Senior uses Ubuntu system 14 months trouble free

Sirius Desktop

photo credit: Nico Kaiser

Computers started making their way into homes, en masse, 15 years ago. After 15 years, computer users should not be afraid of using their computer.

This case study tells the story about a customer of mine, Wanda, who happens to be in her 70s. Like most computer users she used a Windows based computer. In her case, it was a system put together by her grandson in 2002 or 2003 and has a 1.8ghz processor, 256mb of RAM and the XP Home version of Windows.

When I first met Wanda a few years ago, she had typical Windows user problems; slow computer, slow Internet, couldn’t open some attachments, virus and spyware problems. She used dialup Juno for Internet and Norton Antivirus on her system. I couldn’t talk her into getting a DSL or cable connection, but I did change her security from Norton to AVG and optimized the startup and running of the system. However, with dialup and Juno, she continued to have problems that cropped up every 3-4 months.

In April of 2008, I talked with her in detail about computer usage. She stated that she really only needed to do three or four things with her computer:

  1. Email
  2. Word Processing
  3. Solitaire
  4. Very light Internet browsing

We talked about the cost of a new computer and a high speed connection. And then we talked about taking Windows off her system, installing a different system (Ubuntu and Linux didn’t mean anything to her) that would be virtually trouble free and no cost to acquire besides my install and configuration time. She liked the sound of that, but I informed her that I could not install Ubuntu unless she was agreeable to getting a DSL connection for the Internet. She agreed.

I installed Ubuntu for her and configured her desktop with shortcuts to her email, the web, solitaire, and her word processor. Again, that was April of 2008. Prior to that I received at least one call from her every month, and visited her for cleanup and troubleshooting appointments at least 3-5 times per year.

Today, Wanda called me for the first time since I installed Ubuntu on her system 14 months ago. She asked two questions:

  1. Why can’t I get email from my daughter?
  2. My printer stopped printing, do I need a new one?

Knowing that it would be a quick visit, I stopped by her house in between two other appointments. To my delight, the computer desktop looked exactly the same as I left it the prior year except for a few saved PowerPoint slideshows she saved from email to it.

Since she was using Hotmail, I could almost guarantee that she had blocked her daughter’s email address (Microsoft places the spam / junk mail button dangerously close to the delete button). Sure enough, a trip to the blocked senders settings revealed what I suspected. Her daughter’s email address and a dear friend were blocked. I rectified that in a few clicks.

Next, her printer problem turned out to be a paper jam. After clearing it, the computer was happily printing again. I left her home in under 15 minutes after correcting the problems that had nothing to do with Ubuntu, and she was beaming like a kid in a candy shop.


Properly setup and customized for an individual’s computing needs, Ubuntu Linux can be used successfully and easily by anyone of any age and computing ability. AND, the problems associated with computing under the Windows environment disappear.

My only regret is that I did not start looking into and learning about Linux prior to 2006.

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