XP-Replacement for Parents

Raphael Mankin raph at mankin.org.uk
Thu Mar 27 16:51:58 GMT 2014

Much depends on the age of the current machine.

I have run Gentoo+Gnome with OK-ish performance on a 400MHz (remember
them?) single processor with 512MB RAM.

On the same machine Ubuntu with full Gnome was distinctly sluggish. Just
too many daemons running.

That the scanner is wireless should not matter. Write a 'live' Ubuntu to
a memory stick (Ubuntu will no longer fit on a CD), boot that and
install the extra drivers for your scanner. It may take a bit of guess
and fiddle to work out just which drivers you need. Then you can be sure
whether it works or not.

I do not use Windows, but AFAIK XP->Win7 is an upgrade, not a wipe and
re-install. However, depending on the speed of the CPU, the amount of
memory, disk size etc, it may run like a dog. YMMV.

On Thu, 2014-03-27 at 16:04 +0000, Smylers wrote:
> Raphael Mankin wrote directly to me, but has given me permission to
> reply on the list:
> > On Thu, 2014-03-27 at 11:48 +0000, Smylers wrote:
> > 
> > > • Ubuntu:  The OS will install, but I don't know if Mum's scanner will
> > >   work with it, and I'm pretty sure it won't work in the same way, where
> > >   pressing a physical button on the scanner causes some HP application
> > >   to open on the desktop with the scanned document.
> > 
> > It almost certainly will. You will probably have to install a driver
> > for it - assuming it is usb. I run scanners on my Ubuntu boxes.
> It's wireless; does that affect your answer?
> > >   Also, Mum has years of correspondence in WordPerfect files.
> > >   LibreOffice claims to be able to open WordPerfect documents, but I
> > >   haven't tried it and don't know how well it'd do. And anyway,
> > >   LibreOffice isn't as good as WordPerfect is.
> > 
> > Libreoffice will handle WP files with no probs. The layout rules
> > differ slightly, but she should soon adapt.
> That's pleasing, too. LibreOffice seems far from perfect at coping with
> the vastly more widespread Word format, so I wasn't expecting it to do
> much with the lessor-known WordPerfect. But maybe it's because
> WordPerfect files are easier to parse than Word files (they could hardly
> be worse).
> > > • Newer Windows:  Would the latest Windows run on her hardware? Even
> > >   if it did, would it run her several-years-old version of
> > >   WordPerfect? And has its interface and so on changed so much that
> > >   it would be at least as unfamiliar to Mum as changing to Ubuntu
> > >   would?
> > > 
> > >   Or would a newer-than-XP-but-not-the-most-recent version of Windows be
> > >   better? In which case, is it still possible to buy such a version? And
> > >   how long till the same question crops up again with that?
> > 
> > If going for M$, go for win 7, not 8.
> Thanks. Would XP upgrade to 7, or would we have to wipe and re-install?
> Is a decade-old (I'm guessing) laptop likely to cope with Windows 7?
> And how long does this buy us? Does 7 have an end-of-life date?
> > > • Stay with XP:  What does XP no longer being supported mean?
> > >   Obviously IE won't get security fixes any more, but the latest
> > >   Firefox says it still works on XP, so as long as she sticks with
> > >   Firefox, what are the risks to her?
> > 
> > Security is the whole issue with M$.
> Indeed, but Mum (and Dad) have been coping fine so far without any
> security problems we're aware of.
> I guess what I'm actually interested in is, what is the additional risk
> continuing to run XP beyond April 8th (with an up-to-date Firefox) which
> Mum isn't already taking by using it now?
> Or to put it the other way round: what is it that Microsoft are
> currently providing for her, and which they won't be doing after
> April 8th.
> The question isn't “What's the most secure system we can think of?”, but
> “Given the current set-up has been fine till now, what's the least we
> can do to stay in a similar position?”.
> Thank you all for your responses.
> Smylers

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