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Linux Can Be Easy

Started by William Grim, 2004-12-06T07:50:42-06:00 (Monday)

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William Grim

Hey there!

*Warning: Long Story Follows, but it has screenshots.*

Over Thanksgiving break, I worked on a Debian system for my father quite a bit.  He doesn't know much about computers, but I got a system installed for him during the summer and finished the job when I came home (he doesn't use the computer much; so it was okay to leave it unfinished).

Anyway, I asked him what type of requirements he had for the computer... what types of things did he need to do with it... everything he could think of needing to do.  His needs weren't overwhelming by any means: word processing, spreadsheets (for banking), internet browsing, email, cd recording, and diskette saving.  So, as you can see, his needs were very simple.

My next step in making his computer easy for him to use was to take his requirements and create a series of icons and scripts to help him simplify tasks such as connecting to the Internet.  Here is a screenshot of the icons.

After creating all the icons and scripts (some of which have graphical features), I decided to implement system security for him.  I also decided to give him a way to easily send system information to me in the event that he has a problem and needs to have someone log into his system to correct some sort of issue.  Therefore, I created a firewall that is completely closed from the outside UNLESS he runs the script to send me information when he has a problem.  This script opens a few ports on the system so I may telnet and ftp to it (insecure protocols, but he's on dial-up, making encryption VERY slow).  The script also gives him a chance to enter a description of the his problem, even though he will have probably called me prior to running the script.  Screenshot is here.

My father, who would have needed someone to setup Windows for him if he was using that instead, can now use GNU/Linux, completely devoid of paying for software while remaining completely legal.  Also, the system is easy for him to use, and he has been using the new system more than any other computer system in the past, which says a lot!

The moral of the story is that Linux, too, can be made very simple for users to use.  My father's case may be a bit special in that he has a son that knows a lot about computers and can set it up for him, but I think the point still stands.

Any of you have any similar stories?
William Grim
IT Associate, Morgan Stanley