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Thread: Which flavour and settings for an elderly person

  1. #1
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    Mar 2015
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    Which flavour and settings for an elderly person

    I want to install Ubuntu on my Mum's laptop, she had it on a previous laptop and preferred it to MS Windows.
    The snag is, she's in her 80's her eyesight is reasonably good but not perfect and she has arthritis in her hands. Functionally she uses it for internet, mostly online shopping, facebook etc. word processing and arranging and printing photos (sometimes with captions).

    Most operating systems now like to have everything looking smooth and sleek which is the exact opposite of what someone with poor eyesight needs. She needs something more bold and clunky looking. I have Kubuntu on a memory stick but everything I have found about how to customize it is very much about how to make it look more smooth and sleek. I need the opposite.

    The arthritis in her hands makes it a bit difficult to get the cursor (she uses a tracker ball) exactly where she wants it and this has been a problem with skinny scroll bars, also scroll bars that vanish when you're not on them are troublesome and confusing.

    So can anyone suggest a flavour and style or tweeks that can get me what I need? I'm happy editing code if that is necessary.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    I think I'm here! Maybe?
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    Xubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa

    Re: Which flavour and settings for an elderly person

    I use Xubuntu with the Xfce desktop which can be configured to use desktop icons if that is how your mother likes it, and 5hose icons can be easily enlarged to a size of her preference. The window scrollbars can also be made wider with the stepper buttons top and bottom, not normally used in modern themes, by creating a simple text file in the user's home, details of which i can give you when on the correct machine.

    Some users suggest the desktop is very old fashioned looking but that is a very subjective comment; to my mind it just works better for me than anything else I've tried.

    More detail when on my Xubuntu box but search around and you may find other users who feel the same as I do.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

    Re: Which flavour and settings for an elderly person

    KDE is fully customiseable. most option can be done through menues, but some might require editing config files.

    i think oyu are after system that has Accessibility settings. then just set it as you would like to have it.
    Read the easy to understand, lots of pics Ubuntu manual.
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    4,720

    Re: Which flavour and settings for an elderly person

    Everything would look big if you set a low screen resolution.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    London, England
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    Ubuntu Development Release

    Re: Which flavour and settings for an elderly person

    Ubuntu has accessibility settings. At the login screen click the icon of the human. These are the settings that are by default disabled: High Contrast: Zoom; Large text; Screen reader; Screen keyboard; Visual alerts; Sticky keys; Slow keys; Bounce keys; Mouse keys.

    In System Settings>Universal Access we find similar options but also Cursor Size. There is also a Track pad & Mouse setting dialog. I have yet to find anything about changing the width of the scroll bars.

    I am also confident that accessibility options are available in other desktop environments. Has your mother considered using a mouse rather than the track pad?

    Regards
    It is a machine. It is more stupid than we are. It will not stop us from doing stupid things.
    Ubuntu user #33,200. Linux user #530,530


  6. #6
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    Sep 2011
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    Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
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    Ubuntu Development Release

    Re: Which flavour and settings for an elderly person

    Your mother sounds much like my wife. Poor vision, some dexterity degradation. Mainline Ubuntu has some accessibility tweaks. Click the upper right corner of the screen then Settings -> Universal Access. A larger cursor is a benefit and there are various screen zoom settings. If her track ball has a scroll device scroll bars don't seem like too much of an issue. I've told SWMBO she doesn't have to have the cursor over the scroll bar in order to scroll the page. She still doesn't believe me . We also bought her a larger monitor, 32" in her case. The resolution is 1920 X 1080 I think. A higher resolution would be better, icons and text can get a little jagged.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    1,847

    Re: Which flavour and settings for an elderly person

    +1 to ajgreeny's recommendation of XUbuntu. Three features which - to me - make XFCE very nice:
    • You can set a keyboard shortcut for finding the mouse cursor. Hit that key and concentric rings spread out around the pointer. Setting this up is a bit fiddly: you have to turn it on in Settings->Accessibility and define a key for xfce-find-cursor in Settings->Keyboard.
    • Hold the "Alt" key and drag with the right mouse button to resize a window. No need to position the pointer exactly near some very thin window border.
    • Built in screen enlargement. Hold "Alt" and turn the mouse wheel - or perform whatever gesture you've configured on your trackpad for scrolling - up to zoom in and down to zoom out.


    Holger

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Re: Which flavour and settings for an elderly person

    Quote Originally Posted by Holger_Gehrke View Post
    +1 to ajgreeny's recommendation of XUbuntu. Three features which - to me - make XFCE very nice:
    • You can set a keyboard shortcut for finding the mouse cursor. Hit that key and concentric rings spread out around the pointer. Setting this up is a bit fiddly: you have to turn it on in Settings->Accessibility and define a key for xfce-find-cursor in Settings->Keyboard.
    • Hold the "Alt" key and drag with the right mouse button to resize a window. No need to position the pointer exactly near some very thin window border.
    • Built in screen enlargement. Hold "Alt" and turn the mouse wheel - or perform whatever gesture you've configured on your trackpad for scrolling - up to zoom in and down to zoom out.


    Holger
    I don't think holding this key and using that keyboard shortcut is quite as natural to someone used to point and click. I am quite experienced but I do have a hard time remembering a bunch of random key combinations which more geeky types are more comfortable (like with vi and emacs), especially with key combos with odd positions with respect to your fingers (check out some default key combos in compiz ccsm for example)

    Like I said, and it was not meant to be a joke, if you set your screen resolution low then everything will be large. This dude with very poor eye sight got a reburbished laptop for $100 with Linux Mint on it from a local Linux computer shop, that was exactly what they did for him. Set the screen resolution low so everything appears big enough for him.
    Last edited by monkeybrain20122; September 8th, 2021 at 11:23 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    UK
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    95
    Distro
    Xubuntu

    Re: Which flavour and settings for an elderly person

    another +1 to ajgreeny's recommendation of XUbuntu.
    im also quite old and eyesight is not what it was and i dont like change, i find it the easiest to use

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Kubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

    Re: Which flavour and settings for an elderly person

    Quote Originally Posted by monkeybrain20122 View Post
    Like I said, and it was not meant to be a joke, if you set your screen resolution low then everything will be large. This dude with very poor eye sight got a reburbished laptop for $100 with Linux Mint on it from a local Linux computer shop, that was exactly what they did for him. Set the screen resolution low so everything appears big enough for him.

    yeah my grandfather used to have this large 1650x1050 monitor, but he used resolution 800x600 (stretched), so it was all big on windowsXP. it was easier for him to see like that.

    linux can change DPI. i know my Kubuntu defaulted to 1280x1024, but everything was huge because of the DPI. so i had to change that first to get it all down to normal size.
    Last edited by mastablasta; September 9th, 2021 at 10:26 AM.
    Read the easy to understand, lots of pics Ubuntu manual.
    Do i need antivirus/firewall in linux?
    Full disk backup (newer kernel -> suitable for newer PC): Clonezilla
    User friendly full disk backup: Rescuezilla

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