Looking for distrobution built for people that break computers

PhotographOtter

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So I have a bit of an odd situation and I'm wondering if anyone might have some insight on this. I'm not new to Linux, but I'm new to the situation that I'm facing. Without going into too much detail, my brother has a traumatic brain injury and I'm his caretaker. He uses his laptop to talk to people on facebook, do zoom calls with his therapist and other things like that.
The problem is that whenever he's left on his own, he ends up going into the settings and changing everything around at random. Changing passwords that he'll forget within seconds, changing colors, UI settings and all sorts of other things that eventually render the computer unusable. When left on his own, he just sits there and breaks the computer. He doesn't know any better. I've talked to him about it but for anyone who's delt with someone with a TBI, you know that you can only go so far.
I recently switched him over to linux because on Windows he'd install every single thing he'd see that would pop up on his browser. I used adblock, I blocked all sorts of things that could cause harm, but he'd always find a way of installing a giant pile of malware on the computer, rendering it completely unusable after a few days. Currently it takes forty five minutes for it to boot up into Windows, and that's after only a few days of him using it.

But on linux he has a different problem. He's able to change passwords, change UI settings, change boot up options when he sees the GRUB pop up. He just sits there and breaks the thing. I've taken away administrative privileges but that only goes so far. I've looked up linux distros for kids, but those seem geared toward teaching kids about it. I need a linux distro for grandma. Something that doesn't allow the user to change anything on the computer once it's initially set up.


Does anyone have any advice? Is there a linux distro out there that's built to just work? No settings, no options. Just a browser and a few applications that I'd install in advance. I'd want him to not be able to change ANY settings on the computer.
 


captain-sensible

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right Linux from the beginning was set up as a multi-user system. There is "admin" or "root privilege" and then "normal users" . Normal user have access to programs like firefox , Icecat, seamonkey etc browsers and a considerable selection of software. What they can not do is access "root" system files nor chnage any system settings .

What this means in practice is that you can log your brother into hos account- he won't be able to do anything to the system to wreck it; that is why new users are always told "do nothing as root unless you have your system admin hat on".

So i would say a Linux operating system is perfect for your needs . I would say probably Mint would be good if your new to Linux @70 Tango Charlie uses Mate Desktop Mint and @Condobloke is another user . At some point they will pop along with their expereince if you hang around long enough
 
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PhotographOtter

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He's already set up with a non-administrative account. But he can still change his own user password, he can change the UI settings, he can disable parts of the system. He breaks anything he can touch. I'm looking for a way to make it so he doesn't have access to anything. What he sees is what he gets

Edit: Mint is what I currently have him on
 

PhotographOtter

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mmm Jump from one Monopoly (Windows) to Google (another monopoly) ?
It isn't about monopolies or freedoms or anything like that. I need a computer my brother can't break by changing a billion settings around. He's not the normal type of user and needs something very different from what most people would need
 

PhotographOtter

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No as a normal user he can only tweak "his setting" he can do anything to the root system.




rrrr well thats a different story
Exactly. I know that he can only tweak "his settings" and that's the problem. He still has enough access to those settings to destroy everything on the computer and render it unusable
 

PhotographOtter

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only on his space what Linux distro did you say you are using ?
He's on Mint Cinnamon
I'm wondering if there's a way to make it so any changes that are made on the system are temporary. Like, every time you reboot the computer it reverts back to the old settings, kind of like a live disk, but the only difference being that the files that he downloads stay in place
 

captain-sensible

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ok i'm a slackware user , by referencing the members charlie and condobloke in post 3 they will be alerted; they are on different time zones but i'm sure they will reply with their advice on this.
 

captain-sensible

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i've just realised your brother is getting admin rights simply by using "sudo" is that right. Can you confirm thats what hes doing .
you can't do anything on other linux eg slackware without this process:

$ ->su->root password-> #

you can on slackware actually add yourself to whats called sudoers list. You maybe able to disable the sudo system ; i'm not a Mint user as such only a dabbler. be patient someone if not Charlie or Condobloke, eg Wiz will come up with something. I'm on Uk time Wiz is in Australia so is Condobloke; Charlie is in USA
 

PhotographOtter

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He doesn't know enough about linux to type things into the terminal like that. He only uses GUI stuff

I have a root password set up but he doesn't know what it is. But there are a lot of settings you can change without the root password. Theme settings, his own user password, he can disable UI elements like the taskbar and the desktop icons, he can change the logout time to a minute so it constantly logs him out if he's not using it.
These are all things I've had to fix in the past two days. Every time I come over to the house I spend the first hour fixing all the stuff that he broke the night before
 

PhotographOtter

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mmm take this with humor you could well be on your way to being a Linux expert !
Hehe, thanks. I've been using linux since Ubuntu 8.04 and I was a programming major in College, but these days I use it mostly as a normal user without getting into the guts of it all. Usually I have no problem solving my issues on my own, but this particular problem is something that's out of my element
 

captain-sensible

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ok one approach might be timeshift; i'm not totally sure because i don't use it, but the idea is the same with Windows rescue, you take things back to how they were. You thus could set up maybe a "snapshot" with time shift and just shift everything back to that . Both Condobloke and Charlie use that this may be of use :

 

PhotographOtter

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ok one approach might be timeshift; i'm not totally sure because i don't use it, but the idea is the same with Windows rescue, you take things back to how they were. You thus could set up maybe a "snapshot" with time shift and just shift everything back to that . Both Condobloke and Charlie use that this may be of use :

Oh interesting, I'll have to look into timeshift... Off hand, do you know if there's a way to make it boot up from a snapshot? Or would I have to manually load up a snapshot each time? If I could make it load from a snapshot at every bootup that would be pretty great. Maybe have a secondary partition for the user files so the downloads and stuff are persistent. Hmmmmmmm
 

Condobloke

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G'day and Welcome to linux.org

have you encountered Timeshift ?
It works in similar fashion to windows system restore

It is setup to save snapshots to an External hard drive.

Unplug the hard drive and hide it. (after taking a snapshot of the system)

When he screws with settings and themes etc etc etc etc.......plug in the external.....bring up Timeshift.....and Restore to a previous snapshot. problem gone.

Timehsift is already on Linux Mint 20....ready to go


See Timeshift doesn’t just backup your home folder. It just doesn’t backup your apps. It has the capability to capture your ENTIRE OS with all the contents in your home folder into a single snapshot. This snapshot also includes all the configurations and customizations you made to your system

Our Moderator here @wizardfromoz also has a topic running about Timeshift here on linux.org

We can answer any question you may have

Setting it up ?....piece of cake

Then just go to Menu....type in Timeshift....and it will be there.
Settings...select RSYNC
Location...select where you will store the snapshot/s
Schedule...if you have a drive with plenty of space you can elect to save several snapshots.....or just keep one or two...
Users...Include All
Filters...under the + icon select both lines
Thats enough....go back to main screen of Timeshift, and select Create

grab a coffee.....5 minutes approx...maybe 10.
 

Condobloke

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The reason I stressed an external hard drive was to remove any chance that your bro could get to the stored snapshots
Restoring is like toasting a slice of bread..Simplicity itself.
Even if he manages to screw up your abaility to boot the pc he uses......you can boot that pc from a usb stick with Linux mint on it...access Timeshift .....it will "see" where the snapshots are stored (have the external plugged in)....hit Restore....and away you go again.
 


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