Feb 13, 2011

MUM - Current Status

This is a series of blog posts where I describe the migration experience I had as I migrated my mothers computer from Windows to Ubuntu. This is the first post in this series and I created an overview post as well.

One very important step in the migration is to know exactly the current status of your target. This includes how and what software the user needs as well as what hardware needs to be supported. Especially very special software as well as exotic hardware need to be taken care of.

So my mother is running Windows XP on her old computer (about 5 to 6 years old hardware). Every time I'm at my parents place she complains about the computer not working well and that I should do something against it. So she wasn't enjoying the Windows experience that much anyway. I told here that I can reinstall the computer. She noted that it would be the same again within a year. She wasn't happy with that. I suggested Ubuntu as an alternative to here. She decided that she wants to give Ubuntu a try. For me it was important that my mother wanned to try it. I didn't like to force it on here. Of course I told here that the software will be different and that she needs to get used to it first. I tried to explain to here as good as I can what the consequences of this move are.

A very important part of my mothers computer usage is writing everything needed for my fathers company. Most of the time thats writing bills to customers for the work my fathers has done. My father doesn't know a lot about computers and never uses them. I've never seen him even touch a running one. She uses Microsoft Word for that. There are two important templates for her work. One for the letter header and one for the envelopes. They needed to be there on Ubuntu as well.

Until recently my sisters did still live with my parents. So they used the computer as well. This has always been the major problem with earlier migration attempts. My sisters like to play current computer games from time to time. And these usually don't work on Linux. So a migration to Linux was not possible. I did try it for some time with a dual-boot setup but they never booted to Linux so it was useless. This wasn't the case now as most of them don't live at home anymore. They have their own computers now. My mother only plays causal games like Mahjong or Tetris. These should be simple to get to run in some form on Ubuntu.

Apart from these my mother uses the Internet which shouldn't make much trouble these days with the fall of IE. Important things tend to work on all major browsers nowadays. I did also know that I only had a few days for the migration. This was my biggest concern as I would have preferred a slower migration to ease the transition. But I live far away from my parents (about a 7h train ride) and can't just stop by for a weekend to fix things. I tried to make sure I had alternatives for all software my mother used prior to even being there. I tried to prepare myself as good as possible for it. I took my netbook (running Ubuntu) as well as installation CDs with me. Especially my netbook would come in handy if I should be stuck on a problem without a running computer or working Internet connection.

This is the situation that existed. My mother wanned me to fix the “slowness” of her computer somehow and I gave here two ways to proceed. The usual, already often done, way of completely reinstalling the computer. She did know that within no time it would be just the same again. Or a migration to Ubuntu so she could try how that worked for her. She decided to go for Ubuntu and I was prepared to help her on the way.