domingo, 27 de enero de 2013

My Encounter with PicarOS, a Great Linux Distro for Children

My 2 year old daughter is very fond of computers.  Therefore,  I have been searching for options to make her desktop environment more appealing for her.  After all, anyone can use Linux these days.  And there are options for children, too.

I tried Qimo and Doudou.  Unfortunately, despite their beauty and functionality, they are not what I was looking for.  I wanted a OS that supports Spanish flawlessly.

Anyway, I saw a video about KidBox, a full-screen Urugayan browser that supposedly takes children to a safe environment online, where they can play and learn.  The idea sounded interesting, so I visited their website only to be slapped on the face with this discouraging message:

We are working on a version of Kidbox for your platform.
We will inform you when it becomes available!
* Currently available for Microsoft Windows"

Well, so much for KidBox...

Then, my brother Megatotoro called me in a frenzy, urging me to watch a video in YouTube about a Linux distro that he desperately wanted and could not download, so he wanted me to get it for him.  Without understandig his sense of urgency, I looked for the video.

That's when my jaw dropped.

It was PicarOS 2012, a spin of GALPon MiniNo especially tweaked to produce a child-friendly OS.  As I saw the video, I got more and more impressed by the interface and the software collection.  This is the video about PicarOS, uploaded by Introlinux:

However, I could not download the .ISO, either.  Apparently, the torrent and the magnet were not working.  But Introlinux was very kind and provided a direct link.  When the download finished, I burned the DVD and, literally drooling, tried PicarOS.

Everything I saw in the video was there but, more than that, absolutely everything was working out of the box!

The following day, I gave a copy of the DVD to my brother (read his review here) and my mother called me, asking me for another one.

"My daughter will appreciate this OS," I thought.  Therefore, I decided to install it to her desktop computer, which runs Mageia 2.

Installation of Picaros as a dual-boot with Mageia 2

Introlinux also gave me the installation instructions, so the process was not difficult.  What was painful was the discovery that Mageia could see PicarOS at boot.

So, it took me a day of trial-and-error frustration to configure the Mageia grub correctly, but I eventually achieved it.  Basically, one has to go to /boot/grub with Dolphin and, once there, open a Konsole.  Then you have to type
SU (and your superuser password when the system requires it)
export $(dbus-launch)

When the GUI of Kwrite appears, you use its menu to open the file menu.lst and add the following:

title PicarOS (GALPon MiniNo)
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-3.2.0-3-686-pae root=/dev/sda1 ro  splash quiet
initrd /boot/initrd.img-3.2.0-3-686-pae

That's because I had PicarOS installed on the first partition (sda1).  You must edit the GRUB entry depending on the partition that you installed the system to.  For example, I installed it in a partition sda13 on my laptop.  The entry was like this:

title PicarOS (GALPon MiniNo)
root (hd0,12)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-3.2.0-3-686-pae root=/dev/sda13 ro  splash quiet
initrd /boot/initrd.img-3.2.0-3-686-pae

Then you save it and close everything.  When you reboot, you see that the new entry is in GRUB.

I booted PicarOS and, sure enough, got everything in place.
Default desktop in PicarOS 2012 (GALPon MiniNo)
I then added some things to make the browser look as the one my daughter is accostumed to seeing:

Firefox running the Scribblies Brite 6 theme
 After this, I installed PicarOS to the laptop that my daughter Eimi received from her grandmother for Christmas.  It is a Lenovo 3000 N100.  I chose the "basic-automatic" installation and the process was absolutely painless: PicarOS picked up the Wifi and configured everything without any input of mine.  It can even display the VGA video to a TV screen.

These days, in which companies see our children as marketing targets for consumerism, it is refreshing to see how Linux gives us options for our children to learn in a free environment.  And PicarOS is certainly a great choice for people in Spanish speaking countries.

I just want to see Eimi using her new computers...

The name of the OS is a pun (The Spanish word "pícaros" means, in a positive sense, "rogues").
Despite being targeted to children, as Introlinux accurately asserts, "because of its packages, PicarOS can perfectly be the desktop of choice of any home user".  To illustrate, I was surprised to see the GIMP and LibreOffice in the software collection...and then I saw Blender.  I hope my daughter can teach me how to use that program one day ;-)
The desktop environment of Picaros is LXDE, which makes the OS lighter than other distros for children.
Finally, I posted this from PicarOS and, while I worked, I did not experience any crash or performance problem.  It can actually be the desktop of choice of a home user! 

8 comentarios:

  1. You bet an adult can use PicarOS as a production system! It is Debian-based and it comes with a great variety of software preinstalled. I also used it to write my blog entry!

  2. Good to know you could solve that problem. I didn't have it because GRUB2 takes care of it...of course, the customization GUI is a GREAT help!

  3. Can not find a download link, any pointers?

    1. This is the direct download link that introlinux posted in YouTube:

  4. I installed PicarOS to hard disk and it's great except that most of the icon names, Google regional customisation, etc. are still in Spanish despite my specify English as the installation language.

    It's repositories are rather eclectic and include some old Ubuntu repositories going back to Oneric Ocelot and others, some of which are no longer available.

    Anyway, for the benefit of other readers, to install PicarOS to hard disk.

    1. Boot the Live DVD

    2. Open a terminal window. The terminal is in one of the drop-down menu options towards the top.

    3. At the command prompt type "sudo minino-installer" (without the quotes) and hit Enter.

    4. The password is minino

    Then you're on your way installing PicarOS on your hard disk.

  5. Respuestas
    1. Sure!


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