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Every child should be exposed to the power of Linux early on, instead of or maybe along with the popular fancy Windows. A survey report in 2000 said 97% of computing devices had Windows installed, but now with tablets and phones, etc., Windows is less than on 20% of computing devices, and in the world of big iron, Linux reigns supreme. If we have to specialize in science and engineering and want our students to go on to do great things like start the next Google, collapse the universe at CERN or similar, they will certainly need to know Linux and Unix, more than just mere craze or attitude for cool brands like Goggle, Facebook, Twitter, Whatapple, Easy Apps, Etc..

Though most parents recognize the need to integrate more awareness of technology into their kids’ lives, but their solution seems to be tablets or curvy mobiles with games or branded apps, which seem to end up stifling creativity more than promoting it. Linux runs some of the most complex infrastructures in the world. For anyone even remotely interested in a serious career in technology, learning Linux will be an asset. Besides that, the adoption of Linux is massive and ubiquitous. Consider this:

Linux powers international space stations
Linux powers the technology in new cars like Tesla and Cadillac
Linux powers air traffic control systems
Google, Facebook, Twitter, all use Linux
9 out of 10 supercomputers in the world run on Linux

There is a rational reason that initiatives like One Laptop per Child (http://one.laptop.org), which is one of the most powerful programs that is working to bridge the digital divide, use Linux based open systems. Programs to teach kids Linux:

Skolelinux / Debian-Edu is an operating system intended for educational use and a Debian Pure Blend. The free and open source software project was founded in Norway in 2001 and is by now being internationally developed. Its name is a direct translation of “school linux” from Norwegian, skole derived from the Latin word schola. Create a Linux distribution tailored for schools—based on their needs and resources. Simplify maintenance of computer facilities. Provide a thin client-solution, which eases maintenance, reduces costs and allows use of old hardware. Cut costs by using open source software and re-using old hardware. Identify and facilitate suitable programs for use in the schools. Enable teachers to provide high quality IT teaching to their students.

Qimo for kids is a Ubuntu-based distribution designed specifically for children. The operating system comes pre-installed with a lot of educational applications for children ages 3 years and older. It comes with GCompris, a perfect suite for children aged 3 to 10 years. It consists of over 100 educational games that teaches basic computer use, reading, art history, telling time, and drawing pictures, as well as Childs Play, a collection of memory-building games.

Sugar was designed for the One Laptop per Child program. It is an easy to use and kid-friendly operating system. Children who love exploring will figure out things quickly in this environment, even if they cannot read or write yet.

Ubermix is extensively used in schools. The system was designed to store user data and software in seperate partitions. So, in case the computer malfunctions, the user can wipe out the operating system and resotre fresh copies quickly.

Formally the Ubuntu Education Edition, Edubuntu was developed in collaboration with educators and teachers. It embeds a variety of educational programs and a suitable learning environment. An advantage to it is access to the Ubuntu software repository. The education community has extensively used this operating system in schools and organizations to provide an enriched learning environment for their students. It’s a great operating system to teach older children about Linux; it can have a steeper learning curve in comparison to Qimo and Sugar.

When they started going to school, the difference between Linux and Windows will be annoying at worst. Not because of things being different (that is only a minor annoyance), but because most of Indian school computers are slow and unstable to justify annual contracts! You have a Windows machine accessible, in case they are more comfortable with that because of what they use at school. Honestly if it weren’t for a couple of Windows-only games there would be little to no need for Windows. Except maybe to learn how and why everybody else is using Windows!

Go out to raw Internet and find it yourself for kids. Do not wait for your school or even governments to initiate – there as many cozy vendor nexuses as there are institutions on the planet!

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