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Giving the Gift of Ubuntu Linux for Christmas?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the for-all-the-good-boys-and-girls dept.


Father Christmas asks: "This Christmas I have decided to give all of my friends and relatives Ubuntu Linux CDs from the Ubuntu ShipIt service. In addition, I plan to help them backup their old systems, install Ubuntu, and then introduce them to using Linux for their everyday tasks. What sort of post-installation changes should be made to Ubuntu to make it easy for everyday people to use? What extra software packages should be installed? Should I stick with the default Gnome installation, or would KDE be a better choice? Is there anything else that should be done to maximize the utility of their systems, as well as make their first experience with Linux a great one?"

cancel ×


I'm a cheap bastard ... (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716549)

I'm emailing all my friends this link [] for Christmas.

Re:I'm a cheap bastard ... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716791)

You mean you're not going to burn it to DVD, put the DVD in a nice case, put that in a box with a stuffed penguin, and wrapped up the box in red and gold tinfoil wrapping? Not only are you a cheap bastard, but your mom probably pays for the internet access.

Re:I'm a cheap bastard ... (1)

keithpreston (865880) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718053)

More like a dumb bastard. Ubuntu Shipit service is free. It will only cost you 30 seconds of you life to sign up

How about... (1)

josefcub (212738) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716553)

...asking them permission first, before converting them over?

I know I've tried to run the concept by my parents and siblings more than once, and they refuse to part from their precious Windows.

Re:How about... (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716717)

You gave your parents a choice? THat was stupid. I told them it was dump MS office and IE for Firefox and Open Office, or find new free tech suport. Next comp goes Linux, or the same deal.

Re:How about... (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716801)

God forbid somebody should be allowed to choose what they put on their computer.

Re:How about... (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716889)

OSS isn't about choice, it's about world domination.

Re:How about... (1)

richie2000 (159732) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717017)

It's not their computer until they learn to use it properly.

And, he gave them a perfectly reasonable choice: Windows hell or free support.

Re:How about... (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717103)

Yeah, I didn't know that RMS read and posted to Slashdot!

Re:How about... (1)

quanticle (843097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717955)

God forbid I should be allowed to choose what I support.

Re:How about... (1)

sowth (748135) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718139)

Yeah, because everyone who knows anything about computers should be a slave to MS Win users and give their lives to "free" support. (It is not free for the person giving it.) At least once you set Linux, it usually stays that way, strange distro "configuratornermators" excepted.

Re:How about... (1)

DeKO (671377) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717501)

Interestingly, a few years ago I was always telling my parents how great GNU/Linux was, and because of this they "should buy me a new HD" to install it. Unfortunately I didn't get the HD, but they were "educated" by my insistence. A few months ago (a few months after me installing Mandriva 2005 on their computers) I found out that they were having GNU/Linux classes. Now they are happily using Firefox, GAIM, Frozen Bubble, Lilypond, etc. Guess what, my mother was even able to configure the WiFi network on her Mandriva 2006 (using nothing but a few "numbers" I had written down on paper).

So yes, it's about the approach. Learn what they want to do with their computers, then show how this "new" operating system will be much more fun and useful to use. You should see my mother's face when she learned how to use Firefox' tabs, or my father's when he learned that he could transcribe his partitures collection to the computer. In a few months I'll remove the Win98SE from that machine, and I bet they'll never miss it again.

Re:How about... (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717771)

You had to write down numbers?


Re:How about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718127)

Maybe they're the SSID and WEP (oops, WPA2!) password?

Time (1)

slidersv (972720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716563)

You obviously want to spend quite some time with all of them, don't you?

My family and friends would say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16716567)

don't fuck with my machine!

That's like giving them Brussels Sprouts... (1)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716573)'s undoubtedly good for them, but how many of them will *want* it?

Re:That's like giving them Brussels Sprouts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16716735)

More like emptying their fridge of bacon to fill it with Brussels sprouts. At least teach them how to recover some money by selling their bacon^H^H^H^H^Hcopy of Windows on eBay.

Re:That's like giving them Brussels Sprouts... (1)

Klaidas (981300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717031)

Unless they're gamers/graphics designers/want everything just-working(tm)

Re:That's like giving them Brussels Sprouts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717311)

Maybe I'm sadistic, but Christmas isn't about what you want to get... It's about what I want to give you.

This year it's STDs, the gift that keeps on giving.

Re:That's like giving them Brussels Sprouts... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717709)

besides, if he's counting on ubuntu sending him CDs, I hope he's planning to hand them out at xmas in 5 years or so. I've ordered Ubuntu CDs twice, and I'm still waiting (over a year).

And if your Ubuntu doesn't run my windows apps (don't even say wine), I wouldn't want any of it.

Re:That's like giving them Brussels Sprouts... (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718035)

And why would you want Ubuntu with such a negative attitude toward it?

I ordered Ubuntu CDs once, came about 6 weeks later. You must be a special case in every sense of the word.

Re:That's like giving them Brussels Sprouts... (1)

Foofoobar (318279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717761)

I installed it on my 60 yr old moms computer and she's says it's the best computer she has ever owned (doesn't understand the difference between Windows and Linux) She now calls every weekend and says 'Still up!' referring to the fact that her system hasn't crashed yet. It works with her scanner, her digital camera my brother bought her and doesn't have a single problem.

wow... (2, Funny)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716613)

Suddenly a pack of argyle socks or some tighty-whities doesn't look like such a bad gift after all...

I recommend GNOME (1)

AdamKG (1004604) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716617)

KDE is nice, but I think of it as more of a techie's DE. I switched from Windows so this may be completely off the mark, but I always thought that KDE was more like OSX's interface and GNOME more like XP's. (I use XFce on my laptop, GNOME on my desktop/server).

In a different sense, last time I tried Kubuntu, it wasn't as polished as the GNOME DE, I expect because more effort/time/money was put into integrating GNOME with Ubuntu than KDE with Kubuntu.

Re:I recommend GNOME (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716751)

Umm, sure you don't have it backwards? Gnome always seemed like a Mac clone and KDE like a 2K clone to me. Of course, since I hate the Mac GUI I always stuck with KDE.

Re:I recommend GNOME (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717177)

KDE is a what?

I am a gnome user, never could get into KDE but... um...

Maybe this is weird, I am told I am crazy. However, I really thought CDE was slick. I figured that would apply to KDE too but, for some reason, it just never did it for me.

I don't know about 2k clone. Though, I never used 2k, XP is the first windows I have used since 95, and even then all I did was play games with XP.


Re:I recommend GNOME (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717567)

>KDE is a what?

Generally a very good example of a well-designed C++ project.

Re:I recommend GNOME (1)

spxero (782496) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716873)

Interesting, because I always thought that GNOME [] looked closer to OSX [] and KDE [] looked closer to XP [] .

Re:I recommend GNOME (1)

AdamKG (1004604) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717249)

As a longtime XP user, I definitely felt more at home with Ubuntu than Kubuntu. Yeah, so GNOME puts the menubar at the top, but that's hardly the substance of the desktop environment. For example, Ubuntu does most stuff with the start menu; Kubuntu has app launchers in the panel. (I don't know how much this holds true in other distros)

That GNOME screenie has lots of panel launchers as well, but a plain vanilla Ubuntu does not.

Of course, now I'm using XFce with no panels whatsoever... the expressions of people trying to find my start menu are priceless.

Re:I recommend GNOME (1)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717215)

You have it backwards. But first impression wise you might think so.

-Skin deep, KDE looks more like Mac OS X with the shiny icons.

-Usage deep GNOME has a much more similar GUI mentality to Mac OS X. (Especially the don't show GUI elements that are absolutely needed thing for simplicity.)

Make sure to install media codecs! (3, Insightful)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716623)

Make sure to install the non-free media libraries (e.g. libxine-extracodecs, Adobe Flash 9 beta, libdvdcss2). Make sure they have main, universe, multiverse, and restricted all enabled in their sources.list. You might want to add the WINE repository (deb [] dapper main) so they get the latest version of WINE (install that too).

If they use GNOME, I would still recommend installing Amarok [1.4.3] (deb [] dapper main) for their music pleasure. Hell, you could install Amarok 1.4.4 which comes with a built-in music store (Magnatune).

In the case of whether to use GNOME or KDE, I recommend giving both LiveCDs to him/her to try and let them determine which one they like better; it's completely personal preference to non-geeks (us geeks seem to prefer KDE due to functionality and customisability, but others prefer GNOME for its simplicity as well) and geeks alike. I recommend KDE, but that's just my opinion (Kubuntu is a nice KDE distro; they provide backports for up to date KDE packages on including KDE, KOffice, and Amarok).

Re:Make sure to install media codecs! (1)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716833)

If you don't want to break the GNOME UI paradigms but still want a half-way decent music player, install Banshee and it's plugins. That way you get MP3, FLAC, AAC, OGG among others, with album art, Audioscrobbler, podcast grabber, pluggable media player support, DAAP sharing, ShoutCast/IceCast, MultiMedia Keys, Smart Playlists, among quite a few other cool features.

The only downside is it's GStreamer based (if, indeed you don't like GStreamer :) []

Re:Make sure to install media codecs! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717025)

I've always wondered why the official Ubuntu version of Wine has been stuck at 0.9.9 for months. Isn't Wine one of the top open source projects? Do they consider 0.9.9 to be a better version than the latest one?

Just use Mepis for that. (2, Interesting)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717787)

Make sure to install the non-free media libraries (e.g. libxine-extracodecs, Adobe Flash 9 beta, libdvdcss2).

Mepis [] comes with all of that but decss, which is against the law to distribute in the US. Mepis now uses Ubunto as a base but still has the same KDE look and feel it always did. You might also have to get the "essential" Windoze Media codecs listed in the xine comand line dump, if you want to play some types of WMV. For all that, Mepis is a great time saver on installation for "normal" users who want all of the above non free junk.

Don't forget the coupons (2, Funny)

shawn443 (882648) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716641)

Don't forget the free foot rub coupon for grandma, the free breakfast in bed coupon for momma, the free yardwork coupon for dad, and the free nerdy love coupon for the girlfriend.

Re:Don't forget the coupons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717563)

...and the free nerdy love coupon for the girlfriend.

nerdy love = premature ejaculation

Not to mention that you can't really call your hand or your sister "girlfriend." Well, I guess you can, but it they don't count as a girlfriend anywhere besides /.

Making the switch (1)

static0verdrive (776495) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716659)

I would highly recommend Kubuntu (the KDE version of Ubuntu) because KDE is easier to navigate and configure when you have used windows before. I find the menus more similar to windows and better laid out. There's nothing stopping them from switching to Gnome afterward, but they will never stick with Linux in general if they aren't at least somewhat comfortable getting around at first.

go for kubuntu (1)

Sod75 (558841) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716661)

with KDE it's less of a shock as a UI from windows.
I moved my mother to it. When I told her I installed linux I saw panic in her eyes, then I showed her the basics she needs(which i would have needed to do on windows anyway) and she probably couldn't tell the difference.

Sure - Just One More Thing (1)

RichardMarks (1011125) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716663)

First make Ubuntu look and work as good/well as this: []

Just the small matter of fixing these minor finishing touches with desktop Linux:

Hideous/clunky GUI toolkits
No drag and drop app installation
No single 1.0 quality iApp equivalents ready to be clicked on
No silky smooth hardware accelerated desktop UI by default
And so on...

Re:Sure - Just One More Thing (1)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717901)

No single 1.0 quality iApp equivalents ready to be clicked on


Um, no. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16716675)

Dude, if you did this to me, I would cockpunch you.

Instead... (1)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716681)

Instead why don't you give them lottery tickets or something else equally as useless.

Re:Instead... (1)

weteko (1022621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716747)

Why on earth would anyone spend money on Xmas gifts (say $10 for enough lottery tickets) when you can just get Ubuntu to ship the free CDs ?

Re:Instead... (1)

BeeBeard (999187) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717509)

Does this mean you didn't like the scratch-offs I sent? Tell the world, why don't you.

- BeeBeard "Beeloney" Beekowski

Proselytizing? (4, Interesting)

idiot900 (166952) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716711)

"This Christmas I have decided to give all of my friends and relatives our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ from the church I go to. In addition, I plan to help them disavow their previous faith, if any, read the Bible, and then introduce them to living as a Christian for their everyday tasks. What sort of post-conversion changes should be made to Christianity to make it easy for everyday people to use? What extra faith-based initiatives should be installed? Should I stick with the default denomination, or would Southern Baptist be a better choice? Is there anything else that should be done to maximize the utility of their lives, as well as make their first experience with Jesus a great one?"

Are you sure your all your friends and relatives actually want Linux, terrific though it may be, rather than having it forced down their throats?

Re:Proselytizing? (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716899)

Are you sure your all your friends and relatives actually want Linux, terrific though it may be, rather than having it forced down their throats?

You know, that just made me think of something... No matter whether I want to or not, I am the default technical support for my entire family. And apparently they are extending my family support to their friends. I still remember with great bitterness the time that some stranger appeared at my door, WITH A PC IN HAND, and *told* me that my parental unit had sent him over.

I think I'm going to disavow all knowledge of Windows from now on. If they have a problem, I'll hand them the Linux CD and tell them to re-install, " 'cause that's the only thing I know."

Re:Proselytizing? (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717483)

I still remember with great bitterness the time that some stranger appeared at my door, WITH A PC IN HAND, and *told* me that my parental unit had sent him over.

Tell them simply and directly that the free tech support only extends to your parental units. My mother tried doing that with the store she worked at once. The first problem was a simple one, so I just fixed it since I was there (she had been the one that called me and asked me to come over to the store without telling me what she wanted - I figured she had car trouble or something similar), and then I told both her and her boss that if they called me again, I would charge them my normal rate.

Re:Proselytizing? (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718017)

This works pretty well. In 9 years, I've only used Windows for one job for a year, and then it was pretty much Word and web browsing. I haven't done admin stuff on a Windows machine at all in that time. After the first few years, I really did forget how it all worked, and had to start telling my mom "Sorry, but I don't know how to fix Windows anymore." At first it annoyed her, but eventually she realized that I was telling the truth and stopped asking as often.

My sister eventually got a Mac, and I could certainly help her with any problems - but she hasn't had any. So my mom is finally convinced, and when her Dell laptop conks out she's getting a Mac next. Actually, now she uses a Mac at work, and I have been able to help her with a few "switcher" type issues.

Golf Clap (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716955)


Re:Proselytizing? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717219)

Are you sure your all your friends and relatives actually want Linux . . .

The great thing about finding true religion is that pretty soon all of your friends have it too . . .

Because you either convert them - or drive them away.


Re:Proselytizing? (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717831)

Sure, because Steve Baller told me that switching software was just as important as my faith and immortal soul. Indeed, before the Novel deal, he told me that leaving Windows behind would be like going to hell and that I'd better not do it. He said something like, "Please don't tell me it's Linux! I'm going to fucking kill Linux, I've done it before and I've done it again." Then he threw a chair at me. It was an awful display of his power, but I shrank and he then showed mercy by allowing me to turn off the Windoze start up noise, which had made me an outcast at the coffee shop. He then said something about denying my OS use three times before the cock crow but I did not follow.

Re:Proselytizing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718179)

Absolutely hilarious comment. I have not laughed so long and loud at any slashdot comment in many years. Thanks, idiot900.

Brilliant idea ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16716719)

I have always been short of ideas when choosing a gift to offer for birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's,... Now thanks to Slashdot I have a "gift model" which will work every time at almost no cost !

1. Order the CD set of the lastest Ubuntu Relase.
2. Offer
3. Install
4. ???
5. Happiness !

Bad f*cking idea (2, Insightful)

capsteve (4595) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716743)

i'm sorry, not to be mean, but giving ubuntu install media and a promise to help install it is like giving crocheted tea cozy to coffee drinker who neither has a teapot or likes drinks tea. it seems like an altruistic gift, like making a donation in someone else's name to help fight world hunger/peta/greenpeace, but it would probably be perceived as an excuse to get out of gift giving and yet another opportunity to soapbox your software political stance. they'd probably appreciate a bag of sticks and coal more than a linux install disk... at least they would be able to use is in a weber for grilling.

i think ubuntu is a great distro, but not everyone will want to use it(linux in general)... so what happens to the gift receipient who needs to use windows at home because he/she is a telecommuter?

"hey thanks father christmas! ubuntu linux!?!! this is really cool, but i can't install it on my work computer... really appreciate the thought though ;-) you know what they say, it's the thought that counts! *cough* bull$hit gift *cough*"


"hey thanks uncle father christmas!! cool! i've always wanted to try linux on my pc! i can be a hacker just like you!! can i still play halo and GTA and WoW? no? what? maybe in emulation? no, i'm not allowed to drink wine... oh, thanks anyways..."

being the geek in the family, they prolly come to you for all their computer needs/requests for help, etc, but would you appreciate a copy of windows and a promise to help install it on your computer as a gift? if you really want to give a computer or linux related gift, get you folks a giant mousepad, or a new usb thumbdrive(1gb thumbdrives at microcenter for $15!), or some other a wrt54g with dd-wrt preloaded, but not an install disk.

most people don't like religion or politics crammed down their throats by friends and family, evangelism of any sort is usually a turn-off. be politically neutral with your christmas gifts and give something your family really wants. you can spend the rest of the year thumping you chest about ubuntu/linux/FOSS (you prolly already do), but make xmas not about your personal software beliefs.

Re:Bad f*cking idea (1)

Mr. Hankey (95668) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717359)

It seems a bit of a small gift, although it's not quite as bad as you make it sound - especially if this is from a student, who probably doesn't have much in the line of money. Frankly, a lot of people are interested in learning what this "Linux Thing" is. It's not much different than buying someone an iMac, except they can use the CD in most generic PCs. They're also free to dual boot and keep that Windows partition, so they're not really losing anything but excess disk space which is so common these days. For my part, the only tech support I provide these days is for Linux/UNIX derivatives. I actually have a life now. :)

EasyUbuntu (1)

Penguin Programmer (241752) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716753)

I would suggest using EasyUbuntu [] post-installation to install the various non-free packages that make Linux nicer to use. You can be sure that your friends and relatives won't want to keep using Linux very long if they don't have Flash, Java, WMV codecs, etc installed. EasyUbuntu makes it not look like doing this is an ugly hack.

Automatix [] is also a good choice, but I've heard some stories about people having problems with it not backing up their config files and such.

Re:EasyUbuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717211)

Automatix is also a good choice, but I've heard some stories about people having problems with it not backing up their config files and such.

Don't forget that Automatix can screw up your sources.list file. Plus the author is immature and untrustworthy. Unless you want to break your system, use EasyUbuntu instead.

nice idea, (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716759)

most people won't be that pleased though - but they will pretend to be, and that's what counts

As for advice, well, I prefer GNOME, I personally feel it's easier to work with and like that it feels like a more radical departure from what I've been using since '95 (ie. Windows 95-XP with the "start bar") - but some people would rather stick to something similar to what they know... I'd show them both, maybe get SLAX (a Live slackware with KDE) and something like a fedora live CD (yes, we have those now, and they can come with GNOME)... you know, just get them involved and making a choice.

What I want on my system after install (and I'm a fedora user so some of this might not be needed in the Ubuntu context...) would be mplayer, the DVD and mp3 codecs (we don't get them as standard), shutting off SSH (which "nicely" comes with remote root login set to yes), installation of a firewall, rkhunter (which is really good and should ideally go on as soon as you install - if you are as worried about rootkits as I tend to be) maybe ClamAV (although the extent to which it is really "needed" might be questionable), python (if it's not already on there - because it's just a matter of time until everyone uses it), the right drivers for hardware (but that's a given anyway)... and then just a tour of how to use it

I do think that if I gave it to people they would probably still use windows though, after all, they've already paid the tax

They'll be so happy... (1)

Stephen Tennant (936097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716775)

"Thanks for the free CD you cheap bastard."

Re:They'll be so happy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717279)

What's wrong with you? He said he'd install it and help them get started with it. Giving some of your time is a good gift - what's the difference between giving something that you've bought with money that you've earned by working for a certain amount of time and spending time doing someone a favor? None, unless the recipient is an asshole - people should actually appreciate such gifts more since they're as personal as gifts can be. I remember how someone asked what to do since she felt guilty when some relatives always bought her more expensive presents than she could possibly afford to give them and was given good advice - she could give them a "gift voucher" with e.g. 10 evenings that she'll be their baby-sitter if they want to have some adult time together.

Unless you've... (1)

Gigiya (1022729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716781)

...had amazing, unspeakable luck with Ubuntu, a lot of free time, or a total of two or three friends/relatives, I don't see why you'd want to do attempt that. It will only end badly.

Joke gifts aren't appreciated at christmas (1)

SpacePunk (17960) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716797)

This is like replacing their automatic transmissions with manual transmissions in their vehicles.

"We've secretly replaced grandmas windows xp operating system with Ubuntu Linux... let's see if she notices."

Re:Joke gifts aren't appreciated at christmas (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717263)

This is like replacing their automatic transmissions with manual transmissions in their vehicles.

Oddly enough, that's exactly what I've been praying to Jesus for.


6.06.1 or 6.10? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716807)

Just to be on the safe side, bring along discs for both 6.06.1 and 6.10. Some systems are less stable on 6.10 (problems hanging while trying to reboot on mine).

Re:6.06.1 or 6.10? (1)

Klaidas (981300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716961)

6.10 \o/ \o/
Most problems are experienced while upgrading, not while simply clean installing.

Re:6.06.1 or 6.10? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717245)

Yeah, but not all problems are with upgrading. I did a clean install, including removing all the .config files in ~/. I still could not reboot the computer without it hanging just before the reboot. Interestingly enough, I could shutdown fine (most of the time).

I'm going to try another clean install next weekend and not use automatix then (Maybe I made a mistake about using automatix this time -- I needed a fairly fully functioning system fast, and Ubuntu leaves a lot of nice stuff out of the default installation.). If things aren't stable after that, it's back to 6.06.x until 7.04 comes out. :-(

Re:6.06.1 or 6.10? (1)

LocoMan (744414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717819)

Agree with the other comment here, some but not all. Not sure why, but my computer works perfectly with 6.06, but the 6.10 liveCD/installer doesn't even start no matter what I did. Eventually managed update to 6.10 from the repositories (took some trouble to do it, though), but left some weird problems that for some reason I couldn't fix without switching to KDE (which I kinda like better after using it for a week or so anyway... and for the record, the problems were errors in the keyboard settings that prevented me from changing the keyboard language, and related, the altGR key not workng which I need for the # and @ symbols).

world of pain coming your way... (2, Insightful)

anon mouse-cow-aard (443646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716823)

I appreciate your sentiment, and I wish you the best, but I think you are... well, very optimistic...
Checkout my dapper -> Edgy upgrade stories in my Journal. They arent smooth. They arent rocket science, but by and large, normal people would not get through it. So you are signing up to be the sole source of tech support for all your friends and family. Thats very generous, if you tell people to do something and they do it, after that time, anything that happens to any of those computers is going to be your fault... machine no longer has a power light? Must be that new fangled ubutnu thingum... Call Jake... This game doesnt install? Call Jake... For every single one of those problems folks are going to say... I dont understand this ubutnu thing because they cannot go to BestBuy and have the friendly teenagers there change the power supply because... "Ubuntu, we dont support that?!"

It isnt like there is anything wrong with Kubuntu. I run it almost exclusively and love it. It is truly great linux distribution, and a very easy (in comparison to other linux distributions.) thing to use. The problem here is the network effect. Everyone uses windows, so everyone supports windows, so everyone uses windows. I dont know how to fix that. I keep hoping that MS could develop some really effective copy protection for MS-Office, so that folks at home actually start paying the legitimate prices for it. That would provide an eye opener

I hope you can make it work for your friends and family, to help break the network effect, but be prepared for a lot of work.

Some suggestions (1)

Klaidas (981300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716933)

Is there anything else that should be done to maximize the utility of their systems, as well as make their first experience with Linux a great one?"
1. No zealotism ("Windows is closed source, therefore it's bad. You can everything on Linux. It's way better, etc.") - this is bad. There is no need to do it. Set up dual boot, let them choose whatever they want.
2. Install basic things - codecs, xmms, firestarter, mplayer, etc.
3. Tell the the truth (like gaming on linux [] ). Tell them pros and cons. It's pretty much like step #1.

Re:Some suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717557)

Heh, "tell them the truth" and then a link to uncyclopedia.

Re:Some suggestions (1)

Klaidas (981300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718027)

Heh ;)
However, that gaming on linux article is the most true article I've ever found there. I mean, come on, don't tell me that's not true! :D

The Gift of Inconvenience! (1)

Ignatius D'Lusional (1010911) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716983)

Gee, I hope none of them want to play any games... or install any applications... or any of the other things you can do easily in Windows but would require research and reading manuals for a newbie to do.

Do you hate your friends and family???

Re:The Gift of Inconvenience! (1)

endemoniada (744727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717821)

A "newbie" would be just as intimated trying to install software in Windows as in Linux.

- Download and open the installer ("where the heck did I save it?!")
- Agree to a pretty creepy-looking EULA
- Make informed choices of where to install it, what parts of the software to include and find the "finish"-button
- Hope that the installer made sane shortcuts to the application, and that no further steps have to be taken.
- Use!

- Open terminal
- Type "apt-get install "
- Type Y if there are lots of dependencies (already marked as default)
- Use!

Now tell me which is the simpler one.
Windows is "simpler" because people are used to it, not because it's actually easier to use. This is a VERY common misconception. A person with no experience what so ever would probably learn to do the same tasks in Gnome or KDE faster than in Windows.

I agree that games might pose a problem, but that's hardly Linux fault.

Re:The Gift of Inconvenience! (1)

LocoMan (744414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717863)

To be fair, for a newbie installing on windows steps 2, 3 and 4 end up being "keep clicking next until it's done". However, I do agree that it's easier installing in linux by using synaptic and simmilar (I doubt any newbie would really jump ahead to terminal and type apt-get install followed by a cryptic name), and at least in the latest version of ubuntu (always forget the current names) installing a .deb file is about the same process than a windows installer, at least in the ones I've tried, in case whatever is it that you want isn't on the repositories.

Don't waste your time (1)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716989)

Don't do it as a christmas present. Instead, just explain to them the virtues of linux and see if they are interested. And tell them the truth, that it may not run all the software they want to.

As soon as grandma finds out she can't use her greeting card or family tree software she will just get little johnny to format and install xp anyways.

Give something easier (1)

travail_jgd (80602) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716993)

I understand wanted to push free software and get people away from Windows. Giving them an install CD is not the way to do it.

Are you willing to be tech support 24x7 when WoW, MS Office, or Photoshop doesn't "just work"? If not, stick to the basics... Give out Knoppix DVDs, the Free Software windows CDs, or something similar.

Or maybe do something personal. Scan in old family photos and put give DVDs of them. If you have digital photographs of the family already, give out CDs/DVDs of them. There are a number of places that will make inexpensive 4x6 prints for the folks without computers or DVD players.

Let's see now (1)

bheer (633842) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717003)

For Christmas you're going to turn your friends' computing lives upside down ("why the f*** is 'Expense report.sxw' different from 'Expense Report.sxw'?"), you also have really no clue how to do it since you're begging for answers on /., and your friends probably have _no_ idea what's coming their way if they play games or run Windows-specific apps you don't know about. Wow, what could go wrong?

Convering friends and family to Linux *is* worthwhile advocacy. I've done it myself. Doing it in a blanket all-my-friends manner, over the holiday season when your friends are probably not thinking much about computers is *stupid* advocacy.

Obligatory Seinfeld reference (1)

Vilim (615798) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717023)

Man, why not print out certificates for "The People Fund - Money for People", it would suck slightly less.

*sob* *sniff* (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717037)

A sure fire way to make your friends cry on Christmas day, and not the happy kind of crying either. I'm just thinking of what would happen if I did the same and sent a copy of Ubuntu to all my friends and relatives. It would be construed as an act of terrorism and I would probably be reported to the government.

Some Thoughts (1)

hahiss (696716) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717063)

First, ignore the jackasses who think this is a terrible idea because their family and friends wouldn't like it---because, um, you're not giving it to THEIR family and friends. After all, my family wouldn't like these Christmas gifts since we're Jewish . . . .

Second, I think that some of your offer to help install/administer their linux boxes should include spending time with them and finding out how they use their computer, what features they find essential, and the like. It would be worth it to burn a few live cds (at least Ubuntu AND Kubuntu, if we're only choosing between Gnome and KDE) and bring them over; sit with each family member (or at least primary computer user) as they play with each interface and ask them which they prefer. (Or just install both, if the HD is large enough and there's broadband bandwidth to spare.) It'll take longer---perhaps a lot longer---but if this is a gift for THEM then you should take the time to help them. (My experience on this front is that either people have very strong preferences right away or they're completely indifferent---but it is worth taking the time to find out.)

Third, (as others have said) the easyubuntu and automatix downloads will help them get up to speed with proprietary multimedia codecs quickly and painlessly. Other needs will crop up, but the more time you put in at the beginning making sure that THEIR basics get on the machine at install time means less administering stuff later on.

Fourth, be sure to spend time teaching them to use Synaptic or Adept---so that they feel comfortable adding and removing software.

Finall, spend time teaching them to use google effectively, so that they can solve their own problems should any arise. Show them the ubuntuforum and wiki sites, teach them how to ask good questions, etc. If you're installing dapper, odds are good that any problem they'll have will have popped up already---and so these sources will be valuable in case they have a problem before they can get ahold of you.

Re:Some Thoughts (1)

r3m0t (626466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718055)

For normal users, the Ubuntu installer ("Applications -> Add/Remove") is much nicer than Synaptic or Adept. It's almost futile to find the right (GNOME-like, does the right thing) program in Synaptic without its name.

Giving gifts YOU want others to have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717069)

not what THEY want... this reminds me of when i was 7 and wanted to buy my dad a GI Joe boardgame (yes.. boardgame... it was cool shut up) because I just knew HE'D be the one that wants it...

I'll do you one better (3, Interesting)

Mongoose (8480) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717179)

I gave my grandparents their first computer. I'm talking about showing them how to use a mouse, and very basic tasks for the first weeks. The OS? Debian unstable I customized for their personal use -- I'm talking I even wrote some applications like an ink monitor. This year I've already got them a new box, which is an Athlon XP running Ubuntu LTS with their migrated /home partition. The typical tasks are browsing the web, writing documents for their church/recipes/etc, viewing and printing photos from yahoo email, and much more.

If you give them an old computer with Ubuntu 'pre-installed' they'll have an easy go of it. I don't even remember how many years they've ran Linux now. I do know they never got any viruses or had anyone break into their system from the internet. The only major problem they have is getting someone to help them install a new ink cart if I'm not around when the ink is out. I say Linux is a great first OS when you consider how great the USB camera support is these days! =)

Re:I'll do you one better (1)

porkThreeWays (895269) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717747)

It's really interesting you bring this up. There was actually a study done last year by Novell that found people who've never used computers before acclimate to Linux as fast (or faster) than Windows.

Go ahead, (1)

vogon jeltz (257131) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717183)

but keep in mind that people (even very the very intelligent kind) are reluctant to change. Not to sound like some typical pimply faced youth slashdotter, but I've been on Linux exclusively for ten years (my birthday's soon and I got my first SuSE 4.4 box around that time, dumping Windows 3.1). I'm on Dapper now of course and frankly, it's a beauty.
A Linux install will be a hard thing for the so called "Windows power user". Avoid these people like the plague. They know as much about PeeCees as your average Granma' but insist on using every piece of shitty spyware, because that's what they know. If someone approaches you, suggest to install Dapper, and take some time to explain the philosophy and technology behind if they're willing to listen (they usually don't).
Don't bother forcing anything upon anybody. I stopped trying to convince people long ago, let them have the shit they deserve. I don't do Windows repairs, not because I don't want to help but because I'm actually mostly incapable of disinfecting spy-spam-zombie-virus machines. Don't EVER try to convince people unless they're really ready to listen.
My 0.02 Euros.

Reminds me of a Christmas Past (1)

the Gray Mouser (1013773) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717293)

When my aunt gave live hermit crabs to me and all my cousins without checking with any of our parents first...

Are you sure that Ubuntu is going to open every single file from all of their applications without any trouble. And all of their applications will work in Ubuntu? Especially the games the kids play?

It's may be all well and good until they find out that you broke the computer and little johnny can't play on it anymore.

Of course, if you're looking for a way out of future Christmas obligations, this may be a great plan.

Nice idea, but it's not gonna achieve anything (1)

aileanmacraith (1022745) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717303)

Today, I installed Ubuntu on my girlfriend's parents' machine, replacing their less than legit copy of Windows which doesn't let them update any more with a fully legit OS instead. I thought that it would be a good idea since all they do on the computer is write the occasional letter,browse the web and make MP3s out of their CDs to put on their MP3 players. Their Brother printer is also well supported and works perfectly under Linux. I reckon that as far as they're concerned, there is little to no difference between Windows and Linux. It has a mouse to click on the icons and the keyboard works. This is one side of the spectrum that can benefit from Ubuntu. I, on the other hand, benefit from Ubuntu because I can use it to do all of the things I used my Windows machine to do (except playing games). I am comfortable learning new commands and learning a new way to install programs and I am comfortable with the idea that there can be more than one desktop active at the same time. But I wouldn't have been only a few years ago and would hate to have had someone force Ubuntu upon me. I decided to make the move when I was comfortable and no one could have forced me to do it any sooner. In fact, before I was comfortable with Linux, I tried a few different distros: the main ones that interested me being Ubuntu and Fedora. It may be that Desktop Linux was just not mature enough for me to use as a newbie, but I was not willing to give it the time of day. I was left with a very bad taste in my mouth and it was a couple of years before I tried it again. I am worried that if you install Ubuntu on all these people's computers, they will also be left with a bad taste in their mouths and, as you know, bad news travels faster than good. I reckon it's all well and good advertising Ubuntu (or any other OS), but you have to leave it to people to make the switch themselves.

If you don't know what they need... (1)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717381)

or want, for that matter, you shouldn't be giving them an OS change.


This type of posting comes up every holiday season. The distro may change, but it's the same subject every year. Use search.

ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717441)

To make them like it... give em:

firefox with flash and the java plugin... so they can surf with no problems...

messenger thats capable of msn and icq... so they wont want their msn back

xcdroast or something like that

codec's and and and

help recovering their data

just dont make them feel like going back in time... ^^

Dude it's CHRISTMAS ! (1)

Chaffar (670874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717471)

Give them Ubuntu Christian Edition! [] !

Don't (4, Interesting)

focitrixilous P (690813) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717579)

Don't do it. As much as you may hate doing Windows Tech Support, you'll get ten times the phone calls if you do this. As opposed to just occasionally breaking, everything is broken now in their minds. The first time they get a word document that OpenOffice can't open, the first time they can't hook up their iPod, if they buy a new printer that doesn't work when they put in the driver cd.

If you don't want to spend the next 6 months troubleshooting linux problems and then reinstalling windows, don't do this. Most of them will probably buy a new computer and never ask you for computer help again. If that's what you want, fine, but it sounds like you are trying to be helpful here, and that is not the way to do it.

No offense, but... (1)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717783)

If you really expect to transition all your friends and family to Ubuntu linux, shouldn't you at least try it out yourself first? Then you will know first hand what changes will need to be made and how appropriate it is for your users.

Anyway, that said, [] is an excellent user-friendly one-stop-shop for new users, including how to install just about any 3rd party or non-free application or library that the average user is likely to need. Thanks to the richness of Ubuntu Universe, Backports and other high-quality repositories, most of these instructions simply boil down to:

1. Add extra repositories
2. Install package foo

Of the top of my head, it's mostly non-free and patent encumbered libraries you'll want to install. That's multimedia codecs, dvd playback and macromedia Flash.

You might have to get some binary drivers, depending on your user's hardware. Most popular kernel drivers, like Nvidia, ATI and MadWifi are in linux-restricted-modules-*.

Nothing else really comes to mind besides that, but you should really try it for yourself to be sure.

That's kind of like my presents... (1)

ROBOKATZ (211768) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717829)

I'm going to make contributions to The Human Fund in the names of everyone I know.

The gift of knowing (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717845)

Give them the gift of knowing how to use the Ubuntu install CD as a LiveCD and how NOT to nuke their hard drive (hint hint don't ever click "Install" unless you WANT to install). Once they're comfortable with that there will be none of this "My program isn't working I need it reinstalled can you come over I can't do any work for the next 4 hours until you're off work" crap; just throw in the CD and hit Firefox/ and continue working until help arrives.

If I were your friend... (2, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717847)

If I were your friend, I'd not thank you for imposing your [religious|political] beliefs on me. *Especially* when such beliefs mean I have to change out virtually everything familiar to me on my computer, and limits my choices in the future of games and applications. (Seriously, would you walk into your friends house and dump all of his food in the trash, or all his books or clothes? Because emotionally - that's what you are doing.)
What is it about Linux that leads people to such acts of zealotry?

Good Thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717903)

Once you've explained to them that they've all got to strip naked and stand in a circle holding hands with stupid grins on their faces, I'm sure you'll never have to buy them an xmas present ever again.

Well, you'll probably never even see them again..

Um (1) (782137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717945)

OS evangelism as a Christmas present.

I know it's the thought that counts, but jesus wept...

A Linux (2, Insightful)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718045)

There really seems to be no question of "Do these people want to be converted?"

It's pretty audacious to assume that everyone you know really wants to learn a new OS, deal with a whole new slew of applications and the 'nix intricacies that they will inevitably have to work with to keep the installation functioning. A personal desktop OS isn't like a corporate desktop OS. You can't say "Here, it's installed, now don't touch anything." People will want to customize things, change settings and I'm pretty sure that somewhere along the line something will break. I'd much rather have someone who normally wouldn't even know what Linux is switch to something like Mac OS X.

web, codecs, wine, backup, boot cd (1)

PapaZit (33585) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718169)

First, do everything that you can to ensure that they can use as many websites as possible. Install Flash, RealPlayer, Java, and Shockwave plug-ins. If they can't watch videos and play games, "linux is broken." That includes the ability to play mp3, wmv, quicktime AND DVDs.

Second, really think about installing Wine (you may end up doing this just to get Shockwave working). It'll cause grief either way, but if they can run whatever cheap recipe CD they picked up at Wal-Mart, they'll be happier.

Finally, set up automatic backups. They -will- delete an important file or trash the OS at some point. Have a way to bail them out. Ideally, install a proper backup system, but something as simple as a second hard drive and a script that runs "cp -r" on their home directory would work.

You'll also want to ensure that they have a live CD. That's easy with ubuntu, but in general, leave them with a "goof-proof" boot disk.
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