The Linux Box: Desktop Adapted for Dad

Adam Trickett reports on his experiences of setting up KDE for his father in Desktop Adapted for Dad. His article on The Linux Box shows the range of features KDE has for someone with poor eye-sight and reduced hand coordination. He concludes by saying "modern Linux desktops are highly configurable, and with thought can be adapted for most people".


Linux is in contrast to popular belief much more user-friendly
especially for absolute beginners. It doesnt matter if installing
software or drivers is more difficult or not on Linux. My mother
wouldnt want to install software herself anyway. She even doesnt
want to save and open files. She enters her letter and prints it out.
And often people claim that there are too many configuration options
in KDE. Doesnt matter for my mum: She would never use sth. like
Control Panel. But for me all those options make it so much easier
to create an environment where she can safely click around without
destroying something.

By Martin at Mon, 2005/04/25 - 5:00am

I can hear the cry of joy of the many in the usability list that defended the single-click: it _is_ better!

My Dad can has a hard time making double-click as well. What is stranger to us, geeks, is that he does not know when to single click or double click. He may double click a menu, single-click a file to try to execute it, ...

By Philippe Fremy at Mon, 2005/04/25 - 5:00am

Hm... putting it like that it does seem like single-click may be better for completely new people.

Though if you take away my double-click, I will be pissed cause I like being able to select files without executing them (and hovering over them and waiting half a second like in windows is too slow).

By Corbin at Mon, 2005/04/25 - 5:00am

I'm not saying you should, or one way is better. But just in case you didn't know and wanted to know...

You can ctrl or shift click to select it. If it's a list view, don't click on it, just on the same line to select it. You can drag a selection box on it, or just right click on it.

By Saem at Mon, 2005/04/25 - 5:00am

Yes -- but how do you do the old fashioned single click. The one where previous selections are cleared and the new item is selected? This is often what I want, if nothing else to make sure I don't operate on some file that is not currently visible by accident.

The best I have found is to press ESC, then CTRL-click. But I just noticed that it does not work on the Desktop (in Fedora w/ KDE 3.3).

By Martin at Tue, 2005/04/26 - 5:00am

If you want to deselect something and select something else at the same time, just drag a box around the one you want selected and it'll get rid of the previous selection.

By Saem at Tue, 2005/04/26 - 5:00am

Same experience here. In addition -- the double click has caused my parents to mess up things on many occasions.

Why? Because, in anticipation of a double click, their muscles will tense up in order to be able to deliver two clicks in fast enough succession to count as a double click for the machine. This tension will then be released in the form of uncontrolled mouse motion, that will often result in a drag and drop operation + an extra click or two at random locations. Even if I'm watching over their shoulder I'm not always able to reconstruct what happened and undo the damage. The single click is just more relaxed!

By Martin at Tue, 2005/04/26 - 5:00am

It's so true!! I remember once an older gentleman I was helping told me some files just disappeared from his computer!! Since I had seen him unintentionally drag files around when trying to double click, I was able to find them quickly in one of the neighboring folders. It's cute and funny to me, but those were really important documents and he was very worried. Also, I couldn't even get him to understand what he did wrong.

By Henry Izurieta at Tue, 2005/04/26 - 5:00am

Same over here, my mum used to have win'95, and everytime i checked the computer, she had all kinds of new files/directories on her desktop. Most of the time they were created while she tried to start an application by double clicking on an icon.
while doing so, the mous usually moved, and by accidently clicking the wrong button, new icons were created :o)

By ac at Tue, 2005/04/26 - 5:00am

By David C at Tue, 2005/04/26 - 5:00am

It is possible to do this. I don't know what sort of data would be required though. IBM made a device to do this for portability reasons - it is not dependant on any OS.

By dryclean_only at Tue, 2005/04/26 - 5:00am

> but he has got lots of card games

You don't need to install lots of card games. If KPat doesn't support all you want, just install PySol. :)

By blacksheep at Tue, 2005/04/26 - 5:00am

My mom loves PySol! and nethack falcons eye.

By jrm at Tue, 2005/04/26 - 5:00am

I'm getting the message

"Can not find an article with id: 1113601124"

on thelinuxbox.org on following the link provided. Is there a backup/alternative location somewhere?

By Guido Winkelmann at Mon, 2005/05/02 - 5:00am

The article appears to have been moved. I don't know how The Linux Box deals with articles.

You can find it here on my server:


and home server:


Hope this is helpful - by the way there will be a follow-up article.

By Adam Trickett at Thu, 2005/05/05 - 5:00am

I have setup a Gentoo/KDE box at home for my family to use. So far they have managed to do some work/internet browsing on it without any complains. And my Dad was happy that it didn't crash while he was working on it ;)

By Herb Molenda at Mon, 2005/11/07 - 6:00am