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Sharpen Your Mind and Have Fun With Tux

Games and Applications for Youngsters

  • October 27, 2008
  • By Eric Geier

It is time to take a break from Linux commands and have some fun playing computer games. Luckily, the open source software community offers many gaming and educational choices among the other applications. Whether you want to exercise your own mind or give a child a new learning tool, there are many free games and applications out there to help build and exercise knowledge. You might find on-the-screen puzzles, memory games, games to build math, reading or writing skills, or even applications to explore outer space. The same goes with entertainment software; you can find fun and interesting games out there for free. You can your sharpen card games or board games, create and run your own empire with strategy games, fly or race with simulators, or shoot 'em up in action games.

We will briefly discuss a few particular games and applications from many of the different types or themes. Keep in mind, most of these are cross-platform and are available for your Windows PCs as well. For the games, most support multiplayer via the Internet or on your Local Area Network (LAN).

GCompris is a suite of educational games and activities for children aged anywhere from 2 to 10. Areas of learning include computer discovery, algebra, science, geography, reading, and more. Childsplay is a similar game suite, with two built-in activities, a memory and a typing game.You can download more games for this suite on their plug-ins page.

Tux, of Math Command (TuxMath for short) is an educational arcade-type game starring Tux, the Linux mascot! The player must solve the math problems that drop down before they pass up Tux, as Figure 1 shows, by entering in the correct answers; see Figure 1 for an example. Players can choose to play in the Math Command Training Academy, where he or she can choose from over 50 types of math problems, from simple addition to multiplication and division of negative numbers. Players can alternatively choose the Arcade mode to be presented with a variety of problems based upon the level they choose. In addition, you can even build your own custom games. TuxMath is a great, fun, game that can help even adults build up their math skills.

If you're a space guru or trying to learn more about astronomy, you'll find a few really neat educational applications, such as Stellarium, Celestia, and KStars. Grab your telescope, binoculars, or your naked eyes; these applications help you orientate yourself so you can find stars, planets, galaxies, and more. Stellarium gives you a 3D view of what you may be able to see from the ground. You tell the application a location and the time for a realistic representation of where the planets, consolations, and stars are located. For example, Figure 2 shows if I gaze south-east here in the Dayton, Ohio area, I'll be looking toward Mars, Venus, and Juno. If you want to get a virtual up-close and personal look, Celestia and KStars give you the ability to travel throughout the solar system.


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