Linux as a learning tool

Chat about Linux in general
Post Reply
Level 2
Level 2
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:55 am
Location: Third Stone From The Sun

Linux as a learning tool

Post by vger7 » Sat Jul 02, 2011 5:16 pm

A little background first.

My 5 year old grandson lives with me.
He is a beautiful, loving and intelligent child with autism.
His mother passed away before he was 2 from rapidly invasive
breast cancer. She was only 29.

The family inherited her old Dell desktop that was painfully slow
and malware ridden. I did the best I could to clean it up but many
things I could not repair. Mercifully, the hard disk crashed.

Now I had been dabbling around with linux for a bit and found an old
hard drive in a discarded machine. I pulled it out the drive,
stuck it in the dell and it booted!

I started seriously distro hopping for something lightweight to run
on this machine with only 256m of ram.
Buying more ram was not an option at the time since RAMBUS memory
is/was much more expensive than any other type of ram.
Plus I was unemployed for an extended time and the choice was
ram vs. food on the table.
I finally settled for Jaunty and loaded LXDE on top of it.
The machine ran pretty good with just occasional swapping.
(I've since added 512 of ram)

Now my grandsons' autism manifests itself mainly as a speech problem.
He only can say a few word clearly and he knows it.
So he prefers not to attempt speech much of the time.
Communications is often non-verbal.
He also has obsessive-compulsive disorder.

My grandson was first introduced to computers when he was just days old.
His grandpa (me) would hold him and show him music videos and whatever
perked his interest on Youtube.

Before he was 4 I turned him loose on his own account. (The hardest thing
was teaching him how to put in his password when he could not see the text.)
He has just turned 5 and can operated any computer in the house effortlessly.
He's not afraid to poke around as has taught himself quite a bit.
(I would never turn him loose on a windows machine!)

Most of the time he has a browser open to PBS or a game site, plus
abiword and tuxpaint running. (Yes, he does multitasking quite well.)
He has not only learned to operate a computer but is learning words
and is pretty good at gaming just from the keyboard. He also has tons
of bookmarks to old-school Sesame Street videos.

He knows the alphabet and can count to 20 forward and backwards.
He also knows the alphabet in sign language.

The only problem with linux is the lack of software for speech
therapy and children with disabilities. There are many for windows,
at a price, but not so here. These children need all the help they
can get and hopefully someone will port or create some applications.

But if someone tells you that linux is to complicated, send them over.
My grandson will show them the ropes! :wink:

Thanks for reading.

User avatar
Level 19
Level 19
Posts: 9075
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 8:31 pm

Re: Linux as a learning tool

Post by richyrich » Sat Jul 02, 2011 5:33 pm

If you are running an Ubuntu based version of Mint, please open Synaptic Package Manager, enable the removed repository if you have it available in Settings->Repositories->Other. be sure to hit the Reload button!

Type education in the quicksearch box . . ( learn, learning )


Level 2
Level 2
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:55 am
Location: Third Stone From The Sun

Re: Linux as a learning tool

Post by vger7 » Sat Jul 02, 2011 6:35 pm

Thanks Richy,

I've already tried everything available through Synaptic.

Some are too difficult for him, some are too simple.
Tuxpaint is great.

I'm actually looking for something a bit more professional.

Thank for your input. :)

Level 4
Level 4
Posts: 296
Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:20 pm

Re: Linux as a learning tool

Post by kvv » Sat Jul 02, 2011 6:48 pm

Hi! Welcome to mint! From what I have seen and heard, children pick up Linux fastest because they are not used to to any habits from the past. So it is not surprising that your grandson is able to use it. :)

Unfortunately, since Linux serves only about 1 or 2% of the total userbase, it is somewhat understandable (although not totally) why speech therapists do not want to invest money on linux software.

However, have you looked for any online services? These days most applications are being built for the web. I admit I don't know anything about this but, a quick google led me to a website called TinyEYE: ... r-SLPs.php. There will surely be others, as well.


User avatar
Level 19
Level 19
Posts: 9075
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 8:31 pm

Re: Linux as a learning tool

Post by richyrich » Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:05 pm

EzGo live disks, gcompris, Debian Junior(search for junior - junior-gnome?), qimo-session, childsplay, ubuntu-edu , edubuntu , . . .

all available through the package manager

Level 1
Level 1
Posts: 12
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:53 pm

Re: Linux as a learning tool

Post by danny0085 » Sat Jul 02, 2011 8:58 pm

Here you can review a good collection of linux software .

Level 15
Level 15
Posts: 5532
Joined: Tue Feb 13, 2007 10:50 am
Location: HartfordCity, Indiana USA

Re: Linux as a learning tool

Post by exploder » Sat Jul 02, 2011 10:26 pm

vger7, yours has to be the finest use of open source I have ever had the pleasure of reading. My 6 year old son plays the games on too, they teach children a lot and they have a lot of fun too. The only speech therapy software I could find only runs in Windows. I understand your situation and have to agree with you that Linux is better built to withstand the things a little kid will do to a computer. My 2 and 6 year old boys have destroyed 2 Windows XP machines by repeatedly pressing the power button. I gave the kids another computer a few weeks ago that was built from salvaged parts with Linux installed and they have not managed to do it any harm. Linux can take a lot of abuse and the kids just have a regular user account so they can't break anything I can't easily log on and fix. richyrich gave the best advice, you could look at the software selection of the distros he has mentioned and see if any of the software might suit your needs.

Level 2
Level 2
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Nov 24, 2009 1:55 am
Location: Third Stone From The Sun

Re: Linux as a learning tool

Post by vger7 » Sun Jul 03, 2011 1:54 pm

Thanks to one and all for the suggestions.

I looked at TinyEye and I’m a bit leery.
Although this sounds like the perfect thing for my
grandson to use, I have concerns.
When a website wants your information before they
give you more information, that sounds a bit suspicious.
Also a camera seems to be a necessity. That certainly
brings out my privacy concerns. I do not want to put
him at any possible risk.
I will write them and see if they can address my concerns.

Thanks for your comment.

My grandson also likes to power cycle the machines.
I don’t know how or why they still are still working.
I have one machine with XP on it. He would shut it down
and toss the mouse behind the desk... everytime.
I’ve changed it to a dual boot set up (2 drives) with
Mint 10 LXDE as the primary OS.
No more tossing of the mouse! I guess he really doesn’t
care for XP.
(I won’t be subjecting him to Unity or Gnome Shell...
he may toss the monitor!) :lol:

I'm sure your boys are learning fast too. The PBS site is
excellent for young children as are their children’s programs.
I figure in a couple of years, with you imparting your
knowledge to them, they'll be writing code and distro hopping!

To those here in the States, enjoy the holiday.


User avatar
Level 6
Level 6
Posts: 1360
Joined: Wed Aug 18, 2010 6:46 am

Re: Linux as a learning tool

Post by Elisa » Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:06 pm


I'd suggest to try these linux distros - images never mind it's not Mint based, if needing a help, you can ask even here ;)): - SkoleLinux, check out what various versions or programs it has (

or another cool stuff
with many cool apps inside: ... index.html

Enjoy! 8)
Linux/Unix is about freedom, Windows about slavery.

md5 / sha1 check [how-to for NEWBIES] :idea:

Score: 43 I have some hippie in me. Cool, man 8)
Take the "Are you a Hippie?" Test

Post Reply

Return to “Chat about Linux”