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Hi this is my first question that Google could not answer for me in almost 2 years of linux using. I have a younger brother who habitually breaks his OS. What I mean is that he tends to cripple windows XP, Vista, and even dreamlinux (kernel panic in less than 10 min) when he mentioned wanting a Mac but not having the $. What frustrates me is that he has no clue what he did, it's always "something happened". Is there a distro out there that is just incredibly hard to break, or in other terms "something happened" proof? A point and click distro would be huge for him, as well as all his mp3's and dvd's working out of the box. Hardware is a Dell Inspiron e1705, P4, 512mb Ram, 160 GB HDD, Intel wifi chip. The mp3's, etc is not a deal breaker if they can be easily installed. Any *nix will do. You suggestions are greatly appreciated.
No distro is proof against someone who decides to bring it down. No system is proof against that. Period.
The best you can do is not let him have root access to his box. Whether that is practical or not I cannot say. But if he can modify the files in /etc, or in the Windows Registry, or in the configuration portions of any OS you care to name, then "something happened" will always happen.
I understand that not giving him the root password would be best, but he goes to college 3 states away, and he will have to do this for himself. Also he is not trying to break the OS, he just has no clue how computers work. For example the issue with dream started out with him trying to install firefox. I am basically asking for a system which is idiot proof. PCBSD looks good from the reviews, I think we could give that a shot. And thanks for the quick replies!
Nobody is perfect and you cannot set up a system which is absolutely foolproof. And there are such things as disk crashes which happen every now and then even to the best of system administrators. So rather than trying to create an idiot proof system I suggest setting up a decent backup and restore system and teaching him how to use it.
Then make your brother fix all of his own mistakes by restoring the system whenever it fails. The inconvenience caused by frequent restores will be an incentive for your brother to be more careful with system modifications. He will learn from experience.
That is it, you could create an image of a default install on the same (or another drive) so that he can easily do a fresh install whenever he messes up by selecting a "rescue" line from GRUB. A bit like what so many OEM machines have for windows.
If he tends to have so many issues a live CD environment like Knoppix (along with a USB key for data storage) might not be a completely bad idea.
The DVD is a bit a bit sluggish to boot, perhaps, but the environment is rather full-featured and is completely recreated/restored upon reboot--a plus for linux beginners and/or those with a tendency to break things...