Linux as simple as using Windows. Here are reasons why Ubuntu will be perfect for your mom, who's needs are basic.
The reasons are:
1. Ubuntu is one of the easiest OS to master: Your mom will be soon at ease with the new environment.
2. Security: With Windows there is always the constant threat of viruses, Trojans and malware. This coupled with the fact that online transaction is a daily necessity, if users are not careful hackers may get access to sensitive information like bank passwords. With Linux there is almost '0' threat of any virus related problem.
3. Simplicity: As a Windows user I used to always roll my eyes when ever Mac users used to quack about 'Mac's simplicity' as one of its virtues. However since using Ubuntu I now crave for the same clean and simple desktop on Windows.
4. Hardware: Ubuntu can run nice with as little as 256 MB worth RAM. Also after installing drivers for video cards Compiz makes Ubuntu 100 times cooler than Vista.
5. Games: Your mom doesn't play Crysis, does she? However she definitely plays minesweeper and other such games. Ubuntu has many such small games and many more games can be downloaded for free.
Here are steps to make your mom's transition to Ubuntu as painless as possible and create Mombuntu in the process.
1. Create icons on the desktop with titles like "Internet" (for the web browser), "Word" (for Open Office), "E-mail", etc. Install Envy, it is a one click approach to install drivers for Graphics card from nVidia and ATI. Bless the guy who made Envy.
2. Install VLC. VLC is the worlds best video player. It can play any damn file format you throw at it, it even plays .iso files. .iso is the file which nero burns on CDs.
3. Ubuntu by default doesn't play proprietary video, audio formats like MP3, Avi, and pretty much every format you are used to, I don't know why but that's the way it is. To get the necessary codecs to play these type of file formats browse to one of your MP3 songs and try playing it with Rhythmbox or Totem. A new box will come up telling you that the required codecs are not available and that it can search the internet for them. Click yes. After some time you will find three codec packs. Tick mark all and wait for the installer to do its work. Now Ubuntu will play any kind of media you throw at it.
4. Mail Notifier: Install mail notifier for you Ubuntu. If you use Gmail I'd highly recommend you to use CheckGmail it is the best mail notifier on any OS. Its even better than the official Gmail notifier for Windows (Use Synaptic to install it. System-> Administration-> Synaptic). You can setup Evolution to check your mail too.
5. Set up all messenger accounts in Pidgin. Its the best chat app. Pidgin houses all chat programs like MSN messenger, Gtalk, Yahoo and ICQ under one roof. Remove the top panel if your mom has been using accustomed to Windows. Set the application menu in the lower panel.
6. Now Open Office is a nice alternative to MS Office however the default format is .odf so if your mom tries sending some document to some one on a Windows PC, the guy at other end won't be able to read them. So rather than explaining your mom the difference between .doc and .odf do this: Open Open Office, next click on 'Tools' and then click on 'Options'. Next click on Load/Save options and then change the default setting to .doc.
You might want to install Abiword it is a light weight alternative to Open Office. Don't forget to change the default file format to .doc.
7. Install Wine and add those Windows apps which are indispensable.
8. Make Ubuntu auto login by doing this:
System -> Administration -> Login Screen Setup ->Security Tab and then check mark on the 'Enable Automatic Login' box.
9. Get her an account at Ubuntu Forums and tell her to email you or post a thread on the site. Adding few geeks as friend will speed things up. Add them as friend and get their email address. Add them in contacts with 'Ubuntu Help' as the name. Make her send her problems to that email address :-P
10. Keep automatic system updates on.
That's it you have created your own Mombuntu. A perfect gift for Mother's day!
If you have any suggestion, please add them in the comments.