The Grandmother Paradox

Shane Hathaway shane at hathawaymix.org
Wed Apr 23 12:46:00 MDT 2008


Steve Morrey wrote:
> One of my clients, who also happens to be a grandmother, has recently
> decided she wants to get on the internet for the very first time (this is
> not a joke).
> 
> Unfortunately she has an extremely old machine.
> Here are the specs.
> Pentium II 400Mhz, 64MB RAM, 8GB HD, Win 98 (not SE)

I would do the following:

- Install ClamWin right away.  ClamWin has no support for on-access 
scanning, but in this case that's an advantage, since it will not slow 
down the computer except when it's scanning.

http://www.clamwin.com/

Until you at least run ClamWin, you don't know whether the machine 
already has a virus.  (Even without network access, it could have a 
Sony-like root kit or something).

- On your own computer, try Xubuntu in a virtual machine limited to 64M. 
  That would tell you right away whether the configuration might work.

- Find out what kind of RAM the computer requires.  Probably PC 133 or 
PC 100.  Then try to upgrade it for $20-$30.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2010170147+1052407863&name=PC+133
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&N=2010170147+1052414041&name=PC+100

- Put it behind a firewall, as others suggested.

> p.s.  Why is it that no OS that could be run by grandma, could run on
> grandma's machine?

Because it's hard for software developers and distributors to justify 
the major effort required to shrink their applications when RAM is so 
inexpensive.  It seems that most successful small-footprint projects are 
those that set out to create a small footprint from the start.

Shane




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