What about the elderly?

Discussion in 'all things UNIX' started by Mrkvonic, Feb 2, 2013.

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  1. Mrkvonic

    Mrkvonic Linux Systems Expert

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  2. Mman79

    Mman79 Registered Member

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    I wouldn't put Linux on the desktop of an elderly person. Linux is still stuck in the past in many ways.
     
  3. While the changes in Linux - mostly for the worse - have been pretty extreme lately, I think they're also symptomatic of larger changes in the software world.

    e.g. Look at Windows 7's default theme. Translucent backgrounds are pretty, but also confusing. OSX is similar, in having an eyecandy-intensive drop-shadowy interface that is (in my experience) unintuitive and hard to manage. Compare the Win9x theme - plain, high-contrast, gets the job done.

    I would say that Linux's descent into the land of frosted glass and pretty lights is just the tip of the iceberg.
     
  4. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    Hmm.. I reckon I fall within the realm of 'elderly' as envisaged by Mrk.
    Maybe that explains my abhorrence of the social media=new normal era.
    Also, importantly, we have this forum !
    If Windows is the thing for elderly folks, I could kick myself for having consciously made the switch to tux :D
     
  5. noone_particular

    noone_particular Registered Member

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    Speaking as one who is getting up there in years and is quite set in their ways, both linux and the current Windows are quite aggravating. To me, a PC is a tool, not a toy or a decoration. AFAIC, improvements are increases in the number and types of tasks that PC can perform, not fancy visual effects, and definitely not having to learn a new desktop every time a new version comes out. I don't care if a menu rolls out, fades in and out, or just appears and disappears. I just want access to it.
    IMO, that's what matters the most, getting the job done. I realize that a lot of people like the eye candy, but for some of us efficiency is what matters. I can't help but wonder what the current hardware would be capable of if it was running a minimal 98-like OS instead of wasting it on effects that at best make it look pretty and at worst, make it outright annoying to use. When did practical become taboo? With linux, XFCE is as close to practical as I've seen so far.

    As for the names used by apps and components, to someone unfamiliar with them, it's complete chaos. Much of the time, the name gives no indication of the apps function. I've spent more time trying to figure out what these different apps and services are than I have trying to learn to use them. More often than not, the app or service I was asking about is nothing I need or want. In that respect, linux is a lot like Windows, a lot of extra services installed and running that I have no use for. What I'd really like to see is a long term support version of Mint XFCE with just the bare essentials installed for apps and services, similar to how my stripped down Win98lite looks before I install anything, without having to master scripting and command line to do it. A minimally equipped starting point that lets me add just the components I want.

    Some of the name choices have steered me away from apps. Being young at heart doesn't need to equal sounding or acting like a child. When I see such immature names for apps, it makes me question if the coding is equally immature. Some of the choices for sounds made by these apps are just as bad.
     
  6. Trespasser

    Trespasser Registered Member

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    I had Ubuntu Lucid on my Dad's PC (on dial-up even) for 2 to 3 years and he did just fine with it. I do remember he liked everything BIG (Desktop icons, text) :). I'd bring over an AptOnCD update disc with me whenever the wife and I came over to visit (which kept him current).

    Prior to that, I had Windows XP on his computer. He did better with Linux.

    The elderly need things easy and very accessible not 2 or 3 clicks away. The tablet approach, with a link to everything on the startup screen, is good for the elderly or the computer-not-so-literate. Just keep it simple for the people who want applications to just do what they're suppose to. They just want it to work.

    Come to think of it, my wife is a lot like that too. She falls under the category of computer-not-so-literate. ;).

    Later...
     
  7. Agreed re Xfce. Unfortunately none of the major desktop distros use it by default.

    Re eyecandy, one of the annoying things I've noticed is that a lot computer enthusiasts believe there is a large population of eyecandy-loving end users. It's a somewhat elitist perspective, and based on my own experience I don't think it's born out in reality. If anything, I would say the exact opposite seems to be true - computer geeks love their pretty desktops, whereas end users don't give a damn as long as Turbotax runs on it.
     
  8. shuverisan

    shuverisan Registered Member

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    How many of us know elderly people who selected, installed and set up their own Linux system? It's my observation that elderly people on Linux only are so because they have a more youthful Linux enthusiast in the family who set them up with it. On top of that, most elderly people I know (~75+, but there seems to be no hard definition) barely touch a computer. If they do, it's XP and limited to occasional internet, maybe some solitaire and light word processing & printing medical forms. This will certainly change as the previous technologically saturated generations start moving into that elderly demographic. Remember, iPhones are now for 'old' people.

    An elderly person who just needs a handful of programs is no different than a person 1/3 their age with the identical requirement for only, say...internet, office, printing and maybe a calculator or calendar. If said elderly person performed their Linux migration on their own, then they'll know what those randomly named programs are and how to avoid or remove them. If this person is using Linux because it was given to them, they'll be perfectly fine if everything is laid out as icons on the desktop or in a launcher. This has been my most successful approach with people in the 50+ category.

    Small font sizes are certainly not limited to Linux, I find this a general complaint of older people in WIndows, too and XP fonts I personally find horrible to begin with. But DPI settings can be adjusted in any OS and may need a minute or two of menu hunting or Googling. I also highly doubt this person will be using the terminal save for maybe the rare tech support phonecall with the family/friend who installed the system. All that said, I too bump my font sizes up a few points in Linux.

    And let's be realistic here. Most distros are not the extravagant fireworks show that some posts so far indicate. Wanna see Chinese New Year on your desktop? Find some Youtube vids of KDE at maximum capacity or Compiz with Emerald. Cairo Dock can do some pretty but ultimately pointless things, too and Gnome 3 is at the OSX level, but then again, G3 is like Arch or Gentoo. You don't pick it, it selects you.

    Unity and Cinnamon are, in reality, very mild with the bling and very easily comparable to Windows 7 (though Cinnamon out of the box is slow with window animations). Just like with Windows, you can turn desktop effects off in Linux.

    For all of us here saying, I like my Linux this way or that...yeah, that's because we know how to do it ourselves. Someone with no computer skills (the subject of the article) will use what they're given, be it from Microsoft, Apple or a grandchild. Parallel universes of efficiency, usability and eye candy are not even in their mental lexicon.


    Clifnotes: Xubuntu or Debian XFCE = Ghandi, Scarlett Johanssen and Chuck Norris all in one.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2013
  9. Mman79

    Mman79 Registered Member

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    It's only because Linux, even after all these years, has this tendency to not be easy to deal with when problems crop up. Both Windows and Linux have their "Wtf is that error trying to tell me?" moments, but Linux is especially good at confusing the crap out of non-experts when it starts throwing up errors or booting up to black screens. Getting assistance for Linux is also more problematic as users new to or not "nerding out" about Linux still often get the cold shoulder from the more experienced crowd on the Linux forums. Also some things require Terminal, which is fun watching a person who uses their system to email and play a few online games deal with.

    As to social media, eh, one day it will calm down. Twitter is bleeding power-users, Facebook isn't expected to ever be able to make a major profit (analyst's words, not mine) and will have to keep worrying about that now that they have stockholders. Social will die down, the "cloud" is what we should be expecting to make a major, lasting impact.
     
  10. awkwardpenguin - hate to say it, but you are being a fanboy. Linux fails on the desktop. Observe:

    - Ubuntu's ridiculous apt-xapian-index cron job, which eats netbooks for breakfast even though it's run at nice 19 and ioniced to idle status. This misfeature has gone completely unchanged, unfixed, and unmitigated for three years, give or take. This applies to Xubuntu and Mint too!

    - The Gnome dev team giving its user base a magical OpenGL desktop that is completely different from anything they've ever used, and doesn't work over VNC. Irate users switch to Fallback Mode, which the developers subsequently remove, and replace with an LLVMPipe based software OpenGL mode that eats CPU power like crazy so everyone can have eyecandy, completely ignoring how users fled from OpenGL mode because they wanted functionality more than eyecandy in the first place.

    - The KDE dev team making a fantastically buggy first release with KDE 4.0, making resource-wasting features like Nepomuk an absolute requirement for e.g. KMail, requiring stupid hacks like loopback-mounted filesystems to speed up 30+ second login times even on fast computers, removing KWin's outline move/resize ("Composite effects can do the same thing!") even though users might need it and despite Qt4's horrible refresh rates, etc. etc.

    - Both the Gnome and KDE devs deciding that fancy hardware-accelerated rubbish is required to create a demand for decent open source graphics drivers, which didn't exist then and don't exist now. Yeah, that worked well.

    - Going a little further back, the X11 developers forcing everyone on Intel hardware to use KMS, even though the performance and stability sucked. BTW, KMS still performs suckily with AMD video cards.

    - More generally, funny crap like having file managers mount and unmount devices themselves, instead of letting a daemon do the heavily lifting (hint hint, that's what OSX does). Or requiring a one of the various immensely bloated login managers, just so you can start a Consolekit session to make your immensely bloated file manager mount and unmount stuff.

    - The pronounced lack of flexibility in desktop components. Getting networking/power management/Bluetooth/etc. working on "light" distros like Crunchbang requires maintainers to jump through hoops, sucks for power users, and sucks for end users who just want a sensible setup that won't make their Pentium 4 vomit.

    - Getting back to more specific stuff, have you seen Ubuntu's bug report generator in action? Vague alarmist messages about essential system software failing, followed by "whoopsie" or whatever they call it tripping over its own feet and hogging the CPU for fifteen minutes. Boo ya, back to Windows XP Land we go!

    - Default security sucks. Allow me to repeat, default security sucks. You have distros like Mint and PCLOS running Samba and SSH and no inbound firewall, on a desktop. Pop out from behind your router and you will get hacked with a setup like that.

    - Zealotry, have I mentioned zealotry? I also dislike proprietary software, but it dominates the software landscape right now, and sometimes you need to make sacrifices now so that things can be better later. Sacrifices like cooperating with hardware vendors by providing stable driver APIs.

    - I shouldn't have to mention the godawful attitudes of some Linux users. Hey guys (and trust me, it is always guys), get a clue - not everyone has made a career out of computers, not everyone likes computers, not everyone has the time to learn computers.

    I could go on and on and on about stuff like this. IMO Linux had its chance on the desktop, and blew it in the most spectacular fashion. What remains is the server and workstation side of things, which is going to be much the worse for dealing with garbage like Gnome 3, KDE 4, and Unity.

    On the other hand, Linux will soon be competing with Windows 8 in the workstation arena, so it may have a chance. But who are we kidding? Far from being the fabled Year of the Linux Desktop, 2012 was more like The Year that All Desktops Sucked.
     
  11. Wild Hunter

    Wild Hunter Former Poster

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    Excellent post, Gullible Jones.
     
  12. shuverisan

    shuverisan Registered Member

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    @Gullible Jones.

    Chill dude, you're in a safe place. In the zeal of your own discourse, you bring up (some) noteworthy points but you completely missed what's happening here. You've gone so far beyond the scope of both this thread and Mrkvonic's article, why not just start a new thread topic if you want to sling around six letter f*bombs?

    The premise to Dedo's article is that Linux has shortcomings when it comes to user experience for elderly people. The argument of my post is that:
    1. Elderly users will not be going out of their way to do anything on Linux and if they do, they already have the drive and tolerance (to a point) to deal with issues that crop up along the way.

    2. I make the presumption that the majority of elderly people fit into the category of non-technical users. These users primarily have a small cluster of needed programs/apps and beyond that, don't care about the computer. I argue that the age of these users makes no difference. They have the same goals; to get their work done and move on.

    3. Non-technical people (including the elderly where applicable) who are on Linux, are so at the behest of a friend of family member who set them up with it. That person usually assumes the role of tech support and be able to work around small bugs or inconveniences they should anticipate the non-techie user may encounter.

    No one is doing a Windows/Linux comparison here and claiming fanboy in this thread so far is about as overreactive as claiming that Linux outright fails on the desktop. Most people don't know or care about anything you mentioned and even if they're fully aware, most are not practical inhibitors barring anyone from Linux.

    In the end, you said it best yourself, "End users don't give a damn..."
     
  13. Apologies for ranting, and yes, that did go a bit off topic. I nonetheless stand by what I said.

    No, they don't give a damn about eyecandy. They give a damn about getting stuff done, which gratuitous eyecandy interferes with. Which is just another reason that Linux is not going to catch on.
     
  14. mack_guy911

    mack_guy911 Registered Member

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    :thumb:

    same with my brother he hates linux but after using Ubuntu Lucid he never look back

    as eldery person most of then use only browsing and some cards games so good browser/games icon on desktop will do the trick they dont care what OS they are using as long it work stable and they get what they want on desktop itself ;)

    edit: you remind of good old days of ubuntu when its was rocksolid stable hope soon we reach that stage with unity as well and hope they dont dramatically change it after that :)

    also their is saying ** OLD is GOLD ** now i understand :p
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  15. Cudni

    Cudni Global Moderator

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    With just a little of our support of course they can use Linux or any other main OS to that extent. In terms of usability I find them close to each other.
     
  16. vasa1

    vasa1 Registered Member

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    Then there's Zeitgeist. Both are missing in Lubuntu 12.10.
     
  17. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

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    How many of us know elderly people who selected, installed and set up their own [any OS] system?
     
  18. Ocky

    Ocky Registered Member

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    I think you are falling into the trap of underestimating the capabilities of 'the elderly'. Many over 60's are captains of industry (check ages of those listed in Forbes 500), and could easily install and set up their own system if they really wanted to.
    They probably don't want to as they are too involved with more important things, like making money. Tasks like setting up an OS is delegated. :)
    It's all a matter of really wanting to, which applies to all of us.
     
  19. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

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    My parents (both retired pensioners) have machines with Windows and Ubuntu and have no problem using either. My dad prefers Ubuntu (hes used a mixture of Mac and PC in the past), my mum does not care as long as there are email, internet and solitaire buttons !

    And thats all the usability she needs, eye candy or any of the other stuff from any common OS does not get in the way. If I can pin/stick those 3 icons to a dock/toolbar, then my mum is never going to see more of the OS than that.
    She treats it like the washing machine, an appliance, it may be programmable and you can select time, temperature, type of wash, type of spin, but she just presses the quick, normal or heavy wash buttons every time. She has not care/interest is what the OS does, or how it can be tweaked, she uses it for some common tasks and wants to get them as quickly as possible.

    There is one advantage for Linux over Windows and that is that it generally breaks less in my experience with my parents machines.

    Cheers, Nick
     
  20. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

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    My point is, no matter what the OS is [not Linux specifically], they are equally likely delegate that task someone else.

    Cheers, Nick :)
     
  21. tlu

    tlu Guest

    Absolutely. I second that.
     
  22. noone_particular

    noone_particular Registered Member

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    For myself, selecting which system you want to start with was the more difficult part. The selection is overwhelming. Screenshots might show you what a package looks like, but they don't show you how it acts or feels, or how it compares to what you've used before. Even with the huge selection, it's next to impossible to find one that's equipped the way you want it. Myself, I don't care for FireFox and I won't use Chrome. Finding a package I like with Seamonkey was impossible and proved to be a requirement I had to let go of. Yumi and the Universal USB Installer were invaluable in making a selection, especially when you don't have a DVD burner.

    The installing and initial setup wasn't too bad, not including complications due to a non-standard partitioning setup. That part is all within reach of someone who learned on DOS and 9X systems. If all you want is browsing, e-mail, and solitaire, the job is almost done. Finding an equivalent for a particular Windows app takes more work. If the apps you want (or an equivalent) are in their package manager, that works pretty well too. If it's not, then it gets harder.

    IMO, Linux loses to Windows when it comes to support. Documentation and manuals are fine for some. I don't want to read 50 pages and browse all over just to get SeaMonkey installed. When someone asks a simple question about Windows and apps for it, they gets lots of answers, many useful. With Linux, useful responses are few and far between. Most say something like "read the manual". The word "community" gets thrown around a lot in linux circles, but to an outsider or newcomer, it's clear that they don't know the meaning of the word. This "community" feels like a gated, invitation only group of elitists to a newcomer. For the most part, the user is on their own and is liable to decide that it's not worth it. Most of us have better things to do than going back to school reading textbooks, trying to do something that should only take a few minutes. If becoming proficient with linux causes you that aloof and snooty, then maybe it's the wrong decision from a human standpoint.
     
  23. ComputerSaysNo

    ComputerSaysNo Registered Member

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    Yes I agree, it's sad that it's like this. The Linux community needs to be more open & welcoming to new blood, otherwise it will die.
     
  24. Cutting_Edgetech

    Cutting_Edgetech Registered Member

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    Many of my friends in the tech community (Network Admins, and software developers) use Windows at work, and mostly Linux at home. Especially those in the opensource software development community. I have a few friends that are big enthusiast of computers that are self taught that use Linux, but that's about it. Linux has always been much more prevalent in the tech community which makes up a much smaller percent of the population compared to the masses. Windows is much easier to use than Linux for the less knowledgeable user. That's one of the biggest reason's Linux has never gone mainstream. The average user from the masses don't know how the hell to install the applications they like to use on Linux. Linux has made it somewhat easier over the years, but they never have quit made it there yet.
     
  25. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

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    Even in the past month I have come across unhelpful people when seeking help myself; to someone new to Linux I could see it putting them off.

    IMHO a step in the right direction for support is the stackexchange sites, e.g. ask.ubuntu and ask.fedora for support due to a combination of strict posting policy and scoring of helpful questions and responses.

    Cheers, Nick
     
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