[Tfug] Ideas for the ultimate "Grandma Millie" distro...

john galt johngalt1 at uswest.net
Sat Jan 27 14:39:30 MST 2007

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jim March" <>
To: "Tucson Free Unix Group" <tfug at tfug.org>
Sent: Saturday, January 27, 2007 11:14 AM
Subject: [Tfug] Ideas for the ultimate "Grandma Millie"

> Folks,
> I'm running into a circle of politically active older
> folks almost entirely
> running XP, "geek genes" about on par with a hampster, and
> they're getting
> *hammered* by malware.  We're talking dozens now expanding
> into hundreds of
> these folks just around Tucson.  They use a few basic apps
> hard and heavy:
> EMail, web, MS-officecrud.  Some do simple photostuff.
> I just spent about 8 hours doing a total "nuke from orbit"
> cycle on an XP
> laptop, which means talking them into scoring an external
> USB drive cheap,
> do the backup, reformat, reload, reconfigure.  I am NOT
> going to "rinse
> lather repeat" on the next 50+, I'll go completely
> bugfuck.

I too support some older folks on XP. IMHO, moving to Linux
would mean my being responsible for 125% of support rather
than 20%-80%, if the solution is structured well. What do I

Considering the tone of this thread and the problem's
I question whether moving to any Linux is a great idea for
the mature crowd. <duck> Please hear me out.

If one's solution to XP malware is reformatting and
reinstalling, that is suboptimal. That is a waste of time
and problems may reoccur if prevention is not comprehensive. 
Seldom does a case of malware/virii require such an invasive 
solution, I believe.

Instead of spending 8 hours to amputate, instead of
stitching up a boo-boo, one could fix the problem in about
2-3. Then with applying a little education of how to
maintain their computer, they can be largely self

Kill the infections and cleanup things-

0.5 Delete Browser cache and Browser helper objects
1  Delete all files in Temp and Tmp directories
2  Disable System Restore temporarily.

3. Install updates and run AntiVirus - I like AVG Free. It 
works well. I despise Syamntec AV and McAfee.
4. Install updates and run SpyBot Search and Destroy - Best 
for malware, IMO. Free

5 Autoruns by sysinternals. Free. Find all of the places the
malware uses to launch themselves. Eliminate these links to
start malware/virii in services, registry entries, Startup,
6. Re-run 3&4 until the results come up clean. Reenable
System Restore

By now the system is probably stable and further effort is
just a little maintenance. Symantec AV is such a pig, you
might want to eliminate it, if it is installed and try
something else

7. Teach someone who touches the PC routinely to make sure
the AV and Anti Spyware updates occur and to run scans
periodically. Dial-up makes auto updates messy.

8. Teach the users to not look at email spam and trash it

9. Tell them not to click on pop-ups, especially ones from
websites that say stuff like "Do you want to install and

But, why not install Linux so they don't have to endure all
that maintenance? That's so you won't have to contend with:

Gransdon got Grandpa a webcam/capture card/whatever for
Christmas, It won't run.
The new wireless card/ap/USB dongle doesn't have a
Prism/supported chipset.
Why doesn't the software we bought at WorstBuy /
CircuitShtty load?
Feature "X" doesn't work in Linux on my Laptop
I can't play the songs I bought.

Yeah, but most of these things can be made to run using
FOSS. No problem, but maybe you'll have to wait for someone
to write a driver for it.

Don't misunderstand, I am not flaming FOSS, it's just that
Grandpa and Grandma need more of an appliance-type solution,
unless you want to be their desktop support
/system/application developer.

And then, if they feel guilty about asking you for support 
in the future, they might get help somewhere else. 
Otherwise, someone will spend another period of time 
removing Linux and reinstalling XP.

just my $.02 and then some.

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