December 31, 2007
Well, it has taken me more than just a couple days to get this added, but I finally got my mother back on Linux over Christmas.
The Back Story
To give you a little background, mom, who is now 90, has had a computer for several years now. It started before dad died while they were living in Crossville, Tennessee, not near any family. At least not near any of us who had any real computing knowledge. A cousin of mine built a computer for her from an old one that he had. He collects old ones and does some refurbishing, reinstalls winbloze and makes them more or less workable. But he also lived far away and visited only infrequently.
Mom was finding that one frustrating because the hardware was very old and slow to start with. So I built her one in about 2000 that had Linux on it. She liked the Linux computer very much, in part because I had provided her with written instructions about how to perform the basic tasks.
She had a very slow dial-up connection as she and dad lived in a very rural resort community that did not have cable. Even after getting cable they did not have the option of high speed internet access through their cable company.
We live in Raleigh which is a brutal eight to nine hour drive from Crossville so I had to do all maintenance remotely through this very slow dial up line. I had written a little program that would detect the IP address and email it to me. All mom had to do was click an icon on the KDE Panel and I could use SSH to login and perform maintenance.
Mom has guests occasionally and she allowed them to use her login account once too often. One of them who thought he knew a little about Linux managed to damage the dial-up configuration while trying to login to his own ISP. After that it was impossible for me to get in to fix.
One of my brothers gave her an old laptop with Windows 98 on it and set her up with AOL. AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!! But it allowed her to get back on line although some things did not work well.
She kept asking me to get her a Linux computer because she liked it better, but she had become entrenched in AOL.
After Dad died and mom moved to Columbus, Ohio, where she was near my brother and his family, there was little reason to get her back onto a Linux computer as my brother was local now and could help her with her winbloze and AOL problems. Unfortunately, over time, this computer experienced the usual winbloze performance decay and it became pretty much unusable for her.
She continued to ask me to get her a Linux computer because she liked it better.
The New Computer
I finally decided that this would be the year I got mom a new Linux computer for Christmas. Mom already had Time Warner Cable for her TV, and I encouraged her to get RoadRunner so she would not have to wait hours for large graphics people sent her to download. She did that and even got Time Warner digital phone service.
I rebuilt an older computer I had with a new motherboard, additional memory and a SATA hard drive. Her new system has an Intel 2.6GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and and 80GB SATA hard drive. I figure that should be good enough for several years for email, web browsing and a little word processing. I also got her a new keyboard, mouse, flat-panel LCD display and a UPS.
I installed Fedora 8 on mom’s new computer and did a good deal of basic configuration on her desktop so she would not have to deal with that.
Alice and I went up over Christmas and I installed her new computer. I set her up with a Gmail account. Alice reentered all of her email address book from AOL into Gmail. Alice and I showed her how to use Gmail and I showed her the basics of her new Linux computer.
Mom is now happy and sending emails again. She can now keep in touch with her friends around the world and get pictures of her great grandchildren through her Gmail account.
I can login remotely to help her resolve problems. I have written her a book to help her with the basics of using her new Linux computer. This book turns out to be a good start on a more general book that can be helpful to anyone who wants or needs to use a computer with Fedora on it. I hope to have time to keep working on it in 2008.
It seems that mom really does know what is best: Linux!