submitted 1 week ago* (last edited 1 week ago) by [email protected] to c/linux

There are always stories of people installing Linux on their parents computer to provide them a more secure and stable operating system, seems interesting to share experiences.

Edit: I'm assuming that parents are okay with the changes, or do not care. Obviously do not force anyone to switch OS if they don't want to.

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[-] [email protected] 52 points 1 week ago

I’d recommend Linux Mint honestly. It’s popular enough that they can find solutions to common problems, has a Windows-like interface, and it mostly “just works” on common hardware. Printer drivers, networking, and audio all worked out of the box for me. Cinnamon is lightweight but powerful, and the Mint theme looks really good on it. The default package repos have everything you’re likely to need, and the software manager tool is easy to use.

[-] [email protected] 29 points 1 week ago

I am here to also echo Mint being great. I installed it on a pretty old laptop and it's very snappy.

The migration process was not difficult at all.

Yeah, you know Chrome? It's this button now, this is the internet.

Your emails? Yeah they're this button now. Just remember that, okay?

Most people use computers as a means to an end and they are not really particular about what's happening behind the scenes so long as it functions for their needs.

[-] vrek 8 points 1 week ago

I did this back in probably 2008 with Linux mint.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 week ago

Mint does not automatically install updates so people will ignore them. It for me also had a broken updater.

[-] [email protected] 10 points 1 week ago

I don’t know of many distros that enable automatic updates out of the box, you usually have to enable it after installing.

You can do that in Mint too: https://linuxhint.com/configure-updates-automatically-linux-mint/

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[-] [email protected] 23 points 1 week ago

I installed Linux Mint on my Mom's and Grandma's PCs as it's one I use for most of mine. They took to it like a duck to water.

My Mom has a little bit of growing into it as she plays a lot of videogames (literally more than I do lol) but it's been smooth sailing.

My Grandma primarily does stuff in her browser so for her it was more of a new skin for her PC.

My Mom is running a system with a R5 1600 and a RX 580 and my Grandma is running a Intel Broadwell CPU (I can't remember which kind with integrated graphics.

To get my Grandma into Linux required some prep before hand teaching her about doing all of her office stuff in her browser because she was rude or die on Microsoft Office. Now she's ride or die for Google's office suite (not perfect but primarily painless for me).

For my Mom it was pretty simple after she started getting pop-ups to upgrade to Windows 11 and then being told her system doesn't support it. Also her finding out that Windows 10 was going EoL in 2025 really helped.

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[-] [email protected] 13 points 1 week ago

Linux Mint. She opens Firefox to check her emails and work panel. Only complaint is that it is my old giant laptop that I let her have. I will give her a different one soon.

[-] [email protected] 9 points 1 week ago

I put Pop_Os! on my mums MacBook and stopped having to do remote support almost entirely.

[-] [email protected] 9 points 1 week ago* (last edited 1 week ago)

The PC i gave my dad on birthday to replace his 10-year cheapo Medion pc with random bluescreens on boot.

Had initially a bit of trouble to get his work software running in wine, with integrated TeamViewer for support and all. But since then it's smooth sailing, he thought it was the new Windows for the first two years (Materia theme on XFCE).

Motivation was that Debian stable and unattended upgrades with occasional support for linux-vs-Windows things is less trouble (for me) than fighting an OS working against you long-term.

He did manage to have xfce-panels disappear once though.

Remote support via rustdesk.

[-] [email protected] 4 points 1 week ago

Rustdesk is so good for us family admins

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[-] [email protected] 8 points 1 week ago* (last edited 1 week ago)

Firstly, don't go out of your way to try and convince or force people, but TL;DR – if you have an opportunity and want to give someone a solid start, my recommendation is always Linux Mint.

My mother asked me to switch her in September 2022. Some bad Windows Defender definitions update started triggering warnings every 5 minutes starting at 2AM or something riduculous. I got a frantic call to come over because of "someone hacking her computer" fully expecting to just fix whatever was busted and move on with my day.

After a conversation, I installed LMDE for her and set up automatic updates plus Timeshift. She has had exactly two problems since then:

  • she forgets that the scanner isn't accessed by right-clicking the printer's tray icon and messing with settings

  • she didn't like that she can't move desktop icons to wherever she wants

She was also just about the easiest switch there could have been. Like many older folks, her primary use for her desktop is web/email and she has already been using Firefox/Thunderbird since the '00s.

[-] [email protected] 6 points 1 week ago

WHAT!? Apparently desktop icons are forcibly rearranged and while the location of the setting varies across versions, you can turn off the auto-align to let her do that. I haven't used a Linux UI for a few years but this may help: https://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?t=288291.

I hope that helps make her happy:-).

[-] [email protected] 4 points 1 week ago* (last edited 1 week ago)

Well now, don't I feel stupid. I never really bother messing with customizing the desktop layout nor do I use Cinnamon regularly, so I somehow must have just glossed right over that option. She only mentioned it one time in passing and had already gotten over it by that point.


[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 week ago

I may prefer Mac OSX, but Linux really is a fantastically beautiful - and functional - OS, so I am glad that she can enjoy it better with this!:-)

[-] eluvatar 7 points 1 week ago

Poorly, I setup Mint while I was in town, a couple weeks later it won't boot, can't troubleshoot that kind of thing from out of state, so... Yeah

[-] [email protected] 7 points 1 week ago

I installed Ubuntu about 15 years ago and my Dad thought it was the new Windows. Had far fewer problems with it, but he kept hitting random keys and causing the most amazing errors. I just heard about EndlessOS which seems perfect for old folks.


[-] [email protected] 7 points 1 week ago* (last edited 1 week ago)

I'm heavily considering it. My parents are on windows 7 and don't want to use windows 10/11. Right now I'm leaning towards ZorinOS

[-] [email protected] 5 points 1 week ago* (last edited 1 week ago)

In my opinion everything after Windows 7 progressively got worse. Windows 7 (with some exceptions) was about as good as Windows got.

If their computer is secure and they're still happy with it, I'm not sure I would poke that bear. I'm glad that newer versions of Windows aren't a consideration.

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[-] [email protected] 7 points 1 week ago

Ubuntu on my nanny's PC. Windows was choking its 4GB of ram and now it boots in 3min instead of 15min. She is super happy with it because you can actually do stuff on it.

Anyway, made the mistake of choosing Ubuntu because I knew the installer offered a minimal Gnome installation (yes minimal Gnome XD) For the future I'll do Debian/XFCE. Btw at the time I installed that Ubuntu I was 3 Months into switching to Linux.

In the end its all good.

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[-] [email protected] 6 points 1 week ago

Context: my mum's laptop is so old that velociraptors used it as a heating stone. So around 2022 (two years after W7 EoL) I gave her three options:

  • keep using Windows 7 - highly insecure, I heavily recommended against it, but it was still an option.
  • upgrade to Windows 10 - easier said than done because her computer is old, it would definitively not run well, and it's also a privacy nightmare.
  • switch to Linux - it has some rough edges here and there, she'd need to adapt herself to a different workflow, but we might be able to squeeze a bit more performance from it.

She eventually decided Linux, under the condition that any issue that she got she'd ask my help. (That was already the case - I was already the one doing maintenance of her machine.)

So I did. I went for Mint because it's the distro that I use, with Cinnamon there; it was closer to the W7 interface that she's used with. As she got used to the system she started asking less and less for my help, except when the computer is slow (quite a bit - again, velociraptors and stuff).

Recently I run some test with MATE in that computer (as it's lighter), and asked her if she could notice any difference in performance. She didn't, and she hated the DE so it's still running Cinnamon.

[-] [email protected] 6 points 1 week ago

I'm considering installing Fedora Silverblue on my dad's PC. Install Firefox, Thunderbird and LibreOffice as Flatpaks, show him the software center, set up his printer and wifi, set updates to automatic with no notifications, and hide the terminal from Gnome menus.
It would be like a debloated phone OS that requires no maintenance at all.

Im just not sure if updates are reliable enough to work without intervention.

[-] [email protected] 6 points 1 week ago

I gave my mom my old XPS 9350, with Fedora installed on it. Zero complaints whatsoever, so far, after like 3 years

[-] [email protected] 5 points 1 week ago

Had great success on Kubuntu. Set up the desktop to have two giant icons only: Firefox, and shutdown.

On Windows the constant popups for updating various components were causing much confusion Java, flash (back in the day), printer "drivers", and of course windows itself would throw popups about updates requiring clicking buttons every time they used the computer, which was very infrequently, and cause them much confusion ("what does update mean" ?")

Meanwhile on Kubuntu all updates go "shhhh" in the background, and no more confusing "To shutdown, press Start"

[-] [email protected] 5 points 1 week ago

Debian is never a bad choice. Put some flatpaks there, backport some goodies, and install some kind of AnyDesk system. Put some KDE Plasma and they'll think Windows finally runs well again.

[-] [email protected] 5 points 1 week ago

During the pandemic after Win 7 went out of support Jan 2020, I changed the harddrive to an SSD, and installed KDE Neon on a laptop from around 2014. At the time it was an Ubuntu 18.04 based distro with a KDE frontend.

All I had to do was put Chess, Go apps, shortcuts to use common sites, put two web browsers (Chromium and Firefox) to separate my parents' browsing and it was ready to go.

For the most part after I showed them how to use it they had no issues. I had to show them how to print, and scan things, transfer files from their phone (honestly doing it by email was less complicated). The computer had an icon in the tray that told them to update every once in a while (and the sudo password is 1234, they wouldn't know how to even mess things up using the GUI only).

The slightly annoying issued that cropped up now and then was keeping the browser up to date to ensure that video sites didn't nag my parents for the computer being out of date. Chromium eventually stopped seeming to work at some point.

Fast forward to today, only my mom uses it because my dad got a separate, faster laptop, cuz idk, they got tired of sharing. The laptop's still humming along and quite responsive. Since Bionic Beaver has been end of support for a year now, I have to go back over and upgrade it to 1 or 2 LTS versions up. I hope this doesn't introduce new lag or break my mom's workflows which are 90% just web browsing.

[-] [email protected] 3 points 1 week ago

You know there are firefox profiles right?

  • cp /usr/share/applications/whatever.firefox.desktop ~/.local/share/applications/
  • replace firefox with firefox -p in the app launcher
  • if you want it, use a master password in every user account
[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 week ago

Yes I know, I have played with the options. I just wanted to set something up and get two different icons for them with nothing shared and installing two browsers seemed like the easiest way at the time.

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[-] [email protected] 4 points 1 week ago

My parents (71f, 77m) run Linux Mint on their PCs and Laptops and a 22Tb Storage Server with Gentoo and an UPS... They update their machines themselves, but the Server hast one Patch day a month where i Run the Updates.

But i'm a senior software architect, fwiw.

[-] [email protected] 4 points 1 week ago

I installed ElementaryOS for my parents because it looked slick and gorgeous.

I actually have a lot of high praise for that product. But maybe it's a bit too slick, like there's an expectation of things "just working".

When an error hits, I was on the phone or a zoom call immediately. It felt like windows again.

[-] [email protected] 4 points 1 week ago

Not Linux but an old Mac OS X on a Mac Mini a long time ago, it lasted 5 years. Then Linux Mint that lasted 5 years too. Maybe controversial but most people only need LibreOffice and Firefox, so anything as easy as Ubuntu or macOS is enough (if you have a free Mac for macOS).

They switched to Windows 10 or 11 because they didn’t listen to my opinion and now they suffer more than ever, and they even got a subscription for an antivirus.

It’s funny because in 10 years (Mac and Linux) I had no support to do, and now that they switched to Windows, it’s broken all the time.

[-] [email protected] 4 points 1 week ago

The last computer I built for my dad before he passed ran Xubuntu LTS exclusively for about half a decade. No problems. He did updates himself.

[-] TheV2 3 points 1 week ago

When my mom used her laptop, she was using arch btw! It was only for browsing though. Firefox was auto launched and she didn't have to learn anything. It obviously wouldn't have been a good choice, if I wasn't able to do the updates.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 week ago

Just a shout-out that Mac OSX is also a very nice OS that is neither Windows nor Linux. In fact I am interested: would anyone argue against this, again this is for parents, presumably someone who has (been forced to) used Windows their entire lives at work yet knows nothing whatsoever about tech?

[-] [email protected] 12 points 1 week ago

I would much rather have them on Linux. The thing with OSX is that the UI works very differently from Windows. Going between KDE and Windows is very similar, but I still don't know how to use OSX

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[-] [email protected] 8 points 1 week ago

You make a valid point.

One counterpoint does come to mind: Cost. The hardware to run it on ain't cheap

(Im not up to date on the used market and the cut off point where old macs become unsupported and stop receiving software updates)

[-] [email protected] 10 points 1 week ago

Macs are horribly overpriced even used.

I am looking at Best Buy and Intel Macs from 4 generations ago are still going for 500-600 dollars, and that's on a low-end MacBook Air circa 2012 with an i5.

For reference, I recommend used ThinkPads to anybody looking for a business machine and they are generally under 400 dollars for basically twice as much power.

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[-] [email protected] 7 points 1 week ago

Nope, MacOS would be too different for them to handle. Linux Mint, or something with KDE Plasma would be way better IMO.

[-] Deebster 6 points 1 week ago

I guess my argument would be that you can choose/configure Linux to use many of the Windows conventions, whereas Mac has its own way of doing things that need learning.

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[-] Mikina 2 points 1 week ago

I've just ben talking with my kind of tech illiterate gf about switching hers to Linux too, since she saw some articles about Copilot and Recall, which she hates with passion. Should I go for Mint or PopOS, assuming she does game on steam a lot (nothing with anticheat, thankfully)? She's working in a GSuite/Slack workshop, so there shouldn't be any problems with that. However, she does have NVIDIA GPU, which was the cause for most troubles for me.

I'm on Nobara, but that's because I've always preferred Fedora, and it isn't exactly a smooth sailing. Nothing major, but I suppose one of the two I mentioned would be a better choice.

[-] [email protected] 2 points 1 week ago

I put Zorin OS on my mother-in-law's laptop, she just uses Facebook as far as I know and it's been fine. Only one call for tech support in the last two years.

On a sample size of one, I give Zorin OS a thumbs up to send to tech illiterate family.

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this post was submitted on 09 Jun 2024
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