Sunday, November 18, 2007

My genealogist parents can use Linux now

My parents currently use Windows ME (believe it or not) on a fairly old computer. According to them, their computer crashes quite often, which is not a surprise at all. In fact, I'm surprised it's still in a usable state.

The only thing that would have prevented them from using Linux before is that they use a windows only genealogy program called Personal Ancestral File. They wouldn't be willing to learn a new program like Gramps to switch to Linux. They're not very good with technology, and any program switches would just confuse them. The rest of the OS could be setup to be very similar to theirs.

I've tried installing PAF 5 in wine on quite a few occasions without a lot of luck. I would usually get some things that worked, and others that didn't. Plus the setup of wine was usually just a pain in the butt.

Since Ubuntu 7.10 worked so well for my printer, scanner, and pretty much everything else, I decided to try and install PAF again.

First, I had to of course install wine, which was a simple selection in add remove applications. Then, once I had downloaded the .exe installer for PAF5, from the command line I just type "wine PAF5EnglishSetup.exe". Do this from your regular user account, or it will be installed in root's directory and you won't be able to run it. A shortcut is automatically added to the menu after the install is finished, and everything is ready to go. (yes, it's that simple)


Next time I'm visiting them, you can be damn sure I'll be installing Unbuntu 7.10 on their computer!


Mark said...

You could tell them to look into a program called GRAMPS.

Anonymous said...

Pity you didn't install gramps, the open source genealogy program. (

zenarcher said...

Just my thoughts, but I've been involved with genealogy for a good 25 years and have used many different genealogy programs over the years. Being older and retired, I probably fit into the "genealogist parent" category.

I moved from Windows to Linux completely, about three years ago. I too was concerned with my genealogy work. I found GRAMPS for Linux, which I like better than many of the Windows programs I used. Likewise, just about any Windows genealogy program can export as "Gedcom" files. GRAMPS can import a "Gedcom" and convert it automatically into the GRAMPS format.

They might want to look at GRAMPS and see what they think about it...and eliminate the need to use WINE or any emulator to run the Windows application on Linux.

Just a thought.

Happy Linux Guy said...

Like I said in the article, they wouldn't be patient enough to learn GRAMPS. They have their program, know how to use it, and like it.

Installing wine and PAF in Ubuntu 7.10 is almost as easy as installing a native program. It runs just as well.

Jaco G said...

I really must get more sleep. I thought the title of the article read "My gynecologist parents can use Linux now"...

Anyhoo... my wife uses GRAMPS too... it's an awesome package.

Robert Sharp said...

Great post I think in some respects Ubuntu is easier to use then windows, because you don't need to fix it once a year.

Great site, can I ad a link to you on my site?

Happy Linux Guy said...

Robert, of course you can add a link to me on your site.