Skip to comments.How switching my parents over to Linux saved me a lot of headache and support calls
Posted on 01/21/2019 12:36:12 AM PST by vannrox
During me being at my parents over the holidays (Christmas 2017) I had the usual IT-support stuff to do, that always happens to tech savvy kids when they are back at home.
As I am a happy Linux user for over a decade now, I asked myself if it would be a good idea to switch my parents away from Win 10 to a GNU/Linux (I will call it only Linux during the rest of the post. Sorry Richard ;) ) based system.
I did that and now 2 years later I still think it was a good idea: I have the peace of mind, that their data is kinda safe and they also call me less often regarding any technical issues with the system. (Yes, Win 10 confused them more than Ubuntu does).
In the following I would like to describe this ongoing journey and how you can follow my example.
The post is structured in three parts: Preparation
Please keep in mind, that this setup is my very own solution and it is likely, that you need to tweak it to your needs. Disclaimer: I do not care about FOSS only or something.
Background about my parents computer usage: They mainly use their machine for email and web stuff (shopping, social media, online banking,...) and are not heavily into hardware intense gaming or so.
As my parents already used a lot of Free Software as their daily drivers (Thunderbird, Firefox) I did not had to do a big preparation phase. But still I switch them (still on their Win 10) to LibreOffice so that they could get used to it, before changing the whole system.
(Excerpt) Read more at blog.simon-frey.eu ...
You can read the rest here; https://blog.simon-frey.eu/how-switching-my-parents-over-to-linux-saved-me-a-lot-of-headache-and-support
If that doesn't work, go back to your primary backup or better yet and image backup if you have one.
I work in DevOps and a bit of tech support. Design databases, implement mail servers, etc.
If any friends or family ask me to work on their computer, I mess it up intentionally (nothing destructive) so that they’ll never ask me again. That policy has saved me lots of heartache over the years.
May have saved you heartache, but probably cost a few friends, or at least a good deal of their respect.
Why not just say that a technicians time and advice are his stock in trade. You do not wish to spend half of your working hours for free.
Sure made my life easier.
Chrome had some issues arise on both Windows and linux awhile back. Updating Chrome and libnss3-1d may fix it. It’s pretty easy to do.
PM sent. :)
Sounds like you are a coward as well as a passive-aggressive jerk. Man up and just say "no". You sound like the kind of guy who would use Gillette.
I used to trade labor with a relative that owned a cabinet shop.
One day, I’m upgrading his hardware, he asks, How do you know all that?
I said ‘easy, if not sure, select YES’.
He sells the business and moves across the state, opens a new cabinet shop.
Phone rings, somehow he deleted everything!!!
He did not know I was joking.
He had backups but, still had to rebuild a week by hand.
A good thing he had already completed the new kitchen for me!
Now he switched Apple, his wife says he sometimes spends hours yelling at it?
I setup a windows pc for my aunt & uncle. My aunt is not interested in computers and my uncle sent 1 email with my help. Only 1.
He likes to actually talk to people and write letters on paper <- paper, imagine that.
As someone who has worked on Unix systems since 1985, the last thing I would do is inflict Linux on friends and family.
Desktop Linux is a failure. Too many distributions & too many ways of doing things for the average schlub.
MacOS is the only Unix distribution that’s sugar-coated enough for the average schlub to easily use. If friends & family have an iPhone, the integration between Mac & iPhone is a win for those folks.
For the Windows 10 holdouts, buying an adequately configured PC for their use causes a lot of complaints to disappear.
Hey, it's not like I don't warn them first.
Do yourself a favor and use standard Ubuntu I know there are a ton of awesome Linux distros out there (Btw. I use Arch ;)) but my experience during this journey brought me to the conclusion, that the standard Ubuntu is still the best. It is mainly because, all the drivers work mostly out of the box and the distro does a lot automatically. (Because of that, my parents where able to install a new wireless printer without even calling me...beat that Gentoo ;)) On top of that: The Ubuntu community multilingual and open for newbies.
I would say Mint or straight Ubuntu. Even then, you can choose different desktops and that's just a matter personal taste. Ubuntu itself comes with the gnome desktop now. I'm running Ubuntu KDE version which has the Plasma desktop but it was the last release. Now Ubuntu is strictly going to use Gnome. Mint has the MATE, Cinnamon and xfce versions. Then there's ubuntu flavors, Xubuntu, Lubuntu & Kubuntu, with the former two being lightweight, plain looking versions for old machines.
So for desktops;
Gnome is the only one that works well with a touch screen which is probably why Ubuntu made the switch. I've noticed in the last several years, smaller distros are disappearing and/or people are swapping to the bigger distros. I've also noticed the bigger distros are focusing their efforts more. Ubuntu quit working on Ubuntu Touch and just swapped to Gnome which adds touch compatibility. Some are also redesigning their sites with more focus so that the average person doesn't get blown away by a gazillion pages, most of which are outdated. KDE has just done that and prior to the redesign, there was over 100 apps listed, half of which were outdated. They're narrowing down to a standard set of modern apps and also putting a lot of focus into their Plasma desktop. As such, I suppose I should mention one more distro, KDE Neon which is Ubuntu with KDE apps and Plasma desktop. That elementary OS mentioned in the article is a really nice looking version. I tried it once but forget why I didn't stick with it. Another honorable mention, for those heading off to college, UberStudent is a very polished OS, based on Xubuntu but set up with apps pre-installed and a configuration that are geared towards students.
All the others, debian, arch, red hat based etc are not for non-tech people.
But if the need is just to do common things like using the Internet, email, word processing with security, and do not want to install illegal multimedia codecs, and the person does not want to pay for anything, then they might as well use Linux.
I myself Windows 10 pro, with an upgrade path that flowed from XP, but just installed Linux Mint 19.1 in a 2012 HP G7 notebook to dual boot with Windows 7 (not that Linux is better) which came with it.
Although the default dual boot Mint install broke the W/7 boot which i was able to fix via Windows, Mint did fine in detecting the internal wireless, and enabling the Internet etc, without installing proprietary software.
Once a 64 bit version of Android is offered for Desktops then I hope to load it on a spare drive for the main rig. Thank God for tools and instruction and for those who create and offer them, that they may be used for Good
I think my solution to the problem of relatives wanting free tech support is better. I tell them I haven’t worked with MS-Windows for ten years, and wouldn’t have any idea what to do with it. This has the additional benefit of being mostly true.
One very good thing that has happened in the last few years in the Linux world, is that the patents that encumbered mp3 decoding and encoding have finally expired. There are now very few, if any, "illegal" codecs that most folks would need. When I built my media center last year I didn't have to go out an specifically search for anything like that.
Just like with the recent expiry of the MP3 patents and AC3, the last of the MPEG-2 patents have now expired.
From the MPEG LA:
Please note that the last US patent expired February 13, 2018, and patents remain active in Philippines and Malaysia after that date. https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MPEG-2-Last-Patents-Expire
Yet that does not mean one may not need any proprietary codecs any more. One consequence though of such is that due to the H.265/HEVC video format (crucial to stuffing 4K into modern data pipes) wanting steep royalties, tech giants trying to "get around licensing fees and patents that have added to their costs and complexity of rolling out the tech currently needed to move HD and even 4K video around, like h.264 or the new HEVC" have worked to develop a new video compression scheme, AV1 (faster video startup time, less buffering and better picture quality). For which they claim "all the relevant patent holders are already involved and have agreed to make its use royalty-free, so there won't be the licensing pool problems seen last time around."
I pray it will be used for Good, to the glory of God who made eyes, and not evil.
I have a brand new Ryzen box at my desk & I’ve been using it to go cold-turkey with Linux.
First stop was Ubuntu. I easily got Ubuntu working, only to find out that Electron-based applications wouldn’t work. Turns out there may have been a change to a GNU library that broke Electron.
If Mom & Grandad were on Ubuntu, they’d be SOL when their applications stopped working. Unfortunately, the sugar-coated applications on Linux tend to be Electron-based.
One thing I’ve noticed doing Windows 10 support for Mom & Grandad is that many issues are caused by purchasing the cheapest PC available. With Windows 10, I’m seeing less virus & malware issues. The biggest problem for Mom & Grandad has been Windows Update. My experience, your mileage may vary from mine.
For Mom & Grandad, they would better served with a locked-down iPad Pro with keyboard.
Back to Linux for a moment. For my new system, I setup Ubuntu. Only problem is Ubuntu doesn’t seem to easily install to a PC where I’m using EFI in place of legacy BIOS. From what I can tell, I’d have to make a custom bootable USB memory stick to force Ubuntu to install using EFI. Canonical should provide a second installer image to fix this.
So... I try Fedora. Fedora installs, but won’t support my WiFi card do to ideological reasons. The driver isn’t open-source. I had to run a 50 foot ethernet cable down the hall to try and figure out how to make WiFi work on Fedora.
Nineteen years ago, I can remember trying to get SuSE working on a laptop for my employer. After 19 years, I’m still fighting the same hardware issues I had with that laptop.
Software installation? I have 5 methods for each platform. This is ridiculous. On Ubuntu, Snap installs are useless.
Most of the alternative distributions would be better served by providing their special windowing environment on top of the 3 common Linux distributions & skipping creating yet another unique distribution.
If the efforts spent to create all these distributions were spent to create a solid single Linux system, they’d have winner.
As it stands, Desktop Linux is a failure for the average schlub.
Fedora has some improvements. Electron apps on Fedora actually work.
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