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
Have age-appropriate educational software and games for the students to learn reading, writing and math. This will also help them be more technology-savvy, learn the [QWERTY keyboard], and be more computer literate.
Have software for the teacher to use for her own job, after the kids have gone for the day, including submitting grades, sending email to parents, typing up lesson plans, data collection, researching the latest trends in education, for example.
- Require minimal maintenance, be easy to rescue, repair and recover if necessary.
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 LiveCD/LiveDVD/LiveUSB versions that can be booted directly to try them out, and install directly to hard disk if you like it. Unfortunately, this often requires 1GB of memory or more, so I will need a different approach.
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:
- admin - Administrator (that would be me for now) assigned to the "wheel" group to allow special priveleges
- teacher - Teacher will have her own userid/password, so that she can do her own work
- student - One userid/password shared by all students. This should eliminate kindergarten students from having to remember a userid and password that is unique to them. They are only five and six years old, after all!
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 ubuntu-edu-preschool admin-# apt-get install ubuntu-edu-primary
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.