Last week I nipped into the little supermarket for some last-minute shopping and ran into D, who I know slightly. “You know about computers, don’t you?” she asked. I said “well…” because I wasn’t looking forward to solving her Windows malware problems, or setting up hardware, but it turned out that she wanted to try Linux. “Oh, come along to my house and I’ll give you a CD,” I said, but she wasn’t quite sure enough of her own abilities for that, and I promised to come to her house on Tuesday and give her a hand. I asked what kind of computer she had, and what OS was on it right now, and it was a HP laptop with Windows XP.
“That’s going to be hard,” my other half said, “if it’s running XP it’s probably too old for any modern Linux distro.” But I went anyway, 25 minutes on the bike over the railway bridge to the small neighbouring town. The HP turned out to be one of those immense shiny Pavilions, like a battleship (and indeed she calls it Battleship Galactica; quite geeky for a 62-year-old! But then the reason she wanted Linux was mostly disillusionment with the behaviour of MS, and dislike of corporate lock-in), four years old, and the XP was the optional downgrade.
So I gave her a Kubuntu live CD– I’m mostly an OpenSuSE woman myself, but Kubuntu is probably slightly easier for beginners, and I wasn’t sure that the OpenSuSE thumbdrive had a live environment too. She took to it as a duckling to water, squeeing over KRunner, pleased with multiple desktops even before I explained activities. “Would you like to try a different flavour, too?” I asked, but she liked the one she’d got so we set to installing.
(Digression: while the install was telling us things like “6% completed, time remaining 1:45” D went to make coffee and toppled a wine glass on the kitchen counter, which broke. “Just like in our house,” I said, “we’ve got only two left and they’re not even similar!” Then she got a set of three wine glasses from an upper cupboard, still in the wrapping, and implored me to take them, please, she’d got those in a Christmas box and wasn’t doing anything with them because they were larger than the ones she used and anyway there was only the one of her, what would she need nine, er, eight glasses for?)
We had coffee and cream cakes, answered the installer’s questions, gave XP a loose-box to kick its heels in, configured a bit, noticed that the wireless was working –she has the same ADSL box that we have so it was easy to configure that– and then it was 11:45 and it all just worked.
D asked me to lunch at a nice little place nearby, but bad weather had been forecast and it was getting extremely stuffy and clouds were appearing on the horizon, so I went home (where I arrived dripping with sweat) and only then realised I hadn’t even thought of blogging or denting in situ because we’d been so focused.
Blogging about a difficult install is perhaps more interesting, but I’m glad it was all so easy, even though D now probably thinks I’m a wizard.