Nobody likes to be called a dummy by a dummy.

Linux distro for kids?

I am idly thinking about making a linux distro custom made for kids. (Also possibly people who hate computers and bad eyesight).

The basic premise is to create a locked down environment with content filtering for web, IM and email. Add to this a interface design with big, unambiguous buttons, some easy-yet-functional apps and some games.
A part of the idea is to remove all setup and config functionality from the apps and put it on a special interface with root access only, so for example an email program could be reduced to something like 5 buttons.

Yes, it wouldn't be the easiest thing to make, but I think its the kind of project you could get a lot of community support for.

I am still just pondering this, but I have wanted to get involved with distro making for some time so I am sort of looking at areas that are not covred by other distros. (Also, some intense messing with FLTK has led me to take an interest in the equinox desktop environment, and I think it would be suitable for a project like this)

So, does this sound like something you might put on your kid's machine, or your grandma's?
Permalink Eric Debois 
August 5th, 2005
I'd love an interface like that. I'm sure you know , it's been tried before. Famously, Microsoft BOB.

I think the problem is a version of the one that causes the failure of Lite versions of complicated application software. I want a simple piece of software or a simple OS that covers my needs. However, each person has simple needs plus one or two unusual things. I want music software included, another guy wants to play games, another person wants access to excel macro programming, someone else needs to connect to the office VPN, someone else has an odd printer. All the simple case, small exceptions make it hard to make the simple generic interface.

Maybe there are simplifcations that can be done without giving up functionality, maybe you hide the functionality somewhere. It could be possible. I do find OSX a little cleaner than XP and I do find XP cleaner than redhat. But a totally simple applicance-style UI is a tough target.
Permalink FaLing@Orbiz.ch 
August 5th, 2005
Will I be able to put my kids Reader Rabbit and other educational software on there? Or Grandma's Windows based recipe software?
Permalink curious 
August 5th, 2005
>>needs to connect to the office VPN

Kids typcally dont need that though..


>>Grandma's Windows based recipe software?

Nope. While it is probably possible technically it is outside the scope of this idea.

What I mean by locked down evironment is that it is what it is and cant be changed by the user to any great extent. Like an appliance. Something to put on your old 900 mhz duron box to turn it into a toy for your 5-12 year old. And something you can leave in the hands of your child without having to monitor them.
Permalink Eric Debois 
August 5th, 2005
Make it a live distro, boot from cd.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 5th, 2005
I like the targeted idea of young kids only. Saves a lot of complexity. Focuses the idea.

We've got the internet with a whitelisted limited selection of sites, a crippled IM and email suite with limited senders, receivers. Some edutainment games. A simple click once start, quick boot UI. 

Could work for young , say less than 10 years, kids. Any older they want to change stuff, they need to install stuff, they want to add friends, surf random sites. Any younger, or even at 10, I want them outside and doing other stuff than playing with the dumbed down PC.
Permalink FaLing@Orbiz.ch 
August 5th, 2005
Sounds like the 3Com Audrey. Nice big buttons, locked down for web, email, basic PIM, etc.
Permalink  
August 5th, 2005
Yes, kind of like audrey. Good call on the bootable CD Aaaron.. Its almost a given now a days though. Atleast for debian based distros.

I'm starting to get the itch. *ponder ponder*
Permalink Eric Debois 
August 5th, 2005
Thin clients are coming back...
Permalink Jeff Barton 
August 5th, 2005
Well, yeah, but I spent a bunch of time about a year ago learning how to remaster Knoppix, building live distros, etc. So...it's kinda stuck in my head.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 5th, 2005
Well, the specifics are gone, but they would come back quickly if I had reason to.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
August 5th, 2005
Well, its not something I am terribly concered with at this point. I am looking around for apps that might lend them selves to replacing the gui.
Permalink Eric Debois 
August 5th, 2005
Mozilla?
Permalink Almost H. Anonymous 
August 5th, 2005

This topic was orginally posted to the off-topic forum of the
Joel on Software discussion board.

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