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Computers for the elderly

By erich1010 ·
I'm part of a group that wishes to start a charity drive. Our idea is to provide computers for the elderly. However, with donated computers, you don't necessarily have software licenses and we don't wish to spend thousands of dollars on Microsoft. The machines will probably be older models and vary widely in capability.

I came up with the idea of loading Linux on the computers and using open source software. There seems to be plenty on the net these days, and it is becoming more user friendly.

However, the elderly tend not to be too computer literate. I've spent hours trying to show my 94 year old grandfather how to get his printer to work, and I cringe at the idea of introducing Linux to him. In talking with him, I realize that the elderly really want basic functionality. They want to be able to turn the thing on, write stuff, print stuff, and maybe (if they are really adventurous) send an e-mail. Therefore, the system has to be very simple and bulletproof.

Which version of Linux would be best for this task? Which desktop is most user friendly? What software would you suggest for doing basic tasks?

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Talk to Computers for Kids

by ITInstructor In reply to Computers for the elderly

Email computers@compsforkids.org. They have a way to get 98 for $10 or so.

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Other options

by jdmercha In reply to Computers for the elderly

Linux may be getting more user friendly, but also more hardware intensive. A user friendly version of Linux may nit run on your old hardware. I would imagine that most older PC's being donated today will atleast come with an OS. If not the $10 WIN98 mentioned above is a good option.

After the OS there are also free open source versions of office suites that will run on windows. Sun used to have one called Open Office. I think BSD had another version. They may be tough to find, but they're out there.

And don't forget the anti-virus software. AVG has a free one that is pretty good. But I think that technically it would have to be installed by the end user to be legally licensed.

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by Jaqui In reply to Computers for the elderly

Linux Distro options.

user friendly, with pentium machiness only, Mandrake.
( comes with open office, can be set to boot into graphic interface and log one user in, same as most people do with windows )

for 486 or lower, Fedora. ( used to be Red Hat )

both are available free of charge.

debian is more complex to set up, suse is good, but requires a scsi enabled bios, which most pc's do not come with.

run from cd distro's while easily done, tend to be easily removed from cdrom.

Sun's Star office is avaiable on thier site, but isn't free.
open office.org is included in most distros, or is available from thier site
http://openoffice.org

most of the rest of the distros are, like debian, using the bsd installer, which is not user friendly, and lack the wizards for ease of configuration that red hat and mandrake have.
mandrake is concidered the most user friendly, even though they used to have the reputation of being bleeding edge. they have stabilised thier releases so that isn't an issue anymore.

mandrake does have one current issue, they are optimised for pentiums only, no 486 or older.

red hat / fedora is a 386 compatible distro.

I doubt that you will see many systems older than a pentium 100Mhz. ( pentium 2 @ 233Mhz moste likely oldest )

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www.retrobox.com

by sinbad66 In reply to

for $50 or less you can get a pentium11 450 with 256meg of RAM - enough to run any of the linux distros mentioned.
I have begun to like MEPIS, a currently updated distro which seems to work well with my older machines. It has open office and mozilla, which seem to me to be the 2 pieces you would want.
Mepis runs off a cd and can be installed from there if you want, so you could see how it would work with out spending time on installation.

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Easy Linux

by netmasterjohn In reply to Computers for the elderly

I have tried A LOT of different versions of Linux (Redhat, Mandrake, Ubuntu, Slackware, Libranet, Debian, Lindows/Linspire.....)and I find that if you want something that just works, and is easy to use, try Xandros linux.

They have the smoothest distro I've seen yet.

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need computer for retired person with no ability

by wtibbitts In reply to Computers for the elderly

Dear Sir(s);

We read your E-mail concerning computers for the elderly. We desparately need a desktop for a young lady whom we know needs a home computer so she can stay connected & process inquiries that can only be done on-line.

thank you in advance for any assistance you may lend.

Lois Kuss
Bill tibbitts

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Linux will do the job

by j-mart In reply to Computers for the elderly

I would go to : <A HREF="http://www.frozentech.com/content/livecd.php" NAME="live Linux CDs"><U><FONT SIZE=2>live Linux CDs</FONT></U></A> and download some of the OS replacement versions. You would be able to see what goes best with available hardware. If you can get machines 400 MHZ up with min 128 MB or better you should be able to find something that works well. I bit of Linux knowledge and experience would also be needed by the person setting up the machines though basic skills and a willingness to learn would be enough to get you started down this path. The beauty of using Linux for this is each machine can be tailored to the user and can be set up so that the tasks required by the user are easy to do (email browsing documents etc) printing is not hard to set up (cups comes with distros) and will not be hard with commom printers. Once set up a user with limited skills won't be able to damage system especially if they only have user access. With Win98 systems as time goes on the system will get bogged down and corrupted ie. full of temp files left behind after system lockups and crashes. With the Linux system performance will not deteriorate over time an in the long run will require much less maintenance.

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ELDY linux for the elderly

by enrico.neri In reply to Computers for the elderly

dear erich, I suggest a ubuntu/xbuntu/debian with ELDY package.

Eldy is freeware for the elderly with Email, chat, browsing, pic viewing, editor, etc.

It's in java and comes with deb package and repository http://deb.vegans.it

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