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[debian-jr] Getting started on some work: Applications

I'd like the Debian-Jr group to get started by working out implementation
plans for one of the goals posted on the web page: 


(note that this will soon change, as soon as I have translated the
page into wml and entered it into cvs.  when that happens, i'll be
sure to add a pointer to the new location from the old.)

The goal I have in mind is certainly one of the most obvious, and
will appeal to present and aspiring Debian developers:

> Applications
> Naturally, children have different needs and wants from adults in the
> applications they choose to run.  Some of these will be games, while
> others will be word processors, text editors, "paint" programs, and the
> like. The goal is to identify applications within Debian that are
> suitable for children and add to that number by packaging ones not yet
> in Debian. A possible implementation goal would be to provide "task-"
> packages to make installing groups of "child friendly"  applications
> easier for the sys admin. A subgoal is to take existing packages that
> might be suitable for children with a bit of extra work and help
> "polish" them to make them "child friendly", which could be as simple as
> filling in holes in the documentation, or adding entries to the menu
> system for easy access. 

There are actually three subgoals here, and I think implementations will
suggest themselves naturally from the goals: 

1. identification/categorization of existing Debian packages

2. expansion of Debian by packaging new material

3. polishing existing packages

The first two subgoals are going to be our work as developers to
implement (though goal 1 isn't necessarily even a developer's task ...
if you're a Debian user with children, just take note of the packages
your children like and let us know).  The third will sometimes require
some Debian development but more often, I think, will involve being
quick to send suggestions back to upstream.

My suggested "first step" in the implementation of each of these three
subgoals is to simply by making lists and put them on the Debian-Jr web
page. So here are some of my first contributions:

1. identification/categorization of existing Debian packages

Packages I have tried with my children and they like

lletters     great for the youngest (2yo)

codebreaker  haven't yet shown them this, but *I* like it :)

xjig         a favourite for my 5 and ups

gimp         a bit complex for the 5yo, and even the older ones, but
             they all do have fun with it

xpaint       not quite as complex as the gimp, but a bit clunky in the GUI
             and not nearly as dazzling effects

luxman       a classic, loved by the whole family (J, only 2, loves
             the sounds and bright colors while others play :)

and a couple of non-free ones:

pico    I think I could switch them to nano now and they won't miss
        too much the features that aren't done yet

xmame   Unfortunately it looks like this will forever be non-free,
        the license is really ugly.

2. expansion of Debian by packaging new material


3. polishing existing packages

xjig    A great package, but "2 sided" puzzles are confusing for the
        young children.  I'd like to be able to save as a default
        config for the children the "-side 2" switch to force all of
        the pieces to be flipped over to side 2 at the beginning so they
        don't have to manually flip them over ... Also, I'd like to be
        able to disable the  middle-mouse-button mapping to flip pieces,
        as they sometimes accidentally hit it, much to their puzzlement
        (no pun intended) and frustration.  Suggestions like this need
        to go back to upstream, and when possible, with patches attached.
        Adding a new switch (-nosides) that solves both problems doesn't
        sound too complicated, but then I haven't looked at the source
        (yet :)

So, please add to these lists.  Look at what you have installed on your
system, fetch stuff from your mirror and try them on some child users, and
attach your comments to each package.  "Mine" the WNPP, kidsgames,
seul-edu, freshmeat, wherever you can find stuff suitable for children,
and we'll try to build the WNPP list and get some maintainers to adopt

Of course, some of us will be impatient to get on to "step two", moving
from the list to actually building something, so if you want to adopt a
package, go for it!  Or if there are packages you think need work, submit
patches, bugs and letters to upstream authors (better yet, a wishlist bug
against the Debian package *and* a letter quoting the wishlist to the
upstream author).

However, I do want to make sure we do enough "list building" in this early
stage so that we can figure out what our priorities are before getting too
deep into package adopting and debugging.  So keep that in mind as the
first priority.

p.s.   still no debian-jr list ... I'm being patient for a week or so to
       see if my wishlist gets action before making any alternative plans.
       in the mean time i'll post "debian-jr:" in the topic of each of my
       posts here

p.p.s. if you haven't subscribed to "kidsgames" or "seul-edu" (pointers
       are on the debian-jr web page), and have some time to read this
       leasts, or at least look at the archives, please do check them
    nSLUG       http://www.nslug.ns.ca      synrg@sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca
    Debian      http://www.debian.org       synrg@debian.org
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