Science and technology

How I helped my mother change from Windows to Linux

The Large Hadron Collider is powered by Linux. Laptops on the International Space Station run on Linux. So do Instagram and Nest thermostats. Recently, we watched Ingenuity fly over Mars, an incredible robo-copter pushed by… Linux! It’s but extra proof of how versatile and versatile this working system may be.

But now, the actually large information. It’s official. Linux can deal with Mom and Dad simply as nicely!

The story

About a 12 months in the past, I made a decision emigrate my mother to Linux. A 12 months has handed, so it is time for retrospection and conclusions.

Like most of us, I am formally Mom’s Computer Admin. Mom is a stunning woman in her late 60s—an actual sweetheart. Mom’s laptop abilities are fundamental. Mom’s laptop wants are fundamental, too. Read the internets, ship e-mail, kind textual content, browse and edit photographs, play movies and music, name household and pals on Skype or Signal.

Until final 12 months, she was utilizing a Windows laptop computer, outdated however not too unhealthy. Then in the future, via deceit, threats, and obnoxious popups, Microsoft lastly made her click on that dreaded “UPGRADE TO WINDOWS 10” button.

My life as Mom’s Computer Admin shortly was hell along with her determined requires assist. Why does all the pieces look so totally different? Where is my app menu? What, this pile of tiles is now my app menu? Why is the pc so gradual? Why does it restart each day for updates, simply after I want to make use of it?! Why is one thing (she meant the onerous drive) making noise on a regular basis? What is it really doing on a regular basis?

And how would I do know that with none capacity to look into the supply code?

I thought of rolling again the improve. But with Windows 7 reaching end-of-life quickly, I feared the worst: Without safety updates, Mom’s laptop would quickly grow to be a member of numerous bot networks, mining cryptocurrencies, mailing spam, and launching vicious DDOS assaults on the very important infrastructure of complete international locations. And I might be the one to wash this mess—each weekend.

Linux to the rescue

With nothing to lose, I made a decision emigrate her to Linux. I made “the move” 5 years in the past and have by no means been happier. It absolutely would not do hurt to strive it along with her.

Mom was pleased after I declared to repair her issues as soon as and for all. What she did not know is that she would grow to be the essential a part of a year-long scientific experiment named: “Can Mom survive Linux?”

And so, in the future in February 2020, I arrived from faraway Dublin with a seven-year-old Lenovo Yoga 13, which had related specs however a a lot nicer display screen and half the load. After some deliberations and testing numerous Linux distributions on VirtualBox, I made a decision on the Zorin OS distribution, proudly made in Ireland. My selection was pushed by the next elements:

  • It’s based mostly on Ubuntu Linux, with which I am most acquainted.
  • It carefully resembles Windows 7, being rigorously designed with Windows refugees in thoughts.
  • It feels light-weight, easy, and sufficiently conservative for Mom. No shiny macOS Big Sur glitz anyplace round!

System set up

I put in the working system my ordinary manner, with the /residence folder on a devoted partition to maintain Mom’s Stuff secure within the unlikely case of system reinstallation. It’s my outdated trick that makes late-night distro-hopping a lot simpler.

During set up, I selected Polish because the consumer interface (UI) language. Just like me, Mom is Polish to the bone. No worries, Linux appears to assist each doable language, together with Klingon.

Then, I put in the next functions to cowl Mom’s wants:

  • Skype
  • Signal for Desktop
  • Google Chrome browser
  • Geary e-mail shopper
  • gThumb for photograph viewing and modifying
  • VLC for enjoying video and music
  • Softmaker Office for textual content modifying and spreadsheets

Notice how there is not any antivirus on the record. Yay!

An hour later, her Zorin OS field was prepared and loaded with functions.

System configuration

I made myself Mom’s Computer Admin by doing the next:

  • Created an admin account for myself
  • Turned Mom’s account into non-admin
  • Installed the ssh daemon for distant unattended entry
  • Added the machine to my Hamachi VPN: This manner, I can securely join through ssh with out opening port 22 on the router. Hamachi is a VPN service by LogMeIn. An old-school VPN, I imply. Intended not for operating Netflix from one other nation however for connecting computer systems right into a safe community over the web.
  • Enabled Uncomplicated Firewall ( ufw) and allowed ssh visitors
  • Installed AnyDesk for logging in to the desktop

With this, I’ve safe ssh entry to Mom’s laptop computer. I can carry out periodic upkeep through shell with out Mom even noticing something. That’s as a result of Linux usually doesn’t require a reboot after accomplished updates; what a miracle, how’s that even doable?

Can Mom survive Linux?

Without the slightest doubt!

When I confirmed Mom her new PC, she did ask why this new Windows regarded totally different once more. I needed to reveal that this isn’t Windows in any respect, however Linux, and clarify why all of us love Linux. But she picked it up shortly. The traditional Zorin OS desktop could be very very like her outdated Windows 7. I watched her discover her manner via the system and launch her acquainted functions with ease.

She instantly seen how a lot quicker the pc begins and the way significantly better it performs.

She’s been asking me when I’ll do the same old laptop cleanup in order that it would not grow to be gradual once more. I’ve defined that, along with her common use, it will not be wanted. Linux merely would not rot by itself as Windows does. So far, this has been true. Her PC runs as easy and quick as on day one.

Every at times, I ask how she feels about her new laptop. She invariably solutions that she’s proud of it. Everything works easily. The laptop would not get busy for no cause. No extra interrupting her with Very Important Updates. And the menu is the place it ought to at all times be. She’s snug along with her ordinary functions on this completely new setting.

Over the 12 months, I’ve logged in remotely a couple of occasions to run routine bundle upgrades. I’ve logged in with AnyDesk twice. Once, when Mom requested whether or not photographs from an inserted SD card may very well be imported mechanically into the ~/Pictures folder, and ideally into folders named by dates. Yes, gThumb can simply be made to do this with a little bit of Bash. Another time, I logged in so as to add often used web sites as desktop icons.

And this has been all of my effort as Mom’s Linux Admin to this point! At this tempo, I may very well be Mom’s Computer Admin to 50 different mothers!


I hope that my story will encourage you to consider migrating to Linux. In the previous, we thought of Linux to be too troublesome for informal customers. But immediately I consider that the other is true. The much less proficient laptop customers are, the extra causes they must migrate to Linux!

With Linux, novice customers will achieve a easy, polished desktop expertise with a large number of acquainted functions. They shall be a lot safer than on every other widespread computing platform. And serving to them with distant entry has by no means been simpler and safer!

Disclaimer: This article will not be selling any of the described merchandise, providers, or distributors. I haven’t got any business curiosity nor associations with them. I am not making an attempt to recommend that these services or products are greatest for you, nor promising that your expertise would be the similar.

This article initially appeared on Let’s Debug It and is reused with permission.

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