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Old 11-20-2019, 09:16 AM   #1
kgha
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Best Linux distro for the ignorant?


My sister is currently running Win7 so maintenance/upgrades will be discontinued shortly. For various reasons I don't think upgrading to Win10 is the best option. Maybe I should persuade her to switch to Linux instead?
What she needs is access to a browser, e-mail, an office suite, an image viewer and a video viewer - nothing more complicated.
There are a few snags: the system must be easy to use and next to foolproof with the possibility of setting it up in a way that eliminates (as far as possible) nasty surprises.
I'm not sure that slackware meets this demand. It's of course a good thing that I'm familiar with slackware so that I could offer support on the phone (she lives 100 miles away), but it's hardly the best option for someone who has never used Linux and wants something simpler. It is also preferable that switching to Swedish as system language works all over the system (I once tried this and found that in slackware most, but not all, menus and dialog boxes were translated).
I've been looking at Mint, which seems to meet the expectations. I haven't run debian distros for ages but I installed it on an old machine at home and it looks user-friendly enough. But maybe there are better alternatives? Grateful for suggestions.
 
Old 11-20-2019, 09:19 AM   #2
pan64
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mint, ubuntu. But you can run a few of them from a pendrive (live CD) without installation and your sister can choose what/how she likes....
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:28 AM   #3
hazel
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Mint would certainly do for a newbie and comes with a choice of desktops: cinnamon for faster machines and mate for slower ones. For really old hardware, I'd recommend AntiX, which has lightweight apps, a simple window manager and a nice graphical control centre all put together from Python scripts. I agree that Slackware is off the menu.

Internationalisation shouldn't be a problem in any Linux.
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:29 AM   #4
Bindestreck
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There is another possibility, if she uses Android, you could try https://www.android-x86.org/. Been trying it on a few laptops and it works great.
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:33 AM   #5
Lysander666
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Having tried [and failed] to move both my wife and a colleague to Linux Mint, I can offer a little advice. It failed with my wife because there was an important piece of software which is vital to her job which Linux can't run, and also because she felt outside her comfort zone, being a Windows user all her life. Linux just felt too alien. As for my colleague, they initially used Mint and loved it, but then somehow broke Network Manager and couldn't be bothered to fix it [or give it to me to fix], they just went back to their Apple.

First of all make sure that there's not a vital piece of software that she can't run on Linux. If there's isn't, that's the first big hurdle over and done with.

Secondly, realise that Linux is not foolproof. Even Mint and Ubuntu can break quite easily in the right/wrong hands, and the more often this happens, the more likely the user will just want to go back to the familiarity of Windows. Not because it's better but because it's familiar.

If your sister has never used Linux, Slackware would not be the best first port of call. Some people say it can be, but that all depends on how willing she is to learn, how interested she is in *nix, how much she values control, essentially how much she cares. Most people don't/won't. Linux adoption works way better with people who are interested in computing. It's still a geek's area.

In short, if the OS does what she is used to in a way that she is mostly used to, it will succeed. However, if it seems like it's too much work and she can't get what she wants, she'll go to W10.

I would first of all glean what she wants to do with her OS and how interested and excited she is to learn about Linux. You say you may have to persuade her to move to Linux, which doesn't sound promising to me, but maybe you can show her Mint in action or maybe Debian if she's really keen to learn. If she has an interest in computers and computing, this will go a lot better for you. If she doesn't, it won't be such a smooth ride and she could give up quite early on.

However it plays out for you, this thread will turn into a clusterfsck of recommendations and by the end of the first page you'll probably be over it.

Last edited by Lysander666; 11-20-2019 at 09:45 AM.
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 09:50 AM   #6
hitest
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kgha View Post
Maybe I should persuade her to switch to Linux instead?
At one time I promoted Linux to people, but, today I think that people need to overcome inertia themselves. Depending on her comfort level she'll either buy a copy of Windows 10 or approach you for alternatives.
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:04 AM   #7
hazel
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I've heard that ElementaryOS looks friendly to both Windows and Mac users, but I've never used it myself.
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:04 AM   #8
Chuck56
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If you recommend your sister move to Linux, figure out a way to provide remote support. I support my 86 year old Dad who lives 1,000 miles away. He's running Slackware on his laptop and has a script I wrote for him to start x11vnc and reverse SSH into one of my servers. I'm able to ssh into the server and connect to his KDE desktop. I can teach and support with desktop control. Works for us!

The previous recommendation to consider Chrome OS is good too. When my wife's old Slackware laptop finally died we bought her a Chromebook and never looked back. It helped that she was a teacher and the school system used Chromebooks in the K-12 classrooms.

Good luck and don't forget if you are involved in the decision you will probably be involved in the support.

Last edited by Chuck56; 11-20-2019 at 10:05 AM.
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:35 AM   #9
cwizardone
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PCLinuxOS is definitely worthy of consideration.

https://distrowatch.com/table.php?di...tion=pclinuxos
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:51 AM   #10
rainydais
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Personally, I think that the distro does not matter, as long as she is comfortable with the GUI. I have set up Slackware for a few people not too technology inclined, and Porteus on a few very old laptops, and as long as I make sure to set up everything they need, most got accustomed very fast to it. They wouldn't even know what distro is running on their boxes. KDE is intuitive to use, if you install for her libreoffice (if she doesn't like the KDE office suite), she will get used to it very fast.

(On a side note, I didn't realise that Win7 is coming to EOL? Microsoft is going to have to pry it from my cold dead hands, no way I ever switch to Win10).
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:52 AM   #11
w7jGUJWY8rjmR5pY
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I also recommended a Linux distro to my sister when her families Window Vista installation went wrong. I tried many distros and many desktop environments before settling for Slackware with XFCE. I recommended the ubuntu-mate LTS distro. I found the MATE desktop very familiar if you have come from Windows XP or 7. The ubuntu-mate distro has every package an average user would need.
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:58 AM   #12
cwizardone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rainydais View Post
....(On a side note, I didn't realise that Win7 is coming to EOL? Microsoft is going to have to pry it from my cold dead hands, no way I ever switch to Win10).
Less than two months away, https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/...anuary-14-2020
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:37 AM   #13
garpu
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Does she want to run Linux? I'm a fan of teaching people how to help themselves, when it comes to computers.

I've heard mint is a good choice. Slackware is excellent, if you want to learn Linux in and out, but if your sister doesn't want that sort of knowledge, Mint or one of the Ubuntus would probably be a good choice. I would steer clear of a rolling release, because things can break easily, and that's frustrating for someone who knows what they're doing, not to mention a newbie.
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 11:57 AM   #14
arl0Vv
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Ferenos - like Zorin, but free and for linux-ignorant Windows users, IMO.
 
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Old 11-20-2019, 12:43 PM   #15
upnort
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I've been down this road many times.

Help her use what she needs and is familiar.

Windows 7 is not going to blow up January 15, 2020. No need to panic. Remember to breath.

Before attempting any changes, sit with her for several sessions and let her tinker with a live ISO. If frequent visiting is impractical, then visit once and teach her how to tinker with the live ISO and show her that her existing system is never touched or modified. Use a USB stick and not an optical disk. An optical disk is just too damned slow to learn with.

Understand that live ISOs are designed by geeks. The traditional and familiar Windows 7 like desktop look-and-feel is unlikely. For example, a default Xfce or MATE will be dual panel. Find a Live ISO that provides a familiar desktop layout. don't worry about the actual distro as she will not notice or care. The only thing she will see is the desktop environment.

Learn her hardware. If she has older hardware then some live ISOs likely won't work or will be top heavy.

If then she is open to the idea of changing, always evaluate the apps she uses and not the OS. Focus on her work flow and peace of mind. If she is open to change, help her migrate to different apps while still in a familiar and comfortable Windows 7. Let her adjust to each app before introducing another new app.

Quote:
Maybe I should persuade her to switch to Linux instead?
Or maybe not.

Quote:
What she needs is access to a browser, e-mail, an office suite, an image viewer and a video viewer - nothing more complicated.
Although functionally equivalent, this might require learning new apps. Learning new apps will disrupt her work flow and might disrupt her peace of mind. There also is a reasonable chance she depends upon a single Windows-only native app that you are unaware. While such an app might run in WINE, WINE is not for non tech savvy users.

Ignorant means without knowledge. Ignorance is curable with new knowledge.

Willfully ignorant means refusing to accept new knowledge.

With respect to computers and technology in general, many people are willfully ignorant. They do not want to learn and some in this class are proud of their "ignorance."

Ignorance should not be confused with an inability to learn.

If your sister is willfully ignorant with respect to computers I recommend Windows 10. Windows 10 can be tweaked to look much like Windows 7, especially if all of the tiles are unpinned. If she is willing to learn but is not fond of technology, and she is willing to explore an alternate OS, I recommend a distro with auto-updates. Use a desktop environment that she is familiar and comfortable.

Quote:
There are a few snags: the system must be easy to use and next to foolproof with the possibility of setting it up in a way that eliminates (as far as possible) nasty surprises.
You answered your own question. Focus on her needs and not your own ideology.

If you can't resist your own ideology then use the frog in boiling water analogy. Migrate her slowly app by app -- long before migrating her to a Linux OS.
 
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