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The Windows Zealot

“Linux is a failed experiment,” she spit. “It has no business even existing in the tech world and I am fully capable of recovering any important files myself. I do not need your help.”

The Heart of Linux

I live in a pretty cool place. We were lucky enough to find a quiet retirement community for those over the age of 55 and/or those who have disabilities that prevent them from working. Our rent is controlled by the government, so we are living in a two bedroom, two bath apartment but are paying the average rent for a studio. How cool is that? The waiting list for these apartments is usually nine months, so we were happy to have the management call us and tell us that we could move-in less than ten days after filing our application.

broken WindowsThis is an extremely nice complex. It’s what I call a Stepford complex, a neighborhood tucked away on a side street that, if you didn’t know it was here, you would never see. Everything is neatly built, with buildings perfectly in line with those on each side and with the unit across the street. The understated entrance is often blindly passed by, even when people are looking for it. The residents tend to be close to their neighbors and there isn’t a stranger in the whole place. New residents will find that within a week of their arrival, people will be standing at their door presenting them with cakes, pies, casseroles, cupcakes and cookies, all in the name of getting in the door and seeing who they are and what they are all about. Retirement communities are like that. Diane refers to folks like this as having “nose troubles.”

Last Friday our neighbor from across the street, Jane, knocked on our door. When I answered she didn’t stop to express greetings of any sort, but pushed her way into our kitchen and breathlessly told me that her computer was being used as a robot. Her daughter did some checking on it via a remote access session and told her there were some foreign language emails in her “sent” box. She told her to turn the computer off immediately.

Jane’s computer had been running slowly for a week and was getting continuously worse, which is why she’d accepted her daughter’s invitation for help, which had uncovered the Eastern European language emails, which most certainly tied in with the slow performance.

Before I could stop her near-panic stream, she said bluntly,”I want you to come over and install Linux on my computer.”

Okay folks, sidebar. That last statement needs some background ‘splained.

Her husband Claude is a super guy. He’s in his late 70s but he works like he’s still 30 years-old. Over the last couple of years we’ve become close friends.

A year ago Claude was having serious computer problems that finally culminated with a blue screen of You’re Screwed. I sat him down and showed him a live session of Linux and after twenty minutes he asked if I could install it on his computer. I could and I did. After that, every time Jane complained about pop-up ads or constant browser crashes, Claude replied, “Now that’s funny. This Linux computer of mine isn’t having any problems at all.”

As I’ve said before, people willing to change operating systems as a solution have usually reached their pain threshold. That day, Jane had reached hers. I came over, booted into Linux Mint Cinnamon and had her fully operational in 25 minutes. She now enjoys her computer tremendously.

It’s through Jane and Claude that I came to work on the computer of my next door neighbor Diane, a name she shares with my wife, after she’d crossed the street to visit them. when she complained that her computer had locked up during a Windows 10 upgrade, Jane told her to see me, that for a cold glass of iced tea I would fix her right up. Soon, she was knocking on my door. I told her I had some errands to run, but that when I returned I would come see what I could do.

When I knocked on her door, Diane was ecstatic to see me. The frozen Windows 10 upgrade had officially failed and the computer eventually decided it would reinstall her Windows 7 system. Everything seemed to be back to normal, but I could tell she was still unsure. She asked what I thought she should do and we decided a dual boot would be a good idea. That’s when her visiting thirtysomething daughter chimed in and tersely told her mom that if she allowed me install Linux on her computer she would never, ever, help her with her computer again.

This is when most polite people would sheepishly raise their hands, palms forward, and back away, possibly mumbling something about having arrived at a bad time and thus allowing the mother/daughter battle to rage privately. I can’t do that. I fully realize that I have the right to remain silent; I just don’t have the ability to do so.

I cleared my throat and addressed the daughter.

“I don’t think you understand.” I said. “I’m not destroying your mom’s Windows installation. I am simply installing Linux as a boot option. That way, when she turns on her computer it will give her a choice as to which one she wants to use. It will allow her to save the important files on her Windows install and she can do whatever she likes from there.”

This did nothing to placate her daughter.

“There’s no need to put Linux on anything.” All semblance of civility was now a distant part of the equation. “Linux is a failed experiment,” she spit. “It has no business even existing in the tech world and I am fully capable of recovering any important files myself. I do not need your help.”

That’s when I left, livid, fully uncomfortable and unbalanced. Thirty minutes later, Diane was at my door again.

“She’s gone,” she winked. “You can come over now if you want.”

I most certainly did want, if for nothing else to spite Little Miss Sunshine.

It took me the better part of two hours to round-up all the files and things she wanted saved. Once that was done, the Linux Mint Cinnamon installation took less than 30 minutes. I test booted it several times, making sure the boot loader was operating properly. It was booting Linux and Windows just fine.

I had Diane sit down at her machine and go through the boot sequence. I instructed her how to choose which system she wanted, and once into the Linux side of things, I showed her how to navigate the menu. I introduced her to the Firefox browser, which she used on Windows anyway. I told her that if she wanted Chrome installed, we could do that at a later date. She offered me money. I refused and left for the comfy and stressless confines of my home. Good and fuzzy feelings ensued.

Normally this would be the place where I’d wrap up the story and we would all be on our way. But this isn’t one of those times. The next Monday, Little Miss I-Am-Legend was at my door herself. She did not mince words.

“You’ve completely screwed up my mom’s computer and you need to fix it right now.” Without a word, I stepped by her and turned the corner to go to Diane’s front door. Doing everything in my power to keep from unleashing the verbal tsunami building up within me, I waited for daughter to catch up and I entered the home behind her.

Diane was sitting at her computer with the newly installed Mint menu open. She looked over her shoulder and smiled as she stood.

“This is remarkable,” she beamed at me.

Her daughter took this opportunity to insert her opinion.

“No mom, it isn’t remarkable. It’s a broken piece of garbage and it needs to come off there now. If you ever need my help again, as long as that crap is installed on your computer, you can fix it yourself. I swear, if you don’t get rid of that crap, I’ll walk out and that will be the end.”

Diane had a number of spreadsheets that she kept for various people and organizations. She volunteered at the community food pantry and at numerous second hand stores in the county. This is a disabled person who refuses to stay down. She spends 8-10 hours a week over three days doing what she can to assist people less fortunate than herself.

Her daughter did the data entry for her mom and took care of getting the spreadsheets updated and sent to the organizations that needed them. Of course this was all done on Microsoft Office. She had no experience with Libre/OpenOffice, and she made it clear she wasn’t going to relearn another software application. That was the real source of the nastiness and bullying toward her mother. And make no mistake, this was a textbook case of adult child bullying by a toxic adult child.

Again I felt that uncomfortable feeling begin to creep up my chest and into my face. I knew I was in full blush; I could feel the heat in my face and it radiated from the back of my neck. But this wasn’t the time to leave. This was a full-on, textbook case of adult child bullying. So, breaking the golden rule of not feeding the troll, as calmly as I could I asked, “I don’t understand what you believe to be broken. She can boot into Windows anytime she wants and it won’t hurt a thing. What’s the big deal about letting her have a choice in how she operates her computer?”

“Really?” she sarcastically replied. “You are going to challenge me on this? You old (removed) think you know everything and when you screw something up, you come running to your kids or grandkids, begging us to fix it. I make my living fixing other people’s computers and I write software for two major tech firms in Austin. Linux isn’t a remedy, it’s a nightmare. I have a life. I don’t have time to drive all the way to Taylor and fix my mom’s computer when she or one of you other geriatric geniuses screw it up again and again and again.”

With common courtesy in play here, I’ve replaced the expletives with somewhat less offensive word choices.

I couldn’t believe those words were being spoken. I drew a sharp breath to verbally destroy this death squad supporter when her mom spoke up with a quiet response that was almost a whisper but completely audible.

“Maya, Leave. I want you to leave now. Just get out.” Tears were flowing down Diane’s face, but she kept her head turned away.

“Mom, I’m just trying to protect you.”

Diane shook her head. “Now, Maya. Leave. You are not welcome here at this moment.”

Maya gathered her purse and her laptop and left without a word, slamming the door to put a solid point on her departure. I just stood there, not sure what to do and feeling like I had made this whole thing happen. I told Diane as much.

“No, Ken. She’s an arrogant, selfish person. She’s always wanted to be center stage and when she is center stage, she complains about being pushed into the spotlight when she wasn’t ready.”

I had been standing the whole time, so I pulled one of the dining room chairs out and took a seat. I was surprised to feel my knees shaking slightly. It was uncomfortably quiet. The air conditioner came on, gently making the sheer curtains dance. When I decided it was best to leave, she stood up and asked me to take a seat at the computer.

“Show me how to use the spreadsheet in Linux.”

So with us sitting side by side at the computer, I showed her how to start LibreOffice and open Calc. Not really knowing beans about Calc or Excel, I found and bookmarked an excellent resource for the Calc beginner. It was a complete instructional video, demonstrating how to move Microsoft Office Excel files into Calc in LibreOffice.

It was getting late in the afternoon and the dinner hour was approaching quickly. After twenty minutes I explained that I had to go and made sure she imported her Firefox sync into the current Firefox in front of her. She had no idea what I was talking about, so I had her sign in to her Gmail account and I showed her the sync button inside the settings. She smiled as the bookmark bar, her extensions and her familiar theme for Firefox all arrived on her currently opened Firefox. She was truly amazed by this and told me that she looked forward to other cool stuff she could do in Linux. I didn’t bother to explain that she could do that in any operating system.

I looked back at her as I opened the front door to leave. She had her email open and was navigating therein, fully unaware that I was leaving.

That was a good thing. The longer she explored by herself, the better she would become at solving her own problems. That being so, I decided I was going to take a drive. Driving often calms me, especially after nasty exchanges such as the one I had with Maya. But if I have ever learned anything, two bouts with cancer in four years has taught me that life is way too short for the bull stuff.

Oh, and Maya’s tech profession? She’s a project manager with McAfee. If Windows didn’t exist she would be hard pressed to make the six figures she enjoys now while her mom lives in a one bedroom apartment in a retirement community and is dependent on the city food pantry from time to time. Just sayin’.

For those playing along at home, that’s seventeen Linux computers now in use in my little comfortable out-of-the-way neighborhood. Let’s see just how big this thing can get. This whole Linux thing.


  1. Eddie G. Eddie G. July 5, 2016

    It’s an awesome feeling isn’t it? To “convert” someone into using something other than Windows, and it’s even better when they call YOU up and are excited about something they “learned” while using Linux…makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside!!….LoL!!

  2. Duncan Duncan July 5, 2016

    Wow. Good on Mom to stand up for herself like that. That’s not a good family situation, but with a bit of luck those events will ultimately trigger some sort of an agree to disagree and acceptance of the other where they are and want to be, at least. If not, it’s hard, but perhaps it was for the best as I’d certainly not want that sort of controlling person trying to control my life as well, even if it were my kid.

    OTOH, I understand a /bit/ of where the daughter was coming from, from the other side of course, tho I’d do it rather differently. What I mean is, I respect her decision to draw the line at helping with Linux, because I do /sort/ /of/ similar with MS, tho dual-boot is fine, I just pretty much don’t deal with the MS side other than putting certain files in a common filesystem accessible from both. If they want to deal with it, it’s fine with me as (unlike daughter above) I wouldn’t /dream/ of vetoing what someone chooses to do or not do with their own computer, I just won’t help with that side of things as it’s a personally sensitive area of past history here, that I prefer /stay/ past. So for the MS (or OSX, for that matter) side, they’ll have to either deal with it themselves or find other support. In that way I’m like the daughter, but unlike her, I won’t refuse to help with the side I /do/ know as a result.

    I actually used to help people with the MS side too, and back in the day, I was even somewhat of an expert on it, having run IE/OE betas, etc. But that was 9x era, and when MS crossed the control line they did with eXPrivacy, I could not and would not go there. So by now my knowledge of the subject on anything not of 9x vintage is extremely limited, and because it’s a dead-end to me that I’m not in the slightest interested in updating my knowledge of, by this point I can do little more than poke, and there’s a fair chance anything I’d do would be more harm than help anyway, so it really /is/ best I just keep away from it and let someone else handle it.

    Of course the Linux side is an entirely different story, tho I’d still prefer to defer to others in areas like boot managers that could affect the MS side as well, tho I’ll tackle them if necessary, with the understanding of course that if I do, while I’ll do my best not to damage it, I can’t guarantee that it won’t screw up the MS side, and if it does, I may or may not be able to properly fix it. But fortunately for me, there’s usually some other Linux user around with dual-boot expertise, so I can simply let them take the lead when necessary.

  3. tracyanne tracyanne July 5, 2016

    I would imagine that your neighbour Dianne prefers to live in the apartment than depend on her daughter, given the daughter’s obvious toxic personality. I can imagine all sorts of Elder abuse at her daughter’s hands, if Dianne had to share an apartment or house with her daughter.

    If the daughter keeps to her word, of not supporting her mother’s computer “as long as that crap is installed”, it should serve to enable Dianne to become more self sufficient.

  4. tracyanne tracyanne July 5, 2016

    @Eddie G. Yes it does make one feel all warm and Fuzzy. Just the other day, a friend, who now runs Linux (Ubuntu/Unity) on her laptop was telling me that at a recent conference she attended, hers was the only laptop that was able to use the free wifi at the hotel where she and others shared a room. Network Manager reported the free wifi, she clicked on the item, typed in the password she was given at the desk, and was away.

    Her friend’s Windows computer simply refused to connect.

    It was then she explained her computer doesn’t have Windows on it, and that the Linux her friend (me) had put on it works just like Windows only better.

  5. A friend for years A friend for years July 5, 2016

    Maya has a point and she isn’t wrong if she is/was mom’s technical support. What happens if you have a heart attack, or you get hit by a truck crossing the street, or you move? It can happen, and then Maya’s stuck supporting Mom on this system that she isn’t really capable of supporting and doesn’t want to support. You’ve thrown a wrench into things, and you did it to spite. I’d be pissed off too. Maya probably had a bad experience with Linux, and you were just the typical Linux elitist jerk and treated her like an idiot in front of her mother.

    Thats not cool, you should not celebrate this.

  6. Mike Mike July 5, 2016

    > “Maya’s stuck supporting Mom on this system that she isn’t really capable of supporting and doesn’t want to support”

    That is entirely the Mom’s decision. Maya is wrong to try and force it.

    > “typical Linux elitist jerk and treated her like an idiot in front of her mother”

    Sounds more like she did it to herself. People like Maya will be the next generation of dinosaurs in the tech industry. I’ve seen it with other technologies. Now it’s Microsoft’s turn. Move on… learn linux… or be left behind with useless skills.

  7. A friend for years A friend for years July 5, 2016

    > That is entirely the Mom’s decision. Maya is wrong to try and force it.

    That’s not true, as Mom was relying on Maya for support, and Maya set the computer up so it could be supported remotely. Maya was also providing free technical support to her mother so Maya gets a say here. If Mom wants to change, and Maya does not want to support that, Maya is not in the wrong to say she won’t support it. She’s also correct in pressuring her mother to not accept something that she can’t support because she knows that Mom will run to her as soon as it breaks. Mom is on her own now by her own choice. If my mother called and said help me with this thing my neighbor installed for me that you asked them not to install, I’d say no. If the neighbor isn’t available, take the computer to Best Buy and hope for the best. Especially if I had been doing tech support for my mother for free and someone who I don’t even know came and touched her PC. I’d never trust that computer again, because not only can Maya not support it, but in Maya’s mind who knows who Ken is.

    Ken’s left everything in disarray, just because zomglinux and just to spite Maya. That’s not ok. It’s elitist, and arrogant. I’ve known Ken for years, and I know that he’s better than this. This article is terrible, and it is the very antithesis of how Linux advocates should act.

    > People like Maya will be the next generation of dinosaurs in the tech industry.

    You don’t even know what sort of tech developer Maya is, but go ahead and judge her like you do.

  8. Ian Stoffberg Ian Stoffberg July 5, 2016

    I don’t bother extolling the virtues of Linux and/or Open Source sofftware anymore. I get frustrated and end up having to justify myself to people who refuse to listen and / or learn.

    I consider it an IQ test. If you’re in ICT and don’t realise the value of Linux as a tool to be a better engineer, then you’re will never learn and you reveal your lack of skill/knowledge. It’s crazy seeing a world whre Windows 10 is getting Bash and Windows server has a GUI-less Mode. The very things they demonised about Linux. SQL Server on Linux? All because they can’t scale Windows in the cloud 😉

  9. Mike Mike July 5, 2016

    > “That’s not true, as Mom was relying on Maya for support, and Maya set the computer up so it could be supported remotely.”

    …and the mom decided to end that support. Entirely her decision. Maya is wrong.

    > “Ken’s left everything in disarray, just because zomglinux and just to spite Maya. That’s not ok. It’s elitist, and arrogant. I’ve known Ken for years, and I know that he’s better than this.”

    That’s not the impression I get. He gave the mom every opportunity to NOT proceed. Define ‘elitist’. To quote Inigo: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” I have criticized Ken before, but he did nothing wrong here.

    > “You don’t even know what sort of tech developer Maya is, but go ahead and judge her like you do.”

    It doesn’t matter what ‘type’ she is. I’ve been in tech long enough to know what people who are stuck in their ways sound like. It doesn’t matter what you know because if you are unwilling to learn and accept change, then you WILL be a dinosaur. Technology IS change. People unwilling to learn and adapt are an impediment and should not work in the industry, plain and simple. Unfortunately the industry is filled with them.

  10. A friend for years A friend for years July 5, 2016

    Mike, you can keep preaching in my direction if you want. It’s how you’ll win the argument, I get it.

  11. Mike Mike July 5, 2016

    > “Mike, you can keep preaching in my direction if you want. It’s how you’ll win the argument, I get it.”

    You expressed your opinion, I expressed mine.

    Now you want to make it about me? Characterizing my response as ‘preaching’ reveals how shallow your thoughts are. When you can’t defend your opinions on logical ground, attack the person.

    Since we’re into personal territory here: You seem like the type to jealously refer to anyone whom you feel inferior to as an ‘elitist’. Good luck with the anti-elitist preaching. Maybe you’ll convince everyone to remain uneducated and you can feel better about yourself.

  12. Steve Dupuis Steve Dupuis July 5, 2016

    Great story! I hope Maya leaves her mother alone, but I doubt it. Windows-only people are generally ignorant of many things, not just technology, and I’ve found they have no desire to learn, as they are not naturally curious.

  13. A friend for years A friend for years July 5, 2016

    Mike, don’t forget your towel.

  14. Aaron C. Aaron C. July 5, 2016

    Really liked this article. It’s an unfortunate family situation and that part was hard unsettling (but informative). I recently switched my dad from Windows to Linux because he often installs malware. As soon as I sat him down with Ubuntu, for the first time in a long time, I never heard him ask questions. I pointed him to the browser, to LibreOffice, and he went to town. Only a few weeks later when he wanted to watch a DVD did he come to me with questions. I’ve honestly never seen him happier (less angry) while computing.

  15. John Kerr John Kerr July 5, 2016

    Ha! Maya can ignore the truth all she wants, to her I would say:

    “Some experiment!! Some failure!!!.

    For you young ones please take the time to see this video, it iw worth the wait, until the 2:35 point, you will see what I mean.

  16. Guillaume Guillaume July 5, 2016

    There really is nothing to stop Maya from continuing to support Windows on her mother’s computer. Maya’s response should have been, ”I will continue to help you with Windows, but I will not be able to help you with Linux.”

    I’m wondering if the Live CD/DVD was left behind. If mom has a problem with Linux and cannot start it, the Live CD/DVD will give her the ability to go online and research an answer. She could do this as well from the Windows side.

    I support all OS’s. I have never had to support any of my Linux users. I do get calls frequently from frustrated Windows users, though.

    I expect Diane will be just fine with or without Maya’s support.

  17. Charley Mahan Charley Mahan July 5, 2016

    “You don’t even know what sort of tech developer Maya is, but go ahead and judge her like you do”
    Pot; kettle… Mother owns her own computer, not ‘brilliant’ daughter. Mother has a desire to learn and explore a new way of using that equipment to perform the tasks she wants to accomplish on that collection of parts. In Mother’s opinion young Maya apparently is a narcissistic passive aggressive demanding brat that; as with so many millennials, has no respect for their own parents or anyone senior to them.

    Who cares what kind of developer she is? She’s a disrespectful spiteful snot and my response to her would probably have been; “If I require an opinion from you I’ll give it to you.” Then again I’m nearly 60 and have forgotten more about computing than most people Maya’s age are capable of learning. They already know everything after all. Just ask them.

  18. Bob W Bob W July 5, 2016

    I am wondering here, will Diane’s and Maya’s relationship get better now that Maya won’t have to support Diane’s computer going forward? (I am not a psychologist but I do watch a lot of Frasier’s on Netflix. 😉 )

    One thing a really good Linux distro (I am a Linux Mint user) does provide elderly and the uniformed is protection from scammers and viruses which Diane did seem to be vulnerable too.

    I do hope Ken taught all his converts how to constantly upgrade their Linux Mint systems.

  19. Robin "Roblimo" Miller Robin "Roblimo" Miller July 5, 2016

    There’s plenty of help for Linux, including remote log-in support. Show your newly-converted Linux users sites like Linux Questions, maybe show them how to use IRC, and they’ll have all the hand-holding they need even if you aren’t available.

  20. CFWhitman CFWhitman July 5, 2016

    @A friend for years
    You seem to have left out the parts about Maya being extremely rude and controlling. Maya could have much more politely said. “Mom, you can do what you want, but I can only help you with the Windows part of your computer. If you get Linux put on, I won’t be able to help you with that, and if it makes it so Windows won’t work, I may not be able to help you with that either.”

    I would never dream of speaking in such a rude way to my parents or someone I’ve just met, especially not initiating such an exchange (I could understand more if she had been treated rudely first).

    Of course any account you hear of an incident like this will tend to present it in a biased manner because it’s pretty much impossible not to have a more favorable impression of your own point of view. Still, if the facts presented are essentially accurate, this is all about the mother’s choices. She talked to her neighbors and got the idea for the Linux installation. She approached Ken about it. She waited for her daughter to leave and came back and asked Ken to go ahead. Ken did not initiate any of this.

    The daughter appears to assume that her mother is incompetent to make her own choices even though she appears to be competent enough to live alone. Also, Ken was perfectly willing to help the systems co-exist so that Windows would continue to be available as before, but the daughter was unwilling to let her mother have an additional choice. Her reaction appeared to be based on fear.

  21. CFWhitman CFWhitman July 5, 2016

    It’s funny but it seems like older ones and children take to Linux right away, but a significant percentage of those in between are afraid of it.

  22. A friend for years A friend for years July 5, 2016

    Starting with “Just run this script with sudo.”. Yes there is plenty of help, some very good and some very bad. To someone who can’t even use Windows securely, you would ask them to use IRC? That is laughable at best.

    Converting Mom isn’t the point though. It is fine to convert people to FOSS, but driving a wedge between people as you convert them and acting out of spite is not how you do it. Honey, not vinegar.

    It won’t be long and Mom will be back on Windows, and the bridge to FOSS burned. Wait and see.

  23. Me Me July 5, 2016

    A friend for years

    How you are repeating, how her daughter was giving her mom technical support for free like it is some big deal. I support my family and friends with technical support for free. I even helped for free few people I didn’t even know. Helping mother ‘for free’ is at least she can do and should be done without whining and complaining. With 6 figures income she should help her out some other ways as well. But unfortunately lately I see more and more young selfish brats without respect for anyone.

  24. Fred McKinney Fred McKinney July 5, 2016

    “She’s an arrogant, selfish person.”

    Diane, I think that’s the understatement of the year — I’m so sorry you have to deal with her crap. And if I were Ken, it would be all I could do to keep myself from cussing Maya out, too. And yeah, like Tracyanne said, I would keep a close eye on Diane for signs of elder abuse from Maya — Maya sounds mentally unstable if you ask me.

  25. slu slu July 5, 2016

    Sorry, but it just is not worth the trouble. Walk away and don’t return. When people ask me today, I just tell them “I don’t do Windows.” All that BS and stress takes time off your life and you, as I am, are headed toward the wrong end of it.

  26. Fred McKinney Fred McKinney July 5, 2016

    Oh, and BTW, I converted my father-in-law to Linux several years ago. Back when he had Windows XP, he once asked us for a new computer, which we couldn’t afford at the time, and I ultimately got him to agree to try Linux (I went with PCLinuxOS for him, although this was back in 2007, with the KDE version — he now has Xubuntu).

    Before I converted him to Linux, he was constantly calling asking why his computer was so slow or why it locked up or froze up, what have you. After converting him to Linux, he called with a few questions at first, but then after a while, he quit calling with computer questions, and some time later, I asked him how he was liking it, and he said “boy, that thing’s FAST!”.

    YES! B-)

  27. tom tom July 5, 2016

    How grand it is that you get to live in such a wonderful place off of other peoples money. But then you are of course ‘entitled’ to their money and of course you didn’t and don’t have to take responsibility for your own well being…

  28. Nomen luni Nomen luni July 5, 2016

    Sorry, but administering and fixing a parent’s computer, assisting them with several hours of data entry each week and driving what from her own words is presumably a fair distance to do it does not sound like the actions of a selfish person to me. From what she says it sounds like she has repeatedly been in the position where either her mother or someone else has started ‘fiddling’ with things they don’t need to be touching and she has has to come to the rescue once it ‘just stopped working’. I have been in her shoes and it can be infuriating. On top of this, the mother is calling the daughter selfish which is a slap in the face after all the assistance offered.

    I’m a Linux advocate, but I can understand when someone has neither the time nor the inclination to learn a new system. Obviously the daughter’s reaction was way way overboard and the way she expressed it was pretty damned unpleasant to boot, but she has every right to withdraw support on a system she no longer understands.

    Who will be doing mother’s data entry now?

  29. Mike Mike July 5, 2016

    > “On top of this, the mother is calling the daughter selfish which is a slap in the face after all the assistance offered.”

    Some ‘assistance’ is more self-serving than others. Perhaps the daughter doesn’t want to be removed from a position of control.

    It all boils down to this: It is the mother’s computer and entirely the mother’s decision. Sure, the daughter can refuse to help if she doesn’t like it, but that is a separate issue and one it seems the mother has taken into account.

    Anything else is speculation and assumption.

  30. John Kerr John Kerr July 5, 2016

    Having thought about it, my 92 year old mother uses Linux, I am the “techie for mommie” I help her out when she needs help. But the only help that she needs is when she forgets how to do something.
    Not because the whole shebang is foobar’d.
    If anyone in the family wants my mother to use Windows or Mac, I would say “fine but mom will call you now when she needs help”.
    If someone wants to change operating systems, it is because they want to play games on grandmother’s ‘puter.
    But I do not or have not had that problem.

    This McAffee employee’s hostility towards Linux is evidence to me that Linux is attracting more users than we are led to believe.

  31. archuser archuser July 5, 2016

    In windows you can recover data if accidently deleted very easily using free tools,In Linux it is not so easy.

  32. gus3 gus3 July 5, 2016

    I built a Linux system for my (then 58-year-old) mother, in 2000. I was living out of state at the time. I asked her if she thought I could support her system from such a long distance.

    Her response? “I know I won’t be getting any more blue screens with Linux.”

    That was after 5 years with Windows. She’s now been using nothing but Linux for 15 years. The support has been a breeze the entire time.

    @archuser, I can recover accidentally deleted files anytime. It’s called “keeping regular backups.”

  33. Mike Mike July 5, 2016

    > “In windows you can recover data if accidently deleted very easily using free tools,In Linux it is not so easy.”

    Hahaha, thanks.

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day!

  34. Sheep Sheep July 5, 2016

    That just shows Maya’s horrible ignorance – even if she doesn’t personally use it (which is fine) to say it’s a “failed experiment” is going back to the Ballmer “Linux is a cancer” level of idiocy.

    Yes, this “failed experiment” is terrible software that companies like Google, Amazon and most certainly Microsoft would never touch…….erm……oh…..what’s that Lassie “Microsoft have put together their own Linux distro to use in-house”? She probably even uses it at work, indirectly, as I would imagine there’s a fair chance that McAfee may use it under their virtualised systems, hehe.

    Without wanting to sound too harsh, it does make you rather wonder whether by “developing software for two Austin companies” she means “writing a few spreadsheet macros”.

  35. Tom Tom July 5, 2016

    FWIW if Windows is so successful and Linux isn’t, why does Azure support Linux. Why did Microsoft create a BSD distribution for it?

    Today’s developers are on cloud and they use Linux. The main thick clients for Windows are developed by Microsoft or are browsers.

    In any event, the daughter isn’t interested in facts. She’s trying to keep control over her mom. You’re just on the firing range. I hope you don’t get targeted again.

  36. Alon Alon July 5, 2016

    Should tell her that Microsoft is using GNU/Linux very often, Android is running Linux, my email server, VoIP, cloud storage, and VPNs for my company are all running GNU/Linux. Since switching my company entirely on a GNU/Linux backend things have never been smoother!
    Heck I met John McAfee and even he seems to be happy with GNU/Linux (I have his autograph next to the tux logo on my HP laptop to prove it)

  37. bjrosen bjrosen July 5, 2016

    You made a terrible mistake here, you shouldn’t have gotten between a mother and her daughter, it would have been better if you had stayed out of it. In this particular case the daughter is a professional who has real Windows expertise and no Linux expertise. Unlike your other neighbors who have no other source of tech support than you, the mother in this case has a daughter who is capable of handling her needs. The correct course of action here would have been to let the daughter handle the problem, she should be capable of upgrading the system to Windows 10 or finding a way to keep it at 7 if that’s what she thought best. Windows 10 is the least awful version of Windows that I’ve seen. I’m exclusively a Linux user, although I have always kept a Windows VM, starting with a Win98 VM in 1999 and currently a Win10 VM. Win 10 is not the virus infected crap that earlier versions of Windows were, as long as you keep it up to date it should be a stable system. Win9x systems were so dangerous that it would have been malpractice to not upgrade them to Linux, but Win 10 is a decent enough system that it can be left alone so there was no reason for you to interject yourself here. Now you are going to be stuck doing all of her support, which is an unnecessary headache for you, and you’ve aggravated and already strained relationship between a mother and daughter.

  38. Ilmarinen Ilmarinen July 5, 2016


    I thought, by the wording, that the mother interjected…
    An employee for a insecurity suite that runs on Windows doesn’t automatically mean that they know what they are doing with the operating system.
    Her job role is “project manager”
    Did she enter via the programming route? Maybe she was in sales or customer service… Maybe she was even the cleaning lady…
    Or maybe she previously had nothing to do with computers before working at McAfee and she just side stepped from a role as Project Manager in another company.

    The fact she works at a company that creates software doesn’t necessarily mean that she can do any more than point and click on IE/Edge, open up Bing and search for her mothers issue…

  39. tracyanne tracyanne July 5, 2016

    @A friend for years.

    I rarely have to supply support for any of my Linux users, and none of them are young people, and all of them are older people with lots of experience of Windows and problems they could never solve by themselves, on Windows.

    The last time I had to provide support for one of my Linux users was when he tried to recycle an older printer/scanner as a scanner (his new printer, which he purchased in haste has no scanner) that the manufacturer no longer supports. We installed the Printer and scanner drivers, and discovered a problem. The scanner will only scan when the user is root. The install script does not set up the permissions correctly.

    That’s the last time I had a support call.

    My friend’s experience, that I reported above, is more typical of any of the Linux users I “support”.

  40. tracyanne tracyanne July 5, 2016

    @Nomen luni
    July 5, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    “Who will be doing mother’s data entry now?”

    From the article it seems to me Dianne is more than willing to learn how.

    The daughter sounds like a control freak, who in all likely hood drove those distances because it gave her control over her mother. My partners sister did much the same thing with their mother.

  41. Nomen luni Nomen luni July 5, 2016

    Your last paragraph is just speculation. Would like to hear the daughter’s take on this, to be honest.

    Was the author’s delivery as reasonable and deadpan as he recounts, or did he deliver it in a patronising tone to “Little Miss Sunshine”, “Little Miss I am Legend” who he “wanted to spite” before she ever used any expletives or derogatory terms.

    Now of course it’s equally possible that it’s exactly as the author recounts, but as I said, two sides to every story.

    Don’t think it’s cool posting someone’s name, occupation, company and salary band online either, no matter what you think of them.

  42. Adam Elteto Adam Elteto July 5, 2016

    It appears we have two big subjects here: one dealing with family dynamics, and the other with open source advocacy. Mixing the two issues in one story ended up not really making any good points about either; it just created a pseudo-profound, pretentious article with no actual message or lesson.

    As much as I am an unapologetic open source advocate, on the diplomatic side, open source is not a self-licking ice cream cone to me. FLOSS exists as a tool and serves a purpose; specifically I believe it is there to make people’s lives easier and better.

    While on the technical side, pushing/advocating open source makes perfect sense, if we do it in a way that interferes people’s lives and relationships, then we are “holding it wrong”. We must rethink our timing and our strategy.

    I do not think the approach was elitist, but I also believe that preventively walking away from any discussions with the daughter would have been better. Wait for the “noise” to go away, and just remain available when asked for help.

    “I most certainly did want, if for nothing else to spite Little Miss Sunshine.” definitely does not sound professional, and now advocacy and helpful intentions turn into vengeful motivation. It may not all be “elitist”, but it does sound petty and bitter; feeding negative “FLOSSer” stereotypes. Now it is a conscious choice to meddle with family relationships.

    Oh well. To each his or her own; regardless of age, gender, social/family dynamics, ideological views, physical features, or even software preferences.

  43. Somewhat Reticent Somewhat Reticent July 5, 2016

    Always remember that ignorant people normally overestimate their own expertise and underestimate that of others.
    They can quickly choose to feel threatened.
    Handle with tact. Much tact. Gentle though firm.
    In this narrative, the author clearly needs to work on controlling habitual reactions of resentment.

  44. Simon Simon July 5, 2016

    A nice read, thanks for sharing.

    The way you were hospitable whilst the daughter (put so correctly) acted in such a toxic way has probable done way more to help push that lady towards Linux than most would ever know.

    Even if a little bit harder to get a table or a bit more expensive, we like certain restaurants more than others for the experience and you gave a great start that I am proud of.

    (Opinion) Linux advocates tend to try and win people over with the love of simply helping whilst Windows folk tend to hold people back by making the waters look deep; maybe something could be done to portray this as a bit of publicity.

  45. CharlieG CharlieG July 5, 2016

    Assuming the tale as told is true, the defenses of the daughter don’t cut it for me and seem tone deaf.

    Simplifying: The mother asks for Linux to be installed on her computer.

    The back story is that the mother has a pair of friends who are happy with linux. So, the mother is not taking a silly leap into the unknown, but toward an experience that to her looks better.

    The daughter objects.

    The author leaves and has left things to the mother and daughter.

    The mother reaches out and asks the author a second time to install Linux. The author does so. Then the daughter makes an unwarranted scene. My read on it is that the daughter was wildly out of line. Clearly the mother was ready for more than one kind of change.

    It is speculation on my part, but I cannot help but think that the mother was declaring her independence.

  46. James Cheatham James Cheatham July 5, 2016

    Sounds more like you gave a bit of freedom from a control freak rather than just helping with a new operating system. I use windows mostly myself though I play a bit with Linux, as a professional it seems to me broadening your horizons is part of the game. The inability or unwillingness to learn says a lot about the young lady in question. The fact that the mother was willing to try says a lot about her too.

  47. ScottS ScottS July 5, 2016

    Funny that Maya thinks Linux is broken. Maybe she is just upset that it has little need of programs made by her company McAfee.

  48. tracyanne tracyanne July 5, 2016

    @Nomen luni
    July 5, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    “Your last paragraph is just speculation.”

    Yes it was speculation. It was speculation based on a number facts that I do have access to.

    “Was the author’s delivery as reasonable and deadpan as he recounts”

    And the first fact is that I have actually spent time swapping emails and phone conversations with Ken, which leads me, based on what I learned there, to believe what he wrote is substantially true.

    The second fact is I have met people who act exactly as this woman, the daughter, is described. Controlling, argumentative, and always making it sound like she was “pushed into the spotlight when she wasn’t ready.”. One of those people is my partner’s sister.

    So yes it’s speculation, but, I believe, reasonable speculation.

  49. Al Nonymous Al Nonymous July 5, 2016

    Blah, blah, blah.

    So many experts typing so many words.

    None of you were there. We only know one side of the story.

    Yet nearly everyone is sure that they know enough to pontificate about the situation.

    Blah, blah, blah.

  50. Robert Glen Fogarty Robert Glen Fogarty July 6, 2016

    Giving an adult an option they’ve requested — in spite of another adult’s protests counter to that request — doesn’t make you the bad guy here!

  51. Nonya Nonya July 6, 2016

    All other arguments aside, if the mother is mentally competent (I have no idea, but she sounds ok to me), the choice should be up to her. Not ANYONE else! The mother asked Ken to help her implement a choice that she had already made. The daughter should have just told her mother that she would not be able to help her mother with Linux. I would have done much the same as Ken, but probably would have tried to stay out of the family argument. Even in the type of situations that Ken found himself in, I try to be polite.

    All Ken did was help a neighbor that asked. He did not take anything away from her, just gave her another choice of OS. She can use whichever suits her, or a combination of both if she likes. I guess I don’t understand why some people are so resistant to trying something new. Having choices is good, having someone trying to restrict choices is not good.

    The above are my opinions, your millage may vary.

  52. Adam Elteto Adam Elteto July 6, 2016

    Yeah, it is called the “Comments” section. Welcome to the Interwebs and to the second decade of the millennium.

  53. McAHater McAHater July 6, 2016

    @A friend for years

    “treat her like an idiot in front of her mother”

    idiots have to be treated as idiots. Regardless of their favourite operating system.

    But, working for McAfee will give you ab bad, bad Karma. You can’t prevent, wade through all that shit this “software” produces every day.

  54. FreddyNiche FreddyNiche July 6, 2016

    Where exactly in this article did you reading comprehension stopped working? It’s clear he did nothing of the sort and it was this women that kept asking him for help.

  55. Hazerd Hazerd July 6, 2016

    Wow, awesome story and it’s great to properly convert someone to Linux. Whether you believe it’s superior or inferior, that’s quite the accomplishment. Even if we only get 1.5/3 sides of the story, the daughter had no right or valid reason to act like that. If you hate Linux that’s fine, I disagree but that’s your judgement. Yelling at both a stranger and your own mother, insulting both of their choices/preferences, and ending up getting your mother to cry over it. That is way too far.

    Even Micros(oft|hit) are embracing Linux to an extent, why can’t she? I have never seen stronger words used against any OS, and many of my friends despise Windows.

  56. YY YY July 6, 2016

    The toxic behavior of many MS Windows users is astonishing.

    Always, the foundation of that behavior is fear.

    After years of using Windows, people are accustomed to fear of ‘stuff’ going wrong. Fear of email being malware or containing a virus. Fear of updates. Fear of the computer becoming slower and slower and so be forced to reinstall it – too difficult for the average user – or buy a new one. Fear of installing and trying new software because the (total) removal can be difficult if not impossible. Fear of websites, because of the possibility of browser hijacking. Fear of the computer because you are hijacked by an anti-virus vendor that made it impossible to remove so they end up paying the yearly extortion. Fear of the possibility of having to throw away all the hard learned Windows ‘knowledge’ and to do this all over again when migrating to (better) alternatives such as ChromeOS, MacOS or Linux. They do not know that almost none of the useless knowledge they were forced to learn on Windows is needed on the alternatives.

    Fear, Fear, Fear. That’s the definition of the average Windows user.

    And that’s the reason when people feel so liberated when migrated.

    That’s the feeling of true freedom. Freedom of fear 😀

  57. Nomen luni Nomen luni July 6, 2016

    How does the fact that you know someone who’s a control freak imply that that someone you’ve never met must be just like them?

  58. A friend in need A friend in need July 6, 2016

    What if the computer didnt belong to mom, and belonged to the daughter? What if she was going to upgrade it to Windows 10? Now she cant, and when mom runs back to her daughter because Linux doesnt work how will she upgrade for free? So you’ve probably cost her money. Very irresponsible. By the way, Mcafee makes antivirus and other products for Linux too because Linux is no better than anything else despite your religion.

    The only thing vile are you pople commenting. Sad.

  59. David David July 6, 2016

    Go Ken.
    I have been following you for a while now and, although I don’t post comments very often, and across the pond to you and some I felt the need to this time.
    It’s the same here, people just afraid of change or don’t want to lose their income due to change, epsecially now we are out of europe, and enforcing their will on others.
    Also go mum, nice to see us older generation not feeling lost to the computer generations opinions.

  60. haha haha July 6, 2016

    “What if the computer didn’t belong to mom, and belonged to the daughter?”
    Then she would have said it and used that power of her mother, that’s for sure!

    “What if she was going to upgrade it to Windows 10? Now she cant,”
    Yes it can, however, if she can do it, I doubt.

    “By the way, Mcafee makes anti-virus and other products for Linux too because Linux is no better than anything else despite your religion.”
    For Windows viruses. Not necessary for Linux itself!

    However, you forgot to ask the only relevant question in your comment.
    What if you are just too stupid to make any sensible comment?
    Now, THAT is an interesting question!

  61. Digital Digital July 6, 2016

    I’ve been in a similar situation the family member ended up buying a new PC and switching it out (windows 8) and left the elderly lady distraught. She had me come over and install Linux asap BC her family did it and when they did not know how to assist her with Windows 8. What’s worse, wine was the only way to run all of her favorite software for XP (some were buggy but we had more issues on win 8). Today she loves Linux and thanks to cinnamons familiar layout, some of her family is convinced I installed some secret version of Windows on her PC since their basic knowledge mostly applies to the GUI.

  62. Mike Mike July 6, 2016

    @A friend in need

    > “What if the computer didnt belong to mom, and belonged to the daughter?”

    Useless speculation…

    > “What if she was going to upgrade it to Windows 10?”

    Didn’t you read? An upgrade was attempted and failed.

    > “Now she cant, and when mom runs back to her daughter because Linux doesnt work how will she upgrade for free? So you’ve probably cost her money. Very irresponsible.”

    What a freaking joke. Linux is much less likely to ‘stop working’ than Windows, and she has people in the local community willing to help. Microsoft’s ‘free’ upgrade is just a trap. You are being irresponsible spreading crap like this.

    > “By the way, Mcafee makes antivirus and other products for Linux too because Linux is no better than anything else despite your religion.”

    They make products because more an more people are running Linux despite the Microsofties denials. Linux is EMPIRICALLY better than Windows, no need for a religion, but if you want to join a big one, I’m sure Microsoft would like you join (although in an unpaid capacity, due to their recent layoffs).

    > “The only thing vile are you pople commenting. Sad.”

    I think I see something vile…right here.

  63. Elder-Geek Elder-Geek July 6, 2016

    Maya is an idiot. She may have sat in front of Red Hat 3.1 back in 99 and had to look up the monitor refresh rates to get X windows working. Back then MS liked to act like Linux did not exist.

    However this is not 1999. It is 2016 and desktop Linux works as well as Windows does. Hell, MS is baking Ubuntu into Windows 10 so MS developers can use all the cool tools the same way us linux folks can. Even Windows server will come with SSH.

    Every fortune 500 company uses Linux. more than 30% of the VM’s running on Azure are Linux. Linux works and is being used more and more by companies of all sizes. Saying it is broke and does not work is just ignorant.

    Much like the phrase, “When an expert says something can’t be done. What they are really saying is that they don’t know how to do it.”

    Maya does not know how to use Linux and is throwing a fit. She has every right not to support an OS she is not comfortable with. She does not have a right to be so rude to a guest in her mothers house. Mom invited Ken over. Ken was civil. Maya was pushing it raising her voice to mom about not supporting Linux. She had no reason to be yelling at Ken.

    I support 3 windows servers and 40 windows desktops. However my all my web servers, my work PC and all PC’s at my house run Linux. Saying Linux is a failure pretty much means you are ignorant about current IT Trends.

  64. Javabeans Javabeans July 6, 2016

    I have no doubt that Saint Ken is a sincere and proficient Linux proponent.

    I do, however, doubt the veracity of some of his stories, which, to me, appear to be well-written, folksy little bits of biased self-promotion, thinly disguised as advocacy.

    Linux urban legends.

    To me, this current story smells like one of those.

  65. Oscar Rendon Oscar Rendon July 6, 2016

    It is all the way around. She feels as a genius and can not work with a simple and reliable OS. Windows is harder to use and part of the resources are used to combat malware. But nobody as deaf as who don’t want to hear.

  66. Bill Pechter Bill Pechter July 6, 2016

    I haven’t heard that level of acrimony from a Windows Tech person against Linux in the last 15 years. That was in the last days of the paper MSCE types bemoaining the incursion of all those Linux servers into their prime server room territory.

    I’ve been a computer guy since the 80’s and VAX/VMS and I am trying to make my living moving folks from Windows to Linux. Actually, Windows 10 is pretty interesting and I don’t bad mouth the capabilities.

    As far as the attitude Maya showed… less than professional but I know how badly my supporting my folks when they were alive blew my mind. Luckily my late wife was a Sysadmin and I left her to support my mom, while I did all the work on her dad’s machine. Something special about parents always able to push the right buttons to frustrate their own kids.

    Nice job, btw. This is being written on a $30 Thinkpad laptop purchased from ebay. I bought 4 of these T61’s over time and they’ve been quite nice when I swapped SSD’s in for the hard disk.

    Parts are cheap… Replacement parts are available and outside of limits to the Windows virtualization capability (no second level address translation SLAT — so no hyper-v). They do work great and take a beating. Great keyboard too…

    Any tips for those of us trying to get Linux into more hands.
    I’m using Ubuntu Mate or CentOS depending if desktop or server.


  67. Thomas Holbrook II Thomas Holbrook II July 6, 2016

    So many trolls making so many comments. Looks like somebody struck a nerve somewhere.

    The situation doesn’t surprise me in the least and I’m glad the mother is figuring things out for herself.

  68. simon simon July 7, 2016

    MS Office is the one app that is the most difficult to live without when in a linux environment. Not that libre office is at all bad, but there is that uncertainty and retraining. And then there might be some aspect of compatibility with complicated files. How far might linux have gone, if MS Office was simply available? EG, the Munich city council attempt to replace windows with linux: single biggest issue – MS Office retraining.

    In my house I let people have whatever OS they want – but I will never go out and buy MS Office. People should become independent of that.

    Similar thoughts with itunes.

  69. tracyanne tracyanne July 7, 2016

    @Nomen luni
    July 6, 2016 at 7:13 am

    “How does the fact that you know someone who’s a control freak imply that that someone you’ve never met must be just like them?”

    You have seem to have placed the cart before the horse.

    I refer you back to my comment posted July 5, 2016 at 11:32 pm, to which you are no doubt replying. where I stated “… which leads me, based on what I learned there [Conversations with Ken], to believe what he wrote is substantially true.”

    Given that I believe he has written a true description of his interaction with the Daughter, and that what he describes is someone, who is, in my experience, a control freak, I think it’s quite reasonable to describe someone I know personally who has the same personality traits.

    Do you have any reason to believe control freak is not a valid inference to draw from Ken’s description of the daughter? Such as knowing this person personally, or in some other way being aware of facts that I am not aware of. Or are you simply ignoring the facts presented, and applying some sort faith based conclusions.

  70. robin robin July 7, 2016

    Daughter may be a control freak but her reaction was based on fear – quite understandable. I’ve been there – older parent on phone from long way away with broken computer – needs help now. OK if you know what you’re doing and can talk them through, but imagine that with a system you don’t know and have never used or seen.

    HOWEVER, the bit that the ‘worried about support’ folks don’t quite get is that once a good linux system is running it just doesn’t need the level of support that Windows users have come to depend on. It Just Works.

    I work with a local seniors group and would dearly love to reinstall all their old Vista/XP/W7 machines – but I won’t unless they ask. Age brings change aversion because of the problems of aquiring new skills which gets harder as time goes by. There is no right answer.

    Yes there are tons of (apocryphal mostly) stories about how ‘awful linux ate my kittens’ and ‘days of trawling the web for solutions that need **the command line**’. The fact is that most of these are from idiots who have taken a working system and broken it by trying to install stuff from different systems – Debian users using Ubuntu PPAs is a classic. It is just as easy to break a windows system – I know – I’ve spent years doing it.

    The only problem area is devices – printers, scanners etc that require proprietary rather than open drivers. However in most cases like this situation you are repurposing older kit for which drivers will long since have been built in to the kernel.

    Calc can be a bit of a bear, some things that are easy in Excel are tricky in Calc.

    There is another option – WPS Office which is cross platform and free.

    It looks and feels like MS Office – with choice of UI appearance from Office 2003 to 2013. It is faster starting than LO

    Take a look at the

    MS Office file handling is good but I’ve not tried complex spreadsheets with pivot tables etc etc. For normal stuff it all works well – Word, Excel, Powerpoint equivalents.

  71. tracyanne tracyanne July 7, 2016

    July 6, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    “I have no doubt that Saint Ken is a sincere and proficient Linux proponent.”

    You go way too far, Ken is no saint.

  72. Fred Finster Wb7ody Fred Finster Wb7ody July 7, 2016 Move from MS to a live linux usb flash drive. 10 minutes, 2 downloads, 1 usb flash drive. I like puppylinux, because it’s small 200 Megabytes, loads entirely into ram, is fast and works on older computers. Get Windows usb flash drive writer, Rufus.exe from And a Linux Image .ISO file of your choice. I suggest 32 bit or 64 bit. .ISO file. Or use application rufus.exe to write the .ISO file onto the usb flash drive you inserted. Carry that usb flash drive in your pocket to share or give away to someone. That is how I would get. Linux into peoples hands. Let them know you have the capability to help them. Just don’t force linux solution on to THEIR computer. Only if they request for your helpful linux solution to their windows problem. Comments?

  73. Fred Finster Wb7ody Fred Finster Wb7ody July 7, 2016

    Forgot the original URL, Recently from a virus ridden slow windows XP at my mom’s retirement community, I followed my own advice and did the 2 downloads Rufus.exe and Linux Mint. ReBooted on the usb flash drive and installed Linux Mint as a dual boot combination Windows XP and Linux Mint. I used the Linux Mint install to resize the windows XP partition smaller and creating a new portion for Linux Mint to use. Residents are happy with Linux Mint. YouTube videos play now. Websites down load fast. Documents can be created with LibreOffice. Solatire games were installed from Mint Software installer application with one click and NO reboot.

    @Bill Ubuntu Mate is a good choice for desktops. Share the Linux software you have used and know with others. Best wishes.

  74. Amazing Amazing July 7, 2016

    It’s amazing how you always manage to have these stories, Ken. The average person in a town like Taylor might encounter one anti-Linux person in their whole life, but you? You run into school teachers, guys in gas stations, random strangers and now the children of neighbors.

    It’s astounding, really. In fact, I’ll say it, it’s fake. I don’t believe this exchange happened. I don’t believe half your stories have ever happened. You love to rile up the Linux supporters for your cause and you do it in the same way. As if in 2016 with the advent of Chromebooks and Android (not to mention Apple, not Microsoft being the worlds biggest company), the computing world is still against Linux.

    It may work for your readers here. But those of us who have followed you for years know this is all a rouse. I support what you do for disadvantaged kids. It’s nice to see ex-cons make something of themselves and you definitely have. But your stories are lies. And the saddest part is you don’t need to tell these lies.

  75. Amazing Amazing July 7, 2016

    Of course it is. This is what Ken does. He makes up stories that will get lots of comments. Remember, he went viral once when that teacher yelled at him about Linux. Always trying to chase recreating the one moment that made him notable.

    News flash: The Austin American Statesman isn’t going to write more profiles of you Ken. No one cares.

  76. Arlen Owens II Arlen Owens II July 7, 2016

    Great story. I am actually very impressed, as I have tried, mostly in vain to convert suffering Windows folks over to Linux. Many of them have family members or friends who, like your neighbor, convince them it’s a terrible idea. However, my one buddy is thrilled to death with Kubuntu, as it looks a lot like Windows and does not have the terrible problems he was experiencing.

    Nice Job! Impressive!

  77. Nomen luni Nomen luni July 7, 2016

    @Amazing – thanks for the heads-up. Personally, true or not I think this particular story is a bad ‘advert’ for open source.

  78. CharlieG CharlieG July 7, 2016

    I don’t find it amazing that these stories pop up. Users of each operating system, Linux included, tend to think their OS is the only good one. Mention any alternative, and the jerk factor erupts. Anyone who evangelizes for anything has run into some variant of the wall of negativity and hostility described here.

    Having a working and happy Linux install to show folks, rather than to verbally extol free software, seems to bypass some of the negativity. I use my laptop as a demonstration of what Linux looks like.

    When my girlfriend’s Windows laptop was acting up in a non-fatal, but very annoying way, I got her a second laptop and swapped in a new blank SSD. Her new laptop came with Windows on it’s hard drive, which I kept intact, and put Linux on the SSD that I put in her machine.

    I let her know that if she wanted Windows back, I could swap drives in a few minutes, no problem. Since then the hard drive with Windows on it has sat untouched in her desk drawer. She seems to like the way Linux does things. I’m not so sure she would be ready to live with Linux if I were not around as her tech guy. Regardless, as time goes by, she uses the new Linux laptop more and more, and the older troublesome Windows laptop has become kind of a shelf decoration. At some time I may hint that I could put an SSD into that too, but for now it provides her with access to Windows should she need it.

  79. NotAnExpert NotAnExpert July 7, 2016

    Ken, you may think you’ve “won the battle,” but I’m afraid that, over the long-term you’re going to lose the war.

    Allowing yourself to come between a mother and daughter is always a mistake, even if the mother asked you to do it, and you thought that you were “right” to do it. She was USING you to make a point to her daughter, and you fell for it.

    You should’ve just politely bowed-out of the situation, which any law-enforcement officer would refer to as “a domestic.” Unless you’re willing to become part of what could be a quickly escalating domestic violence situation, you should never place yourself between two people who you suspect may be headed toward one.

    Unfortunately, your armchair psychologist actions will result in the mother and daughter not having to face the *real* problems between them, because, from now on, their arguments will all be about YOU, and what YOU did to that computer.

    If you feel that the mother is in some sort of danger from her daugher, you should contact the police, or urge the mother to contact a domestic violence advocacy center in your area.

    People and relationships will always be more important than Linux. You don’t do the acceptance of Linux any favors by using it as a wedge between a mother and daughter (even if one of them asked you to do it).

  80. NotAnExpert NotAnExpert July 7, 2016

    I’m sorry – I shouldn’t have used the inflammatory term, “armchair psychology.”

  81. charlieG charlieG July 7, 2016

    I’m not sure I agree.

    If Ken does not help the mother, and acquiesces to the unreasonable demands of the daughter, then Ken is merely enabling the daughter.

    For Ken to be deterred from a direct interaction with the mother by the daughter is the destruction of an interaction between two adults.

    For Ken to back off means that he is giving all control to the daughter who is not really a valid part of the situation. The mother has asked the daughter to back off. The daughter is trying to insert herself in this situation, but it is her mother that Ken is dealing with. It is the mother’s computer and not the daughter’s.

    I suppose that if the daughter had a gun and was waving it around I would say Ken should back out and call the cops as you suggest. While I think the daughter was badly out of line, I get the impression that she uses verbal abuse to control her mother but not physical violence.

    Short of that, I don’t think that it is healthy to deal in this world as if everybody is ready to indulge in violence all the time.

    The daughter is a jerk, that’s all. We should not make more of it than it is.

  82. Ted Macaroni Ted Macaroni July 7, 2016

    The daughter did have a stake as she was providing data entry and email services for the mother. Still the whole story does sound a little manufactured taking previous comments into account.

  83. Christine Hall Christine Hall July 7, 2016

    As Ken’s editor and long time friend, I’d like to dispel the speculation that this story was invented by Ken. Like the rest of us, Ken may have some faults, but reporting fiction as truth is not one of them.

  84. Sandy Sandy July 7, 2016

    @Christine Hall, I get it – you know Ken personally.

    I’m not saying that he’s lying, but how could you possibly vouch for the truth of anything that he (or anyone else) writes about their personal life?

  85. Christine Hall Christine Hall July 7, 2016

    @Sandy I know the man. I also know that he’s a team player and wouldn’t do something that would reflect on our reputation as a news site with journalistic standards. The incidents he writes about are not that uncommon. I experience them myself, although not to the degree as Ken, since I tend to hang out with people who think a lot like me. Ken’s out on the firing line, introducing all sorts of people to Linux. And he’s in small town Texas, which has its own set of social rules.

  86. CharlieG CharlieG July 7, 2016

    No one was there except the first three. My gut tells me one thing about the people involved. Other folks see things differently. All of us are making assumptions. I’ve pretty much said as much as I want.

  87. Eddie G. Eddie G. July 8, 2016

    Ok, I really wasn’t going to say anything on this article…but I can’t hold back any longer, so have a seat “shyaddap” and listen!

    First off, The bottom line when it comes to ANYONE’S “personal property”? is that IT BELONGS TO THEM! If the mother (Diane is it?) wanted to use her laptop for a COASTER or an OVEN RACK then that’s HER prerogative, period. There is no rebuttal, no discussion that’s that!

    Secondly, if the daughter (I believe it’s Maya?) doesn’t want to support her mother’s laptop once it becomes “Linux’ed” that’s also fine. But to take a nasty attitude, or to take a high-handed tone with someone YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW? speaks VOLUMES about her character, frustrations aside, what would ANY of you do if you called a Customer Support line for assistance with that new doo-hicky you bought and got THAT kind of response, and attitude? Listen there’s enough cold-hearted, callous, unfeeling stupid arse-holes walking the planet as it is, there’s no need for MORE of them, ESPECIALLY not in the elderly’s presence!

    And Finally. Listen I know its hard for some people to accept, and I know it goes against ever fiber of their being to wholly agree that the logic is sound, but people? Linux is a competent, stable, secure, platform that can withstand most anything. And yes I realize there will be those who will “argue” all manner of points, from the “..if its so secure how come they just discovered vulnerabilities that have existed for YEARS on it..?” to others and beyond..and that right there is the vital key to it all. What bank do you know would have it’s doors unlocked and the lights on throughout the night…for weeks…no….months..or better yet YEARS and NOT GET ROBBED!?….imagine these exploits have existed for decades and no one’s been using them?…know why?…for even if someone tried, there are other fail-safes that can protect the system,…starting with the fact that the root account and /tmp…./var…./swap…and other directories don’t all “live” on the same partition of a disk….to other more clandestine actions one can take to secure their systems. Bottom line, it’s not about which system is better, its about which system is BETTER for DIANE!, and if DIANE made the choice to use Linux then MAYA has NO SAY in the matter. I don’t recall reading ANYWHERE in the article Diane asking Maya for help with the newly installed system or asking if she would be available to help….so why is Maya getting all bent out of shape about it?

    As for Mr Starks getting accused of starting division in the family, the ONLY person who can be accused of that is MAYA, there was NO LOGICAL REASON for her to react that way, (remember…you and someone from Customer Services?) if she has a job?..and behaves that way with her co-workers and superiors?…you can bet she won’t be working there much longer! Mr. Starks was just doing what was asked of him by Diane, she needed help with her machine and he proffered the solution that he thought would best help her to get things done without being attacked by malware 24-7. This woman probably does her banking online, and other things that require her to login to sites, better she do that on a Linux system than a Windows one.

    I also understand what some are saying about the support issue, but I’m the Tech Support in my family and have been since Windows NT 4.0!…(shoot just gave away my age!…LoL!) It can be frustrating at times, yes…but in the long run? I’d rather they get the help from me than from someone who’s going to run them over the coals in fees and prices! I work for Mom for free…(well she DOES give me peach cobbler and blueberry pancakes for my troubles!…LoL!) And for all the people I’ve helped to make the switch to Linux? I charge them…NOTHING! I don’t need their money, and it helps to foster good relationships with people (for instance the mechanic who’s son’s laptop was LITERALLY frozen on some site he visited and I mean LOCKED as if the web-page was a SCREENSAVER! NOTHING was moving!), is forever thanking me, and I get HUGE discounts on auto work!..His son was in 10th grade when I repaired that laptop, he’s now about to graduate college, and guess which laptop got him through the papers, the theses, the dissertations, the Power Point presentations etc?…yup!….that same one that’s been running Linux!

    So while some people might be resistant to Linux on the whole, eventually they’ll come to..if not use it? then respect it more, since it now inhabits: cars – smartphones – set-top boxes (like Roku & Sling) – gas station pumps – traffic signal controllers – airline tower computers – the PC’s that regulate utilities (such as electricity and gas) – refrigerators – washing machines, and even the machines that monitor heartbeats of infants in the hospital. SO their “resistance” to Linux will soon be removed, whether that happens willfully or not is up to them, but it WILL happen!…

    Ok I’m done…! LoL!

  88. Any User Any User July 9, 2016

    > Linux is a failed experiment,” she spit. “It has no business even
    > existing in the tech world and I am fully capable of recovering any
    > important files myself. I do not need your help.

    Yeah.. what ever.. failed experiment… ummm yeahh… the internet wouldn’t exist today with out UNIX, and BSD! And now a good portion relies on Linux and some derivative of Unix and BSD for embedded hardware….. 😀 🙂 🙂 😀

  89. curious curious July 9, 2016

    How would any of you feel if you drove a long way to help your mother with the Linux computer that you had configured for her, and one of her neighbors was there to install Windows 10 on it?

  90. Mike Mike July 9, 2016

    > “How would any of you feel if you drove a long way to help your mother with the Linux computer that you had configured for her, and one of her neighbors was there to install Windows 10 on it?”

    I’d ask the neighbor if they planned on paying for it.

    I have no problem with people USING WHATEVER THEY WANT ON THEIR COMPUTER, but I wouldn’t help with it either. I’d make my point clear, but what I wouldn’t do is throw a tantrum like Maya did.

    I do think Maya’s quote is much more accurate when reversed:
    Windows is a failed experiment; It has no business even existing in the tech world.

  91. David Coggins David Coggins July 10, 2016

    I enjoyed the article, my thanks to Ken for publishing it for all of us to read.

    I find the animosity between posters on different sides of the fence curious, evangelism for any particular O/S is common, every user believes ‘their’ system is better than all of the others and will aggressively defend that belief.

    There is no axe to grind for me, I happily switch between Opensuse Leap, Windows 7 and, occasionally, Windows 10. I have my own opinion which is the best performing of these but see no benefit in screaming it from the rooftops.

    My lovely wife describes herself as Can’t Understand New Technology (I think the censor would have removed the acronym!) yet will equally comfortably sit herself down ay my PC and use it regardless of which O/S is loaded at that time. I shall qualify the statement in that all she really uses is Firefox and whatever flavour of WP software is available, a no-brainer really.

    Linux distributions are much more mature than they were 10 years ago and are a worthy Desktop environment that for many users could replace Microsoft or Apple (yes, I know OS X is unix-like at its core!) without any issue. (that has likely thrown a cat among the pigeons!)

    My life in IT began at the time Ferrite Ring memory was in use, many operating systems have appeared since those days, (remember OS/2?) and have been superseded or just plain disappeared, that is progress and to be expected.

    My question to all here is fairly simple, no matter which system you consider best, at the end of the day isn’t it up to the user to make their own choice?

    That said, thanks to everyone who has posted her for making me smile 🙂

  92. simon gray simon gray July 10, 2016

    Of course it is dual boot in the case of installing linux, unless you choose otherwise… It is only when you install Windows that data is destroyed for the existing OS.

  93. Lloyd Braun Lloyd Braun July 11, 2016

    “Now you are going to be stuck doing all of her support, which is an unnecessary headache for you, ”

    I call BS on that.

    I started switching my various family members to Linux around 2006-2007 because I simply didnt have time to do free tech support for everyone. All of them who were computer users got a dual boot and those who wanted never used a computer before like my aunts got Linux only.
    I now ‘support’ our 5 home computers and 18 others that belong to grandparents, parents, inlaws, aunts,cousins, sister in laws, 4 nieces (2 in high school and 2 in college) and the amount of time I spent in support is minimal and nowhere close to when it was just 5-6 computers. And with KRDC, I can do most stuff remotely.

    My hardest job is to convince them to upgrade to new versions of Kubuntu because they just like things the way they are.
    i have still 3 of them running Kubuntu 12.04 LTS and told them that once the 5yr term is up, Ill have to. I have NEVER done ANY support on their computers that is software based (power supplies and RAM dont count).

    “Linux distributions are much more mature than they were 10 years ago”

    I switched 6 seniors to Linux in 2007 (PCLInuxOS) and never had any problems back then. It was already fine.

    I ran across one case where an aunt kept being told by one of her nephews (her husbands side) that Linux was too hard for her to use because she was 72 and she ‘shouldnt have to use a command line’ !!!
    (she had no clue what a command line was) of course he was a MCSE ‘expert’ so I took that with lots of grains of salts and he was nice about it. Nothing like what Ken went through.

  94. Flabbergasted Flabbergasted July 31, 2016

    Holy crap. It appears most of the comments written here bashing Ken for this have completely ignored the basic reading comprehension skills they learned in grammar school. THE SYSTEM IS DUAL BOOT. Diane has not lost her Windows installation. It is still sitting there, available even if (though not likely) the Linux installation fails. It’s perfectly fine if Maya doesn’t want to support the Linux side. If it breaks, Diane can simply choose Windows at bootup, and Maya the Windows Nazi can continue to support and fix all the things Diane breaks by accident, due to Windows (IMO) being a mess. Maya’s reaction in the story was completely irrational.
    To all those suggesting the story is a fake:
    Whether the story is true or not is irrelevant. Anyone who is involved in advocating Linux has dealt with someone like Maya. Such people are a nightmare. Everyone of course is entitled to their own opinion/preference about which computing platform and OS they wish to use. The vitriolic debates about which is better are senseless. Use what makes you happy. Personally, Windows does not make me happy. Ken, the story was entertaining, a decent piece of writing, and illustrative of the level of ignorance and FUD that is still out there concerning Linux. Keep up the good work!

  95. Lee Lee August 1, 2016

    The story that Ken has presented has far deeper meaning than Windows vs. Linux. For Maya to prefer Windows is just fine. Her attitude and treatment towards her mother is another matter altogether. Since she refers to herself as an IT professional the appropriate response, to her mother and anyone else with whom she comes in contact, is to politely state that she knows nothing about Linux but she will make every effort to learn more and find the answer to the client’s question. In this case, the relationship between Maya and her mother could be oh-so-much richer if she would volunteer to sit down with Mom and they could learn together. Maya, IMO, owes Mom that and a whole lot more. Shame on her. However, one day Mom will be gone and Maya will regret it. But it will be too late then.

  96. Robert Glen Fogarty Robert Glen Fogarty August 1, 2016

    Flabbergasted sums it up perfectly: Ken has given his neighbor more options while taking away nothing.

    Diane does’t have to settle for Maya’s way or the high-a-way.

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