Originally Posted by thread
...I was a big linux user. (Still am.) It used to be a hugely nerdy OS, but now with distributions like Ubuntu Linux
, I swear your mom could use it. I'd HIGHLY recommend this OS for most folks. (Oh and of course it, along with most of its software, is 100% free and open source.)
Although I absolutely love Ubuntu (I have it on both my main laptop and my super-portable Asus EeePC and have never once regretted the switch from Windows), I'd have to be pretty cautious about my recommendation for it. If you need to use specific commercial software (Photoshop, AutoCAD, Matlab, etc.), Linux is most likely not the solution. Although very good free alternatives to most of this software are readily available for Linux, sometimes they don't quite stack up, especially for educational or commercial use. Also, if you would like to play video games on it, or if you have hardware that you'd like to use with it (including some mp3 players) again, Linux is most likely not the best option.
However, if all you really need is a word processor, internet, instant messaging, a media player, and other fairly common types of software, I would highly recommend giving it a shot. There's a ton of really high quality software available that is completely free, and is incredibly easy to install in Ubuntu. You can purchase computers from Dell that are preloaded with Ubuntu, (Dell Home & Home Office | Ubuntu
) if you're not comfortable enough finding another computer and installing it yourself. Ubuntu, like all Linux distributions, is free. You can download it, burn it to a CD, and even boot the CD up to try it without actually having to install it, just to give it a try. You can also order free installation CDs, but have to wait a while for shipping.
Linux, by nature, is nearly completely immune to viruses and spyware, and also crashes far less than Windows. Everybody who I know who has given it a try really likes it, although for some of them it's not the best permanent solution.
If you're interested, there's plenty of great information about Linux and Ubuntu available on the internet. Check out these links for more info:Ubuntu Home Page | UbuntuUbuntu ForumsWhy Linux is better
I don't have any experience with Mac, so I wouldn't be able to give you any useful advice as far as that goes, but I will say this: I always feel that it's best to avoid Microsoft if at all possible.
Another interesting option if you're looking for a neat and portable laptop on a budget would be the Asus EeePC. You can get a pretty nice one for less than $400 USD. Wireless internet, 4GB hard drive, 512MB RAM (upgradeable to 2GB), 3 USB ports, SDHC card slot...the only downfalls are the small keyboard and lack of a CD/DVD optical drive. Check it out-->Newegg.com - ASUS Eee PC 4G Surf - Galaxy Black Eee PC Intel processor 7" Wide VGA 512MB Memory 4GB HDD Integrated Graphics - Laptops / Notebooks
Good luck with your laptop search!