Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Dialog with the Girlfriend

About a year ago I made a post about installing Linux on my girlfriend's laptop. Just recently I was quoted on Linux Insider about how successful the installation had been a year later. I said that I believed it to have been a successful conversion of a Windows user to Linux. My descriptions were from my observations only, not my girlfriend's. I had not thought at that time to ask my girlfriend what she thought about the change of operating system on her computer.

Last night I sat down with her and we talked a bit about what she thought of her penguin powered laptop. With her permission I am going to post some of her responses.

You always hear people say Linux is only for “hackers” or “code monkeys” obviously you must have some programming background to use Linux everyday?

Girlfriend: I know a bit of HTML, but I've never needed to “code” anything to work on my Linux computer.

You've used the Gnome, Enlightenment, and the KDE desktops. Do you have a preference to which you use?

Girlfriend: To be honest beyond appearance I never really noticed much of a difference between the three. Enlightenment and KDE are pretty, while Gnome has a bit of a crude feeling. They all function equally well though. I never had a problem doing what I wanted to do on the computer regardless of the desktop.

Is it important that the software you use is open source? Why or why not?

Girlfriend: I don't write code – I don't look for bugs. I just want an application that works and gets the job done. The most attractive component to FOSS to me is that it is free of cost. Take photoshop for instance – instead of spending thousands of dollars I can use GIMP for free. GIMP does everything I need, GIMP does everything most people need.

What aspect of Linux most appeals to you?

Girlfriend: The software center is great. It allows for you to easily find and install things and know they are safe. Installing things on Windows can cause your computer to die. As long as I am using the software center on Linux I have piles of choices I can just install without the fear of hurting my system (and with out costing me a thing).

What aspect of Linux least appeals to you?

Girlfriend: Most closed source programs are not universal. I still have to load a Windows virtual machine in order to do some of my school work. Aesthetically some of the FOSS applications aren't as good looking, but they typically get the job done so their appearance really doesn't matter to me.

Would you recommend Linux to a friend?

Girlfriend: Sure. If they had Linux then they wouldn't have to have all the extra trash on their system (that normally comes pre-installed on Windows). System stability is better on Linux, it doesn't start running slow after a few months. They also wouldn't have to pay to get viruses and spy-ware removed every few months.

What do you think needs to happen for Linux to become a major contender as a desktop operating system?

Girlfriend: 10 out of 10 people know what Microsoft is because it comes with their computer. People also can be afraid of free thinking you “get what you pay for”. Maybe you should try charging for Linux? Its really pretty dumb, but if Mac can be so popular with being so expensive I don't see why Linux can't do the same. Windows, Linux, OSX – they all do the same thing. Linux just tends to do it cheaper, more efficiently, and quickly.

A few of the responses she gave were exactly what I was expecting. It was refreshing to hear someone who is only a desktop user share some of the same insights as a seasoned Linux advocate – maybe we aren't all just nutty “Linux Zealots” after all. At the same time a few of her answers have given me some food for thought (and future posts).

While my girlfriend is smarter than the average bear, she is by no means a “programmer” or a “power user”. She is an accounting major, full time student and manager at a local bowling alley. Just like most end users her computer is a tool and Linux allows it to function better than it ever did while running Vista.

Have you installed Linux for friends or loved ones? What have their responses been to their new operating system after having time to use and adjust to it?

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. > Have you installed Linux for friends or loved ones? What have their responses been to their new operating system after having time to use and adjust to it?

    Yes. I have been a Linux desktop user since some time in 1995, however I switched my wife and children to Linux desktops in 2006 which they used until 2010 when they demanded Windows 7 because of stability problems with Ubuntu 9.10.

    My wife absolutely despised OOo, and the kids can't use it either because their teachers at school cannot open the documents properly so they get graded down.

    In addition, a lot of kids game sites did / do not work without Windows, nor do some of our online banking and other required services among other things.

    They have had a few problems with Windows here and there since the big migration day but over all they are a LOT happier and refuse to have anything to do with Linux now.

    That's after ~5 years of actually using Linux daily.

    That said, I'm still using it but I don't fault them for not wanting anything to do with it because if you think about it, it's just not ready for non-geek use.

    Your case with your GF is an exception, you are her technical support by definition (even if you don't realize you are doing it). :D

  2. I recently installed Linux Mint on my grandmother's netbook after a nasty virus hit it. She had a few questions at first, but she uses it daily and hasn't asked me a question in months.

  3. I have my mum and girl friend running Debian stable. It is great, once installed I maybe receive a question every few months. No one has any complaints and I can rest assured that their computers will keep on going forever.

    I recently upgraded mum to Ubuntu 10.10 so that she can play a few games using the open source graphics drivers :).

  4. My ex runs Linux Mint no Problem..

    Helped her install it over the phone and she loves it for it's stability compared to Microsoft...

    Bodhi will never be like that but it appears ready to take the 2nd tier...a little work goes a long way....looks to be positioned to knock down the Slackware derivatives and I hope it does...

  5. I got a friend to install Linux Mint when his Microsoft Windows system was hit by a combination of different types of malware — I was able to successfully guide him through the entire installation process through just GChat. Unfortunately, he doesn't use it anymore, and I believe this is because his parents won't let him (that one's a family computer, I think). I also converted my cousin to Ubuntu, and although she took a while to warm up to it, she's happily using it now on a regular basis; I've posted more on my blog about it, but suffice it to say that this is surprising to me because she is almost computer-averse.
    a Linux Mint user since 2009 May 1

  6. Oh, wow, I almost forgot: I got another friend to switch to Linux Mint, and it's even better now because her internship requires her to use Ubuntu (or a derivative of it), so she can do even more with Linux Mint than she could with Microsoft Windows.
    a Linux Mint user since 2009 May 1

  7. I like to tinker and have had Linux on at least one computer since 2003. I successfully converted my children to Linux about 2 years ago. The older started with Mint and, for some reason I can't recall, we switched her to Ubuntu. The younger started with Qimo then moved up to Ubuntu. No complaints. The only real questions they ask me is how to do something very specific in openoffice. I usually don't know the answer because I only use it for basic word processing. The older is learning scribus for her more serious desktop publishing...on her own. They've both tweaked their desktop themes, wallpaper, etc to the point I don't even recognize their computers...all without asking me a question. Neither has hit high school yet. Wife is the only hold-out. I'm running opensuse 11.4 KDE on my desktop, Mint and Mint LXDE on my "toys"...but I've tinkered with just about everything.

  8. @FEWT

    quote:: My wife absolutely despised OOo, and the kids can't use it either because their teachers at school cannot open the documents properly so they get graded down. ::quote

    Save the documents in Microsoft document format, and the teachers won't know the difference.

  9. @tracyanne for Basic papers and spreadsheets that works. For more complicated papers you can export them as PDFs.

    For complicated spreadsheets and almost any form of .ppt file the document gets slaughter when going from OOo to MS anything.

  10. On OpenOffice.org, I agree that for basic stuff saving a file in a Microsoft Office format won't make a difference. For more complicated stuff, the new LibreOffice is supposed to be amazing (compared to OpenOffice.org). Then again, why can't Microsoft Office 2007 properly display documents created in...[drum roll]...Microsoft Office 2003? One of my relatives was having this very issue.
    a Linux Mint user since 2009 May 1

  11. Quote: "What aspect of Linux most appeals to you?

    Girlfriend: The software center is great....
    End Quote

    I would be careful of this statment as trolls constantly like to split hairs ... as that is an ubuntu thing ... rather then a linux thing. it is good to see these articles however. I have also successfully converted many a windoze user to linux ... and it never struck me write up an article about it.

    Thanks for this!

  12. I think happiness with Linux very much depends on the use case.

    A friend of mine was unhappy with Ubuntu two years ago, because he had trouble to properly edit Word files which he frequently received from colleagues. Also, he had problems with a HP Laserjet 1020 and a DVB-T Stick.

    Another friend is absolutely happy with Ubuntu on her notebook. She wrote her master thesis in OpenOffice and did her data analysis in Stata on Linux. She loves that the notebook boots in about just 30 seconds, far less than the windows xp which was installed before that. According to her, everything feels snappier. Now waiting for verything like in Windows.

  13. Sorry, last sentence should have been: No waiting for everything like it was in Windows.

  14. I have been running Kubuntu @ home for years. My wife, one of the least technical people you could think of, advocates Linux over Windows all the time ... and we live 2mi South of MSFT campus.

    Mainly, Linux lacks marketing (being OSS and all), which also means it lacks the user feedback it needs to solve some of those "crude looking" UIs.

    My $.02

  15. "My wife absolutely despised OOo, and the kids can't use it either because their teachers at school cannot open the documents properly so they get graded down."

    I did an entire accounting degree in OpenOffice. I was smart though - I read the class instructions, and gave the professor the file in the exact format he or she was asking for. Pretty amazing that this guy's kids' teachers can tell the difference between a DOC file made in Word compared to one made in Writer - but none of my University professors could tell the difference.

  16. You folks obviously also aren't 3rd 5th or 11th graders that have only the basic word processing skills either.

    The teachers can tell the difference, not for simple things obviously and not for all documents but the fact remains that sometimes the formatting gets screwed and they get graded down for it.

    Geez, I'm not a n00b. ;)

  17. Innocent BystanderMarch 29, 2011 at 7:26 PM

    Every time I help a friend cleaning up a Windows machine. The same problem came back shortly after. In general, it is because it is very easy to install or run a code in Windows. UAC or Antivirus is no help. They download a bunch of things from the Internet or from friends or email and always agree to run it.

    With times, I ended up with a simple solution which work great so far. I installed them Linux. Before I used Ubuntu, now Linux Mint. This works especially well with low tech users. In general, they have no idea, they just think this is Windows with a different look.

    For more "advanced" users, i.e those who think they know something. These insist to have Windows with a full army of Anti-Everything. In spite the fact that all they do is to use the browser for Facebook and watching YouTube. It's harder to convince. These people know what Windows is and don't believe free is better (quite the contrary). They just think that it's normal their computer is slow because it's more than 1 year old and also they got hit b/c they are unlucky.

    Now I don't have time to help these "geek" friends anymore.

  18. Oh, one more thing. All of the documentation that the area schools provide the kids to use as guidance for things like headers, footers, page numbers, etc. It's all designed for MS Word, and when you are a 5th grader that just wants to get their homework done so they can go outside and play they don't want to fight with a computer because what it says on paper doesn't match their screens, they just want to get it done and go outside.

    It would be really nice if we lived in a perfect world where schools provided documentation for multiple office suites, but they don't. It would be really nice if we lived in a perfect world where grade school teachers were well enough trained that they could open an ODT document to see that it isn't the kids fault that the tables aren't aligned properly, but they don't even know what ODT is because this is the real world. :(

  19. @FEWT Thats because I've found most grade school teachers struggle to do basic Algebra. They are not typically the brightest bulbs on the strand.

  20. @Jeff - I can't argue with that, but we get what we pay for. :(

  21. @FEWT - I've had the opposite experience - my kids have used OpenOffice for years - two in high school now, one in junior high. Didn't really seem to know it was anything different - just that it was the word processor on the computer. I'm sure there were a couple of times over the years when I had to help them with formatting, but it would have been the same with Word or Excel. Parents have to jump in to help fill in the knowledge gap sometimes. Sorry about your troubles. I also put it on my mom's netbook - she travels around the world on cruises and sends me documents. Once again, she doesn't even seem to realize it is something different. All the menus and buttons look about the same.

    I could see if your kids had only ever used the Word 2007 ribbon, and didn't really know what a typical word processor menu looked like - could be difficult. I guess that is kind of what MS wanted when they switched everyone to the ribbon, isn't it?

  22. Also - set the OOo options to SaveAs DOC or XLS or PPT - save you a lot of hassle if the kids are turning in assignments.

  23. For what it's worth I really like Windows 7 but...

    Something has finally happened. After starting with Slackware 9.1 I have now spent more time with a Linux desktop than either Mac or Windows. I like all three, but I can't help but come back to my KDE desktop. It's so useful with it's office organization suite and in my opinion is a lot easier to set up a test server for development.

    Again, that is only because of time spent with the system. It's what I'm familiar with. I waited it out long enough and now now more about a GNU/Linux system as a hobbyist and desktop user, that I do a Windows user in regards to pretty much anything.

    Never thought it would happen but it did and it's been great.

  24. I would be more worried about this guy having taken a year to decide to ask his girlfriend what she thought about the change of operating system.

  25. The school district pays for software when free software of equal quality is available .... then they complain about lack of money!

  26. Anyone heard of Wine another wonderful Open Source application that would help people run Windows Apps on Linux especially MS Office.

  27. I moved first my friends mom's netbook from Windows 7 started to ubuntu, When i did the installation I made sure to install ubuntu-restricted-extras and also configured a pidgin and evolution with gmail. That set everything for her. Not a single complain. After seeing the smooth operation for 2-3 months my friend and his wife also converted their laptop's to ubuntu. My friends wife speaks spanish and so I have installed a language pack of spanish for her on ubuntu. I guess its been 2-3 months now and they have not a single complain! I just made sure to install ubuntu-extras are installed and configured the GMail for them.

  28. My son is using two machines simultaneously: a desktop with Windows XP to play games and an Eee PC 900 with Xandros Linux to watch videos. When traveling, he only uses the Eee PC with Linux to play Wesnoth or Runescape in addition to watching videos.

    He does not find Linux difficult to use. He only prefers Windows for the games he is playing with his friends.

  29. Just download LibreOffice, and give it to the Teachers at the schools, then they can open the ODF files

    Tell the Teacher that the software is Free

    If the school tech does not want to install it, offer to install it

  30. I think one of the things we see in the comments here is that the experience is different for everyone. It's about their expectations, the way they do things, the willingness they have to try new things and the everyday tasks they have to complete.

    I'm not a linux preacher who tries to convert everyone and I'm not a programmer, but I have one of the highest experiences in knowing other linux users and getting other people to try linux I have seen on the internet.

    My brother and I both use linux, and while I began using it a few months earlier, we essentially began using it together. No problems here, 8 years solid. I began with Mandrake and tried Linspire (gasp). He began with Mandrake and was the one who introduced us both to Ubuntu.

    We got our cousin using it, she used it for a good 2 years, maybe more, on an acer laptop that was plagued with ACPI issues. She loved it but since buying a new laptop she has chosen to stay with windows 7, partly because she enjoys playing games and partly because she is content with win7 compared to XP. She regularly expresses a desire to use Ubuntu again were it not for the games.

    I got my grandmother using Ubuntu 7.04 for about 6 months. The laptop she got around then came with an unusable windows vista home basic. Of all the horror stories I saw about windows vista it matched the worst. From boot to usable system took 5 minutes and once on the desktop, a mere right click took 30 seconds to show the context menu!

    My grandmother only uses internet and email and I set up a system for her that made this easy with large fonts, two huge icons on the desktop and everything I could do to make using a computer as easy for her as possible. She liked it at first, but due to a router problem they kept losing the internet and she began to associate the problem with the OS. She ended up switching back to her old laptop with XP and uses it to this day. She had the problems there too and it took a new router to fix the problem but she just wants to stick with the old laptop she knows.

    My friend and room mate used Ubuntu for about 9 months too. He was incredibly anti-linux going in to it. But while he had no computer for a while he regularly used mine and began to like the system. He was able to get a desktop from his parents and decided he wanted Ubuntu on there, this was around 8.04. He used it through to 9.04 or so but when he purchased a new laptop he used windows vista because he is an avid gamer. He's not anti linux now though.

    The successful group of people using Linux today involves a group of 4 people. All adults who are professionals independent of the computer industry. One is a teacher, two are in marketing, and one is a counselor.

    These people found out about Linux independently and knew I used it and came to me for advice. Like I said I'm not a converter, I basically say "if you do this, this, this etc... you probably want to stay with windows", while still encouraging them to try it out if they're interested.

    all 4 of them actually installed it by themselves and one I have done an upgrade for and fixed minor issues she was having. They are all quite content with it with the teacher and counselor being as pleased with Linux as I am. They all know at least another person using Linux.

    I then have friends who use Linux independently of any influence from me or my brother. Two have recently finished studying computer science. With these people there are Arch users, Debian users and Fedora users.

    My who was using Ubuntu actually flats with one of the arch users at the moment. I guess I just hang around a group of people who are fairly open to technology.

    I think I only know 2 mac users though I suspect it is more. In fact I just realised as I write this my mum bought a mac the other day haha.

  31. I would talk to the school and discuss with them that they should not be able to dock your kids grades for not using MS Office. How many children can afford to go out and buy a copy of MS Office? How many people on their home computers really run a legal copy of MS Office? Most use MS Works or some other lower end office suite that came preinstalled. I would think schools would advocate the use of free open software like OOo or LibreOffice.

    Also, times must have really changed, I never heard of any 5th grader having to have exact formatting for headers and footers on any homework. If they turn it in with some kind of formatting and correct spelling, way to go!

    I did all of my papers with MLA formatting for College with openoffice. I did get some formatting errors on the first paper, but that was me, not OOo. My teacher even put specific rules that you absolutely have to use MS Word. I used OOo in .doc format and got 90-100 on the rest of my papers.

  32. Actually, with a lady in accounting, maybe you could encourage her to look at Gnucash and feed back on that? It is a very serious program. Phreebooks is also interesting (see http://writtenandread.net/phreebooks/).

  33. My Mother and Brother are computer stupid yet they LOVE Linux and use it without any glitch at all.

    It all depends on if you can teach an old dog new tricks.

  34. I have installed Ubuntu and Linux Mint on my family's and friends computers. Ages of the users are 3 to 95 years. None of them have any dificulty using Linux. They are all love the fact that, should anything go wrong, they just need the Live CD/DVD to continue working or do a reinstall.

  35. My wife has had Linux (currently Ubuntu) on her computer for years and has become much more a Linux zealot than I am. She tells me, "I do NOT want you spending time fixing people's Windows machines." The compromise is I'll help friends with hardware upgrades and repairs, but don't touch their software.

  36. Having used Mandriva,and later (K)(L)ubuntu since 1995 on (now) really old PCs/Laptops (P3-256MB and P4-512MB) I would not go back to any M$ product .

    Even modern distro versions work well on old hardware

    However ,while not being a geek (at 76) I have made an effort to embrace the command line and know whatever the desktop ,any Linux app will work.

    My only regret is that sofar I have not been successful in effectively make others switching to Linux......must have something to do with a lack of Linux marketing in general.

    Frank in the north of Scotland

  37. I switched to Ubuntu last June out of necessity (hard drive problems) and for the most part, I've been happy with it. However, I am a casual gamer and can't play any of my games on Ubuntu (the games written for it just don't appeal to me). So on my next computer, I will be running a dual boot setup with Windoze and Ubuntu so I can finally play my games again.

  38. @FEWT
    My kids (4th & 7th Grade) have only used Linux at home. I switched to Linux in 1998 before their time so thats all they really know at home. My wife recently got a Macbook pro so we'll see how that goes.

    General school work has been fine, except when they forgot to save their work in doc format. Most of the problems I've had to deal with have to do with things like formating and printing brochures and documents with lots of graphics, strange fonts etc. This would certainly have been the case with Windows. And its no easier on the Macbook either.

    My wife also uses Linux Mint on her laptop with few problems (fewer than when she had Windows on that laptop. Which is why she switched).

    Sure there is some hand holding for the kids on Linux. But they are just learning new stuff on the computer. Plus I end up learning some stuff from them. There are features of OO.o that I've learnt from my 12 yr old daughter.


  39. @Highland Ham

    Whoa, excellent story man

  40. Success with Linux is mainly an attitude thing.

    I got my brother to try Linux (Ubuntu)on a Windows computer that was giving him problems.

    He and his family have had nothing but problems with that computer. He's a Windows power user, so I was expecting some problems. He basically wants everything to work like Windows and if it does'nt Linux is broken. He's the admin on that machine so his attitude is catching.

    A friend of mine is a software architect and uses Fedora at work/home. He switched his wife's laptop to Fedora and she hated it. So she asked me what she should use and I switched her to Linux Mint. She loves it and she's at total computer noob! She just had the right attitude.

    There are two ways new users approach Linux, one way leads to failure and the other to success.

    First there is one group of people who attribute any problems they have with Linux to Linux itself. So if they install Linux and can't play dvds they say Linux is broken.
    This group does not get very far with Linux.

    Then there is the second group. These people attribute problems they have with Linux to their own knowledge and skill level. So if they install Linux and can't play dvds they say " I 'dont know how to play dvds on Linux"

    This group goes on to learn and become long term Linux users.


  41. For those concerned about OOo writer and formatting - remember that you can save as a .PDF directly from OOo. Yes, I know it's (mainly) a read-only format, but if you're submitting school work that's usually what you want, isn't it?

  42. @emk - There is another group of users though, those that just want to get things done and don't care to muck with configuration changes, formatting problems, compatibility issues, etc.

    There is no reason this class of users shouldn't just use Windows, and it would be irresponsible of us to try to convert them when there is no legitimate reason to do so.

    It's cool that some of you have had better experiences, but Jeff's request was for feedback. Feedback is not always good.

    The fact of the matter is that they are much happier using Windows but they were willing to use (err put up with?) Ubuntu for 5 years before ultimately demanding to switch back to Windows.

    The reason for switching to Ubuntu in the first place was that they didn't really like XP and hated Vista.

    @Anonymous - They require .doc not .pdf.

  43. @FEWT - "It's cool that some of you have had better experiences, but Jeff's request was for feedback. Feedback is not always good."

    A lot of us were responding to your allegation that OOo files can't be opened by school teachers. And, I think we've refuted that idea pretty thoroughly.

    I understand that kids want to just use Windows and play the same computer games as the rest of their friends - but blaming the problem on OOo incompatibility seems incorrect. I've used OOo for over 10 years without a single compatibility problem - even back in the original StarOffice days, the program could spit out a decent looking DOC file. I think if you had raised this argument against desktop Linux in 1997, you would have had an argument, although even then you could buy WordPerfect from Caldera.

  44. @FEWT
    " There is another group of users though, those that just want to get things done and don't care to muck with configuration changes, formatting problems, compatibility issues, etc. "

    The attitude of these users also determines whether Linux works for them or not. You have to be familiar with something for it to just work for you. Cars "just work" but if you don't know how to drive they won't for you. Windows Mac or Linux, you have to learn how to use them for them to "just work".

    That said, Linux is generally more difficult to learn than Mac or Windows for most people. They are less familiar with the Unix way. So Linux has a steeper learning curve than the other too. Linux also has quite a few gotchas, little things that go wrong, that while simple can be show stoppers for the uninitated.

    Linux requires you to have higher levels of system administration, troubleshooting, and user skills than the other desktop OSes.

    So I agree that Linux is not for everybody. Some people should just stick to what they are familiar with, Mac or Windows.

    But if you insist on things "just working" right away, you are really saying "I don't want change". If you want to install and use Linux, you are embracing change. And change always means you have to learn something new.

    So those noobs who recognize their noobness and are willing to spend a not insignificant amount of time struggling to learn and master Linux are the ones who ultimately stay with it.

    PS. FEWT AWESOME blog!

  45. Having a different experience doesn't refute anything really.

    There are lots of other issues with OOo <-> MSO, document comments is another example, embedded objects would be yet another.

    I started using OOo when it was StarOffice 4, so there is no need to council me on how it should work. in 1997, I was a licensed WordPerfect 8 user too, and I used it on Corel Linux. ;)

  46. @emk - yes, I agree with your whole comment, and thank you. :D

  47. I'm glad that here in Kerala (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala) it is compulsory to use Linux in school. Kerala government has started IT@school project to teach students computer. It uses a modified Debian Gnu/Linux and it comes with many of the Free softwares students need to do their work. They have to learn to use GIMP,OO.o,Openshot video editor,Audacity audio recording,Geogibra and various other softwares which are strictly from the FOSS world. You can check more detail from the their website (https://www.itschool.gov.in/) and download the textbooks. Just check this textbook for example(https://www.itschool.gov.in/pdf/std_IX/ICT/ICT_IX_English.pdf
    ). You can download more all the softwares used in the IT@school project from here(https://www.itschool.gov.in/downloads.php). Strictly speaking I have never used Openshot or Audacity but getting chance to learn this from school will be useful in future.

    Microsoft tried hard to convince government to use Windows but RMS himself came to kerala and somehow convinced government to use FOSS in school.

    More over government has distributed free laptops to Ministers and other MLA's which is pre-installed with Ubuntu.

    In my experience the best way to convince a user to use linux is by using Wubi. Many Windows users are afraid to use linux in their computer as they think it will mess with their windows installation. I have convinced users to install Ubuntu by using wubi and told them that they can remove ubuntu if they do not like it from add or remove. Most of the users can't just completely switch from windows ( as in this bad world some times we need to use windows for some specific tasks. Its not the fault of linux but the fault of others who insists to use windows for some tasks), they are using ubuntu to use internet.

    And one of my friend has difficulty to use Nokia PC suite to comment to windows to use internet, I have installed linux mint using wubi and it has automatically connected to internet. He has tried installing different drivers to use PC suite in Win 7 and nothing worked. But in Linxu mint it has configured everything and connected to interenet. Now he is using Linux mint for itnerent and uses windows only for gaming purpose.

  48. I switched to Linux when I was 68 years old, after using Windows for years.
    After a few frustrating false starts, I am now using Linux full time and so is my wife. I am very happy with Linux, it is fast and reliable. The only real problem was that I had to buy new printers as I was using Kodak printers. The net results I have HP printers that work reliably and personally boycott all Kodak products because of their bonehead attitude. Would I go back to Windows? Not in this lifetime.

  49. "Then again, why can't Microsoft Office 2007 properly display documents created in...[drum roll]...Microsoft Office 2003"
    That's sooo typical of later versions. The screws need to be applied to the tinkering thumbs of MS so as to provide PROPER compatibility with their own & other's formats, including those which are standardised- yes! they even stuff those up.

    "because their teachers at school cannot open the documents properly so they get graded down."
    Instead of changing the OS, enlighten the teacher- no true educator should turn aside their own opportunity to learn something.

  50. So many awesome responses.. and some typical non nonsensical experiences.

    I use OpenSuse Linux exclusively on all my computers (Windows is for games and testing stuff for clients - BTW, I heavily firewall my windows so it cant access the net or anything 'cept game ports)

    To the point though, two years ago my Ex-girlfriend's sister wanted a laptop... Now she lives about 1000 miles away from me, but I was going to be in her city and decided to sell her one that I had - A almost new Dell Inspiron (if I recall). I installed OpenSuSe 11.2 KDE 4.3, some codecs to play video and mp3s... then sold it to her. I spent a week in the city, a few nights with her showing her how stuff works.

    Note this was TWO YEARS ago... she is still running the machine as was without any issues or hassles. Once or twice she called to ask how to do something... Interesting bit, she is a film student and actually uses ooO exclusively for her assignments, and does a little vid editing on it.

    Two Years... NO SUPPORT... And every time we speak, she gets more excited about finding some other new thing to oogle over.


  51. I find intermediate users have the most difficulty adjusting to Linux.

    I have a friend who hacked in DOS in the day & I coached through using Debian, mostly by IM (he lives in another country), and he uses Debian daily. I've spent a large amount of time providing support, because though he is bright, curious, flexible, and has a reasonable amount of OCS, he also needs the machine to do a LOT of stuff, interface with smart phones, PMPs, deal with his teaching career as well as stuff for graduate school, etc., plus, he has VERY demanding specific requirements for how he wants his system to look & act. He runs wine, virtualbox & vmware Windows emulators, but he has largely avoided booting Windows itself, though he uses it at work quite a lot.

    And complete noobies who don't know the "one true way" aren't much trouble. Set 'em up and away they go. An occasional question, maybe.

    But folks that have used Windows for years but aren't really geeks really have trouble making the transition, even smart ones. I have Linux machines throughout the house with KDE, Gnome, LXDE, XFCE, Openbox, whatever, and my wife doesn't have any trouble doing the few things she does even if she may never have seen the window manager before, she can log in, surf the web, deal with email, and shut the machine down, it doesn't bother her if the browser is called firefox, iceweasel, seamonkey, chrome, whatever... But a science post-doc friend couldn't figure out how to close Ubuntu because the buttons are in different places. My wife has probably spend less time in her life in front of a monitor than this other woman does in a heavy day or two.

    Many people seem to have an irrational fear of Linux because it is slightly unfamiliar. When I've fixed up friends' Windohs boxes I often make them dual boot with Linux (with their permission), but the next time they call me with an infected system I ask them how Linux is running and sometimes they have forgotten it is there even though they have to hit the "down" key to make their machine boot Windows every morning. They were too terrified to even try to use open source, even when they are sympathetic to the philosophy. One friend told me she formatted the Linux partition because she was having trouble with WINDOWS and the Debian partition was the "one thing that worked" on that machine. She's on her own on the computer front these days.

  52. Been reading all the comments here - some good stories for sure!

    'One friend told me she formatted the Linux partition because she was having trouble with WINDOWS and the Debian partition was the "one thing that worked" on that machine.' <- This almost made me fall off my seat though... Some people! We really need to start teaching people how to use "computers" not how to use Microsoft. One more thing I think we can blame on our schools :-/

  53. Have you installed Linux for friends or loved ones?

    Yes. My mom and little brother shared a desktop computer which was running Win XP home. It crashed so hard they couldn't use it anymore, so I installed Ubuntu. I also fixed the Windows installation and taught them how they could choose which one to use. They have never booted windows since.
    Recently, my mom wanted a laptop so I bought her a used one. The only requirement from her was "can I have Ubuntu on it?". Not a new machine but it sure is one sleek laptop.

    Two installations for my friends: HP netbook originally shipped with vista (it was unusable) which came to life after ubuntu installation. Same thing with his girlfriends' laptop: 'designed for windows vista', and yet she needed Linux to run it.

  54. I have 4 Pc's in my house and all are Linux apart from the desktop that is ubuntu/XP dual boot to run Photoshop. With friends and family I have installed Linux(mixture of Mint and Ubuntu) on about 30 machines. I rarely get a call from people on Linux but get a great deal for Windows. I use Windows 7 at work and it's OK, if a bit slow (even on a new core i5 2gb laptop), but for my personal machines it's Linux every time due to the speed and simplicity of use. I like it because it just works, I would willingly pay for it, so the fact that it is free is not an incentive. I spend far more time under the hood of Windows and I'm a little perplexed as to why people think you need to be a techy to use Linux, you do not. I think an earlier poster hit the nail on the head. Inertia is the issue and the fact Windows is the default on PC's bought in the recent past. It wasn't that long ago everyone used lotus 123 and Word Perfect. You just have to move with the times. I found the transition at work from MS Office 2003 to the latest version more perplexing. I also think people are suspicious of 'free'. Charging may well open up the market to Linux. Isn't it strange that you rarely hear people moan about the OS on a Phone? How many people know it's Symbian, Apples OS, Windows 7 or something else? Simon Pass in the UK.

  55. No, can't charge for Linux. The whole reason Linux is great is it is open. Even though no one has to be a programmer to use Linux, the best thing you can do for Linux is to try to learn a little bit about it's structure so you can contribute to its cause. It stays alive because people take the time to contribute some technical savvy to it. If you have no tech savvy you can still use it, and most tech savvy won't mind as long as Linux doesn't disappear. I think maybe proprietary versions (distributions) can be allowed to be marketable, but the freedom to still use the Linux kernels should never be owned proprietorially. It will destroy the dreams of future people who want to know how a computer is really put together.

  56. Late to the game on this one but I installed Linux Mint for my 78 yr old Mom. Months later she told me without asking, "I love my Linux." Tech support calls also ended and that was cool since she is in Texas and I am in Arizona. She mainly reads emails, interacts on the Internet, writes and does Geneology. How great can it get? Did I mention she is using happily an old Dell 610? Luv Linux.