Thursday, February 10, 2011

Punishment Gluttony

It's 11:30pm and I'm starting a post. I'm a glutton for punishment. I'm pretty much exhausted. I've been working long hours to try and figure out what's going wrong with the image on the netbooks for Manaiakalani.

It turns out I've been a little remiss. Still, it's all fairly easy to fix so it's not too much of a problem. If you can fix it, why stress about it?

So I've been thinking about the Ubuntu, a distribution of Linux, and it's place in the grand scheme of things. One of the bits that has me concerned is age appropriateness.

It's interesting that for a lot of applications, their default options seem to point at Facebook. I'm not sure if you're aware of the restrictions on Facebook but you must be over 13 to use the service. This is a legal matter. There is no way a primary or intermediate school could endorse the service to it's students.

Besides which - there's still that problem of them calling it a "social" network.

So Ubuntu has a crapload of packages in it's repositories which have to be rejected by schools. Take, for example, photo management software which is capable of uploading images. They ALL have facebook as their default option.

So I've suggested that perhaps we (This is a non-specific we. I've talked to one of the Linux User Groups and a principal down in Warrington about this) should be looking to create a repository of packages to customize Ubuntu for people of school age. We could then provide schools with their own "remix" package. So the school decides what they want on their computers (and what's blacklisted). Brilliant.

Now... if only I can find the time...


  1. why not try Edubuntu? its customised for school age children and the appropriate programs. No idea if that will affect its internet based programs tho.

  2. I know I know...

    I say education, you say edubuntu!
    Education! ......

    The problem with edubuntu is that it doesn't feel like it's geared to any sort of practicalities. It tries to take a standard Ubuntu build and throw in a few educational applications.

    I'm not saying this is a bad thing but I think it misses the point.

    1. Educational applications have a very limited life. Within the Manaiakalani project the educational applications tend to keep them engaged for a couple of days. Kids will learn from just about anything you put in front of them. Educational applications have a really bad tendency to try and get kids thinking inside a box.

    2. One of the main benefits that I've seen is the students being able to see themselves in a global context - thus, the tools to do so must be appropriate.

    Edubuntu doesn't actually replace any applications. It's just a remix of the Ubuntu packages already on offer. Go into your standard Ubuntu (or Kubuntu, Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Xubuntu, Ubuntu Studio) terminal and type in "sudo apt-get install edubuntu" and you've got it. Easy. But it doesn't really cater to the legalities of an educational desktop.

    Besides which - with a server under New Zealand control we've then got all sorts of opportunities to be able to do some funky localisations. Such as wallpapers which show off the beauty of our country or plymouth themes which do the same.

    This would be an exercise in building confidence in Ubuntu and Linux in schools.

    "We hear your concerns. Given that we're using an open source platform, we can address them."

    - just a quick note here. I've just installed the edubuntu-menu-editor. I like it over the default menu editor. It's a little cleaner. I'd still like to be able to chose whether I want to move an item or copy one. The two step process is a little galling.

  3. so go post on the edubuntu forums/website. see what plans they have to customise for the appropriate age set of school children. im sure the lil kids programs would be no good for the older kids in a primary school. and none of those would be appropriate for intermediate school.