Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Roger Strukhoff, Mike Raia, David Paquette, Cloud Best Practices Network

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

UserLinux: Taking "Grandma" as the Use Case

UserLinux: Taking "Grandma" as the Use Case

Grandma doesn't know much about computers, but she really enjoys collecting pictures of the family, and keeping in touch via e-mail. In fact, she is so comfortable now with e-mail, that she doesn't call each time to make sure we got it. Her "Web surfing" consists of placing an occasional order at harryanddavid.com. Oh, and she does use Word for Windows to write a newsletter for her church group. She does not use any advanced features of Word, so switching her to OpenOffice is not a problem.

Grandma's computer is an old 486 with 12MB memory running Windows 95. It takes forever to start, and hangs frequently, resulting in calls to Kristin, her niece and family computer expert. Kristin is an engineer at a small company that has Debian installed on a few of their computers. She is the one who wrote those handy little cards for Grandma - how to start the computer, how to print a picture, etc.

Kristin is considering replacing Grandma's computer with another "hand-me-down", a Pentium II with 64MB memory. She would really like an alternative to the Windows/Intel upgrade treadmill, but having struggled 3 days to install Debian on this old Pentium, she is thinking maybe the only solution is still a new computer with Windows pre-installed.

Kristin's boyfriend works at a computer store in Tucson that has a lot of old computers that won't run the latest version of Windows. He is watching Kristin's experiment with great interest, thinking of repeating it on a larger scale, using computers that would otherwise go to the dumpster.

Grandma needs a computer which is stable and secure and allows her to send and receive email, print pictures, and visit a few Web sites. We need to cut the number of "service calls", because Kristin lives 100 miles from Grandma.

More specifically, this computer should have:

  1. Low cost. If we can use a hand-me-down, that would be great.
  2. Easy setup. Kristin has no problem using a command-line install program like the one that comes with Red Hat, but she doesn't have time to locate and study all the scattered docs on Linux install programs. She also has no time to search for missing files, or debug a package that has files with incompatible versions, or which installs files in the wrong place. Also, she has no time to research the huge number of available programs. Where choices must be made, she needs a simple, unbiased summary of the top recommendations in each category. It should take her no more than 5 minutes to decide between Gnome and KDE. Hints: She doesn't care about the licensing issues, and Grandma is already familiar with Windows, so she will probably chose one with that look and feel.
  3. A rock-solid OS that doesn't crash or hang. The Windows 95, 98 series is out. Windows XP is good enough.
  4. Simple procedures to do the few things Grandma needs, including recovery when a program hangs.
  5. Enough power to start in less than a minute and load a document in less than 30 seconds.
  6. Good security. No chance anyone can hack into her computer from the Internet. Virus protection, minimum spam, and absolutely no pornography.
  7. Remote administration, so Kristin can log in over a phone line and correct occasional problems. We need a simple command like 'rpm –Va' to verify the entire installation.



[This first appeared in the UserLinux Wiki at http://cgi.userlinux.com/cgi-bin/wiki.pl?Grandma, January 2, 2004]

 

More Stories By Dave MacQuigg

Dave MacQuigg is an IC Design Engineer with a new mission - to develop a simple, open-source platform for circuit designers to use all the tools they need for design entry, simulation, and analysis. His chosen language for this platform is Python, because he wants to make it easy for non-programmers to jump in and fix problems or add features as the needs arise. He is also teaching a circuit-design laboratory at the University of Arizona http://apache.ece.arizona.edu/~edatools/

Comments (14) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
curse 01/10/04 01:13:43 PM EST

as Microsoft force you to upgrade, so does the linux dists, as hard as it is to run win XP on an old computer, as hard it is to run the latest Mandrake/RedHat/Suse/Debian/slack/whatever linux dist, perhaps go and look at an older dist. RedHat 5 or something from the same time. It'll have all the features your GrandMa need

hgh9mrp 01/08/04 08:21:16 AM EST

The use case of "Grandma" is a good one, but Grandma's prior knowledge as a Windows user has already made her computer literate. UserLinux should take a good look at Sun's Java Desktop System, Knoppix, and MandrakeMove for three good examples of easy-to-install-and-use Linux distributions that will all run (a little slow - more horsepower is always better) on the specified system requirements.

James Stewart 01/08/04 05:02:32 AM EST

Grandma is perfect. If it's good for her it's good for everyone. The biggest problem with computers is that they're designed for computer users...

Don't forget the user who doesn't know where to click to close panels or the timing for double clicks etc etc.

Personally I'd adore instant startup and NO rebooting - life's too short...

Johnny Wantsbetter 01/08/04 03:52:29 AM EST

If you ask me, this sounds like your children's Grandma. But, if anyone bothered to ask her, she would probably like EVERYTHING to look the same as what she is using now because in essence you are not really doing anything for her. You are only making life easier for Kristin.

One day, the most important thing is the business user and licensing issues and the next day it's Grandma. The same user interface for powerusers and grandmas. Another Fairy Tale - gimme a break!

All this Use Case means is watering down everything to make it look like 10 year old M$. Now if you make look like Apple 2010 instead of Microsoft 1990, maybe even Grandma would want to switch.

Craig 01/07/04 11:21:33 PM EST

Why doesn't "easy to use" come into it? Like, my grandma hasn't used any sort of computer... so a simplified interface is needed too.

wawadave 01/07/04 10:36:21 PM EST

hello
i have been trying linux on a home built pc and i,m still learning many new things. i have found haveig a second running computer comes in handy to use linux google for troble shooting problems.
have a nice day

Bob Jones 01/07/04 08:22:55 PM EST

I bought a Linare PC from Amazon.com for $199 as a second PC for my home...
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/browse/-/565098/ref=pc_tn_4/102-460...

I upgraded with extra 256 MB RAM for faster speed.
Its excellent for the good old and for young kids :-)

Cheers

Bob

James LaRue 01/07/04 05:26:08 PM EST

An upgrade of RAM and Knoppix sounds good to me. But here's a blast from the past: GeoWorks. It became "New Deal Office" at some point, and I'm not sure of its exact status these days. But it fits the criteria. It actually ran on a 486, with 2 megs. It's fully graphical, has a full office suite, Internet access, premptive multitasking, etc. Wonderful fonts, great printing, a breeze to set up. Brand new, I think the whole deal cost $70 or so. I used it for years, and loved it.

sgtrock 01/07/04 02:13:16 PM EST

Knoppix with almost any WM except Gnome or KDE will work just fine on either box. 64 MB is just too small to meet the startup times for apps, tho. Throw some RAM in that old P2!

winjimmy 01/07/04 01:41:12 PM EST

I'd rather see Grandma keep her 486. Maybe upgrade the RAM a bit, though. Why can't she? Why can't Linux work on old machines like that? Maybe she should stick with Win 95: it does what she needs, she's not on broadband so security's not a huge issue. The Linux community seems to be supporting, at least tacitly, the hardware upgrade treadmill M$ started - but without getting the benefits M$ got from vendors. Seems rather silly to me. C'mon, take the challenge! Add 32 MB RAM to Grandma's machine and get Linux on there, you dolt!

chemicalscum 01/07/04 09:41:34 AM EST

"Knoppix will do everything grandma wants, but 64MB won't cut it. 128 will."
Install Knoppix and apt-get xfce4

should work in 64 MB

Tony 01/07/04 09:20:37 AM EST

quote"" rock-solid OS that doesn't crash or hang. The Windows 95, 98 series is out. Windows XP is good enough. ""

I wouldn't bet my cheese on that.
Xp does a lot of crashing, but my win98-lite on my old pentium hadn't a crash for a year. yeah, a year !

pericles 01/07/04 08:59:49 AM EST

I haven't used it in a while but she should check out Lycoris. It doesn't come with a lot of apps but the basic stuff - image viewer, browser, ssh server are there. There might be a gimp binary for this distro if the basic image viewer doesn't cut it. The folks at http://www.lycoris.org are quite friendly and helpful.

As with the previous post, 128Mb of RAM is better than 64Mb but you can drop about $30 for a stick of 256Mb.

Doug Bostrom 01/07/04 08:41:38 AM EST

Knoppix will do everything grandma wants, but 64MB won't cut it. 128 will.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Akana has announced the availability of version 8 of its API Management solution. The Akana Platform provides an end-to-end API Management solution for designing, implementing, securing, managing, monitoring, and publishing APIs. It is available as a SaaS platform, on-premises, and as a hybrid deployment. Version 8 introduces a lot of new functionality, all aimed at offering customers the richest API Management capabilities in a way that is easier than ever for API and app developers to use.
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Is the ongoing quest for agility in the data center forcing you to evaluate how to be a part of infrastructure automation efforts? As organizations evolve toward bimodal IT operations, they are embracing new service delivery models and leveraging virtualization to increase infrastructure agility. Therefore, the network must evolve in parallel to become equally agile. Read this essential piece of Gartner research for recommendations on achieving greater agility.
Personalization has long been the holy grail of marketing. Simply stated, communicate the most relevant offer to the right person and you will increase sales. To achieve this, you must understand the individual. Consequently, digital marketers developed many ways to gather and leverage customer information to deliver targeted experiences. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lou Casal, Founder and Principal Consultant at Practicala, discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) has accelerated our abil...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
In today's uber-connected, consumer-centric, cloud-enabled, insights-driven, multi-device, global world, the focus of solutions has shifted from the product that is sold to the person who is buying the product or service. Enterprises have rebranded their business around the consumers of their products. The buyer is the person and the focus is not on the offering. The person is connected through multiple devices, wearables, at home, on the road, and in multiple locations, sometimes simultaneously...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....