Getting a Ubuntu Laptop setup for my Mum

2010-05-17 19:15 More posts about Free Software Freetime Laptop Ubuntu
With DSL contracts getting ever cheaper in recent years in Germany – even outside larger cities – my mom decided to get a faster internet connection (compared to the former 56k modem) including a telephone landline flatrate.

As sitting in the garden while surfing the internet is way cooler than only having a dedicated computer in an office we decided to get a notebook while at it. As both Thilo and myself are very familiar with Linux, the plan was to get a Linux-compatible netbook, install Ubuntu on it, get wireless up and running, pre-configure the necessary applications and hand it over after a short usage introduction.

Well – first idea: Mom is living close to Chemnitz, so we drove to the Media Markt in Chemnitz Center. They had a nice, not too small and not too large Acer netbook. Only question that was open: Does that thing perform well with Linux? Easily solved: We had a bootable USB stick with the latest Ubuntu version with us. We asked one of the shop assistants for permission to boot Linux from the netbook – telling him that we wanted to buy the notebook, only making sure everything works fine. Answer: “No, sorry, that is not possible. There could be a virus on that stick.” Knowing from my favourite Mac shop in Berlin that there are hardware suppliers that allow testing their products, we went out of Media Markt – disappointed, but with the plan to repeat the experiment at various other suppliers in Berlin.

Monday afternoon the following week Thilo went to a MediMax in Berlin. Experience was way different: The assistant was most helpful, offering various machines to try out – unfortunately none of them had an Intel graphics card – that is, none could be run with a free graphics driver.

End of the same week we went to Media Markt in Steglitz: Asking the assistant there for permission to boot linux from our USB stick actually made him happy. As the machine not only matched our target specifications but was even cheaper than the one in Chemnitz and did work well with Ubuntu we finally bought the notebook (Acer Timeline 3810T). Yeah: Finally not only a working machine (with 8 hours of battery time) but also a shop that cares about its custormers.

For two weeks now mom is now happy user of the Ubuntu netbook edition – step by step learning how to write e-mails, chat and use the internet. As usual first thing we tried out was searching for vacation destinations, but also for at least my name. The latter searches seemed to be most interesting – at least at Google, YouTube, flickr ... ;)