A little bit of history:
Grandma is using an old Dell Optiplex GX100 with a 600Mhz Celeron and RAM upgraded to 384MB. It used to run Windows 98. I then upgraded to Windows XP Home edition. The computer is used for web surfing, e-mails and playing small games (ex: puzzle, cards, etc.).
Being exposed to Linux a couple of time, she began to like the little free games found on many distributions. That gave me the idea to dual-boot Linux on her machine to slowly move away from Windows.
Why move away from Windows?
- Grandma won’t pay the additional $$$ for Vista upgrade, and I won’t go with pirated version…
- One day or they other, XP won’t be supported and will be more vulnerable to attacks (we all know MS won’t try to make XP as robust as Vista…) and maybe Linux will become more Grandma’s friendly.
- Grandma really understands what I’ve told her in the past: “don’t be afraid of the computer. Worst case scenario is we’ll need to reinstall.”. So she often get crap on her computer. Linux is less targeted by these crap softwares.
- Linux is free and has the capability to full-fill 98% of Grandma’s needs. The 2% is playing incompatible games like “The Sims” or navigating on Firefox __not-friendy__ sites
(it has to be as smooth as possible for a chance of success)
- Upgrade HD capacity (original 10GB is too small for 2 OS and data-files…)
- Install an easy to support distribution (being a Linux newbie, I don’t want to increase my support time…)
- Migrate e-mails from Outlook Express to Thunderbird. Then share the Thunderbird data files on both operating systems (if possible).
- Have an easy to learn and use MSN Messenger replacement for Linux.
- Have proprietary format (MP3, WMV, MOV, etc.)
- Have other proprietary support for better web experience (Java, Flash, etc.)
- Windows XP as usual…
- Take a ghost image… so if something goes wrong, I won’t have to take an eternity to reinstall this OS.
- Install the chosen linux distribution
- I tried Linux Mint. What a great distribution for beginners… Even non-free stuff is installed and the distribution also supports Ubuntu repositories! After installation, it was slow like crazy. So I had to look for something else.
- I thought about Ubuntu but I wasn’t sure because Linux Mint is derived from it. So I expected the same performance issue… for this reason I went with the lightweight Xubuntu 6.06.
- This one was working well, no performance problems but no games either. You know those little games I was talking about earlier… I managed to install GNOME-Games manually but no menu appears to lunch them. That’s it! it fails the “newbie support” time requirement.
- After some research I discovered that Ubuntu performance problems with Optiplex GX100 starts with version 6.10. So I gave a try to 6.06 LTS.
- This time, performance is correct.
- Installation of Thunderbird on both OS.
- I installed the OS this way:
- Partition 1: NTFS: Windows XP
- Partition 2: Linux SWAP
- Partition 3: ext3: Linux OS
- Partition 4: FAT32: Shared partition for data files
- Install Thunderbird on Windows XP first. After installation, Thunderbird asks for importing e-mails and settings from Outlook Express
- After content is imported, move account folder on the shared partition.
- Backup the current data folders
- Setup the new data folder location
- Close Thunderbird
- Overwrite the new folder location with files from the backup
- Restart Thunderbird
- Install Thunderbird on Linux. After installation, change Thunderbird account folder to the location on the shared partition and restart.
- So far it is working well. Whatever OS we boot from, we have access to all the downloaded e-mails.
- I installed the OS this way:
- Install aMSN as the MSN Messenger client.
(for an MSN Messenger user, it’s one of the easiest Linux compatible client to go with — I also like Kopete)
- Install proprietary stuff using Automatix2 (Video codecs, Java, Flash, etc.)
Dell Optiplex GX100 Hardware Specifications:
|Hardware Components||Status under Linux||Notes|
|17″ CRT Monitor||Ok|
|128MB + 256MB PC133 (133Mhz)||Ok|
|40 GB ATA Hard Drive 7200 RPM + additional 10 GB ATA Drive||Ok|
|Integrated Network Card||I don’t know||I only used the wireless USB adapter card for now|
|Linksys WUSB11 v2.6 wireless adapter||Ok||I am using a WEP encryption key. I didn’t try with a WPA key.Be sure to keep it unplugged while installing Ubuntu. It hanged the installation process on detecting USB storage devices when I left it connected.|
|Internal Modem||I don’t know…||I never tried the modem|
|Integrated sound card||Ok|
|Keyboard – Canadian French Layout||Ok|