For most computer literate children, a request from mom to get her set up on “this web thing” is met with panic and a feeling of drudgery. Are you about to expose your sweet mother to spam, phishing, viruses, or worse? Or perhaps more frightening, sign your life away as a 24/7 tech support center?
Perhaps, but there’s a better way.
By setting your mom up on a Linux machine, you can give her a safe, lean computing experience that will let her do all of the things she wants to do without giving you a nervous breakdown. Here, we’ve compiled over 50 of the best resources to help you get your mom on Linux without a whole lot of trouble. Systems & Environments With these systems and environments, you can get your mom set up with low maintenance and friendly interfaces.
- SimplyMEPIS: SimplyMEPIS is low-maintenance and great for Linux beginners.
- Linspire: Linspire is the “World’s Easiest Desktop Linux,” with a familiar look and feel for Windows users.
- Mandriva: Mandriva Linux was specifically designed to offer ease of use for new users.
- Ubuntu: One of the most popular Linux distributions, Ubuntu is stable and easy to use.
- KDE: The K Desktop Environment is easy to use, and offers basic desktop functions.
- Ximian Desktop: Ximian offers a simple layout, with large icons that are great for elderly users.
- Lycoris: This distribution looks a lot like windows, and offers great ease of use.
- SuSE: With SuSE, you’ll got lots of popular open source software like OpenOffice, Kaffeine, and more.
- GNOME: In this desktop environment, you’ll find an extremely usable GUI.
Tools & Applications
Put these tools to work to give your mom the functionality she wants while still keeping things safe and simple.
- Fluxbox: This X window manager makes it easy to customize the view of your mom’s machine.
- Rfbdrake: Set up rfbdrake to create a pathway for remote support.
- IEs4Linux: With this handy tool, you can make MSN groups and other Internet Explorer applications play properly for your game-addicted mom. Note: IEs4Linux may be discontinued soon.
- IceWM: This window manager’s goal is to stay out of the user’s way while offering speed and simplicity.
- OpenAntiVirus: Although a Linux machine isn’t likely to run into virus problems, this antivirus program is better safe than sorry.
- Wine: Wine makes it easy to run Windows software and applications on your Linux box.
- Firestarter: For an easy, simple firewall, consider Firestarter.
- phpGACL: Keep your mom safe by implementing this access control list for applications.
- CrossOver Office: With CrossOver, you can run lots of Windows-based applications.
- CNR: This tool makes it easy for your mom to install applications, even if she’s clueless about putting things on her computer.
- KDE Crystal: KDE Crystal offers an icon set with recognizable images, which is great for remote support so you can tell your mom exactly what to press.
- Guarddog: Guarddog is an ideal firewall for novices because it offers a goal-oriented, non-technical GUI.
- Blackbox: Blackbox offers a clean, light environment for a Linux system.
- IPCop: Create a more secure home network with this simple firewall designed for novice users.
- vncserver: Utilize vncserver to run remote support on your mom’s Linux machine.
- OpenOffice: With OpenOffice, your mom will be able to do all of the word processing she wants.
- Evolution: This personal information manager offers email, addresses, tasks, and more in an interface much like Microsoft Outlook.
- KMail: Set your mom up on KMail for email with excellent spam filtering, cryptographic support, and more.
- Kate: With this lightweight editor, your mom can do simple word processing with automatic backup.
- Ekiga With Ekiga, formerly Gnomemeeting, your mom can video chat with you.
- MailWasher Pro: With this program, you can make sure that spam email will never hit your mom’s inbox.
- Abiword: Give your mom simple word processing with AbiWord.
- Kopete: Use Kopete to get your mom set up on chat programs like AIM, ICQ, and IRC.
- Evince: Adobe Reader is discontinued for Linux, but Evince is a great lightweight replacement.
- Pidgin: Pidgin, formerly known as Gaim, makes it easy for your mom to log into a number of different messaging systems at once.
- Konqueror: With Konqueror, your mom can browse the web safely.
- Thunderbird: Use Thunderbird to offer your mom a clean email interface.
- Firefox: Get your mom set up on the wildly popular Firefox for safe and easy web browsing.
- GIMP: Give your mom GIMP for Photoshop functionality.
Guides & Articles
For even more help, check out these guides and articles that will walk you through creating a Linux box for your mom.
- Ubuntu for your grandmother: One helpful grandchild walks his grandmother through creating a Ubuntu laptop in this article.
- Post Installation Configuration Basic Help: Get help with basic hardware and network configuration here.
- Is Linux ready for mom?: This article discusses some of the trials and advantages of Linux for novice users.
- Windows to Linux: A Beginner’s Guide: Let your mom check out this article to get familiarized with Linux when coming from a Windows environment.
- Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Linux Home System: Follow this guide to keep your mom’s computer safe.
- Setting up Linux for Mom and Dad: See how one person set up a parent version of Mandrake Linux in this article.
- Desktop Adapted for Dad (DAD): This writer gave his father a computer with carefully installed and configured software.
- Moving a Beginner to Linux: Learn how to make the switch with this article.
- The Top 50 Proprietary Programs that Drive You Crazy-and Their Open Source Alternatives: In this resource, you’re sure to find lots of programs that will help your mom convert.
- Linux distro for mom?: In this thread, you’ll find lots of excellent advice for creating a Linux setup for a computer illiterate mom.
- Beginner’s Introduction to the KDE Desktop: This guide offers a look at KDE for non-techies.