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Kids Can Enjoy Linux Too

Updated on April 22, 2011
Allyssa at the Computer, age 2
Allyssa at the Computer, age 2


My daughter was about two when she started wanting her turn on a computer. Dad has a computer, mom has a computer, so Allyssa thought she should have a turn also. At first we found gCompris which is tends mainly to be for 3-10 years. For a while she would have some problems with it, and would become frustrated. These frustrations mainly occurred when she would try to do things that she just hadn't learned or figured out yet.

Sometimes to bridge the gap from what she could do and what she wanted to do we would use online preschool game sites. This helped with the learning to use the mouse, and would give her confidence. She found the games fun, and they were also teaching her early skills.

Like all young children, sometimes she would be extremely interested in the computer and its games and sometimes she wouldn't be interested for long periods of time. Often her disinterest appeared like a boon to mom, since she wouldn't have to give up her computer for Allyssa to play on, (even dad would occasionally allow his to be used for Allyssa).

Now unlike most households, neither my husband nor myself normally run windows. So how do we find things for our daughter to play on the computers? Actually that's very easy.

Allyssa at the computer, almost 4
Allyssa at the computer, almost 4

Linux Options

There are some Linux distributions aimed directly for children, like Qimo, Edubuntu, LinuxKidX, Foresight for Kids, and Doudoulinux. Which are the ones I found when I did a recent search. While I have not done in depth research on each, there is one thing that these seem to have in common. And that is they take educational software already freely available in linux and package it together, in a way to make it easier for young users to access.

Sounds like a wonderful way to go, if you have an additional computer around that can be dedicated to your child(ren). Sometimes, like in our case, it wasn't possible to dedicate a computer to our daughter's use. Instead we decided to focus on the available software.

There is the gCompris I mentioned before, there is also ChildsPlay. As well as a line of Tux items like Tux Paint, Tux Math, and Tux Typing (which teaches both keyboard familiarity and words/spelling). As well as some other smaller games, several of which are for the KDE desktop, or with the some of the KDE dependencies.

Since most distributions now have some version of a package manager these days, installation of the various programs should be quick and easy.  In Ubuntu there is also the option of downloading the Qimo games package which has the games Qimo uses all together in one download. 

What next?

Well, install the software and watch your children learn through play. It's really as easy as that. I have a separate log in for my daughter in my computer, which is her name, and she knows how to type that in herself to log herself on.

In fact, she likes to use the computer so much that I needed to write an auto log out script to get her off the computer when her allotted time is up.  You can see that here.


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    • lycorne profile image

      lycorne 6 years ago

      I remember that day in KC as well. It's right about that same time we realized she had learned the ABC's playing the Thomas game on her baby game system.

    • grandslambert profile image

      Shane Lambert 6 years ago from West Salem, Wisconsin

      I remember that day from the first photo - it's when I knew that my pure geek gene had transferred to my daughter. It is amazing how quickly she learned to use both the touchpad on the laptop and the Logitech Trackman track-ball mouse we use. I have even seen her use a regular mouse with perfect dexterity - picking it up and moving it when she reaches the edge of the table. Computers teach children a lot more than you may think.