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Education Software Linux

French Kids Get OSS on USB Sticks 313

daria42 writes "To help make kids aware of alternatives to proprietary software the Ile-de-France, the political district of greater Paris, will give 175,000 school children and apprentices USB keys loaded with open-source software. With a word-processing program, audio and video playback capabilities, an email client and an IM client, these are essentially computers on a stick. The council touts this as 'represent[ing] for students a tool of freedom and mobility between their school, cybercafes and their home or friends' PCs'." With the prevalence of internet cafes in Europe, that might work better than in the US ... but do you think such a project would work here as well? If so, what software would you want to see loaded up?
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French Kids Get OSS on USB Sticks

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  • by ClosedSource ( 238333 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:50PM (#17900028)
    In what way?
    • Add a few more things depending on zee size of zee steeck.
    • by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:17AM (#17900628) Homepage Journal
      Inna bun at half price, and that's cutting me own throat.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mh101 ( 620659 )
      Yeah, the poster obviously doesn't understand what a computer is... calling a USB stick preloaded with software a "computer on a stick" is like calling a filled gas can a "car in a can".

    • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @02:50AM (#17901102)
      Interesting, isn't it? While technically wrong, it shows how commoditized computing hardware has become... apparently it isn't even noticeable to some people. All that matters is the user's data and applications.
      • by mrmeval ( 662166 )
        I agree. I drive my car. I like getting my stuff in and out of my car. If my car commits hari kari I want my stuff to go in my new car. :)

        I'd do it as a Haiku
        but...I fear the reaper.

    • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:36PM (#17905912) Journal
      Computers on a stick?

      In what way?

      Depends on how they do it.

      What makes my computer "My" computer is not the processor, RAM, DVD/RW drive, or the network adapter. If my Broadcom NIC was replaced with an Intel NIC, it would still be "my" computer.

      What makes my computer "my" computer is the /home partition. There are all my settings, my KDE preferences, my bookmarks, my Email, my shell history, my KDE background photo of my kids, and my ~/bin directory with all my shell-script wizardry.

      It's my personal data ON the computer that makes it uniquely mine, and this particular set of data has been mine continuously since about 1999 or so, despite me having some half dozen computers since then. They are all "mine" when I used them because they all had this dataset on them.

      When I last switched from my Centrino 1.6 laptop to my new Intel Core2 Duo, I brought over that .../home directory, and did an OS upgrade from Fedora Core 3 to Core 6. Despite having all new hardware and a new operating system, it was immediately recognizable as "my" computer because of all this pre-existing data.

      So, if you had all your stuff sitting on a flash drive, that you could plug into anywhere you go, then any computer instantly becomes "your" computer.

      It's not a literal statement of "Oh geez! Computer on a stick!" but more of an interpretive statement, "Your computer on a stick".

      Don't look at this as a tech weenie - look at this as a more average Joe.
  • by realmolo ( 574068 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:53PM (#17900048)
    I guess that means that my K-Fed CD is a a CD player on a CD.
  • by Utopia ( 149375 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:53PM (#17900056) store just music or other files.
    • by fyoder ( 857358 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:59AM (#17900500) Homepage Journal store just music or other files.

      Yup. When I was a lad back in elementary school many years ago, they gave us all copies of the New Testament. A friend of mine carved through the pages of his to create a secret compartment.

      You can lead a kid to the gospel, be it Christianity or OSS, but you can't make him use it. At least not as you might intend.

      • We did the same thing. Except we used retired classroom/subject books that they sold to student for about a quarter a piece. The added benifit is that they already looked used and the teachers were used to seeing them in class with your other books and seldom questioned it. Same with our parents.
      • You can lead a kid to the gospel, be it Christianity or OSS, but you can't make him use it.
        Even if they don't use it as intended, it should still be a good educational tool.
      • by mrmeval ( 662166 ) []

    • Given that it has audio playback software, its certain there will be music placed on them. The implication of its inclusion is that they knew wiping for music might happen, so this is a convenience that in more cases assures this will not occur.
    • I'm sure everything on these USB sticks, aside from music, will be other files. (Who uses directories these days?)

      C'mon, this is slashdot. You don't have to say "other files", you can say "pr0n" here...

  • OpenCD is similar (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
  • Bad Second Link (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sean0michael ( 923458 ) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:58PM (#17900094)
    The second link leads to an article dated 17 August 2005. It isn't about the same distribution, but about a past incident of French kids receiving OSS on CDs.

    Still, it looks pretty exciting. I'd love to have that stuff on the go. If France can break out of the grip of Microsoft, then perhaps the end of the monopoly is near.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dmayle ( 200765 )

      For those who are interested, this is most likely the FramaKey distribution at [] (English link). There are two versions, a full version that includes OpenOffice, and a lite version with AbiWord. For those who understand French, their sister site FramaSoft [] is a great resource for finding best-of-breed open source software sorted by domain.

  • Sacre Bleu! (Score:5, Funny)

    by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:10AM (#17900180)
    French kid 1: "You got OSS on my USB stick!"

    French kid 2: "You got USB stick on my OSS!"

  • ...but it is a great program. It is also nice to see open source getting distributed on a mass scale; I would like to see American schools take advantage of open source software rather than license traditional commercial softwares.

    More important than software, however, is training how to use the software. Since I know nothing of the French education system, I have no idea what kind of curricular plans go with this distribution. Throwing computers, software, or even computer software on a stick is not goi

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jackspenn ( 682188 )
      Why would we want to distribute OSS on a mass scale?

      Why not distribute great software on a mass scale?

      I mean Adobe Reader is not OSS, but it is better then the OSS PDF viewers out there.

      MP3s are not open source, but how many teenagers prefer to trade OGG files over MP3s?

      I cannot even think of an OSS alternative to Flash.

      VMWare is not OSS, but I like it better then Xen.

      Firefox is probably the best OSS example after Linux, so lets include that on our "Great Software Distribution" USB stick along with the Adob
      • MAybe redistibution rights would get in the road. I know, we don't need no stinkin badges.

        But the logistic behind getting permision to distribute it as well as maybe the cost invovled and the possible legal implications could just make it cost prohibited. And this doesn't even touch on the impresions people get when a specific software vendor is used who normaly turns a profit from the product somehow they push it out. Atleastwith strictly opensource,the degree of corperate shilling/endorsing by the governm
      • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

        I mean Adobe Reader is not OSS, but it is better then the OSS PDF viewers out there.

        ROFL. I'll stay with kpdf, kthnxbye. If I had to use a proprietary PDF viewer, I'd use Foxit Reader, which is faster and does pretty much everything I want in a PDF viewer.

        MP3s are not open source, but how many teenagers prefer to trade OGG files over MP3s?

        MP3s have various patents and licensing issues, nothing todo with being 'opensource', there are opensource decoders/encoders out there for MP3. Plus, aren't they doing s

      • I mean Adobe Reader is not OSS, but it is better then the OSS PDF viewers out there.

        I assume you have never worked with Adobe Reader.
  • by c41rn ( 880778 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:45AM (#17900406)
    I just looked into something like this for myself and found []. You can load up your standard OSS on a USB stick and then use them on any windows computer. I went out and bought the fastest USB stick I could find [] and loaded a few of my favorites on there (Firefox, 7Zip, OpenOffice and a few others). It's been really helpful to have the software I want when I am in a variety of locked-down university computer labs and I can do things with this software that the other students around me can't like open some obscure types of compressed files, save documents as PDFs, and browse the internet ad-free. Highly recommended if you often use public computers or work on other peoples' machines.
  • Mandriva Flash (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward y=USD&products_id=277 []
    Mandriva Flash - A 3D Desktop in your pocket.

    From the link:

    Core and Software
    Kernel 2.6.17
    Glibc 2.4 7.1
    KDE 3.5.4
    GCC 4.1
    OpenOffice 2.0.3
    Mozilla Firefox
    Flash®Player 7.0.68

  • They should put the Gimp and Blender. The only way to get the interface of those programs is to start using them really early. There is no hope left for us but please think of the children and don't spoil their only chance!
  • I think this USB stick will only have any effect on these kids if it will do what they want it to. They probably couldn't care less about using a word processing program, but watching movies and listening to music is something they might like to do. This stick comes preloaded with music and movie software--but, since it won't play mp3s (unless the school put out some dough--every OSS system I've used required some shady means of enabling mp3 playback), it won't do what the kids want it to, so they probabl
    • Re:Mp3 playback? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @05:48AM (#17902038)
      (unless the school put out some dough--every OSS system I've used required some shady means of enabling mp3 playback)

      Since money is not charged per copy of Linux, they do not include software that requires a payment to be made per copy. MP3 decoders and codecs require a payment. Detailes are here; []

      Once you download a codec or decoder, getting it licensed is a problem.. They won't take your money. From the Q & A;

      1) Do you license mp3, mp3PRO and mp3surround software to end users?

      No. We license mp3/mp3PRO software and patents to developers and manufacturers of software applications and hardware devices.

      They don't want to deal with retail, they want to deal with wholesale. The minimum annual payment is $15,000.

      See the minimum royalties on the bottom of this page; []

      every OSS system I've used required some shady means of enabling mp3 playback

      It's because they provide no way to properly license it. We've tried.
  • My list. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Archeopteryx ( 4648 ) <benburch@pobo[ ]om ['x.c' in gap]> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:22AM (#17900666) Homepage
    I would not force Linux on them, but there is a lot of Windows OSS;

    AbiWord first of all.

    Gnumeric spreadsheet

    VideoLAN Client (VLC)

    GAIM multi-protocol IM software

    GZIP file compression tool

    wxBASIC BASIC Interpeter or similar

    Games! This whole list; []

    I think this would about do it and still fit on a modest USB stick.

    What do you think?
    • by toddbu ( 748790 )
      What do you think?

      I think that I'm glad I have a lot of mod points, because what I'm about to say is surely going to get marked as flamebait...

      At the end of the day, the fact that so many people have come up with so many lists about what should be on the USB stick is the reason that OSS struggles in the marketplace. I know that many would disagree with me, but there are just too many choices in competing software packages to make many of them very good. With few exceptions (the LAMP stack being one),

      • by Ash-Fox ( 726320 )

        The problem with OSS is that there are just too many choices.

        I think that's particularly your problem. I don't have a issue with choices. I find myself recommending things (which I don't use as much personally) for other people that suite them for the task more than for my own uses.

        Instead of rallying around a single technology (like has happened with Apache)

        For most of the things I do, I use Apache 1.33, because I find it more suitable than using Apache2. I can't really say I agree with your understandin

  • They get wine in their lunchboxes and can take it to school.

    And they get to eat french food every day.
  • Boot from USB? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DavidD_CA ( 750156 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @02:07AM (#17900882) Homepage
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the point here be to boot fromthe USB to run the OS that is pre-loaded on the stick?

    If it's just OSS apps, and you're still requiring Windows OS, then it's not that revolutionary. Why would the user bother with te USB stick if the computer is already booted into Windows and has popular apps loaded?

    Not to mention I would suspect that most Net Cafes would prevent booting from a USB device because they want you to run the special "cafe" software they usually have that prompts for your credit card, tracks your time, etc.

    Now, if an entire university had a bunch of computer labs with absolutely no pre-installed OS, and gave all their students these USB sticks (with an OS to boot from), then that might be something.
  • by mh101 ( 620659 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @02:10AM (#17900898)
    The poster obviously doesn't understand what a computer is and the relationship between a computer and its software... Calling a USB stick preloaded with software a "computer on a stick" is like calling a filled gas can a "car in a can".

    • by descil ( 119554 )
      > like calling a filled gas can a "car in a can". ..Yes... it's like that.. assuming that there are free tanks sitting around on the street all over the place.
  • While I love Free Software, and would encourage people to burn CDs of Free Software and hand them out to schools, neighbors, churches, etc., I am leery of a government getting behind this effort. The modus operandi of government is coercion, enforcement, mandates and dictates. But you can't coerce, enforce or mandate freedom. The minute you try it goes away.

    Of course, "Free Software" is NOT liberty. It's a nice analogy, but it rapidly breaks down under scrutiny. Still, it's bizarre to see a government tryin
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by makapuf ( 412290 ) *
      You have no idea how French and American visions of state differ. French people have since royal times kept the vision of a powerful and impersonated state, which is trusted and where people expect the state to be a moral person, reponsible and present along everyday life (think welfare state for example). Even since the French revolution has the State kept its (although recent is more geared towards a reduction of role state), even if the economy has always been quite liberal.

      Government is as much out of p
  • Specific software (Score:3, Informative)

    by cbhacking ( 979169 ) <been_out_cruisin ... om ['hoo' in gap> on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @02:55AM (#17901140) Homepage Journal
    The article isn't too specific, but it tells a bit more than the summary does. One specific note: this is all Windows software. My guess is they are using the stuff from []. Going by the applications listed in the article, that would probably be
    • Office Suite - OO.o Portable, most likely. There is also AbiWord Portable, but the article mentions an office suite, not just word proccessing.
    • Internet browser and email are presumably the portable version of Firefox and Thunderbird.
    • Instant messaging has two options, Gaim Portable and Miranda IM Portable. Never heard of the second before.
    • Audio/video player - VLC Media Player Portable.

    Any idea how much space this software all takes, or how large the drives will be? The operation is said to cost about $3.4M, or under $20/student. Some of that will be administrative costs, too. Nonetheless, I'm impressed it can be done for so little.
  • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @02:56AM (#17901150)
    What software would I like to see loaded up? Well, here's what's on MY USB stick:


    Calcute, Converber, Convert, Guillotine, Launchy, Boot Floppy Creator, WinRAR, Rejar, XN Resource Editor, Resource viewer, decompiler & recompiler., Universal Extractor, Allway Sync, pathsync, Batcher, Bulk Rename Utility, DataTool, XpAssociate,


    mIRC, Miranda IM, qm - Quick Mailer, Thunderbird Portable, Opera , read_IE_proxy, VNC server for Win32, VNCViewer, ChrisControl, GreatNews: the intelligent rss reader, FollowMeIP (Show External IP),

    File Transfer

    Quick 'n Easy FTP Server 3.0, Portable WackGet, FTP Wanderer, HTTP File Server, utorrent,


    Network Stumbler, Angry IP scanner, MozillaCookiesView, IPNetInfo, HTTP Get Headers, SuperScan 4 Beta 1, SmartSniff, CurrPorts, NetStat Live, trout (Trace Route), WhoisThisDomain,

    Uniform Server

    Start Main Server, Stop Main Server, Start SlimFTPd, Stop SlimFTPd,


    CD / DVD

    DvdReMake Pro, DVD Shrink 3.2, IFO-file editor, MuxMan, Windows XP Virtual CD, PowerISO, CDex CD-Ripper, BonkEnc Audio Encoder, Nero InfoTool, DVDINFOPro, Alcohol 120%, Standalone CD/DVD Burner, DeepBurner, EasyDVDBurner,

    Graphics / Imaging

    IrfanView, XnView, PaintStar, Portable GIMP, Resize, animagic32, Analyzer, LiquidIcon Editor, FSCapture, SnIco Editor, ColorCop, SmartMorph,


    XMPlay, coolplayer, 1by1, Foobar2000, Easy MP3 Alarm Clock, mpTrim, WakeMeUP,


    Ant Movie Catalog, VLC Media Player, VLC Media Player - no skins, Media Player Classic, VirtualDub,


    Notepad++ : a free (GNU) source code editor, TED Notepad for Windows, UltraEdit-32 Professional Text/Hex Editor, ICEReaderRetail, Foxit Reader Pro, PdftkBuilder, TreePad Lite, Spell Magic, Total Organizer,

    OpenOffice, Writer, Calc, Base, Impress , Math , Draw ,


    pstools, MyUninstaller, Autostart program viewer, Dependency Walker, DiskRecon, DiskImage, PassWordRenew, RegEdit PE, RegScanner, Registry Monitor, TreeSize Professional, ImageExplorer, Tola's patching engine v1.8, AbsoluteShield File Shredder, Removes hard to remove files, WhyReboot,

    HD Tools

    HDHacker, HDD Temperature Monitor, HDSpeed, HD Tune, Partition Table Doctor 3.0, Partition Table Editor for Windows, PartitionInfo Windows NT Version, Symantec GhostCast Server for Windows, Symantec Ghost Explorer, Symantec Ghost,

    Info / Benchmark

    Game XP, ClockGen, CPU-Z Application, aida32, everest, USB Browser, Parmavex WinAudit, RightMark Memory Analyzer, ServiWin Service and Driver manager,

    Copy / Undelete

    ActiveUndelete, Restoration, Unstopable Copier, BadCopy - Disk & CD Data Recovery Utility, raid,

    Maintanance / Repair

    Windows XP SP2 TCP/IP patch, ClamWin Portable, CCleaner Portable, xp-AntiSpy, Norton WinDoctor, Norton Disk Doctor, Ad-Aware SE, JkDefrag, Disk Analysis and Cleanup Utility, WinsockFix,


    TrueCrypt, Keylogger Detector, KeePass Password Safe v1.05, Omziff, Internet Explorer Passwords Viewer, WirelessKeyView, pcANYWHERE password, PasswordsPro, SAMInside, SAMInside, pwdump2,

    Windows Shortcuts

    edit_lmhosts, System, Add or Remove Programs, Computer Management, Services, Performance, Display, Network Connections, Printers and Faxes, Sounds and Audio Devices,


    lwwin, zetrix, rh, Bridging_the_Gap_v1, Process Explorer, My Computer, DSynchronize, DM2, Firefox, x2 - explorer replacement,

    And all of it menued under PStart.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AbRASiON ( 589899 ) *
      Rather than me figure out how to set all that up, why don't you just torrent that as 'ultimate usb tools' or chuck it in a rar and throw it on one of those web based filesharing places.

      I'm pretty sure that'll get you the final point for the +5 informative boost and I'll get at least a +1 for suggesting it, - it's like money in the bank!
  • Every time I see this title I think "French Kiss Gets OSS from USB Sticks" and I'm left wondering if it's a virus or something.
  • France24 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kakofb ( 725561 )
    If the French are so enthusiastic about being open source and/or moving away from Microsoft, why is their France24 video stream on their website Microsoft-only?
    France24 is supposed to be the bastion of everything French to the rest of the world and you can't watch it online unless you're using IE, running Windows, have WMP, etc.
  • The French government may have vested interest in moving towards Open Source and away from (U.S.-centric) proprietary software, due to suspected backdoors planted according to demands by the U.S. government. Same holds true for countries like China, Russia.
  • Puppy Linux (Score:2, Insightful)

    by smorken ( 990019 )
    Are they getting something like Puppy Linux? [] This can be used on a flash drive to run Linux on any computer that is capable of booting from USB.
  • I keep hearing references to using USB sticks to have 'your own' computer when your at a cafe or similar establishment. I have never understood this -- perhaps Denmark is different from the rest of the world on this point, but the cafes I have seen, the first thing they do is to disable the USB drive.
    Surely, you would not be able to *boot* from USB at 99.9% of cafe computers? Or am I entirely off the track here?
  • by 1nhuman ( 597328 ) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @12:59PM (#17906318)

    With the prevalence of internet cafes in Europe..
    This is based on what? I work/live in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France. Internet cafe's are NOT popular in these countries... only in some big cities around places where lots of tourists/international folk hang around you will find these. Broadband coverage in these countries is extremely high. Check out (for instance): cess_worldwide#Netherlands []

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