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Edubuntu is Ubuntu for the Classroom

Edubuntu for the Classroom

February 22, 2010

Ubuntu by Canonical, one of the most popular Linux distributions, provides a few different variants. One of them is Edubuntu. It is the same operating system as Ubuntu but comes loaded with many educational applications and games. In this article, we'll install Edubuntu and discover exactly which applications come preinstalled. Now lets get started!

<em>The Edubuntu logo</em>
The Edubuntu logo

Directly installing Edubuntu as a new OS

Starting with Ubuntu 9.10, there is a dedicated Edubuntu installation disc. In previous versions, you had to first install the regular Ubuntu distribution and then download and install the Add-On CD containing the Edubuntu desktop and applications. However now with Ubuntu 9.10, you can just download the Edubuntu disc image, burn it to a DVD, and install it. The Edubuntu desktop and all the educational applications and games are preinstalled.

Using this new Edubuntu install disc is great if you haven't already installed the regular version of Ubuntu . However, if you only want a select few of the applications, you might just want to go the other route. You can still first install the regular Ubuntu distribution and then manually install the applications you want, which we'll discuss further in the next section.

If you do want to go the new route, using the Edubuntu install disc, you first need to download the disc image (.ISO) file for the most current release. At the time of this writing, the most current version is 9.10. If you have a regular 32-bit PC, you want to download the x86/i386 version. However, if you have a high-performance 64-bit machine, you want to download the 64-bit AMD version. Usually you'll get much faster download speeds downloading it as a torrent, using a application like BitTorrent.

Once you have the disc image downloaded, you have two ways to get it installed on your PC. If you have access to a DVD writer and a blank DVD, you can burn a disc. Keep in mind, the computer you're installing Edubuntu on must at least read DVDs. If that option isn't feasible or desired, you might be able to go the USB route if you have a USB flash drive with over 3GBs of space and your comptuer supports USB booting. If neither method will work, consider the other installation route discussed in the next section.

If you want to burn a DVD, download and use a burner application such as InfraRecorder in Windows or the program included in your Linux desktop. Just keep in mind, you don't want to extract the ISO file; directly burn the disc image to the DVD. That way it will be a bootable DVD.

To go the USB route, start by downloading the USB Installer offered by Pendrive Linux. Previous versions of Ubuntu offered a USB Creator (usb-creator.exe), however its not on the 9.10 CDs and DVDs. When you use the Pendrive Linux utility, you'll run it, select the ISO file you downloaded earlier, select the USB drive, and then it will configure it on the drive. Then with the USB drive inserted, restart the PC, and hopefully it will boot. If not, enter BIOS setup by hitting the F2 or other key during boot to see if you can enable USB booting.

If you have installation problems, there are even more options you can refer to in the installation documentation.

Installing Edubuntu on an existing Ubuntu system

If you already have the regular Ubuntu distribution installed, you can skip down to he next paragraph for more details on how to install the Edubuntu desktop and applications. If you haven't installed Ubuntu yet, you can use many different methods: use the Wubi application to easily install along with Windows, use a USB flash drive (like described in the second to last paragraph of the previous section), or go the traditional route by downloading and burning a ISO image file to a CD. For full installation details and help, you can visit the official documentation.

After you have a Ubuntu machine up and running, you can install the Edubuntu components. If you aren't a command-line fan, you can use the GUI tool by clicking System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager. Then search for "edubuntu", mark the following packages for installation: edubuntu-artwork, edubuntu-desktop, edubuntu-docs, and hit Apply. Alternatively, you can copy and paste the following command into a Terminal window: sudo apt-get install edubuntu-artwork edubuntu-desktop edubuntu-docs

The following application bundles will be installed, which you could independently install/uninstall even without installing the other Edubuntu componets:

  • ubuntu-edu-preschool - Preschool (< 5 years old)
  • ubuntu-edu-primary - Primary (ages 6-12)
  • ubuntu-edu-secondary - Secondary (ages 13-18)
  • ubuntu-edu-tertiary - Tertiary (university level)

To install via the Package Manager, select the desired bundles and hit Apply. To install via Terminal, enter sudo apt-get install, followed by the desired bundles.

Basically, you only lose one minor thing when doing this manual install than from using the Edubuntu DVD: The regular Ubuntu background remains after the conversion. However, you can always apply the Edubuntu background, featuring the slick-looking Ubuntu symbol, by right-clicking the desktop and selecting Change Desktop Background.