This was the message I wrote on a white board in my area at work. It's been up for a week now (the longest of any message so far).
Here's the story behind it.

I recently had to re-build a computer for my mom. Being the avid Linux-advocate I am, I decided to move my mom from a Windows 98 system to Redhat Linux.

Let me go on a tangent and tell you a little about my mother's ability to use a computer. She just recently started using a computer for something more that a simple typewriter. Before that time, she asked someone to start it, and get it to the word processor, she sat down typed what she wanted, and then asked someone to print it for her.

Back to my story. About a year ago my siblings and I decided to set her up with an e-mail account, and show her how to turn the computer on, off, and do things for herself.

This was met with limited success. She could start it, and she could shut it down. She could even get to her e-mail. So far we've accomplished all of our goals.

Then the normal questions started. "What does General Protection Fault mean?". Followed by a half an hour explanation of how it wasn't her fault, and that Windows isn't very stable...The normal stuff from a Linux guy.

After she got comfortable with it, (and learned to ignore the near constant crashes, and error messages from Windows 98) She became addicted to E-mail, every morning first thing, she checked her e-mail. It was kinda funny to us, since for the longest time she didn't even know how to turn it on. So we got her a digital camera. This was the start of the downfall. She has never learned to download the pictures off the camera, despite the many times we have shown her. We also got her a scanner, but the software that came with the scanner was too difficult for her to use. Sadly no progress has been made in the last few months.

Well At one point her computer died (hardware failure, not Windows) I decided I was going to build her a new computer, and install Linux on it. This was my reasoning.

1. Linux is Free.
2. Linux is more stable than windows.
3. My 14 year old Brother is running Linux and it works fine for him, and he has about the same ability on the computer as my mom.
4. I set up NFS mounted home directories on my Internet sharing server at home, so if her computer dies, she can use my brothers, and still have her settings and files, until I can fix her computer.

And most importantly - I like Linux better than windows.

It's been a week since I gave her the new computer, complete with Redhat 7.3.
I gave her a few quick training sessions the night I gave her the new computer
Burning CD's 101, Using the Scanner 101, and Intro to Changing your password.
The next night I found her scanning a picture into a document, and when she was done writing it to CD.
In 1 day, she did it on her own.

The next part is what I was very happy about. She also figured out how to change the Font in a document she was typing (I'm not kidding, she couldn't do this before), and she figured out how to attach a document to an e-mail.
all of this on her own!

I've seen many comments over the years that "Linux isn't ready for desktop users", "Linux can't be used on the desktop till my mom can use it". Then their reasoning is "To change anything you have to go into a convoluted directory, and edit a file" How many Joe Sixpacks actually change the settings on their computers from the way they came from the vendor? I don't think many do, and if they do, they call a tech support line. Redhat's business model is exactly that, if you want a single place for support, then pay us. Otherwise, you can use the free support from the net.

On an interesting side-note. after I wrote "My technophobe mom uses linux, Why don't you?" on the white board, I got the feeling that it struck a sore spot in a lot of people. Since then I've had more people asking me about Linux, and I've gotten approval to setup a new system on a Linux box, Which is a big change in attitude compared to just a few months ago.

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