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Ask Slashdot: the Best Linux Setup To Transition Windows Users?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the please-answer-for-2012 dept.

GUI 448

First time accepted submitter Quantus347 writes "I am trying to convince a number of people to give Linux a chance, arguing that it has come a long way on the road of consumer usability. Can you, oh Wise Ones of Slashdot, recommend a Lunix setup that will be as similar as possible to a Windows environment (Windows 7 or XP). These people hate and fear change, and so will latch onto nearly any noticeable differences, so I'm thinking in terms of both front end functionality and the look of the interface. It would also be very important for them to have to go to the command line as little as possible during daily use (meaning as close to never as can be managed)."

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Avoid Unity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789283)

IMO Ubuntu version 10.10 is the pinacle for ease of use so far

Re:Avoid Unity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789339)

IMO Ubuntu version 10.10 is the pinacle for ease of use so far

A shame it's no longer supported really.

Re:Avoid Unity (4, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#40789381)

Mint would be the next best choice.

They could use some good word of mouth from the Linux community as well. I'm still depressed that Canonical and Gnome both picked a very bad time to screw around with their usability. With the mess that is Windows 8 coming out, and Steam coming for Linux, there's never been a more promising time for Linux. UEFI still worries the crap out of me for the future though. I wish Google would come out with a 'Google/Chrome Linux' full distro to get some momentum behind adoption.

Re:Avoid Unity (5, Interesting)

ssasa (247050) | about 2 years ago | (#40789741)

Few years ago I had an attempt to switch to Linux Debian. After I was unable to connect to a network printer, went back to Windows. It required sysadm expertise to configure it which is a showstopper for a Windows user.

Last week I gave it a new try with Linux Mint. This time connected to network printer perfectly. Even two finger scroll on TouchPad works. However I had few concerns:
- System freezes several times a day (even numlock doesn't work)
- Only Intel graphic card is used for display (No driver support for Nvidia card)
- It consumes laptop battery three time faster then on Windows

After few days I went back to Windows. Don't have two finger scroll, but can use Nvidia, battery is longer and it doesn't freeze. I'll try again eventually.

Re:Avoid Unity (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#40789751)

I agree that mint is a pretty good choice, but I thought there were significant issues due to what they bundle, binary blobs etc?

Re:Avoid Unity (2)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 2 years ago | (#40789405)

On the opposite, the new Unity interface having a kind of "start" button (the top-left one), a control center and customizable startable icons make probably the interface pretty similar to what Windows offers. I has some hard time to get used to Unity (from Gnome 2-3), but it's workable (after the bug fixes).

Re:Avoid Unity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789547)

I find it slow and 'stuttery', even on middle of the road laptop hardware. I've been putting up with Gnome Shell and even like some of it's features now that extensions are available, but I seem to hit minor crashes fairly often, where I never did under Gnome2.

Re:Avoid Unity (2, Insightful)

cupantae (1304123) | about 2 years ago | (#40789589)

I just wish they'd expand the control centre. Regardless of what they believe, there are a LOT of users that want to have tight control over their settings, while never having to use a terminal.

Re:Avoid Unity (5, Informative)

Simon Brooke (45012) | about 2 years ago | (#40789433)

Nobody much loves Unity, but Ubuntu 12.04 with either Gnome or KDE is pretty slick and easy to use.

Re:Avoid Unity (1)

ifiwereasculptor (1870574) | about 2 years ago | (#40789621)

Actually, Unity has one nifty feature that others lack: you can search for programs available for download right from the dash. While people are getting more used to the concept of repositories via exposition to various "app stores", Windows users who don't use smartphones seem to find that particular feature helpful. Search for "image editor" and it will suggest Photoshop, automatically open the Software Center and ease you into the process. I'd say it's better for casual Windows users, since Unity is pretty - and I know, I hate that word too - intuitive to figure out, even though it lacks basic functionality and customizability that we power users need. Also most help topics and third party debs out there are about Ubuntu.

Then there's Zorin, made for that specific reason. It looks and behaves a lot like a mix of XP and 7. I have used it a little and it seems pretty ok. Also, as a bonus, no Shell crap - it still uses Gnome 2, though a very customized and pimped up version. Better for people who know their way around Windows, as it even has a Control Panel and whatnot.

Mint is also very good option (especially with Cinnamon), but isn't particularly useful to aid in the transition. And any KDE distro will be just as helpful (and is not a bad choice at all, as long as you don't stray from 4.6 - 4.7. Seriously, 4.5 and down and 4.8 are buggy messes.)

Give them Windows 8 first (5, Funny)

macemoneta (154740) | about 2 years ago | (#40789291)

I suggest giving showing them Windows 8 first. After that, the change to any of the major Linux distributions will seem trivial.

Re:Give them Windows 8 first (1)

Mashiki (184564) | about 2 years ago | (#40789331)

Yeah the only problem is, if they play a console, they might just be okay with Win8.

Re:Give them Windows 8 first (3, Interesting)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#40789397)

Metro on the XBox sucks immensely, both with the controller and Kinect gestures. (IMHO, there are major usability flaws)

Re:Give them Windows 8 first (2)

macemoneta (154740) | about 2 years ago | (#40789449)

Yeah the only problem is, if they play a console, they might just be okay with Win8.

Then they aren't change averse, and Windows is the right environment for their use.

Re:Give them Windows 8 first (4, Insightful)

cupantae (1304123) | about 2 years ago | (#40789641)

Well, if the Windows branding and marketing folks are doing their job right, people won't want to switch systems even if all that changes is the name and logo. People are very tribal in nature, and this effect is very strong; especially if the users have seen many versions of Windows and not much of anything else.

Re:Give them Windows 8 first (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789771)

This sounds like the best line to use if Windows8 turns out to not be the disaster that Slashdotters have been predicting. You should move to patent it immediately.

Re:Give them Windows 8 first (1)

The Moof (859402) | about 2 years ago | (#40789745)

The general consensus about Metro no the Xbox is it sucks. It's an enormous pain to use, and a step back over the previous dashboard - more button presses/menus to do the same things, less information on screen than previously, removal of filtering options, caching bugs, etc. The guide menu, in all of its limited hideousness, is more functional than the Metro dashboard.

Ubuntu (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789293)

With great hardware support and a polished UI, Ubuntu seems to just work in any case I've implemented it.

Can even go as far as to change out your themeing for an Aero/Win7/WinXP look and feel (Window Theme/Icon Set/Cursor Theme).

Ubuntu Precise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789295)

No question, the best for Window's users scared of anything but a mouse. I should know.

Re:Ubuntu Precise (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789687)

This is correct.

Precise 12.04 is not bug-free, but it's solid, fast even on several-year-old-hardware that wasn't top of the line even then, easy to learn, and requires minimal or no adjustments once you get it the way you like it. the fact that it will be actively supported for many years is a bonus. it's not perfect, but then nothing is. it's good enough.

for a new linux user, coming from MS or Apple OSes, unity -makes sense-, and has the level of professional polish they expect.

posting AC because I'm tired of getting downmodded by hardcore linux fanboys who think if you didn't compile it yourself, you should get out of their sandbox, and if you say you actually like unity you must have something wrong with you.

Don't bother (4, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 2 years ago | (#40789297)

The simple fact is they will latch onto something and go back. Even if it was a perfect replica they would.

You are wasting your time.

Re:Don't bother (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789421)

You'd be surprised.

I'm a best tool for the job kinda guy, so I have a MacBook Air as a laptop and Arch Linux on my desktops. Anyhow, I'm mostly non-evangelical because I mostly don't care what other people use, as long as I use what I think is best.

A couple of years ago I unpretentiously forced-installed Ubuntu 8.04 onto a friend's computer, simply because I wouldn't support Windows when asked.

He not only enjoyed but has become extremely evangelical. He convinced most of our friends to switch over. Last month he installed Ubuntu Studio on the laptop of a friend of ours which is musician. He's a history/military-nerd and recently he's been getting acquainted with Backtrack.

Afters two years of me telling Unity sucks and cringing everytime I ued his computer he recently installed GNOME 3. By himself, without even telling me about it.

I'm the only technical guy of our group, he's a historian, the other is musician, two others are biologists. Sometimes it just seems when people find ou "THERE IS A BETTER WAY??" they simply don't go back.

Games have been dual-booted with Windows and this is the final frontier.

Re:Don't bother (3, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about 2 years ago | (#40789465)

Indeed. When TFS says "I am trying to convince a number of people to give Linux a chance", the question is "why?"

Help them if they want to transition, but don't be a door-knocking Jehova's Witness or Mormon missionary. No matter how good your intent is - nay, especially if your intent is good, refrain from proselytizing.
Don't hide how happy you are with your choice, but don't try to cajole them into decisions.

Re:Don't bother (-1, Redundant)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about 2 years ago | (#40789727)

Indeed. When TFS says "I am trying to convince a number of people to give Linux a chance", the question is "why?"

Help them if they want to transition, but don't be a door-knocking Jehova's Witness or Mormon missionary. No matter how good your intent is - nay, especially if your intent is good, refrain from proselytizing. Don't hide how happy you are with your choice, but don't try to cajole them into decisions.

Maybe because the OP is still stuck in late-1990's-billwatch.net-Linux-FTW mentality?

Re:Don't bother (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#40789773)

heh, or maybe they don't to waste money on a proprietary vendor that we don't have any form of guarantee will still be around 5-10 years from now? It's incredibly poor business sense to actually think a lock-in deal with any vendor, proprietary or not, is a good idea.

Zorin OS (5, Informative)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | about 2 years ago | (#40789303)

Never used it, but it's designed for exactly this
http://zorin-os.com/ [zorin-os.com]

Re:Zorin OS (1)

countach74 (2484150) | about 2 years ago | (#40789385)

I've only run it in a VM, but it looks quite decent.

Re:Zorin OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789459)

The Tails ISO also comes with an XP theme for Gnome. https://tails.boum.org/doc/first_steps/startup_options/windows_camouflage/index.en.html
I'm not sure exactly what the theme is, but it's less for ease of use than it's for disguising the OS to look like a normal user on XP.

Re:Zorin OS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789631)

I put my 78 yr parents on PCLinuxOS about a year ago after they finally got too frustrated with an aged WinXP install. I don't think my father really noticed any difference and the support calls have been negligible.

Obviously... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789305)

A mac :)

These people hate and fear change (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#40789307)

They sound like awful people. Why do you want to do this?

my suggestion (-1, Flamebait)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#40789311)

After 9 weeks of MS Server training then 9 weeks of Redhat training at my college I was like hey, let's check out Linux. So I downloaded Ubuntu and now I can say with 100% certainty, don't use Ubuntu! There is no root (aka Admin) login by default and no GUI ability to run things as root. That means if you want to do something administratory, you have to get out some very long, very annoying text commands. It's unbearable. I gave up after trying to install Java.
I have heard from friends that Linux Mint is a lot friendlier but haven't tried it.

Re:my suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789341)

-1 this asshole.

Re:my suggestion (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789373)

Not running as root by default is a Good Thing. As for running graphical administratory applications, that's what gksudo is for.

I know that and I don't even use Linux much (I've got an Ubuntu server install running Apache that I prod every couple of weeks).

Re:my suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789411)

you are a retard, its called sudo... or gksudo

Re:my suggestion (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789423)

There is no need to login as root/Admin in Ubuntu! Any normal user which have been enabled can do administrative tasks in Gui providing the correct password. And the granularity is down to the single executable.
The same holds for most modern Linux versions. You have been misguided.
For example when you launch the package manager and ask to install Java you will be asked for your password. If your setup allows it will be installed in a breeze. No Admin needed, since you are enabled to do it.

Re:my suggestion (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | about 2 years ago | (#40789431)

You got that far? I gave up on Ubuntu after I first couldn't get the damn thing to install. Tried again a few versions later and I couldn't get my wifi working without installing ndiswrapper from source. Same wifi card that worked out of the box on most other distros. Hell it was easier to get working on _Arch_ than Ubuntu!

For newbies, I cannot recommend Mandriva more highly. You'll _never_ need the command line. After that it's just a matter of finding a window manager that looks enough like Windows. I would say the default KDE would be fine, but if it really must be identical you may need to try something else. Or just check out some themes.

Re:my suggestion (1)

countach74 (2484150) | about 2 years ago | (#40789439)

There is a root account, it just does not have a password set. If you feel you must login as root, you can do something like this from an admin account:

# sudo su -

Now you've launched a root shell. To set a root password so you can su - to it like you would any other account:

# passwd
[type passwd]
[and again]

Done. As for running commands as root from GUI, just alt + F2: sudo command or gksu command (if Unity has gksu installed).

Personally, I've come to prefer the Debian Testing branch for a desktop OS (currently Wheezy). However, I wouldn't expect this to be favorable for a brand new Linux user.

Re:my suggestion (2)

postbigbang (761081) | about 2 years ago | (#40789489)

Stop confusing the issues with facts. This person went for weeks, weeks, he tells us, to make such conclusions. His facts are his facts, and Ubuntu must be trashed! Give him his due!

Were it me, I'd recommend LinuxMint 13 with Mate 1.2, based on the Gnome fork, Ubuntu 12.04, and the Debian substrate.

Re:my suggestion (0)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 2 years ago | (#40789523)

1. learn how to read
2. stop trolling

Re:my suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789607)

Are you talking to yourself there champion? Fuck off.

Re:my suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789635)

Amen on your linux recipe.

Linux Mint is the new Ubuntu (5, Insightful)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | about 2 years ago | (#40789317)

Personally I find Linux Mint to be the best one, as I prefer my desktop to be more similar to traditional desktop Gnome 2/Windows. Also its very fast and doesn't seem bloated.

Re:Linux Mint is the new Ubuntu (2)

Threni (635302) | about 2 years ago | (#40789375)

Linux Mint 12 LXDE. Really small, fast, easy to install, doesn't have the ghastly Ubuntu colour scheme or ridiculous, ironically titled Unity interface (which has seen otherwise happy Ubuntu users leave in droves), but yet benefit from the wealth of Ubuntu-related help online.

Re:Linux Mint is the new Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789425)

Linux Mint works and looks good doing it. I have transitioned people over to Linux from Windows with Mint a number of times. They never looked back.

Re:Linux Mint is the new Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789467)

Agreed. Mint is now my preferred distro by a good margin, thanks to its excellent fast desktop and easily configurable menu (which can even be renamed 'Start'). Mint is a vast improvement over that 'Unity' thing which now nobbles Ubuntu.

Re:Linux Mint is the new Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789781)

Agreed. I like it when something that is supposed to work better at least "just works". However, trying to turn WinDoze ludites into Linux users isn't going to be a mere matter of showing them the Compiz cube, and how neat Linux is, how free it is, how much less susceptible to malware it is... or how much damage Microsoft has historically done to the software industry, and how much money they have STOLEN from the rightful owners over decades of what, if there were any real justice in this country, would be seen as corporate criminal activity... half of what MS does should be considered under the RICO Act...

Anyway, you're going to have to do a lot of hand-holding, and they'll snatch their hands away as soon as you show them the CLI. We who know and love the BASH (or whatever your favorite shell is) like using ls -la instead of dir /w, we like being able to go vi /etc/fstab, or less it, or cat it... we like that file != File !=fiLe... and we like that when we go to run a shellscript we've just written, we must first # chmod 711 script. (Or whatever mode you prefer, so long as the first digit is a 1, 3, 5, or 7...)

The best thing about teaching *nix to newbies who wish to take refuge from the buggy, designed to fail to be secure world of WinDOS is seeing the look on their faces when you explain what "drwxr--r--" means, and how the linking (ln) utility works. It's right up there with the mount command... that and explaining ownership, which you kind of have to at this point...

Best try to stick to showing them how to do everything with the GUI... most people are only barely willing to tolerate having to unmount a CD or DVD drive before being able to eject it, without being told they have to open a terminal window, possibly su to root, and then umount /dev/cd0 or whatev's

Best of luck though, maybe we'll make minty-green penguinista's out of 'em yet!

Have you really thought this through? (5, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 2 years ago | (#40789333)

Best case scenario, you are right and they can "get used to" the new Linux desktop in front of them. That still saddles YOU with being tier 1, 2, 3, n support for basically the rest of your life. Worst case, things go horribly wrong, days/weeks of work are lost, and you are on the hook for that too.

Just playing devil's advocate, but is supporting Windows 7 and MS office really that bad?

Re:Have you really thought this through? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789383)

"Just playing devil's advocate, but is supporting Windows 7 and MS office really that bad?"

Yes...Yes it is! Not as bad as Vista and MS office, but yes.

Re:Have you really thought this through? (2, Insightful)

magamiako1 (1026318) | about 2 years ago | (#40789505)

It's not that bad. Doing Windows IT is significantly easier than handling Linux IT. If you do Linux server stuff specifically it's okay; but handling user issues is significantly different than server issues. You can't just cough it up and say "We have an open ticket with support we're waiting a day to get back on"; it's "This has to be fixed NOW because this user has $deadline."

There's no redundancy on users...

Re:Have you really thought this through? (5, Informative)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 2 years ago | (#40789653)

I support both.. (and both for servers too) You have apparently never had to support a bunch of linux users. They just get the job done. No malware, no antivirus, no calls saying "I was on the web yesterday, and installed something, and now everything is slow and I think things are broken". Never had an issues with some custom vb macro for excel an intern wrote 6 years ago won't work on the new version of their spreadsheet tool...

What kinds of users issues do you have to deal with in Linux that make it more difficult than Windows? if nothing else, being able to SSH directly into their computers is much, much nicer than walking your co-worker through connecting up to some remote desktop web site like LogMeIn Pro.

Perhaps the difficulty you have in supporting linux users is related to your unfamiliarity with linux? I think both are much easier to support than Mac's, but that might be because the last mac I used was in 1990.

Re:Have you really thought this through? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789755)

And working on Windows gives you extra time to fix things?

At least with Linux you can get things fixed, MS fixes what MS wants to fix and there's little you can do if it isn't a priority. At least with Linux you can fix it yourself or pay somebody to if it's that important. If it's not you can almost certainly find a work around. I've had issues with Windows and had a really hard time finding an answer as I had to crawl through multiple different versions of the same release to get what I was looking for.

What's more, you can usually fix the problem with a reinstall which is a lot easier as you can reinstall over the top after making sure that you've got current backups. Assuming you need to go that far to fix the problem.

Re:Have you really thought this through? (1)

AnalogDreams (2478696) | about 2 years ago | (#40789503)

That still saddles YOU with being tier 1, 2, 3, n support for basically the rest of your life. Worst case, things go horribly wrong, days/weeks of work are lost, and you are on the hook for that too.

This. If you are offering it (whether you created the software or not), be prepared to support it.

Just playing devil's advocate, but is supporting Windows 7 and MS office really that bad?

Some people are going to hate it just because of market dominance, just like how some people hate all Apple products.

Re:Have you really thought this through? (1)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | about 2 years ago | (#40789669)

That is a great point. I have had friends and family ask for free support in building a PC, upgrading hardware, installing and/or fixing software. I have told them, I will do it for free, but if they run into big trouble because they changed something or could not figure something out, to hire paid support. Invariably, I get the call for more free service anyway. So I don't do it anymore or I tell them I need to charge them.

Leave them alone (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789335)

If these people hate and fear change maybe you should just let them keep using windows and keep your religious zealotry to yourself.

Should you? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789337)

Before you do that ask yourself this: what is the benefit to them of changing? Obviously you're a big fan of linux on the desktop so the benefit to you is great but is it more useable? Does it have compelling features that windows doesn't have? Is it going to make their lives better? Or are you just an evangelist trying to convert them to your religion?

Re:Should you? (3, Informative)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#40789457)

I think Linux actually is easier to use than Windows, although 7 made a few improvements and borrowed some of the features. The ability to have a central facility that updates all your software without being tied to a single 'walled garden' repository is a huge plus as well.

Re:Should you? (2)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | about 2 years ago | (#40789777)

My father's WinXP installation was completely hosed. I didn't want to bother with all the add-ins, drivers and other issues that would have made a re-installation take a whole day. Trying to fix WinXP can actually take longer than a re-install too. So Dad now has Linux Mint 12 with Cinnamon installed. I did it a few months ago, but I would have used Mint 13 KDE were I to do it today.

A Windows experience on Linux (0)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | about 2 years ago | (#40789343)

No change, no functional differences, no interface differences, but must involve Linux.

Sounds like a Linux box to satisfy you, running just a Windows VM for your users who seem more than happy on Windows...

Mod Up Re:A Windows experience on Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789759)

Here here,

I first introduced my wife to linux when I was going to be away for two months (army training) and couldn't provide remote support for windows. So I set her up a windows virtual machine that automatically launched when she logged in to my desktop (running linux/lxde). I also set up a script so she could 'reset' the virtual machine if something wrong. After my second week away, something happened to her computer so she sat down at mine to keep working (it looked like windows because it was windows). However what I didn't do was leave the VM windows full screen. So she was using windows in a window. So she sees firefox on the windows desktop, and she sees firefox on the lxde desktop. Apparently she lost track of which was wich (my bad, I suppose) and when I got back she'd just minimized the virtual machine and was working strictly on the linux desktop. Windows was there if she needed it, but she found she actually didn't _need_ it.

She's on mac now since she is now into graphic design (Adobe CSn), and while I wish I could say I don't know OSX, the fact is once you know enough about computers, solving problems becomes a general case thing, not a specific OS thing. But, her mac gives her less trouble than windows ever did, and my linux gives me less trouble than her mac does. I'd love to get her onto Adobe CSn on Wine, but I've not had any success. I do try again every once in a while, but unfortunately, the guys who claim it works out of the box are not writing tutorials helping me get it to work out of the box.

First post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789365)

Can you (...) recommend a Lunix setup

Obvious troll is obvious.

Free BSD (3, Funny)

Grindalf (1089511) | about 2 years ago | (#40789367)

Free BSD 5.0 command line only. That way everybody wins!

Go with a KDE distro (2)

halfdan the black (638018) | about 2 years ago | (#40789387)

KDE is about as close as you can get to a Windows clone. I know some people who use Kubuntu and seem to like it, and they are primarily Windows users.

don't bother (2)

kenorland (2691677) | about 2 years ago | (#40789389)

People won't change because you think they should, they will change when they need to, for example when they think they need a new computer but don't have the money to pay for it, or when their virus-infested Windows machine is giving them headaches.

So, wait until they have a reason to change, and at that point the best thing you can do is install the most mainstream Linux installation you feel comfortable with (e.g., Ubuntu), even if it looks different from Windows. You might give them a choice between Gnome Classic, Gnome, and Unity and show them how they can switch at login time.

Help them politely and up to a point, but ultimately make it clear that it is their choice and their decision what they want to run.

Nothing (2)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 2 years ago | (#40789393)

If these people are satisfied with Windows, why change?

There's nothing special about Linux that warrants the frustration that both you and these users would experience. What happens when you have to tell them that their favorite pet program or game won't run? What's the point of switching? There's nothing available for Linux that doesn't have an equivalent on Windows, while the reverse is most definitely not the case.

Mandriva or something with Wine in default install (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789395)

Mandriva is the most prepared for desktop user. It contains codecs (even some non-free ones), wine (for installing majority of common office software), has proper file associations, and good graphics configurator - quite similar to Control Panel.
I admit that Ubuntu is more popular (and has more support), but Mandriva is still more polished. I used both.

XFCE (2)

dskoll (99328) | about 2 years ago | (#40789401)

I put my parents on Debian running XFCE. It looks a bit different from Windows, but the basic concepts are the same. "X" to close the window, box to maximize it, task bar to launch programs, etc.

I should add, though, that my parents never used Windows. I took them straight from MS-DOS to Linux. Going from DOS to XFCE isn't any more disruptive than DOS to Windows, I guess.

Why? (5, Insightful)

swsuehr (612400) | about 2 years ago | (#40789407)

My first question is: Why? Why, if they're both hateful and fearful of change, would they need to change? Why not a newer version of Windows or a Mac?

Users aren't oriented towards their OS, they're oriented towards their tasks. Their typical question will begin with "How do I..." and then continue into "but then how do I...". So your first issue is to determine what they use and how they use it and then find out the best way to solve each of those individual use cases or problems. For example, "How do I manage my finances, I currently use Quicken?" or "How do I upload pictures from my camera?". You need to solve each of those use cases in a sane manner that's easy to use and just as good or better than what they have. Typical users, especially the ones you describe, don't want to spend any more time with their computer than they need to.

Don't underestimate a user's ability to forget things that they do on their computer. Again, they're task-oriented and so they won't necessarily remember that they need a certain program to update some infrequently used spreadsheet twice a year.

Only if you can help them complete their tasks should you switch; you shouldn't switch them to Linux because you perceive it as better; it might not be better for them and then they'll have a tainted view of Linux when in fact the problem was that they couldn't use their silly banner-creation software from 1999 on it.

Why would you want to do this? (1)

Derxst (2347352) | about 2 years ago | (#40789413)

Are you ready to become the Tech Support department for those users? If you recommend a solution, you "own" the solution.

It's about motivation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789415)

You're taking a system which has a lot of flexibility and power and saying I just want it to be like this other thing so I can get these guys to be happy. You need to motivate them to want better tools to do there jobs and not worry so much about something being different. If you can get to them from that angle then they will want to learn and use new things and not fear and detest change like so many an office worker :-)

Go with Ubuntu and put Windows in a VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789427)

Stick their windows installation into a VM and show them it is only a click away. If they are novice users they will not understand the difference and gradually move to Linux.

Like any addict, withdrawal is a slow and painful process.

Cinnamon (4, Interesting)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 2 years ago | (#40789429)

Linux Mint with Cinnamon [linuxmint.com] would be one of your best bets. "Everything" button in the lower left, system tray in the lower right, just like Windows, and yet you're still running (a fork of) Gnome 3, so you get all the latest bells and whistles.

Check there hardware and software needs first (3, Insightful)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#40789435)

Check there hardware and software needs first.

There can be wifi issues (drivers) and on laptops not all stuff may work.

GUI (4, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | about 2 years ago | (#40789455)

Whatever you choose, I suggest you keep them away from Unity and whatever happened to Gnome as of late.

IMHO, KDE is the closest, in its current incarnation, to a Windows experience. So, maybe Kubuntu will do. Another nice KDE-centric distro could be OpenSuSE, and they have also an awesome (and very underrated) control panel.

Progressive migration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789499)

As I read some time ago in Rentalia's blog (Spanish) [rentalia.com] , the key is to get users comfortable with the apps they use. So, a smart first move is to offer them to start using applications available in both Windows & Linux, so they adapt app-by-app, up to the point where they don't depend on anything from their current OS.

Just then is time to encourage them to switch OS. I would recommend to think some kind of Teamviewer/NX/{any remote desktop/shell alternative} so you can help them whenever they have a problem, without having to wait for you to go in-house just to solve a minor issue.

Well first off make sure you've got apps down (5, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 2 years ago | (#40789501)

Make sure you've found out what it is they do, and that you have apps lines up that can give them EVERYTHING they want. If you can't do that, then don't bother. I don't mean a program that "Does the same thing but maybe has some problems," or a program that "Is under active development and will totally support that real soon now." I mean applications that are either the same program, or otherwise 100% replacements for what they use now.

One problem I find with a lot of "You should just switch to Linux," advocates is that they think severely compromising your workflow is going to be a-ok with users. That users should be willing to make big tradeoffs in what they can do or how they do it just for the amazing privilege of using Linux. That, of course, goes over like a ton of bricks with the users.

For example it seems like if someone uses Photoshop and Illustrator it takes about 2 seconds before the knee-jerk "Use GIMP!" gets screamed. However what that says is that you aren't actually considering their use case, just finding a program that is nominally in the same area and deciding it is good enough. Not even close. For some people, GIMP is a fine Photoshop replacement. For others, not at all. GIMP is not at all on Photoshop's level so depending on what the person does it may not be an adequate replacement.

So that is step one: Evaluate what they do, what programs they use and what they use them to do. Then see if you can find replacement software in Linux that does ALL of that. If you can, ok then you can move on to the next step of finding something to make the transition as easy as possible. If you can't, then pack it in and don't bother, because you cannot in fact offer them an easy change. Any change you offer would be one where they would have to make compromises. That's ok for someone who is interested in changing and willing to compromise, that's not ok for someone who is happy and you are trying to convince them change for its own sake is good.

Hate and fear change? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789507)

Then Linux is just the OS for them.

KDE, OpenSuse? (4, Informative)

pinkeen (1804300) | about 2 years ago | (#40789513)

I would go with KDE, it's kind of similar (but way more powerful) to Windows in many ways. With a bit of tweaking (ie. double-click) you could make it pretty cosy for ex-MS users.

KDE is very polished now, no show-stopping or other annoying bugs. Personally - I use Arch, but thats not viable for someone who is not a power user.
You should search for a distro that has KDE by default (as the main DE), because offshoots like kubuntu have pretty poor integration and many features are broken. Taking this into consideration I think that OpenSuse would be a good choice.

Same looks, diferent behaviour is a trap (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789515)

You should look for a distro as different from Windows as possible, not the opposite.

This false familiarity is going to confuse your users. Users will see that Linux looks like Windows and they will expect that it works like it. But they will soon discover that this is not true, hitting the same familiar icons will yield complete different results in Linux than in Windows, breaking their expectations, and making then angry.

My advice, look for a distro as different as possible. Things are different in Linux, they should look different or they will confuse your users.

what is the problem we're trying to solve here? (3, Interesting)

bazorg (911295) | about 2 years ago | (#40789519)

If these people are willing to give Linux a chance, then let them try out a live CD of something popular, like Ubuntu. If they like it, good, if they don't, no harm done. The idea of trying to accommodate Windows ways of doing things on Linux feels quite counterproductive. If people are really interested in giving some proper consideration to changing their computer tools they should start with a blank slate rather than expecting you to make Linux look and feel like the computer they are used to.

Chances are, they agreed to your "trial" of Linux just to be polite when you insisted, and may have little motivation to carry this through.

OpenSUSE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789527)

The much-maligned YaST2 avoids the need to edit things under /etc to a far greater extent than the various GUI setup utilities in Ubuntu. I have absolutely no fear of vi or the command line, but I still find YaST2 useful.

Also, it is KDE by default, which looks much more like Windows.

good thing to make into a poll (2)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#40789531)

Considering the wide variety of responses you're getting, I'd suggest submitting this as a poll. There are a number of suggestions getting tossed out right now, and I'm seeing more posts offering different alternatives than subthreads splitting off to support already suggested options

Though this may simply be their way of saying "there really isn't any one answer that has a significant and obvious advantage over the others". :( But either way, I don't think you're getting the results you needed by posting this question, because people are simply providing you with a broad list of all the options you were already aware of without really helping you nail down just a few with useful comparisons to focus your decision on.

Take the top ~8 suggestions (though you are likely already aware of what they are going to be) and resubmit this as a poll. Then do your own research on the top 2 or 3 for a final decision on what will work best in your specific circumstances.

Linux is not Windows (4, Insightful)

Roadmaster (96317) | about 2 years ago | (#40789543)

I'd start by reading this (and if possible, having them read it as well):

http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm [oneandoneis2.org]

Bottom line is, they *have* to want to change. If, as you say, they will latch onto any differences to decry the fact that Linux is not *exactly* like Windows, then, well, you're screwed and may as well not waste your time, because the fact is, Linux *is* different from Windows (the very reason why e.g. I use it).

One thing I've always found funny is that these same people have possibly gone through many changes in Windows and MS Office, always without complaint, because it was fed to them by Microsoft as "the next step". It will probably be the same once they get Windows 8 on a computer; they may think "this is hard to learn" but they will learn it without complaint. But put them in front of Linux and they'll cry foul and refuse to use it because "it's different". This mentality is very hard to beat; I stopped trying a few years ago and just let them writhe in their malware-infected sewers while I continue being able to work on Linux.

Re:Linux is not Windows (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789577)

Have them read some freetarded rant that will make the question answer look even more loony? Why can't you tards just leave people alone?

Why bother with Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789561)

Use ReactOS, silly boy!

Linux Mint 13 KDE - An Easy Transistion (3, Informative)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | about 2 years ago | (#40789591)

There are a few things we would need to remember about asking people to change. They are going to be naturally resistant to it and they will complain when they have to use effort to accomplish change. I would choose Linux Mint 13 KDE. Why? (1) It works right out of the box. (2) KDE's appearance is very much like Windows (3) KDE is very easy to customize (4) There is enough eye candy to impress, but not overwhelm (5) Mint is likely to continue in business for the foreseeable future I do not work for or have any financial interest in any Linux company either. But Mint 13 Cinnamon also has many of these same attributes. I just think KDE does it better.

Easy choice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789605)

Gentoo + awesome! (oh, and turn off udev when building Xorg for all that is holy!)

If he/she liked windows she should stay there! :-P

It doesn't matter (1)

Will_TA (549461) | about 2 years ago | (#40789611)

GET OTHER MANAGERS ON SIDE FIRST. Users just want a computer to use. If you're going to change what they are used to, you'll have to get them sold on the solution. It doesn't have to be like Windows - in fact, if you can find a 'simpler' user interface to use - use it. If you're a geek - you might understand the paradigms that the OS is using - but the end user might not. But also remember that end users aren't morons, and can cope with something different - if they're given the support they need in changing a major way in how they work. This is where having other mangers on side is so important. If their staff are going to take a performance hit, and need retraining on the way they do their day to day jobs, you WILL need them on side.

Ubuntu 12.04 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789623)

I am linux newbie. Ubuntu has a (relatively) slick user interface, and a very helpful and welcoming support community. Being the most popular linux distribution means that there's likely more information about it available online, a larger proportion of it relevant to new users. I also find that software books I read tend to address Ubuntu as the model linux platform, when going into issues like software installation and so forth, and expect users of other distros to adapt the instructions as necessary, which allows me to focus on learning what I bought the book to learn rather than on setup. My intuition is that software is more likely to be available to the platform, in binary form, that it is to other platforms, which is really important to people who have been comfortable using windows. I also believe having a well funded corporate backer is beneficial to quality of the platform and its user experience, up until the point they jump the shark and we all need to abandon them. I haven't experienced any major stability issues, which may be because of 12.04, which is why I include that version number in the title to this recommendation.

Go with Mageia (1)

AvailableNickname (2627169) | about 2 years ago | (#40789633)

Mageia 2 is using the newest KDE version, perhaps the most similar to Windows. It also has the excellent Mageia Control Centre (MCC) for managing all the systems settings. From install to daily use, the command line need never appear.

NONE (1)

sproketboy (608031) | about 2 years ago | (#40789649)

Since users will have a hell of a time upgrading to the next Linux version. Ubuntu for example routinely drops support for various hardware devices (video cards mostly) on new releases so just because you can get a distro running on your current machine, there's no guarantee that you'll be able to upgrade it. Not to mention the fact the /usr directory is destroyed on most upgrades anyway....

obviously OS X (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789651)

oh wait, that's BSD.

I use Zorin daily, along with Windows (2)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 2 years ago | (#40789655)

in VMs, since Zorin doesn't require that I rewire my brain to its interface requirements. It's my surfing/writing/spreadsheet/media machine. I do everything but development on it. When I no longer need to develop for windows, I'll chuck the Windows VMs. The transition was remarkably painless.

My setup and reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789725)

I know it's not exactly what you asked but I think a big selling point is the pricepoint. You can pick up low spec computers being sold CHEAP because they won't run MS. I ditched MS because it was too slow on my low spec laptop. So I went for Lubuntu about a year ago. It screams along at a great pace, though I ditched the slow native filemanager (PCManFM) and use Dolphin. I tried Linux ten years ago but there was no support and I gave up. Now the Ubuntu forum has been great for any probs. I tweaked Lubuntu with: libreoffice-writer (closer to Microsoft word functionality and much faster than abiword or openoffice) mplayer in gnome-media (I had to install PulseAudio Volume Control and then select Sound Recorder) leafpad (brilliant little text editor for HUGE text files) gnumeric (spreadsheet) mirage for image manipulation clipit (so that stuff cut to clipboard buffer is available after I quit an application)

Who are you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789739)

And why are you trying to convince my parents to move to Linux?

PClinuxOS is surprisingly good. (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | about 2 years ago | (#40789747)

Okay. Once, when distro hopping to find a system that would install onto a very old PC, I stumbled onto PCLinuxOS [pclinuxos.com] . Where others had failed to even install (Ubuntu, Vector, RedHat) this distro installed sweetly, loaded quickly and, much to my amazement, found all the crusty hardware on the POS MOBO that I was reviving in a case mod. (The reason is that the MOBO was installed into the case mod in a customized way. Easier to upgrade the OS than swap the MOBO.) Anyway, I still run this distro on the case mod (an old Russian radio used as a music server). PCLinux has since gone through a decline and rebirth (its repositories tanked a few years back). In recent years it has seen a very substantive revival.

It is now enjoying a solid base with good community support. And is now # 10 on Distrowatch [distrowatch.com] . I recently read a review (sorry, cannot find it) wherein the reviewer expressed mild surprise that this distro was as good as it was. It is good for a Windows user IMHO because it tends to use Windows-like conventions for the GUI. Also the GUI is surprisingly powerful for managing all kinds of settings. Nice for a user who is not comfortable with a terminal program. I confess that it is not pretty to look at out of the box, but it does everything I want it to do on my funky music server.

Don't Do It (1)

assertation (1255714) | about 2 years ago | (#40789749)

Serious, don't do it. Trying to sell someone on a platform they are not self motivated into investigating on their own is a thankless job.

You may get them to listen and try a few things, but it is rare you will ignite sustained enthusiasm in them. After a while your will go out, you will get tired of being their personal IT guy for every little thing, their system will rot, they will give it up, go to something else and you will feel disappointed.

Maybe try a smoother approach... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789761)

I did convert my parents a few years ago, but I used a trick:
I first introduced them to the programs they were going to use in their future linux setup, Open Office being the 1st target.

So, gather their needs, find cross platform-equivalent and make them use it.

The OS interface itself is not really an issue if they're able to use their programs efficiently. As for games I'm no expert but wine and, one say, Steam will help.

After that Ubuntu is pretty neat, but Mint may be easier to use without any configuration. Once you install the "restricted" elements of ubuntu they're quite close.

Cheers and good luck !

PS: don't forget tools like teamviewer QuickSupport or logmein (not sure for linux and logmein) to remotely help them on demand.

As one of those Windows guys, let me say something (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40789775)

I'm a Windows user. Have been since Win3.1 (Dos 5 was my first PC OS). I've tried sporadically over the years to migrate to Linux, even taken Linux courses at work. (Oh yeah, I've worked in an IT related field for about 15 years now)

I've tried red hat, debian, mandrake, knoppix, and various others. Every couple of years, I think "Now, I'll finally do it, I'll migrate to Linux and learn whatever I need to learn" and every time I've been defeated. And slunk back to Windows, where every single task I want to do, I know how to do. And where there's a million websites that can answer my technical questions without making me feel like Forest Gump.

I have some unix experience. I can write primitive shell scipts, (and DOS batch files) and I've coded in Pascal and C and Fortran at various points in my life. But it always comes down to this - Linux expects me to know stuff which I don't know. And when my ignorance hits that assumption, Linux invariably responds with "REALLY? Well let's start with an Introduction to Addition, and we'll soon educate your stupid ass"

When Windows 95 came out, and it was very different to Windows 3.1, it didn't take me long to figure out how it worked. I didn't need to learn a whole new paradigm just to put a Cd-rom in the machine. A driver was still a driver. It still got handled beneath my perception threshold and didn't require me to scrub up and start patching binaries.

Linux doesn't work with the ease expected of a computer user like myself, and Windows does. I remember the days when I popped a Cd-rom in to a Linux machine and then being told I had to learn what mounting and unmounting was. And I had to do it from the command line no less.

Obviously Linux has come a long way since those days, but the basic tenets of the Linux philosophy seem firmly entrenched. The attitude seems to be "We won't make this functionality easy and transparant, because it's actually important that you learn this stuff".

The average user doesn't want to learn stuff.

Scoff if you like, mock their intelligence or whatever makes you feel uber-smart, but when Windows updates its software at 3am and reboots my machine, I don't really care. It's done, I'm asleep, and it'll be fine in the morning.
When a Linux box requires me to update the software manually, find where the patches are, unload stuff from memory, install a patch and relaunch the process, and then high 5 my non-existant friends because the boxes uptime hasn't been affected.... well, fuck that might make you happy, but it's a pain in my tits.

I wrote down a list before, of the top 100 tasks I do on a Windows machine. Everything from coding, to listening to podcasts, to email and web-browsing, and word processing... and beside each of them, I rated how Linux is able to help me or hinder me in those tasks.
To this day, the latest Linux distros can only help me on less than 50 of those daily routine tasks. Windows helps me. Linux hinders me. And it's not about fear of change, because I keep going back to the stupid Penguin in the hopes that something's changed every couple of years.

Do you know how much I had to know about VPNs to create one in Windows so I could watch UK based television stream over the internet with a UK IP address? Practically nothing. A couple of clicks, fill in a user name and password, and it was done.

In Linux? I couldn't tell you where to begin. But it would probably be with updating your video drivers, because if it works, you want the TV picture to be decent quality.

NetRunner (1)

gshegosh (1587463) | about 2 years ago | (#40789779)

I've used Debian, Ubuntu and Mint. Switched to KDE because of the mess that Unity/Gnome Shell is and am loving it. NetRunner is the most polished KDE distro in my opinion and it comes from the company, that now sponsors Kubuntu.
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