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    This is very similar to what I did in terms of software used, methods, and outcome. The author was more comprehensive, though. I lazily did the minimum I thought I could get away with leaving concerns like printers or whatever to the future. This post could probably be turned into a manual or wiki that’s kept up-to-date with new versions of the software involved. Probably dedicated sections for certain classes of hardware with instructions on how to get them to work.

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      If you want to amaze with the new system even more and the machine is still on a HDD, replace it with a SSD, so the Linux system feels even better and faster ;)

      cheating is an excellent move, and I too recommend it ;-) upping RAM helps here too

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        I did this two or three years ago with Ubuntu. It worked rather well even if a few ordinary tasks like printing over the network were somewhat complex to troubleshoot for her (not sure if Windows is better here though, but hopefully Google Cloud Print did help a lot) and using LibreOffice after years of MS Office 2007 was like taking a step back into the past (yes I showed her Google Docs but she kept using LibreOffice). It was still much better than Windows Vista (I also tried to install Windows 10 but it wasn’t stable at all on her old hardware).

        Eventually I switched her over an iPad a year ago. This is a very non-Free-as-in-Freedom solution but it solved almost all Windows issues and all of the few Linux issues :)

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          Same story here. It’s an easy transition with a Bluetooth keyboard, Google Docs, and an AirPrint printer.

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            I did this initially ~10 years ago with Ubuntu, but switched distros because Ubuntu will commit suicide[1] by never removing old kernels, so older partition schemes that had a separate /boot will eventually fill up. It’s very hard walking someone non-technical through the steps, remotely, to clean up that mess.

            1. It doesn’t brick the system, it’ll still boot. But no updates will succeed because the kernel package fails due to running out of space. This is, more accurately, a debian-ism more than a ubuntu-ism.
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            I also switched my parents, some parents of friends and a couple of small non-profit organizations to Linux some time ago. Windows slowed their laptops/desktops down too much (despite a SSD and 8GB ram) and administering their systems was a PITA to put it lightly (even with Chocolately or a MS WDS). Also Windows 10 broke their systems more than once, so it really wasn’t an option anymore.

            First I used a heavily customized Gnome on CentOS 7, but now I use ElementaryOS for them since it needs less customizing from my part (it’s simple by default). The disadvantage is that Elementary is based on Ubuntu, which is far less stable than CentOS in my experience. But even with the occasional issues on Ubuntu (they are easily fixed), it’s far easier and better to manage than Windows for me. I am now looking at NixOS for my next iteration of the ‘simple light-weight desktop for basic users’ concept.

            By the way, the hardest part (for most of my test subjects) of migrating from Windows to Linux was indeed the transition from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice. The first step was installing LibreOffice on their Windows machines and letting them get used to the new GUI/controls. It’s going okay now, but they still would rather have Microsoft Office. MS Office unfortunately is just better at almost everything, except being open source, transparent and light-weight. Even to me (I almost exclusively run free software) LibreOffice feels like something out of a era long forgotten.

            To summarize, since they run on Linux:

            • I’m spending a lot less time administering their systems. There are less issues etc. Especially updating the machines now is totally unattended, while on Windows 10 it would cause trouble far too often.
            • They are happier with their system since it’s less complicated/very simple (I remove almost every button that isn’t necessary for them in the GUI).
            • The only thing they miss is MS Office, but they think it’s worth the trade-off.
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              Yeah, I did the same thing installing some FOSS on their Windows machines before switching them over. OpenOffice, Firefox, and VLC were examples. For VLC, I’d tell them it was ugly but could play anything. People liked MS Office more but got used to OpenOffice. Due to that, I never got around to trying to move their MS Office copy to Linux with WINE. Maybe that would help in your case?

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                Not a bad idea. I tried to run MS Office under Wine, but unfortunately at the time of testing (couple years ago) only Office 2007/2010 were somewhat compatible. Also, Wine adds complexity and I am not a big fan of adding that. Less is more :).

                So they just have to deal with LibreOffice for now :).

                By the way, most of my users (the Linux users that don’t know they run Linux haha) love VLC. They like it because it always works and has huge buttons/very simple controls. So I think it is not necessarily the lack of a beautiful/nice looking GUI that is a problem, but that it has more to do with simplicity/user friendlyness. That Ribbon (I think that’s the name of it, correct me if I am wrong) interface does a lot of things right for this kind of user.

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                  Yeah, VLC has great usability. I think a better-looking version could preserve most of what you describe. Just theme it or something. Could even sell themes in a store to generate funding like that chat apps do with their in-app art.

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              My bargain with my family: I will support your Linux system for free, I will not fix Windows or Mac.

              I switched my mother to Ubuntu many years ago, there’s been the rare problem, but even my siblings like it.

              I gave my brother an Ubuntu system, he used it during his degree until some classes required Windows! He said he much preferred using Ubuntu due to ease of installing applications.

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                I had same problem. I gave them Windows VM’s for that. The fact that the performance was worse and more inconvenient meant they used Linux stuff by default. It might also create a negative perception of Windows vs Linux but I didnt get any data on that either way.

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                  My bargain with my family: I will support your Linux system for free, I will not fix Windows or Mac.

                  It really easy for me to justify this stance, since I haven’t owned any systems with windows in many, many years, I simply do not know how to fix issues on that OS, nor do I have a way to reproduce/troubleshoot them.