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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) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <beilttogile>> 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 aywwts4 (610966)
      You make linux sound one step away from the tobacco industry. 'Hook em while they are young.'
    • 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.

      • What happened to Apple? They charge too high for their hardware and so they will never get a majority of the market. OK, Microsoft also charge a lot, but you can pirate Windows and run it on a cheap PC if you need to.

        If linux is to get more of a market share, then linux needs to improve.

        Linux already is getting more market share. If Microsoft wants to keep their market share, they need to improve at least as fast as Linux.
        • Linux already is getting more market share

          OS Platform Stats October 2005 [w3schools.com]:

          Windows XP and Win.NET 72% Up 2% from September 05
          Linux 3% Up 1% from March 03

          This is how the world looks to a web developer. I'll leave it to your imagination where Microsoft stands in the home market.

          you can pirate Windows and run it on a cheap PC if you need to

          or you can buy a brand new Celeron PC with a 17" CRT, XP Home and Word Perfect from Dell for $250 plus shipping: Basic Desktops [dell.com]

          • Hmmm:

            Win* usage 2003 oct (overall: nt, 98, 2k, xp, etc) - 93,2 %
            Win* usage 2005 oct - 90% - down more than 3% in two years... not much, I admit, but not bad either, considering the rate of development (and the state of desktop linux even two years ago...).

            Where did that 3% go? Apparently 1-1 to Linux and Mac, and 1 to something other (in my case, I'm in other with FreeBSD).

          • Browser statistics? You're using browser statistics to base your case on? It's based on browser detection and that's very easy to spoof (and heck, often necessary to get a site to accept you. As most of the time the only thing that makes a site that claims it "only works in IE" not work is that you're detecting as something else) and fairly commonly done by non-Windows users. It's incredibly unreliable at best.
      • Cut my teeth on TRS-DOS and then MS DOS. Skipped Win until a brand-new P200mmx, but had used the first macs some while in high school. Got off windows, now prefer Linux, and still use command line for a lot of stuff.

        So yeah, I'd say early computer experiences will lay a foundation of "comfort" as to how you should intereact with a computer. For some reason I don't understand, there are some people who think a blinking curson isn't a graphic :)
      • 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

        • Now that you mention it, after I had finished playing with Amigas, the first real computer I used was a Mac at school, and I started playing with Linux soon after I got a PC...

          Don't you think it's weird how originally, computers were Unix based, then Windows and Mac came along, basically stealing crap from Xerox (a Unix-alike based initiative) and then we're slowly moving back to Unix with Linux and MacOSX?
          • Now that I think about it somemore, the first computer I ever used was the Commodore 64 at my uncle's house. I remember it having neat games. And I remember doing some very simple programing in BASIC as an 8 or 9 year old on an Apple II at summer camp. I also remember my first Macintosh experience...with a mouse and a real GUI...I was impressed. And...I also remember my first horrific interaction with a Windows based computer in High School, at a friends house. It was not intuitive. And it was slow.
      • 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.

        • If I had mod points today I would give you an insightful.

          And, as long as the litle critters are being exposed to a non-mainstream operating system, it might as will be Linux. It's more hands on than Apple or Windows and lets the kids know that there is a lot more to computers than neatly packaged Apple or Windows environments. I's a much better "other" operating system for kids to be exposed to than Apple variants. If anything, Apple makes the computer more of a mystery box than even Windows does.
        • by pla (258480)
          Do you give a child Legos in the hopes they'll still be playing with them as adults? Of course not,

          New to Slashdot, eh? ;-)


          Overall, I agree with you completely (except not expecting adults to use Lego). Had I started my computer experience with Windows, I fully expect I would not currently work in IT/CS/SE/whatever. Not for the classic "Windowz sux" battlecry; but rather, because Windows doesn't challenge the user to improve themselves. The user has no motivation to learn how the underlying OS works
    • Re:Excellent (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ettlz (639203)

      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 ;)

      • 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.

        Yes, but you should always make a child aware of the existence of the Devil's Hell as a place many people go to every day. That way, he or she will not be shocked when they encounter people who tell them to lead that particularly colourful lifestyle.

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

        Don't expect it to work though. There's always something [alvania.net] prompting them to take that first step.

  • by JebusIsLord (566856) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:42PM (#14175534) Homepage
    Are you a Linux user? Are you a parent?

    Query returned 0 results, please try to broaden your search parameters.
  • by Xampper (806386) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:43PM (#14175538)
    This seems slightly pointless, as I could take a standard Ubuntu system and install educational apps I want myself. That way, the entire family could use the system and not have to look at the bright colors and corny applications which are installed by default. Besides, what 5 year old can install Edubuntu?!! ;)
    • 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.

      • by richdun (672214) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:45PM (#14175862)
        Agreed. This is why Linux has trouble going mainstream. We the /.'ers can do it ourselves, but the vast majority of people can't. Sheep like whatever pasture they're given, whether or not the smart sheep have built a cool looking bridge to a much better pasture with fewer bugs and wolf-protection and vi. The only thing that is still lacking from this kind of thing, though, is the momentum to drive it through to more than just a few educators. If someone gave schools, especially public ones, science equipment and musical instruments and the like, in addition to a herd of Linux geeks to install this for the schools on their existing hardware (or give new hardware as needed), it could really take off. Apple, Microsoft, Dell, etc., like to make "community development" donations that go beyond just their computers/software, and this is what gets many on their platforms.
      • Giving kids Linux in it's present state to teach them about computers is the equivalent of giving kids Maya software to teach them how to draw.

        The only place where modern-day Linux would be appropriate would be in grades 6 and up, meaning that the kindergarten-level artwork is vastly inappropriate and the kids (teenagers) will not accept it without some whining.
    • by NullProg (70833) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:15PM (#14175713) Homepage Journal
      Moderators, parent post is not a troll, just an opinion a person is entitled too.

      Ubuntu is installed on my eleven year old's box (dual-boot Win98) and he loves it. Its easy enough that his nine year old brother gets on and plays bzflag, heroes, neverputt and even uses mozilla to play games at nick.com. The eleven year old uses OpenOffice, Blender, Stellarium, Scribus, and Inkscape. He cranks out his mp3's and shoutcast using xmms.

      Linux not for kids my ass.

      Enjoy,
    • Well, do you realize that you can just install a standard Ubuntu system and then install the edubuntu-desktop package? The Ubuntu systems can be converted by installing the ubuntu-desktop, kubuntu-desktop, edubuntu-desktop, and/or xubuntu-desktop packages. It does not matter which one's CD you used to install the OS. Edubuntu makes it easier to pick kid-friendly packages.
    • This seems slightly pointless, as I could take a standard Ubuntu system and install educational apps I want myself.

      So could I. I could write my own text editor too, and mail client, web server, etc. I choose not to, and to use what others have created instead, because it saves time and lets me get on with the things I actually want to be doing. Same deal here - even a lot of us that *can* do it, simply don't want to waste time doing it ourselves.
  • If they had based it off of Kubuntu, they could have easily taken advantage of KDE's superior internationalization and localization support. Such support would have made this system usable by students and educators in many other nations, including those who do not use English.

    Thankfully it is quite easy to install KDE on an Ubuntu system anyways. But it would be far more convenient for administrators and teachers to already have such fantastic and easy-to-use functionality installed by default.
  • Excellent!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 03, 2005 @07:46PM (#14175552)
    I'll have the only five year old that knows how to edit an fstab file!
  • 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.
  • Montessori School (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cyber_rigger (527103) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:05PM (#14175660) Homepage Journal

    I recently showed Edubuntu to my 5 year old's school.

    They were very interested.
    Many of the games were like the Montessori method of teaching.
  • Or does apt-get install Oregon Trail work...
  • And Skolelinux? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Moosbert (33122) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:18PM (#14175722)
    How does this compare to Skolelinux [skolelinux.org], an existing Debian-derived distribution used in schools? Or is it just NIH?
  • Finally an operating system upper management can actually use! I guess I can retire their etch-a-sketchs. Now if I can just teach them not to stick stamps on the monitor when they send email.
  • Did you know ? (Score:5, Informative)

    by this great guy (922511) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:23PM (#14175744)

    Did you know that the core developers of Ubuntu Linux are employed by the Ubuntu Foundation, which was founded by Mark Shuttleworth [wikipedia.org] (he provided an initial funding commitment of $10 million). He is also:

    • a South African entrepreneur,
    • the first African in space (he reportedly paid $20 million for his trip aboard the Soyuz and ISS spacecrafts)
    • the guy who founded Thawte (digital certificates, etc) and sold it later to VeriSign.
    • was a Debian developer in the 1990s
  • by chefmonkey (140671) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:26PM (#14175758)
    I'm deeply suspicious of a so-called "educational" distribution put together by people who can't seem to spell "calendar" correctly [edubuntu.org].
  • by MartinB (51897) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:43PM (#14175855) Homepage

    Most of what makes Edubuntu different from *buntu isn't actually relevant for home use. To quote the Design Goals [edubuntu.org]:

    Centralized management of configuration, users, and processes, together with facilities for working collaboratively in a classroom setting.

    ...and the Application Selection criteria [edubuntu.org]:

    Target Market for applications - while applications for the learners are required, the main requirement now is for teacher tools, to enable teachers to create teaching content, worksheets, cross words, tests.

    So if you ignore the child-friendly artwork (not that it's entirely insignificant), what you have (beyond standard *buntu) is:

    1. An easy-install/control LDAP-based network environment [edubuntu.org]
    2. A Learning Management System [moodle.org]
    3. A bunch [edubuntu.org] of pretty basic and standard educational applications - although the Timetabling app [homelinux.org] isn't to be sniffed at

    Unless you're home-schooling (and ideally, homeschooling several families together), or your school is using Edubuntu and you want to standardise on it at home too, this isn't going to be much more helpful to you at home than any other *buntu.

  • 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 ...]
    • You can prevent that, you know, by restricting their access to gnome-terminal. Just set it so that your kids aren't in a group that can use it but you are. And for the love of GOD, make sure you teach them about logging in and out properly and do so yourself. And keep your pr0n stuff to when they're in bed.
    • 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.
  • What's next? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eyeball (17206) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:48PM (#14175884) Journal
    Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu... I want Pornubuntu.

  • Yes and Yes!

    But I have to get my granddaughter ( 3 ) suitably indoctrinated ( parents are 'dozey ).
    Anybody know of a site / torrent to download a LiveCD of Edubuntu?
  • by Lehk228 (705449) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @08:55PM (#14175910) Journal
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  • Will the young learn anything about software freedom? Will it be allowed to give GNU a share of the credit [gnu.org]? If "Linux[sic] for Young Human Beings" and asking "Do you run Linux[sic]?" is the state of things, it would appear not. How sad that such effort is being put into misinformation by omission as well as aggrandization of a figure that is remarkably hostile to software freedom, and being done in the name of educating the young (precisely the audience that ought to be taught about software freedom, val

  • I really think this is misdirected, kids will find interesting and pursue what the *genuinely find* interesting. I think "Targetting" things for kids is kinda stupid, they will have a natural inclination towards figuring something out that the think is interesting or they wont.
  • NetNanny? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pdjohe (575876) on Saturday December 03, 2005 @10:19PM (#14176242)
    Just out of curiosity, does Edubuntu have any sort of application to limit what kids can find on the Internet?

    One that I found after a google search was http://dansguardian.org/?page=whatisdg [dansguardian.org]

    I know the Slashdot crowd is generally against censorship, but would a children's Linux distribution be appropriate to have censorship as default.

    • Re:NetNanny? (Score:3, Interesting)

      I know the Slashdot crowd is generally against censorship, but would a children's Linux distribution be appropriate to have censorship as default. To be honest, censorship is one thing, and having your kid redirected to websites unfit to be mentioned in the classroom is another ... If this is to be used in a classroom full of 7year olds, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to let the teacher filter out some of the pr0n, if at least for sanity's sake.
    • by miyako (632510)
      There are no sites censored by default, but there is a handy command in Edbuntu to help filter sites you don't want you kids to see, just drop to a shell and run
      vi /etc/hosts
      as root. :)
  • GNOME Based? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jameth (664111)

    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.

  • Awwww (Score:4, Funny)

    by deaddrunk (443038) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @05:57AM (#14177464)
    "Honey, junior said his first RTFM!"

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