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Setting up Mint+XFCE for novice PC user: any tips?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
The thread title may not quite cover it. When I saw novice user I don't mean confuses office version with windows version I mean I had to show her shift+2 provides an "@" symbol. She's in her 60s age-wise, I don't know if that's relevant.

She hardly uses the PC she has actually. Doesn't seem to use any more than necessary and goes on trips for weeks at a time. Currently she is using XP and I thought I should move her to something else. Her current PC is pretty old (it was a spare I gave to her, want to say built in 2008 or so).

Anyway I already have an old all-in-one dell (widescreen non-touch monitor with guts in the back) with linux mint installed on it and working. Truthfully she has used PCs generally so little I think moving to windows 7 would be equally jarring as XFCE. Seems like to the perfect time to switch her to an OS where she's less likely to catch a toolbar/malware. Biggest thing would be setting up her printer. Otherwise it would just be making sure she can read PDFs and easily open a web browser.

Pretty much all my experience with linux is at the CLI so I don't actually know how to configure the GUI if an issue came up or something had to be changed.

Are there any tips and/or things to avoid in setting up such a PC for such a user? Any obvious pit falls to avoid? Would enabling update installs automatically be a good idea?

I'm not against starting over with a different distro and/or GUI. This is just what happens to already be on the PC so I thought it would be the fastest thing I could provide to her. I don't think time is factor, just seemed like XP going out of support would be as good a time as any.
 
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post #2 of 5
Quote:
Are there any tips and/or things to avoid in setting up such a PC for such a user? Any obvious pit falls to avoid? Would enabling update installs automatically be a good idea?

Don't give her the root password. Or sudo if you can help it. I got my grandparents on Ubuntu about a year or so ago and they haven't called me with a software support problem in nearly 6 months. Back on windows it was every other week something was wrong.

As far as updates that is a mixed bag I think. On the one hand yes it keeps itself up to date. On the other hand if a bad update sneaks in and breaks something then you would have to search through however many logs to find out what was installed then track down the package in question. All the while she will be mad about you having broken her computer. Again for my grandparents I didn't give them sudo or root. Their computer get's updated when they come visit us (twice a year). Some will yell at me for this but as far as security updates, unless they are doing banking and such which it sounds like she won't then the security by obscurity philosophy will work well enough. It won't need to be updated every week or day to stay safe, it's already mostly safe just by not being windows.
Quote:
I'm not against starting over with a different distro and/or GUI.

XFCE Mint is good place to start, Mate might be better (I personally don't like XFCE) It's a matter of what she will adjust to and that you won't know until you put her in front of it. As above when I put Ubuntu on the grandparents laptop I just put it on there and they adjusted to it very quickly. They liked it but it was "different" was their only thing, but they have gotten along with it just fine.
Edited by Tadaen Sylvermane - 4/18/14 at 9:19am
 
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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply.

I delivered the PC for this particular user yesterday. I didn't give her user login root level access and I didn't try to explain what "root" is. She doesn't know anything about computers in fact.

I could have told her it was windows she would not have known the difference. In fact it took her about five minutes to enter in her email address into an amazon login. I don't know if she would have understood the concept of root of access by which I mean she would not have even the slightest idea what I was talking about even after explaining.

I show her where to find everything. Lucky for me her printer worked as soon as I plugged it in and eventually she understood how to open to the CD and other drive icon that show up when inserting a CD or USB thumb drive to view files. We also verified sound and flash worked with youtube. It was actually relatively smooth other than...she doesn't ever type things so she seemed ready to take a break after typing in her email address into amazon. Not sure what I'll do if she ever tries to connect her iPad to the thing. That will be another adventure rolleyes.gif
 
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post #4 of 5
I agree with the previous poster. Linux Mint is a good place to start and Mate may be a bit easier.

For what I can say: I've installed Linux Mint Mate (can't remember the release - 14 I believe) on my old PC that my daughter is using now, with automatic software updates. She's using it daily - Internet browsing, watching movies from our media streamer or on the Internet, Youtube, chatting, whatever a teenage daughter is up to. Not a single complaint so far for over a year. You can also disable the boot password, unless security is a concern.

If possible, install the ssh server and use an ssh key to remote access the PC. If you add to that remote desktop access (via ssh) you can even check the GUI.

The only issue I encountered on my PC (with Mint 16) is that Firefox occasionally crashes. I pinned Firefox to an older version and all is fine now.

I think Linux Mint is easy to use and shouldn't put a big barrier to someone coming from Windows XP. If necessary you can enable some of the Accessibility features.

EDIT: I must have skipped your reply. Congratulations, it looks like she's getting used to it.
Edited by powerhouse - 4/19/14 at 3:52am
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for the reply guys.

As a small update I'll mention this particular PC was having an issue with sleep mode. With the prior PC running XP I had set it to automatically go to sleep after some inactivity and that way the user didn't have to know/care about powering off the PC when she wasn't using it. But on this Linux Mint one (different hardware as well obviously) when it was brought up from sleep x-windows was kind of a black-and-white and way off center. I couldn't figure out how to get it to recover (wouldn't go to CLI with alt+F2 or whatever). Only rebooting would fix it. So I disabled sleep and showed her how to power it off. I have no idea if she will actually do that though.

This user actually uses the PC as little as possible. Seems to use an iPad and smart phone every so often. But the PC will go multiple months in between uses. I would like to think she this going to work out really well for her.
 
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Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3630QM nVidia GeForce GTX 680M 16GB DDR3 1600MHz Dual Channel Memory (2 SODIMMS) Hard Drive: Serial-ATA II 3GB/s 
Hard DriveOSMonitorPower
Hard Drive: Serial-ATA II 3GB/s Windows 10 Pro x64 17.3" FHD 16:9 (1920x1080) Battery: Smart Li-ion Battery (8-Cell) 
Audio
Sound Blaster Compatible 3D Audio 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i7 860 Biostar T5 XE Radeon HD 5870 Corsair 16GB  
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveOS
Western Digital hard drive wd1001fals-00e8b0 Maxtor 300GB I don't need no stinking optical drive Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64 
MonitorMonitorKeyboardPower
HP ZR24w 24'' Samsung SyncMaster 24" logitech wireless k360 Seventeam ST-850ZAF 850W ATX 
CaseMouseAudioAudio
Thermaltake V9 Black Edition Logitech G500 Programmable Gaming Mouse FiiO E7 USB DAC and Portable Headphone Amplifier Sennheiser HD555 Professional Headphones 
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VM Server
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CPUGraphicsRAMHard Drive
Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3630QM nVidia GeForce GTX 680M 16GB DDR3 1600MHz Dual Channel Memory (2 SODIMMS) Hard Drive: Serial-ATA II 3GB/s 
Hard DriveOSMonitorPower
Hard Drive: Serial-ATA II 3GB/s Windows 10 Pro x64 17.3" FHD 16:9 (1920x1080) Battery: Smart Li-ion Battery (8-Cell) 
Audio
Sound Blaster Compatible 3D Audio 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i7 860 Biostar T5 XE Radeon HD 5870 Corsair 16GB  
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveOS
Western Digital hard drive wd1001fals-00e8b0 Maxtor 300GB I don't need no stinking optical drive Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64 
MonitorMonitorKeyboardPower
HP ZR24w 24'' Samsung SyncMaster 24" logitech wireless k360 Seventeam ST-850ZAF 850W ATX 
CaseMouseAudioAudio
Thermaltake V9 Black Edition Logitech G500 Programmable Gaming Mouse FiiO E7 USB DAC and Portable Headphone Amplifier Sennheiser HD555 Professional Headphones 
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