In our efforts to get GNU/Linux-based computers into the hands of students, we find that the majority of our machines are going to kids from ages 10-16. That's an accurate age demographic for those who receive what we give. In most cases, the child has already been exposed to a Windows machine but oddly enough, bears almost none of the hesitancy to learn a new system.
Much unlike their parents. ("Can't you just make it LOOK like Windows?")
Yes I can.
No I won't.
Lately we've received a larger number of requests where the children in the family are younger than the usual requester. Our first install this Saturday morning was no exception to that influx.
Florence Texas is a small town. We've donated computers to families there before. It's not a wealthy town by anyone's stretch of the imagination. Many of the families that live in Florence proper are hardworking folks that live paycheck to paycheck and don't have much extra left over for anything.
Like a computer for their kids.
Of course, that's where we come in. Amie Cervantes and her husband live in a modest one story home right on the highway that cuts the town in half. 18 wheelers rumble by, shaking the windows all hours of the day. Some locals have told me that if hwy 195 did not run through the town, it probably would not exist. About half way between Killeen (Ft. Hood) and Georgetown, Amie Cervantes makes a home for her family.
The kids in the family are a bit younger than the ones that we normally install for. At ages 8, 6 and 5, Manuel, Emily and Ciarra have not had access to a computer yet. That changed at 10 am today. Knowing the kids were younger, we installed a distribution that has recently found its way on Distrowatch called Qimo.
Qimo is for kids, period. Sure, an adult can dig around and fine some stuff useful for them but from the ground up, Qimo was, to my eye, created to introduce kids to the computer. What a wonderful way to do it.
A GNU/Linux computer thank you.
I didn't specifically write this to sing the praises of Qimo, although it does deserve substantial mention. I wanted to spotlight the Cervantes family as a model for our growth as a viable desktop alternative.
We've often said that the key to the proliferation of the GNU/Linux Desktop turns in two directions:
1. Letting the consumer know they have a choice in the way they operate their system and explain why Linux is the best way to do so.
2. Get as many GNU/Linux-based computers into the hands of kids as possible. Break the stranglehold that MS obviously has on the computing world...at least in the US where we seem to fall way behind the rest of the world in Desktop Linux adaptation.
We can't do much about number one...no one in the Enterprise OR in the Linux community seems in much of a hurry to do so, But we can do something about number two.
Ages 4-7 are the formative years for the hard development of motor skills. Making that development enjoyable is key to insuring the child develops those skills to their ultimate level...not necessarily at that particular time. However an early positive experience increases the chances that further development later in life isn't looked upon as a negative experience.
We believe that doing this on a GNU/Linux computer will set a behavior pattern that is conducive to future Linux growth.
We're getting as many Linux computers into the hands of kids as we are able. What is encouraging is that this model is being practiced in other parts of the country.
Their effort grew without any knowledge of ours...it just happened and the parallels are amazing. Now yes, we have helped others around the US start their own versions of The HeliOS Project but what we find most satisfying is that most of them do it on their own...they have no idea that we exist. The model just seems to grow out of good people's hearts.
And that's the way it should be. Our successes have been accomplished on our work and dedication. Efforts such as Reprise/TrailBrain have been on theirs. Regardless, GNU/Linux computers are getting into the hands of disadvantaged kids all over the US due to these efforts. Ours is only a small piece of this magnificent effort. While I cannot say much about it now, a project growing and being planned this moment may have much larger ramifications than any of us thought possible. We'll get to that when we are allowed to do so.
And so it goes with the Family Cervantes...just one more household with a Linux Computer in their home...something the kids can enjoy and learn upon.
And that, after all, is what it's all about.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 2:01 PM