Finally got a Linux system set up for Mom. I ended up going with Ubuntu instead of Gentoo. Gentoo is great when you're working with modern hardware, but when installing on older hardware it gets a bit tedious waiting for everything to compile. I set her up with KDE because that's what I use, and because of its similarity with Windows.
When I first decided to do this change, I surveyed what software she used: A spreadsheet (excel), a word processor (word), a web browser (firefox), and a solitare cardgame called Arachnid. When I talked to her about this, she added, "I've been playing Arachnid for over 10 years... I guess it's time to try some new games!" However, I knew that if I could get the equivalent game on Linux, she'd be sold. She was quite picky about this game; I'd bought a newer win32 card game pack with a slightly different variant of arachnid a while back but it wasn't the same, so she stuck with the original. I was impressed she was willing to give that up in this change, but figured *someone* must have ported it.
I decided to scour the internet for a Linux version of the game. I figured worse case, I could grab pysol and overcome my dislike of Python long enough to code up an Arachnid for her.
But then, after explaining the situation on #inkscape, Jon Cruz remarked, "Looks like Arachnid runs under Wine." In fact, Arachnid is *the* example that the Wine HOWTO uses for testing that your wine install works!! I downloaded and tried it out, and sure enough - exactly the same game, bugs and all!
Mom has been pretty apprehensive about the change, but was definitely willing to give it a try. I set it up in her office, plugged everything in, booted it up, and showed her OpenOffice and Firefox, then pulled up Arachnid. She started playing it. "Hmm, it's a little different... Oh wait, no it isn't." Clickclickclickclick. Dang she plays that game fast. :-)
Then I pulled up Firefox and let her check her email via yahoo.com. She remarked, "Huh, this really isn't all that different." I mentioned that it should all be fairly similar, although there are definitely some differences here and there. But she added, "You know, I've changed jobs several times in my career, and I've had to learn the new software. I always did fine then; I'll be able to do this too."
She did comment that the text was too small. "I always have to fiddle with the fonts on a new computer. I've got old lady eyes so like setting the fonts bigger." I hmmed, and pulled up Konqueror and showed her the Zoom buttons for enlarging the fonts on a webpage. She was very excited by this capability, and we switched web browsers to konqueror instantly. I warned her that not all web pages worked as well with konqueror, so she might have to use firefox sometimes, but I think she felt it was worth the risk.
Speaking of risk, she even asked about backup. "You know how you told me I should backup my files on Windows? Well, I never did... Should I do that here?" I hmmed a few minutes and said, "Yeah, probably..." "Will it work with putting floppies in to do it?" "Yeah, we could do it that way, although it'd be better to make it do the backups automatically, then you don't have to hassle with it." "So would you put in another hard drive to do that?" I pondered. "Well, I have a computer at home where I store all my backups, we could just have it automatically send its backups there to my machine." Her eyes got big. "It can do that?!?"
Anyway, mission accomplished. She's got a system that isn't really that different from what she's used to, except that it won't have all those popups, viruses, and spyware, and will be simpler to backup. :-)
In other news, the MythTV hardware arrived today. On to the next project...