Today, I experienced two most extreme first-time Linux user reactions.
First, I installed Ubuntu on my mother's new computer (several days ago) and arranged high-speed Internet connection for her. She's been using computer for many years, sending e-mails through seznam.cz webmail and even doing some graphics stuff in Corel and Photoshop.
My mother is 67 years old but she used the computer regularly for many years so I was surprised that she has no idea what windows are, she has no idea how quoting works in e-mail responses and she doesn't understand that modem shouldn't be turned off if she wants to surf the Internet. Also, her idea of organizing e-mails is printing out all her e-mails on paper and then searching the papers. Before she had her own working printer, she forwarded all her e-mails to my sister who had to print them out for her. I had no idea about that... :(
So, during the last 3 days, I spent about 12 hours visiting and calling my mother and explaining to her for the n-th time the difference between clicking on desktop icon and clicking on bookmark in Firefox. During all of this I watched her desktop on one of my workspaces (using VNC), calling her whenever I saw her doing something nasty.
And during all of this, I got an IM message today from Kristina, my friend who works in one of film distribution companies. Kristina is about 25 years old and I thought she knows just about enough PC stuff to succesfully use Outlook and Internet Explorer (possibly confusing the two). Anyway, she wrote to me that she needs to install the new laptop for her mother and she doesn't have Windows installation CD. I told her I am using Linux and she should too. After a while, she asked "Which Linux? I found at least 5 of them." I recommended Ubuntu and forgot about the whole incident, maybe feeling a little guilty for confusing her. After several hours, I got an SMS message saying "Linux is super! I am ecstatic! Why didn't I use it sooner? Thanks for the tip."
This seemed like some sort of prank to me but during the course of several following messages, I found out that she downloaded, burned and installed Ubuntu herself. And she thought she is "stupid blonde" because she was not able to write "@" on her Czech keyboard layout. Incidentally, I never knew how to write "@" on Czech keyboard layout until today.
What does this mean? This means that either I didn't know Kristina is L33T h4h0r, or that Ubuntu installer is now really usable for the masses. It would also seem to me that Linux is excellent choice not only for people like me, who are control freaks and like to configure slightest details, but also for people who "just want their computer to work". I know Linux community wanted this to be true for a long, long time, but now it seems it's realy happening...