Ubuntu – the ‘old man’ experiment

Recently my father, who has so far not wanted to have anything to do with computers, decided to change all of this with age 67. While initially surprised (and remembering the comments I got when sitting in front of computers as a teenager instead of working on the family farm), I quite liked the idea. It’s a great to see him still wanting to explore and learn new things.

Unfortunately since there is approximately 17.000km between us, there was a limited amount I could do to help him get set up. So my eldest sister (as she always has to do) ended up having to help out instead. Finding hardware was the easy part and very cheap these days (and since it was bought online I could help with the technical aspects). However the machines in that particular shop came as white-boxes without an Operating System (which is a good thing in my book).

So rather than forking out another 90 or so Euro for Windows Vista, which I personally dislike with a passion, I suggested her to download Ubuntu and give it a try. If things did not work out you could always get it later. While I personally have a very pragmatic approach to OS selection and no particular ‘religious’ views when it comes to Linux, I do generally choose an Open Source alternative over a Proprietary system all other things being equal. I was a bit worried about people not being familiar with it, but in the case of my father he has never had any experience with computers so did not have any Windows ‘baggage’. And his usage would mainly be for Internet access, e-mail and maybe some comms (Skype and similar).

But the ease of setting up the whole system surprised even myself. My sister only had one problem with the whole install. She burned the downloaded ISO file to CD (as .iso) rather than using some burning software to convert the ISO to a CD image. The rest was smooth sailing and did not even involve any intercontinental phone calls to myself. When it came to connecting the machine to the Internet I got a call asking me what she needed to do to access the net. When I replied if she had already tried to open the browser I was told ‘no’. When she opened Firefox everything was already working.

As a result of this she is now converting her old computer (which she has unsuccessfully tried to re-install WindowsXP for months because of driver problems) to Ubuntu

The 90 Euros saved on the Operating System will go to a webcam and some peripherals so the grandkids in Australia can hopefully see Opa more often.

Author: Leo Gaggl

ict business owner specialising in mobile learning systems. interests: sustainability, internet of things, ict for development, open innovation, agriculture

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