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

Joel Howard johord at gainusa.com
Sun Jan 28 07:46:59 MST 2007

Jim March wrote:
> 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.
> Ahem.  Sorry.
> Anyways.  Fedora Core 6 ain't newbie-friendly enough.  The initial installer
> is ghastly at times, but I can get them past that.  The problem is, once in
> a while the cutting-edge updates (as in, I'm now on kernel 2.6.19.xxx...)
> break something, like the package installer or the ability to mount USB
> drives fr'instance.  In both cases I fixed the issues right quick after
> searching Fedoraforums but that's not going to help a true newbie.
> Finally, I had an instance where my laptop's built-in touchpad didn't
> initialize one fine boot and Xwindows barfed all over the screen with dire
> ultra-geeky errors before dumping to a command line.  "Grandma Millie" would
> have a heart attack.
> Ubuntu Edgy is too unstable.  PCLinuxOS '07 looks like it's got big
> potential BUT it's still beta and I haven't pounded on it yet...any other
> ideas?  OpenSuse 10.2 had potential too, it was stable at least...but
> riddled with odd glitches in the update process.
> Where else should I look?
> Jim
Like most people I'm biased, but I would recommend Slackware with a
simple window manager, Firefox, Thunderbird, and good iptables. I'm part
of the geezer crowd that got fed up with MS and slowly migrated (with
the help of a good mentor and good people in this group). The type of
users you're talking about acknowledge the need for anti-spyware, virus
programs, firewalling, etc.; they just don't want to screw around with
it. Many of them will pay the geek squad $100 a month to come and clean
up their machines (please come on Thursday, the maid is here vacuuming
on Tuesdays, and Fifi's groomer is Wednesdays...)
Slack seems simpler than many Linux distros (to me anyway). It runs the
stuff codgers want to do, it's well supported, and the package system is
easy. There's the Slax live CD available for tryout. I'm not a Luddite,
but I do rebel against the seemingly never-ending layers of complexity
that keep getting added to PCs just to use them. I want to use the damn
thing, not keep changing it's diaper.
Send me the ones you think would like to migrate to Slackware -- I'd
much rather support them doing this than farting around with XP malware,
or heaven forbid, urging them to go get vista...
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