From: General Schvantzkoph on
On Tue, 01 Jun 2010 13:01:12 -0700, RayLopez99 wrote:

> On Jun 1, 9:04 pm, General Schvantzkoph <schvantzk...(a)> wrote:
>> My first choice for that type of user is CentOS 5.5 assuming that it
>> will run on her hardware.
> Assuming. That's the problem.
>> CentOS's virtues and faults stem from the same thing, it's an ultra
>> stable distro. The upside is that it never breaks and it has minimal
>> update requirements. You only need a few applications for a basic user
>> such as web browsing and e-mail which CentOS has.
> She don't need e-mail. She uses only web email (Yahoo, Gmail).
>> If you
>> need more then there are a few extra repositories that you can add
>> which gives you CentOS versions of Fedora packages, EPEL (Extra
>> Packages for Enterprise Linux) and the Fusion repositories which give
>> you the binary drivers for Nvidia and the non-free media codecs. It
>> takes a little longer to set up CentOS but once you've done it you
>> won't have to touch it again for years.
> I see. So I have to find out what video drivers the Acer cheap machine
> uses...I doubt they use NVidia, which is a high-end graphics card. But
> they might. Another hassle.
>> Redhat supports RHEL (CentOS is the free clone of RHEL) for seven years
>> so once it's on a system it can remain for the life of the hardware.
>> The downside of CentOS is that it has lousy support for new hardware
>> because its based on an old kernel and RedHat takes their sweet time
>> about backporting drivers for new hardware. However when it works it
>> works great so if I were you I'd try to put CentOS 5.5 on the box. If
>> it recognizes all of the hardware then you are golden. Your friend
>> won't have to worry about anything changing on her and the software
>> will just work.
> "IF" it recognizes all the hardware. This is a $300 machine. Lots of
> potential problems.
>> If CentOS doesn't work then you want to use a popular distro if for no
>> other reason then lots of other people use them. Lots of people is
>> another way of saying that they have large communities which means that
>> there are lots of people who can answer a question and also that there
>> are lots of people finding bugs.
> Good point. One reason I like Windows--lots of users so when things go
> wrong you can ping them.
>> I use a combination of Fedora and CentOS on my machines. The last few
>> releases of Fedora have been so solid that I am no longer hesitant to
>> recommend it to general users. Fedora does the best job of handling
>> hardware and all of it's software is absolutely current. However it's
>> only supported for 13 months which means that you have to do frequent
>> upgrades. In the past the only reliable way to do that was to do clean
>> installs of the new version however that's no longer true. There is now
>> a program called preupgrade that you can run that will do an in place
>> upgrade. I've used it to go from F11 to F12 to F13 and it's worked
>> pretty well.
> And note, as I replies to AZNomad, that "Linpus Linux" is an OLD Fedora
> 8 distro--one that apparently, as you imply, was not stable-- maybe.
> Therein lies the problem.
>> An Ubuntu LTS release is another solution. It's not supported as long
>> as RHEL/CentOS but it is based on a current kernel so it has better
>> compatibility with new hardware.
> OK, yet another distro though--do I keep trying them all until one
> works? And do they all fit on 2GB FlashRAM stick (see my reply to AZ
> Nomad)? Do I just buy a external DVD for this cheap machine (which
> costs about 33% of the total price of $300!)? Probably I will buy a
> DVD, so I can install N versions of Linux--but which one first? I'm not
> going to make a hobby installing Linux distros--not my thing.
>> If you are setting up a system for a naive user you will want to do the
>> following. Put icons for the common applications on the lower panel,
>> i.e. Firefox, e-mail (Thunderbird is my recommendation), Open Office
>> and Acrobat. And leave it at that, it's important that it not be
>> cluttered. Set up her e-mail and gmail accounts (if she needs
>> calendering and a contact list). Gmail will provide the backup for the
>> contact list and calender because it's automatically synced.
> Right, good points.
> RL

It use Nvidia ION graphics so it will be supported by the Nvidia binary
driver, that's good news. If you add the fusion repos to CentOS you
should be able to install the kmod-nvidia package which will add the
nvidia binary drivers.

If you want support out of the box then use Ubuntu or it's Mint

From: General Schvantzkoph on
On Tue, 01 Jun 2010 12:54:44 -0700, RayLopez99 wrote:

> On Jun 1, 6:55 pm, ray <r...(a)> wrote:
>> Ok NoBalls - on the off chance that this is a legit post (which I doubt
>> very much):
> Don't doubt. I'm serious (as I was BTW about Serious Work, as I define
> it).
>> 1) a DSL modem is a non-issue for virtually every modern linux distro.
>> You plug into it and connect via DHCP. That's it. If there is a
>> wireless router in the mix, then ease of setup may be determined by
>> what encryption scheme is used.
> No wireless. Thanks for the advice "plug into it". So that part of the
> problem is fixed, as others have said the same thing.
>> 2) I, personally, would be reluctant to USE a distro hardly anyone has
>> ever heard of. Got the wife an Asus eeepc netbook a year plus back - it
>> came with a dumbed down version of Xandros - which looked really mickey
>> mouse. I did an install of Debian from the Debian eeepc wiki - it was
>> zero trouble and EVERYTHING worked out of the box. It required about
>> 50mb on a flash drive and then did a network install from there.
> I agree. Below is what a user said about Linpus Linux--apparently the
> strong suit is that it supports Chinese/Asian characters. I don't care
> for these characters. It's based on an old distro of Fedora Core 8--is
> this a good distro (good as in easy to install and works stably for a
> non-Power User)?
> But you raise another good question: the General S* in this thread
> recommends CentOS 5.5. You say Debian. Others will say others. Which
> do I pick? I am going to have to do the work to install it, and since
> this Acer machine has no DVD/CD (it's an external package you have to
> buy separately), just a USB port, I must fit the distro on Flash RAM (I
> have a 2 GB stick) or download it from the internet, then somehow
> (without a DVD!) install it...not easy to do in my mind. Of course, I
> could shell out the $100, and I probably will, just to buy the external
> DVD, and hope that the dang Acer machine will recognize the external
> CD/DVD upon bootup (I suspect it must) and then use the CD/DVD to
> install either CentOS or Debian. But again, which one is easiest to
> install? I don't want power. She will never do stuff like chat, or
> video chat. She does use Skype though, without a web cam.
> Any advice appreciated.

If you have to install from a USB FLASH key then you will want to use
either Fedora 13 or Ubuntu, both have Live CD/USB versions that contain
an installer, the last time I checked CentOS didn't have a Live
installer. All you have to do is plug the USB FLASH drive in and boot the
box and you'll be running that distro. On the desktop there will be an
icon for the installer, launch it and do the install. After that you can
boot the new OS and add any additional packages that you want.

From: Robert Nichols on
On 06/01/2010 03:01 PM, RayLopez99 wrote:
> OK, yet another distro though--do I keep trying them all until one
> works? And do they all fit on 2GB FlashRAM stick (see my reply to AZ
> Nomad)? Do I just buy a external DVD for this cheap machine (which
> costs about 33% of the total price of $300!)? Probably I will buy a
> DVD, so I can install N versions of Linux--but which one first? I'm
> not going to make a hobby installing Linux distros--not my thing.

Many distros have a "Live CD" which you can put on a USB flash stick
and try out without having to go through an install. It'll run
somewhat slowly (booting will be _really_ slow), but you can quickly
find out whether your hardware is supported. I know Fedora, CentOS,
and Ubuntu all have live CDs available. (In the case of Ubuntu, it's
the regular install CD, which has an option to try out without

BTW, that 7-year support for RHEL and CentOS is from when the base
release, in this case "5", became available. CentOS 5 was released
in 2007, and support for all CentOS 5.x is scheduled to end on
31 Mar 2014. Still a lot better than Fedora, where each release
has support for at most 18 months (technically, until one month
after version N+2 is released, and new releases can come as fast
as 6 months apart).

Bob Nichols AT I am "RNichols42"
From: RayLopez99 on
On Jun 2, 8:03 am, Stefan Patric <n...(a)> wrote:

> A friend of mine had similar needs, but was truly technophobic.  She
> really thought technology was "evil" and would ultimately destroy
> mankind, but that's another story.  However, she needed a computer.  I
> installed PCLOS 2007, IIRC, on a old Dell notebook of mine (500MHz PIII,
> 256MB RAM) to give to her.  It was around 5 or 6 years old then.  PCLOS
> recognized and configured everything properly.  Plus, I didn't have to
> install anything additional.  I was surprised.  I manually configured the
> dial up through a GUI interface.  That was novel at the time.  She wasn't
> going to be using broadband, but I set it up anyway, so I could update
> the system and applications through my broadband connection which I did
> only that one time immediately after the install.  She used that set up
> for two years without any maintenance at all, and the system never
> broke.  That really sold me on PCLinuxOS as a solid, stable OS for
> general, non-techie users.

OK, this is interesting. This goes to my "Plan B". I have a Pentium
II laptop from Dell, which has a DVD/CD, and around, I think, 512k
RAM; bought this in 1998, it still works, and runs Windows XP. It has
a dial-up modem, and I'm thinking of donating this to this girl. But
I would hesitate for her to dial-in using WIndows, since this old
laptop has no antivirus that's up to date. So, for this old system
(note the small amount of RAM), do you think PCLinuxOS would load?
What distro would? All I need for the OS to recognize is the internal
modem (a Dell generic), the USB mouse, and I guess the built in video

Again, this is my Plan B, since right now the Plan A is to go with
broadband connection (which apparently is automatically recognized),
with a new Acer PC. But I want to keep my options open.

Any advice appreciated.


From: RayLopez99 on
On Jun 1, 11:36 pm, General Schvantzkoph <schvantzk...(a)>
> The first question to ask in these situations is who is going to be
> maintaining the system, you or the user?

The user.

> If it's you then you want to
> choose the same system that you normally use, if it's the naive user then
> you might want to use some newbie oriented distro although if they are
> going to be calling you every time something goes wrong or they want to
> do something new then you are still better off having them use a distro
> that you use.

This is the fear I have about Linux. Reading your post, and Stef's
post, you both seem to imply that Linux OS's have "life cycles" of
about five years. Now this sounds very logical--after all, most PCs
are obsolete in 5 to 10 years, but the problem is, I don't want to
maintain this PC and the user doesn't have any big needs other than
internet access, mouse and keyboard support, and, maybe, a printer
(though she often goes to the library to print things out--I kid you
not--when the PC runs of out a printer cartridge and she can't find
the neighbor to put in a new one).

Do you see why I fear Linux? With Windows, even my old Dell 1998
laptop works fine under Windows 2000, which I upgraded (on 512k RAM!)
to XP. Still works to this day.

> I have exactly this situation with my sister. She has minimal needs,
> basically just web browsing and e-mail and she has absolutely no idea how
> computers work. I've had her running Linux for years, either CentOS or
> Fedora depending on the needs of the moment. I have an account on her
> system that I can ssh into so that I can fix problems or install packages

Holy moly--I code, am techno savvy, have built many a PC, and you are
ahead of me. I don't know what ssh even means--let me GOogle this--
Secure Socket Shell--some sort of remote FTP/Telnet way of accessing a
PC--holy sh it!--there's no way I'm going to take the time to learn
this--no thanks General S. Anything more simple?

> remotely (she lives in Chicago, I live in Massachusetts). I prefer to use
> CentOS for this purpose because it's so stable. However sometimes I'm
> forced to switch her to Fedora because there is a hardware requirement
> that CentOS can't handle. Currently I have her on Fedora 13 because CentOS
> 5.5 can't handle the scanner on her new HP All in One.

This is not good. You mean to tell me the HP All-in-one; I have the
hp 1315 version, which are so popular, are not easily supported in all
Linux distros? Wow. This is not good. So I have to find a cutting
edge Fedora distro just to handle a routine printer like the HP
series? Wow. Thanks for the heads up. But even with this potential
problem, I'm not against Linux if a very stable distro--you say the
CentOS--will support at least ONE printer. That's because the printer
she has now I might trade her for a new printer (since it's a nice
printer, HP series, and I want it), in exchange for setting up her new
Linux machine. What printer will work with CentOS, which you seem to
say is the most stable? I can buy that printer and have it ready to

> She doesn't know
> the difference between the two because her environment looks the same to
> her. I've set up the bottom panel with launch buttons for the couple of
> applications that she uses. I've also set myself up as the administrator
> of here comcast e-mail account and I've set up a gmail account for her
> which is synced to Thunderbird, this allows me to add contacts to her
> contact list. Having done all that I can handle any problem that she has
> without to much effort on my part. Later this year when CentOS 6 comes
> out I'll switch her back to CentOS but in the meantime Fedora 13 will
> work fine for her.

Right. So again, I'm confused: CentOS or Fedora 13 for a minimal
user, with a friend like me to install it but who does not want to
learn ssh or have to do a lot of maintenance ? Let's assume, to make
things easy, I get the DVD/CD kit for the Acer (which I probably will
do), so flashRAM install is not required. Please advise.