The Grandmother Paradox

Shane Hathaway shane at
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.

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.

- 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.


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