Feb 15, 2011

MUM - Evaluation & Preperation

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 second post in this series and I created an overview post as well.

I arrived at home prepared like described in my first post. I had my netbook as well as Ubuntu 10.04 and 10.10 install images/CDs. There where still a few things unanswered. I could not remotely test the “exotic” hardware my mother owns. So I tested the two digital cameras that needed to work. I did that with my netbook that also runs Ubuntu. After getting to know the cameras I got them to work on Ubuntu without much trouble. This made me glad as I expected this to be an other major deal breaker. Now just the computers internal hardware needed to work and I was ready to go. So I took a CD and tested and started Ubuntu from disk on my mothers computer. It did work fine, no problems with the older hardware.

Software alternatives to the software my mother is used to where mostly straight forward. For the office work my mother needs to get done it was clear that OpenOffice.org's Writer would do the job. I just need to converted the two templates that my mother uses and test printed them on the printer. Most of the games my mother plays are on the Internet as Flash games or come with Ubuntu anyway. On the Internet side things stayed much the same thanks to IE not having the major share anymore. I did decide to go with Firefox as it has good integration with Ubuntu and is the default browser installed. Generally I tried to stay with the Ubuntu default software as much as possible. It should be better integrated and has a hopefully well working upgrade path in the future.

Most of this was already known to me prior to even thinking about a migration. I did a few migration attempts already in the past. So I already had some experience with this. This is why I was most concerned with the things I didn't know of. The thing is that in recent years I have been at my parents place only once or twice a year. So I missed a lot of thing my mother does on the computer. After talking with my mother I discovered that she creates photo albums using a special software. This software wasn't available for Linux. As I got to know this I feared that this would be the deal breaker I expected. Gladly I did find a few alternatives and after having a look at them I installed two on my mothers computer. I let here choose which one she liked the most.

The problem here is that users tend to forget what they actually use. Later on they say that they thought that it would “just work”. For them all this isn't important until they need it. So I told my mother multiple times how her current software doesn't work anymore. I tried to explain it to here as good as I can. I asked here multiple times for other software she may want to use. She couldn't think of any more and didn't ask me for any other software till now.

So I had an alternative for all the software my mother needed. This meant that I could go ahead and start to backup the current data on the computer and install Ubuntu on it. I made a default install and left pretty much everything on default. I just enabled the additional repositories and updated everything to be current. I created the needed templates for OpenOffice.org. I installed Skype as well as a lot of codecs, Flash as well as other basic stuff. I also installed TeamViewer 6 so I could later on remotely solve problems if they should occur. I already used it once now and it works very well.

This is what I did with just a few bits left out. Like the CD/DVD drives that didn't work well anymore, was painful and time consuming but I could solve it after finding the problems source. I'm very positively surprised about the fact how well it turned out. I expected more problems and much more user dissatisfaction. But more on that in my next post.