The Linux for Kids Experiment
By Paul Barry
When pressed to answer truthfully, most parents agree that raising kids is a big experiment. In the December 2004 issue of LJ, Diego Betancor's letter motivated me to experiment with something I've been meaning to do for some time. Diego wanted to see more content in LJ aimed at kids, and his suggestion was the inspiration for the next phase of my child-rearing experiment: moving the kids to Linux.
As great as it is, the iMac had been showing its age for some time. It also has become increasingly difficult to find original software titles for its effectively discontinued OS version. Trying to upgrade to Mac OS X or any modern version of Linux was not an option for the iMac; it's simply too under-powered. Without new titles, the kids were getting bored with the iMac and had been asking for a new computer. They also constantly bugged both me and their Mum to install various Windows titles on our laptops [...]
Software for the Kids
In an attempt to ease the introduction of a new — and somewhat different — computer into the house, we decided to relax our household software policy and install a few nice Linux games along with the educational software. Here's a quick rundown of the titles we decided to make available on the desktop launcher. [...]
- Tux Paint (/usr/bin/tuxpaint) is a great kids-targeted drawing program. The sound is great, the effects are wonderful and it is easy to use. Aideen spends more time in Tux Paint than in all of the other installed programs combined, and Aaron enjoys using it too. The built-in collection of stamper shapes especially are appreciated by our budding Picassos.
Is Linux Ready for Kids?
The answer is yes, of course it is! It's not that Linux is a better platform than the others for kids to use, it's that Linux is as good as any other. Children are happy to sit down and play with most any computer as long as the software titles provided are engaging and fun. [...]