Kid Friendly OS for windows pc
May 11, 2009 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Recommendations for an Operating system for Kids ages 3-6

i have an older PC that is running XP that my 3 year old and soon to be 6 year old use. I set up a login for them that doesn't allow them to do too much damage, and i bought a mouse that allowed me to make any button they push do a left click only, but they tend to get a little crazy pushing buttons and clicking away, and often get "stuck".

I am wondering if XP has a setting or if there is a different operating system that i can load up that is easier to navigate for little kids.
posted by Mr_Chips to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I had no problem using DOS and Windows 3.1 when I was that age. Kids will learn very quickly how to use any operating system you put in front of them— it's like learning a language!
posted by Electrius at 6:13 PM on May 11, 2009

I think Electrius is right that kids can very easily learn how to use any operating system. Perhaps you could let them try out XP for a little longer and show them around if they have any problems?
posted by movicont at 6:19 PM on May 11, 2009

gOS is a linux distro that might work well, and Linux had the UAC concept working long before Microsoft... but it depends if what you're doing is web based or software based. Obviously most kid friendly software is OSX or Windows based, so that might take Linux off the table.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 6:20 PM on May 11, 2009

Set up an Ubuntu box and give them a user account each. Install the pessulus package (post back here for help if you find this difficult) to give you a nice lockdown GUI , and use it inside their user accounts to lock down the Gnome panels. Now they won't break their desktops with random clickery.

Next, install the gcompris, gcompris-sound-en, tuxpaint and gnucap packages. Gcompris will keep a three year old entertained for a long time while teaching mouse skills, keyboard skills and basic literacy and numeracy. It's a beautiful thing.
posted by flabdablet at 6:33 PM on May 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Talking from experience, by the way. Little ms. flabdablet (just turned four) loves Gcompris.
posted by flabdablet at 6:35 PM on May 11, 2009

How about the OLPC OS, Sugar? You can even get a distro that sits on a USB drive: Sugar on a Stick.
posted by media_itoku at 7:15 PM on May 11, 2009

Err, more about the kid-specific features of Sugar.
posted by media_itoku at 7:17 PM on May 11, 2009

You could give Edubuntu a shot. It's for classroom and schools, but it's loaded with games and educational software for kids. It's a spinoff of Ubuntu, so it's rock solid when it comes to stability. Plus, community support is quite abundant.
posted by Geppp at 7:37 PM on May 11, 2009

You could allways just slap Windows Steady state on there, and set their login to be non-persistent.

Or download the Windows 7 beta, with a little beefing up the computer could run it fine, and it has some really good parental controls for accounts. Plus, I have hated vista since day 1, but I am a windows 7 convert.
posted by JonnyRotten at 8:20 PM on May 11, 2009

I think sugar might be an interesting choice. I have an olpc that runs sugar, and it is easy to use, designed with children in mind and has a few fun applications.

(I confess it took me a little while to get used to - I normally use Windows or Ubuntu, but once I spent a little time on it I liked it)
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 8:43 PM on May 11, 2009

Kids are astoundingly good at teaching themselves how to use computers, and you'll be doing yours a disservice if you don't give them the opportunity to teach themselves now -- let them poke around and get confused and figure things out all on their own. So long as they can read (maybe it's not quite time yet for the littler one), they'll get it.

I think the most important thing to do is just let them at a regular, non-watered down computer environment, but make sure that the back-end is set up such that they can't do irrevocable damage.
posted by telegraph at 9:46 PM on May 11, 2009

+1 Edubuntu
posted by teg4rvn at 8:03 AM on May 12, 2009

Qimo is a specialized ubuntu variant designed by a husband and wife for their charity that works with kids. Some comments on the Lifehacker post might be useful. They mention Etoys.
posted by saxamo at 9:29 AM on May 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've just installed Etoys school-wide (we're currently a Windows shop - can't have everything). There are Grade 6 kids getting stuck into it right now. It looks very promising.
posted by flabdablet at 9:02 PM on May 12, 2009

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