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I am involved in computer support for seniors (50 years +) on a freelance basis, in Flandres (Belgium), mainly because I am approaching that age myself and that I have ...
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  1. #1
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    Linux for Seniors


    I am involved in computer support for seniors (50 years +) on a freelance basis, in Flandres (Belgium), mainly because I am approaching that age myself and that I have a fairly good experience in M$ stuff.

    As more and more seniors venture on the digital highway with the pre-installed well know OS from Mr. Bill, I am getting really annoyed at the problems I have to solve for those people.
    Try telling a 60 year old grandma to do a daily update of the virus signatures, use another firewall, remove the spyware on a daily basis, ... just to be able to mail, browse and chat with her grandchildren. You get the point.
    Yesterday I had to 'rescue' such a person: PIII 1.2 GHz, 128 Mb RAM, Win98 2nd Ed with 8 virusses (troyan horses) and 650+ spyware items. And she mentioned that her PC was a bit slow.....

    More than once I was tempted to install Linux on such a box, but I never actually managed to do it.

    Now, together with a few other 50+ years old (mostly newbie) Linux users we would like to make a sort of tutorial for them on how and why to switch to Linux.

    The only question I have for the moment is:
    'Is it possible to teach a 50+ years old person with little to no computer experience how to install a distro on their box in dual boot, configure it for internet access (browse, mail, chat), set-up a printer, import pictures from their digi-camara, using KDE as GUI (most Windows look-alike), play MP3, ... using a well documented handout'

    If so, what would be the best distro ?
    Is there already something like that somewhere on the web that i can read and use as a base for the tutorial prior to translating it to Dutch (English or French sites are OK) ?

    -- Alain --

  2. #2
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    There are links to tutorial here on this forum. You can access them via the menu bar at the top. I also had good luck with www.aboutdebian.com for the Debian distribution.

    Which distribution are you most familiar with?

    Jeff, 54 and counting
    Registered Linux User #391940

  3. #3
    Linux Guru bigtomrodney's Avatar
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    For that "Just works" feeling I always recommend SuSE, Mandriva or Mepis. If you would like something geared to still look and feel more like windows Linspire or Xandros may be good but are both pay to play distros. My Mom uses Linux on my sisters computer from a live disc all the time. It's kind of crazy when a computer-unfriendly person is booting an OS from CD and getting her business done.

    Mandriva and SuSE do almost all of the dual boot work for you during the install too.

  4. #4
    oz
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    Hi, wamukota - I'd think that Suse, Mandriva, Ubuntu, and Fedora would all be good options for the "over 50 crowd" to start out with. They all offer a certain amount of hand-holding that in many cases is important to Linux newbies, and they are good enough that large numbers of power users and experts continue to use them. They all also offer an easy to use installation routine and they'll all setup dual-booting during the installation if it is desired.

    It's likely that the installation of any OS (including Windows) would scare some of your students, but after they've done it a few times, the fear seems to go away. I'm betting, however, that you'd have your hands full if you wiped all the hard drives, gave them the Windows installation CD, and told each of them to install and setup Windows to do all of what you outlined above.

    Anyway, good luck with your project.

  5. #5
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    Fedora or BeatrIX

  6. #6
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    I just picked up Libranet in hopes of getting my parents going on it (73 and 5

    Obviously I'll be installing it for them, and getting the configuration together, but after that I think Gnome will be easy for them to learn. In fact, I suspect it's easier to get a rather new/inexperienced computer user going on Linux than someone who's been using Windows forever and is set in their ways.

    I suspect another good option would be Xandros with it's implementation of Crossover Office, and Linspire would also be fairly good. I like Libranet because it has a lot of versatility, if someone doesn't like something it's easy to implement an alternative, and also because it's boot speed is apparently very tweaked over Debian's. Plus the company seems a bit more honest and humble than the above two.

    We'll see when it gets here, I may be building my parents' a new system soon to undertake this little project (their Dell doesn't play nice with Linux). I liked Libranet 2.7 and 2.8.1, but it wasn't ready yet.
    Michael Salivar

    Man knows himself insofar as he knows the world, becoming aware of it only in himself, and of himself only within it.
    --Goethe

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    Quote Originally Posted by wamukota
    I am involved in computer support for seniors (50 years +) on a freelance basis, in Flandres (Belgium), mainly because I am approaching that age myself and that I have a fairly good experience in M$ stuff.

    As more and more seniors venture on the digital highway with the pre-installed well know OS from Mr. Bill, I am getting really annoyed at the problems I have to solve for those people.
    Try telling a 60 year old grandma to do a daily update of the virus signatures, use another firewall, remove the spyware on a daily basis, ... just to be able to mail, browse and chat with her grandchildren. You get the point.
    Yesterday I had to 'rescue' such a person: PIII 1.2 GHz, 128 Mb RAM, Win98 2nd Ed with 8 virusses (troyan horses) and 650+ spyware items. And she mentioned that her PC was a bit slow.....

    More than once I was tempted to install Linux on such a box, but I never actually managed to do it.

    Now, together with a few other 50+ years old (mostly newbie) Linux users we would like to make a sort of tutorial for them on how and why to switch to Linux.

    The only question I have for the moment is:
    'Is it possible to teach a 50+ years old person with little to no computer experience how to install a distro on their box in dual boot, configure it for internet access (browse, mail, chat), set-up a printer, import pictures from their digi-camara, using KDE as GUI (most Windows look-alike), play MP3, ... using a well documented handout'

    If so, what would be the best distro ?
    Is there already something like that somewhere on the web that i can read and use as a base for the tutorial prior to translating it to Dutch (English or French sites are OK) ?

    -- Alain --

    Hi Alain,

    very encourage with your enthusiam to use linux and guide seniors.

    There is a company that specially designed PC just for seniors to use. They modified fedora core (KDE) and created their own icons. Enlarge the fonts and set up email accounts for them on thunderbird. With a keyboard with nicely labelled icons to help seniors to press a button and launch the applications.
    It's call easyPC. They bundled the PC with one free training and phone support.

    To download the distro might take a very long time. Although they also offer to sell the whole system, you might wanna email them to purchase a ready installed hard disk and shipped it over to you. That will solve the partition and installation part. They can also help you partition it for dual boot purposes.

    Check out http://www.meeswa.com

    Regards,

  8. #8
    Linux User muha's Avatar
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    In my experience 'linux user groups' (lug) can help people out. Get people together in a room and install and learn.
    Maybe this is close to you or is even yours? http://www.lugwv.be/
    Now what? You have Linux installed and running. The GUI is working fine, but you are getting tired of changing your desktop themes. You keep seeing this "terminal" thing. Don't worry, they'll show you what to do @
    <~ http://www.linuxcommand.org/ ~>

  9. #9
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    Ubuntu or SuSE.

  10. #10
    Trusted Penguin Dapper Dan's Avatar
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    SuSE, Mepis or Ubuntu.

    If these folks know little if anything about computers, they'll be far more receptive to installing, configuring and running Linux than a lot of Microsoft IT professionals I've run into. They come to the table without preconceived notions about how "things" are supposed to look, feel and operate. I think you'll be surprised at how easily some of them will take to Linux. My mother is 73 and runs Fedora Core two. Oh... and I'm going on 49 and run Slackware.
    Linux Mint + IceWM Registered: #371367 New Members: click here

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