Home > Mandriva, Mandrake, Lycoris > Linux for Grandma, Part 2 Linux for Grandma, Part 2 Submitted by Zsoltik@ 2004-04-02 Mandriva, Mandrake, Lycoris 23 Comments Matthew Newton takes a look at new releases of Mandrake and the Gnome 2.6 desktop, with an eye toward bringing one more Linux user online. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 23 Comments 2004-04-02 7:43 pm very good article now finally linux community is moving in a direction where they can challenge for desktop os. well good article man. 2004-04-02 7:47 pm For those interested, Gnome 2.6 is going to be added on Monday, on the cooker repository. It will be the first major piece to be upgraded on the unfrozen cooker (the development branch). It won’t be in 10.0 final, but probably it will be working on 10.0 too. 2004-04-02 8:19 pm Wait, so Gnome 2.6 will not be in the Mandrake 10.0 official release? 2004-04-02 8:26 pm Matt states that Grandma’s just going to use the computer, and *he’ll* worry about the OS. Toward’s the end he says: <<<“Is Mandrake 10.0 perfect? Not by any stretch. Its printer configurator is a nightmare, and its font-handling tool has been partially broken for several releases now. And–woe is me!–Gnome 2.6 is not part of Mandrake 10.0. I’m either stuck with waiting for the next release (which will likely come next fall) or with compiling it myself; and thus far, I’m unable to get Garnome to work on a Mandrake 10.0 box.”>>> Heh. Will he even get the OS to go? Or will Grandma die of old age before Matt can get Linux and all its components play in the same sandbox together? Or, he can just get Grandma an iBook running OS X and uninstall IE. 2004-04-02 8:37 pm Or, he can just get Grandma an iBook running OS X and uninstall IE. Perish the thought. PCs are so much better *cough*. There’s no adventure in having everything work right. Plus, you never know, grandma might decide she wants to play with the source code for the windowing system! PS – That’s sarcasm, everyone. Linux is good, OS X is good. Just for different tasks. 2004-04-02 8:53 pm “Or, he can just get Grandma an iBook running OS X and uninstall IE. ” And that assumes Matt wants to drop a grand or so… 2004-04-02 8:56 pm No iBook, unless they fixed the logic board problem. Get her a powerbook. And if you want a distro that you are admining anyway….Slackware would be good. Especially after Dropline upgrades. A friend of mine runs Drake, and I wasted a half hour the other night trying to find kernel source because apparently it wasn’t included on 9.2 ISO’s. I didn’t wanna tell him to go through recompiling his kernel to fix one driver problem, since that would bring up a whole new group of driver issues (as he’d be starting on a different kernel). I told him to upgrade to 10.0 since it’s a new install anyway. It better have kernel source ON THE CD! Sorry but seriously folks, kernel source should be installed by default and you shouldn’t have a choice not to install it. It’s not that big! 2004-04-02 9:12 pm “Slackware would be good.” For grandma? Hmmm…think I’d do Lindows or Xandros for grandma, unless she just happens to be 1337… Better yet, get her Yellow Dog on Powerbook. Best of both words… 2004-04-02 9:38 pm Every time that there is a Linux thread, a bunch of MacOS users jump in and tell everyone how happy they would be running Mac OS X. Let’s make a deal. I won’t remind you that I don’t want to be tied to a proprietary hardware platform sold sold by a horribly expensive proprietary software vendor and you don’t jump in every Linux thread to tell us that we should just use OS X, because it’s just Unix only better. I hate the mess of app nstallation process in OS X for technical reasons that I am not going to bother writing about here. Google for it if you really are inquisitive about it. There are no printing problems in Mandrake and no font installation problems either. The guy who wrote the article must have used Mandrake very superficially. It’s update and software installation process are on par with Debian’s which is I believe the best in the industry. Additionally, setting Mandrake up on a reasonably new computer is a 25 minute affair. And to the troll that brings up the kernel-source issue, which is widely known as not being with the original CDs, I have three things to say to you: 1) If you plan to compile software, you can probably easily download the damn source. 2) If you had bought your distribution and supported Mandrake, rather than whined about it, you would have gotten the kernel source on the additional CDs that Mandrake gives you. 3) Stop rehasing the same old-known issues that have been thrown around time and again. Mandrake 9.2 is a beautiful distribution and Mandrake 10 is going to be even better. 2004-04-02 9:55 pm You could of gotten the source for the kernel on line from a urpmi repository or from the ftp site if you wanted too. 2004-04-02 10:05 pm Bannisdale: Yeah, I’m kind of curious why he isn’t using Lindows, Lycoris, or Xandros. Yes, they aren’t exciting distros, but then again, I don’t think Grandma needs excitement, she needs bulletproof. I know that Linux purists hate the software subscriptions that those distros offer, but, I think Grandma would be much happier with going to a website, downloading and making with the double click, than having to call grandson when it’s time to download and install some software upgrade she needs. A no-frills first time computer user like Grandma needs something bulletproof and simple, so why grandson is trying to cobble together a brand new, still getting all the kinks worked out combo of OS, DE, and software is beyond me. Eu: Touche. However, I couldn’t resist given that this guy is talking about how he’s going to set grandma up this great computer because Linux is the bees knees only … uh, the printers are a PITA to set up, the fonts are befouled, and he can’t even get the DE that’s best for grandma to use on the freaking thing. It’s NOT the latest, greatest or the best if it doesn’t even f’in work. 2004-04-02 10:29 pm Kady, I agree. And what he is doing is ridiculous. But… Had he chosen to stay with an updated default Mandrake 9.2, with some nice backgrounds and some sensible defaults and some nic big icons for Grandma, Grandma would have been happier. The director of the community center where I work uses Mandrake every day and he is 76, so I should know a little about this. The other thing he should have done is set up ssh so he can log in remotely and install anything that she needs for her without her having to lift a finger. Granma sends him an email and says, do you have a nice solitaire-like game? And he replies, check your menu, I just installed it for you. That’s what I do for my father and he loves it. Finally, I set up a cron-job so that all of the security updates are done every night without user intervention. For what is worth, I like what OS X represents in terms of software development, but there are a lot of people, including people strugging to live on very small pensions, that can use a properly set up Linux box and they are likely to be happy with it for years to come. Regards. Ps: By the way, I apreciate the tone of your reply 2004-04-02 10:54 pm “A no-frills first time computer user like Grandma needs something bulletproof and simple, so why grandson is trying to cobble together a brand new, still getting all the kinks worked out combo of OS, DE, and software is beyond me.” Of course, grandmas do seem to have gotten smarter over the years. In particular, the one on my mother’s side would probably have considered it the devil’s machine had it the misfortune displaying the BSD daemon. But in any case, neither of mine would have had much luck operating a vcr, much less a confuser…er, computer. 2004-04-03 5:30 am Why not have your grandma use Windows? Not only is Windows easy to use, but it does NOT seem to have the printer and font issues that Mandrake seemed to have at the end of the article. I guess I must be missing something since it seems that Linux is always the answer to everything. Nevermind that other operating systems are better at certain tasks, or are far, far better and handling operations that should be automatic, thus not wasting the user’s time getting things to work… 2004-04-03 6:02 am Wait, so Gnome 2.6 will not be in the Mandrake 10.0 official release? Gnome 2.6 has been released two days ago, it was obviously too late to incorporate it in the final. Testing would have been too short. However it will be available in cooker and probably through club downloads for Mdk 10 (and probably 9.2). 2004-04-03 6:05 am BTW, for me the font-handling tool works well for me. For the printer I have no problem too. There is a dedicated tool to add a printer (local or network) in the control center. Of course, just take care to buy a Linux-compatible printer, not a recent Canon for example, they don’t give their specs. 2004-04-03 6:07 am You have to walk before you can run. Linux must first meet the needs of the power users and then and only then go after grandma. By going after grandma now you are just going to annoy the power users with a desktop that is incomplete, slow, and in the way. Here is anoter tip, most powerusers have much lower application requirements than grandma. I have said it before but, Linux does about 80% of what I need it to do and about 10% of what my mom would need it to do. Candy coating the interface to look like XP and dombing it down with training wheels is only going to make it be in my way, and that is not where Linux needs to be. huh uses the windows classic look on XP pro with all the whiz bang graphics features turned off to improve speed. Huh also spends a great deal of time with ever KDE install to get it the h*ll out of my way. Blackbox is light but is impossible to multitask with, I regularly am jumping back an fourth between 15 windows. Windows classic can display all of them (grouping off) and KDE can handle about 5. Anyway, the only thing Linux has that windows does not is a bash shell. 2004-04-03 8:35 am Ok first… “Let’s make a deal. I won’t remind you that I don’t want to be tied to a proprietary hardware platform sold sold by a horribly expensive proprietary software vendor and you don’t jump in every Linux thread to tell us that we should just use OS X, because it’s just Unix only better. I hate the mess of app nstallation process in OS X for technical reasons that I am not going to bother writing about here. Google for it if you really are inquisitive about it.” I don’t get the first paragraph, I could easily say Red Hat is expensive for their enterprise stuff. Mac OS X is not expensive when you factor in all you get for it and all the time and rescources I save by not having to deal with problems I experience on Windows or Linux. Im sorry but you just sound like your not even trying to give a ligitimate reason here, it’s like me saying I don’t like Linux because the icons are cartoonish, it doesn’t make any sense and is far from any rational reason. Plus you are totally forgetting about the TONS of open source software in Mac OS X, most apps are made with open source software, apple contributes to tons of open source projects, etc. The only proprietary stuff in Mac OS X is the GUI and applications apple provides with it. As for paragraph 2, yeah it’s a real pain having to drag 1 icon from 1 folder to another… i mean it takes a whole 3 seconds to do…. MAN thats a lot of time! As opposed to the minutes it takes to do any Windows/Linux installation. Listen I love to get my parents off of Windows and everybody else in my family, problem is it’d be even worse to get them onto Linux. I would love to tell them Linux is easy enough, and really great to use… the problem is it isn’t true right now. I can’t guarantee any program they download would easily install and the current software on linux would be easy to configure. GNOME is WAY to simplistic, so I’d have to put them on KDE. Don’t get me wrong Linux is definitely moving in the right direction right now. It needs to get to the point where Mac OS X is right now, where you can get in configure what you want easily, install anything easily, and do what you want to do and get out. When it gets there I’ll gladly reccommend it to people whenever they really need to get off Windows and can. 2004-04-03 5:33 pm I was a bit disappointed by this article. I’ve been looking on and off for a truly simple OS for my Mom – much less my Grandma – for years now. The closest she came to something she could deal with was AmigaOS. A word processor that came with the Amiga (sorry forget the name) had a very simple formatting bar at the top – font,size, bold/underline/italics, which she dealt with very well and is what you need 99% of the time. Compare that with any version of MS Word, which has dozens of buttons on-screen. She just doesn’t know what to press when there are too many options in front of her. Same with email. She’s currently running Windows 95 and hates it. I’ve considered reviving an Amiga or old-style B&W Mac for her, but I’d much rather find an appropriate Linux distro… I’d have hoped that someone somewhere is making a “childproof” distro for kids, old folks, and the disabled, but I haven’t seen it yet. During the “Internet Appliance” days, things like the IOpener and that-thing-that-killed-BeOS had the right idea (VERY SIMPLE screens and apps that lead you down through the tasks you need to do), but every current distro I’ve tried, no matter what they claim, tries to be everything to everyone. She needs something that has been skinned down to almost nothing, because again that’s what you need 99% of the time. Some sort of scalability (to “advance” the interface as you learn more) or advanced but hidden options would be nice (“simple things should be simple, complex things should be possible” – Alan Kay), but even if it’s locked down to the basics, ANYTHING would be better for my Mom than what’s out there right now. The Tivo-replacement projects (Freevo, MythTV) have potential as they’re restricted by low-function interfaces, but they don’t pretend to include word processing or email apps. I’d create a distro myself, but I lack the time and knowledge… Any links to possible solutions would be appreciated! -MG. 2004-04-03 6:42 pm Garnome provides an automated means of downloading and compiling development versions of the Gnome desktop. Pretty cool, we need a app. that deos that for every program in source. Why do us KDE users get left out? 2004-04-03 7:11 pm “As for paragraph 2, yeah it’s a real pain having to drag 1 icon from 1 folder to another… i mean it takes a whole 3 seconds to do…. MAN thats a lot of time! As opposed to the minutes it takes to do any Windows/Linux installation. ” Yes, it’s easy but technically deficient. All kinds of files are scattered around and not cleaned up when you deinstall, even if you believe that you have in fact removed everything by dragging it to the trash bin. Read more about it before telling me how well it works. The easiest installation model is provided by LIndows click-n-run and I do not particularly like Lindows. The most robust is provided by urpmi and apt-get. If you had to mountain thousands of systems, you would understand how nice it is to be able to script software installation and removal as well as software updating, with the knowledge that the integrity of the system will be respected. 2004-04-03 8:27 pm And in case, you still do not get it. Let me be even clearer, since it seems that some facts fly in the face of the religion surrounding the infallability of Apple. But for a critical thinker who uses a personal OS X machine, (especially who has installed a fair amount of software): Go to to your Applications directory and ls -la to see just how many are owned by the primary user instead of root. And then see if the primary user happens to also be a member of the Admin group, which has write access to all the files there owned by root/admin. This also applies to the Applications directory itself. On my powerbook, taking installation defaults, over 95% of the apps installed in the Applications directory are writable by the primary user. This seems inexcusable from a virus security perspective. On Linux, 0% of my apps are writable by the primary user. 2004-04-05 9:31 pm please note that this is part two of a series of articles that includes a part one and will include a part three. part one answers a lot of objections and criticisms, including “why not xandros or lindows?” and “why is he talking about mandrake?” you should go read that before moaning. and i expect part three will explain what he actually did in the end.