Sunday, March 28, 2010

Parents + Ubuntu

So, my parents use Linux now.

My dad, using my borrowed laptop; the old windows laptop he had ran for crap. My laptop is super old too, but it's got Ubuntu on it and it's dead simple to use. He's running 9.10 now, after I upgraded it. My mom's using my old netbook sometimes, which is running some bizarre off-brand distro that I'd like to nuke and put Ubuntu Netbook on it, if I can figure out how to get it to work.

Ubuntu's evolved to the point where my dad can use it for pretty much everything -- his proprietary FOREX trading software works alright in WINE (a little laggy starting up), he can play WMV videos in webpages (because he goes to those old government sites that still use it), the Internet is fast and compatible with Firefox... pretty cool. He even knows how to install security updates, though he tends to ignore the Update Manager dialog.

They're moving the close/min/max buttons to the left in Ubuntu 10.04, which everyone I'm sure has already heard about. I don't really care, because I'm going to change it back immediately, because I'm one of those people that don't really pay attention and occasionally hit the title bar instead of the menu bar, which is going to be an instant close/min/max given the circumstances.

I'm not so much worried about myself but worried for my parents. They're not on the computer a lot, so they don't have the sniper-like aim of regular computer users. The moment I saw a shot of the new button placement the first thing I saw in my mind was my dad trying to press one of the buttons in Firefox and hitting close window button instead.

Fortunately, OMG Ubuntu reports that for other themes, the window control buttons will remain on the right side of the screen. So, as long as I perform the distro upgrade myself, and make sure to change the theme to something else, it'll be fine.

But still, I don't like that Ubuntu's taken a step back and re-inserted me into the picture. Ubuntu was at the point where I wasn't needed: didn't have a codec to play a video? My dad figured out how to do that by himself, because all he had to do was click "find codec" and put in his password. Needed plugin for website? Firefox has it handled.

Now I gotta do the distro upgrade for him because he won't be able to figure out how to fix the booby-trapped window titlebars? Sheesh.

Oh well. Nobody's perfect, I guess.

EDIT: before I get any flak for this, let it be known: I don't care for "uniqueness." I'm a programmer. Functionality > Form.

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