How To Make The Perfect PC For Kids With Edubuntu
The Perfect PC For Elementary School
I am a big advocate of Linux and open source software, in fact this is being typed on a PC powered by PC Linux OS which is a Debian based distribution or 'distro' as the many flavors of Linux are called. I ditched Windows about seven years ago and have not looked back, I maintain one Windows machine for gaming and because in my work as a graphic artist and web developer I need to use Adobe Photoshop which does not run on Linux.
If you are hovering around 40 or older, you remember when computers were not common and computer skills were confined to a select group of hobbyists. Well, no more my friends. Computer skills are, and will remain essential, especially for kids just entering the K-12 system. And the sooner they begin to master these, and other skills, the better.
But most of us don't really want to risk letting a preschooler loose on our shiny $1000.00+ dollar desktop or laptop, especially if we use it to work. So, what can you do for your little one so they can learn how to use a PC without risking a major virus infection or broken hardware?
"Edubuntu is a grassroots movement, we aim to get Ubuntu into schools, homes and communities and make it easy for users to install and maintain their systems.
We are students, teachers, parents and hackers who believe that learning and knowledge should be available to everyone who wants to improve themselves and the world around them.
Our aim is to put together a system that contains all the best free software available in education and make it easy to install and maintain."
So dig out that old computer from the closet and let's get started!
First things first
The first thing you will need to do is go to the Edubuntu web site and download the .iso image to a folder on your desktop or wherever you like on your hard drive.
If you do not have an image burning application already such as Nero, you can download a free application like CDBurnerXP here and use it to burn your .iso to a CD-R. I have used CDBurnerXP extensively and it is an excellent CD burning application, I highly recommend it and the price is right.
Now insert your newly minted Edubuntu disk in your CD drive and reboot. You may need to select 'Boot from CD' in your PC Bios but most modern machines will detect the Linux CD automatically.
But I need my computer!
You can certainly run Edubuntu from the Live CD on your machine and be perfectly safe, as long as you are there to supervise your preschooler. But you have things to get done and you don't really have time to sit there for an hour to make sure that they don't get excited and pull your mouse out of the tower or accidentally rip out your Ethernet cable (They're kids, that's what they do, God bless 'em)
That's one of the great things about Linux, it will run on very old hardware, as long as you don't try to activate all the fancy effects like Compiz- And a 5 year old doesn't need them anyhow. So dig out that retired PC that you threw in a closet when you upgraded, clean it out and install Edubuntu. Now you can let your child learn by doing without having to worry about any bad things happening to your main computer.
If you don't have an old computer laying around you can usually find perfectly serviceable computers on Craigslist or at garage sales for $50.00-$100.00. Or you can ask around among your friends and neighbors, odds are someone has an old PC stored away.