Setting up Mom’s PC with Xubuntu 12.04

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Xubuntu logo (light)As a companion post to my ever-popular Xubuntu 12.04 post-installation guide (and its Linux Mint 14 LTS sibling guide), here’s a post about setting up Xubuntu 12.04 on my mother’s computer.

Several years ago, I gave my Mom my old Dell desktop, with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS installed. While it’s worked well, desktop support for 10.04 is ending as of this month. Thus, I needed to give Mom an upgrade to a newer version. Given the age of the machine (a 2007 Dell tower with 1GB RAM, 250GB hard drive, and an AMD Athlon X2 processor), as well as the changes since 10.04’s day (Unity, etc.), I thought putting Xubuntu might work out better.

Setup

Setup involved a clean install of Xubuntu 12.04 from a CD-R I burned before the trip to Mom’s. I used the 32-bit version, though those with a more modern computer will want the 64-bit version. Of course, I went for a long-term service release, as Mom doesn’t need a cutting-edge version (plus to keep problems to a minimum).

I partitioned the hard drive with separate partitions for the root (15GB of space allocated), swap (2GB of space), and home (remainder of the hard drive space) directories. I also created an account for my mother.

Post-installation

After installation, I followed the steps in my guide for installing codecs, etc. (For codecs, instead of w64codecs, I used w32codecs instead, being a 32-bit installation). I also created and set up a separate account for my niece, with more restrictions than my mother’s account.

Given my mother and niece’s needs, software I installed included:

  • gEdit: I replaced the default Leafpad install with gEdit. Not that I expect Mom or my niece to heavily use a text editor, but I like gEdit better.
  • LibreOffice: The popular open source office software suite seemed like an obvious choice. I uninstalled the default Gnumeric and AbiWord. Despite their lighter weight, AbiWord has always crashed for me, and I didn’t want to risk Mom/niece annoyed by the possibly happening.
  • gufw: The popular firewall management program.
  • ClamTK: The popular open-source antivirus scanner.
  • Shotwell: A photo management program. It seemed more robust/a bit easier to use than the default gThumb.
  • Banshee: The music software program, which I used to replace Xubuntu’s default program. Seems easy enough to use, plus there’s the off chance Mom might want to use the Amazon MP3 Store.
  • VLC: The popular video and audio player. Doubt Mom or my niece will use this much, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to have installed.
  • Frozen Bubble: My niece likes this game, so it’s a given.
  • Firefox plugins I installed include:
    • Adblock: Not trying to encourage my family to skirt advertising, but do want to discourage them clicking on something they shouldn’t by mistake (more my niece than my mother).
    • WOT (Web of Trust): A plugin to display when a site might be risky to visit, as well as offer some parental filtering options (the usual stuff parents don’t want kids to encounter online).
    • Comment Snob: This plugin’s main goal is to block any and all comments on YouTube. It blocks other site’s comments as well, but YouTube was my main concern, as my niece loves to watch YouTube arts and crafts videos.

On top of the above, I also reinstalled the small amount of files my family had, including some MP3s and wallpaper. For my niece’s ease of use, I set up her account to let her log into without entering her password (the settings for such are available under Applications > System > Users and Groups).

I used the Alacarte menu editor to hide a few menu items I doubt Mom/my niece will ever use (the Terminal, etc.). I also deleted the Dock-like launcher Xubuntu offers, in favor of a Firefox launch icon in the top menubar. I didn’t have time to make it more Windows-like than this, as I did with Ubuntu 10.04.

And that’s about it. I let my family try out their upgraded PC, and they seemed to be fine with the new OS. My mother did ask where the programs menu went to; I told her the menu was under the circular Xfce mouse icon in the top menubar. Other than this, everything’s going along smoothly. If there’s any issues, my family will surely let me know. Or they could ask my brother, who also runs Ubuntu on his computer (the standard version, Unity and all).


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