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crundy
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:31 am

I had a thought; what about creating a cheap, simple to use setup for the older generation or the less tech savvy? Basically take the standard R-Pi distro, add some basic malware protection (just in case), create some simple desktop shortcuts to important things like email and a web browser, and add a load of locally hosted help files. It could then be packaged with a cheap TFT monitor, keyboard & mouse, and perhaps the Pi could be put inside a case which has colour coded cutouts for the inputs and colour coded cables for the peripherals?

It seems most of the older generation just want to get on social networking sites and use email but the cost of buying and configuring a full PC is too expensive and daunting, so the R-Pi could be perfect.

Ned
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:48 am

<ahem>" older generation or the less tech savvy" </ahem>

jamesh
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:47 am

It could come with a Zimmer frame attachment, for those gad about towns!

Seriously, I pretty sure many different SD distro's will come out for all sorts of purposes. This could certainly be one of them.
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Chris
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Thu Oct 06, 2011 11:18 am

Believe it or not you dont NEED malware or virus protection on linux. I have used linux for 5 + years now and never contracted any on any version of linux I used. I have only ever known of 2 in existence but through the Repo's theres 99.9% guarentee your malware free.

jamesh
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:22 pm

Quote from Chris on October 6, 2011, 12:18
Believe it or not you dont NEED malware or virus protection on linux. I have used linux for 5 + years now and never contracted any on any version of linux I used. I have only ever known of 2 in existence but through the Repo's theres 99.9% guarentee your malware free.

There have been some recent security issues recently with Linux - Kernel.org is a case in point. They still don't know what the problem was there, and there are others.

But the basic point is fair.
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kme
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:34 pm

Deliberate attacks has nothing to do with virus or malware. Kernel.org has suffered from targeted criminal activity and that's a bit hard to avoid 100%.

Virus is NOT an issue on the Linux platform. But only if you truly understand the term "computer virus" and don't mix it up with all other sorts of potential threats. Social engineering is the typical way to compromise a Linux (See Madonna naked: Just download this file, switch to root user and run chmod +x on it). Poorly maintained systems an other. And thinking a client side firewall is worth anything a third.

There is no defense against plain stupidity, but Linux won't let regular vira infect and propagate.

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crundy
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Thu Oct 06, 2011 12:52 pm

I don't understand why people are so stubborn about running antimalware on linux / mac machines. There are worms, trojans and snooper apps out there for linux (and macs), and if you don't ever scan your machine then how do you know you've never been hit? Simply saying there are less viruses / worms than there are for windows is insufficient. I'd rather run a system with antivirus that has 2,000 historical viruses logged against it than a system with 2 wild viruses against it without antivirus.

Is running a free bit of antimalware really going to give you heart attack? Isn't it better safe than sorry?

Chris Tyler
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:12 pm

I think the malware situation on Linux is different in part due to the distribution model. When you have to wait for someone else to update their software to close a vulnerability, there's a window of opportunity for the attackers. But when vulnerabilities (in the kernel, browser, wherever) can be closed within hours and updates distributed within 24-48 hours, the window for attack is much, much smaller.

In other words, given a finite amount of developer time, it seems logical to spend that time on closing vulnerabilities quickly rather than building malware detection signature databases and removal code. Both are reactive responses, though, and require thorough knowledge of each threat.

The proactive response to malware is to harden the system and provide a second layer of protection so that when a server or application bug is exploited (and there will be bugs) which cause the software to do something unusual, that activity is detected and blocked. This is what the Linux Kernel Security modules are for, and the various implementations that use them (SELinux and AppArmor); if Apache on an SELinux-enabled system is somehow subverted to serve files in /etc, for example, the system security policy will cause the kernel to return 'File Not Found' to the application when Apache attempts to open() the file -- it's as though that resource does not exist to that program.

I'd much rather focus on this combination (fast patching + SELinux) than a scanning/removal approach for handling malware.

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Jongoleur
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:15 pm

Its not just getting your own machine infected, the other reason for running virus/malware scanners on a linux box is to prevent the retransmission of nasties to those you communicate with. A trojan lurking in an email may not hurt you, but if you forward it to a friend with a Windows PC who you haven't yet persuaded to make the leap.....

Back to the main topic of the thread:

One of the reasons older people have problems with computers is that keyboards are on the small and fiddly side when eyesight and manual dexterity are not as good as they once were. I jiust had a Google for "large button keyboards" and whilst the early learning/special needs keyboards are bright and cheerful and have large chunky buttons that are easy to indentify and press I feel that most elderly people would feel patronised if offered one. There is one which looks more like a conventional keyboard ( http://www.amazon.co.uk/White-.....038;sr=8-4 ), but they all lack function keys and some essential command keys, which is a pity. Large trackball mice may also be useful...
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kme
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Thu Oct 06, 2011 2:12 pm

In my experience the biggest problem for elderly people is was is shown on the screen. I see some inactive windows, one active with scroll bars, a menu line and probably a tool bar with icons below and finally a status information in the bottom part of the window. My mother (68, seven years of light computer experience with XP) only sees a complete mess. A heavily simplified desktop would be nice.

It's fairly simple to do even in a standard Linux. Look at this screenshot:
http://www.thinstation.org/dow.....pkiosk.jpg

This is an overly simplified situation with just two possible: Power off or run "the internet". You could easily add a mail application and so on. And it's easy to make the icons bigger.

The point is that this desktop is done by just using a low-end WM (BlackBox/OpenBox), an iconmanager (xtdesk/idesk) and a little bash script to integrate these elements. All together it's much less than 1 MB.
(Thinstation is a x86-only thin client and useless by itself for Raspi - but inspiration is free)

obarthelemy
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Thu Oct 06, 2011 2:42 pm

I'm having oodles of fun doing IT for my 70-80yo parents and their friends. Advice:
- don't use keyboard special key (alt-tab..) ESC is OK, it's easy to find.
- hide everything that's not needed
- show everything that's needed, at all times. Icons on the desktop are so-so, they get hidden below running apps. Apple Dock; Win 7 Launch bar with pinned apps, are much more reliable. In Win7, do 1 shortcut per website (sibling blogs, bank, email, ...) and un-stack them.
- if you can put your OS into "monotasking" mode, in which only 1 app can be launched at a time, do it. If you can set app windows so they don't hide the launcher bar, do that too
- Install TeamViewer ^^

technoboi
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Fri Oct 07, 2011 8:23 pm

Quote from Ned on October 6, 2011, 09:48
<ahem>" older generation or the less tech savvy" </ahem>
My thoughts entirely!!
A relation of mine is expert in making videos, editing them and putting them on DVD. He has a pile of gadgets too - He's 83.
I suppose I might have reached an age when I have become part of the older generation However, hardly a day goes by when one or more, of many people, call me for advice on what and where to buy, service to subscribe to or how to fix stuff.
I see this so often but 'Older generation' does not equal 'technically ignorant'!

technoboi
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Fri Oct 07, 2011 8:42 pm

In general, IMHO, the prime reason why so many 'non technical' people have problems is that they use Windows. Windows is difficult to use. Further there is the constant need to be vigilant against malware etc. Updates for Applications come from all over the place, if ever - contrast this with Ubuntu where everything is updated along with security.
I have put some non-techs onto Linux and they have become evangelists for Linux because they say it is so much easier than Windows. There is absolutely no need for the average person to have Windows when there is a shed load of different Linux distros that are far better.
I would say that Windows has the edge when it comes to Video editing but that will change. Everything else is more than adequately covered in Linux. Anyone reading this, who wants to try Linux, should look at Linux Mint (not LMDE version), or Zorin. For a lighter desktop Xubuntu. If you have a computer with a low spec try Puppy or Macpup (Puppy that looks like a Mac) - if you like the Cloud as much as the desktop try Peppermint. Some people like Ubuntu Unity but, personally, I don't. It is OK though to install and then log out and switch to 'Classic'. If you want your computer to look like a Mac - install Ubuntu then the MacBuntu theme.

obarthelemy
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Re: Machine for the oldies

Sat Oct 08, 2011 3:05 am

I had issues with Linux:
- no Scrabble
- playing back those oh-so-funny boobs powerpoints.

Also, the security issues of Windows are mainly due to users using admin accounts all the time, and outdated browsers, IE in particular. Make a user account, update or replace IE, add MS Security Essentials (much less intrusive than other antivir/phishing tools), auto-update, and you're fine.

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