"go easy on the 'just apt-get FubarPackageInstaller.gzip and rd -m Arglebargle' stuff"...
So why is he asking Slashdot?
Seriously, git-annex assistant might be the solution for part of his problem. assistant is a pretty front end to git-annex which uses git to sync repositories of file metadata and several other means (rsync, etc) to schlep the files between repositories. It won't run on his Windows box but does run on OS X and might be easy enough for his wife to use.
But I've always been told by the fanboys that Linux is inherently secure, right? So that's not possible.
A trojan startup file was added to the system start up scripts
But Linux has no viruses/trojans/malware, right?
To clarify, the kernel.org announcement says that trojan startup file was added to the server's startup scripts.
It's not ONLY a stick of ram. It's an indicator to your employer that you don't understand boundaries, roles, and responsibilities.
Wow, I'm glad I don't work at your company. I've been blessed with a sane IT guy where I work. When I said I needed a Linux desktop, he got me a bare PC, handed it over to me and said, "Your on your own". We get along great.
I work part-time at Intellectual Ventures Labs, which enables me to get out of the house and exercise the nerdy predilections that I used to exercise at Blue Origin. This is a sort of all-purpose science lab and thing-making facility where new inventions are developed.
... The command line is just as much of an abstraction as a GUI is, just harder to learn.
True, CLI is just an abstraction, a metaphor, but it's a layer or two closer to what's really going on. I grew up typing BASIC on my C-64, but after I upgraded to a Mac SE I spent 10 years using only GUIs until "In the Beginning was the Command Line" (by Neal Stephenson) inspired me to explore the world underneath. The passage on Emacs as the Hole Hawg of text editors is hilarious, and after reading that I totally wanted to be a Morlock instead of an Eloi. That essay was my gateway drug into Linux. It's getting dated by it's still relevant.
what's with the obsession with boot time? Can anyone explain why the free software community is so obsessed with this metric?
You're right when it comes to servers or desktops, but for laptops it's a different story. Sleep or hibernate are often not supported by Linux on laptops, and given the increasing market share of laptops vs. desktop, boot time is something to pay attention to.
Remember -- only 10% of anything can be in the top 10%.