How important to your family is your choice of OS

The Corona virus pandemic has started me thanking about how my family would cope with my choice of computer system if anything happened to me. When I was younger I thought myself invincible, not so much any more. I use my computer to bank, pay bills, receive digital bills and critical communications, store documents and pictures as well as encrypted passwords … on and on. I use KeepassXC to hold all of my accounts and password, but that’s not enough. If I were incapacitated or worse, it would be complete compute related chaos for my family.

My wife is not computer savvy and has expressed no interest in learning. While my sons (grown and away leading their own lives) are experienced computer users, their experience is MSWindows and IOS mostly at the graphic interface level.

I love Linux and especially Arch based rolling releases, but I’m beginning to think that may be a pretty selfish choice and possibly not a very good one. To me the challenges of rolling release Linux are just minor setbacks to be dealt with and conquered. Not so my family.

I’m considering putting everything that concerns family on a Windows PC, Mac, or Chromebook and only use rolling Arch, AKA EndeavoutOS as a non-critical hobby.

Comments? Insight? Ideas?


Seems like youre concerned they wont be able to access stuff if you die. This doesnt seem like as much an OS issue as how youre storing your data. Theres no reason they couldnt access it if you have all your data you deem critical for them stored in a way they could access it without problems.

Windows and linux from the average user perspective its really no different when it comes to accessing files and such. My Mom was able to pick up Linux fairly easily though she isnt much for computers and just wanted to not worry about a virus/antivirus nuking her system like had happened when AVG nearly cost her all her school work.

I think more you should evaluate what youre doing that would make things complicated and move whatever you deem critical to being less complicated for your family.


I have a MAC for this very reason. :hugs:

The fact that I run Linux is a non-issue. The fact that they don’t know my passwords would be a bigger issue. :face_with_monocle:

That being said, I agree with @Echoa, the solution is to store those critical files in a way that the people you want have access to them.

Either by having some type of network storage in the house or storing them in a secure cloud location.

If the only way critical files can be accessed is via direct access to your machine, that seems problematic to begin with. What would happen if your computer was stolen? Would you lose all your important files?


I used to make up a list of all my passwords, and other critical information and stored it in a bank’s Safe Deposit Box. My daughter knew about this and knew where to find the physical key for the box. The key and a death certificate would have gained her access to the box. Since I have retired, I have ceased doing this. Just not that big of a deal for me anymore.



Given all my family live several thousand miles away, my choice of OS is completely inconsequential to them. As far as accessing things when I pass, I specifcally DON’T want them to do so, and so there are no stored passwords anywhere outside my BitWarden account, and the password for that is not stored anywhere except in my head. All my 401K’s and such are taken care of when I kick it, so they don’t need access to anything else.

Thanks for the suggestions. I’ve already taken care of securely backing up everything and leaving instructions for my final demise. Some have accused me of being a little anal in that department. So nothing will be lost. But that’s not the complete picture and somehow that doesn’t seem like enough. It still feels incomplete.

I’m thinking about a few weeks temporary incapacitation. In that case it might be nice to have a system that someone close could sit down at and continue business as usual for a little while instead of a full recovery/unboxing/rebuilding hassle.

Wow, forget about the above.
As Bob Hoskins would say “I’ve just had an apostrophe!” Maybe my real problem with Linux (rolling releases in particular) is that deep down I think they are selfish choices, almost impossible to share outside of a group of enthusiasts. That’s not to say it’s bad. Just that it should be recognized and treated as such.

I cannot follow what you mean. What’s the difference between a point release and rolling release? For having access to whatever, it’s not required to update. If your system works “today”, it will also work if you are a few weeks not available.
And what exactly you fear someone else will not able to get access to? File manager, browser, etc - all is available in Linux and can be used w/o special knowledge. Worst case someone plugs a USB stick and copies the required files to a windows computer. Most should work.

Define family, please? :wink:

As far as the biological aspect goes, I gave my 86 year old mother a laptop running Antergos, and besides a few calls, there were no mishaps until the computer decided to die. So, I pointed her to a new laptop at a local shop as I didn’t have the time to travel up to her (if I went the other way I would end up in Rome). So, now she’s on Windows10, and I get a lot of support calls.

My brother is on Win7 and will probably continue with that no matter what.

I recently installed EOS Plasma on my prime partners new laptop. She wanted Deepin, but as that isn’t a viable option for her as Deepin 20 is what it is right now, I emulated Deepin as far as I could in KDE. She’s almost content. I think there has been three calls so far concerning that.

I installed the actual Deepin (not he latest) a year or so ago on another partners geriatric computer, and so far not a single support call.

Nota Bene! I most certainly don’t force Linux on anybody, and steered a friend away from installing EOS on the entire system, as I know that he’s an avid gamer and has used Windows 10 for a long time. I helped him installing a smallish partition instead to play around with. It simply would have been a less than optimal introduction to Linux for him.

As far as an untimely demise goes… my prime partner has a key to my flat, and knows my password, but hey, unless she decides to give the computers to my son, there is no need to “de-filth” the home folders. :rofl:

When I’m gone, I’m gone.

I don’t think the choice of OS is as critical as it seems. Rather, it is about digital storage and sharing of data. If something happens to someone, family members are unlikely to have the biggest problem with digital data.

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My partner is running Manjaro on her rig, so I hope she knows what to do when I’m pushing roses.

My desktop isn’t a problem, everything’s on the unraid host beneath it.

My wife could live without plex and the emulation stuff, and our family photos are stored on google drive which is shared with her.

Thanks everyone for your input. My take-away is OS is not so very important, but secure backups, backup access, and good written instructions are.


Secure backups can be done with every distribution. When it’s up to documentation there are only two which are outstanding : Arch and Ubuntu. In that order.

Hopefully he meant written instructions on how to access his files, not technical OS documentation. :thinking:

Here you go family, just read through the Arch Wiki and then you can access my records and family photos. :scream:


Yes, maybe I should have made that more obvious.

This would be pretty funny :grinning: in a dark humor sort of way. But I love my family too much.


However, let’s not miss Debian either.

Debian and gentoo both have some good documentation but they aren’t fully comparable to the Arch wiki. While the “documentation” on Ubuntu is just OK, the amount of available information on it is massive because of how ubiquitous it has been over the last 15 years.


I’m sure I’ve already recommended Archwiki to several people to solve common Linux issues. Archwiki is one of the most detailed knowledge bases.