[sclug] What distro?

Alex Butcher lug at assursys.co.uk
Mon May 8 21:04:41 UTC 2006

On Mon, 8 May 2006, Neil Haughton wrote:

> Slight twist to this question - my Dad (86) who has fought a fight with 
> Windows 98 since, well about 1998 I guess, has had enough and is about to 
> take the Linux plunge.  The question is which distro would be most suitable?

My Dad's happily using CentOS 4.2 (RHEL clone) and before that FC1. He
adapted fairly readily to Linux, probably due to him not having much
intimate knowledge of how Windows was /actually/ working. Things I had to

- the install, obviously :-)
- periodically, take along a USB HDD with the updates on (he's only got 56k
- put some icons for his commonly-used apps in the taskbar (OO.o, Mozilla
   email, Firefox, Konqueror, GIMP, gphoto, the RH network interface control
- periodically fix things as he discovers them misconfigured/unconfigured or
   otherwise broken.
- tweak the fonts so they're most readable for him (a couple of points
   larger than I would use on the same monitor, IIRC - one significant
   advantage over Windows for those of advanced years!).

I picked FC and CentOS because they're both Free, free, and I feel
completely happy maintaining them and supporting him, over an SSH link if
needs be. I moved from FC to CentOS in order to have a longer lifecycle
before I need to upgrade. When I do, I'll do it the same way I did the FC to
CentOS upgrade; install onto a HDD, then take it along and swap it with the
old one, and copying his data before I remove the old disc.

Things he likes about Linux includes: no viruses, no bluescreens, no random
loss of configuration settings, Firefox.

> Ubuntu is quite popular out there (South Africa) in the Linux world, for 
> obvious reasons I suppose, but I wonder if Gnome might be a little too 
> strange after the W98 interface.

Does he really use the W98 interface in anything like an 'expert' manner? Or
does he just use it to start programs and manage files? If so, virtually
anything will be adequate. Personally, I think GNOME is better for new
Windows converts as KDE looks too similar and makes them think all their old
tricks will work. GNOME reinforces the understanding that Linux is Not

> He only needs email, (currently Outlook Express), a diary thing (currently
> Lotus Organised from Lotus Smartsuite), a word-processor and spreadsheet
> (currently Wordpad and I'm not sure what for the spreadsheet - probably
> Lotus 123), and something well integrated to view images (jpg etc).

Email: Evolution/Thunderbird/Mozilla Email
Calendar: Evolution/?
WP: OO.o Writer
Spreadsheet: OO.o Calc
Image Viewer: GIMP (overkill, but..), xv, eog (aka Eye of Gnome), gliv

> Decent screen savers, wallpapers,


> sound to work out of the box, and so on.

Any decent desktop-focused distro should be able to configure sound, these

> What are your opinions about this?

You asked, you got. :-)

> Neil.

Best Regards,
Alex Butcher         Renew for Freedom! Renew your passport in May 2006 and
Bristol, UK          resist compulsory UK ID Cards and National ID Database
PGP/GnuPG ID:0x5010dbff                    <http://www.renewforfreedom.org>

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