Kids With Linux

I have always had the believe that I am surrounded by great people barring a few exceptions who have also been influential in my life. Some of these great people are not necessarily what most people would think about when they hear about greatness. These unrecognizable great people are still in primary school and worry about their homework and enjoy watching Camp Lazlo on Cartoon network. This is a story of 7 year olds who can boot a computer into Linux and use the computer for all intends and purposes like they are working on Windows. Granted, the much that a seven year old can do on a computer is not that much by a professional’s measure of the same but what I have noticed with these seven year olds is that they have something great in them which needs to be nurtured.

They are taught computers at school and they know of Windows and can use Microsoft Word. At home they experiment with Ubuntu Linux: given a live CD, they are able to boot a computer into Linux and shut it down as well. Their main attraction to the Ubuntu Live CD are the games contained on it. The most interesting of their game playing is the fact that they can navigate Ubuntu’s UI and they can reason about the games they are playing. While I originally thought that allowing them to work with the Live CD kept them busy and left me free to get on with the work I had at hand, I was later surprised (pleasantly so) to be in a position of receiving pointers from these youngsters about playing one particular game. I am not much of a gamer but I currently carry a grudge against Four-In-a-Row because I have never won a single game… but I digress.

One day, one of these youngsters took an Ubuntu Live CD to school but was disappointed because he could not boot his school computer into Linux. While it is unreasonable to expect him to know how to configure the BIOS of the computer in question to boot from the CD/DVD drive, it would have been useful to have a teacher who was willing to engage his curiosity and encourage the children to explore.

I am reminded of this incident because I now I have a Linux box which I intend to use to encourage these youngster to know more about computers generally but perhaps have a clue about Linux as a piece of software. While it would have been nice to engage them in the ideological dimensions of open source vs closed source, it is more important for them to have fun with computers (open source, closed source software and anything in between).

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