Linux computer for parents suggestions please.

Hello, first post here. I need to build a home computer for my parents. I have a computer to use which is an intel i5 with 8gb ram. This will be about the 4th time i’ve attempted this. Everytime i set up a computer it’s fine for about 4 or 5 months and before i know it it’s slowed to a crawl and is almost un-useable. Seeing that all they do is emailing, word documents, internet surfing and printing it doesn’t need to be a super computer. My thoughts are that because they are old and know very little about computers, that the time they spend surfing the net, they are picking up malware and viruses that are causing the machine to slow. They will never understand what to ignore as fake and what is potentially dangerous. I.e a pop ups saying “Warning, you have a virus, click here to fix it” which will obviously download some kind of rubbish virus scanner you have to pay for. Basically i need to make it idiot proof and have it setup that it will always stay at it’s original speed and userbility. So, A - which version of linux would anyone suggest i install? B - how do i prevent it from slowing? (initial thoughts are either sandboxing or a software that will let you revert to original settings. Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions.

Peppermint 6 or Linux Mint 17.3 would be my go to choices.

If you then install Google Chrome, any plugins will already be sandboxed.
(I say Chrome because Firefox still uses NPAPI plugins that aren’t sandboxed … but in reality they’ll be sandboxed to the ‘home’ folder anyway)

Linux does a very good job of sandboxing everything to the users ‘home’ directory … nothing has permission to write outside of there without the password of someone in the “sudo” group

Here’s a tip if you’re the one that looks after their PC … Install Linux with an account in your name, but don’t give your parents the password to that account … install all the software they’ll need … Then add another account for them.

That way your account will always be safe, and if necessary can be used to fix theirs … so in a worst case scenario (if they totally screw up their account) you can use your account to delete theirs and add a new one (all fixed in a few minutes).

If you wish, you can also make sure their account is NOT in the “sudo” group … meaning they’ll not be able to do ANYTHING outside of their own ‘home’ folder without YOUR password.

Thanks for the reply mark. Sounds very promising. Would you say peppermint or linux mint? Or are they pretty much the same. Thanks again.

You would choose Peppermint, if your ageing or weedy PC cannot cope with the more full bodied distributions like Mint.
Mark will tell you about the benefits of using Peppermint (as he is one of the developers).
I am using Mint 17.3 Cinnamon (among others) and your machine is a monster compared to mine.
Which distro is best is very subjective. So my suggestion would be to create a live USB (or DVD) for both (or even some others) and give them a try. No need to install, just run them in the live environment. One thing to bear in mind, is not to judge the speed to much as the installed versions will be much, much faster.

Really the choice between the two is a personal taste thing

It would be hard for me to answer which is best … they both have their positives and negatives.

If you were to ask me which I would choose, well it’d be Peppermint because it suits my purposes perfectly on ANY hardware … it would, I make it :wink:

But just because it’s the perfect distro for me doesn’t make it perfect for everyone … Mint has the bigger following, if that means anything.

I really can’t better SeZo’s suggestion without being unfairly biased … get yourself 2 USB sticks and take them both for a test drive in “Live” mode (which means running from the USB stick, without making any changes to your hard drive), then choose whichever suits YOU :slight_smile:

If you want any help creating the LiveUSB’s just ask :wink:

Hi Greg and welcome to the forum! Your parents sound like me and the missus regarding their computer habits!

Either of the suggested distros will do the job - both are rock solid when set up and will fly on your rig. Although The ‘look’ of Linux will be slightly different to that of Windows, in every practical sense there will be no difference - i.e. clicking on the browser icon will open the browser and off you go, ditto with LibreOffice writer/spreadsheets etc etc. There will be no Internet Explorer of course, so they’ll have to get used to Firefox or Chrome but that issue should disappear very quickly. Viruses and the like will not be a problem - neither will the need for de-fragging or any other of that tedious ‘housekeeping’ nonsense.

One possible glitch may be the printer. Depending on make/model there might be an issue with the relevant driver not being available ‘out-of-the-box’ but that should be sorted easily if you post back here. Ditto wireless, but if you’re on ethernet cable then no worries!

Any and all help you need you’ll find at this site (it’s one of the best around) so don’t be afraid to ask! :wink:


Ubuntu Mate is getting rave reviews just now, I’ve personally never used it ( I’m a bit of a Peppermint fan myself) but I hear it’s very good, might be worth running it in a live session and having a look

Good luck whatever way you go