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I've an old laptop sitting around and I'm moving abroad. My grandma is kinda sad about that so I was thinking of installing some Linux distro on the old laptop and tailor it to her needs.

What would you suggest as the desktop environment? It has to be configurable to the needs of an old person (e.g. easy to see visual elements) and easy for me to lock so she doesn't accidentally switch off something or remove something that she later can't find.

Any suggestions are welcome.

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For me personally, I prefer Linux Mint, as it is user friendly in a GUI kind of way. – Kevdog777 Jul 18 '12 at 15:54
I'm going to agree with Kevdog777 on this. MATE, Cinnamon or even XFCE are pretty simple interfaces. – MRR0GERS Jul 18 '12 at 16:01
I would suggest ubuntu. – EH_warch Jul 18 '12 at 17:20

I'd also recommend Ubuntu (take the tour or let she take it) with unity:

  • makes it easy to access programm without knowing their exact names or places
  • by using the current LTS version you could stay on an updated system for 5 years (however you'll need the root password for updating....huh.)

But for this environment you can't use every hardware. You may test it first via a live-cd.

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I haven't used Ubuntu for a couple of years now. Is there a version of Unity that doesn't require video hw acceleration? – zbrox Jul 20 '12 at 8:46
Yep, you can use Unity 2D by choosing it at the loginscreen (last chosen session becomes default session). – 32bitfloat Jul 20 '12 at 10:00

I have tried Mint and Ubuntu and the new Ubuntu is what I would suggest. I say this because of the way the GUI is set up. Large easy to read icons, some that are obvious as to what they do.

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I haven't used Ubuntu recently. Is Unity's default to launch the programs in full screen mode? Or can it be set to do so. That would be helpful. – zbrox Jul 20 '12 at 8:47

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