5 Day’s Of Technology For Homeschooling ~ Day 3 Linux
I switched to Linux as my main operating system about a year and a half ago now. I made the original switch because I was looking for really good free photo and video editors. I have to say, I love it! Linux has become an important tool in our homeschooling for many reasons.
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Security from viruses is a big plus. When my children were using Windows even only using “safe” sites I had preapproved, viruses always found their way onto the system. Linux by the way it is designed is much harder to get viruses. For starters in order to install software you HAVE to enter your super user/admin password.
Since most software is installed through your distributions package manager/software center, if you received an email that did have a Linux program version in it and for some odd reason it tried to auto install, common sense here would to be cancel it and not enter your password.
Since children would not be super users on the pc, there is no way they could even install it! There are many other things that make Linux secure. Since it is open source software that is widely used, there are many programmers looking at the code. Weaknesses are quickly found and updated.
Another reason I love Linux is that there are many versions of Linux. Unlike Windows and Mac that are closed code, Linux is open source. So people can build new versions of it to suit their needs and style. There are versions designed for education, light weight systems and all the bells and whistles you could want!
One of our computers is a Compaq Presario SR121ONX. We bought this new about 9 years ago. It has only 256 MB of RAM, a 330 Intel processor and 80 GB hard drive. It came with Windows XP but because of the low memory it is very, very, very slow. Really with Windows it is almost unusable except for light text work. After using Linux on my own laptop for a while, I decided to try a lightweight Linux version on their computer. The difference was amazing! It would start quickly, didn’t crash constantly no more blue screen of death! Also Linux has a huge amount of free software that we put to good use!
Lubuntu was my top pick for my children's computer because it is a full Linux version that is very light weight. It can be installed on a Pentium 2 or Celeron system with at least 128 MB of RAM. It is recommended to have at least 256 MB of RAM. This is the amount their pc has and it runs very well with it. I would think using it on a pc with more RAM it would just FLY!
Linux Versions Made For Children
These versions of Linux are built specifically for children and are easy to use and loaded with a lot of free education and fun software.
Qimo is a lightweight version that is great for young children 3 years and up. It can be run off a CD and your pc will need 256MB of RAM for that. If you are installing it directly to your pc it only needs 192 MB and at least 6 GB of hard drive space. Qimo is built on Ubuntu and is designed with a simple interface with large buttons perfect for little children. It also has a normal menu to access software of interests for older children.
Edubuntu is an educational version of Ubuntu. Their goal is to help get Ubuntu into schools and homes and have a system that is powerful but easy to use. There distro requires 512 MB of RAM but recommends 1 GB. For this reason I didn't use it on my children's pc. However if yours is a little newer than mine, this is a great distro that is packed with educational software from LibreOffice to Gimp.
DoudouLinux is another cool looking Linux version for younger children. It needs a Pentium 2 or higher processor, 256 MB of RAM and only 4 GB of hard drive space. DoudouLinux can be run off a live CD so you don't need to change anything on your computer. Just place the CD in your drive and boot from it. When the kids are finished with your pc remove the CD and everything is back to normal. If you want to, you can install it on your computer easily. One really nice feature of DoudouLinux is that it comes preset up with a web filter that blocks any bad sites your child might click on or search terms they should not be looking up. DoudouLinux doesn't use drop menus, everything is easily found on tabbed windows. It is loaded with fun education software for children.
There are quite a few more if you search for Linux for children!
Do you have an older student who's doing some serious research? Or perhaps you research a lot of topics? UberStudent looks like a really great Linux distro developed by a professional educator who wanted a program to help build success in research, writing, reading, studying and management skills. It works out of the box and has almost every education product I think an adult would need to work with. I also love that they have included examples and tutorial on how to use the more complex programs. Many links to popular web apps are included right in the menu.
I’ve already overview that Linux is a secure operating system and comes in many different distributions, but why else would you want to use Linux compared to Windows or Mac?
Linux is a powerful operating system, even programs that are light weight can do a lot for you! Because there are some great light weight distros like Lubuntu, Mint and Bodhi Linux (my personal fav.) you can use older computers longer and get MORE production out of them. Used computers are much cheaper then new ones and some times can be found for free. Using Linux to get the most productivity out of older computers really helps to stretch your budget. Also because it’s FREE you can install it on as many computers as you like, and not have to pay for a new licence each time.
Linux has amazing forums, most versions will have their own forum and I’ve found Linux user to be very helpful. As a newbie I had many questions about how to do things, or what programs would do a similar function to the Windows software I had been using. I was never made to feel silly for asking questions.
I would really encourage anyone who has tried Linux in the past, to give it another shot. Linux has gotten much more user friendly in the past few years!
When asked my children tell me they love Linux because it’s easy to use, doesn’t freeze and has a lot of fun games like Super Tux and Tux Paint.
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing some of my favourite Linux software and how we use it in our homeschool. Many of these programs are also available for Windows and/or Mac.
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Image screen shots courtesy of Wiki Commons.