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My first service call

About a month ago I set up a 91-year old great-grandmother with Ubuntu
Linux.  She lives in a retirement center.  I chose 8.04 for its long-
term support.  She had been using an old version of Windows on dialup,
and wanted to switch to broadband.  Since the old Windows would be
compromised in a second on a high speed connection and since I didn't
want to deal with antivirus software etc, the choice was either Linux
or Mac.  And since she is on a limited budget, the choice was Linux.
Her old computer was too old even for Linux, at least with standard
GUIs etc, so I bought a second-hand Dell, about 3 years old, for $150,
which came with Windows XP which I wiped.  She already had a LCD
monitor, a 1400x900 model from Envision, so I just reused that.  I set
it up to automatically boot into her account, but gave myself an
account open to ssh so I could access it remotely in case I need to.
I denied all other accounts ssh access, including hers, which has a
trivial password.   Set her up with all the codecs, Adobe flash,
Google Earth etc, and installed a rather large photo library that had
been collected by her children and grandchildren.   I gave her about 3
hours of lessons on how to use the new computer, how to open .doc
attachments in Openoffice, how to use Youtube, etc etc.

Then I waited for problem reports.  The first one came in this week.
There is a guy at her retirement complex who fancies himself a
computer expert.  She was telling him about her new computer, and
invited him to take a look at it.  He played with it for a while, and
screwed up the desktop (moved icons to trash, etc).  So later when she
tried to use it, she couldn't find things.  She called me on the phone
and I guided her through restoring her desktop to its former
condition.  She said her computer expert friend had never heard of
Firefox.  He must be an "expert" at Windows with IE only.  I wonder if
he realized he wasn't looking at Windows.

The installation was not trouble-free.  Ubuntu 8.04 doesn't recognize
the Envision LCD monitor, and I had to go through some Googling and
Ubuntu forum searching to finally get it to work.  I probably spent
about an hour on this problem.   I didn't dig deeply into it, instead
I just tried some suggestions I found until one worked.

The printer, however, a new HP laserjet, installed effortlessly and
flawlessly.  Her old printer was one of those incredibly slow jobs
that cost 10x more for cartridges over the lifetime of the printer
than you pay for the printer itself.  I took it and the old PC to the
recycling center.

Apart from the service call mentioned above, there has been no trouble
since I left.  There has been none of the freezing or instability that
DFS likes to write about.  In fact, I have never had any such problems
on any of the Linux systems I've operated.  I am not saying that my
experience with Linux has been trouble-free, and in particular my
grandmother friend or Joe Sixpack would not have been able to solve
the problem with the Envision monitor by themselves.  Of course, she
wouldn't have been able to install Windows, either.  But in ordinary
operations I've never had instability problems, or difficulties with
multiple tasks or multiple users running at the same time, or having
the system crash when I move the mouse, etc etc.   In fact, in the
hundreds (thousands?) of posts DFS has made with Linux horror stories,
I've never experienced anything like any of them (not the ones I've
read, anyway).

She loves her "new" computer.

My main complaint is the cost of broadband where she lives.  I wrote a
complaint to the FCC, for all the good it will do.

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