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Old 07-19-2002, 12:05 PM   #1
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Registered: Sep 2001
Location: Melbourne, FL
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Software/Distro for young children...

I have a son who is about 1-1/2 years old, and another child on the way. My son loves to play around with my computer when he can (even though I don't let him).

I have been considering getting one of those children's "PCs" that they sell for around $75 at the toy stores. These things usually have basic educational software and feature a mouse and keyboard. They also have a mono LCD panel with terrible blocky graphics.

However, how many of use have enough parts laying around to build a small, old PC just for Jr. to play with. Certainly a Pentium 120 is far better than anything in those $75 toys. All that is missing is software.

I would love to see a linux distribution that could live on 500MB or less, that would not require any sort of log-in, and would simply launch an educational program. This distro would turn an old junk PC into a children's computer. Once the booting is done, the first thing that you would see would be a screen with a menu to select a simple music composer, math drills, etc.

I would like to build something like this. My software skills include a fair amount of C, a *tiny* bit of C++, and a *little* Delphi (and NO Linux or X programming experience). In short, I do not have the skills necessary to do a project like this myself in a reasonable amount of time using C++.

Can somebody recommend a simple scripting language that can handle the mouse, graphics, and sound that may be able to do something like this?

Does anybody have any ideas for how I could accomplish this sort of thing?

Does anybody want to help?
Old 07-19-2002, 12:53 PM   #2
Registered: May 2002
Location: dracut MA
Distribution: Fedora, RHEL
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what's great about programming for Linux is that, if you know C, you're pretty much all set. There are a fair amount of gtk+ tutorials out there. I also have a gnome/gtk+ programming book that I picked up for about $40 US. GTK+ is really easy to program for. (as in, to initialize, you put gtk_main(); in your program. Then declare a Pane var, and put Buttons and Widgets on it)

For booting into a single user mode without logging in, check out
command line options to pass to the kernel. init=/bin/bash rw will drop you into a root shell with no SysV init taking place. perhaps you could have a nice startup script in /root/.bashrc to initialize everything you need and call startx

The only problem I see now is getting the educational software. I don't suggest writing your own, as it's incredibly time consuming to write a decent, enjoyable kids game. I'd say it's time to ask the devil (google) for some help

Old 07-19-2002, 01:22 PM   #3
Registered: Jul 2001
Location: Scotland
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I know KDE 3 also has a new "edutainment" module.
Old 07-19-2002, 04:58 PM   #4
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Registered: Oct 2001
Location: Bristol UK
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I'm in the same position harrkev..a 16 month old and one more due in January 2003. The 16 month old loves the old keyboard I gave her to play with - but she prefers mine (ours!) and I've just been thinking along the same lines as you - though I don't have the programming experience.I've got an old P166 that would more than serve the purpose but I'm a bit stuck as to where to go from here.
Let me know what you find out....and I'll do the same for you. I hope to start thinking about this at the end of August.
Good luck!
Old 07-20-2002, 08:23 PM   #5
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On the Linux Format DVD last month (issue 29), they featured a program called GCompris (can be found here). Although I don't have any children, I am going into teaching, so I like to keep abreast of the educational options available on Linux. I gave it a go, and I thought it was quite good. It is aimed at 3-8 year olds, but appears to be based on a modular approach, so 'applications' for younger and older children could also be implemented.

Hope this helps, and good luck.
Old 07-21-2002, 04:49 PM   #6
Registered: Apr 2002
Location: Central US
Distribution: Libranet 1.9.1 & 2.0, tinyX (2dskxwin) & WinLinux 2001
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You might try looking at BlueLinux. I think it is now K12LTSP Linux. has the download at . or .
It is a distribution pointed at children and teachers alike.

I havent tried it out here yet. But the description of it on ibiblio's site sounds promising. It also includes a terminal service client and diskless nodes for a classroom/teaching enviroment.
Old 11-06-2006, 12:07 PM   #7
Registered: Oct 2006
Location: New Jersey (US)
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I know this answer is long overdue but in case someone has the same question look into the Debian Jr project:


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