It was time for a new computer for my Grandparents. Their ancient Windows 98 PC had become so slow that it was unusable. The replacement, an inexpensive Acer PC, came with Windows Vista preinstalled. It was up to me to set up the new computer and support it. So I decided to wipe out Vista with a Debian 4 base install and set up an easy to use environment for my Grandparents. In this multi-part series I will tell you about how I did it, starting with my reasons for choosing Linux over Vista.

My Grandparents had been having a terrible time with viruses and worms periodically putting their computer out of commission. The reason for this is obvious, it was running Windows 98 with no firewall or anti-virus and they were using old versions of Outlook Express and Internet Explorer. After the first time I cleared the malware off, I installed a free firewall, free anti-virus, and two free anti-spyware programs. This caused more problems, the firewall would pop up questions, and the anti-virus slowed down boot up. Linux solves all of my Grandparents’ issues with computer security. Linux is a secure OS and is not targeted by viruses or malware. That means no resource-hogging anti-virus, no firewall pop ups, and no malware infestations.

Another advantage of Linux is the customizability of the interface. This is the main reason I went with Linux. It is possible to secure Windows with extra software, but it is simply not possible to achieve the same level of interface customization that Linux has. I wanted to make the desktop dead simple, and only Linux would let me do that

It is up to me to support the new computer, and Linux is so much easier to support. Powerful tools such as SSH and X11vnc mean that I can remotely control the screen and fix just about any problem from my own computer. As well, there is less support to do because of Linux’s greater reliability than Windows.

My Grandparents require very little from their computer, just basic email and web browsing. They did not need the latest and greatest PC. However, Windows Vista does. The low-end Acer with Vista was so slow. It could barely run Vista with its 1GB of RAM. For Linux the new PC was overkill. Going with Linux meant that they did not need to spend more money on fancy hardware to run up to date software.

These four reasons made my decision to switch my Grandparents to Linux a no-brainer. In the next few parts in this series I will write about the technical details of switching my Grandparents and setting up Debian for them.

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