Easy Linux for Your Grandparents

Does Linux need a 1 button OS solution?

In the January 2011 Computer Power User magazine there is a review of a new Ubuntu derivative designed for novice computer users to run Linux on their desktop, Pinguy OS. The developer of this new Linux distribution describes the product:

Ubuntu is a great OS and undoubtedly the most popular and easiest Linux based Distro to use but even with its default setup and chosen programs it's still lacking functionality and ease of use for most new users. So what I decided to do was build a Distro that looks good, could do everything most user would ever want to do and that was very simple to use.

I started out by listening to what my friends and family wanted to use their PC for and found the most user friendly programs for the task they wanted to do. After a while I got a good idea what most people use their PC for and what programs where the easiest to use.

I have installed this distro and been playing with it for a few days and there is much to like as it uses several desktop tools I have been using anyway without having to do the installation and configuration myself.

Of course, I do have to question the basic concept behind this new distribution – Who is it really for? As the developer states, the idea was to build a simple to use operating system with everything a typical user would want built-in. Is the typical user someone who already runs Linux and likes the simplicity of not having to do all the legwork to get the OS up and running or is this the answer to the desktop Linux question; can my grandma use this?

Perhaps this is just one step on the road toward the creation of a desktop Linux OS that is ready for the masses or is this really just a nice and easy solution for Linux users who would rather just use Linux then spend a few weeks setting it up? My thoughts lead me to believe that perhaps this is a good step on the way to a truly consumer Linux OS distribution as it looks like a combination of a Mac and Windows 7 interface while delivering Linux solutions. Maybe the next step is to add common Windows applications that consumers are comfortable with as separate VM images on the desktop thereby giving users the Windows experience but still using a Linux box. What are your thoughts?

PS – I am taking time off for the holidays over the next two weeks and will return with new blog posts in January. Have a happy and safe new years!

Join the Network World communities on Facebook and LinkedIn to comment on topics that are top of mind.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.