How to Configure Linux for Children

Today I found this article originally posted by Tavis J. Hampton, and I think this worth to be shared around (especially when today is Children’s Day in Indonesia).

Many people still cling to the notion that Linux is for 30-year-old male geeks. While that may be true, there are plenty of other people of all ages, ethnicities, and genders who enjoy Linux and other free and open source software.

For the most part, the operating systems a child uses are determined by the child’s parents and school. As the parent and Linux user yourself, you may prefer your child to use Linux at home.

One feature of Linux desktop environments like KDE and Gnome is that they are extremely customizable. You can have one panel, two panels, or no panel at all. Just as easily as icons, menus, and widgets can appear, they can also disappear.

For that reason, you may find it necessary to set parameters for your children when using Linux. Whether you need tools to lockdown the desktop or filter Internet content, there is free software out there to help you. What follows is a short guide to preparing a Linux desktop for a child, complete with game recommendations.

Desktop Restrictions

Even if your child has his own computer, he may become very frustrated when he accidentally deletes the icon he wants to use. You can prevent such accidents with desktop restrictions.

KDE has a Kiosk Admin system that is controlled in the kdeglobals configuration file. You can find the file at ~/.kde/share/config/kdeglobals. Kiosk settings are added using keys in the following format:

     [KDE Action Restrictions][$i]
     action/=false

For example, if you want to disable print properties so that children can print but cannot change or add printers, you would enter:

     print/properties=false

A complete list of available keys, including plasma keys is available at: KDE Techbase.

Gnome has a similar feature for desktop restrictions called “lockdown”. The keys for Gnome lockdown are found in gconf. The easiest way to edit gconf keys is with gconf-editor. If, for example, you want to lock down the panel, you would edit the following key:

     apps -> panel -> global ->locked_down and set the value to “true” to enable it.

For a detailed list of lockdown functions, visit the Gnome Desktop Administrator’s Guide.

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One important thing to remember is that these restrictions will primarily prevent your child from accidentally modifying the desktop settings. Children who attempt to do so intentionally will more than likely be smart enough to figure it out, and that is an issue requiring parental attention, not increased restrictions. For very young children, however, this is an excellent way to keep things in order.

Speed up your Ubuntu machine boot time

If you are using Ubuntu 10.04, you may already know that one of its feature is to be able to boot faster. Here’s an article on how to enable your Ubuntu to do so. Original post is located here.

[singlepic id=264 w=160 h=120 float=left]Are you desperately searching for ways to finally reach that elusive 10 second boot time? You certainly heard that Ubuntu 10.04 has the capability of doing just that right? It can…but you have to help it along. One of the ways you can help your boot time is removing unnecessary services and drivers that are loaded at boot time. Fortunately, this isn’t something you have to manually do. How is this? There is a tool that can help the Grub boot loader learn what it is you need at start up. This tool is called profile.

Profile is not a tool you install, or run from the command line. Instead, profile is an option you add to your grub configuration file to inform the boot loader you want to create a profile during the next boot loading sequence. In this article I am going to show you how to profile your grub boot sequence for a faster boot process.

How this works

When you boot up your machine Grub does a search for all the necessary drivers to load. This takes time. Instead of making Grub search for these drivers, the profiling actually makes Grub remember every driver necessary to work, thereby cutting down all of the driver load times.

This is a proven technique that can help the boot process. It has actually been around since Ubuntu 6.04, so it has been tested and tested and does work. I will make this normal disclaimer. Even though Grub profile works, anytime you deal with your bootloader you take the chance that you can render your machine unbootable. So you use this tool at your own risk. Don’t take that to mean profile is a dangerous tool and your machine will wind up bricked and mocking you…that is just to say should something happen, you were warned.

How to add profiling

To do this you are going to have to modify your /etc/default/grub file. The edits are not challenging at all. So, open up a terminal window and get ready to work.

The line you are looking for is:

     GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash”

This is the line that gives the options to Grup upon boot. You need to add one more option to that line so it now looks like:

     GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”quiet splash profile”

Save that file and then issue the command:

     sudo update-grub2

You are ready to reboot your machine.

During this next boot time you will see a noticeable SLOW DOWN. This is normal because Grub is now running the profile. This is quite necessary.

Once the boot up is complete, open up that /etc/default/grub file, remove the profile entry you just added, and re-run the command sudo update-grub2. Now reboot your machine again and see if you don’t notice a distinct speed increase in your boot times.

Final thoughts

There are so many ways to speed up the boot process of your Ubuntu Linux machine. This process, however, is one of the ones that will truly speed up the process and is tested and safe to use. You should gain some noticeable increases and should even speed up after 2 or 3 more start ups.

Ailurus – A Useful Ubuntu Tweak Alternative For Beginners

Just found this article that showcase a simple program to help newbies configure their Ubuntu system. I personally haven’t tried it yet, but it seems to be able to help the basic needs of configuring your Ubuntu without using multiple GUIs or even using command lines to change the configuration files.

The original post is located here.

Ailurus is cross-Linux-distribution GPL software, which aims at making Linux easier to use for beginners. Rather than a Ubuntu Tweak alternative, Ailurus is the kind of app you can use along Ubuntu Tweak. Ailurus is available for Ubuntu, Fedora and Mint while Ubuntu Tweak is a dedicated Ubuntu only application.

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Ailurus Features

  • ‘Study Linux’ feature included in Ailurus is pretty good at teaching the Linux basics to beginners. You can even set it to display Linux tips each time you login to your system.
  • Install many useful applications easily.
  • Enable a number of third party repositories quite easily.
  • Display of basic hardware information which is so useful at times.
  • Clean APT/YUM cache.
  • Backup and recover APT/YUM status.
  • Change GNOME settings. Ailurus invokes GConf API, to change GNOME settings.
  • Easily enable Gnome Control Center using Ailurus.

How to install Latest Ailurus 10.06.93 in Ubuntu Lucid, Karmic?

  • Open Terminal (Applications – Accessories – Terminal) and copy-paste the following lines one by one into Terminal.
  •      sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ailurus
         sudo apt-get update

  • Done. Now install latest Ailurus in Ubuntu Lucid 10.04.
  •      sudo apt-get install ailurus

  • Done. Launch Ailurus. Goto Applications – System Tools – Ailurus.

Ailurus for Fedora and other distros can be downloaded from here.

Linux Links # 3 – For Newbies

There are a lot of guides and pointers that can help newbies in familiarize themselves with Linux. Some of the books that I have posted earlier will certainly helps, and hopefully they have helped you in gearing yourself with the necessary tools to use and enjoy Linux. 🙂

Here I put two more special links for Linux newbies, which I believe to have a lot of information necessary in learning Linux further:

  • The Ultimate Linux Newbie Guide
  • This site has tons of information, such as the background of Linux, how to select a Linux distro, and many other pointers once you have installed and run Linux. I have been trying to achieve this site to capture some of the insights that this link provides, and hopefully we can get there. 🙂 In the mean time, you can look into the information that they already compiled and learn from it.

  • Linux Foundation – Video
  • This site has all the videos related to Linux, from the guides to install & setup Linux, to spoofs and ads about Linux. Some of the people in The Ultimarte Linux Newbie Guide also put their links in this site, so if you want to see the video how to install Ubuntu for example, you can watch it here.

Enjoy the links. 🙂