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Duncan J Murray
May 9th, 2012, 09:07 PM
A non-computer-minded friend of mine has asked me to sort out her laptop. I think it's about 2 years old and consumer-grade, but I don't have it yet to experiment. She's only ever used Windows XP, and was thinking of getting a new laptop because it had become slow and wifi stopped working. I've offered to see if I can get it working with linux.

The question is - which distribution? I use 10.04 at home, but also run 12.04 and fedora 16 on other machines. I was originally thinking of going for 12.04 - it's good, and I think she'd appreciate the bling. The problem is, it seems to actually be a bit on the slow side on older hardware, and it's crashed a few times already. I don't want to give someone a bad first impression of linux, so maybe 10.04* is the way to go?

Thoughts appreciated.

*I would add stable repositories for firefox, chrome, rhythmbox and libreoffice.

QIII
May 9th, 2012, 09:11 PM
Xubuntu is light and would be familiar enough to a windows user if you tweaked it a bit.

Don't go with 10.04. Stable, yes. But a year left in it's life.

12.04 is supported for 5 years.

F16 is ponderous. But I like it.

Paqman
May 9th, 2012, 09:20 PM
Wait until 12.04.1 then slap it on. Configure it to install security updates automatically and not to nag about other updates too much. Should be good to go for the next five years with minimal support required from you.

Use Unity 2D if the machine doesn't have enough smash to run the 3D smoothly.

overcast
May 9th, 2012, 09:29 PM
Xubuntu and LXDE based distros are better for the old hardware. I see that ubuntu 12.04 is not something that will go well with old hardware even with unity 2d.

Simian Man
May 9th, 2012, 09:33 PM
I'd install Kubuntu on it. It's easy to use and will likely be more familiar to her what with having a menu and all.

scouser73
May 9th, 2012, 10:05 PM
I would always opt for an LTS rather than the six monthly cycle variety, it gives the user to become comfortable with Ubuntu and not to be swayed by the "I must install this as soon as it is released" way of thinking.

Paqman
May 9th, 2012, 10:12 PM
Xubuntu and LXDE based distros are better for the old hardware. I see that ubuntu 12.04 is not something that will go well with old hardware even with unity 2d.

2 years is not "old hardware". Every PC in my house is 2 years old or more and they all run Unity fine.

xedi
May 9th, 2012, 11:14 PM
My notebook is about two and half years old (business grade though) and I don't know anyone who has a faster windows machine than mine in terms of everyday snappiness (not talking about max CPU and GPU performance like in games) and I run Ubuntu 12.04. So unless your friend bought the crappiest netbook available two years ago, my guess is you should be fine with Ubuntu 12.04.

If you find that Ubuntu 12.04 is too slow, then you can still get a light weight desktop environment like xfce or lxde in the software center and experiment what is the best option.

QIII
May 9th, 2012, 11:46 PM
Something else about F16 that might steer you away in the case of a new user:

They don't like non-FOSS. You can play hell trying to get closed source drivers to work.

Duncan J Murray
May 10th, 2012, 12:05 AM
No votes at all for 10.04?!

I say it might be around 2 years old - actually, I'm not completely sure. Personally I use a 1.3ghz centrino T40 which is 8.5 yrs old! Haven't even bothered trying unity on it.

When I get the laptop I'll report back, see how well it fares with 12.04...

D

PS oh yes - I forgot that about Fedora - maybe not such a good idea...

aysiu
May 10th, 2012, 12:17 AM
In general, it's a good idea to wait for the .1 release on LTS *buntus, but I've found 12.04 to be pretty stable for now.

I'd recommend Xubuntu 12.04 for your friend. Lubuntu will be faster for sure, but Xubuntu is a bit more user-friendly to someone coming from Windows.

kurt18947
May 10th, 2012, 12:29 AM
In general, it's a good idea to wait for the .1 release on LTS *buntus, but I've found 12.04 to be pretty stable for now.

I'd recommend Xubuntu 12.04 for your friend. Lubuntu will be faster for sure, but Xubuntu is a bit more user-friendly to someone coming from Windows.

This is a main issue IMO. Being less than 3 years old, unless the friend's notebook has oddball wifi, power management or other hardware, it should work pretty well. A live install should give a good feel for hardware compatibility. If there are no significant hardware problems, new user comfort with the desktop environment comes into the picture. I'm wondering if Cinnamon will be a good choice for those migrating from XP. It seems pretty light, the menus seem logical and installed via ppa on 12.04 it seems pretty stable on my machines.

sammiev
May 10th, 2012, 12:37 AM
In general, it's a good idea to wait for the .1 release on LTS *buntus, but I've found 12.04 to be pretty stable for now.

I'd recommend Xubuntu 12.04 for your friend. Lubuntu will be faster for sure, but Xubuntu is a bit more user-friendly to someone coming from Windows.

I totally agree but try all flavours of 12.04 before selecting one. :) A USB stick could be your best friend. :)

kurt18947
May 10th, 2012, 04:58 PM
I totally agree but try all flavours of 12.04 before selecting one. :) A USB stick could be your best friend. :)

Absolutely!! Also check out Mint though Mint 13 based on 12.04 is not released yet, should be soon. Mint does a better job on live installs having codec and such already installed. I've had mixed results adding drivers, codecs etc. to live installs on USB sticks.

mamamia88
May 10th, 2012, 05:15 PM
Mint Debian Xfce edition

CharlesA
May 10th, 2012, 07:58 PM
in general, it's a good idea to wait for the .1 release on lts *buntus, but i've found 12.04 to be pretty stable for now.

I'd recommend xubuntu 12.04 for your friend. Lubuntu will be faster for sure, but xubuntu is a bit more user-friendly to someone coming from windows.
+1

leclerc65
May 10th, 2012, 08:31 PM
Lubuntu will be faster for sure, but Xubuntu is a bit more user-friendly
It's true for an Installer, not a User.

aysiu
May 10th, 2012, 10:14 PM
It's true for an Installer, not a User.
I actually mean for a user. Just navigating around menus and using programs, Xfce behaves a little bit more like Windows than LXDE does. It's not a huge adjustment, but it's better to minimize the variables when introducing Linux to a new user.

In fact, I think it's the opposite: the installation process for Lubuntu is almost exactly the same as for Xubuntu, Kubuntu, or Ubuntu.

Duncan J Murray
May 10th, 2012, 10:33 PM
I've installed xubuntu 11.10 for my mum (very much a non-user). To be honest, I'm not sure it's the greatest interface for her. Something like the unity interface would be better (larger icons). The webbrowser/email/shotwell icons are tiny...

I'm personally thinking of switching to xfce, but unity seems more intuitive for new users. lxde looks like a more traditional win95 layout - why is it less good for a windows user?

D

steve7777777
May 10th, 2012, 10:45 PM
Wait until 12.04.1 then slap it on. Configure it to install security updates automatically and not to nag about other updates too much. Should be good to go for the next five years with minimal support required from you.

Use Unity 2D if the machine doesn't have enough smash to run the 3D smoothly.

Good advice :P
Thanks!

lykwydchykyn
May 10th, 2012, 10:52 PM
I totally agree but try all flavours of 12.04 before selecting one. :) A USB stick could be your best friend. :)

I'll second this; when I set up new computers for my kids last year, I put all 4 major versions of Ubuntu on a USB stick, booted to each one, and let them choose which DE they wanted. One went with Unity, and the other KDE.

Don't overlook KDE; IMO it's actually a bit less resource-intensive than Unity, and far more mature. Kubuntu, MEPIS, or Mint KDE are all good options in the Debian family. It has a pretty familiar feel for Windows users, generally, though it can emulate about any desktop.

Old_Grey_Wolf
May 11th, 2012, 12:43 AM
I'll second this; when I set up new computers for my kids last year, I put all 4 major versions of Ubuntu on a USB stick, booted to each one, and let them choose which DE they wanted. One went with Unity, and the other KDE.

I'm glad I read the entire thread before posting :). I was going to post the same thing. Let the friend try Ubuntu 12.04, Xubuntu 12.04, Kubuntu 12.04, Ubuntu 10.04, etc, etc. Then let them decide what they like best. If you show the friend something that needs to be upgraded in a year or a year and a half, let them know the consequences.

A two year old computer could run any of the DEs; however, you won't really know until you have the machines specifications. I have an 8 year-old Dell Inspiron 5100 laptop running Xubuntu 12.04; however, I upgraded the RAM and disk drive.

If you are familiar with VirtualBox and you have a computer capable of running it, you could demonstrate the DEs using multiple VMs before tying them on the actual hardware.

leclerc65
May 11th, 2012, 03:16 AM
In fact, I think it's the opposite: the installation process for Lubuntu is almost exactly the same as for Xubuntu, Kubuntu, or Ubuntu.
Things we took for granted in Gnome, can haunt us in other DE.
The other day I converted from Ubuntu 11.04 to Lubuntu 12.04. That's a real struggle for me to find the way to switch back and forth the sound from my (analogue) speakers to my USB headset. But of course I am just a newbie installer.:(

JasonR
May 11th, 2012, 03:38 AM
Running Fedora 16 XFCE here. Seems lighter than Xubuntu 11.10, which I ran previously.

I've got my elderly mom on Xubuntu 11.10. Coming from Win XP, she loves it. Snappy on her 8 year-old machine. I upgraded her to 1.2 gigs ram.

Personally, I prefer Fedora. Absolutely rock solid. I can't speak to the new Gnome, but the XFCE version is impressive.

Peripheral Visionary
May 11th, 2012, 10:16 AM
I agree with the Xfce desktop being not only very easy to adapt to coming from Windows, but also very speedy, configurable, and handsome.

Xubu 12.04 is the fastest and best Xubu yet, and I use it effortlessly on an 8 year old Dell (Celeron) with 512 of RAM! Yet I have all the coolest, latest stuff and an interface that everyone in my house can use without needing "Linux lessons."

Lucradia
May 11th, 2012, 10:30 AM
Probably Xubuntu. Or Fedora XFCE Spin.

3rdalbum
May 11th, 2012, 10:58 AM
I don't think you can go wrong with 12.04.

Start with Unity and see how she likes it. It might be better for her - Unity is a very "helpful" desktop if she uses its features, and if she doesn't use its better features at least it has big buttons :-)

It's also quite good on laptops due to the overlay scrollbar and the better use of screen space.

If she can't wrap her head around it, then you can fall back on Gnome Fallback. I wouldn't recommend changing to anything non-Gnome; if she sticks with Gnome 3 or Gnome Shell she'll be able to use all the same programs and configuration utilities seamlessly.

Khakilang
May 11th, 2012, 11:03 AM
Luckily there is plenty of choice in Linux. You can try Pupplu Linux, Debian with XFCE, PCLinux OS and Xubuntu. Which I think is quite light weight and stable. Try a few and see how it goes.

kansasnoob
May 11th, 2012, 01:02 PM
I've used the setup shown here (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1966370) which uses Metacity on as little as an 1100 mHz CPU w/ 1GB of RAM and it's quite snappy :)

aykoola
May 11th, 2012, 01:18 PM
Ubuntu 10.10 worked best for me.

Artemis3
May 11th, 2012, 07:11 PM
+1 Xubuntu. Too bad you didn't include it in the poll.

SeijiSensei
May 11th, 2012, 07:27 PM
She's only ever used Windows XP, and was thinking of getting a new laptop because it had become slow and wifi stopped working.

I vote for Kubuntu 12.04 as it will look rather similar to Windows, especially the panel with a launcher (aka the "Start" button), a system tray, and a list of active applications. Also the System Settings application provides a simple entry point to configuration just like the Windows Control Panel does.

A two-year-old machine will have no trouble with KDE; I have Kubuntu 12.04 running on a Dell 640m laptop that's about six years old without any problems.

I'd be a bit concerned about the fact that wifi doesn't work; that might be a hardware problem. It also might be that she accidentally turned off the wifi adapter and doesn't realize that fact. Usually there's an LED that shows if the adapter is enabled. Make sure it's lit. If it's not, there's probably an Fn key combination that switches it off and on. On Dells it's usually Fn-F2; often it's identified by a icon that looks like a radio transmission tower. She wouldn't be the first person to disable the wifi adaptor by mistake and not realize it. I had a friend call me a couple of months ago who did this and thought her wifi had died.

CharlesA
May 11th, 2012, 09:14 PM
I vote for Kubuntu 12.04 as it will look rather similar to Windows, especially the panel with a launcher (aka the "Start" button), a system tray, and a list of active applications. Also the System Settings application provides a simple entry point to configuration just like the Windows Control Panel does.

A two-year-old machine will have no trouble with KDE; I have Kubuntu 12.04 running on a Dell 640m laptop that's about six years old without any problems.

Definitely. I'd figure the transition between Windows and Unity would be a bit more difficult then Windows to KDE. I am still trying to get used to Unity even after using it for a while - I keep going to the bottom of the screen to see what programs are open. :lol:


I'd be a bit concerned about the fact that wifi doesn't work; that might be a hardware problem. It also might be that she accidentally turned off the wifi adapter and doesn't realize that fact. Usually there's an LED that shows if the adapter is enabled. Make sure it's lit. If it's not, there's probably an Fn key combination that switches it off and on. On Dells it's usually Fn-F2; often it's identified by a icon that looks like a radio transmission tower. She wouldn't be the first person to disable the wifi adaptor by mistake and not realize it. I had a friend call me a couple of months ago who did this and thought her wifi had died.

That is my thought as well. I've had issues where I forgot I turned off wifi via the fn key and left wondering why I have no internet access.

Duncan J Murray
May 13th, 2012, 10:55 PM
brief update:

It's an acer aspire 7004wsmi, with mobile AMD sempron 1.8Ghz, nvidia geforcego 6100 384mb 17"WXGA, 80GB, 768MB.

It had windows vista on it - which looks to be dying, although I was able to get wifi to work on it after a few attempts by stopping a competing wifi program. However, even then, it took 3:40min to a working destop, and 7:40min until everything that was going to pop-up appeared. We went ahead with linux - 12.04 as per the poll.

backup has been made, and a clean install of entire HD with 12.04 ubuntu.

After log-in there is a blank screen with a mouse pointer. That is all.

I have switched to TTY1 and looked - and it seemed on the first occasion that compiz had crashed, but on other occasions it hadn't. I tried an apt-get update, but that didn't change anything.

Hmmm.... may need to rethink this...

Duncan J Murray
May 14th, 2012, 12:05 AM
Ok, so unity 2D seems to work, but 3D is no-go.

Next problem is wireless didn't work, seems like the wrong driver was installed. Found the anwser here:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1595803&page=2

followed the advice, and now wireless is working.

It seems that the nvidia graphics driver is installed by default. Bit worried that come the next kernel release, it is all going to break... Also, don't quite understand why compiz isn't working with this card.

D

Duncan J Murray
May 14th, 2012, 07:25 PM
Brief update - I think it's pretty much sorted. It's all running nicely. I did a before and after boot-times comparison...

to login: vista, 1'00; precise, 42"
to full desktop: vista, 1'48"; precise, 1'00"
to working desktop*: vista, 3'40"; precise, 1'05"
to final desktop**: vista, 7'40"(!!!); precise, 1'05"
shutdown: vista, 1'40"; precise 12"

* - so until you get to a desktop without the harddrive continually thrashing
** - until all the windows that were planning to open up have finally openned.

Unity2D is impressive - after lots of rebooting, I finally thought I'd got unity3D working, but actually, I just didn't realise how far 2d has come...

VLC and gimp are installed, and I'm now getting rhythmbox and shotwell to sort out their databases...

I'll keep you informed to see how many problems she runs into!

D

Lucradia
May 14th, 2012, 09:00 PM
Final desktop would be the same as "Working Desktop" since my ideal final desktop is no windows open and all the status tray indicator icons have loaded.

Make sure to try both without any programs installed. Just default installs on both. They also have to be on the same exact hardware.

Duncan J Murray
July 1st, 2012, 11:17 AM
Brief update:

Just deployed the laptop yesterday - I practically just dropped it off and went after making sure the wifi worked. So we'll see what happens...

As it has been with me since I first posted this thread, I've had a chance to have a play with it. In the end Unity 2D was just too slow to use. Having more than one file open in three or more applications just led to meltdown. Unity 3D was working after a few updates, but was even worse. There were lots of graphic glitches when clicking on applications with multiple windows open. It also took a long time to load the desktop, and was frustratingly slow to get the overview up after pressing the super key while the desktop was getting ready.

So I installed gnome-session-fallback - and was bowled over! It's fast and reliable, just like gnome 2, and I think will be quicker and less glitchy to use.

I left the guest login as unity 3d just for fun.

Duncan.