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Education Software Linux

Edubuntu - Linux For Young Human Beings! 308

Posted by Zonk
from the start-them-on-penguins-young dept.
hzs202 writes "Are you a Linux user? Are you a parent? If so there is something that the two have in common. Edubuntu is a newly released fork of the Ubuntu Linux distribution. It is targeted at children from the ages of 5-12 years old. There are lots of games and even kindergarten appropriate activities for children. The developers and supporters of Edubuntu have developed a Manifesto which lays out the intent and objective of this open-source and freely distributed OS development effort. The current stable version is Edubuntu 5.10 'Breezy Badger', the same as Ubuntu 5.10's alias. Edubuntu comes complete with installations for x86 and AMD64 architecture. Edubuntu will be a nice addition to your home-network."
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Edubuntu - Linux For Young Human Beings!

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  • by CyricZ (887944) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:41PM (#14175527)
    Indeed, we are seeing one of the truly powerful features of Debian and Ubuntu: the ability to use them as a solid base for specialized distributions.

  • Excellent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eli Gottlieb (917758) <eligottlieb@nOSpam.gmail.com> on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:42PM (#14175533) Homepage Journal
    Give people Linux in their youth so that they won't be completely computer-brain-dead and M$ vulnerable when they get older! An excellent idea!
  • by CyricZ (887944) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:46PM (#14175550)
    Yes, _you_ could probably customize it like that. But many teachers, educators, and even school computer system administrators do not have such knowledge and experience. Even though they could easily pick it up, they may not have time to.

    Thus a system like this proves to be quite useful. All of the specialized applications are integrated, and provided by default. So teachers can go ahead and install this on their classroom computer, for instance, without having to make sure it's got a network connection so they can download other educational packages.

  • Work Those Niches (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Quirk (36086) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:51PM (#14175581) Homepage Journal
    Start the little ankle bitters out on edubuntu [edubuntu.org] and, maybe they'll end up in the nerdy niche of Scientific Linux which has just released version 4.2 [scientificlinux.org].

    The philosophy and developer base of OSS allows for products to be made to fit niches that big closed source companies like Microsoft can't be bothered to service. The ability to develop to suit the needs of fringe groups is a powerful tool. It's good to see it being fully exploited.

  • by v1 (525388) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:55PM (#14175602) Homepage Journal
    This would be nice if it had an educational twist on it. Keyboarding skills, math, ABCs, reading comprehension... that'd make a nice replacement for what we have at the school right now, and schools are always interested in low cost or no-cost technology.
  • by ATeamMrT (935933) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:11PM (#14175689)
    Give people Linux in their youth so that they won't be completely computer-brain-dead and M$ vulnerable when they get older! An excellent idea!

    Does the computer operating system a person uses as a child have any predictive value in forseeing what OS a person will use as an adult?

    My first memory of a computer in a school was an Apple II+. I remember a program our history teacher used to show how the electoral college works- we all had budgets, knew which states leaned which way, and had to allocate funds to each state. We had an after school computer club that played Bard's Tale on those same computers. We knew the Apple II+ inside and out, we were 11-13 years old and were writing our own programs.

    In high school, we all loved the new Apple IIgs systems. We did our homework reports on them. There were programs for our science labs.

    But as soon as I hit college, the Pentium was introduced, and there were no Apple computer labs? Even though getting a pirated copy of Windows 98 was easy, there were people using Linux. Why?

    I say the #1 reason is money. If someone can't pay for an OS, they will use a different one. Reason #2 is control. If a person can not accomplish a task on an OS, they will search for a different one. Reason #3 is why OS/2 failed- they could not get enough support from third party software companies. There was a computer store nearby that gave out 500 free copies of OS/2. But they had no software titles for sale to go with OS/2.

    What OS a person starts out with when young will have ZERO impact on what OS they stay with. OS'es are not like McDonalds, we will not keep going to them into our 30's just because we had lunch there when 7 years old. OS'es are more like a tool, like a hammer. We will go and get the best one we can find for the job. You might as well try and predict what wrist watch a person will wear at age 30 based on what watch they wear in the fourth grade. Or calculator. Or anything. It is just a tool.

    If linux is to get more of a market share, then linux needs to improve. Just targeting kids to use linux will not make it more used later in life. Linux could become all Apple was 20 years ago, and they still might not be used in universities or buisness if Linux does not do a better job than the large corporation in Redmond.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:15PM (#14175708)
    I hate to break it to you but coding on Windows isn't "wysiwyg-clicky-wizard type code autogeneration" any more than it is on Linux platforms. I've seen this so-called "wysiwyg-clicky-wizard type code autogeneration" on Linux, as a matter of fact.

    If I want to teach my kid computer science, of course I'll give him a unix box, but at least get your own goddamned facts straight. Its embarassing to the movement.
  • Re:Excellent (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ettlz (639203) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:17PM (#14175720) Journal

    Yes, but you should always make a child aware of the existence of Microsoft Windows as an operating system used by many people every day. That way, he or she will not be shocked when they encounter people who lead this alternative lifestyle.

    But tell them to stay away from BSD users because they'll just lead you astray ;)

  • by plams (744927) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:35PM (#14175808) Homepage
    And the few parents who actually use Linux were probably convinced by their kids :)
  • by ericcantona (858624) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:45PM (#14175864)
    I've got two kids (5 & 2.5 yr old). They love to use their computer.
    I've tried ubuntu (and indeed have currently got it set up for my wife), but I dont think gnome (even stripped) is the best WM/desktop for young kids.
    I don't want them to be able to middle-click, bring up a terminal and 'rm -Rf *'.
    (how on earth is a 5 yr old gonna do that you may ask ? -- except you will only ask if you dont have a 5 yr old, if you have had one you will know it highly likely).
    Infact I dont want them launching hardly any of the progs installed on any particular box.
    For my little users GCompris and firefox with cbeebies [bbc.co.uk]as a homepage plus a paint prog is all I want.
    I know edubuntu aims at a wider age range, that is not my point here
    I think for young kids icewm is easier to strip and create a safe environment for them to play.
    It wouldn't be interesting to 7+ yr olds, but then 7+ yr olds are very different. A one size catches all (which edubuntu aims for) is not, therefore, I think the best approach.
    Just my 2c
    [p.s. geez wierd sh*t man, I never thought I'd be posting here as a parent. Time flies ...]
  • by sweetnjguy29 (880256) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @09:14PM (#14175991) Journal
    Does the computer operating system a person uses as a child have any predictive value in forseeing what OS a person will use as an adult? [snip] What OS a person starts out with when young will have ZERO impact on what OS they stay with.

    I disagree. There are very sophisticated marketing and advertising models out there that suggest the opposite of what you are saying. Why do you think Pepsi and Coca-cola fight to get their branded machines into schools? Why do you think that the Apple I-Pod was such a success with the under 25 market? I bet that it has something to do with the brand recognition Apple has, from being the dominant computer company in the educational market. (And lots of clever advertising.)

    However, I also agree with you that for most people, what OS they use as a kid doesn't really matter. Why? Because the OS will be radically different by the time the child graduates from elementry school. And the OS the child uses in junior high will be obsolete when s/he gets to college. And so on.

    But, if kids learn how to use EDUbuntu early on, they hopefully will get a basic grounding in how to use a UNIX type operating system that will well serve them into the future. The UNIX environment hasn't changed its basics that much over the past 25 or so years...

    I also agree with you that an OS is like a tool, and that the more technical amoung us will see out the best tool for the job, regardless of the OS. However, the less computer savy amoung us will just follow the herd mentality, and get what ever is popular...or what they know. That was why my first computer was a MAC...because I used it in High School. And thats why after 3 years of seeing how the MAC sucked in comparison to my friend's PCs, I made the switch to Windows. I got into Linux gradually, because it was difficult for me to learn, but eventually, I got proficient and use it all the time. I loved using those SPARC stations on campus!

    If I had been started off on a powerful UNIX type operating system, all of the mystique of using LINUX would not have been a barrier to entry. Right now, the learning curve of using Linux is preventing wider adoption. Ubuntu, MacOS X, and now EDUbuntu have made that barrier to entry into the UNIX world easier.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, 2005 @09:44PM (#14176107)
    My wife saw the slashdot article and was very enthusiastic. The reasons are:

    1. Kids mess up crapastic windows
    2. She still needs windows for her applications
    3. Dual boot to this educational distro is a perfect solution.

    We just dloaded, burned and installed.
  • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @09:54PM (#14176154)
    What OS a person starts out with when young will have ZERO impact on what OS they stay with.... OS'es are more like a tool, like a hammer.
    Not at all. Do you give a child Legos in the hopes they'll still be playing with them as adults? Of course not, but it builds a different way of looking at things. It's not whether kids will use the exact same OS as an adult. It's whether they grow up thinking of the computer as a "product" - a black box that does certain things - or appreciating this powerful, complicated thing that has endless possibilities.

    To you the computer is just a certain tool, like a hammer as you say. To me the computer is more like a milling machine; it can make hammers, but for that matter a hammer isn't even nearly the most interesting thing it can make.

    Even guiding kids into computer science isn't really the point, the point is that kids should be around constructive learning environments where stuff can be taken apart and put back together - be it economics, politics, chemistry, or computers. Heck, forget the kids for a moment, that's the kind of environment interesting adults enjoy.

  • by thephotoman (791574) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @09:55PM (#14176158) Journal
    Don't worry about the pr0n. They'll only start looking for it when they're ready. Until then, they will instinctively hit the back button, as they're not interested.

    I'd be more worried about their chat and IM access.

    However, middle click does nothing on the desktop in Gnome 2.12.1 (on Ubuntu proper, though I do have the Edubuntu packages installed, to ensure that it works the same way). Right click does not give me a terminal either.
  • Re:what a joke (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gadren (891416) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @09:57PM (#14176166)
    Linux is about choice, and ideas about a unified distro run contrary to what it's all about.

    Here's a good essay on why this is: http://www.psychocats.net/essays/unifiedlinux.php [psychocats.net]
  • GNOME Based? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jameth (664111) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @10:33PM (#14176294)

    I always wonder why so many distributions insist on being GNOME-based. In general, it results in things like the list of apps [edubuntu.org] that edubuntu uses. In short, the list has 18 KDE-apps, 1 GNOME-app, and 6 apps that use GTK but no desktop specific libs, despite the fact that Ubuntu is nominally GNOME-based. It seems that GNOME offers little in the way of important libraries, or more groups already writing GTK software for Linux would bother to make them GNOME apps, and less people would go to KDE as a platform.

    Now, don't get me wrong, GNOME has made some great backend stuff. Beagle and GStreamer in particular jump to mind, but the desktop as a whole just doesn't seem to offer all that much. It's not even that I necessarily think that GNOME is the wrong choice (although I personally wouldn't choose it), it's just that all the distros that choose it (including Ubuntu and most everything else) don't appear to give any strong argument for why, so I'm somewhat confused as to what they base their decisions on.

  • by jnelson4765 (845296) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @12:09AM (#14176610) Journal
    Plus, a LTSP setup installed by default - getting a remote X environment set up can be a pain, even for an experienced admin, and having this thing auto-generate a system like that is very, very cool.
  • by mattwarden (699984) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:49AM (#14177348) Homepage
    And here all this time I thought I was an American because I lived in the US. Turns out I'm just part of the white dominating force that has conquered the US from the natives.
  • 1. You have separate user accounts, right? Use them.
    2. If you are afraid they will wipe their own directory, make a copy (eg in your directory), doesn't need to be a serious backup.
    3. Not sure if your system has this, but I can create a new login, without logging out. Applications --> System Tools --> New Login, on my Debian system. It will lock your screen and create a new login. You can switch between them with ctrl-alt-F7 and higher. If your kid does this, that's what the locked screen is for.
    4. Your kid will not *randomly* type `rm -rf *`, though it is very likely they would hear about said command and try it. It'll be a good lesson. That's where the backup comes in.

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