GNU Linux for the elderly

I’ve been looking for some GNU Linux solution for my grandma, whose almost 70 years old. So far she has been using Windows XP. It’s about time to upgrade, so I’m using the occasion to build something easier for her. Way easier. On her android smartphone she’s using BIG Launcher with huge tiles on home screen and simplified UI for all functions. This made it easier for her to move away from phones with physical keyboard. I’m looking to configure something similar on her PC (see picture of BIG Launcher below).

Big tiles/buttons on the desktop for launching apps in full screen. Only one app running, no need to switch windows for multitasking. When done with the app, she will just close the window to return to the desktop.

Ideally, I’d use a DE like that for GNU Linux, but I haven’t found one yet. My first though was to use Lubuntu, however I’m not exactly sure how to build desktop tiles (or interactive desktop in general) for launching apps easily, instead of a dock/taskbar. It doesn’t need to be pretty, just easy to use. She’s mostly using Skype to communicate with family abroad and few websites (I’ll include direct shortcuts for her, with separate tiles/buttons for each).

Hardware for running this is rather weak: Lenovo T61, Core 2 Duo 2GHz with 2GB RAM.

Running Chrome OS on this old hardware might be a good solution.


I second @PaulHutch motion, unless you have the time to maintain this laptop for her on a daily basis, just install Chrome OS on it. Take a look at Neverware’s Home Edition: CloudReady: Home Edition which lists the Lenovo T61 as supported. I’ve personally setup a few old desktops with this product for our kids, as they can then also access their School’s Google Apps.


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my issue has been solved!!