ZDNET’s key takeaways
- Escuelas Linux is free to download and install on as many computers as you need.
- With plenty of pre-installed software and a simple user-recovery tool, it makes for a great learning environment.
- Creating an ISO for installation can be difficult.
Aesculus Linux It is a free educational operating system aimed at students from preschool to high school and offers many tools to help them learn and grow. It offers a particularly useful feature (more on that in a bit) and uses the Enlightenment desktop environment for an efficient and unique interface.
This Linux distribution is not only about people who use an alternative operating system to learn about the platform as well as specific topics. This is also for education environments, to simplify management of student desktops (again, more on that in a bit).
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Escuelas also deal with security differently. Instead of creating individual user accounts, it creates a base account (Linux) with no password set and no login. When you boot the OS, it automatically lands on the Linux account with everything pre-configured. Students typically use the desktop but have no access to sudo, so they cannot install applications or modify system files in /etc (or any other read-only directory). If you have students who might be a little more adventurous with their computers, this might prevent them from doing things they shouldn’t. At the same time, the desktop is not locked down.
There is a password for Linux users. You guessed that password, Linux Of course, you don’t tell your students this.
Escuelas is based on one of my favorite distros, Bodhi Linux (which uses Ubuntu as its base), so it’s already starting off on the right foot. And while the default desktop isn’t as artistic as Bodhi, it’s perfectly serviceable for students.
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On the default desktop, you’ll find an analog clock, a pager (which lets you switch between virtual desktops), a file system monitor), a pseudo system tray (with media player, clipboard, network configurator, and power button). , and a dock that contains quick launchers for applications.
Left-click on the desktop and you’ll access the main menu, where you can locate applications to start, access settings, and more.
If there’s one area where Escuelas Linux can give you trouble, it’s installation. Well, not the actual installation but creating the ISO file that you will use for the installation. What might cause the problem is that you need to follow these steps to create the ISO file:
- Download both the .zip and .z01 files from Download page (for 32- or 64-bit architectures).
- Change to the directory housing the two files.
- Create a zipped version of the ISO with the command zip -s- escuelaslinux*zip -O todo.zip.
- Unzip the ISO with the command Unzip todo.zip.
It’s a process but when it’s complete, you’ll have a single ISO file that you can use to install Escuelas Linux on any computer you need. And, luckily, once the distribution is installed, it’s pretty easy to use. Your students should have no problem getting up to speed using the desktop environment.
As far as pre-installed software, you’ll find the following:
- Dr. Geo
- GNU PSPP
- Tux Math
- KDE Marble
- Image magic
The list goes on and on. In fact, there are many applications pre-installed with this distribution.
That special feature
Escuelas Linux offers a feature that is not only unique but can be useful. In the left-click desktop menu, click Applications > System, and you’ll see three entries of particular interest:
- Restore the user
- Restore icon
- Restore user
Let’s say you have a student who has graduated or left your class and you want to use the computer again without reinstalling the OS. Click Restore User and it will delete all user files and restore applications to their original state.
Or maybe you have a user who needs to keep their files but restore apps to their original state (perhaps to start their educational journey). For this, click Restore User. Finally, Restore Icons simply re-adds non-visible icons that have been removed.
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This feature alone makes this Linux distribution stand out in education. Of course, there’s also a GUI Samba tool that makes it easy to share folders across your network. One caveat is that you must first add users to the system (and then add them to Samba) or grant everyone access.
During my week working with Escuelas Linux, I found it to be an interesting take on open-source operating systems, which could be of great benefit to educational environments that either struggle to meet budgets due to expensive software or that want an operating system. It is reliable and safe as well as easy to use. Give this amazing distribution a try and see if it fits your educational needs.