[Semibug] [jondrews at fastmail.com: Re: OS choice for computer illiterate family members?]

Jonathan Drews jondrews at fastmail.com
Thu May 18 03:55:22 EDT 2023

----- Forwarded message from Jonathan Drews <jondrews at fastmail.com> -----

Date: Thu, 18 May 2023 01:45:45 -0600
From: Jonathan Drews <jondrews at fastmail.com>
To: Kyle Willett <kyle.d.willett at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Semibug] OS choice for computer illiterate family members?

On Thu, May 18, 2023 at 12:59:42AM -0500, Kyle Willett wrote:
> So I had meant to ask this question after the talk on Tuesday night but was
> enjoying listening to and learning from everyone else that I failed to
> remember to ask!
> So, I'm sure many of you can relate, being the computer nerd in the family
> means you are tech support for the extended family and their friends.
> Honestly I don't mind it that much and if I can help my family out it feels
> good.
> In 2014 when Windows XP went EOL I with some twisting of the arms got my
> parents each from XP to Xubuntu (Ubuntu Linux LTS with Xfce), I switched my
> computer to Win 7 and FreeBSD dual boot, but I had an uncle who refused to
> upgrade.
> It's now been a decade and websites just don't work with win XP anymore.
> Even though I've put an anti Ransomware and anti virus on it he struggles
> with the fundamental fact that HTML 5 videos don't work, and for web
> browsers you are stuck with an old LTS Firefox (I had to force him to stop
> using the ie that came with service pack 3 in XP). I've just about got him
> convinced to upgrade the OS.
> Now for my questions, I have two.
> 1) What OS would you recommend for the computer novice that is safe and
> secure? I'm leaning towards ChromeOS Flex because it auto updates, runs
> everything in a chroot jail, and is virtually idiot proof! I've asked
> around on Reddit and his AMD Kabini is well supported by flex but I don't
> know for how long, tied for second choice is Xubuntu like I do for mom and
> dad but I'm hesitant to pull that trigger because I know he will never
> update it and I don't want to have to run over to apply updated every visit
> to town! (I would of course run the updates from LTS to LTS). Tied for

Hi Kyle:

 OpenBSD is a good choice for a desktop *if* the person is willing to
learn. There are some caveats:

1) The Firefox-esr web browser, in OpenBSD, does not support DRM web
sites. In Linux it does. In Linux Firefox has a DRM check box. In
OpenBSD that is missing. At ceratain web sites, you will not be able
to play videos.
2) Firefox-esr is updated for security issuses on a regular bassis.
Using pkg_add -u updates all packages on OpenBSD.
3) That said, OpenBSD is a steep learning curve.
4) I can't say anything about the KDE, Xfce or Gnome dsktops as I have
always used the CWM window manager. 
5) OpenBSD can use Jitsi however I can't get Zoom to work.
6) OpenBSD uses dump and restore whuch is an easy way to do backups.
7) OpenBSD is very bug free and stable. I have had one kernel panic in
four years.
8) Printing can be difficult in OpenBSD. I have difficulty in
configuring USB printers. WiFi printing is a very easy. The easiest
way to configure your printer is through a webbrowser by accessing
CUPS with https://localhost:631. Some printers come with a CD that has
a *.deb file. You can get your *.ppd file by doing:
$ ar x xerox-phaser-6022_1.0-22_all.deb
which was the file that came with my Xerox Laser Printer.
See man -s 1 ar. After extraction you will see data.tar.gz. That
tarball contains the Xerox_Phaser_6022.ppd. Of course your printer
will be a different *.ppd. When configuring CUPS, choose the uption
for uploading the *ppd. 

 I suggest you install Xubuntu for them or whatever system you are
proficient in. It's vital that you are running the same OS they are to
handle "help desk" pfone calls from your parents.

 As for updates, I would simply create a user account with sudo
prividges for yourself. Then once a week SSH in and do the the updates
youself. Namely
# sudo apt-get update
# sudo apt-get upgrade


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