This isn’t the regular granny-test – this time, we’ll put Ubuntu’s famous user-friendliness to the test the right way.
In this experiment, Ubuntu will face Windows, but it’s going to be a fair game. This means that I will not customise Ubuntu to make it easier to use – no, it will come exactly as-is.
All of this wouldn’t be possible without my dear mother. She is a fairly typical computer user. She does basic things like reading her email and browsing the web, but now and then tries some more advanced things like installing Google Earth. Most important, however, is the fact that she is open-minded towards another operating system.
The version we will be starting off with is 7.10 (“Gutsy Gibbon”), as that is the most recent one at the time of writing. Of course, it will be interesting to see if she would like to user newer versions as they get released.
I will install Ubuntu Restricted Extras and the Medibuntu packages (with which I have no experience at all). Why do I do that?
Well, the reason Ubuntu cannot include these restricted packages is because they cannot include licence fees in the price (there is no price), and because they are not (fully) open source.
Now, when Ubuntu would come pre-installed on computers, the license fees could easily be included in the price. Furthermore, as we are not testing which operating system is better ideologically (we know that already, don’t we?), we are testing which operating system is better functionally – therefore I feel comfortable enabling non-open source software. For the same reason, I will also enable any Restricted Drivers available.
One of the reasons I chose Ubuntu, is because I think it is one of the user-friendliest distributions out there. The main reason, however, is because I use Xubuntu so it’s easiest for me to help, just as my brothers can help her with Windows problems.
So why don’t I give her Xubuntu? After all, being an Ubuntu derivative, Xubuntu’s goal is to be user-friendly too. Well, basically it is because I believe Xubuntu’s (or rather: Xfce’s) target audience is a bit different. Xfce is better for people who like to tweak their system more while still retaining speed and sane defaults, putting it somewhere in between KDE and GNOME. For those people (me), I still believe Xubuntu is extremely user-friendly.
Why my mother?
My mother has recently been complaining about her Windows XP computer becoming too slow. To my great surprise and delight, when I jokingly suggested installing Ubuntu on her computer next to Windows, she agreed. She is the perfect test candidate as she is quite the average adult computer user, not a gamer and, well, my mother! This means I’m there to help her (I’m still in high school, so I live with my mother) whenever she encounters problems. Furthermore, I’m there to write down her experiences and problems so we can finally really see whether Ubuntu has become as good as or better than Windows.
What about my bias?
Of course, being a great open source-proponent, I’ve got a great bias towards making Ubuntu a success. Of course, I liked reading yet another granny-test and see Ubuntu coming out as the clear winner, however, I was always disappointed by the amount of work that had to be put in before Ubuntu was a success. Therefore, I’ll really try to fairly document the experiences, and to honest admit it when Ubuntu isn’t up to the task. Then Windows-proponents can always point towards this blog when someone claims Ubuntu to be better than Windows functionally – until the next release, that is ;)
But of course, when Ubuntu turns out to be a success for my mother, I will make sure that everybody gets to hear it, and I will of course use this blog as proof :)
Well, obviously this makes for a great New Year’s resolution, and I truly hope this will turn out to be a success. Of course, all suggestions (e.g. are there any other preparations I should take?) are welcome, as is feedback. I hope I do not run into severe hardware problems, as that is not my speciality (she has just bought an Epson scanner/printer combination, so my fingers are crossed…), therefore I hope I will find a lot of knowledgeable readers. All in all I’m extremely excited, and I hope you’ll all follow along (you can subscribe to my RSS feed or get notified of new posts by email).
Oh, and did I mention that my twelve-year-old sister has agreed to me putting Rockbox on her mp3-player? Linux’ momentum certainly is growing :)
Finally, I would like to point out that the content of this blog is licensed under a CC-BY-SA license, so feel free to copy this and later posts as long as you link back here :)