Best Linux For Computer Illiterate With Low Bandwidth?
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If wifi is available is there not DSL from the local telco? I don't know prices where you are at but $19 a month will get you 768k dsl from all the telcos in the dallas area, even in the rural areas, unless DSL simply isn't available, but even in very rural areas those places are becoming smaller.
DSL is not available at her address. There is only cable modem service that is around $50 and up per month.
This might get blasted by some, but if it were me I'd use Slackware. My reasoning here is very simple.
Slackware comes as a complete distribution, for the needs she has a browser is about all she needs and an HP printer is usually just plug and play because of HPLIP. In other words the software is there from the beginning.
Secondly, because of the way software is added to Slackware you won't have to worry about her installing something that screws things up.
Thirdly Slackware is VERY stable.
I've done the same thing for my kids when they were 4 and 6 and by setting up a standard user account I had no worries about them screwing anything up. The biggest fix I had to do was to reset the DE to default configs a few times, but in your case you could even go so far as add something like
rm -rf /home/user/.kde
to rc.local so that it automatically resets the default desktop at every reboot.
I always hear Slackware is for hacker types who like to tinker around in with config files and terminal commands recompiling kernels, downloading codecs etc..
Not suitable for a senior citizen newbie who wants everything to just work by default as easily as possible with web pages loading properly and functioning normally (Flash, PDF viewer, photo viewer and other commonly used plug-ins already loaded so she doesn't need to figure out how to download and install them etc.)
I thought Mint would be best since it is like Ubuntu made even more user-friendly with more of the most common apps and codecs already installed and ready to run.
Slackware is well suited for users who want to get in the guts and customize their system. But that's for people who want to, there is no need to do any of those things. Slackware just works out of the box. Now the flash player would have to be installed, but that is trivial as would just about any other major and common software you might deem neccessary. Those are things I would expect you to be doing prior to delivery of the computer. Slackware will work just like any other distro for someone that just wants it to work, and being more stable than just about any other distro will add to the ease of use. Since we are dealing with an elderly computer illiterate user that stability is the chief concern after the basic use needs have been met. As the person responsible for setting the machine up, Slackware would have a huge advantage because it is a full install out of the box not instantly requiring a bunch of updates to download and reconfigure. You would just have to download any software you felt would be neccessary, like maybe flash player, libre office, and VLC. That's about all I really need for daily use that's not included.
Secondly I assume you will be the defacto tech support. Distros like Mint and Ubuntu that present the user with point and click config tools as the primary configuration tool make it much easier for the user to make changes,which is another way of saying it makes it much easier to cause support issues. With Slackware your user isn't going to accidently click on Synaptic or some other config editor and make a change that has to be corrected and they aren't going to happen upon a website that presents a .txz package to easily download and install. There aren't going to be any automatic updates to either waste your bandwidth or potentially break the system. All of those manual tools in Slackware which are powerful, take intentional effort to use, so accidentally making a mistake isn't going to happen. The problem with Mint or Ubuntu is that the sudo password is the user password which makes it easy to accidentally click and bork. With Slackware you would have a root account at install to set everything up, then you would create a user account (with kuser, totally point and click) that has it's own password or not, but would automatically keep your computer illiterate from doing anything to the machine beyond their own account.
Basically when setting up a machine for an unskilled or untrustworthy user such as your grandmother, my very young children, or a classroom full of mischievous children, a machine that takes intent and root access to reconfigure, update, or install any software is a huge advantage. It's what is done in most offices and schools for instance. Slackware is definitely not a bad choice for a use case like this. The only disadvantage it would appear to have is that you aren't entirely sure about it, but if you were to install Slackware you would most likely realize very quickly that it is not the difficult distro that some people make it out to be, and you would find the Slackware forum here at LQ to help you quickly solve any difficulties you would have in a setup like this, unless there is just hardware incompatibility.