Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Desktop Adapted for Dad

Filed under
Linux

Work had some old desktop PCs going spare and I set one up for my father. Mostly because I didn't want to have to remote admin a Windows machine I decided to install Debian on it.

At Easter in 2005 I gave my 69-year-old father his first computer. I had carefully installed and configured the software especially for him. I had taken care to consider his needs, and had attempted to second guess any problems he may have. I wrote my experience down in an article Desktop Adapted Dad (1), and which I recently presented to my Linux User Group. This short article is a summary of some of the steps I took to optimise my father's computer and some of the observations I made.

My father had never used a computer when I gave him his. He had never worked in an office environment or used a typewriter. Like many people his age his eyesight is not perfect even when corrected, and his glasses are bifocal which does make using a VDU more awkward than normal.

My plan for the computer was to configure it with the smallest set of software necessary to make it function correctly, to greatly simplify the desktop, and to select a visual design that would be clear and unambiguous.

We took the computer to him and showed him how to connect to the Internet, send and receive email, and how to drive the desktop. We spent several days with him, and during this time I continued to adjust the settings to suit his needs.

My first surprise was that what I thought was big and clear, was not anywhere near big or clear enough.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Firefox OS media-casting stick strikes Kickstarter gold

The first Firefox OS based media player has arrived on Kickstarter, in the form of a $25 open-spec HDMI stick that supports Chromecast-like content casting. The Matchstick, which has already zoomed past its Kickstarter campaign’s $100,000 funding goal, with 28 days still remaining, was teased back in June by Mozilla developer evangelist Christian Heilmann. The unnamed prototype was billed as an open source HDMI stick that runs Mozilla’s Linux-based Firefox OS and offers casting capabilities. Few details were revealed at the time except that the device used the same DIAL (DIscovery And Launch) media-casting protocol created by Netflix and popularized by Google’s Chromecast. Read more

Open source history, present day, and licensing

Looking at open source softwares particularly, this is a fact that is probably useful to you if you are thinking about business models, many people don't care about it anymore. We talk about FOSS, Free and Open Source Software, but if we really are strict there's a difference between free software and open source software. On the left, I have free software which most typically is GPL software. Software where the license insures freedom. It gives freedoms to you as a user, but it also requires that the freedoms are maintained. On the right-hand side, you have open source software which is open for all, but it also allows you to close it. So here we come back to the famous clause of the GPL license, the reciprocity requirement which says, "If I am open, you need to be open." So software that comes under the GPL license carries with it something that other people call a virus. I call it a blessing because I think it's great if all software becomes open. Read more

Leftovers: Software

Proprietary

today's howtos