Ubuntu 8.04, newbie material?
Ubuntu is considered as one of the most “newbie friendly” linux distro’s today. But is it really?
Last weekend a friend of mine asked me to fix his computer. An old no-brand pc running on low-end hardware.
The pc was running windows 98 and was in need of some serious maintenance.
I asked him what he needed the pc for and it was no shocker that he only used his pc for browsing the internet, listing to music (and downloading it), view some pictures and chat.
A little light-bulb appeared above my head and the text balloon said: ubuntu!
Ubuntu’s installer is easy for most advanced computer users but most people using computers don’t know what kind of animals “partitions, mouse points, formatting, …” are.
So that is problem two. Most people can’t (or think they can’t) install an OS. It doesn’t matter how easy you make the installer, non-techies just can’t/won’t do it.
Just browse through the ubuntuforums absolute beginners forum and you’ll see people having problems with “problem one” all the time.
Luckily most people know some local “computer guy” to burn/install an OS.
I installed the OS on his pc and fired it up. All hardware was recognized and his pc was running fast.
I quickly changed the default gtk2 theme to something more modern and changed the wallpaper. (I don’t like the default theme and background, and I knew my friend wasn’t going to dig it either.)
It goes without saying that I couldn’t just stop here and walk away.
Installing codecs, programs, … is easy, … for me.
The first thing I did was add the medibuntu repo. Then I installed apps everybody needs but aren’t installed by default.
– restricted extra’s (removed open-java and installed java6)
– non free codecs
– adblock for firefox
Then I had to make sure a .mp3 file opens with exaile, .avi and some other video formats opens with vlc.
You might have noticed I installed emesene. There is a good reason for that. Pidgin is a great IM, but is a bit overkill for most people.
Here in Western-Europe almost everyone (at least everyone I know) uses the msn network to chat.
Emesene makes it a lot easier to let other people sign in to their account and the “look and feel” matches “windows live messenger” a lot better.
To finish things, I put the Firefox, Emesene, Exaile and the folder icons on the desktop.
I showed him how he can navigate the menu’s and how to install new software.
Those last two steps are very important. You can’t expect someone who has been using windows all his life to just figure things out in two seconds. You have to make the much used apps directly available to them (short-cuts) and explain how the menu’s work.
So, is ubuntu 8.04 newbie material?
Yes, but …
If I hadn’t installed the extra software and made short-cuts I’m pretty sure he would have loads of problems with it.
Ubuntu is easy to use after you set it up properly.
After everything was ready my friend thanked my and bought me a beer.
The next day I talked to him on “msn” and he had nothing but good words about Ubuntu.
You see, ubuntu is ready for the desktop for most people.