The Grandmother Paradox

Dennis Muhlestein devel at
Wed Apr 23 07:16:40 MDT 2008

> Does anyone have any suggestions for a good light weight, easy to  
> use, easy
> to configure, easy to manage, desktop oriented OS for someone in the
> situation?

Here's my .02

Keep her on Windows 98 and purchase a linksys (or whatever) firewall/ 
router to set between her machine and the Internet.  As long as you  
train her not to run email attachments I think she'll be fine without  
protection on the machine itself.

I've tried to get Grandmas (or others) to run Linux in a similar  
situation but my experience has been:
1) You become their support person and whether or not you like to do  
that, you're stuck with it forever.
2) When older people are used to something, change is hard.  She's  
been using 98.  No matter how much better (and I don't think anyone  
will argue that pretty much any linux distro is better than Windows  
98), She'll want to know who to do things that she was doing the 98  
way and it will be difficult to teach and accomplish.
3) Nobody else knows how to use the machine either.  At least in my  
case, my Grandparents have lots of children/grandchildren/friends etc  
whom all have a bit of computer advise when they visit.  They mess  
with settings/hardware and everything else.  At least with Windows,  
they all can keep the machine on the Internet and functioning (all be  
it they do a pretty bad job of it sometimes).  With Linux, they're  
bound to break things.  See #1


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