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Which Linux For Non-Techie Windows Users?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the first-one's-free dept.

Operating Systems 766

obarthelemy writes "Having at last gotten Linux to run satisfactorily on my own PCs, I'd now like to start transitioning friends and family from XP to Linux instead of Windows 7. The catch is that these guys don't understand or care much about computers, so the transition has to be as seamless and painless as possible. Actually, they won't care for new things; even the upcoming upgrade to Windows 7 would be a pain and a bother, which is a great opportunity for Linux. I'm not too concerned about software (most of them only need browser, IM, VLC, mail and a Powerpoint viewer for all those fascinating attachments). What I'm concerned about is OS look-and-feel and interface — system bar on the bottom with clock, trash, info on the right, menu on the left, menu items similar to those of Windows. Is it better to shoot for a very targeted distro? Which would you recommend? Are there themes/skins for mainstream distributions instead? I've been looking around the web, and it's hard to gauge which distros are well-done and reasonably active."

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766 comments

Tyrone the Linux Nigger's choice: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211360)

Tyrone the Linux Nigger endorses OO-BOOON-TOOO cuz it fly, yo. I beez buyin' fo'ties 'n' chicken wit' da money I save runnin' OO-BOOOON-TOOO. Kuk Ga-hyuk schlimma-schlamma!

How do you want it?
How does it feel?
Comin up as a nigga in the NIX game,
livin in yo chick's brain, I'm for real

Re:Tyrone the Linux Nigger's choice: (-1, Offtopic)

turbotroll (1378271) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211520)

Here is a good one for ya. [wulffmorgenthaler.com]

Ubuntu (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211376)

Do you really need to ask?

Re:Ubuntu (1, Interesting)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211620)

Do you really need to ask?

Unfortunately (from my point of view) this is true. The average (ex-)Windows user will not give a flying fart about the egregious sillinesses the Ubuntu developers have decided to let loose upon an unsuspecting or uninformed world. But Ubuntu will mostly "just work", which will in most cases be good enough, especially given the prevalence of Ubuntu users in forum postings if they run into trouble.

Years ago, I might have cringed as I said this, but Mandriva might be a good choice for a Windows user without a techie background.

Incidentally, just in case anyone's wondering, my own introduction to Linux was Soft Landing Systems (later Slackware), and I now run Arch Linux. Works well for me, but I'll understand if that particular learning curve is too steep.

Re:Ubuntu (2, Insightful)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211754)

I think Ubuntu may have the best community. And I think the community may be a big deal to a new user.

Also, I think Mint may be based on Ubuntu. As I understand it, Mint looks a bit more like Windows, and Mint offers more "out of the box."

I use debian lenny and xfce4 myself.

Try OpenSUSE (5, Informative)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211382)

11.2 is very polished and nice and YaST makes it easy to get things done if you are unfamiliar with how Linux configuration files work or are located. It can install software almost as easily as Ubuntu, but in my opinion, does more things "right" than Ubuntu does. It has almost everything you would need and good overall integration. If you install it, I recommend you do it via the install DVD rather than the live CD.

Re:Try OpenSUSE (4, Interesting)

Anarke_Incarnate (733529) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211450)

Additional info: http://en.opensuse.org/Screenshots/11.2 [opensuse.org] for some screen shots. Also, to clarify my previous post; YaST is similar, but more powerful than Microsoft's control panel. If you configure (And you should) the Packman repository (A repository is a collection of install packages that you set up by adding the URL to a window or the file directly, and you can do it easily in YaST), you should be able to isntall almost anything you want right from YaST's package management window without having to search on many web pages.

There are lots of good documents here: http://en.opensuse.org/Additional_package_repositories [opensuse.org]

Re:Try OpenSUSE (2, Informative)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211516)

I considered Suse but noticed that Ubuntu not only looked easier, but had UbuntuForums.org which seems to be the place to search for info or ask for answers, and didn't see anything as popular for Suse or other distros. Also, Ubuntu seems to be by fair the most popular, which makes it easier to check if this or that game/gfx card/piece of hardware works. And it's less nerdy to get obvious `this shouldn't be hard` stuff done, like installing software.

Re:Try OpenSUSE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211558)

I too wlil chime in for 11.2 as a desktop system, even if you install KDE 3.5 instead of KDE 4.

Definitely, install from DVD, and copy the distribution RPM archive to the drive after and adjust the repo pointer.

Don't forget to do a 'zypper dup' after you install. And set up a real user account (SuSE's installer will effectively force you to do this anyway.

Re:Try OpenSUSE (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211706)

Definitely, install from DVD, and copy the distribution RPM archive to the drive after and adjust the repo pointer.

Uh oh... manually copy files from a DVD and adjust a pointer? They fail ease-of-use.

When using Ubuntu, you can add software without any of that foolishness, using synaptic package manager or apt-get from the command line.

You get the latest version too, which is important, because almost any package is going to have had an update since the release (by the time you get around to installing it) -- and some of the updates to some packages will be critical security updates.

Having to go back to original install media and install the old version that was out at time of your OS release is ridiculous.

Also, YaST on SuSE sucks at installing packages from the command line. And the installation process to perform an install of a few packages or a system update is much slower than with apt-get/dpkg or even yum / rpm on ther OSes

Re:Try OpenSUSE (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211614)

I agree. SUSE is the way to go. Some points I like: first distro I tried where wifi worked without a big hassle. For those who want to use motherboard raid, it recognizes it and you don't have to endure people telling you it is fakeraid and all the other bullshit. That is, you can set up your drives as YOU want from the installer. No separate 'alternate' installer where raid installation doesn't work anyway, even if using kernel based software raid. The wifi and raid bullshit turned me off of Ubuntu. They keep trying to add bells and whistles and keep ignoring fundamental issues like this. I liked Ubuntu in general (Kubuntu actually). But these issues turned me off of it. I avoided Suse before because of Novels dealings with MS. However someone recently convinced me to try Suse again, and it was good. It is not perfect, but for the average user it is a very good Linux distro. Instructions to install proprietary media drivers are about as difficult to find as with Ubuntu. i.e. a quick Google for Suse 11.2 mp3 drivers or similar and you find a link to the opensuse group that has the driver links. If you pay for the distro (which everyone should now and then... so they stay in business), I believe the drivers are included.

Another often overlooked candidate (1)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211638)

See what you think of PcLinux [pclinuxos.com] . It's built on Debian, so it's not too "fringey". Here [linuxdynasty.org] are some screenshots. It compares nicely to the Windows XP User Interface, but not so closely as to be confused with Windows. The descriptions of programs are fairly easy for newbies to understand, and even the front end for synaptic should make it pretty simple for them to add on programs if they want to.

YaST, YaST, and YaST (3, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211662)

Windows users expect a familiar control panel to configure their box.

openSUSE puts out great, polished desktops. Their KDE 4 desktop is perhaps unmatched by any other distro, but YaST is what will really appeal to non-technical Windows users.

It should be noted that you may need to install a restricted formats package to get Flash, DVDs, MP3s, codecs, etc, and possibly a proprietary video driver. But there are 1-click installers that make this process very simple. After those two steps, you should be in pretty good shape.

Re:Try OpenSUSE (1, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211694)

Definitely, since this person is hardly in a position to really do much in the way of support:

Having at last gotten Linux to run satisfactorily on my own PCs

Not to be too mean, but what's so hard about getting linux to run properly on a PC?

And what's with their preoccupation with making it look like Windows?

Suggestion: either give them opensuse or give them a mac.

Re:Try OpenSUSE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211774)

I agree with you that the submitter is a dumbass, but there is also nothing wrong with Win7.

I've had plenty of friends come to me for help with Mac just as with Windows. Mac doesn't "just work" all the time.

Niggerbuntu of course (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211384)

Welcome to Niggerbuntu

Niggerbuntu is a Linux-based operating system consisting of Free and Open Source software for laptops, desktops, and servers. Niggerbuntu has a clear focus on the user and usability - it should Just Work, even if the user has only the thinking capacities of a sponge. the OS ships with the latest Gnomrilla release as well as a selection of server and desktop software that makes for a comfortable desktop experience off of a single installation CD.

It also features the packaging manager ape-ghetto, and the challenging Linux manual pages have been reformatted into the new 'monkey' format, so for example the manual for the shutdown command can be accessed just by typing: 'monkey shut-up -h now mothafukka' instead of 'man shutdown'.

Absolutely Free of Charge

Niggerbuntu is free software, and available to you free of charge, as in free beer or free stuffs you can get from looting. It's also Free in the sense of giving you rights of Software Freedom. The freedom, to run, copy, steal, distribute, study, share, change and improve the software for any purpose, without paying licensing fees.

Free software as in free beer !

Niggerbuntu is an ancient Nigger word, meaning "humanity to monkeys". Niggerbuntu also means "I am what I am because of how apes behave". The Niggerbuntu Linux distribution brings the spirit of Niggerbuntu to the software world.

The dictator Bokassa described Niggerbuntu in the following way:

        "A subhuman with Niggerbuntu is open and available to others (like a white bitch you're ready to fsck), affirming of others, does not feel threatened by the fact that other species are more intelligent than we are, for it has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that it belongs to the great monkey specie."

We chose the name Niggerbuntu for this distribution because we think it captures perfectly the spirit of sharing and looting that is at the heart of the open source movement.

Niggerbuntu - Linux for Subhuman Beings.

Debian (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211396)

Debian. Its

-simple
-easy to set up
-stable, even testing
-uses apt
-ubuntu tutorials will work with it 99% of the time
-you wont get laughed off of help forums as you would with ubuntu
-includes a large amount of DE/WM choices.

Re:Debian (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211594)

just did one today, first time in a long time, and it was very straight forward. Would install again.

Re:Debian (1)

cupantae (1304123) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211640)

Please correct me if I'm wrong, because I've used Etch, but not Lenny:

I think Debian doesn't have as much "automagic" type stuff as Ubuntu. Sure, I don't like that kind of crap, but most people want to have codecs installed for them if they're needed, or to have a dialogue ask what to do about an iPod they just put in...

Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211402)

Drag all the gnome junk around until it looks sort of like windows, and set the background to #004E98
My parents just started using it, didn't really say anything and I haven't had any support calls in a year.

Why try to be Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211404)

If it looks 95% like Windows, that last 5% is going to drive them crazy. It'd be like having a car that looks just like an ordinary car, but turning on the heater puts it into reverse. Why not just help them through the culture shock, so they aren't calling you complaining that they can't run $LATEST_WINDOWS_GAME, even though they "have Windows".

Re:Why try to be Windows? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211738)

Ok... what gives.. what's that last 5% exactly, and what can we do to fix that?

They ought to be able to run $LATEST_WINDOWS_GAME. There is software to allow this called Wine

Opensuse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211410)

That's the most user friendly distribution that could be used in both server and desktop.

Use with Kde 4 and you've got something close to perfection.

It is one of the longest running distro as wel.

Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211412)

I'm not that tech-savy and I have XP and Linux Ubuntu partitioned on my PC. I'm happy with Ubuntu, but I would recommend keeping both OS and use a dual-boot, just in case; but Ubuntu has been great to me so far.

Re:Ubuntu (1)

turbotroll (1378271) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211650)

I'm not that tech-savy and I have XP and Linux Ubuntu partitioned on my PC. I'm happy with Ubuntu, but I would recommend keeping both OS and use a dual-boot, just in case; but Ubuntu has been great to me so far.

Why do people still partition their computers and use dual boot, now that virtualization is so common and convenient? Just askin'...

Prepare for all (5, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211414)

Before you begin, ask the people you want to help if they are willing to try something else than MS software. They are probably quite familiar with Windows, Office, Outlook, and Media Player, and will have a hard time learning something new. That also means you will be asked a LOT of questions, mostly things that you can not even come up with because they are so logical to you. So: know what you get into before you begin!

Re:Prepare for all (4, Interesting)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211490)

Sorry for replying to myself, but if you have to ask this question on /. you'd better not start the whole 'converting business' because you will probably get more questions and remarks than you can handle. First try to find a Linux distribution that looks extremely user-friendly to you, get to know it thoroughly, and then ask people if they want to try it as an alternative to Windows.

Re:Prepare for all (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211760)

if you have to ask this question on /. you'd better not start

Every single Ask Slashdot story gets a response like this, and it's always a jackass thing to say. The whole reason Ask Slashdot exists is to allow technically competent people to share their expertise, and help others get up to speed. "RTFM n00b" responses like this are a major contributor to the negative geek stereotypes we all claim to hate, and in this specific case, a major barrier to Linux use. If you like seeing yourself as a member of a small, impenetrable elite possessed of special and arcane knowledge, go right ahead, but don't expect the rest of us to play along.

Ubuntu (4, Informative)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211416)

Give them Ubuntu. Out of the box it's similar in look and feel to windows. If you want it to look like OS X then install AWN and Compiz (or if their system is old/slow turn on Metacity instead of Compiz) and the advanced effects thing (I forget what its called but it lets you make those squishy windows and the cube for switching between workspaces and lots of other effects.

Re:Ubuntu (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211502)

I would suggest Kubuntu as an alternative. The KDE UI is much closer to Windows than Gnome is, and it retains the other user-friendly aspects of Ubuntu (including the parts that Ubuntu inherits from Debian, obviously). I also think it looks more polished, but obviously that's just my opinion.
I started using Kubuntu on my laptop and my media PC a year or two ago and think it's great. I'd be running it on my workstation at home if I didn't have the need for some Windows-only apps.

Saving Yourself A World Of Pain (2, Informative)

ztransform (929641) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211418)

Having recently paid for Windows 7 Professional, I can tell you that Linux offers you so many benefits that it is hard to see how Microsoft will be able to compete in the near future.

For example:

  • you can install Linux even when there are multiple hard drives in your computer (you can only install Windows 7 if there is one and only one hard drive installed)
  • you can choose to have your entire Linux partition encrypted - no need to buy Windows 7 Ultimate, or install truecrypt later
  • Linux will support RAID - 0, 1, 1+0, etc - Windows 7 only supports RAID 0, and RAID 1 for those who buy Professional or Ultimate, and cannot do RAID 1+0
  • Linux will not magically create a 100MB partition that you cannot erase and is essential to the operating system, unlike Windows 7 that will refuse to boot after removing the 100MB magic partition using Knoppix and cannot repair even with the original installation disks

If it wasn't for games and some professional software being released only for Windows I would not even think about paying money for a product that is far inferior to the free one.

Re:Saving Yourself A World Of Pain (2, Insightful)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211480)

I'm not sure what kind of experience lead you to believe that Windows 7 can only install with a single drive present, but it is very much not true.

Re:Saving Yourself A World Of Pain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211682)

I could *not* get Windows 7 ultimate to install with a second hard drive and to this day it won't recognize one of my WD HDDs. I have no idea why, Ubuntu sees it just fine and XP never had a problem.

Re:Saving Yourself A World Of Pain (1, Flamebait)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211482)

Wow, good job at being full of shit.

I installed Windows 7 on my HTPC, on Thursday and it has 5 hard drives. it didn't complain.

Raid 0,1 and 0+1 are normally set up in the bios, not the os. As long as 7 has the drivers, any version will install on a raid.

Re:Saving Yourself A World Of Pain (2, Insightful)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211488)

I'm as big of a Linux advocate as anyone, but even I'm not delusional enough to think those advantages are going to sway the public.

What? (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211522)

you can install Linux even when there are multiple hard drives in your computer (you can only install Windows 7 if there is one and only one hard drive installed)

I have Windows 7 installed on a dual hard drive system right now. It went on with no problem at all, and didn't touch my other drive, which is an Ubuntu installation.

If it wasn't for games and some professional software being released only for Windows I would not even think about paying money for a product that is far inferior to the free one.

There's a lot of stuff that's good about Windows 7 and the story is really, what do you do more. If all you do is surf and do email, with occasional word processing, Linux is just fine. Or, if you do web development, Linux is fine. But if you want to do client development, or play games or do heavy development with a database server, then Windows 7 has a lot of advantages to it. Direct X is a solid API, there's several flavors of sound support, built in MIDI emulation, and more.

To me, the Linux sweet spot really is as a platform for web server development and hosting. Sure, you can do that with Windows, but licensing costs mean you have to have another 800,000 visits per year, assuming a $1 click per 1000 hits, just to pay for each Windows server license, and that doesn't count the cost of SQL Server, if you go that route. That in turn factors to demanding more hardware to support the Windows tax, and that's even more money. Meanwhile, Linux is free.

Re:Saving Yourself A World Of Pain (3, Insightful)

blincoln (592401) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211628)

you can install Linux even when there are multiple hard drives in your computer (you can only install Windows 7 if there is one and only one hard drive installed)

Er, what? Every version of Windows I've installed (back to 95 on floppy disks) supported multiple hard drives. The 9x series would format all of the installed drives prior to installing Windows itself, but that was fixed for the NT-based versions.

Linux will support RAID - 0, 1, 1+0, etc - Windows 7 only supports RAID 0, and RAID 1 for those who buy Professional or Ultimate, and cannot do RAID 1+0

Do you really want your OS taking on the overhead of RAID? Desktop motherboards with hardware RAID 0/1/0+1 are easy to find and cheap. How many desktop users actually have the four hard drives necessary (at a bare minimum) for 0+1 anyway?

Linux will not magically create a 100MB partition that you cannot erase and is essential to the operating system, unlike Windows 7 that will refuse to boot after removing the 100MB magic partition using Knoppix and cannot repair even with the original installation disks

100MB is about 1/100th of a percent of a common 1TB hard drive, right? Who cares? Why were you trying to remove it?

There are lots of things to like about Linux and hate about Windows (and vice-versa), but I don't think any of the things you mention are significant for the average desktop user of either.

Re:Saving Yourself A World Of Pain (1)

h0dg3s (1225512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211686)

You are incorrect about having to install Win7 on a machine with only one harddrive. I installed it on a machine at work with 3 drives. The drive it was installed on was partitioned, and it's dual booting with XP. Don't make shit up to try to make yourself sound smart.

Re:Saving Yourself A World Of Pain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211724)

I know I'll get modded down as troll, but here goes anyway.

you can install Linux even when there are multiple hard drives in your computer (you can only install Windows 7 if there is one and only one hard drive installed)

False.

you can choose to have your entire Linux partition encrypted - no need to buy Windows 7 Ultimate, or install truecrypt later

MS sell their OS, and they've decided to sell different versions with different features available. Why is that so hard to swallow around here? Ultimate is an extra €35 if you need entire partition encryption so badly. Hardly breaking the bank, but I'll be shot in here for even saying software costs money.

Linux will support RAID - 0, 1, 1+0, etc - Windows 7 only supports RAID 0, and RAID 1 for those who buy Professional or Ultimate, and cannot do RAID 1+0

Oh noes, it only supports RAID 0 and RAID 1! Most users don't need more than this, crazy eh? TBH, if I was going to go 1+0 (or something more elaborate) , I'd avoid software RAID.

Linux will not magically create a 100MB partition that you cannot erase and is essential to the operating system, unlike Windows 7 that will refuse to boot after removing the 100MB magic partition using Knoppix and cannot repair even with the original installation disks

If 100MB of lost space makes you stay away at night, then don't use windows. I just tried to download drivers for an HP OfficeJet6310, and HP were trying to feed me a 300MB download.

If it wasn't for games and some professional software being released only for Windows I would not even think about paying money for a product that is far inferior to the free one.

Lets rephrase that - Linux doesn't do everything you need. No matter how good Linux is, it isn't a complete solution yet.

As for the original poster, give them Ubuntu & hope they don't find a show-stopping problem.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211422)

Is there a real reason you are forcing them all to Linux?

Don't get me wrong, Linux has it's advantages... But I think people should decide on their own if they want it or not.

Why? (2)

Luke727 (547923) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211426)

You spent so much time going over the "what" and the "how" that you forgot to mention the "why".

My 65 year old parents like Ubuntu 9.10 (4, Interesting)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211434)

It took me about 15 minutes to show them how to navigate around (compared to their old Windows XP machine that just gave up the ghost). The only thing I needed to set up for them was flash video so they can use youtube. The system keeps itself updated automatically and they'd already been using Openoffice under Windows.

They've got a brand new Asus notebook and Ubuntu found all the hardware bits by itself (including wifi and bluetooth). Haven't gotten a "support request" in months. I left a bootable Vista partition just in case they decide they want to get back on the Windows merry-go-round, but so far they haven't seen any need.

Best,

Re:My 65 year old parents like Ubuntu 9.10 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211610)

I'm older than your parents and I use Ubuntu-9.10. Off to my left is a Windows-XP box that I hardly ever use anymore, except for visiting a few sites that insist on IE and Flash.
I have a Vista partition that was bootable until I upgraded from Ubuntu-9.04; the upgrade wiped out my boot loader and I had to restore it via a Puppy Linux disc.

PCLinuxOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211438)

http://pclinuxos.com/

Also i second OpenSUSE (kde). Try the live cd from both distros (plus a few others) and decide.

ER... Why? (5, Insightful)

DaveQat (186457) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211452)

I realize Slashdot is probably the wrong place to ask this question, but why bother transitioning them? If Windows works for them, and they're happy, you're just asking for a LOT of headaches with tech support, questions, and problems. Let them continue to use Windows in peace, unless there's some kind of real pressing issue that leads you to recommend them switching.

Re:ER... Why? (4, Insightful)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211540)

I agree. What's wrong with Windows 7? My dad switched from XP to 7 and was ready to go after a 15-minute walkthrough. He hasn't called to ask about anything. I tried switching him to Ubuntu but he was calling all the time to ask questions.

Re:ER... Why? (2, Insightful)

LarrySDonald (1172757) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211598)

I'm considering something similar because frankly, XP3 catches weird things all the time (and while cleaning windows viruses has a homey retro feel, I don't want to do it all the time) and their hardware isn't really up to running vista or W7. But.. Then they're very used to windows and it'll while the product is free (and good) I'm not signing up to educate/support people for all eternity. Not trying to be obnoxious, but we can't prop up XP forever and not everyone, especially people who consider their computers more of a tool then a beloved friend, can keep their hardware super new.

Re:ER... Why? (2, Insightful)

T-Bone-T (1048702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211690)

Windows 7 will run on just about anything. You don't have to worry about hardware unless the computer is 10 years old. It ran better than XP on my 6 year old laptop.

Re:ER... Why? (1)

xbeefsupreme (1690182) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211664)

I agree, in general you shouldn't change anything on a computer if it works unless there is a good reason for doing so. In this case, installing linux on a friends computer because you support it doesn't qualify.

Re:ER... Why? (2, Insightful)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211674)



Well, just because they are used to windows doesn't mean it is working well for them or that they do not need constant help with it. XP is beginning to look dated and has always been a security problem. We all know Vista is crap, so if they're using that, switching to anything would be a reasonable upgrade. And if they are good enough with Windows that they don't need help with it, switching to Ubuntu (or Mint, even better) should not be difficult and will provide some peace of mind in terms of security. It didn't sound to me like the OP was just going in and fixing things that weren't broken just to piss people off - he maintains their computers, they care about what they can do rather than who makes their OS, and their are reasonable alternatives to XP and Vista.

Re:ER... Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211734)

Umm because WinXP is on it's way to EOL. Unless the writer of the GP wants to be re-building machines ad-infinitum the people he supports will need to transition to _something_. As a general rule Linux is typically easier to manage that Windows for someone of reasonable technical ability.

Re:ER... Why? (1)

geekymachoman (1261484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211736)

I installed Linux to few of my windows users friends.. in the beginning there where a few questions, but after a month or so, they happily adapted to it. The only problem is if users need some software that isn't available on Linux.. but that's different issue.
Since then, I'm happier also. No more virus/malware related calls.

And yeah, Ubuntu is a way to go.

Mandriva Linux (3, Insightful)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211458)

Mandriva Linux. Especially if you get the Powerpack. It has all the extras built right into the DVD so you don't have to go out and find it. I would also recommend getting the 32-bit version since it's more stable. I also site this article in Linux magazine: http://www.linux-mag.com/cache/7643/1.html [linux-mag.com]

Linux XP/Ubuntu/Mint (1)

Kev92486 (1187107) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211462)

I've never used it before, but I've heard good things about http://www.linux-xp.com/ [linux-xp.com] which claims to be "The most user-friendly interface ever made for Linux". I don't think you would have too many problems switching somebody to a distro like Ubuntu or Mint. Since you mentioned that most of your friends and family only need some basic programs, it shouldn't be too difficult to install the software for them through apt-get and slap the icons into the top panel. The Ubuntu Software Center is decent enough as well that they can probably find other things that they may need as well, hopefully without having to call you. :P

Ubuntu (1)

Uzbek (769060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211464)

Because it works out of box for most hardware out there. Also, many things are very intuitive, such as app installation, system configuration and location of files and folders.

If you think it has to look like XP, you're wrong. (1)

cupantae (1304123) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211472)

Don't go with KDE3.5 just for that reason or anything stupid like that. Go for Gnome no matter what. Not because it's better per se, but because the distros you want to use will most likely have it as the default, and that is huge.

Which one do you go for? Ubuntu. Why? It's the biggest, easiest to find support for, and it works really well. As long as you do some setup for them, they will have no problems at all with it. Install the necessary software, run the first updates, change the panels to the way windows has it, if you want. That will take about 5 minutes as opposed to about a week for them to get used to the double bars. It really doesn't matter as much as you might think.

My dad suggested I try "my system" on the computer in my parents' room after XP got yet another virus. So I installed Ubuntu with Gnome (instead of my set up of Arch Linux with Xfce). They have had no problems, and they certainly don't know the first thing about computers. They are impressed by the speed, and like the idea of not fearing viruses. (That's not to say that security can ever be ignored on any system, btw.)

Just install software and maybe make some cosmetic changes, but don't try any fancy stuff. It works without fiddling as long as you don't fiddle with it in the first place. Good luck with it!

Re:If you think it has to look like XP, you're wro (1)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211784)

Don't go with KDE3.5 just for that reason or anything stupid like that.

Are any major distros still using KDE 3.5? I know it works, but it is pretty old now, and the newest 4.x versions looks and works great.


Which one do you go for? Ubuntu. Why? It's the biggest, easiest to find support for, and it works really well.

Mint. It is based on Ubuntu but is designed to provide a better, more complete out-of-the-box experience. I have to say, it delivers. Supporting it is pretty much like supporting Ubuntu, though the Mint support community is also very friendly and helpful. The software manager, updater, and some other little things are really nice, and simple. There are 32 and 64-bit versions with Gnome, KDE versions, and more.

1997 called... (0, Troll)

turbotroll (1378271) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211474)

... it wants your comment back.

Seriously folks, this question is lame on so many levels.

Linus (2, Interesting)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211476)

The man himself uses ubuntu.

I also enjoyed Fedora Core.

Anything KDE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211486)

I have helped many friends make the transition and they all seem to warm up to pretty much any distro with KDE as long as you give them some a short tutorial on the package loader for that distro.

Mepis (1)

1shooter (185361) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211492)

Built specially for the transitioning Windows user. Built on Debian 5 stable core and KDE desktop and has all the basics in the live CD and an active support community. Most XP users I've exposed to it had no trouble getting getting things done on their own.

http://www.mepis.org/ [mepis.org]

Arrogant twit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211496)

Having at last gotten Linux to run satisfactorily on my own PCs, I'd now like to start transitioning friends and family from XP to Linux instead of Windows 7

OK, this is going to be modded down as flamebait, although I don't intend it to be: Have you even bothered to ask them what they want to do with the computers they own?

No offense, and I'm sure you have the best of intentions, but it seems presumptuous for someone who appears to have only recently learned Linux to take it upon themselves to decide what's best for others.

Why? (-1, Troll)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211500)

What is the reason for you doing this? Is it a benefit to your friends and family or is it simply stroking your own ego? Because if it is the latter, no matter what our good intentions are then it will be doomed because no matter how alike the Linux distro looks to Windows, it will be different and that will cause issues.

If you can demonstrate a definite benefit to switching then it won't matter what the system you choose looks like

Otherwise if you want a system that looks, feels and behaves like windows, then you might as well stick with windows

Stick with Windows or Mac (-1, Flamebait)

massysett (910130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211506)

The very fact that you are asking this question shows that you do not know a huge amount about Linux and the different distributions. If you did then the choices would be obvious.

Your family and friends know NOTHING about Linux and the different distributions. They will be looking at you to fix everything, and since you obviously don't know that much, you aren't going to give them the best answers. Then they will think "this Linux crap sucks" because you can't help them.

Instead of foisting Linux on these people, they should stick with Windows or Mac. When things go wrong on those platforms there are plenty of places to go for help (including the vendor) rather than you being the sole source of support.

When you've had more experience with Linux maybe then you can try foisting an OS on other people. By then though you won't be here asking this question.

Choose a distro that has good KDE implementation (3, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211508)

Here's why:

The latest incarnation of KDE [kde.org] looks great. You must be warned though that the system your folks must be using has to be "powerful" enough. Here "powerful" is subjective.

Red Flag, Vixta or Ubuntu (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211512)

Well, there's a Chinese distribution that I believe is made to look like whatever Windows look and feel you want right out of the box [gudanglinux.net] . I'm pretty sure it supports English [wikipedia.org] so don't let the Chinese characters scare you away.

Vixta [youtube.com] does a good job of looking like Vista.

Of course, these pale in comparison to the standard Ubuntu [ubuntu.com] as far as support goes. Screw the Windows look and feel, that'd be my recommendation. Depending on how much time you want to sink into customizing this for them, there are tutorials for making Linux look like Windows 7 [techradar.com] .

Hope this helps. I also hope they don't need this distribution to do more than surf the web, get pictures off their camera and create documents ... hate to see them pick up a game or some funky peripheral/hardware that don't have drivers in Linux and then keep bugging you about why their GenCorp Brand Wal-Mart purchased Mickey Mouse USB LED Display toy doesn't have software to make it light up on their desk.

Ubuntu (1)

inkrypted (1579407) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211532)

Ubuntu or Kubuntu nuff' said

I prefer Fedora (3, Interesting)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211544)

Speaking for myself, I prefer Fedora Linux. [fedoraproject.org] I find the look and feel is set up to be pretty close to Windows, enough so that sometimes people who look over my shoulder and see me using it assume I'm running Windows. If your family is moving from Windows, this might be a good choice.

Actually, my wife really likes Fedora, and she's a definite non-geek. It's easy enough for her to use, which (for her) is mostly email, web, text processor, and a few other minor apps.

I used to run Linux at work for several years, and ran Fedora. It's got the tools that replicate the functionality of Windows. (Unfortunately, I've been asked to move to Windows, at least for work. [blogspot.com] Ironically, I find Windows very confusing to use - Linux just seems so much easier to use.)

Mint (3, Informative)

uvajed_ekil (914487) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211546)

I'd say Mint is a good choice, though I'm certainly biased from using it for years now. It is easy to install, comes with everything most users need, and is Ubuntu-based, meaning anything you don't find should be easy to add. The included software manager makes it super easy to pick and choose optional software. At least give this one a look, as it has become quite popular, according to distrowatch.com and some other linux reviewers.

Linux MInt (1)

Questor Thews (63051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211550)

I'd go for Linux MInt with KDE. It won't quite look like windows, but I've moved three people to Linux Mint this way with no problems. It's based on Ubuntu, but I've found it easier to use.

OSX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211554)

Don't bother upgrading the OS. Wait till they buy a new computer and make sure its a Mac. They'll love it because it always works. You'll love it because (a) it always works and (b) you can pull up a unix shell prompt if you ever need to do anything remotely complicated.

Linux Mint (2, Informative)

SixArmedJesus (513025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211556)

I'm personally a big fan of Linux Mint. It builds off of Ubuntu, but it comes already setup with a number of proprietary items that other distros don't want to include, such as flash , mp3 and NVidia support. It has the familiar Windows-like setup you mentioned and it's easy to maintain with the mint-update tool, which lets the user know when there are updates to install. (I know other distros have similar utilities, but Mint's never seemed to break anything on an update.) It also has a number of other mint-* tools that make maintenance very easy and gives it a nice polish even over Ubuntu.

Re:Linux Mint (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211696)

I'm going to second Mint, and if you want a Windows-like desktop stick to the default Gnome build. It's like Ubuntu with all the stuff you know you're really going to want preinstalled. I don't have anything against KDE, but Gnome is more Windows-like if you're worried about a smaller learning curve.

It builds on the excellent Debian / Ubuntu base, and adds a little extra testing and polish, and of course doesn't stick closely to the purist "no proprietary software" that can frustrate people who don't want to have to add anything to get Flash and MP3 support. It also includes autoinstallers for ATI and nVidia drivers, as well as most wireless cards (Broadcomm), etc.

PCLinuxOS (1)

torgosan (141603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211560)

Quick nod to PCLinuxOS here. Out of the box simple, straight-forward, Windows-ish enough that even those relatives who have made the transition from Win2k/XP had minimal issues/adjustment time to get comfortable - seamless and painless, as the OP requires. Has a great built-in assortment of apps [covers all the bases outlined above] and just plain works and very well at that, even on somewhat older hardware. Gets my vote.

Desktop manager you mean... (1)

jjoelc (1589361) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211568)

I'm going to jump to avoid the frying pan, and land squarely in the fire, I'm afraid, but...

Forget the distribution question... there are lots of them out there, most of them more than suitable.

The question for non-techie people is really more about whether to use KDE or Gnome... KDE is generally more Windows-like ("start" button, task bar, system tray, widget placement) and Gnome (esp. in Ubuntu) is more mac-like (minus the dock, but there are solutions to that also)

from there, I'd just say make sure to make/point out the easiest place to find the apps your converts will be interested in. Load up their bookmarks with links to repositories of good, easy to install, easy to use software, etc.

And if you are really looking to convince them to convert, be ready to answer a lot of questions. Make one of the biggest selling points the community, and be the primary representative of the community. (in other words, be a good example. be patient, answer questions, and show them how and where to discover the answers on their own. Don't just say "RTFM" or "Google? HELLO?" )

the answer to your question, and then some (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211574)

What I'm concerned about is OS look-and-feel and interface -- system bar on the bottom with clock, trash, info on the right, menu on the left, menu items similar to those of Windows.

All you have to do to get this with Ubuntu is to move the task list from the bottom panel to the top, delete the bottom panel, and move the top panel to the bottom. With a little research you could probably do this from the console (or by extension, a script) with the gconftool-2 command. The menu items are already sufficiently similar to Windows.

Making it act like OSX is slightly harder, but not really difficult. Add the AWN testing team PPA (some of the mac features like pinning an app to the dock as a launcher require the new AWN) and install avant-window-navigator-trunk and all the plugins ending in -trunk, remove the gnome-panel from the list of required applications (again, via gconf) and configure Compiz to include the functionality of Expose and Spaces, which is quite simple.

For both Windows and OSX-looks, there are numerous available GTK+2 themes which will provide the appearance of your choice. OSX has three or four different widget sets; you get to pick one that looks like any of them (or variations thereof) and all the GTK+2 apps will look the same, something Apple hasn't been able to manage. Windows-look is much the same; you can find Windows 95/NT4, Windows 98, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, or various other appearances. Making the gnome-panel look like the Windows taskbar is a simple matter of using the right background image, which you ought to be able to download easily enough.

I use an OSX-look; The visual effects of Compiz are slower than the effects on OSX ever since Xgl was killed off. But the rest of the OS is generally more responsive, so the final effect is fairly positive. With that said, you might consider just getting them used to Ubuntu's look. The only big drawback to it is that having two taskbars wastes screen real estate. That's why I'm using AWN with auto-hide; it's very smart in the current release. Also, this is the first version of AWN which doesn't simply disappear when compiz dies, which makes it a valid tool for the average user, who probably doesn't want to have to hit Alt+F2 and run Compiz. Instead, you can give them a menu option. This is still better than what happens on Windows or the Mac when an element of the GUI system dies.

Ubuntu! (1)

Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211578)

I'ts really very pointy-clicky.

Linux Mint? (1)

Mystery00 (1100379) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211586)

If I can ever be bothered installing and fighting (it literally is) Linux again I would probably give this distro a shot. http://www.linuxmint.com/index.php

Maybe others can lend their experience with it since I can't.

Look and feel (1)

rugatero (1292060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211588)

What I'm concerned about is OS look-and-feel and interface — system bar on the bottom with clock, trash, info on the right, menu on the left ...

Any distro running GNOME, KDE or XFCE (that is, almost any distro by default) can be easily configured in this manner.

... menu items similar to those of Windows.

For the love of God, no. This is one of the areas where Linux by and large kills Windows in terms of usability. It won't take long for them to appreciate the (mostly) logical grouping of programs in, for instance, Ubuntu's applications menu. The Windows Start menu is a nightmare by comparison.

Are there themes/skins for mainstream distributions instead?

Sure, but I wouldn't recommend them. Whilst I'm all for easing the transition, there's nothing wrong with at least acknowledging that a transition is taking place, so just give them a "normal" GNOME of KDE desktop.

Ubuntu or Xubuntu (1)

emanem (1356033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211600)

As per subject.
Cheers,

Linux terrorist (0, Flamebait)

JeffSh (71237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211608)

Leave your poor friends and family alone. Unless they specifically ask for it or there is some tangible benefit to you changing their OS from Microsoft to Linux, you are just being pushy.

There's no money savings because they've already paid for the license and that's about 99% of Linux's value proposition. I can't think of many compelling reasons to go out there and harass people you know with a new OS.

I know it would not work for me because my friends and family rely on the Windows platform for video games and easy access to any software they want. Also, I do not want the trouble that comes with helping to continue to support my friends and family after I ruin their whole PC experience with an operating system that will cause them all kinds of headaches.

Just leave your family alone, let them use their PC's in peace. You don't need to terrorize them with changing OS's and ruining their whole daily routine.

My biggest problem was (5, Insightful)

CBung (1572609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211642)

I transitioned a friend to ubuntu recently, he was sick and tired of getting viruses and the like. He is extremely satisfied so far. He recently asked me if iTunes works for linux, because his girlfriend has an ipod. She likes to use the itunes store, so the usual amarok/rhythmbox solution doesnt work. Unfortunately if you look at the wine application page for iTunes the rating is trash. Setting him up with virtualbox is just too extreme, he does not have a windows cd around. The biggest thing is check what software they use regularly, and make sure it works first in wine or has a decent alternative. Otherwise they will just be disappointed.

Any distro (1)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211672)

Any distro will do, provided you are familiar with it and it works with the hardware. My now 60-years-old parents were using gentoo once, completely oblivious of the complexity of that system. You may even tell them that this is a new version of Windows (my favorite one, I show and explain newbies all the killer features of a linux distro (packet management, middle-click-paste etc. and tell them in a week or so, that this was linux all the time).

You have a couple of options. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211676)

Since your needs are pretty simple, there are a few options that you can take:

  1. Ubuntu. This is the rightfully obligatory distribution for home and small business users. Despite the politics going on around the GNOME community, it is a very simple window manager that gives most users a great balance between usability and productivity. However, KDE gives you many more options, especially if you are going to be doing the installation for them, but at the extra cost of potentially being a bit behind. (Kubuntu usually falls behind standard Ubuntu, since it's not officially supported by Canonical.) The great thing about Ubuntu is that it keeps the versatility of Debian mostly intact (though it's not as free, philosophically speaking). You can download the standard ISO and get all of the good features and setup that Ubuntu is known for (well...maybe if you don't count 9.10), or you can download the mini distribution which is practically clean slate and lets you install what you want.

    It's really your easiest option.

  2. Debian. If your friend's computers are older or limited on memory, you may want to consider just installing Debian straight and customizing as you need to. Debian comes clean state by default and is quite friendly on resources. For this scenario, KDE is out of the question and you will need to be careful with GNOME; it can take up quite a lot of resources.

Though I'm sure you're aware, I'll close this by warning you of what you might be getting yourself into in doing this. As you know, Linux for the desktop has improved significantly over the years, but it is still not as polished as Windows or OS X. This is important, as a lot of maintenance must be done through command line and your users will probably not put up with that for anything even remotely non-trivial. You will probably also have to be responsible for finding alternative software your friends might want in the long run since we live in a Windows/Mac world; be prepared to improvise when software they want is not available. You will also want to consider installing WINE on whichever distribution you choose, as OpenOffice will probably not be friendly with many PPT presentations. (On a similar note, be prepared to either install Office outright and deal with brokenness that might ensue, or be prepared to ensure that all of your friend's needs are met through OpenOffice.)

Good luck!

Re:You have a couple of options. (1)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211688)

Darn; I didn't mean to post that as AC. That was me.

Definitely Linux Mint (1)

Dilligent (1616247) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211692)

Go for Linux Mint, it's based on Ubuntu (*not* Kubuntu, which is usually much less stable and less supported out there). LinuxMint tries to be the prettiest out there and even as a power-user, I love to see and use all the bling. Unlike your usual GNOME environment, the system bar is at the bottom, and doesn't look much different than the windows one. I've never had a problem with LinuxMint stable-wise and the distrowatch.com index seems to agree that it's a very good platform.

Starting my wife on Linux this weekend (1)

tiberiumx (1221152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211702)

Forced with an OS reinstall after my wife's computer died (Windows XP doesn't like the motherboard being swapped out from under it), I started her with Ubuntu this weekend.

With XP she was already using Firefox and OO.org and she's been using Gimp for awhile, so that wasn't a hurdle. She migrated to Gmail/Google Calendar a long time ago, so there was no need to learn how to use an Outlook replacement. It didn't seem to take her much time at all to pick up the file manager, and the "Places" menu allows her to jump around quickly without necessarily knowing how a Unix filesystem is structured. She seemed appreciative of the games included in Gnome (Mahjonng, Minesweeper, Solitare) , Hearts was easy to install, and we had one small Windows game that worked just fine in Wine. Using SD cards from her camera is actually easier due to the fact that it shows up under Places with a recognisable name and has an easier to access unmount function. She was using an older version of AIM for IM, but seems comfortable with Pidgin.

At some point I'm going to have to tackle a VirtualBox install so we can use iTunes to sync her iPod touch (Fuck you very much for locking the music database, Apple). I already have an XP image available on my system that I should be able to easily copy over.

Overall, it seems to be going pretty well. Except for a problem caused by the maliciousness of one device manufacturer (fuck you again, Apple), all hardware worked painlessly (I was surprised to find that even her printer was automatically installed).

GnoMenu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211710)

Its a clone of the windows menu bar, take a look at the gnome-look.org website (in the menu on the left).
Its exactly where you are looking after.

Something to keep in mind... (1)

arhhook (995275) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211726)

...is that Linux is not Windows. Make sure they know not to expect exactly what they are familiar with when they used Windows. I think skins to make it look and/or feel like Windows are dangerous, because other behavior is expected, too.

On most, you can choose between KDE, Gnome, and a range of other desktop environments where you can pick where the panels, (or kickers?) are, arrange the clock to be in the corner, etc.

Ubuntu has a strong community behind it if they want to venture out to support for themselves.

I'm not familiar with other distros and the strength of their communities, but also keep that in mind when deciding which one to give them.

Excuse me for asking, but: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211728)

If they don't "understand or care" about computers as you say, then why are you even going to all this trouble? Sounds to me like they don't need anything new or cutting-edge, they're likely just using it for web browsing and email like 99% of everyone else out there, so long as what they have works and they understand how to use it then why should you even bother? Seriously, why are you appointing yourself this onerous-sounding task in the first place? If they're pressuring you because they want something new, maybe you'd all be better served by convincing them that there isn't going to be any benefit gained by anyone for the effort. If your supporting it is an issue (which, again, I ask you: why are you putting yourself through all this?) then image the damned things once they're stable, and if they manage to blow them up somehow, get infected with virii and trojans, etc, you just pave over the thing with the saved image and be on your way. Or better yet, tell them to stop leeching off of a family member who likely gets paid ALL WEEK LONG to do this kind of work and either go BUY a computer with a newer OS on it, or be bothered to LEARN how things work so they can at least do most of the work themselves.

Ubuntu (1)

zmooc (33175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211740)

Definately Ubuntu. I use Debian myself, but I have recommended Ubuntu to several n00bs after bad experiences with other distros. Generally Ubuntu Just Works and they don't have to bother you for help; n00bs can install it themselves, keep it up-to-date themselves, they can install the software they want and plug in all their peripherals without fiddling with drivers and settings. Other distro's generally just don't have the critical n00b-userbase mass it takes to deliver user-friendly quality all-over on a broad range of hardware.

Having said that, I'll stick to Debian. But I find it much easier to ask my Ubuntu-using girlfriend to print something for me than to fiddle with cups:P

Sacrilegious suggestion follows (1)

Progman3K (515744) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211742)

I use Linux ALL the time as my main OS and would never consider using Windows again, nor the Mac, having been burned far too often by both of them.

That being said, I use the free MS PowerPoint viewer via Wine to be able to properly view PowerPoint attachments.

OpenOffice has never been able to play those properly, but the free viewer plus Wine combo work absolutely perfectly.

In essence, I suppose what I'm saying is that for closed formats like PP, MS still does it best.

Linux Mint (1)

TheQuantumShift (175338) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211756)

Out of the box it has all the features you describe. Flash, Java, A/V codecs all pre-installed along with the usual plethora of software. The only manual steps would be to install drivers (nvidia, some wifi; you'll be prompted by a notification balloon) and if you're in the US, edit /etc/apt/sources.list and change the ubuntu repos to a local mirror. They're set by default to the main servers which apparently are connected to the net via the AT&T EDGE network... The MintMenu [linuxmint.com] is a very good replacement for the start menu found in XP/Vista/7.

But definitely hit up distrowatch and check out the screenshots and reviews. If the target machines are able to boot off USB stick, then grab unetbootin [sourceforge.net] which will automate the process of downloading the iso and putting it on the stick.

Don't bother. (1)

h0dg3s (1225512) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211762)

You obviously don't know that much about Linux yourself, and your friends and family are going to get pissed off when they try to use discs with Windows games/applications in the drive and they don't work. Or when they download programs that don't work. Yes, you can use Wine for some things, but it's still not going to work the same way as running a native Windows box.

Doesn't matter (1)

sensei moreh (868829) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211764)

Fedora, Ubuntu, Mandriva, Mint, and probably a whole host of others (that I haven't used recently, if at all) with either a GNOME or KDE desktop can easily be configured to look enough like Windows to make the look-and-feel part of the transition relatively painless. Come to think of it, I'd probably opt for a distro with long-term support, say CentOS or an Ubuntu LTS release; something that didn't need constant updating (other than security fixes). As has been pointed out previously, just be sure they're not going to run into any serious gotchas. For example, I do some printing of web coupons, and there are a number of sites that use a coupon printer that's Windows only.

Mint/Ubuntu, CentOS (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211766)

My 8yr old daughter uses Ubuntu without issue. I use mainly CentOS, but am impressed by Linux Mint. All have Windows-ish interfaces with start bar and icons. She bounces between XP on her laptop and Ubuntu on her desktop, and doesn't have any issues; she even tells me what dfferences there are between them.

Don't tell them it's Linux... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211770)

...or they will scream "Oh noes! OMG!! The COMMAND LINE will eat my brain!!!" and freeze up. Just install Ubuntu and let them think you've upgraded them to Windows 7. Then they'll gripe a bit about the changes and settle down to use it.

Why? (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211772)

"Having at last gotten Linux to run satisfactorily on my own PCs" - so you struggled and you want to foist it on others? Leave them using Windows. Hell, be nice and buy them Windows 7! Either that or get them a pretty looking distro (Ubuntu) and some unsupported hardware and have them build a driver from source, or better still recompile a kernel, then offer 'stick with this or go back to Windows'. Tl:dr: Ubuntu... for two weeks until they get pissed off and hate you for it

Cygwin for the win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31211776)

Cygwin is the premiere GNU distribution that will run on a Windows kernel.

Lots of Options (1)

Captain Jack Taylor (976465) | more than 4 years ago | (#31211780)

My mother uses Ubuntu and likes it. I've also found Puppy and Sabayon to be great distros to give to grandparents, kids, and other people with no computer knowledge. Heck, I use Ubuntu MYSELF, because I like the fact that it's easy to use on the surface, but lets me hack away at things deep down. Mint is a good alternative to Ubuntu, but I find the Ubuntu guys are starting to outpace them. Good distro though.
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  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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