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PC for a semi-senile friend
December 6, 2011 12:33 PM   Subscribe

My semi-senile older friend needs a computer just for email and web, but keeps messing with Windows cfgs, viruses, spam etc. a support nightmare/comedy. Is there a recommended Linux or Windows distrib for a 5-year old PC, that stays the same with every reboot, support for web and email only, prevents messing with OS, and remote support ability?
posted by stbalbach to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can set up a profile that automatically logs in that only has icons for browser and email client. You could also lock it down so nothing could be installed.

There's also programs like Deep Freeze which roll back to a predetermined settings each boot.
posted by royalsong at 12:45 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


You basically want a kiosk setup, combined with LogMeIn for remote access. LogMeIn can even be used to reboot the computer and resume access, BTW.

These recent posts have dealt with the topic of restricting user access.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:46 PM on December 6, 2011


What about using something like Clean Slate, Deep Freeze, or Smart Shield? I have experience with Deep Freeze, and it's pretty bulletproof. Those won't prevent him from messing with the system, but it will prevent those changes from being permanent (in most cases). You would, of course, have to configure remote support yourself.
posted by hoboynow at 12:48 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seconding LogMeIn + DeepFreeze. This is a bulletproof setup. Literally power-cycling the machine will restore it to the original state.

You can set up specific folders that are exempt from the security, so that your friend can still save files and folders. An easier option would be to get them set up with Google Docs instead, though.
posted by odinsdream at 12:55 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


If it's an XP or Vista machine, you can use Microsoft's Steady State available from Cnet here It's free! (as in a kitten, not as in beer)
posted by davismbagpiper at 1:47 PM on December 6, 2011


For those who have used DeepFreeze, it's $35/year - does it have to be renewed yearly, or only for updates/support and are the updates/support that important that it must be renewed yearly or can you get away with not renewing?
posted by stbalbach at 2:56 PM on December 6, 2011


I've only used the commercial product which is not a subscription, though there is subscription for updates and support. For a single workstation you don't need the support and updates. I've had old versions installed for years that work fine.

You wouldn't want old versions installed in a corporate or educational setting in case they have security bugs that could allow a malicious user to disable it. Since your user isn't malicious you don't have to worry about that.
posted by odinsdream at 3:09 PM on December 6, 2011


If you weren't tied to Windows, an iPad would be perfect for this scenario.
posted by browse at 5:05 PM on December 6, 2011


How about a bootable Ubuntu CD?
posted by SNACKeR at 7:00 PM on December 6, 2011


odinsdream, that's what I need to know, thanks. I'll probably initially try DeepFreeze + LogMeIn

This is a great thread I'm not sure who to fav as every post was useful! The Ubuntu CD is a good idea with a custom disk that auto-logged in and had only two icons visible, will keep it in mind.
posted by stbalbach at 7:32 AM on December 7, 2011


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