wise to mess it up, and as close to zero maintenance as I can find.

  • iPad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bram Stolk ( 24781 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @02:04PM (#46429207) Homepage

    Please, give her an iPad.
    Less problems for you, less problems for Grandma.

    Zero maintenance, easy to use.
    This is no contest.

  • by scorp1us ( 235526 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @02:28PM (#46429415) Journal

    Wednesday I got a visit from my neighbor asking for help with his computer. My heart sank. I had set him up with Mint 15 on his laptop and he was happily using it for the past 6 months. "What's wrong?" I asked. He said "something about "user profile service"". Oh, he means his desktop (Vista) so I fix it by doing a system restore. I asked about the laptop. "Its working fine, no complaints."

    For this man to have no complaints, you have to understand what a dramatic experience computers are for him. He was a truck driver for the county. Never worked a day of his life at a computer, but his wife was a secretary. (She has passed on). So he tries to do stuff.. but any little thing that changes is a big deal. MSN shut down MSN messenger service and replaced it with Skype. That generated two visits from him - one the "little man" disappeared. And the new Skype icon that they installed for him. He even added his own MyFi to it.

    And that is why I recommend Linux. It's never generated a support call to me from him.

  • I disagree (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WebCowboy ( 196209 ) on Friday March 07, 2014 @06:01PM (#46431221)

    KDE is ok but not the best unless the user is a power user who likes a more custom desktop. Better XP alternatives are mint with cinnamon or xfce. Both seem a bit snappier and less laden with configuration options. If mum is running XP with the default Fisher price theme and the clouds-and-rolling-green-fields wallpaper the featuritis of KDE is wasted on her.

    That said a bit of change is not always bad. If mum uses web for everything then chromebook is pretty classic looking and very simple to use and maintain assuming you are getting new hardware and want affordability. OTOH it could be useful to depart from the possibly stale XP era desktop style if mum is not too set in her ways. In my personal experience GNOME 3 has gone over fairly well. If us FOSS hackers hate it that often means it is something casual users will like;-) . With GNOME 3 you get something that reduces down to a simple launcher. In just a few minutes you can put mum's apps in the favourites dock, do a couple minor tweaks then show mum how to launch her app. Virtually everything us /. types b!tch about w.r.t. GNOME like hidden or missing config options or problems with multi desktop on multi monitor are stuff mum has no clue about and will never care to learn about. So GNOME is the choice I made and now they think all forms of MSFT windows suck.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982