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Thread: Project: MOTHER.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Project: MOTHER.

    The project has been resurrected! Both myself and the MOTHER In question are tired of all the on going problems with MS Windows and I'm now documenting the project HERE

    ***Update 10:15 pm 3rd of Feb 2005***

    I got sick of rebuilding my mothers PC every 6 months because she is way to trusting and like the funny things her friends send her.
    Every 6 months her machine becomes so loaded with adware/spyware/malware that it has a hard time booting.

    So after my many successes with this very new distro I told her I'm not going to put up with her pain any more and I'm rebuilding her machine one. last. time.

    So she's been migrated to Ubuntu.
    I plan on documenting the entire process here.. partially for fun, partially for my education and partially because I want others to learn from my mistakes.
    Also feel free to point out better ways to do the things I'm doing, and ask questions.

    I'm going to try and keep it in this one post so I'll just re-edit it as time progresses, I'll put the last edited date at the top manually (as the forum likes to put that at the bottom )

    Here goes...

    Her PC is an old Dell Optiplex I picked up cheap from an auction.
    PIII 700mhz
    320mb ram

    I started by driving to her place burning a CD of her music, a cd of her photo's and a cd of random files and email/favourites.
    I made an extra copy of the e-mail stuff because I had been told on the ubuntu mail list that Outlook Express (OE) mail boxes were directly importable into evolution, so I'd take that back with me.

    Pickup PC then drive home.
    I didn't even boot into windows, I just plugged it in and booted straight into a warty CD and started the install process.
    I'll put most of the process into the code box, as there are addresses that might be useful to some people.

    Build from Warty CD
    After default build I logged in and :
    sudo passwd root
    I do this for various reasons.. mostly because I'm lazy 
    	**Up to this point took about 30-45 mins! A winXP build with the same level of applications and security setup would have taken me at least half a day. Fantastic!
    apt-get install rssh
         Because I will need to remotely support her.
    apt-get install linux-686
          Might as well squeeze the last bit of juice out of it. 
    The Ubuntu Philosophy is to be 100% free, and although I support and applaud this stance Its way to restrictive for reality everyday usage so time to add the unofficial repositories :
    add sources to /etc/apt/sources.list
    	deb warty-backports main universe
    	deb warty multiverse
    	deb warty java
    	deb stable main
    	deb unstable main
    	deb testing main
    apt-get update
    apt-get upgrade
    apt-get dist-upgrade
    Time to add java support :
    wget jre-1_5_0_01-linux-i586.bin
    sh jre-1_5_0_01-linux-i586.bin
    mkdir /usr/java
    mv jre1.5.0_01/ /usr/java/
    chown -R root:root /usr/java/jre1.5.0_01/
    ln -s /usr/java/jre1.5.0_01/bin/java /usr/bin/java
    ln -s /usr/java/jre1.5.0_01/bin/java_vm /usr/bin/java_vm
    vi /etc/bash.bashrc
    	export JAVA_HOME
    	export PATH
    Java Plugins for the browser:
    cd /usr/lib/mozilla-firefox/plugins
    ln -s /usr/java/jre1.5.0_01/plugin/i386/ns7/
    Music and stuff:
    apt-get install xmms
    apt-get install build-essential
    I found IPv6 really hampered my internet speeds so lets kill it:
    vi /etc/modutils/aliases
    	de-hash the line:
    	alias net-pf-10 off
    I got lazy here, and started installing bulk software without writing down what I did.. so here is a summery from memory:
    plugins for firefox
    dvd codecs
    pornview (boy did I have a red face when explaining this little gem to my mother but it really is one of the best image viewers in my opinion.)

    So now its ready to take back.
    Drive back there and plug in and turn on.
    Boots up fine.. the first thing I wanted was net connectivity, she runs dial up at the moment so
    Copmuter > System Configuration > Networking.
    Add new connection, choose Modem(ppp), and setup as per the requirements.
    Attempt to connect.. and the modem dials (external generic 56k modem), talks for a bit then drops off.

    tail /var/log/messages
    and I'm seeing "authentication failure"

    Double check the username and password.. try again, and it fails again and again and again.
    Ring tech support:
    ME "Hey can I check a username and password for my mothers account?"
    HelpDesk "yeah no problem, whats the username"
    ME "Senectus_mum"
    HelpDesk "ahh yeah found it, whats the password?"
    ME "Cats_Name" (*sigh* I can't believe we're related)
    HelpDesk "*quiet pause and I swear I heard him chuckle* yeah you have it right"
    ME " hmmm what have I done wrong"
    HelpDesk "What Os are you using?"
    ME "ahh I know you guys don't support it, but its Linux..."
    HelpDesk "heh, thats ok.. *utter amazment at my end of the phone* what distro?"
    ME "Ubuntu.. its debian based"
    HelpDesk "ahh yeah, I've heard of that.. cool, um what Authentication are you using?"
    ME " ahhh.. good question... I may have to get back to you"
    HelpDesk " yeah no problem, you might want to check that modem works under windows on a different machine if you have one"
    ME " yeah I have a dual boot laptop.. I'll do that thanks"
    HelpDesk " No problem"

    At this point in time I'd like to place a small plug here:
    Westnet ( are THE BEST ISP in Australia, They just don't give up until you problem is solved.

    Next small point I need to make the gui method I used to create the dial up does not allow you to change or even find out what authentication your using.. something that needs to be fixed??

    So I pulled my lappy out and hooked up the old modem and made a perfect connection.
    so username and password are fine.
    While I'm hooked up I poke around the wiki to see if there is anything on dial up..
    sure enough.. I found this:

    and it worked almost perfectly.. I had to set it to use CHAP authentication and bingo.. happy as larry!

    Great.. so next I crank up the email and get that downloading..
    After the emails are all downloaded I try importing the inbox.mbx file..
    hmmm I don't think it worked, but I got no error.
    Next try the other e-mail files.. ( I forget what the extentions are but they're folders from OE ), and it appears they won't import either.. Evolution doesn't know what they are..
    Same deal for address book (.WAB), no ability to import it.
    Bugger, not all is rosey so far.

    Mother see's the frown om my forehead and tells me it doesn't really matter.
    I refuse to give in and tell her I will work it out later and bring them back when I do
    "no worries" she says "no hurry"

    Not please.. but eager to get the rest working I then head for the favourites.
    Fire-fox wont import them either. It appears the IE 6 likes to store favourites as ".url" files..
    damnitdamnitdamnit should have researched more.

    once again mother saves my ego and tells me I can fix that later too.
    Not impressed with myself at this stage.

    Next is the digital camera.
    Kodak DC200, its old, its clunky and its not detected by Ubuntu.
    You guessed it...
    "You can take that back home with you and figure it out"

    feeling tired and worn out by now.. I just wanted to clear out and go home.

    Stuff around fixing internet banking pop-up problem I knew was there, show various games (which makes me feel better because she likes them) and show her how to use the basics..
    Leave her with the instructions that she may play with it as much as she likes, as she isn't going to break it *PROVIDED* that if anything that pops up asking her for a password, she be vary carefull with.. as generally anything that wants a password, wants it for a reason..

    I asked her to make a list of questions and anything she doesn't like.

    Since this happened I've posted a few Q's on the mail list about e-mail importing and other stuff.. you can find them and the replies here:

    I haven't progressed much at all since then.. but I intend to tomorrow night..

    Things I/MOTHER thinks Ubuntu needs to fix:
    CDROM ejecting from the button on the front of the drive. (currently not supported)
    The ppp modem setup gui is a little too "dumbed down" (example: how do you setup CHAP authentication?)
    Some sort of applet that shows you currently have an active dialup running.

    Things that hindered the migration:
    Mail from OE to evolution conversion, no simple and easy method of doing this and to actually do it you need windows and other MS software.
    I had tried to soften the blow by setting up thunder bird and fire fox in windows some months before the migration.
    She dropped thunder bird because she couldn't use the cute stationary and other such "gump" that her friends use.
    Fire fox she dropped because tech support asked her too, they don't support FF only IE and if she wants her problems looked at then please uninstall FF.
    This I feel, displays some _major_ flaws in the "gradual migration" methods. If we're going to get serious about the "taking on" of our competitors market, we need some more and _much_ better migration tools, ones that don't requires the "other" OS to be running preferably.
    Also I'm not aware of any "Migration guide" out there (for Ubuntu or other).
    It seems logical to me that there must be one, as others have been doing this before me.. so I'll put this down to a temp gap in my learning.

    Important milestone. *FEEDBACK*
    I recieved a message from my mother, this is important as I've not been in contact with her since my semi completed migration ending 4 days ago.

    Here it is:
    Hi Senectus and Mrs_Senectus,
    I am still getting used to the computer and not real
    sure if I like it. Yahoo is just so different and I can't do a lot of
    things that I used to do which makes me more visible to others which I
    don't like. I have issues with some of the sounds..... I know I
    will get used to them but some still baffle me, I can be doing
    something and it makes a funny noise...... it can mean anything from
    mail arriving to someone coming or going on yahoo... I really need
    my addresses from outlook, but its not an issue, people are slowly
    sending me mail so I can reply and add them. There is one or two like
    XXX XXXXXX that I really would love to have. I tried to copy some
    music from my cd's to the computer but I have no idea how to do this,
    I tried for quite a while and thought I had been successful because it
    looked like it was saving but then I couldn't find where it was. Sorry if
    I sound like I'm whining coz I'm really not, I am getting used to the
    change and am very grateful.
    I have two people who are interested in a copy of unix ..... will they
    need someone savy like you to install it? both these people are dummies
    like me when it comes to puters.
    Thanks love

    Now I'm in a bit of trouble here.. because I have one really crap and very full week, I just haven't had time to fix the things I left hanging.. so important note to those of you thinking of doing this.
    Leave plenty of time for the unexpected.. be prepared for the worse to happen..
    One thing I should have done that I am kicking myself about now.. is the planning phase.
    I had a manager once that was _right in_ to "self development" and one thing he taught me that I found rather cool was a particular method of planning that helps to iron out bugs and issue's.. apparently it was used in the planning of our first trip to the moon..
    The way it works is you think in reverse.
    So for that would be..
    my mother having a fully functioning Linux PC with her mail and address book and Internet connection and camera connectivity plus the ability to rip music at will.

    Then you take the next step back from that..
    What happened before that:
    I pulled some images from her camera
    Before that? :
    The OS detected and installed the drivers
    Before that? :
    I checked the model of the camera and downloaded the right drivers
    Before that? :

    and so on and so on..
    Doing this way really opens up your planning method and helps to stop you taking short cuts that are inherit in normal "planning".

    I vow to make myself use this method more in future..
    Last edited by senectus; December 5th, 2005 at 08:02 AM. Reason: UPDATE: been Project has been revived!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Texas, USA

    Re: Project: MOTHER.

    Great post, I've been thinking about doing this for my mother for a while now. I just haven't worked up the courage yet, hehe.

    One thing I want to know, though. Who is Larry and why is he so happy?
    --Join the march for individuality!

    Linux User #64203

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    Re: Project: MOTHER.

    I love it!!! Great writing and good luck

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2004

    Re: Project: MOTHER.

    Tips for the camera:

    Your good writing has proven to me what I already knew- Linux is best suited for a broadband environment.

    Whenever I do my daily upgrade of Hoary, it averages 80 megs. Even warty needs 40+ megs of updates after and install. I would prefer hours of watching figure skating (*me shudders at thought*) rather than trying to get that on dial-up.

    Linux will grow as broadband does I believe.

    (no offense to people who like figure skating. Because somebody does or it wouldn't be on TV.)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Groningen, the Netherlands

    Re: Project: MOTHER.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rancoras
    One thing I want to know, though. Who is Larry and why is he so happy?
    He could be referring to Leisure Suit Larry....... then you'll know why he is happy

    Back on-topic, like the post! I wouldn't have the guts to get my mum to Linux
    Brian: You don't need to follow me. You don't need to follow anybody! You've got to think for yourselves. You're all individuals!
    Crowd: Yes, we're all individuals!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2004

    Re: Project: MOTHER.

    Quote Originally Posted by rudi
    Back on-topic, like the post! I wouldn't have the guts to get my mum to Linux
    Me neither.

    Its easier to talk her into a sleek minimac. Let her be apple's problem!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Re: Project: MOTHER.

    wow.. thanks for the replies

    I think now you've said that I'll do another for :
    Project: Girlfriend

    I converted her some time ago... and its a substantially different story.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Re: Project: MOTHER.

    I like the idea of Project: MOTHER as a repository with a metapackage called "Mother" with all the dependencies of said metapackage. Basically it would set up all the stuff that you need to do to make your mother happy with Linux.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Re: Project: MOTHER.

    neat idea..

    How hard is this to setup.. ?
    Actually a repository howto would be handy too..

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    EU - Belgium

    Re: Project: MOTHER.

    Just two quick reactions to your update.

    Migrating your mail from Outlook to something else is difficult due to the reason that Outlook stores its mail in a proprietary file format. Something to which other devs have no access and that can even be legally fishy to reverse engineer.
    This is part of the Microsoft lock-in tactic (make it as difficult as possible to migrate).

    On the techsupport requiring IE, we cannot fix that. Only when FireFox gains a significant market share for them to *have* to support it, this will get better.
    The sad thing is that if IE followed standards even a little, most things would just work on any other browser too.
    Linux user #249404 - September 1997 - RSS

    Before executing any commands, make sure you kow what they mean, read this first!

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