2010-11-26

Linux Mint: Good for Low-Requirement and Paranoid Users

Two days ago, I helped a friend (whose identity I will not reveal here) perform a Linux Mint installation on her computer. That computer had Microsoft Windows 7 on it which was becoming extremely slow and unreliable by her own count. Because of this, she was willing to try something new. She doesn't really do much aside from web browsing and document creation; hence, I figured that something like Linux Mint would be perfect for her.
I let her try out what she would use most before installing, and she seemed happy with it; even during the installation process, I only helped if she had a question for me, which is a testament to how easy Linux Mint (version 9 LTS "Isadora") is to install. I showed her around the Software Manager, which allowed her to install things like Skype and Chromium. All in all, the installation and configuration process took about half an hour, and she seems quite happy with it so far. (In fact, I'm envious of her, because her laptop can suspend and hibernate well in Linux Mint, whereas mine can't.)
Yesterday, I talked to another friend of mine in the area, and his parents have set up parental controls in tandem with an antivirus program on his Microsoft Windows XP computer. It slows his computer down and he can't visit sites like YouTube and Google sometimes because they are occasionally listed as "inappropriate". (Proxies don't help because most of the big proxies have been blocked by that program as well; also, he's well past the age where parental controls would be necessary.) I told him about the concept of a Linux live CD and how he can either install it to bypass Microsoft Windows XP and its programs or just work from the live CD and not leave a trace. He seems really interested in that now (though we'll see how it goes).
My point in all this is: can we please dispel the myth that Linux is "too hard to use for a new user"? If the user is like the first person mentioned and doesn't do much more than browse the Internet and create documents, the user will probably never see the command line — ever. If the user is like the second person, there really isn't a substitute for a Linux live CD (because the obvious solution (removing the program) isn't an option for obvious reasons).

4 comments:

  1. Windows is one of the worst OSes I have ever had. Linux Mint 10 "Julia" is definitely one of the most stable and user-friendly Operating systems in the world!
    Open SUSE is also a good alternative to Linux Mint, in case the system is older, and has less RAM.
    In any case, any Unix based OS would be much better to work with than a Windows based OS.
    All thanks to Pshanth I now use Linux. (I found Linux Mint on his computer very impressive)

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  2. @Arjun: Well it's certainly nice to see you here! (Also, weren't you using Ubuntu even before I asked?) Thanks for the comment!

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  3. Everyone for whom I have installed *buntu and mint have nothing but praise for the desktop they now have. These include non-technical users. I roll my eyes to the sky whenever I hear 'Linux is too difficult for the average user'.

    The real work which I did was post-install of a few apps that make life easier for their uses and some configuration to get each installation running a little quicker. This is the only area where a newbie might stall, but then they do get an excellent and useful desktop by default anyways.

    Might be worth noting that the cover disk of the Ubuntu magazine has some excellent software additions in its *buntu desktop edition(s) install.

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  4. @herbalfroot: Agreed. I think Linux has long cleared the ease-of-use bar. I think some lingering problems do include not having certain popular programs (for example, in the case of the first person mentioned in this post, ooVoo) and interacting weirdly with certain hardware (for example, with the aforementioned person again, Skype generally worked on Linux Mint "Debian" on her laptop but flip-flopped the webcam image for some odd reason). Even these things, thankfully, are changing for the better. Thanks for the comment!

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