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Someone I know, does nothing but browse the net, make some text docs, and email. She also has very little money. I just removed 5k viruses and 50+ spyware from her system. She seems perfect for linux!
So I throw PCLOS in the drive and she and her two oldest girls loved it!
Now here come the doubters and the naysayers. I'm off doing my research to find the best distro for her (I'm leaning towards PCLOS or OpenSUSE) and she happily tells her friends that her family is going to switch to linux. They warn her that she will be incompatible with everyone she knows. That none of her educational software (she homeschools her kids) will work, and that linux will make her life more difficult than it would be if she just stayed on Windows.
She doesn't mind losing her old educational software, which is mostly math, if she has alternatives in Linux.
Do you think she should switch?
If so, I need to prove to her that Linux is just as easy as windows (considering her activities... she won't be installing much software, aside from educational), that she's compatible, and that her new found stability and freedom from Windows will make her life LESS complicated... not more.
If Windows-software was a concern, and ease of use preferred I'd
suggest to go with Xandros; the commercial version comes with
CrossOver office (a buffed up version of Wine) that will run many
a windows program flawlessly.
You could install wine for her on any other distro, but the MS
Office products don't run (didn't last time I checked) under it.
If she's eager to switch, and doesn't mind a negative impact,
by all means, help her to make the transition to the light side :}
Send her here, too, to widen her horizon and become independent
(not only of MS but also of you).
Xandros certainly would make easier work of running Windows programs, but remember CrossOver office can be purchased seperately from Xandros for use in most distros. I personally find OpenSuSE a fantastic distro for noobies and old hats alike. It is easy enough to find most any software you need because of its popularity, and easy enough to install that you do find that even new comers to linux can get up and running as proficently as they were in windows in linux in no time.(Wow...nice sentence.)
SuSE, even OpenSuSE(OSS) also comes with a wide variety and edutainment(and educational) software, including math stuff, so install that set so she can take a look and see how she likes it.
I concur with Tinkster though, helping her get independent of you would be a VERY wise thing to do, especially in new ground for her, because she is going to want to lean on someone hard.
Another option that is not bad is to dual boot and keep windows for those software that won't run on linux (or have an acceptable alternative). Then either disable internet or unplug the cable when in Windows...
Have been using SUSE for basically the same functions you listed for about 5 months. I am, compared to most of the folks on this site, an idiot regarding computers. I have had no problem with text docs and e-mail. The only problems I have had browsing are related to downloading videos. If she can find her educational software (and considering that most of Europe is on Linux, there must be some). One small problem I have had (reflecting my ignorance) is finding stuff I save, but once you set up folders it isn't a problem. I'm sure the friends who are telling her that she won't be compatible have never really tried Linux. Hope this helps.
It is a hard question. I think the modern Linux distros are no harder than XP for a newcomer to computing or a total non-geek who uses Windows. An experienced and confident Windows user often has a lot of trouble converting and unlearning. Often the loss of status going from guru to novice is too humiliating.
The main argument in favour of Windows for the sort of user that you describe is that she will probably find it harder to to get advice and help on how to use Linux. There are usually plenty of people around who will know how to do the routine stuff in Outlook Express or IE (load hawking noise)
If she has standard hardware most modern distros will install with no problem and with a minimum of fuss. If she can use word, IE, OE and all that stuff she can use the equivalents in Linux.
I do not know about educational software in Linux. There is a good chance that what she already owns will work under wine.
My biggest reservation is that the free (as in beer) distros will come without any proprietary software at all. This means that it will come with no codecs to play mp3, mpeg and many other multimedia formats. There will be no RealPlayer, no Acrobat Reader, possibly no 3D display drivers and various other very useful things. They are all available free of charge but have to be found, downloaded and installed. It is not a big deal but enough to totally floor a beginner. I know a number of people who gave up Linux after a short trial as it "cannot play music or movies".
If she needs the stuff I have listed she either needs a paid for distro with some support or someone to help her. She will have to value her time at a very low rate to prefer to find out how to do it all on her own ... unless she is a potential geek
I know Mandriva and that is what I would recommend I am sure that many others would be just as good for her. Tell her good luck and to join LinuxQuestions.
(On a side note... I run a VPN client for my job... that's why I'm on windows... and the Adobe suite... would that all run effectively if I virtualized windows from within linux?)
I run CISCO VPN from Linux, no need to use windows for
that one. As for the adobe suite: I not only don't use it, I never
had my hands on it, so I can't really say much about how it would
perform either in a VM under Linux (the Borland Dev-tools are
painfully slow in VMWare), or whether it would run in Wine.
If money is an issue I'd go with either OpenSuSE or Kubuntu
for a smooth transition, good community and quite well-done