I set up a CTL 2go netbook with Edubuntu 8.10 linux, in order to get to know these platforms better.
Edubuntu used to be a separate linux distribution. Now it’s a package of applications installed on top of Ubuntu. The Ubuntu 8.10 install went smoothly. I download and burned Ubuntu 8.10 to a CD, used the CD to boot up a PC I have, and then ran the system utility that creates a bootable USB flash drive (isn’t that a handy tool!). I used the flash drive to install Ubuntu 8.10 on the 2go laptop and then ran software updates. All good so far.
The bootable flash drive tool is nifty. You can use it to create an installer, a fully-featured demonstration version of the software, or even a portable computing environment to which you can even save files! It’s brilliant.
I had less luck with Edubuntu at first. I downloaded the ISO and used UNetbootin to copy it to the flash drive and make it bootable. The drive wouldn’t boot the machine (missing kernel file). I tried just mounting the ISO and running the software from the 2go hard drive. No luck. Finally, I took the machine to work, burned Edubuntu to a CD, and ran the software from an external CD drive.
I’m still not sure what a typical home user would use to perform this installation. Then again, the typical home user wouldn’t buy a 2go without an operating system! I wonder whether I could have just run the Ubtuntu software installer and downloaded the entire package online. The computer didn’t actually boot off the Edubuntu CD, but it did recognize the CD as containing installation packages once it had loaded.
The keyboard on the 2go feels about 80% of full size, fine for my seven year-old son but uncomfortably small for me. Edubuntu seems to be mostly about kid-friendly software. GCompris is quite a collection of games and skills training for kids of different ages. The rest of the applications look useful as well.
I had expected greater transformation of the desktop environment. Aside from some attractive, cosmetic changes, it’s just Ubuntu — not any easier for kids to navigate. I haven’t yet found the simplified desktop interface I was expecting. It’s not a Theme. It would be great to make it easier for young kids to navigate the desktop.
Aside from a nice collection of applications, I haven’t seen enough to persuade me to buy and configure a set of these for each of our elementary classrooms. We’ll stick with used Apple laptops from our other facilities for now.