Why kid hackers should have a Linux computer

Also in today’s open source roundup: DistroWatch reviews Uruk GNU/Linux 1.0, and blame Intel if Linux won’t install on your laptop

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Kid hackers and Linux computers

Kids these days are quite amazing in how fast they learn how to use computers. And what better system for a young hacker than a Linux computer? A writer at Medium recently shared the story of how his young nephew got his very own Linux computer.

Vesche reports at Medium:

I was visiting my sister recently when I was shocked to discover that my nearly five-year-old nephew had grown into a full-blown walking, talking, little human being! So, naturally my first question was, “Where is this little hackers little computer?” To which I was sadly told that he did not have a computer of his own! Well, that just won’t do.

Let’s talk hardware. If we’re building this little dude a Linux computer and we’re “ballin’ on a budget”, there’s no better choice than a Raspberry Pi. I mean he is a hacker in training, right? His typing (and well, hand coordination in general) isn’t that great yet, so we’ll need an over-sized keyboard. A big mouse pad, and a good wireless mouse will do well. Oh, and how about a VESA mount case for the Raspberry Pi so it stays out of the way? All of that should do nicely.

Alright, let’s get to the meat of this puppy. What’s going on under the hood? Seeing as this kid is the real deal he’s gonna run Arch Linux. I can see his little UNIX(-like) beard coming in already! Joking aside, since the Raspberry Pi uses an ARM processor hop on over to archlinuxarm.org for information on how to install Arch Linux on your Pi.

After a bit of tinkering, we’re ready to start talking software. I first installed Openbox with nodm, which should make the computer easy to just turn on and get going. I was very fortunate to come across a pair of blog posts by a Mr. Alan Moore (no, not the comic book guy) titled: Building a Linux System for a Child Part 1 & Part 2. It’s interesting to note that in the second post Linux distros specifically for children’s education are discussed including DouDouLinux, Qimo, SkoleLinux, and Edbuntu. Also, not discussed in the article (but popular) are Sugar and Ubermix. It was awesome to discover that so many Linux distributions exist solely for children’s education, and perhaps it might be easier for some of you to just install one of these distros instead.

More at Medium

DistroWatch reviews Uruk GNU/Linux 1.0

There are many different Linux distributions available, but few of them actually provide only free software. Uruk GNU/Linux is one such distro, and DistroWatch has a full review of it.

Jesse Smith reports for DistroWatch:

Uruk GNU/Linux appears to be a fairly young project with some lofty goals, but some rough edges and unusual characteristics. I applaud the developers’ attempts to provide a pure free software distribution, particularly their use of Gnash to provide a pretty good stand-in for Adobe’s Flash player. Gnash is not perfect, but it should work well enough for most people.

On the other hand, Uruk does not appear to offer much above and beyond what Trisquel provides. Uruk uses Trisquel’s repositories and maintains the same free software only stance, but does not appear to provide a lot that Trisquel on its own does not already offer. Uruk does feature some add-ons from Linux Mint, like the update manager. However, this tends to work against the distribution as the update manager hides most security updates by default while Mint usually shows all updates, minus just the ones known to cause problems with stability.

As I mentioned above, the package compatibility tools talked about on the Uruk website do not really deliver and are hampered by the missing alien package in the default installation. The build-from-source u-src tool may be handy in some limited cases, but it only works in very simple scenarios with specific archive types and build processes. Hopefully these package compatibility tools will be expanded for future releases.

Right now I’m not sure Uruk provides much above what Trisquel 7.0 provided two years ago. The project is still young and may grow in time. This is a 1.0 release and I would hold off trying the distribution until it has time to build toward its goals.

More at DistroWatch

Blame Intel if Linux won’t install on your laptop

There’s been a lot of controversy about how some folks can’t get Linux to install on their laptops, and many angry users have been pointing their fingers at Microsoft. But a writer at PCWorld notes that it may be Intel’s fault, not Microsoft’s.

Chris Hoffman reports for PC World:

Why won’t Linux install on modern Lenovo laptops? The discovery of this problem set off a recent firestorm. But contrary to initial speculation, it’s not that Microsoft is forcing Lenovo to block the installation of Linux on its laptops. It’s that Intel isn’t making modern hardware compatible with Linux.

The reason Linux won’t install on Lenovo’s laptops is a technical one. As Lenovo explained: “To improve system performance, Lenovo is leading an industry trend of adopting RAID on the SSDs in certain product configurations… Unsupported models will rely on Linux operating system vendors releasing new kernel and drivers to support features such as RAID on SSD.”

Here’s the problem: Linux doesn’t support internal solid-state drives in RAID (Intel RST) mode. Linux can see the drive in AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface) mode. However, certain Lenovo laptops don’t allow the mode to be changed in the BIOS. You can boot Linux from a USB drive, but not install it on the laptop’s SSD.

As Lenovo explained, Linux developers need to make the Linux kernel compatible with this new feature. Only then will Linux work with the Lenovo Yoga 900 and other laptops that require this feature.

More at PCWorld

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