Linux is amazing! I have now been working exclusively on Linux Mint for 6 months, and for the 18months before I was using it 60% of my working time. But this isn’t a tale about my usage of Linux.
In September my parent’s Dell MS Vista box died and it looked as if it was the motherboard. Not living near them it was impossible for me to get to have a look at the box, and the only message my parents were getting from the local store-based support was to buy a new Windows 8 machine. But they only use a computer to check two email accounts, surf a few websites, manage the photos on their digital camera and Skype their children. Paying a minimum of ~£300 seemed ridiculous given their needs. My brother happened to have an old laptop which had been gathering dust since about 2006 which would probably suit them fine. He got that to them, and they fired up it up (running Win XP). Cue all sorts of warnings and automatic downloads of updates for software on the laptop. And it had IE6 on it that kept giving warnings about sites not supporting it. That was too much for my parents who said they would just dig deep and buy a new computer.
This was crazy, so I burnt a CD of the WattOS 7.0 distribution and travelled to see them. Within 3 hours I had the OS installed, updated and all the relevant software in place. They can now do more with their computer than they ever did before! The laptop is an Acer Aspire 3610 (512Mb RAM, 60Gb HDD, Celeron M370). When booting a message popped up about firmware updates required for the old wireless card, with instructions on what to do. I followed those and was up and networking in no time. The two printers (Brother HL 2030 and Canon Pixma iP3600) took a bit of tinkering to get working but drivers existed for both – they just needed hunting down and installing. I had to put Skype on it, I added Shotwell for the photo management, Chromium is now the default browser and they have Abiword and Gnumeric for any office type work they might want to do (which is a lot more useful than MS Works ever was). They don’t know that they are using Linux, they just know that the old laptop works and lets them do what they need to do. Some things are a little different from how they used to do them, but that isn’t a hindrance.
If you haven’t tried WattOS (http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=wattos) then I recommend that you check it out, especially the LXDE version.