Last week we went up to visit my wife’s mother. Windows had blown up on her, and she wanted me to fix her computer. In her case it’s extremely important. She’s the Poet Laureate for her city, and all of her poems are written on the computer, and HAVE TO BE AVAILABLE.
When I arrived, the computer was up and running. Kind of. Her 12 year old grand-daughter had managed to use the RESTORE utility to get it running. Of course this meant that nothing was working, as it restores Windows as it was installed, with no working software, but ALL OF THE CRAPWARE restored. Luckily the restore program didn’t format her hard drive, some of them do that, without giving you warning to get your data off.
After 15 minutes of checking I determined that there were no virii/trojans/etc. on the system, and that the problem was caused by the Windows Registry. I’d been doing maintenance every time we went up to visit Mom, unfortunately I hadn’t been up since last summer, and since 6 of her grand-children have been using the computer, well, they’d installed and un-installed a lot of programs (the traces were on the hard drive). Eventually the Registry was such a mess, that Windows wouldn’t start.
At this point we sat down and had a talk with Mom about her options. We explained that if we fixed Windows, the same thing was going to happen again, and we might not be able to retrieve her poetry next time. The other option as we saw it, was to try Linux, which while it was different, and might take a bit of work to learn, was a lot less likely to blow up. Mom decided to try it.
Her machine is 4 years old, with an AMD Sempron 3000, so I decided to try XUbuntu. The live CD worked perfectly, and she played with it for 10 minutes. She commented that it was a bit slow, I explained that I hadn’t installed it yet, this was just for her to try to see if she thought she could live with it. She told me that it was just like Windows, and she didn’t see any problem.
So I installed it, and did all the setup that she needed (desktop link to Open Office Writer, etc.)
So far she’s reasonably happy with it. It’s doing what she wants, when she wants. We’ll see how things worked out.
Oh, and yes, she does back up her poems now.