Recently a friend of mine was upgrading his Mum's PC. He decided to replace Windows 98 with Linux. We set about creating a very simple to use environment for his mother. For this purpose we chose to use RedHat 8.0 as it required very little modification to turn it into the perfect computer system for YourMum.
Recently my own mother requested to have a PC at home. She uses a Windows 2000 machine at work with IE, Office 2000 and Eudora 5.x.
Most mothers don't have complex computing requirements. Generally they just need to surf the web and read email. Maybe write a letter or use a spreadsheet. Certainly this is the case with my own mother.
I slapped together a low spec machine (Celeron 700, 128MB RAM, 40GB HDD) and installed RedHat 8.0 on it. Why did I choose RH8? Well RH8 is very pretty. The BlueCurve Gnome theme RedHat has designed is very visually appealing. Also, the default Gnome2 Setup on RH8 is very minimal and simple to use. Once I had RH8 installed and patched I updated the bundled XimianEvolution to Evolution 1.2.x as it contains many fixes and improvements.
Internet access at my Mother's home is via modem (no ADSL in their area yet). So I configured RedHat's modem lights applet on the Gnome Panel. This provided an extremely simple to understand internet connection method.
Once I'd preconfigured my mother's email and browser settings I unleased her upon it. Even though she's only been exposed to Windows in the past she doesn't appear to have had any problems adjusting to using Linux.