Skip to main content

Switching the Parents to Ubuntu...?

I spent a half hour or so recently on the phone walking my Mom through a technical issue. Tentatively, I diagnosed her issue as a hard drive failure. She brought it over on her last visit and sure enough, the Dell XPS 450 from circa 1999 sounds like a bad coin-operated laundry at full capacity.

I was aghast to discover she's running Windows 98. Ugh. Also, her recovery disk is just that--for recovery. I don't believe I'll be able to re-install Win98 on a new hard drive. That, coupled with the end of Microsoft (and Dell) support for Win98, got me thinking about Linux. (and she's not intense about her computing needs...and she doesn't want to spend much money...)

I've been reading good things about switching one's parents to Ubuntu. Any thoughts out there?

Comments

Unknown said…
Be sure to "try before you buy". It's really helpful to give them the Ubuntu Live CD so they can get a feel for what you're getting them into. Once they've tested the waters they should be at least willing to try things out.

I've been experimenting with my parents main PC and one of my brother's workstations on this. I recommend you go with the dual boot option and make Ubuntu be the default OS -- with a 20 second boot selection timeout. That way if they really do need Windows (and from time to time they will), they can get to it.

I think that Ubuntu is a better OS for most users because it's so much more consistent at the UI layer. My parents really liked the fact that the printer now runs "on its own" -- meaning that they don't need the intrusive wizards. Also my Mom really likes the way the digital camera now syncs up.

A big boon for me is the fact that remote admin (and backup of key files) is a snap. All you have to do is setup the rebuilt system so either a VPN or an SSH connection can get through. True, you can do this with Windows, but it isn't as elegant. Sometimes a quick ssh session is all it takes. I rarely need a full blown remote desktop interaction.

The only thing I would recommend is that you don't do anything drastic like upgrade the version remotely. I upgraded my folks from dapper to edgy over ssh. Turned out to not be a good idea. :-( Major changes should be done at the console. Over the Turkey day weekend I was at home and was able to fix the four things that got broken and they're now back in business.
Anonymous said…
This topic actually was the inspiration for a "persuasive presentation" class I'm in this week...

I agree - if you look at your options for supporting a typical email, web, and digital photo user who has circa 1999 hardware, Ubuntu is the way to go. You really can't run XP on it, and even if you could you'd have the same malware issues to deal with. There's a real cost there, even if you use free stuff like Avast and Spybot S&D. The cost is in diligence - if the user slips up and misses updates for a couple days, the havoc begins...

Using the Ubuntu distro with some careful initial tweaking will get you closer to the low-maintenance applicance that these kinds of users really need.

So the point of my presentation was to avoid buying new hardware - whether updated PC hardware for XP/Vista or a Mac - and at least try out Ubuntu first. With Live CD and/or some re-partitioning this can be test driven at very low risk.
Jeff Hunsaker said…
Very insightful comments. Thank you. I'm going to pull the trigger on this with my Mom and also at home for a secondary workstation (circa 1999). For Mom, I'm strongly considering the Ubuntu paid support option. I'm not too keen on dropping the coin but given my current workload and responsibilities, it will likely pay for itself.

I'll outline my plans and progress here.

Popular posts from this blog

TFS Error | The type initializer for 'Microsoft.TeamFoundation.Build.Server.BuildInformationNodeBinder' threw an exception.

Posting this one for the search engines. If you ever receive the exception "The type initializer for 'Microsoft.TeamFoundation.Build.Server.BuildInformationNodeBinder' threw an exception.", more than likely, your drive space is at 0 on your TFS application tier box.

I encountered this at a client recently. The root cause was that IIS logs had filled up the OS drive (C:\). I switched IIS logging to the applications drive (D:\) which cleaned up the OS drive and resolved the issue.

Detailed message:


TF53010: The following error has occurred in a Team Foundation component or extension:


Date (UTC): 6/7/2011 4:18:53 PM

Machine: TFSATBOX

Application Domain: /LM/W3SVC/8080/ROOT/tfs-1-129519118182628600

Assembly: Microsoft.TeamFoundation.Framework.Server, Version=10.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a; v2.0.50727

Service Host: 7ecfbd77-b386-4d75-b038-b05474782696 (DefaultCollection)

Process Details:

Process Name: w3wp

Process Id: 3676

Thread Id: 5752

Ac…

Verified by Visa: Everything We Tell Folks to Avoid

Phishing is defined by F-Secure as: "Fraudulent e-mail or website claiming to be legitimate seeking indentifiable information. Phishing is an attempt to steal your personal data."When I recently attempted an online purchase from WalMart using my VISA card, being a security wanta-be, I immediately thought phishing when redirected to verifiedbyvisa.com and saw this dialog:

Seriously, these folks have to be kidding. You're asking for my personal data during a transaction and claim that's its a service "...at no additional cost." Wow! Thanks...but absolutely not, you jokers. As a malicious thief, I can go a long way with this data.

This is exactly the type of experience which aids malfeasance and the folks trying to steal personal data / identities. How long have we been working to educate folks to avoid providing this type of data under these type of circumstances? Years. And we're just now starting to turn the corner.

VISA, get rid of this! When folks submi…

Shrinking WSS (Sharepoint) SQL Server Log Files

Yesterday, while migrating a source repository from StarTeam to TFS, I received the following error:
"TF30042: The database is full. Contact your Team Foundation Server administrator."Excuse you? Sure enough, my 100+ GB drive was full on the server. But I'd only migrated around 1000 items. Surely SQL wasn't consuming 100MB per file.

Turns out (yes, there was a lot of crud on the drive but...) the majority of the space, almost 40GB was being consumed by the Windows Sharepoint Services WSS Content data and log SQL Server files. Huh? I still need to investigate and understand why this portal, which is 100% unused, grew so large. Regardless, here's what I did to resolve:

Since this is not yet a production database, I flipped the SQL recovery option from Full to Simple for WSS Content and several other databases. Detail here and here.
Executed the maintenance plan for all the databases to get backups and clear out some of these files. That didn't help much. The Auto_…