[ubuntu-uk] Introducing Ubuntu & Unity to new people

Alan Bell alan.bell at libertus.co.uk
Sun Mar 11 22:25:56 UTC 2012

did this today with my Dad. I built a bigger faster computer to replace 
an aging XP desktop.
First question was "so does it have iTunes" and I explained how 
rhythmbox worked and could put stuff on Mums iPod, we downloaded some 
songs from the Rock Choir she is part of and imported quite a lot of GB 
of CDs Dad had put into iTunes on the windows disk, that went rather 
well, it just scooped them all up.

Also imported rather a lot of GB of photos into shotwell, he liked that 
and then went to install some "flickr uploader" application, I explained 
how it was all built in, and we got shotwell connected to the flickr 
account and we could publish pictures direct (they were using some 
picturebox thing in Windows - not sure what it does exactly, but he 
liked shotwell)

I sat with the computer last night before I took it round and went 
through the software centre just going wild installing stuff. I filled 
up 22GB of disk with applications and games, I have unlimited bandwidth 
and a fibre optic connection so I figured I would take the hit and it 
would all just be there. I didn't bother showing the software centre, 
but I did point out it was there in the launcher.

We went through the launcher and the dash, I didn't list all the 
programs I had installed. We pinned Rhythmbox and Shotwell to the 
launcher. I think the apps lens is a confusing pile of fail, and should 
be categorised by category and ditch the recommended apps from the 
software centre. The lens spends far too much space doing stuff that 
isn't showing you your applications in a useful browseable way.

In firefox we set up his webmail and pinned that as an application tab. 
He also got logged in to the golf club and doctors website and that all 
seemed to work fine. He had a heap of bookmarks in Safari for windows 
(no idea why he was using Safari for Windows) I managed to get these in 
an XML file, and I was working on how to get them imported to chromium 
or firefox when he decided they were mostly old and useless and he would 
like to start his bookmarks collection again from scratch.

I noticed that Dad was peering at the screen a bit (I got him a new 17" 
screen to replace the 14" screen so there is more room on it, but 
similar dot size) so I used ccsm to set the mouse bindings for the 
enhanced zoom plugin to super+button4 and button5 and turned off the 
shortcuts overlay in Unity. He loves that you can now do 
super+mousewheel to magnify anything instantly. This is probably the 
single best feature of the whole desktop.

I set up a "show Alan" button on the desktop which makes a keys based 
ssh session to my home server on a static IP address and forwards his 
port 22 to a port here. I can then ssh back to him and log in as a user 
I created on his machine, I can also forward port 5900 and request a 
desktop share or do other stuff. The important thing is that his end 
initiates the connection as I have a static IP address and he doesn't, 
and it is zero effort from his end. I wish this was a bit more built in, 
I know desktop sharing is built in, but it is mostly initiated from the 
wrong end. It should be "I want to share my desktop with $IP address" 
which is set up and waiting for a connection with a one-time password. 
The person needing support should not be the one needing to know their 
external IP address and what port to open.

Overall I think it went well, mostly because his XP machine was old and 
slow and annoying and I gave him a PC with 8GB of ram, a faster 
processor and 1TB of disk, which happened to run Ubuntu quite fast and 
slick. I think if there are problems it will be relating to not using 
real iTunes and the iPad or something getting upset about it, but I am 
not sure how much the iPad needs to talk to a computer at all.


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