|Free Edutainment Software|
- PGP Keys
- Vossen's Law
- Firewall Rules
- Home Net Security
- Snort Books
- Sec Tools
- Honeypot Stats
- Firewall Stats
- IP Calcs
- SME Server
- Backup (DI-30)
- Win Tools
- Win. Shell Scripting
- POSIX Redirection
Free Edutainment Software
This is a list of free entertaining yet educational software for your kids and computer, and is intended for a general (read non-computer-geek) audience I start in 2008. Most of these programs are available for the three most common operating systems, Windows, Max OS X and GNU/Linux (e.g., Ubuntu, Debian). Everything listed here is at least available for Ubuntu, and much of it is "built-in." For Ubuntu/Debian, install these via "add/remove programs" or via "sudo apt-get install <package name(s) here>" from the command line (e.g.: sudo apt-get install stellarium stellarium-data).
This is just a tiny sample of the free educational and kid-related software available. Google is your friend.
A Word About "Free"
"Free" can mean many things, especially in the context of software. The argument is usually simplified as, "free as in beer or free as in speech." That is, some software is free of cost, but does not allow modification. Other software may not only allow but encourage you to take it, modify it, give it away, or whatever. In-depth discussion of this issue, or why people choose to "give away" their work is out of the scope of this document. Google for "free and open source" to learn far more than you want to know about it. (In particular you can see this long discussion.)
In scope, all of the software listed here is completely free (without cost) to use on your computer, and almost all of it allows the freedom to do just about anything you want with it. Check the individual web sites for licensing details if you are not sure. And note that however you define "free" does not preclude a license to which you must agree, though most times that license is simply to guarantee the aforementioned freedoms. This is sometimes called a "copyleft" (as opposed to a copyright), see http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html for details.
A Word about Operating Systems and Ubuntu
Ubuntu is a "distribution" of the GNU/Linux "operating system" and is an alternative to paying Microsoft (and/or your computer dealer) lots of money to run Windows, then paying lots of other folks for all the anti-virus, anti-malware, etc. software required to protect Windows from itself. This not only wastes a lot of time and money, but the overhead of these programs make your brand-new computer run like a 486. And we're not even going to talk about the Vista and Windows 8 disasters.
If Ubuntu looks too different for you, you can run a different spin like the vaguely Mac-like Xubuntu or more the Windows-like Lubuntu or Linux Mint (which is based on Ubuntu anyway).
As for Apple, they make nice-looking (but expensive) hardware that works well if you choose to do things exactly the way they want you to, and if you accept the associated loss of privacy, control over your own device and your own contents and their censorship. (See details.)
So take an old PC that is either too old or too malware infested to run Windows anymore, download Ubuntu or Mint (for free), and try it. It isn't perfect, but it is constantly improving. It is not susceptible to the vast amounts of Windows malware out there, so it's great for kids. But on the other hand, it doesn't run programs written only for Windows (well, actually it does, using Wine, but that's getting out-of-scope here), so custom programs for school may not work. As you'll see if the Windows/Mac-only program won't run on Ubuntu, there is almost certainly an alternative, which is almost always free and often (but not always) better than the Windows/Mac program it replaces.
In particular, LibreOffice (sort-of used to be OpenOffice.org, but you don't actually care about the details) is a free replacement for MS Office that is improving all the time. It can trivially "File > Export as PDF" which is very handy and can read and write all versions of MS Office documents, though it's not always perfect (though MS Office isn't always that great between versions of itself either). And importantly, it looks like the "old" versions of MS Office, not like the totally new Office interface that will require a lot of re-learning things you used to know how to do.
So check out http://www.libreoffice.org/ and http://www.ubuntu.com/, http://edubuntu.org/ (for education), http://xubuntu.org/ (Mac-ish), http://lubuntu.net/ (Windows-ish) or http://linuxmint.com/ (Windows-ish).
Software we personally use
(Largely from comments in http://ask.slashdot.org/askslashdot/08/04/25/2124228.shtml.)
Last Modified: $Date: 2013-01-08 16:59:48 -0500 (Tue, 08 Jan 2013) $