Continuing my series on building a Desktop computer for a kindergarten class, I look at three other Linux systems mentioned in the article [Top 6 Linux Distributions for Children (Ages 2 and Up)].
(This series started with my post [Kindergarten desktop - The Challenge]. I have a 512MB RAM system with 40GB disk drive that I will install Linux and educational software for a class full of kindergarten children.
First, I re-partitioned the 40GB hard drive as follows. On the extended partition, sda5 will hold my system utilities, like Clonezilla and SystemRescue, and sda6 is my swap space. This gives me three primary partitions to install three flavors of Linux to try out.
The first was [LinuxKidX], which actually started out as a Portuguese-language effort in Brazil. It was then translated to the English language to extend its reach. It is based on the KDE desktop familiar to users of OpenSUSE Linux.
Many of the education software were similar or the same as those from Edubuntu I mentioned in my last post. However, not everything was translated, and unless you are able to read Portuguese, you may not want this one.
Next, I wanted to look at [Qimo for Kids], but first I had to look for the distribution, as the mirrors listed seemed to be unavailable. I was able to find an qimo
Unlike Edubuntu, Qimo fits on a CD-ROM for older PCs that may not have DVD drives. Based on lightweight XFCE desktop, the LiveCD runs comfortably in 512MB, with a kid-friendly app launcher at the bottom of the screen. However, Qimo 2.0 is based on Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) LTS, with long term support expiring this May 2013. The Firefox 3.6.3 was too old to run Gmail.
Why hasn't Qimo been enhanced since 2010? It looks like you can just install the packages qimo-session and qimo-wallpaper on newer levels of Ubuntu.
Third, I tried Foresight Linux for Kids 1.0 release. The most recent Foresight is 2.5.3, but Linux for Kids is still at the 1.0 level. The "installer" was very outdated, so the website suggested following the [power-user install HOWTO].
The HOWTO can be a bit intimidating, but I was able to install just fine in 512MB of RAM. Foresight detected I had pre-configured a swap space, and used that to help finish the install process.
Like the others, it had many of the same educational software as before. A key difference is the [Conary package management]. Most systems use either Debian (DEB) or Redhat Package Manager (RPM), but this one is different, and the use of Conary may reduce the number of software applications available.
So what have I learned from these?
If you have had any experience with any of these three distros, please comment below.
Well, it's Thursday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
(OK, OK, my long-time readers already know that [storage announcements are usually on Tuesdays], not Thursdays.
Here, then, is a quick review of the storage portion of today's announcements.
In other news, IBM had once again filed [the most U.S. Patents for the 21st year in a row], and our brothers and sisters over in server land introduced [the X6 architecture for x86 servers] for the System x and PureSystems product lines, optimized for Cloud and Analytics.
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Last week, in my post [IT Support for the Holidays], I mentioned that I was scrubbing computers in preparation to give them to charity. A local reader asked if I would be willing to donate one of the computers to her kindergarten class. She teaches a class of 20 kids, at the very same elementary school that I went to when I was that age.
So here is the beefiest machine of the set.
Make/Model: Sony PCV-RC850 Processor: 2.4GHz Intel 32-bit RAM: 512MB Hard disk: 40GB Removable media: CD/DVD-ROM and CD/DVD-RW Keyboard/mouse: standard PS/2 Sound: headphone jack Ethernet port: 100Mbps USB ports: two
IBM likes grand challenges, like [Deep Blue computer] to play chess against Grandmaster Garry Kasparov, and the [Watson computer] to play against two experts on the game show Jeopardy! My "Kidergarten Desktop" challenge is certainly on a smaller scale--to install software on this machine that will neet the following requirements
The 512MB is not enough to run Microsoft Windows 7, but certainly enough to run some flavors of Linux. Inspired by this review of [Top 6 Linux Distributions for Children], I thought I would give a few a spin.
Many of these have Live
I had already scrubbed the [Windows XP] and replaced with [Linux Mint 12 LXDE]. Can I just install the Edubuntu-desktop on Linux Mint? While Linux Mint is Ubuntu-based, it is not binary compatible, so I will need to install fresh.
The [Edubuntu] LiveDVD requires 1GB of memory to try out, so to get this installed, I used the "Alternate Ubuntu 12.04" installer DVD.
Why 12.04 release of Ubuntu? The current release is 13.10 will only be supported for 9 months, and in keeping with "Requirement #3 Minimal Maintenance", the [Edubuntu team recommends installing a Long Term Support (LTS) release], and 12.04.3 is the most recent LTS that will be supported through 2017.
Edubuntu recommends 20GB of disk space to run, so I have partitioned the 40GB drive as follows:
For this machine, I will have three users configured:
Ubuntu's [Alternate Installer] uses basic graphic mode that can run in 512MB, and once installed, I was then able to install the Edubuntu Desktop and both preschool and primary-level educational software, to account for all learning ability levels of the children.
admin-$ sudo bash admin-# apt-get install edubuntu-desktop admin-# apt-get install ubun
I am not a big fan of Ubuntu's "Unity" panel on the left, and was hoping that Edubuntu-desktop would remove it, but no luck. so I removed it manually.
This system does not boot USB files natively, and getting Grub2 boot loader to boot ISO files was more difficult than I imagined. I was able to extract the necessary files over to sda2 hard disk to get them to work. I took "Clonezilla" full system backups to a separate SSH server over my local subnet.
Well, that's my start. Any suggestions? Has anyone done this before? Please enter comments below.
Happy new year, everyone!
Are you looking for new storage for 2014? Time to replace that old gear on your IT floor?
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Next week, on January 16, senior IBM executives will share news about breakthrough technologies, featuring Intel® processors, that enhance Smarter Computing servers and storage.
(This webcast will be available worldwide. I, myself, will be in Winnipeg, Canada, freezing my [tuque] off!)
In this webcast, you will learn how to improve decision support and data processing for your mission-critical applications, drive higher performance on analytics and increase agility and flexibility through scalable solutions.
Here is the link to the [Registration Page].
Welcome back everyone! Were you the IT Support for your friends and family during the holidays?
Last year, in my infamous "Laptop for Grandma" blog post series, I discussed my week exploring various Linux distributions (aka "distros") to find one that would re-purpose Grandma's laptop into an MP3 player. Here is the entire series for your reference.
With Microsoft [dropping support for Windows XP this April], many people got new PCs for the holidays.
(Why not just upgrade to a newer version of Windows in place? Well, [Microsoft Windows 7 requires a minimum of 1GB of RAM, with 4GB recommended], and these old machines simply do not have enough memory. If the motherboard could support the hardware and software upgrades, the cost of Windows 7 license and 4GB of RAM might get into hundreds of dollars!)
So what happens to the old machines? They come to me, of course, with three requests:
I had six old machines to work on this year. Generally, I only get the towers, as most people keep their mouse, keyboard and monitor for their next machine.
For five of them, the process was fairly straightforward. First, I would boot up the system to see what it was running, typically Windows XP or Windows Vista, and simply transfer the "My Documents" folder to an external USB drive.
If the system doesn't boot on its own, perhaps because the OS is corrupted on the hard drive or infected by a virus, then I would boot a Linux-based LiveCD, such as my favorite [SystemRescueCD], and copy the data over to USB external drive that way.
(The shred tool is more thorough, but I prefer scrub for its ease-of-use. Its default National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) method writes over the entire disk four times with different random patterns of data.)
Third, I would do a fresh install of the now out-dated Linux Mint 12 LXDE from CD. Why Linux Mint 12 LXDE? I don't have to worry about any licensing issues with Linux. Linux Mint is the [fourth most widely used home operating system] in the world.
The latest version of Linux Mint is 16, and version 13 has Long Term Support through 2017, but version 12 is the last release small enough to fit on a 700MB CD for the old machines that cannot read the higher capacity DVD media.
Linux Mint comes with various graphical interfaces, but the Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment [LXDE] edition runs in as low as 256MB of memory, the minimum that Windows XP requires. Many newer operating systems expect 1GB or more. The machine is then ready to give to charity. Whomever gets it can certainly install a different OS if they prefer.
So, the process went smoothly for the first five, but the sixth machine gave me an interesting challenge. Here are the specs:
Operating System: Windows 98 Processor: AMD-K6 (Pentium II-class) 150 MHz RAM: 32MB Hard disk: 10GB Removable media: 3.5-inch floppy and CD-ROM drive Keyboard port: standard PS/2 mouse port: 6-pin DIN Ethernet NIC: 10Mb USB ports: none
Yikes! Windows 98? 32MB of RAM? Even a [Raspberry Pi] has more than this!
My keyboard fits, but my mouse doesn't, so I had to look up Windows 98 keyboard shortcuts to navigate the system. The age of the files indicates this machine was actively used from 1999 to 2005. While most people only keep a PC for 3-5 years, this hardware is 14 years old! It has been sitting in Judy's closet collecting dust the rest of the time.
Without USB port or CD burner, there were only two ways to get data off this system. First, was the 1.44MB floppy disk, and the second was through the Ethernet card. I was able to configure TCP/IP and connect via FTP back to my FTP server, allowing me to copy the files over.
Most of my LiveCDs that I tried just froze mid-boot without sufficient memory. Not even my SystemRescueCD would boot. I was able to use [Basic Linux BL3 version 3.5] which boots from two floppy diskettes and requires only 12MB of RAM.
Basic Linux has neither shred nor scrub utilities, so I used old school "dd" command, which was painfully slow.
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hda1
While this was not as secure as NNSA, Department of Defense (DoD), or Guttman methods of erasure, I figured it was good enough for a 14-year old machine that had not been used since 2005.
While BL3 includes an install-to-hd script to copy the files over to the hard drive, I could not get LILO to boot natively from /dev/hda1. So, I switched to booting from Damn Small Linux [DSL] LiveCD. Using the "dsl 2" boot cheat code, I was able to boot directly to a superuser text-based prompt, allowing me to create two partitions, a 128MB swap and the rest for an ext2 file system.
DSL only requires 8MB of RAM, but having the extra 128MB swap ensures success. I was able to install DSL on the hard drive, fix up lilo.conf, and boot directly from it.
What a great way to start a new year! Happy New Year everyone!