How to make Lubuntu as stable/hassle-free as possible?

I installed Lubuntu on my granddad’s older laptop. Initially, of course, he came across a problem of troublesome wi fi - fortunately, I quickly installed a suitable driver and the problem disappeared. He was lucky this time for I was nearby.
But… how to make it bulletproof to similar issues? I will be away from him for foreseeable future and it would be hard to make him fix broken things over the phone.
What could I do to set up his Lubuntu in such a way that he does not need my help?

Once you have drivers set up, you generally won’t have problems thereafter. What does need to happen is the system software needs to stay updated. You can look into unattended upgrades to make that transparent, but that won’t deal with doing updates to the version of Lubuntu.

Since the support cycle for normal releases is 9 months (versus the 3 years for long term support/LTS releases), that’s going to be the thing you have to worry about. An LTS would be a wise choice but the most recent LTS, 18.04, is based on LXDE and we do not support the upgrade to LXQt, which is what it’s in everything after 18.04. So make sure he’s running 19.10 and come April, you can update to 20.04 LTS.

It mostly depends on the behaviour of your granddad. Most problems are caused by the users themselves.

If you don’t live nearby, you could set up an account for you, a SSH server and add your public RSA certificate on his system. But this means, that you have to set up the network and SSH server properly, otherwise you cannot connect remotely or worse, other (attackers) can connect to the system.

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I volunteered at CBV (ComputerBank Victoria; https://www.computerbank.org.au/). CBV provided a somewhat tweaked Ubuntu on refurbished computers (we made sure browsers could stream local ABC iview & other local TV channels without any configuration etc).

Customers/Clients were regularly stuffing up systems, thus we provided a script which was accessible via menu (or via command if they clobbered the menu system too) which would reset the system back to ‘as new’.

In reality it was just a copy of user configs (or user directory; I forget as I had no part in its creation on another part of the disk) that was just used to overwrite their $HOME directory. It worked pretty well, so unless they formatted their system - a menu option, or command would reset their machine.

Maybe something like that is worth considering.

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I switched to MX Linux about a year ago and it has a couple of nice features which come to mind and might be available in Lubuntu(?).

  1. In the MX-Tools menu area there is a tool to “remaster” MX Linux after you’ve configured it the way you want it, installed software. You could get grandpa’s computer just how you want it to be, and create a new .iso file which would install exactly that system. Burn it as a bootable USB or DVD, leave that with him. Show him how to boot it, and follow the prompts to re-install.

I’ve never used that tool. One is called “snapshot” and creates an .iso file of your current system. You’re supposed to be able to boot from that as a way to get back to where you were (as a rescue disk). There’s also a “remaster” tool and a tool to burn bootable USBs. These are in the installed “MX Tools” menu area.

  1. MX has curated upgrades. It’s not automatic. I have to click the green taskbar icon to launch the upgrades.

If you used a program like 1-to-1 assistance, or anydesk, you could periodically login to your grandpa’s desktop remotely, create a snapshot, make it a remastered installable .iso, then apply the available upgrades.

If something went wrong, presumably he could boot the remastered .iso and follow the install steps that you could have pre-documented for him (to get back to the snapshot you took before the upgrade that broke the system). Or, as a “better than nothing” option, he could boot the snapshot .iso to at least have a useable system (even if it’s mildly slow running from an external USB drive). You could also get into that system with the remote desktop and perhaps mount the hard drive and fix something preventing it from booting (view the logs, etc.).

I’m probably overthinking it. But, those tools would give you the most control. If something similar were available for Lubunu, that’s the direction I’d go. They’re default tools for MX Linux. If you google about mx-tools, mx-snapshot & mx-remaster, mx-usbmaker you’ll find a lot of discussion.

Wonderful.
After some deliberations, I decided to give Timeshift a go.
I will create a snapshot of the working system after two weeks and give him an USB in case things go south.
Thank you very much for the input guys!

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