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The days that Linux were thought of as complicated are over. If you don’t believe that, realize that Ubuntu for instance, has reached 20 million active users. There are even Linux distributions aimed for children, which is great news since that means your child might be on his or her way to gaining exposure to Linux as a simplified operating system as well as exposure to healthier games and applications.
If your child is two years old or older, rejoice, because today we will be taking a look at a Debian-based distro from France specifically designed for children, DoudouLinux. Doudou is apparently a word that means wubby (the security blanket or teddy bear that some children take with them everywhere) in French and Chinese. Thus, this distro is trying to provide a very safe and user-friendly environment for children to learn and play.
One of the great things about DoudouLinux first, is that it’s designed to be used as a live CD, which is truly one of the most useful things ever. The minimum system requirements for this distro are 256 MB of memory, a 800 MHz processor and 800 x 600 dots display. As for the downloadable ISO and image files, the size ranges from around 670 MB (stable versions) to 1 GB (developmental versions). I downloaded the Gondwana version, which is DoudouLinux 1.1 in ISO format in English (there is support for 26 languages) and created my live USB from a 2 GB stick with Linux Live USB Creator or LiLi, though you can also use Unetbootin to create the live USB key.
Once you boot up from USB, you will see a screen to choose to start DoudouLinux with or without persistence.
After this screen, you or your child will see a screen to choose among a list of activities.
Your child can choose to start Gamine or Pysycache, both of which involve learning to use the mouse e.g. forming patterns from every mouse movement. There are also many other educational games your child can choose from or they can simply start TuxPaint for a fun session of digital drawing and painting.
There are also many other educational games that you can switch into. Childsplay, for instance, is an open-source project hosted on Sourceforge that contains a collection of games that teach basic math, the alphabet, spelling and more.
If your child is a bit older, he or she can also choose to start Mini DoudouLinux or Whole DoudouLinux. Whole DoudouLinux for example, feels like a desktop, with 5 category tabs, each of which contains links to applications for that category. Besides the educational games, your child can interact with multimedia applications, like a piano keyboard application, or a sound-recording program.
What distinguishes Mini from Whole is that Mini only displays 2 tabs, the Learn and Tune tabs, the last of which has links to settings that will let you adjust your volume, mouse, or even change printing options.
One of the best features of DoudouLinux is that besides the myriad of educational programs included in the distro, your child can make use of all these resources without ever modifying the contents of the host system, the biggest perk of live CD/USB mode.
Overall, DoudouLinux rocks as a way to help your children ease into using computers with educational games and programs.
What are your thoughts on such a distro? Would you let your children use it? Let us know your comments in the section below!