As it happens, I switched an 80-year old relative from Windows XP to Ubuntu last weekend. This was done at short notice because the power supply in her XP PC was failing, and I happened to have an old laptop spare that was running Xubuntu. My relative is doing fine with Ubuntu, and there's really very little to learn as the main applications (Firefox and Thunderbird) are identical - she's not a power user at all, simply needing a few basic apps. The differences between Windows and Xubuntu really don't matter to this person, as long as everything works. I could have done the same thing with KDE or GNOME, I'm sure, but I already had Xubuntu installed and XFCE works OK in 192 MB RAM. I did spend a bit of time making the XFCE setup look like Windows, with a Start menu at the bottom, but that's not exactly difficult. The huge benefit is that now I can remotely administer the machine using either SSH or VNC (over SSH, using the excellent x11vnc, ), and quickly fix any problems as they occur. This was very hard to keep working on Windows for some problem. Also, all the Ubuntu applications get security-updated automatically (thanks to "aptitude install unattended-upgrades"), rather than the apps remaining insecure until my next visit. On the proprietary driver point - as it happens this laptop doesn't need any proprietary drivers, but if there was a need for this due to WiFi or graphics, it would be a deal-blocker if only open source drivers were available. I'm a pragmatist like Mark Shuttleworth on this - if a PC is 'only' 99% open source due to proprietary drivers, it still creates more demand for Linux-supported hardware, and in the long run the proprietary drivers can more likely be dumped as a result, compared to leaving the PC on XP where everything is closed sources.
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