[Semibug] OS choice for computer illiterate family members?

BCLUG admin at bclug.ca
Thu May 18 05:01:36 EDT 2023

Kyle Willett wrote on 2023-05-17 22:59:

> 1) What OS would you recommend for the computer novice that is safe 
> and secure?

Personally, something Ubuntu based. KDE because I like it (a *lot*), but
tastes vary. Debian doesn't update enough (for my liking), Arch updates 
too much, Ubuntu is my sweet spot.

> I'm leaning towards ChromeOS Flex because it auto updates, runs 
> everything in a chroot jail, and is virtually idiot proof!

That's probably a good choice too.

> Tied for second is OpenBSD -stable. It has had two remotely 
> executable bugs since it's founding in the 90s.

While that's admirable, an RCE is probably not the threat model most
people need to worry about.

> How secure though is say Firefox or chromium if you don't patch the 
> versions for 1 year?

This is the main area of concern for most users in the modern world.

They'd probably be reasonably secure (depends a lot on which sites are
visited), but web browsing is probably the greatest security threat for
an average user, along with "phishing" attacks.

So, probably safe, but also the one single area where one does not want
to fall behind.

> Should I look at moving her to OpenBSD too?


It's only my opinion, but give them something that works for their 
needs. i.e. Can handle video, audio, all the modern web stuff, ...

I, personally, wouldn't recommend OpenBSD as a desktop machine unless
someone had a special interest in that platform.

> Is the fact that the Ubuntu spins use snaps now keeping her safe 
> (because for those who don't know snaps auto update themselves).


After years (decades?) of a significant number of vulnerabilities being
exploited due to users not updating software, snaps is a reasonable
solution to ensure software gets updated.  And it keeps apps isolated
from each other and system stuff.

Sounds perfect for your parents.  Who cares if it takes 10 seconds
longer to launch a web browser, really?

> My mom's case is a bit different because she does online banking

Yeah, sounds like that up-to-date web browser is far more critical to
her use case than no kernel exploits, RCEs, etc.

> and I've got her hooked on some open source games. My uncle literary
> just browses the Internet and does word docs and Excel sheets.

Once again, some distro that keeps these things reasonably updated 
sounds ideal - LibreOffice seems to push out updates fairly frequently, 
for example.

And a desktop environment that
a) you're familiar with so you can answer any questions that they have,
b) is not too austere,
and c) has versions of their favourite games,

should do the trick.

Good luck and it's nice to hear of more potential converts to FLOSS.

However, tell them it's a special, insider edition Windows 12 preview. 
They won't notice any splash screens indicating otherwise, and they'll 
probably feel like they're not doing anything unusual, just a wee bit 
quicker than everyone else.


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