Linux and open source is the future and there is no doubt about that, and to see this come to a reality, a strong foundation has to be lied, by starting from the lowest level possible and that is exposing kids to Linux and teaching them how to use Linux operating systems.
Linux is a very powerful operating system and that is one of the reasons why it powers a lot of servers on the Internet. Though there have been concerns about its user-friendliness which has brought about the debate of how it will overtake Mac OSX and Windows on desktop computers, I think users need to accept Linux as it is to realize its real power.
Today, Linux powers a lot of machines out there, from mobile phones to tablets, laptops, workstations, servers, supercomputers, cars, air traffic control systems, refrigerators, and many more. With all this and more yet to come in the near future, as I had already stated at the beginning, Linux is the operating system for future computing.
Because the future belongs to the kids of today, then introducing them to technologies that will change the future is the way to go. Therefore they have to be introduced at an early stage to start learning computer technologies and Linux as a special case.
One thing common to children is curiosity and early learning can help instill a character of exploration in them when the learning environment is designed to suit them.
Having looked at some quick reasons why kids should learn Linux, let us now go through a list of exciting Linux distributions that you can introduce your kids to so that they can start using and learning Linux.
Sugar is a free open-source, activity-based learning platform for kids, it supports the notions that learners should “share by default” and be able to “explore, express, debug, and critique.” So, unlike other distributions, Sugar emphasizes on “activities” rather than “applications.
It is a project by Sugar Labs that aims at designing free tools to support learning among children by making them gain skills in exploring, discovering, creating, and also reflecting on ideas. It is a non-profit organization led by volunteers.
You can think of sugar as both a desktop and a collection of learning activities that help encourage active involvement from children who are learning.
It features collaboration, reflection, and discovery right from the user interface thus enabling children to have the opportunity to use computers on their own terms. You can run a full sugar environment on any computer at any time from a bootable USB drive or install it on the computers hard disk.
Ubermix is a free open-source, specially built, Linux-based operating system designed from the ground up for educational purposes. It is created by educators with a strong focus on student and teacher empowerment.
By making them as secure and easy to use as a mobile device, Ubermix takes all the sophistication out of a student’s computer, without losing the power and features of a full OS.
3. Debian Edu / Skolelinux
Based on Debian Linux, Debian Edu / Skolelinux is a free and open-source Linux distribution built for educational use and a Debian Pure Blend (a project inside of Debian that aims to cover the interest of specialized users including children).
It is easy to install and comes fully configured with a network, ready-made terminal server, thin clients, desktops, and workstations. It is optimized to support older computers and newer computers
4. Kano OS
Kano OS is the software that powers a Kano Computer Kit (built around a Raspberry Pi) work. Kano OS is based on the Raspbian OS which itself a Debian derivative. It comes with educational apps, games, and more, for kids.
LinuxConsole is a lightweight, easy to use, yet powerful Linux operating system for children and kids that supports many languages and is based on Ubuntu Linux. Because of its lightweight desktop, it is possible to use it on old computers.
It ships with several software packages for kids, it also features parental control tool, for controlling the access time of user accounts. Besides, you can try it with a LiveUSB, before installing it on your computer hard disk.
6. openSUSE: Education-Li-f-e
openSUSE: Education-Li-f-e (Linux for Education) is a live DVD created from the regular openSUSE distribution that comes with additional software packages for educational projects. It includes carefully selected educational and developmental software for students, educators as well as parents, and comes with everything required to make computers productive (either for home or educational use) without having to install anything additional.
7. Leeenux Kids
Leeenux Kids is an edition of Leeenux Linux designed for children, intended to be fun and educational. It is paid for but very cheap, it supports and is optimized for use on both modern and old machines. It allows you to easily turn old machines into educational toys for kids.
That is it for now, in case there are more Linux operating systems intended for kids or children out there, which I have not included in this list, you can let us know by leaving a comment.
You can also let us know what you think of introducing kids to Linux and the future of Linux, especially on Desktop computers.