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Old 02-11-2006, 05:44 PM   #1
DragonMaster
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Which distro and XDE for old comp?


We're going to give to my grand-mother an old Pentium 2 350MHz and she never touched a computer before. I wonder if I should put Windows 98 SE or a Linux distro with a lightweight desktop environment.

I'm not new to Linux but never used something else than Gnome or KDE.(Well, I don't use it much tho)

Problem I see with Win98 :
-Adobe Reader 6.0 doesn't work with Firefox 1.5(It asks to download instead) and Adobe 7.0 isn't compatible with Windows 98. -- not easy for newbies

And with Linux :
- Is there a way to listen to WMV and WMA directly in Firefox?
- I might be the only one able to help her because I'm the only Linux guy.
- Some things are hard to use.
 
Old 02-11-2006, 06:53 PM   #2
bigjohn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DragonMaster
We're going to give to my grand-mother an old Pentium 2 350MHz and she never touched a computer before. I wonder if I should put Windows 98 SE or a Linux distro with a lightweight desktop environment.

I'm not new to Linux but never used something else than Gnome or KDE.(Well, I don't use it much tho)

Problem I see with Win98 :
-Adobe Reader 6.0 doesn't work with Firefox 1.5(It asks to download instead) and Adobe 7.0 isn't compatible with Windows 98. -- not easy for newbies

And with Linux :
- Is there a way to listen to WMV and WMA directly in Firefox?
- I might be the only one able to help her because I'm the only Linux guy.
- Some things are hard to use.
Well, for the old hardware, maybe something like DamnSmallLinux - If you shove the hardware full of RAM then I don't see why it would be a problem using KDE or Gnome (someone else might have other ideas though).

If it did turnout to be impractical to use KDE or Gnome, surely you will only need word processing, email and browser (and as you've already mentioned music/video). So if you installed DSL, with Firefox, Thunderbird, Acrobat reader and Open Office, you should be just about there. There is a plugin for Mplayer so that it runs in firefox.

If your GM has never used computers and hasn't been polluted by Microsoft, then there is less of a problem. A colleague of mine did something similar with his parents, who'd never used PC's etc and all he did was provide a similar device as you've mentioned (maybe a bit more CPU power, I don't remember), he'd installed SuSE (10.0 I think) the basic apps that they were likely to use (similar to my above suggestions) and then took it to their house and showed them how to use the apps.

The one thing he did do, was set it up so that he could do remote administration for it, so if they ran into problems he could sort them out.

regards

John

p.s. Oh and I think he showed his parents how to run YaST so that they could keep up to date with any security/bugfix/general updates as well.
 
Old 02-11-2006, 06:56 PM   #3
DragonMaster
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Well, I put 256MB of RAM, but I know that KDE is a bit beefy for this. I have a p3 800 with Fedora Core 4 and every single MBs of the 384MBs of RAM are full.

Thanks for the apps suggestions btw.

What do you think of PCLinuxOS and XFCE?
 
Old 02-11-2006, 07:04 PM   #4
zeratul_mdq
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XFCE, it's really great, and my second choice (I personally prefer KDE). But it's not as hard to use as Black box, and it has a nice interface, and it's really easy to tune.

Bye!
 
Old 02-11-2006, 07:48 PM   #5
DragonMaster
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OK, seems that I'm not on the wrong track. All I know is that I'll not put KDE... It's a bit too crashy* for a computer newb and it would use too much RAM in the old PII.

*On Fedora, "kicker" has fun crashing when I close applications and on Mandriva 2006, kded crashes when devices appear and disappear. I don't know for others tho.

Maybe I could put Fedora but I'm not sure if it's really easy to use yum for newbs or yumex on a new computer.
 
Old 02-11-2006, 08:11 PM   #6
gdivens51
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i'm running Libranet 2.7 Classic, Xfce on a 400mhz with 256MB ram & it is very fast loading web pages. After a little instruction & some written reminders to refresh her memory until she learns basic commands, she should not have a problem.

On my Win ME computer, i run Firefox 1.5 & Adobe Reader 6.0 with no problems
 
Old 02-12-2006, 09:59 AM   #7
bigjohn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DragonMaster
OK, seems that I'm not on the wrong track. All I know is that I'll not put KDE... It's a bit too crashy* for a computer newb and it would use too much RAM in the old PII.

*On Fedora, "kicker" has fun crashing when I close applications and on Mandriva 2006, kded crashes when devices appear and disappear. I don't know for others tho.

Maybe I could put Fedora but I'm not sure if it's really easy to use yum for newbs or yumex on a new computer.
She probably wouldn't want to do any admin stuff anyway. So PCLinuxOS and XFCE would probably be fine (PCL is a polished version of mandrake/mandriva anyway - it's "done" by texstar, who used to produce/repackage some of the mandrake RPM's as a third party packager - the extra graphics stuff was IMO excellent).

Just keep it basic. Put as much RAM in it as you can afford, that way, it stops it slowing down too much, if she wanted to use an app that might be RAM hungry (don't know how "hungry" open office gets, but she'd probably want to be able to write letters, lists and other stuff).

Then set it up, so that your GM has to do as little as possible i.e. icons/shortcuts for browser, email, Office suite, maybe even some of the "oldies" type games like patience/solitaire, maybe chess/checkers, maybe even Backgammon (GNUBG is one of the best computer based versions out there). Then you just have to show her how to start them, how to put the addresses in, etc and she'd probably have no snags with it.

Whichever way you look at it, you're probably gonna end up as her resident guru, so it's in your interest to make it straight forward to use.

regards

John
 
Old 02-12-2006, 05:09 PM   #8
DragonMaster
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I've tried PCLinuxOS and once installed on the HDD, it was slower than the Knoppix LiveCD : it doesn't seem like a good choice and I have the impression that the OS can't get 100% French like Fedora or Mandriva. Also, it crashed while upgrading and won't boot anymore.

I decided to try SuSE instead. So far(Still have 2 ISOs to download and burn), the installation is faster than PCLinuxOS even if it's on 5 CDs and it seems more stable. (Still didn't see any lag or crash like PCLinuxOS)

I decided to install KDE on SuSE and will try XFCE just to see.

I think that the CPU is half-dead in this computer :
-With Win98, winamp took 3 seconds to start and foobar2000 took 45 seconds, even if the interface is lighter.
-PCLinuxOS was REALLY SLOW
-About any SDRAM I put is making the system crash even more.
-The PSU and mobo already died in a current surge.
 
Old 02-12-2006, 05:59 PM   #9
amosf
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You are going to want KDE for an unfamiliar user. Just turn off extra stuff and it will run fine. Turn of filemanager file previews, no jpg desktops (just two tone colour or something), disable arts and any unecessary services, only 4 desktops, that sort of thing.

I have had mandriva/suse with kde on plenty of p2-350's with 192 meg ram. No problem. Works well...
 
Old 02-12-2006, 09:54 PM   #10
DragonMaster
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I put OSS instead of arts?

Yeah, JPG backgrounds... On my 800MHz, KDE is booting 20 seconds faster without a background picture.

Now, the problem I have is with YaST repositories. There are a lot of them to add manually and I don't know which ones I have to put. (So far I've put the one to be able to get Firefox and Thunderbird from YaST and an other)

BTW, I don't know if I have openSuSE or SuSE(Need to know for repositories). The ISOs come from my local mirror, which only have a "suse" distro folder, and acroread + realplayer are included while I paid nothing for it.
 
Old 02-13-2006, 07:14 AM   #11
magicsam
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You could give PuppyLinux a try. I tried running it on a P200 with 64mb ram and it didn't disapoint me at all!
 
Old 02-15-2006, 03:45 AM   #12
bigjohn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DragonMaster
I put OSS instead of arts?

Yeah, JPG backgrounds... On my 800MHz, KDE is booting 20 seconds faster without a background picture.

Now, the problem I have is with YaST repositories. There are a lot of them to add manually and I don't know which ones I have to put. (So far I've put the one to be able to get Firefox and Thunderbird from YaST and an other)

BTW, I don't know if I have openSuSE or SuSE(Need to know for repositories). The ISOs come from my local mirror, which only have a "suse" distro folder, and acroread + realplayer are included while I paid nothing for it.
I was under the impression that all of version 10.x of SuSE was "opensuse". So surely it's worth a try, then if it's "not happening", revert to whatevers available for version whatever it is that you have. I seem to recall that last time I tried SuSE (9.3 pro) I actually had to put 9.3 in the address for the repository/mirror.

regards

John
 
Old 02-15-2006, 09:12 AM   #13
tnandy
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I've been a programmer for about 20 years now. One question I get frequently is, "What's the best computer?" I almost always answer this question with the question, "What do you want to do with it?" It strikes me that you are asking a similar question, "What's the best operating system?" so I'll ask you what Grandmother wants to do with it.

You mention Adobe and Firefox, so she clearly wants to browse the internet and open PDFs. If it's limited to that and writing letters, you could pick almost any Linux distro or Windows version and get the job done.

The bottom line is choose all the application software she wants to run (whether freely downloaded or paid for). List the minimum system requirements for each program as shown on the box or on the download website. For each category, pick the HIGHEST requirement for that category. Those highest requirements become the specifications for the computer that will run all the software you chose. While this selection process normally applies more to hardware than software, it still works for such things as operating systems. What you are looking for in a Linux distro is the kernel version. The kernel version number (2.4.blah, 2.6.blah, etc.) is roughly analogous to the versions of Windows (ie. 95, 98, 2K, XP).

If both Windows 98 and one or more Linux distros will fit the bill, choose a Linux distro so Grandmother won't have to fool around with antivirus stuff.

But as far as which distro would fit on a PII 350, I can recommend Red Hat 9 for computers with ISA cards and Fedora Core 3 for those without (empty slots don't count). I've managed to get both to run on 233 MHz Pentium (I) computers with at least 128 MB RAM and at least a 2 MB video card.

Good luck!
 
Old 02-16-2006, 11:49 AM   #14
DragonMaster
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Quote:
You mention Adobe and Firefox, so she clearly wants to browse the internet and open PDFs.
Dunno, she doesn't know what the Internet is...

I just want the computer to be able to read about every common formats, so that she's not stuck with a missing decoder error or missing plugin error and other things like that.
 
  


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