The Grandmother Paradox

Kimball Larsen kimball at
Wed Apr 23 09:31:50 MDT 2008

On Apr 23, 2008, at 7:16 AM, Dennis Muhlestein wrote:

>> 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
> -Dennis

I second this opinion.  I would do whatever it took to leave her  
comfortable user interface alone, but provide a working, firewalled  
connection to the internet.

I would only add that in my experience, Avast! antivirus has been MUCH  
lighter weight than Norton and it's ilk (and, it's free for home  
use!), but I do not know if it will run on 98 this old.

Good luck.

- Kimball

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