Is my set up for my SO a good plan?

So my SO broke a laptop and, hating e-waste, got an old one from her friend to serve as a replacement. I suggested that as it is older, she may want to try linux. She sees me using it so agreed to try. I’ve ended up giving her a build of endeavour os. Read below for the full story of why, but know I tried a few “beginner friendly” distros first. I’m kinda pleased with my config, but could use input on what the pitfalls are likely to be.

The config is this - plasma, made to be quite windows 10 like, nothing installed past what I think is a really sensible base the Eos installer gives, x11. Eos update notifier configured to give a notification in tray once per week that will trigger update in terminal. I’ve then installed discover and flatpak and set discover up so it only searches flathub. My theory is that if all apps are installed as flatpaks, regular arch update induced regressions are less likely. My other theory is that my SO doesn’t need to learn too much Linux if she doesn’t want to. Discover makes a really good one click install and uninstall gui for flatpak. The system update is handled separately, but no terminal commands are needed, you just click the update button and type in your password, then hit y to update.

Oh, and I’ve only set paccahe to keep the most recent version, not 3 recent versions, but left it hooked to pacman.

It feels hard to break and a reasonable learning environment too. So… What have I done wrong? Should I have persevered with Bluetooth on another distro, rather than sticking to my Eos comfort zone?

The laptop is a 2013 Sony Vaio, with an i3 and running Windows 8 (eww!). I’ve bought and fitted a 250gb ssd, as the HDD was dire.

\hidden The laptop
The laptop is a 2013 Sony Vaio, with an i3 and running Windows 8 (eww!). I’ve bought and fitted a 250gb ssd, as the HDD was dire.

How I got here

I got a few distros on my ventoy drive and tried them out after I’d wrestled with the crap bios. My thought was I’d try pop os and see if the hardware felt ok on it, as I think of it as a laptop focused distro and have been looking for a reason to try running it longer term. I also had lubuntu for if it did not, and fedora xfce to see if any hardware issues I ran into could be resolved with a non Ubuntu distro. None of them found the Bluetooth, a must have for her. I found an era appropriate guide and a GitHub of drivers that might fix the issue. They all required a reboot though (or claimed they did, maybe restarting bluetoothctl would have done it) so I couldn’t easily test in the live session. On a whim I also looked in the AUR and, of course, there was a neatly put together script and driver combo to set it up for you. So I tried installing that in an endeavour os live session and - bam - Bluetooth. It was good enough to try installing, and after config, it seems to be working great.

Have you thought about some form of backup - online or via an external drive? At least for the home directory? You can always rebuild/reinstall OS and applications, but documents, photos and other self-created content can be a painful loss if things go wrong.

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Sounds like a good start. As long as she knows nothing is perfect -Windows included- and she’s willing to learn as she goes, I think it’ll be good. I would still cache 3 just in case as my own personal rule, but that’s not a big deal.

I would maybe even just turn off the updater and you can run updates together on weekends.

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Further to the reply of @MrToddarama a backup application for KDE Plasma called kup is in the Arch repos.

You can configure it so that each time she connects a specific external drive, Backup Status will appear in the system tray, and with just one click she can backup a specific set of folders/files from her home folder (using rsync as a backend). It can also do other kinds of backups.

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I have had my wife on Linux for a while now. More than 3 years I think.

She has used a few distros in that time and I have learned some things. These may or may not apply to your SO but I thought I would share them.

  • She is willing to learn new things but has very little tolerance for things being broken
  • She is frustrated by frequent updates and she tends to defer them
  • The fact that updates on an Arch base sometimes require manual intervention was problematic, especially if I wasn’t around to give her advice
  • After the first time an update caused issues she became even less likely to update
  • Her infrequent update cycle only increased the chances of issues being created by updates
  • The result of that is we both spent of lot of time being frustrated. He because her machine wasn’t working and me because I had to listen to her frustration and fix the issues.

After a couple of years of that I moved her to an LTS distro. Life has been better since then. She manages her own PC without issue and everything just works for her. Sure, I will have to do a major version update on her PC every few years but that is much less work than what I was doing before.

The core problem was when I first chose a distro, I chose one that I enjoyed using and worked well for me. Unfortunately(fortunately?), she isn’t me. Her needs and use cases are totally different than mine. This is something I probably should have realized in the first place but… :thinking:

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Thank you everyone for helpful input - lots of points I hadn’t considered.

I will definitely set up a well integrated backup system - kup looks really helpful @r0ckhopper, and I’d never heard of it.

I will probably leave the laptop on endeavour for now - because of those bluetooth issues - but I may switch it over to the lts kernel and/or set up timeshift in case my SO does an update requiring manual intervention in my absence.

@dalto I am also 100% guilty of favouring endeavour because it’s my favourite distro, not necessarily because it’s the best in this use case (though it did make for the easiest solution to one roadblock for me). Hopefully this won’t come back to bite me…

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… famous last words :slight_smile:

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My wife’s first distro soon will likely either be Pop or Mint depending if she decides she likes Windows or Mac style better.

I like the idea of an Arch based distro but like Dalto just said. I was on vacation last week and I got a text -i have a screwy pop up on my phone and it won’t go away. I asked if it was cause of an update and she says no, I haven’t done updates in weeks - in fact 100+ updates were needed. After which everything seemed to work again. So, I’m thinking rolling isn’t the best option there lol.

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My 2 cents:

  • You can install SSH server on her laptop and periodically connect to it from your own station to check and update stuff.
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maybe a tad ambitious to put someone totally fresh to linux on a roller, and an Arch one at that. But what you’ve done looks good and time will tell. Personally I’d have put them on mx kde, and once all setup, take a snapshot of the entire system and a bootable stick from that, as system wide incredibly easy to reinstall if and when needed. Just saying, anyway, good luck.

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I personally wouldn’t do a rolling release for most people. My experience is the a Distro with either LTS release cycle or biannual would be better.

In my opinion Ubuntu, Fedora/Fedora Silverblue, or something like those are great choices.

I personally have my grandfather setup with Fedora and he gets all his software through gnome software with flatpaks. This is great because he can’t hurt anything as he doesnt know how and now its harder for cold callers to fool him or get into his system.

If your SO wants to they can start to learn more but I’d begin with a little simpler and less frequently updated release. Create a nice sanbox for them to dabble in and get a feel for it. Arch can be a bit much for fresh people, even though even slightly more experienced users will find how insanely easy it is to manage/use its very different to new people and can be scary.

Keep in mind over 3/4 of the worlds population know nothing but the Microsoft/Windows way and less than 5% of that group knows how to actually manage a PC or even really wants to. You gotta make the transition easier and more seemless for it to stick.

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There is no way on God’s green Earth that I will ever–ever–choose what Operating System–be it Linux or Windows is resident on a computer of my wife’s. That’s all on her. I been married too long for those reindeer games.

I might give a little advice if needed–narrow down this list…give her pluses and minuses experienced with each one that I’ve run with those. If she’s new to Linux–and she is–I’ll be happy to answer general help questions. Why not, people have helped me. Point her in the right direction, that would be even better. Don’t wanna create a help vampire.

If my wife is intelligent enough to operate a computer, drive a car, or tie her shoelaces I want her to experience the fullness of discovery, the joy accomplishment, the whimsicalness of things unintended, all of that stuff–that I have experienced. And I can’t do that for her.

My father offered to teach me to drive a car when I reached age 14. My mom said, “Well, this I gotta watch.” Solution: I bought a motorcycle. Shiny side goes up. :wink:

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As much as I like Fedora, I don’t like it in this case. There are a few reasons:

  • It is harder to find software, especially commercial software. Adding software often involves searching websites, adding tons of new repos or resorting to coprs.
  • Silverblue is very limited on available software unless you resort to using overlays which is probably more than most users want to deal with.
  • selinux adds complexity
  • Most importantly, the release cycle is a challenge. Fedora version are supported until 1 week after the version 2 releases later is released. So, that basically means 1 year + 1 week in most cases. However, you only have that week window so to be safe you have to major update every 6 months.

Ubuntu LTS, Debian, Redhat and any distros based on one of those offer a much longer window and this makes life much easier.

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I don’t necessarily disagree with any point here, I listed Ubuntu first as it’d be my first choice. IMO Ubuntu is probably the choice due to how supported it is and LTS has the long release cycle.

As for those points that’s EXACTLY why my grandfather has it on his laptop lol. He doesn’t know how to do any of this and its harder to find info on how so I can keep him safe from himself. After years of broken systems, cold callers scamming him,etc. I can know he will be OK c: and he’s enjoyed it.

MX Linux mentioned before is a good option:

  • Stable
  • Good looking Xfce and KDE Plasma out- of the box
  • A set of in-house useful utilities
  • MX’ package manager with variety of choices of software plus easy updating
  • MX Linux’ own testing repo for newer software
  • Additional software sometimes, on users’ request
  • Debian Backport
  • Friendly and active community
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The strong energy I’m getting from this thread overall is that I should roll up my sleeves and try to sort out the bluetooth enablement on something LTS-y. That is, if I shouldn’t just wash my hands of the whole thing and buy a motorcycle. I realised me buying a motorcycle isn’t what I was meant to take from @c00ter 's post but apparently here we are…

In terms of lts, vanilla Ubuntu is out while there is still a risk that firefox is slow to load from a snap, as I’d have thought if any system will be affected by it, it would be an older laptop like this one. MX is not a bad shout - though when I tried it out a couple of months back I found the software center very old fashioned feeling, in a way I think might be off-putting to people used to a more modern ui.

Pop OS-LTS is definitely one I reckon might be worth the attempt. From what I’ve seen, mint MATE might also be a really good fit. I’d like to wait for Mint 21, but it could be months out. And I guess any bluetooth fix that works for one of those two would likely work for the other (given the age of the laptop I’m guessing any kernel level enablement was in place some time ago). I’ll report back on the successes or failures of the project as we go.

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This is what my wife is currently using. Although, for her, the pop shell stuff is disabled and she is using dash-to-panel to make it more familiar for her.

I chose it for her for a few reasons:

  • The store is easy to use, has a lot of software and consolidates entries for repo package and flatpaks
  • When repo packages get stale it recommends and, if allowed, converts to flatpaks for you
  • It has out of the box support for hybrid nvidia
  • The update process is simple
  • It pretty much “just works” without any hassle

I also considered Linux Mint but for her use case, I liked PopOS a lot better. The recovery partition is a nice touch too.

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OK, I guess if we’re still chiming in, I will. My wife’s a developer. For her Linux use it would have to be Red Hat at Red Hat. She’s all about getting paid for her work. :wink:

But it is also as stable as stable gets. It’s good for everyone that wants that feature.

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Coda - I tried pop os lts, but it was too resource intensive. In the end I went with Mint MATE and it seems like a good fit. I was eventually able to fix the Bluetooth on it, by following the logic of the pkgbuild of the AUR package which fixed it on Endeavour.

Thanks again everyone for your thoughts!

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This might interest you:
https://nobaraproject.org/

Thinking I might give it a go purely out of curiosity.