Sometime in November last year, a lady at the local ECK center came to me with a computer problem; because of a boot virus problem, she could no longer use her computer. And because it was a very old system with less than 512 MB of RAM, she was told by Microsoft’s technical support that her only option is to upgrade.
But cash for a new system is not readily available, so she was looking for anything that could help her use the computer.
I am aware that there are no-frills, Linux distributions for low-end computers, but none that I am intimately familiar with. So I embarked on a search for a suitable, user-friendly Linux distribution for a non-geek.
I came across Semplice, a distribution based on the unstable branch of Debian (sid) about the same time that the latest version, Semplice 3.0.0 (the Pulse series) was about to be released. Semplice’s graphical interface is powered by Openbox, and is touted as needing less than 400 MB to boot the live system. Its development is led by Eugenio “g7” Paolantonio (from Italy).
After testing it for a few hours, I decided that Semplice will be a good fit for this lady and her computer, but it will take some tweaking on my part to get it to the it just works stage. What impressed me the most about Semplice is its simplicity. From the installer to the default desktop, the system is refreshingly simple to use. (By the way, if you know of a better option than Semplice, drop a comment.)
With the stable edition of Semplice 3.0.0 now available for download, I asked the lady to bring her computer over. While I am waiting for that to happen, here are a few screen shots from a test installation in a virtual environment.
A simple graphical installation program is one of the features I like to see in any distribution. And I tend to like graphical installers more if they support the Linux Logical Volume Manager (LVM), disk encryption and boot loader password-protection. Semplice has a very easy-to-use, point-and-click graphical installer, but lacks support for those other features. But my target-user does not care for those features, so the installer’s lack of features is not an issue.
Here’s the installer’s user creation step.
The disk partitioning methods step. I only used the Automatic partitioning option for my test installation.
These are the partitions created if the automatic partitioning option is selected.
The default desktop.
Appearance menu entries.
Workspace management. By default, there are four virtual desktop or workspaces.
Menu access to Places.
Administration menu entries.
Preferences menu entries.
Installed multimedia applications.
Installed Office applications.
Installed Internet applications.
While a default installation comes with a very lean selection of usable applications, there are many more to choose from in the repositories. And for installing and managing them, Synaptic Package Manager is the graphical interface installed.