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Re: Debian for kids

On Tue, Feb 01, 2000 at 07:20:28PM +0000, Ben Armstrong wrote:
> 1) Kidproofing
>    - If there's a way to break your system, your kid will find it
>      very, very quickly.  For example, it would be a good idea to use
>      quotas and ulimits liberally.  Also, you might want to restrict
>      access to some tools & functions of programs that adult users take
>      for granted.  e.g. I went thru a frustrating phase when my daughter
>      learned the 'passwd' command, as daily she would change her password
>      to something arbitrary and promptly forget it the next day ;) Oh, and
>      then there was the time that she insisted on using the file-browser
>      in pico to include every file imaginable into her buffer, including
>      mp3's, tarballs, the kernel and (eep) /dev/dsp, which she had
>      read access to so she could play games with sound ...

I'd just figure those as ``well, now you know not to do that in future''
lessons, personally. I mean, as long as she can't crash the system
(which is a critical bug anyway whether she's a kid or not) or similar,
and as long as it doesn't take too long for you to fix whatever's gone
wrong (alt-f8, root, password, passwd foo, bar, exit, isn't *that*
much trouble, eg) then I wouldn't be too worried, personally. YMMV,
of course. And I don't have kids, neither.

You might like to have a backup program to copy your kids home directories
into somewhere safe in case they discover rm. Some would say that rm'ing
your homedirectory is a good lesson. Which it is. Watching daddy make
backups is probably helpful to get rid of that nasty `but real men don't
need backups' attitude... :)

> 2) desktop
>    - Some window managers & settings for window managers make it
>      easier for a kid to get around, whereas others are frustrating.
>      Although it might be argued that adults would benefit from the
>      same fine-tunings, I think it would be useful to provide variants
>      of configurations with kids specifically in mind.

I wonder if you could do that with an <foo>wm theme. Big buttons, a toolbar
of some sort, and the obligatory bright colours?

> 4) parental guidance
>    - although we might squirm at the thought, "net nannies" and the
>      like are going to be a concern of some parents; provide the
>      tools and let *them* make the choice

Hey, net nanny software's great. Banning http://*.doubleclick.net/*
makes the web so much more pleasant.

> 5) "kids' box"
>    - kids might have their own Linux box.  What's the best way to
>      set up a kids' box and integrate it into your home network?

Remember to make sure you've converted yourself to ssh, scp, https, and
so on *before* they discover tcpdump... :)

> I very much want to see my kids grow up using Linux because the
> alternative is so odious to me.

Windows doesn't even come with QBasic anymore, does it? An OS without
a programming language. *shudder*

> Whether I like it or not, Windows is far
> more geared towards kids than Linux is. 

That's very quotable.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG encrypted mail preferred.

 ``The thing is: trying to be too generic is EVIL. It's stupid, it 
        results in slower code, and it results in more bugs.''
                                        -- Linus Torvalds

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