Windows user choosing a desktop surprises

Chat about Linux in general
Post Reply
User avatar
xenopeek
Level 25
Level 25
Posts: 25150
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:58 am
Location: The Netherlands

Windows user choosing a desktop surprises

Post by xenopeek »

My dad had asked me to set up a spare computer with Linux for him to to use for online banking and such. To keep that separate from Windows. He's been keeping up with the news around Windows 10 and apparently got scared into action by that. I didn't prod him, he asked for this out of the blue. We discussed some alternatives but Linux is the best answer to his worries.

So today I visited my parents with a bunch of Linux distros with me, to demonstrate the various desktop environments (DEs). While I'll pick the distro I wanted him to have the choice as to which DE he liked best. I know many DEs can be customized with themes, docks, panels, and whatsits, but I assumed the default look of one or another would stand out to him as most appealing.

The list of Linux distros & DEs I had with me and the order in which I demonstrated them:
  • Ubuntu 14.04 (Unity)
  • Linux Mint 17.2 Cinnamon
  • Linux Mint 17.2 Xfce
  • ElementaryOS Freya (Pantheon)
  • Debian 8.1 GNOME
I first showed Ubuntu and he was immediately smitten with the "it doesn't look like Windows" vibe of Unity :) Having seen Unity I was informed he wanted something that looked different from Windows so it would be easy to keep the two apart. Next showing Cinnamon and Xfce went completely opposite to my expectations. I went there today assuming the familiarity of these two (like Windows a panel at the bottom, "start" menu at the left, status icons on the right, window list in the middle) would be a big plus for him. But no, these looked too much like Windows and were quickly dismissed. ElementaryOS was up next but the interface became unresponsive so that was also quickly dismissed because, and I quote, "I don't want bugs." Final one I showed was Gnome Shell and he immediately took a liking to it: like Unity it doesn't look like Windows but the user interface has a more refined look and things stay out of your way more. He didn't appreciate for example how the Unity dash stays on the screen all the time while Gnome Shell's dash hides when you close activities overview (I know you can change this, but this was about first impressions with the defaults). After clicking around some more he announced this was what he wanted and when could I please install it :wink:

The spare computer needs a few parts replaced so it will take a week or two, but I'm eager for his experiences once he starts using it. All my dad knows is that I do "something" for Linux Mint, and he doesn't know I use Gnome Shell myself. I was careful to not influence his impression during the demonstrations. It's funny to see the things that made me choose Gnome Shell also were things my dad immediately took a liking to.

I didn't carry MATE or KDE with me as I think for a first impression kind of thing we did today more than 5 demonstrations would be too much. MATE I count as in between Cinnamon and Xfce somewhere. While I appreciate what KDE is doing, my dad isn't a power user and I think KDE wouldn't have been a right fit for him.

A surprising conclusion, but I'm happy with the choice he made. I would have been happy to load LMDE 2 Cinnamon (which I had assumed would be the outcome) but instead I think I'll be going with Debian 8.1 GNOME.
Image
exploder
Level 15
Level 15
Posts: 5569
Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2007 10:50 am
Location: HartfordCity, Indiana USA

Re: Windows user choosing a desktop surprises

Post by exploder »

That is really interesting, especially since you did not try to influence your dad in any way. Maybe I should try the same approach with my mom.
User avatar
xenopeek
Level 25
Level 25
Posts: 25150
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:58 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Windows user choosing a desktop surprises

Post by xenopeek »

Only things I explained up front were:
  • I'd choose and install the operating system best suited to his needs (which we had discussed previously);
  • That whatever user interface (as I called it for him) he chose he could use the same applications he's using on Windows with any (Firefox, Chrome, Thunderbird);
  • But that I wanted him to choose the user interface that appealed to him most.
I think it really helped to have some choice, but not too much choice. I sat him down in front of the computer and pointed out where he could find his applications menu, where he could see his active applications, and made him start the web browser on each. We spent just a few minutes with each, just enough to get a first impression. There are of course differences in file managers and other aspects of the DEs, but that goes beyond the scope of what my dad will do with it or what he would care about. He's managed to use Windows without any choice fine :wink:

I plan to make a few reference sheets for him, with screenshots of the desktop / activities overview / user menu, annotated with where to go for what and perhaps noting a few keyboard shortcuts. With that I think he will be able to manage on his own once I set up filesharing between his Windows and Linux computer and get the network printer working (it's a HP one, so I have some hope it will just work).
Image
shengchieh
Level 4
Level 4
Posts: 402
Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2008 1:25 am
Contact:

Re: Windows user choosing a desktop surprises

Post by shengchieh »

exploder wrote:That is really interesting, especially since you did not try to influence your dad in any way. Maybe I should try the same approach with my mom.
Give her this.

Windows 10 spies on emails, images, credit cards, more
http://www.wnd.com/2015/08/windows-10-s ... cIBEDgD.99

Sheng-Chieh
User avatar
Pierre
Level 20
Level 20
Posts: 11271
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:33 am
Location: Perth, AU.

Re: Windows user choosing a desktop surprises

Post by Pierre »

when the wife wanted a laptop,
- gave her one with a small screen - that's " it's cute".
installed Mint 9 LTS // mate DE.
and she stuck some stickers on the case - to make it "hers".

used it for years - even took it over to NZ on holidays.
- the HDD is still 50% photos ..

she did everything on it - FB - you name it.
Image
Please edit your original post title to include [SOLVED] - when your problem is solved!
and DO LOOK at those Unanswered Topics - - you may be able to answer some!.
User avatar
xenopeek
Level 25
Level 25
Posts: 25150
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:58 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Windows user choosing a desktop surprises

Post by xenopeek »

I used a Fit-PC IPC2 from Compulab (Intel quad core i3 processor and added 8 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD). I couldn't easily get the Linux Mint branded one from the distributor here so I got the regular one. Loaded Debian Jessie on to it. All hardware and sensors are working except for the wifi (which I didn't want anyway), but the Debian installer very helpfully informed me that if I had a medium with "iwlwifi-7260-9.ucode" and "iwlwifi-7260-8.ucode" firmware files that it could install the wifi for me anyway.

I spent a few evenings tinkering with the setup. Things like getting default applications installed, setting up backup, locking down security of the web browsers (firejail + some extensions like HTTPS Everywhere, Ublock Origin, and few others). Added Google Chrome as required by my dad :) Tinkered a bit with repositories and unattended-upgrades to make it work like I wanted (firejail is only in testing repositories, LibreOffice 4.4.5 is in backports, so I added those repositories).

Today I spent the afternoon installing it all at my dad's home office (cable clutter...), setting up samba to share files with the Windows computer, configuring the firewall, and configuring the printers. I had cold sweat thinking about the printers but with Debian Jessie + Gnome Shell I could detect both printers from System Settings automatically :D Finishing touch was a KVM switch though I messed up there as I hadn't considered his wireless keyboard. Replaced it with a spare wired one (will get him a decent keyboard next time) and it's now all working. Some cable clutter left to tidy up next visit but at the end of the day everything that he wanted to do with the machine was working.

Anyway, I'll let him use it for a while and see what feedback I get on the desktop choice :mrgreen:
Image
User avatar
Crewp
Level 9
Level 9
Posts: 2510
Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:36 pm
Location: Connecticut,USA

Re: Windows user choosing a desktop surprises

Post by Crewp »

Interesting thread, I also got my Mom using Linux, ( Mint 17.2 XFCE ) she likes it , and just uses it for e-mail, bill pay, surfing so for her it's fine. She had used Windows XP before it reached EOL. :D
Image
Hmfan
Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:56 pm
Location: United States

Re: Windows user choosing a desktop surprises

Post by Hmfan »

That is certainly interesting really. I had my father say to me the other day. "I've had enough of dealing with windows and my ipad is getting slower every day" (apple and their updates designed for their newer products.) but his knowledge of linux was set in the 90s where everything had to be configured by hand. I burned off a copy of Mint 17.2 Cinnamon for him to give a go since he saw my older netbook running it and thought it was pretty solid. I'd used a 64 bit linux on his computer before for testing the hardware to check for problems such as the faulty hard drive it had at one point. So I know it is already set to boot from USB/DVD, so I trust he won't have to fiddle with the bios to get it to boot, whether he decides to install is on him. but considering I transitioned him to many open source alternatives to everyday programs I'm sure he'll be right at home.
Main systems:
HP 15 AMD A6 6310, 16 GB RAM
Custom Desktop: Gigabyte F2A88XN, AMD A10 6800K, 8GB DDR3 RAM
Post Reply

Return to “Chat about Linux”