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Even a 2 Year Old Can Use Linux -      

    Even a 2 Year Old Can Use Linux

by Andrea W. Cordingly, for Op/Ed section

First there were the "granny" articles, where someone's grandmother presented the simplicity of Linux and emphatically denied being coached by her son into using Linux. Albeit rather a quirky form of humor, they made their points, because the KDE Desktop had indeed matured and was easy to use.

I was also tolerant when people started writing about Linux for their children, because I know full and well that many classrooms greatly benefit from the amazing work put into Linux LTSP and the K-12LTSP projects.

These projects prove that there are many great pieces of Open Source work being performed.

In this case few could deny, no matter how skeptical or cynical, that Linux serves as an invaluable tool for cost effective education.

Our editor even topped it off by providing evidence that Linux and Open Source are probably the only way 500 Million youth in India have a chance to learn, as there is no way the traditional school buildings, hired teachers, western methods will work when educating so many.

I appreciated the stories and articles that showed Linux as easy to use and beneficial, although sometimes with a reserved cynicism.

But when I left for a few minutes yesterday to go use the toilet and returned to find my own 2 year old daughter playing it up on a Centos test machine -- I woke up.

Maybe I had read too many articles touting the ease of use and value of Linux. Perhaps I had fallen into the typical "preaching to the choir" group of people that start yawning of boredom even when they hear about Linux successes.

But I propose that we in the Open Source community should be anything but bored by what we are now seeing more and more.

On this occasion, I took a brief break from hours of work on my Centos test server. My daughter, Annie, who I long ago labeled the curious kitten, wandered past me in the hall. I thought nothing of it, since she knew better than to go into Mommy's office.

But on this occasion, she chose to walk right in. When I returned from my quick and necessary break, I stood at the doorway and witnessed her opening various menus, starting programs, and even trying out a game.

My son arrived to identify what I was mumbling about and found the same scene. However, to him it was business as usual and he walked in to join Annie.

I asked him when he had learned to use Linux, to which he replied without hesitation, "Everybody knows Linux."

He and Annie just kept playing and trying out some other games to see what I had loaded on the test machine.

Needless to say, for the next few minutes I just enjoyed the sight of my two kids fiddling with Linux, as if they had been using it for years. I couldn't resist taking a few photos, and then of course it was time to get back to testing.

But in my amusement, I realized the significance of what had happened to me personally.

I realized that all of those years and countless people helping to promote Linux to schools had made a big difference.

My son had learned about Linux from his mom, but he learned to use it from his school. Linux projects to encourage school use made a huge difference for education needs and solving budgeting woes. As a result of all these years, major shifts in the paradigm had begun.

In the same way, I saw Annie and the way she had so easily and unwaveringly started fiddling with the desktop as evidence that the once clunky shell environment that started off Linux had matured to the point in which the GUI was not a stumbling block but an opportunity to bring even more into the Linux world.

In a very personal way I had a chance to see that Linux has indeed matured into unequivocally a most useful and easy to use tool for any age.

It could never have happened without the countless unnamed heroes who work day to day with Linux, writing source, making systems run with Linux when no other OS will do, and truly proving the breadth and depth of GNU/Linux.

It is thanks to these men and women that real world proof of Linux exists more and more, in server rooms and home offices everywhere. The next few years will be some of the most exciting with regard to Linux growth and adoption, and thankfully a whole new generation will be there to take hold of the dream and carry it on.

This opinion piece should not be construed as factual information. It contains the opinions and personal experiences of the author at the time of publication and where applicable includes the references to other texts for further research.


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