Peter 'Happy' Thomas (happypete) wrote,
Peter 'Happy' Thomas

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Paging Professor Internet: What OSes and/or distros good for a youngun?

I'm going to slick my old work Windows laptop and give it to my son, as it is definitely more powerful and capable than the wheezing desktop that he had been using.

I've seen endless debates on the various Linux "distros," and a few zealots for other free operating systems [a hat-tip to RS and other FreeBSD users, as well as to the OpenSolaris crowd] but they are usually geared to the needs of adult users, and have to do with interoperability, capability to meet business or personal needs, and the like. My question--posed particularly to parents, educators, or others with direct practical experience: what is the best OS and "distro" for the needs of a bright, inquisitive 8 1/2-year-old child?

Though I can't make anything as specific as a requirements statement, I'm interested in your collective thoughts on how well a candidate system supports installed software or web-based sources of:
  • Reading, writing keyboarding, and arithmetic,
  • [And perhaps advanced topics in the same including but not limited to: criticism, composition, and calculus1 mathematics]
  • Music theory & practice,
  • Web research,
  • [and eventually E-mail, IM, blogging, and the like]
The trick is that all of this should be wrapped up in a way that a computer-savvy eight-year-old can "get" in a reasonable amount of time without reaching the point of frustration so often that they give up on the thing as a Bad DealTM.

I'm listening. Go!

1 Let's not get ahead of ourselves, now. Q isn't owenthomas, after all.
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