Boston Linux & Unix (BLU) Home | Calendar | Mail Lists | List Archives | Desktop SIG | Hardware Hacking SIG
Wiki | Flickr | PicasaWeb | Video | Maps & Directions | Installfests | Keysignings
Linux Cafe | Meeting Notes | Blog | Linux Links | Bling | About BLU

BLU Discuss list archive

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

How to set up a computers with GNU/Linux for grandparents

On Sat, 2003-11-15 at 10:26, Don Saklad wrote:
> a. For grandparents, how do you set up a computer with GNU/Linux ?...

> b. How do you set up computers with GNU/Linux for elderly seniors?...

Computers for what?

It depends a lot on what their use will be.  Mostly web browsing? 
Mostly e-mail?  Or will they be doing their finances on the machine or
anything like that?

Unless they're computer savy, I would suggest limiting choices as much
as possible.  If they only read e-mail and browse the web, then only
have those two programs available.  Install a single easy to use e-mail
client, and a single easy to use web browser.  Load any common (and
safe) plugins in advance.  Flash, java, etc.  Their usage is quite
common these days, and the missing plugins will end up causing
confusion.  Any programs that won't be used, uninstall or at least
remove the icons/menu entries for them.

Configure the window manager so that nothing can easily be accidentally
changed.  I don't even know how many times I've recieved phonecalls from
relates running windows who accidentally moved the task bar or something
else trivial like that. Fixing it is simple, but it's not an easy thing
to explain over the phone to someone who isn't computer literate.

I would suggest using KDE or Gnome rather than something like
Windowmaker/Afterstep/Enlightenment.  It's a bit more similiar to
something that they've seen before (assuming they've used computers.. I
don't think my grandparents have), and they both have built in support
for easy access.  Large fonts/high contrast for people who vision
problems.  Sticky keys for complex keyboard combinations.  That sort of

You might want to look into KDE's kiosk mode.  It's designed so that you
cannot change any of the options.  I haven't used it personally, but I
read up on it a little when the feature was first introduced, and it
looks convenient for it's purposes.

If you decide to go with Gnome, newer versions offer the ability to lock
applets in place on the menu bar.  It would probably be a good idea to
use that.

As for distros, it doesn't need to be bleeding edge. Stability is
important.  I wouldn't suggest Fedora Core at all at this point as I've
had a number of random crashing issues.  I can deal with them, but
seniors may not be able to.

Gregory Boyce <gboyce at>

BLU is a member of BostonUserGroups
BLU is a member of BostonUserGroups
We also thank MIT for the use of their facilities.

Valid HTML 4.01! Valid CSS!

Boston Linux & Unix /