Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

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Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:00 pm

OK, so here's the deal. I want to build my parents a computer, but I don't want to use any variation of windows because it would cost at least a fourth of what the actual computer will cost. Which distro of linux would you guys recommend I get for them to use?
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:04 pm

Ubuntu 8.10, I would say... It's worked out okay for me (using it off and on over ~4 months). Biggest installed base=most support.

It all depends on the PC's hardware and the parents' tech literacy. Have you looked at OEM Windows licenses? It's about $90 if memory serves me right.
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Tue Dec 09, 2008 6:24 pm

It all depends on what they do with the computer and how much they exchange things like documents with other people. I have personally found that I can do just about anything that I want in Linux, but it is often more convenient to do certain things with a Windows-based PC.

If you're looking for a super-budget PC, it is my opinion that it isn't very cost effective to build your own machine. They'll probably be just as happy with a Dell which has a warranty and -- at least in theory -- tech support (other than you). Unless you have some parts that you are planning to recycle, you'll be hard pressed to beat price for a pre-built system -- particularly if you shop sales or the outlet.

For about $450, you should be able to get a quad core with 4-6 GB of RAM, 750GB-1TB HDD, and Vista x64 at the Dell outlet with the current 20% off coupon code: P94GL1MRWGVZBM
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Tue Dec 09, 2008 8:17 pm

all they do is browse the internet and maybe email people

their tech literacy amounts to me showing them what to do and how to do it, and they will be able to do it

the hardware was just going to be a dual-core atom based system
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:06 pm

I gave my parents my old socket 939 Athlon 64 4000 machine and threw Xubuntu on it. They mostly use it for instant messaging, email, browsing and some document writing and spreadsheets. As long time Windows users they've had no problems with the slight learning curve.
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:27 pm

Ubuntu is the (forgive the pun) canonical newbie distribution.
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:29 pm

Another vote for Ubuntu.

I'm kinda torn on whether to recommend 8.04 or 8.10 though. 8.10 has improvements in some areas, but 8.04 is the "long term support" release, and will receive security updates longer than 8.10 will.

I'd probably go with 8.10.
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:43 pm

just brew it! wrote:Another vote for Ubuntu.

I'm kinda torn on whether to recommend 8.04 or 8.10 though. 8.10 has improvements in some areas, but 8.04 is the "long term support" release, and will receive security updates longer than 8.10 will.

I'd probably go with 8.10.

9.04 comes out soon.
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Fri Mar 13, 2009 6:17 pm

I'd say Ubuntu 8.04 since the support will be the longest and they won't know what they're missing with the latest stuff anyways.
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Sat Mar 14, 2009 12:09 am

Usacomp2k3 wrote:9.04 comes out soon.

The non-LTS versions can be kind of rough around the edges when they are initially released. If it was just me installing it on a non-critical machine to play around with, I'd be fine with it. But for a PC that is going to be used by someone else (who I'll be expected to provide informal tech support for), I'd wait until it has been out a month or so. The most annoying bugs will have already been patched by then, and many of the less annoying ones will have workarounds you can find via Google.
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:10 am

Another vote for the latest version 8 release of Ubuntu. Not only is Ubuntu easy to use, but it's very difficult to mess the system up as any major changes are password protected. I've done the same thing you want to do with Ubuntu, to great effect.
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:26 am

Hi Traz,
I am currently using Ubuntu 9.04 alpha 5 and am very happy with the stability so far, the final release will be next month. But I guess the requirements for your parents won't be to run bleeding edge software. My recommendation would be Linux Mint... the most current distribution is based upon Ubuntu 8.10 but contains a number of additions such as working Flash, DVD playback and Java support out of the box. Ubuntu is the distro de jour, but Mint is really just a nice face on top of it so all the same packages should work also. If you are looking to build a cheap X86 system then a tip is look to Intel hardware as it will be the best supported. And a 'good' system can be had for around $300, depending of course on what you want to do. The system guides are good starting points minus the Microsoft license fee.

A few resources for you:

http://www.distrowatch.com (lists current distributions, provides reviews, news and popularity lists)
http://www.zegeniestudios.net/ldc/index.php?lang=en ( a matrix that helps you choose the distro to use)
http://www.linuxmint.com/ (distro I recommended)

Hope it helps :D

p.s. I think a system guide targeted at building Linux PCs would be cool idea? What do others think?
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:03 am

After trying Ubuntu on my parents machine for a few months $115 was the best money spent for an OEM copy of vista 32bit. The headaches where just not worth it. First the digital cam, then the camera, then the scanner, Software the friends tell them they should use etc etc. oh if all this happened at once would have just got it setup and left it but it seamed like every time I was over I was installing something or telling them "No that program will not work under Linux" which they simply could not understand.

Worth a go but I will never do it again. Least my Dad can read the help files and get things sorted himself alot easier with Windows with alot less hassle.
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Sat Mar 14, 2009 7:05 am

Jypster wrote:After trying Ubuntu on my parents machine for a few months $115 was the best money spent for an OEM copy of vista 32bit. The headaches where just not worth it. First the digital cam, then the camera, then the scanner, Software the friends tell them they should use etc etc. oh if all this happened at once would have just got it setup and left it but it seamed like every time I was over I was installing something or telling them "No that program will not work under Linux" which they simply could not understand.

Worth a go but I will never do it again. Least my Dad can read the help files and get things sorted himself alot easier with Windows with alot less hassle.


I've had similar experiences to this with installing Linux on a parent's machine. It's simply not worth the hassle. The 90 bucks you could spend on an OEM Windows license is like 5x the amount your time is worth talking through "linux things" with people who don't really understand "windows things."
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Sat Mar 14, 2009 10:31 am

John59 wrote:My recommendation would be Linux Mint... the most current distribution is based upon Ubuntu 8.10 but contains a number of additions such as working Flash, DVD playback and Java support out of the box.


That's easy enough with Ubuntu. Just do a default install, and then open up Synaptic and install the ubuntu-restricted-extras package.
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Sat Mar 14, 2009 10:36 am

Jypster wrote:After trying Ubuntu on my parents machine for a few months $115 was the best money spent for an OEM copy of vista 32bit. The headaches where just not worth it. First the digital cam, then the camera, then the scanner, Software the friends tell them they should use etc etc. oh if all this happened at once would have just got it setup and left it but it seamed like every time I was over I was installing something or telling them "No that program will not work under Linux" which they simply could not understand.


As Traz wrote: "all they do is browse the internet and maybe email people". Doesn't sound like they need a scanner, camera, etc., and those things /do/ generally work with Linux; you just need to do a bit of research first to make sure the one you're looking at is supported yet.

The Win-programs thing is stickier. There's WINE, but IME it's harder to mess with than just running the program directly under Windows. But that doesn't seem to be a problem for Traz's parents.
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Sat Mar 14, 2009 11:30 pm

Fedora 10 is working excellent for my wife's machine; I thought I'd never be able to get her to accept using a 'non Windows' machine, but she's enjoying the use of the rich assortment of freely available Open Source software.
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Sun Mar 15, 2009 2:50 am

well, thanks for all of the help.

i still need to play around with linux and figure out what would need to be done to make it ready for anyone to use
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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Sun Mar 15, 2009 7:59 am

Hi again Traz,
the easiest way to try if if your parents are happy with the Linux OS of choice is to boot your computer off of one of the many 'live' installation CDs, you get access to the whole OS in an unrestricted way so you can test out if the distro is something you want to keep or not. Almost all of the more popular distros let you try the operating system before you install it, just be aware that you are running from a slower read only CDROM drive than the OS being installed on the hard disk. The benefit being you install nothing on to your hard drive until you choose to. This also gives you the advantage of checking the compatibility of your hardware, you can't really loose anything except a few moments of your time.

One other option if you have a Windows machine is to install Linux as an application under the system and when you next start your computer you have a choice to either boot in to Windows or Linux, no partioning is required and you can easily remove Linux in the add/remove section in the control panel. I know that Ubuntu and Mint offer this option... I am not sure what other distros do this.

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Re: Using linux as primary OS for parent's pc

Postposted on Sun Mar 15, 2009 11:02 am

astraelraen wrote:
Jypster wrote:After trying Ubuntu on my parents machine for a few months $115 was the best money spent for an OEM copy of vista 32bit. The headaches where just not worth it. First the digital cam, then the camera, then the scanner, Software the friends tell them they should use etc etc. oh if all this happened at once would have just got it setup and left it but it seamed like every time I was over I was installing something or telling them "No that program will not work under Linux" which they simply could not understand.

Worth a go but I will never do it again. Least my Dad can read the help files and get things sorted himself alot easier with Windows with alot less hassle.

I've had similar experiences to this with installing Linux on a parent's machine. It's simply not worth the hassle. The 90 bucks you could spend on an OEM Windows license is like 5x the amount your time is worth talking through "linux things" with people who don't really understand "windows things."

Yes, you do need to evaluate the needs of the user and -- if they are not technically savvy -- your willingness to provide technical support, if the machine will be used for more than web/e-mail/office type tasks. These factors can range from a non-issue to a show stopper.

For Windows apps that don't need to install special drivers, running them under Wine may be a viable option.

Linux driver support for peripheral devices has improved quite a bit over the past couple of years. These days Linux arguably supports older peripherals better than XP/Vista does (even my not-so-old Epson inkjet printer is supported out-of-the-box with no additional drivers needed, which was a pleasant surprise), but Linux still lags a bit when it comes to supporting newer devices.
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