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French Kids Get OSS on USB Sticks

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the fun-way-to-travel dept.

Education 313

daria42 writes "To help make kids aware of alternatives to proprietary software the Ile-de-France, the political district of greater Paris, will give 175,000 school children and apprentices USB keys loaded with open-source software. With a word-processing program, audio and video playback capabilities, an email client and an IM client, these are essentially computers on a stick. The council touts this as 'represent[ing] for students a tool of freedom and mobility between their school, cybercafes and their home or friends' PCs'." With the prevalence of internet cafes in Europe, that might work better than in the US ... but do you think such a project would work here as well? If so, what software would you want to see loaded up?

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313 comments

Computers on a stick? (3, Insightful)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900028)

In what way?

Re:Computers on a stick? (1, Redundant)

dosius (230542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900040)

Yeah, where's the CPU?

-uso.

Re:Computers on a stick? (4, Funny)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900470)

It's there, just that by the time you get through half of the batter you end up throwing the thing away before you get to it.

As seen on DIGG 48 hours ago! Go Slashdot! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900732)

stupid idiots

Flamebait? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900854)

Who modded this post flamebait? This could only be flamebait of one entity.......the entire slashdot "community." C'mon.

Re:Computers on a stick? (2, Insightful)

mh101 (620659) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900880)

Yeah, the poster obviously doesn't understand what a computer is... calling a USB stick preloaded with software a "computer on a stick" is like calling a filled gas can a "car in a can".

The Christianity and Pooping FAQ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900038)

Q: In Christianity, is pooping/farting/etc. moral?
A: There are many possible ways to answer this question. However, from a Christian perspective, most scholars would agree that it is not moral to poop and/or fart. This presents an interesting dilemma, since pooping and farting are physiological requirements of being a human... there's just no way to avoid it! The thing to remember is that we all fall short of the glory of God and that we all are sinners in need of redemption. The fact that we all poop and fart is just further proof of this.

Q: Did humans always poop and fart?
A: No. It is generally agreed that before the Fall from Grace, the digestive systems of human beings were perfect machines. When we ate food and drank liquids, our bodies were able to process all of the material with perfect efficiency, leaving no waste products to be removed. However, after Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge, humans lost their perfection. Part of this process included the digestive system losing its ability to process food with 100% efficiency. Shortly after the successful temptation of Eve by Satan, over 6,000 years of human pooping and farting began.

Q: What about peeing?
A: Peeing is an excretory function and is just as immoral as pooping and farting.

Q: Why are the sexual organs used to pee?
A: To reinforce the evils of sex. If we are mindful of the fact that peeing is awful and immoral, then we are also mindful of the fact that other activities that involve the same organs are also awful and immoral. The Lord does not want these organs exposed to anybody (not even to yourself) and He certainly does not want them inserted into anybody, unless it can be demonstrated that a child is the intended result. Pursuant to this, it is necessary to remind each and every one of God's children that pooping, peeing, and sex are all evil, as are the sexual organs.

Q: If I am in church and I have to poop, what should I do?
A: Hold it! The fact that some misguided denominations have installed toilets in their churches does not mean that those toilets should be used! Can you imagine how impudent it is to sit down and void your bowels in a house of the Lord? Again, we must be very clear about this: We all poop, and there is no avoiding this. However, we are not mongrels with no control over our bodily functions! If you have to poop, fart, or pee, then hold it until you are in the privacy of your own home and there are no negative moral ramifications to your excretory actions!

We believe that toilets should be removed from all churches. If a voluntary request is not enough to make this happen, then we would support federal legislation banning certain types of plumbing from within 30 cubits of a church.

Q: When should I tell my children about pooping?
A: Well, obviously, they start doing it the day that they are born. They don't have to be taught how to do it. But there does come a time when children have to be taught about the immorality of pooping, farting, and peeing. Most experts suggest that the age of 6 or 7 is a good time for this lesson. This is the time when most children are apt to start experimenting with "pull my finger" games and other forms of Satanism.

Re:The Christianity and Pooping FAQ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900126)

hahahaha! Soooo off topic -1

rancid farts all the way!

Troll Review (0, Troll)

JismTroll (588456) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900358)

Baiting: 4
LOLs: 9.7562
Piss off: 7
First Post +1 Modifier: N/A, you fucking fail it
Overall: 3 out of 5 dongs

Explanation: This was a very lol read and highly offensive, however not authentic-sounding enough to be taken seriously and replied to by anyone but the most fucktarded. This could be improved both by getting FP you fucking n00b and turning it all into the form of a question, or alternatively be less TL;DR.

Yours truly,

JiZZy
Troll Review Board

Re:The Christianity and Pooping FAQ (1)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900480)

I still experiment with pull my finger games. Does that make me Satanic?

Re:The Christianity and Pooping FAQ (0)

shinobiX (28155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900860)

Is this faq going to be included on the USB stick? Because otherwise they wouldn't be able to spam slashdot with it!

There is more.... (-1, Flamebait)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900042)


No one should underestimate the amount of anti-Americanism in this "give-away".

The French are more "sore" about the Internet being in English (and software being American) than most people realize.

Re:There is more.... (1, Flamebait)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900084)

Yes, and absolutely everyone without exception who is involved in backing this has anti-Americanism as their sole motivation.

Please, get over yourself.

Re:There is more.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900368)

WTF? How is the above modded "Flamebait", but the GP modded insightful? Is it "Give mod points to 12 year olds day" or something?

Slashdot gets more like Digg every day. And yes, I mean that in a negative way. I don't even know why I bother anymore.

Re:There is more.... (0, Offtopic)

hahafaha (844574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900456)

First of all, both GP and P (from your post's perspective), are moderated Flamebait, so that particular problem is solved.

Second, a disagreement with a specific moderation is a very bad reason to condemn an entire site.

Re:There is more.... (3, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900206)

The French are more "sore" about the Internet being in English (and software being American) than most people realize.

So, how would encouraging kids to use computers be anti-American? Do these USB sticks somehow make the internet "less English" and software "less American"? Also, I do think software is written in other places than America, contrary to your assertion.

Re:There is more.... (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900932)

So, how would encouraging kids to use computers be anti-American?

By giving them freedom chips.

Re:There is more.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900210)

Why was this modded up?

Re:There is more.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900256)

'cause we hate france. notice how it's modded informative rather than "troll" or "funny".

seriously.

We Hate France (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900340)

The primary reason for the current far-right hatred of France is the war in Iraq. When USia was pitching the war, France was one of many countries that said that it was an absolutely stupid idea, destined for disaster. Now that the French prediction has come true, one would think that France would be due a certain measure of gratitude and an apology, as well as an acknowledgment that their advice should have been followed. Unfortunately, one of the defining characteristics of the extreme right is that they are unable to admit mistakes. This has had the effect of deepening the hatred and resentment towards France that is felt in some of USia's more trailer-oriented areas.

Re:We Hate France (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900556)

Hehe .. the French weren't hot about it because it wasn't in their fucking interest.

That's all there is to it.

Re:We Hate France (1)

psychrono (1030230) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900560)

I agree with the parent post, but I have one question which may help to clarify things: (at least for myself) When you are referring to "USia", are you referring to US I'm American? Or something of the sort? I just can't get the reference being made.

Re:We Hate France (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900630)

It's just informal slang. "America", in the most literal sense of the word, really refers to an entire hemisphere. "USia" is an explicit reference to the United States of America. (See also "EUia", "CAia", etc.)

Re:We Hate France (5, Insightful)

ISurfTooMuch (1010305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900756)

I have to agree with this statement, but I think it's important to point out that it's the right-wing nutjobs who hate France, not a majority of Americans. I still laugh at the whole freedom fries/freedom toast thing. Morons. These people seem to forget, or they never knew, that if France hadn't helped us during the Revolutionary War, we'd likely have lost, and, had we lost, you can bet that the British Crown would have punished us severely. We have a lot to thank the French for. They've given the world culture, good food, and philosophy, and they helped liberate us from Britain. Oh yeah, and there's that statue they sent us. I'd say they've earned our respect. As for the flash drive project, I don't know. I have a feeling that many kids will simply erase them and use them for storing files. I applaud the effort, but a live CD or DVD might have been a better idea. What I'd do is set the CD/DVD up so that, if the kid runs it, they'll find a link to send them to a page where they can request the flash drive. That way, the drive will only go to those who are interested in using it for its intended purpose. Sure, they can still wipe it, but at least they'll have the chance to experience OSS before they get the drive.

Re:There is more.... (5, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900216)

No one should underestimate the amount of anti-Americanism in this "give-away".

Unbelievable.

This sort of thing is happenning all over the world, including the US and many other English speaking nations.

But suddenly, because its France, its due to anti-Americanism (in spite the fact that many of the distributed apps are written in the US) and anti-English (although all commercial equivilants to the distributed apps have french localisation).

I think someone else how replied to you was bang on the money. Traumatic head injury when young.

Re:There is more.... (1)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900720)

I live in an international dormitory which is almost a full third from Lyon. I can tell you that, if there is an American in the room, they cannot blow their nose without making it a statement of anti-Americanism.

Re:There is more.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900742)

they cannot blow their nose without making it a statement of anti-Americanism.

Probably you're incapable of blowing your nose without making it a pro-american statement.

Re:There is more.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900892)

U *bllaptpatat* S *pleeeeeeebttttt* A *zzbtrrrrrrrrt*!

Outrageous! (5, Funny)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900918)

This sort of thing is happenning all over the world, including the US and many other English speaking nations.

But suddenly, because its France, its due to anti-Americanism (in spite the fact that many of the distributed apps are written in the US) and anti-English (although all commercial equivilants to the distributed apps have french localisation).


Exactly!

Damn French! Most English people have been anti-American for ages but all of a sudden, along come the French, gain all the credit and manage to make it look cool in the process!

I demand other nations, beyond the French, get equal credit for loathing the current American administration.

Re:There is more.... (2, Funny)

Oswald (235719) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900248)

This is +4 "informative". It boggles the mind.

Perhaps in the near future I'll decide that I've had enough of Slashdot.

Re:There is more.... (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900382)

This is +4 "informative". It boggles the mind.

Perhaps in the near future I'll decide that I've had enough of Slashdot.


Well, its dropped down to +1 "flamebait" at the moment (and destined to end at -1, "troll"), so feel free to keep posting on /. :-)

Re:There is more.... (4, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900268)

Wow, do you also watch Fox and worship Bill O'Reilly?

Seriously - nothing about the language is being mentioned in the article.

Anti-corporation/anti-globalization? Perhaps. Anti-American? Please.

The president of the regional council, Jean-Paul Huchon, is a self-confessed "partisan of the rebalancing of the supply of proprietary and open-source software" who previously welcomed the launch of the Firefox 2 browser and led the support for a creation of a competitiveness hub based on open source.

If anything, I'd imagine that they are attempting to build a competency around OSS.

Copernics called - turns out the US isn't the center of the Universe (and yes, I live in the US).

Re:There is more.... (3, Insightful)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900316)

Tant pis.

I think that one of the most important things about the internet is how it helps overcome isolationism. It's becoming a little harder to hide inside one's own culture. I suppose they feel that these incursions erode their own culture, but I think it's for the best that we're exposed to more different languages and cultures, however incidentally.

A few decades back, geography created inherent limits on communication. Now the only barrier is language, and given how many people speak some of the biggest languages (Mandarin Chinese, English, French, etc.), even that may not hold out for all that long as people find more need to communicate with each other...

Re:There is more.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900328)

How can an Ad-hominem attack, with nothing to back it up, be modded informative?

How many discussions on /. have involved FBI/CIA/NSA suspected back-doors in MS?

Re:There is more.... (2)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900386)

Hey! Bring back freedom *cough* fries *cough* *cough*!

Giving away software instead of buying quality American products from Microsoft. F**king commies! Even copied the flag then try and tell me they had red white and blue first!! I'll show 'em. From now on I'm gonna salute the brown, baby poo green and brown! That'll show those hippy pinko snail eating hole sniffers! That'll teach 'em for trying to punish us for killing a few worthless Arabs by giving free software away to kids!

Scum!

--
That, people, was not feeding a troll, that was shitting on a troll and it felt really good!

Re:There is more.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900810)

Shit, that wasn't flamebait at all. The French have LEGISLATED this sentiment. And the French government FUNDS dot com projects in an effort to stop the spread of English among their digirati. And we won't even go into the whole fiasco over control of root domain servers. Before modding somebody flamebait you should at least know your history. Mod parent up. He's spot on.

Computers on a stick? (3, Funny)

realmolo (574068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900048)

I guess that means that my K-Fed CD is a a CD player on a CD.

Re:Computers on a stick? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900182)

Nope, it is a CD player on a circle.

I bet this USB sticks will be used... (4, Insightful)

Utopia (149375) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900056)

...to store just music or other files.

Re:I bet this USB sticks will be used... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900086)

...to store just music or other files.
Just the Flashbick [tripod.com] .

Re:I bet this USB sticks will be used... (4, Interesting)

fyoder (857358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900500)

...to store just music or other files.

Yup. When I was a lad back in elementary school many years ago, they gave us all copies of the New Testament. A friend of mine carved through the pages of his to create a secret compartment.

You can lead a kid to the gospel, be it Christianity or OSS, but you can't make him use it. At least not as you might intend.

Bad Second Link (3, Informative)

Sean0michael (923458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900094)

The second link leads to an article dated 17 August 2005. It isn't about the same distribution, but about a past incident of French kids receiving OSS on CDs.

Still, it looks pretty exciting. I'd love to have that stuff on the go. If France can break out of the grip of Microsoft, then perhaps the end of the monopoly is near.

Re:Bad Second Link (1)

somekids (1047140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900152)

France can't break out the grip of anything.

France Surrenders to Open Source Software! (3, Funny)

haakondahl (893488) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900242)

France has fallen to the Bitskrieg! Long said to be secure behind the impregnable Maginot-soft Windows line, the French will now have to face the humiliation of watching Richard M. Stallman parade down the Champs d'USB.

Exciting? No, this program teaches kids nothing. (1, Interesting)

jackspenn (682188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900872)

I think the overly excited response to a USB drive with some free crap on it, shows how baddly some /.ers misunderstand what "freedom" of choice means.

Freedom to choose means you can pick the best software for your task at hand. This program does not teach the students to think about freedom of software choice, rather it pushes a conclusion on students.

If the French schools were interested in honestly teaching students, they would have a Pro-Software-Choice program built around teaching kids how to make smart choices.

If you only use OSS then you are no freer then the person who only uses Microsoft. (Part of the reason that as a Red Hat guy from 5.2 to Fedora Core 6, I am currently considering switching to another Linux distribution that is built with both OSS and proprietary software packages like mp3 support, JAVA, Adobe, etc. with the base install. So tired of having to go install that after the core Fedora installation is finished.)

To be free you need to use what works best for you.

To be free you need to evaluate pros and cons of your choice, not make a choice because somebody put it on a USB drive for you.

If the French implemented a program to teach students how to make intelligent software decisions for their needs that would be innovative.

Instead the French are giving away software (they didn't even write). It is not innovative, it is tired and sad.

Open Source provides alternatives to everyone, but OSS is tailored to the way the software programmers want things to be. Proprietary software is written to meet the end user demands in the open market. Choice lets users decided when to use the best software for you.

Frances sucks, God Bless Texas!

DISCLOSURE: This was written using an open source web browser on a proprietary source OS.

Haxxx (1, Interesting)

clark0r (925569) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900146)

so how long until someone expoits the software on here, loads up their own payload and lets it fly? this many usb sticks with undetected exploit-ware on them would cause a lot of havoc! perhaps i'm wrong, but it would be interesting to see how they've tried to counter this threat.

Re:Haxxx (1)

xXenXx (973576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900172)

What's to stop someone from exploiting a hole in abiword anyways? It's not like if they do, it will instantly affect every usb key. This is normal OSS software being distributed.

Re:Haxxx (1)

Workaphobia (931620) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900740)

> "this many usb sticks with undetected exploit-ware on them would cause a lot of havoc!"

It cannot *possibly* be worse than the analogous situation for Microsoft Windows. Botnets will exist whether or not there are widely-exploited holes in Open Office.

My USB stick I use at School (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900254)

On my USB stick that I use for school files I have Portable FireFox, GAIM, and VLC media player (our school doesn't allow codecs like DivX), so as long as people know how to use the software, I think it could be well taken.

write protect part of stick could be good (1)

Jeff1946 (944062) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900266)

A lot easier than carrying around a computer for kids. Probably would be good to have a switch on the stick to write protect where the programs are stored from inadvertent erasure.

Re:write protect part of stick could be good (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900308)

Not such a bad idea, at least then they won't reuse all of it for their music/pr0n collections.

I think the best software to start with is Firefox, Thunderbird, Adium (I know, Mac only, but it's OSS and could be ported and is a sweet IM client), OpenOffice, Gimp, VLC (or mplayer with a GUI). Just to name a few. A good OSS music player (xmms or something) would encourage more use, as kids seem to want their computers to do that these days. Whack on a couple of OSS games (TuxRacer comes to mind) and see how you go.

I think how long before places start locking down their PCs so you can't run programs from external storage anymore. I don't think it will be too long. I already do this with the small number of PCs I administer because it's easier than having people install all sorts of nasties on them.

Re:write protect part of stick could be good (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900758)

...Adium (I know, Mac only, but it's OSS and could be ported and is a sweet IM client)...

You know, Adium is based on libgaim, the library Gaim uses. See this. [sourceforge.net] Gaim kind of sucks compared to Adium though. Adium's user interface is much nicer, but that's not going to change any time soon, since Adium uses a bunch of Cocoa frameworks.

I want a free USB stick! (1)

Delixe (1039176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900274)

but do you think such a project would work here as well? If so, what software would you want to see loaded up? A free Windows Vista would be cool! *Ahem*

In Russia... (1)

xelph (542741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900294)

... they give schoolchildren pirate copies of Vista on a USB stick, with Bill Gates' signature.

Software is not know-how... (2, Insightful)

insignificant_wrangl (1060444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900392)

...but it is a great program. It is also nice to see open source getting distributed on a mass scale; I would like to see American schools take advantage of open source software rather than license traditional commercial softwares.

More important than software, however, is training how to use the software. Since I know nothing of the French education system, I have no idea what kind of curricular plans go with this distribution. Throwing computers, software, or even computer software on a stick is not going to solve any problems without some human assistance.

I think this is what their getting (5, Informative)

c41rn (880778) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900406)

I just looked into something like this for myself and found portableapps.com [portableapps.com] . You can load up your standard OSS on a USB stick and then use them on any windows computer. I went out and bought the fastest USB stick I could find [newegg.com] and loaded a few of my favorites on there (Firefox, 7Zip, OpenOffice and a few others). It's been really helpful to have the software I want when I am in a variety of locked-down university computer labs and I can do things with this software that the other students around me can't like open some obscure types of compressed files, save documents as PDFs, and browse the internet ad-free. Highly recommended if you often use public computers or work on other peoples' machines.

Re:I think this is what their getting (1)

sidz1979 (993099) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900900)

I just looked into something like this for myself and found portableapps.com.

This sounds very similar to http://www.u3.com/ [u3.com] U3 software, which also provides a bunch of applications one can carry on a USB flash-drive. This includes free and not-so-free software (all for windows tho'). Inserting the USB drive into a windows machine brings up a little "Start" menu in the taskbar, with options to interact with the software on the drive (launch program, install new software, etc.).


They don't appear to have a very extensive collection of software (yet). But most of the essentials are there (OOo, Firefox, etc.)

Make it easier to use...and the users will come... (0, Offtopic)

cuda13579 (1060440) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900432)

Well...I just spent 2 unsuccessful hours trying to get a new monitor to work under Fedora. It took a matter of minutes with XP. Sure, I've Googled the problem, and I probably am on the road to getting it working...but not yet (I've had enough for one day). It's a monitor! It should be the easiest thing in the world to install!!! Honestly, live CD's are neat, various distributions are fine, but Linux has to get a helluva lot easier to use. Developers need to stop saying "Well golly gee it's easy for me, it should be for you" and start focusing on what is actually easy for someone that is unfamiliar. Endless editing of configuration files is not going to win over users. My current monitor install is only my most recent issue. But "issues" seem to come up all too frequently. Usually I fight it out until things are working...but this is an unpleasant process when I have to sit there knowing I could resolve the same problem under Window in minutes. Sure, it comes down to familiarity with the system, but even after using Linux for several years I still find it to be a royal pain in the ass whenever I have to do something new or change anything...Sure, the answers are out there, but it usually requires consulting multiple books, lots of googling, hoping that someone else has had the same problem as me, and LOTS of time spent. I have no problem learning new things, but I (and many other people) don't have time for this much screwing around. Honestly, I think anyone that considers that to be an acceptable state of "ease of use" for the hypothetical "someone" thats never used linux...is out of their mind. When thing work...they work great, but sometimes it just seems like the amount of effort required to GET things working is unacceptable. I'm frustrated right now, and maybe this was a bit of a rant...but I think more thought needs to be given to what the knowledge/patience/experience level of the majority of computer users actually is, rather than projecting the "knowledge/patience/experience level" of your average linux user onto them.

Re:Make it easier to use...and the users will come (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900512)

And praytell, what the hell does this have to do with the story???

Re:Make it easier to use...and the users will come (1)

cuda13579 (1060440) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900644)

Put it on a few billion USB sticks and hand it out to everyone in the world...It doesn't do any good if its still a pain to use.

Re:Make it easier to use...and the users will come (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900776)

Well...I just spent 2 unsuccessful hours trying to get a new monitor to work under Fedora. It took a matter of minutes with XP.
Funny, I bought a new monitor and spent 2 unsuccessful hours trying to get it to work properly (at the right resolution) under Windows XP, with the manufacturer's drivers. Linux? I just hit the LCD/CRT toggle button (laptop) and restarted Xorg, and it now runs beautifully at it's native 1440x900. Windows XP won't do anything above 1024x768. I haven't much looked into the problem with Windows, but the comparison seems rather funny.

Although, once the monitor was setup, I did have to mess around a bit with xorg.conf to extend my desktop across both monitors, which I've done before so I knew the process. I remember the first time doing that was difficult, though the documentation has gotten _much_ better. With Windows all I had to do was check a box in the desktop properties box.

Comparing a single problem across OS's is a difficult subject, and tends to be extremely subjective. Windows you have pretty buttons that do most things, but when you do run into problems they tend to be big. With Linux, I have many config files, and the problems I run into tend to be easily fixed (keep in mind, I also don't rely on GUI configuration tools on Linux, so I can't compare how those work). What I do know is I'd much rather edit a configuration file than touch the Windows Registry. I've also experienced much fewer migranes with Linux than with Windows. I also know people who have had the opposite experience. So as always, YMMV.

Not too shabby an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900482)

Do you think such a project would work here as well?
It could. Depends on how the most libraries are about people running independent stuff on their machines. (This is usually what people use if they don't have their own computer. Some 'free' terminals are actually quite restrictive in how they're used.) Also students are likely to erase the memory stick so they can use it entirely for their own purposes. So if you're using a device to promote something, you might need to figure out how to make the installed software read-only.

If so, what software would you want to see loaded up?
For starters probably not much more than what can already be found at PortableApps.com [portableapps.com] . Stuff like VLC, Firefox, and some other miscellaneous cool and useful stuff. Depending on the device capacity, might even have an entire OSS creative suite (Blender, Gimp, Audacity, etc.) or even an liveUSB 'nux distro of some sort?

Next time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900484)

...put it on an air-wick

Who got the USB contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900490)

That's a pretty good return on a payoff.

Why can't these kids download apps of the internet which is already there? Handing out USB keys is pointless, the software is out of date the moment it gets on these fancy CDs.

give them an emulator (0, Redundant)

swell (195815) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900492)

Give them an Apple ][ or Commode 64 with some documentation, Basic & assembly languages, sample programs, debuggers... Let them experience the essence of computing as no modern computer can allow.

Programming today is done by teams because it is generally impossible for a single person to cover all the bases of getting a product to market. The novice must surely be flummoxed by the current piecemeal approach to programming, much as the blind men were in trying to devine the totality of an elephant by the feel of some of its parts.

The Apple & Commodore were well documented and had available much software that would help to understand the hardware, firmware and software essence of computing. There are no powerful games for these machines, or IM capability that would distract modern kids from learning useful stuff. A whole bunch of 8 bit stuff could be crammed onto a single USB stick!

Re:give them an emulator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900866)

"Give them an Apple ][ or Commode 64 with some documentation..."

Intentional, or Freudian slip?

Re:give them an emulator (1)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900888)

Part of me agrees with that idea, although I'd be tempted to toss an Atari 800 at them, since that's what I grew up with.

But wait--why would we stop there? Why not give them a Commodore Pet? An Altair? A PDP-8? A bag of transistors? A bag of tubes?

For ages, people have lamented the loss of a degree of nitty-grittyness that existed in a previous generation of whatever the discussion is about, especially the last generation of hands-on gear and users. In aviation, it was the jet engine that made people idolize the WWII prop planes. In cars, the electronic ignition and injection systems closed the book on backyard engine rebuilding and tuning. (Even among the tuners, how common is it to find a timing light and a bottle of ether nowadays?) With computers, it was 'round about Windows95 that we lost the tinkering ability for the most part. Yeah, we've got Linux and Unix but even at that--look at Mac OSX, and you'll see the future of computing.

Kids in school now aren't going to grow up knowing about such things because they can't learn it and catch up all the way to the present-day, unless they develop it as a hobby (much like I have a friend who makes small Stirling engines) or spend two lifetimes to get to the point where they can program modern computers. This is a pity, because raw knowledge of things is absolutely fantastic, and usually the source of great innovation. At the same time, the current general state-of-the-art doesn't advance from basic principles--it advances from last week's state of the art, so they have to be brought up on current computer technology if they're going to advance things.

And yes, we'll lose some stuff along the way. Coding (in)efficiency will become orders of magnitude worse. Honestly, we need a GIGAHERTZ processor and 524288kB of RAM just to drive the OS in a computer running Vista? (not to mention the equivalent of roughly 22 thousand 5.25" Apple/Commodore/Atari floppy disks, or 200 million Hollerith cards!) But we can already do things that people didn't imagine computers for, and we're only starting.

Not too many! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900494)

According to one of the articles, they'll be distributing 64.000 CDs. That's an awfully small and precise figure! (Request to Europeans: When writing in English, punctuate in English. Better still, "64 000" is correct in English, French, Turkish, Japanese, Swahili, ...)

Re:Not too many! (1)

SeeSchloss (886510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900780)

64 000 is the ONLY acceptable form, actually, as either the dot or the comma are accepted as decimal separators (http://www.bipm.org/en/CGPM/db/22/10/). The other ones are ugly anyway, and I just wish the BIPM had the balls to impose the comma as the only acceptable decimal separator... 14 789,56 is so much prettier than "14,789.56", isn't it ? And... looks like ./ doesn't let me use french quotes in my comments (you know, the things that look like >) only "english ones"... another abomination coming from the english-speaking world.

Translation (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900538)

To help make kids aware of alternatives to proprietary software

Translation: It seems that a large portion of software begins getting pirated by kids who don't have the money to buy the software or anything better to do, we aim to change this.

What to put on the stick (1)

YGingras (605709) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900618)

They should put the Gimp and Blender. The only way to get the interface of those programs is to start using them really early. There is no hope left for us but please think of the children and don't spoil their only chance!

Mp3 playback? (1)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900640)

I think this USB stick will only have any effect on these kids if it will do what they want it to. They probably couldn't care less about using a word processing program, but watching movies and listening to music is something they might like to do. This stick comes preloaded with music and movie software--but, since it won't play mp3s (unless the school put out some dough--every OSS system I've used required some shady means of enabling mp3 playback), it won't do what the kids want it to, so they probably won't use it.

Don't get me wrong--the kids should have all their music in ogg, but they don't, and they aren't about to go convert it all for some schtick their school gave them.

It'll go in a drawer someplace.

Re:Mp3 playback? (1)

cockroach2 (117475) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900694)

every OSS system I've used required some shady means of enabling mp3 playback
Which century are you living in? If you were talking about mp3 *encoding* then yes, that's an issue. But playback? Come on...

Re:Mp3 playback? (1)

wile_e_wonka (934864) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900734)

Sure, I'm absolutely serious. Given, I've only used OpenSUSE and Ubuntu, but it certainly wasn't accidental that neither comes with the native ability to play mp3s. Automatix is the easiest way to install mp3 playback capability, and it has a very clear warning screen warning users that the some of what it provides violates laws in some countries (of all that Automatix provides, the codecs seem like the only thing to me that may violate law). Countries that have strong copyrights law (like those of the EU and the USA) are places where Automatix would be illegal.

Re:Mp3 playback? (1)

cockroach2 (117475) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900862)

Now that's hardly believable. Being a debian user, I never had any such issues, and debian is not commonly known to distribute software with possible legal issues. As ubuntu is based on debian, I can't imagine they would actually remove mp3 playback ability from (for instance) xmms and its derivates.

My list. (2, Informative)

Archeopteryx (4648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900666)

I would not force Linux on them, but there is a lot of Windows OSS;

AbiWord first of all.

Gnumeric spreadsheet

VideoLAN Client (VLC)

GAIM multi-protocol IM software

GZIP file compression tool

wxBASIC BASIC Interpeter or similar

Games! This whole list; http://osswin.sourceforge.net/games.html [sourceforge.net]

I think this would about do it and still fit on a modest USB stick.

What do you think?

Re:My list. (1)

toddbu (748790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900790)

What do you think?

I think that I'm glad I have a lot of mod points, because what I'm about to say is surely going to get marked as flamebait...

At the end of the day, the fact that so many people have come up with so many lists about what should be on the USB stick is the reason that OSS struggles in the marketplace. I know that many would disagree with me, but there are just too many choices in competing software packages to make many of them very good. With few exceptions (the LAMP stack being one), the fact that it's so hard for a regular user to choose which technology will win makes investing in any technology hard. Do you use Gnome on your desktop or KDE? Which media player do you use? Got a preference for a browser? Or email client? Or IM client? Can we even agree on an X server?

The problem with OSS is that there are just too many choices. Instead of rallying around a single technology (like has happened with Apache), projects continue to fork and new projects started where existing code bases already exist. You can do all you want to introduce students to OSS, but how long before those technologies are replaced by something else?

Re:My list. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900934)

I think that you deserve praise if you've gotten Windows to boot and run from a USB stick.

I'd prefer meat-on-a-stick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900726)

...but that's just me.

yuon fail it... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17900744)

That tXhey can hold

Not only do they get software on a stick... (1)

sokoban (142301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900770)

They get wine in their lunchboxes and can take it to school.

And they get to eat french food every day.

Re:Not only do they get software on a stick... (1)

vorlich (972710) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900906)

they can get a beer at McDonalds and almost all of the girls at their schools are French.

But how fast can it boot? (1)

Zetta Matrix (245803) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900836)

Maybe this will lead to an emphasis on reducing the time-until-usable-GUI for free Unix-like operating systems... (something worth improving upon, imo)

Boot from USB? (4, Interesting)

DavidD_CA (750156) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900882)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the point here be to boot fromthe USB to run the OS that is pre-loaded on the stick?

If it's just OSS apps, and you're still requiring Windows OS, then it's not that revolutionary. Why would the user bother with te USB stick if the computer is already booted into Windows and has popular apps loaded?

Not to mention I would suspect that most Net Cafes would prevent booting from a USB device because they want you to run the special "cafe" software they usually have that prompts for your credit card, tracks your time, etc.

Now, if an entire university had a bunch of computer labs with absolutely no pre-installed OS, and gave all their students these USB sticks (with an OS to boot from), then that might be something.

Computer on a stick? Uh, yeah. (2, Funny)

mh101 (620659) | more than 7 years ago | (#17900898)

The poster obviously doesn't understand what a computer is and the relationship between a computer and its software... Calling a USB stick preloaded with software a "computer on a stick" is like calling a filled gas can a "car in a can".

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