I'm a long-time Ubuntu user and advocate and I have a technical developer/sysadmin background. About 7 years ago, I gave my father-in-law a MacBook so he could stay in touch with us. We Skype with him every day and it's kind of his lifeline to us and the rest of his world-- online news, soccer, etc. It bit the dust last week (repair cost > value). Rather than just buy him another Mac, I thought Ubuntu would be really valuable for him-- it's easy, clean and sturdy. I created a Ubuntu laptop for him on a nice Lenovo Essential (I'm posting to this forum with it). The network switches seamlessly between wireless and ethernet, as he prefers to use it as his desk. I have his wireless network already setup on it. I installed it in Romanian, as his English is limited, especially with tech terms. He's super-intelligent and can make pretty much anything using a blow-torch, a saw and a hammer. But, he doesn't have alot of computer experience.
Here's my question: What are some techinques and strategies to make it unbreakable and to maximize his experience? I want a minimum of surprises. He needs Firefox and Skype-- that's about it. Also, any ideas on remote support (SSH, VNC or anything more user-experience related) would be really helpful. I setup an Ubuntu One account for him and thought that I could create a parallel user on my Ubuntu machine and help maintain his desktop. Anybody have any experience, yay or nay, with that?
Bried soapbox moment: One of the really fantastic things about Ubuntu is that it can server any type of user, from developers and tech-heads to people need to read the news and communicate with family.