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Old 06-29-2004, 09:48 PM   #1
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Basic install for child users - advice pls

I have a number of older machines (P1 133 through P2 266) that I want to donate to my son's childcare centre (he is 16 months).

All I want to do is set the machines up so that when turned on, they boot up and start an educational program of some description. No login, no having to click on icons, etc. The machines will be standalone (no networking).

MAYBE the desktop presents a limited number of games/programs the kids can select from. Most however, will just have the one program. I even want it all locked down so that no matter what the kids do, they can't get out of the game (or game menu).

Ages are from 0 to 5, and I have quite a few PCs I can setup, so one can be for the youngest kids where, for example, hitting any key simply presents a new picture (horse, dog, cat etc). Maybe for the 4 year olds, an interactive game that requires selecting a correct answer.

I hope you understand what I am trying to do - I haven't explained it very well.

Now, my questions are.... what distro, or what basic set of packages, and what apps can people recommend. I want this to be simple - both in terms of what it can do, and for me to set up.

Any & all advice gratefully accepted. Dave
Old 06-29-2004, 11:45 PM   #2
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Well, since the machines you're describing are so old, I would recommend something along the lines of Slackware, or possibly Grey Cat Linux.... Having a 133mhz computer is pushing it for using modern XOrg or XFree setups, but I suppose it could be done if you scale them down to 8 bit graphics, but who knows, they might *possibly* work with 16 bit graphics. I have Slack9.1 on a 200mhz computer, and it worked fine for using one program at a time, so perhaps Slackware is best for your situation.

So here's what I would do:

Install Slack 9.1 or 10.0, and for your WM I would use XFce. Have the computer start up into runlevel 4 and have the program you want the kids be able to mess around with be in your autostart directory (I forget what it's true path is, I never use the automagic start). For your login manager, I would use xdm, just because it's probably one of the lightest you can get, and you'll only have 1 user logging in, and even that will be automatic, so you definately don't need KDM or GDM.

To be honest, though, what sorts of games are you expecting to run on these computers? Most childrens' games are for Windows, with the remainder being for Mac. Not too many are native for Linux....
Old 06-30-2004, 02:10 AM   #3
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I would second r_jensen's advice, and echo his comment about the availability of Linux games, especially for toddlers. I applaud your efforts, but I'm unsure as to what kinds of choices are out there for those kinds of games. I don't have kids myself so maybe there are plenty, but I would think that it would be best to identify exactly what kind of games are available first, before you spend a lot of time/effort setting up a number of PC's. It would be a pretty big bummer to spend a couple of weekends getting the machines all set up and then discover that pretty much the only thing out there is Chess and Poker. Unless these kids are all math prodigies and/or future gamblers those selections might not be suitable. Good luck with it either way. -- J.W.
Old 06-30-2004, 04:19 AM   #4
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wine should be able to handle most 2d kids games though, right?
Old 06-30-2004, 06:17 AM   #5
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thanks for the advice on Slackware and XFce. As for programs etc., well, I am sort of hoping someone out there may have some ideas! Only requirement is they be educational in some way.

Many thanks, Dave
Old 06-30-2004, 06:45 AM   #6
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Any & all advice gratefully accepted. Dave
I'm still very new to this wonderful OS, but a thought comes to mind;

I know you specified no networking but since Linux is at its best in a network situation maybe consider cannibalising some of the machines to produce a server with lots of RAM and then configuring the other machines as X terminals/clients.

That might expand your options for software to run, and I guess would reduce configuration eventually once the little ones work out the power of the right mouse button-- which probably won't take long

Of course, I have never done this, so I am blissfully unaware of how hard it might be.

Also, as was pointed out, your choice of applications is going to be quite limited I think.

For pre-schoolers perhaps micros... Bob (or XP home edition,same difference) might be more useful


Disclaimer: The above is offered in the finest golf tradition: the higher the handicap, the more qualified the individual feels himself to give advice
Old 07-02-2004, 06:02 PM   #7
Registered: Feb 2003
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dave, i was interested enough in the original post to remember this one and take a look at it later. here's some pages that might help you out. good luck.


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