Edubuntu 7.10 is a linux distribution based on Ubuntu aimed at schools and teachers. As a new teacher I thought that I would take a look at what Edubuntu has to offer, and whether I think that I would use it in a school environment. I ordered a free cd from ShipIt, and as always this took a couple of weeks to arrive.
On booting the cd, I was surprised to see that it’s not a live cd like the other deriviatives of Ubuntu, meaning that you have to install it before you can try it out. This adds another barrier to potential users, as installing things is always a pain. When installing you are offered whether to install as a server or workstation. I chose a workstation, as I haven’t got enough computers to try out the thin-client functionality that the server version offers.
The installer is the standard text installer rather than the more user friendly Ubiquity, but it was easy to use anyway. Again, a live cd would be so much nicer.
After installing and rebooting we are greeted by the Edubuntu spash screen shown below. The modification of the standard Ubuntu logo to have a child with their hand up works well, and looks really good.
After this we are shown a log in screen, again modified from the Ubuntu one.
Perhaps a little too orange, but this isn’t the worst colouring choices, as we will see!
The default desktop looks like this:
Nice idea for the background, but the colours are slightly jarring.
Again, a rather unusual choice of colours. The Nautilus file browser is themed with a bright red title bar whilst icons use the Gartoon theme, which doesn’t quite match with the rest of the system. I can see why they have chosen childish colours and themes, but I’m not sure that it really works – it looks disjointed.
As this is an OS aimed at schools, you would expect there to be some extra applications installed – instead it’s just the usual Ubuntu applications, with the additon of Gobby collaborative editor. This is essentially gedit but with collaborative features. You can chat with other users and edit documents as a group. Perhaps useful, but if that’s the only addition, then it’s not overwhelming.
The only other new feature is the Lockdown Editor, found in the admin menu.
This offers ways to lockdown various components of the OS, such as disabling the command line, or changing Epiphany so that it can’t be closed. (Epiphany isn’t installed by default by the way, so this is slightly odd!)
Apart from those two things, this is just Ubuntu with a garish theme and two extra things installed by default.
According to the Edubuntu site there is another CD that contains all the educational software – you can just get this from the repositories anyway – as you can in Ubuntu normally. In other words, why not just use Ubuntu?
As a teacher, I would not use Edubuntu in a school environment just yet, though I think that the idea behind the OS has a lot of potential.
- Thin client functionality sounds interesting – I’ll try and test it when I get a chance
- Ubuntu has loads of good software installed, Edubuntu inherits this
- Hardware detected easily, uses the Ubuntu 7.10 core, so Compiz etc is all there
- Lockdown editor makes it easy to change users permissions
- Essentially just Ubuntu with new theme
- No live cd, so new users may find it hard to set up
- Distracting colour scheme
Get it at the Edubuntu website.
Edit: There is a live cd, just the version ShipIt send out isn’t one.