About a month ago my mother called and asked if I could help her with a problem on her computer that I set up and installed for her. The computer reacted slowly to her input and was opening unknown websites for no reason. It was immediately clear that some sort of spyware or even worse virus or trojan was responsible for this behavior. She was really desperate and I began to scan the system immediately.
Some spyware and virii were found and it took some time until everything was clean and running as usual. I then decided that it was time to analyze what my parents were doing with their computer and how a future attack could be prevented. I knew that they would not be able to cope with the latest security news, patches, fixes and all the stuff that is important to keep your system clean.
They were using the computer for, lets say normal things, like writing texts, basic web surfing (ebay for instance) and email. That got me thinking that it would probably be a good idea to switch them to linux and forget about windows. Ubuntu Linux for instance is capable of doing all of the above after installation and I was pretty sure that they would be able to work with Ubuntu pretty fast.
It is very similar to Windows, at least when you compare the desktop to it. Even all programs that they were using would be the same. Firefox can be used on Linux and Thunderbird, the email program as well. They were using open office for text processing which meant that the only change would be to cope with the navigation of the new system.
The main advantage of a Linux solution is of course security. Windows is plagued by spyware, trojans and worms whereas Linux is not. Giving them a normal user account under linux would be enough to let them do whatever they did before with their computer without the fear that sensitive data would fall into the wrong hands.
I'm not a Linux pro but I was able to setup the system and install everything (import mails and the like) in a matter of hours and teach my parents how to use their new system. It basically does the same but looks different, not much teaching had to be done to be honest.
Another advantage is that the system seems to run faster than before. They have a Celeron Cpu with 256 megabytes of Ram and Windows seemed to be really slow compared to my own computer. I got rid of many power hungry services like indexing but that was obviously not enough. It simply feels faster with Linux as the operating system.
To sum it up:
The core benefit is that your parents, or whomever you set the system up for, can work in a safer environment without sacrificing any of the features or programs that they are already used to work with.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.