I am doing an experiment at home. I recently purchased two new laptops from Dell for my wife and daughter for their birthday. As I wrote in a previous article, these laptops came loaded with Vista. Vista has completely frustrated my family because of the poor performance, the bugs, and the interface. My wife refuses to use her new laptop so I gave it to my son. I took my daughter's old PC (Dell 4300s with 1.7 GHz, 256MB memory, 40GB disk) that was performing poorly on XP and installed Kubuntu 7.04 on it. The install was incredibly simple despite the myth that Linux is hard to install. The total install took about 70 minutes. Most of that was due to the time it took to partition a very old hard drive. Once the install completed I plugged the PC into my Linksys access point and just like that I was up and running. I was able to see my shared folders on my XP machine and print to my Lexmark x73 scanner/printer.
As I have written in the past, I use Ubuntu at work. A friend of mine recommended Kubuntu so I tested it out at home. Kubuntu has a very nice user friendly interface. It's desktop manager is actually similar to Vista's. Kubuntu comes preloaded with Open Office, chat, dvd burning software, graphics software, the Konquerer browser, and many more open source software packages. This is the first time I used Konquerer and I found it to be equal to if not better then Firefox.
Like Ubuntu's package manager, Kubuntu has the Adept Manager which provides a simple user interface for installing software. For those users who are not hardcore Linux geeks and don't want to mess around with tar files and the like, Adept Manager is the tool for you. There are literally thousands of open source products listed by category and completely searchable. I added Wine, Thunderbird, Firefox, Gimp, and a hand full of other popular tools. I simply clicked the check box next to the desired software, clicked apply, and the Adept Manager did the rest. Who says Linux is hard to install?
So now that I have this up and running on my slowest and oldest machine, I am going to have my wife and kids test it out to see if it meets their needs. If they are comfortable using Kubuntu, which I expect they will be, I will be kicking Vista out of my house. I will always have my Dell XPS gaming machine with XP on it for the rare times where they can't get their needs met on Linux. So far the only thing I can come up with is some of the games we play. Most of the PC usage in my house is internet surfing, email, and office. We have been using Open Office, Firefox, and Thunderbird for years, so this should be a simple transition.
The next experiment will be my parents. I still have to reset the clock on their VCR everytime I go to their house. All they do is read email, surf a few web sites, and play Spades and Mahjong. I am giving them my son's old computer, which is a very good machine, and taking back their old PC. I will mess around with Mepis on that PC. Once I get that installed I will give it back to them with a wireless USB adapter and see how they adapt to Linux. They already struggle with XP so anything will be a challenge for them. If my parents are able to use Linux, then anyone can use it. I'll provide an update on their Linux experience in the next few weeks, assuming that I find time to get them set up.
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