Friday, July 30, 2010

Linux Mint 9 LXDE setup for Spanish Child Use

Linux Mint 9 LXDE is a great distribution for older hardware. Very fast, more complete out of the box than other LXDE distros I've tried, and similar enough to XP to be easy for Linux newbies to be able to utilize. (Not that I consider XP the gold standard, just ubiquitous.)

As this was a test install, I ran it inside VMWare Player. Installed in English, then added and changed to Spanish language using the Language Support application. Installed all updates. Of course I installed VMWare tools to make video resolution and switching between operating systems run smoother. Update: Installed a second time straight on a computer to create a distribution disk from.

Maestra is installed as the principal user with Admin privileges.
Listo will be used as the non privileged child user.

General Changes:
Auto Login = modify system so login happens automatically. LXDE doesn't have a GUI tool for this, so changing the configuration file as follows is needed. For setup the Admin user was used. This is changed to the child user after setup is complete.
  • run command: sudo nano /etc/xdg/lxdm/lxdm.conf
  • this opens the configuration file to edit
  • delete the # and space before the autologin and session lines and change the autologin user to the desired user
  • since you are there, you can set the numbers lock to on if desired by removing the # and set numlock=1
  • ctrl-o to save (write out) and ctrl-x to exit
Number of Desktops = change the number of destops as multiple desktops easily confuse novice linux users
  • Open Openbox Configuration Manager
  • On the Desktops tab, set the number of desktops to 1
Uninstall Unneeded programs
  • Chestnut dialer (multiple packets) - for dialup Internet connections
  • Transmission (multiple packets) - bittorrent client
Add Other User Accounts and include into Existing Groups
The following users and groups are desired and added as described:

listo - general purpose and default user
maestra - instructor user already created and used as general purpose admin
itadmin - it administrator user as backup administrator and closely guarded password
  • open Preferences/Users and Groups then
  • add listo and itadmin as users
  • add itadmin to the admin group
users - existing group
staff - existing group
admin - existing group which give administrative rights
  • add all 3 users into users group
  • add itadmin to admin group (maestra is already there)
  • add itadmin and maestra to staff group
Add Directories for Shared Files
The goal here is to make shared locations that all users can access then to give appropriate permissions to these folders. First create the directories:
  • [sudo mkdir /share] make share directory for the following sub-directories
  • [sudo mkdir /share/musica] make directory for music
  • [sudo mkdir /share/foto] make directory for fotos
  • [sudo mkdir /share/wiki] make directory for wikipedia content
  • [sudo mkdir /share/biblia] make directory for bible study content
Now modify rights.
  • [sudo chown -R itadmin.users /share] This changes the ownership on all these directories to itadmin along with changing the associated group to users, which now includes everyone. Of course -R makes this recursive to all subdirectories.
  • [sudo chmod -R a+rwx /share] this changes the rights for all (file owners, groups and other) to allow read, write and execute, basically opening up access to everyone.
  • [sudo chmod -R +t /share] This puts the "sticky bit" on for these directories which disallows different users from deleting or renaming another user's files or directories. This will allow us to add content as itadmin or maestra user that the listo user will not be able to delete or corrupt. We can use this for adding wiki content to the wiki directory and bible content to the biblia directory. We will set the user to these files as itadmin, then only itadmin (or maestra as super user) will be able to delete these files. It will also allow the listo user to add and delete photos and music to the corresponding directories or additional wikis or bible content for that matter.
  • [sudo ls -l /share] this shows the long form of the list of directories which allows us to verify correct configuration. Should look as follows:
drwxrwxrwt 2 itadmin users ....... biblia
drwxrwxrwt 2 itadmin users ....... foto
drwxrwxrwt 2 itadmin users ....... musica
drwxrwxrwt 2 itadmin users ....... wiki

Tricky Programs & Those Requiring configuration:

Childsplay: A current problem with Childsplay is loading it to run other language sounds. First step to download the Spanish Language sounds for Childsplay. Open Synaptic manager and select/install the the package "childsplay-alphabet-sounds-es". You need to modify the menu to run the command "language=es childsplay" to run it with Spanish as the spoken language. In Gnome, this is as easy as entering the Menu program, then changing the command for opening Childsplay. In LXDE it is a bit more difficult to modify the menu.
  1. Open a terminal session and enter "gksu pcmanfm" which opens PCMan File manager as super user.
  2. Navigate to /usr/share/applications
  3. Open childsplay.desktop with Leappad or another text editor
  4. Change the Exec line to "Exec=LANGUAGE=es childsplay" or "Exec=childsplay --language=es" These are two command options used to open the program (Be careful to use all caps for "LANGUAGE" or this command will not work.
Dosbox: For playing old dos games and programs. For now, not installing any old DOS games, but am including this program for possible future inclusion of old DOS programs on older computers.

iTalc: classroom computer management software
For now I just installed iTalc client. To use it correctly I would need to setup public and private keys. I will do this for the next remaster. (can be done to each computer after installing as well, just takes more time :)

see my instructions in another blog for iTalc install including public and private key distribution.

Kiwix: I debated whether to include Kiwix or Okawix in this remaster, but decided on Kiwix based mostly on current stability. Both options show promise, but for now Kiwix is a great option for offline Spanish Wikipedia. See my other blog comparing the two.
To Install:
  • [sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kiwixteam/ppa]
  • [sudo apt-get update]
  • [sudo apt-get install kiwix]
Because of the size of the zim file, I am not including it in the remastered image, but will add it to the cloned image.
  • login as itadmin
  • download the Spanish Wikipedia zim from the kiwix web page.
  • move to the /share/wiki directory
  • set owner as follows [sudo chown -R itadmin.users /share/wiki/]
  • give read permission at the group level
  • log in as each user, open the Wikipedia zim file and choose to index it, which must be done for each user and takes some time. This way it will be ready to use on each computer.
Play on Linux: Installed this package to make it easier in case there are Windows programs that are seen as a must have without a good Linux counterpart. They can then be installed afterwards as needed.

Khelpcenter: Install this package so the KDE applications installed have access to their help files. Otherwise Klavaro, et all produce an error when clicking on help.

BibleTime: Need to download books and references after installing.
The first step is to create a shared directory for common media shared between users. See above to complete this.
  • create shared directory as described above
  • open BibleTime then open its book administrator
  • click on the tool to edit installation directories and add /share/bible directories to the install directories
  • Login as all users to add this directory to the installed directories
  • Selected a few bibles from the CrossWire list and installed them to the /share/biblia directory. I did this as itadmin so I did not need to change user ownership rights and with the sticky bits only the itadmin would be able to delete these files.
  • This was giving some trouble, so also logged in as maestra and listo and downloaded bibles and commentaries for each user separately into the default directory of each user.
  • Included the GLOSSARY Ergane "Spanish to English Glossary" This give a quick translation from Spanish to English.

Educational Programs Installed
  • Atomix - game for constructing molecules
  • BibleTime - see install notes above
  • Childsplay - see install notes above
  • El Pequeno Mago (little wizard) - introduction to programming using actions to move a clown... Great program with decent Spanish translation
  • KBruch - practice exercises with fractions
  • KTurtle - introduction to programming using scripts to move a turtle
  • Kalzium - periodic table of elements
  • Kiwix - see install notes above
  • Klavaro - typing tutorial with good Spanish support
  • KmPlot - graphing program
  • Marble - simple off line globe showing countries, capitals and major cities
  • Setllarium - real time star chart
  • Tux Paint - painting program for young chidren
  • Tux Typing - fun typing practice game
  • TuxMath -fun math practice game
Drawing Programs Installed
  • GIMP Image Editor - advanced drawing program
  • Inkscape - vector drawing
  • Dibujos - OpenOffice drawing program
  • Scribus - Desktop publishing
Multimedia Programs Installed
  • Picasa - popular photo editing & viewing program
  • the default programs for the rest

Office Programs Installed
  • Chromium - a fast Web browser
  • FreeMind - mind mapping program
  • OpenOffice - full open office suite
Internet Programs Installed
  • included programs: chestnut Dialer
  • Chromium web browser
  • Ballz - sim
Games Installed
  • Aisleroit Solitaire - a group of solitaire card games under a common interface
  • Atomix - educational puzzle creating molecules from elements
  • Ballz - simple Indy platform game
  • BZFlag - Multiplayer Tank battle game works on somewhat older macines
  • Berusky - Ladybug puzzle game
  • BurgerSpace - classic arcade game
  • Chess (glchess) - faster chess game for slower computer
  • Childsplay (also under Educaton)
  • Emulator DOSBox - see notes above - for running old DOS games
  • Enigma - puzzle game controlling marble with the mouse
  • FloboPuyo - clone of puyopuyo, similar to tetris
  • Freeciv - Civilization game for Linux (installed gtk client)
  • Frozen-Bubble - entertaining marble matching game
  • Gamine - Game for VERY young children teaching mouse usage by sounds and colors
  • gbrainy - logic game in English (prior version was translated) but very good game
  • Gweled - like Diamond Mine
  • glTron - Tron bike game
  • gPlanarity - game of untangling lines
  • LBreakout2 - breakout clone
  • Maelstrom - arcade game like Asteroids
  • Mahjongg (gnome-mahjongg) - classic
  • Mastermind - similar to the classic logic testing board game
  • Mines - just like Mines for other platforms
  • Monsterz - arcade puzzle like Bejeweled
  • Moon-lander - ship landing game
  • Nibbles (gnibbles) - simple worm game my daughter loves
  • OpenTTD - transport tycoon with good Spanish translation
  • Pingus - game like lemmings but with penguins - great Spanish translation
  • Play on Linux - see separate section
  • Quadrapassel - falling block game like Tetris
  • Ri-li - toy train simulator with fun game play and excellent translation
  • Secret Maryo Chronicles (SMC) - platform Super Mario clone
  • Sudoku (gnome-sudoku) - numbers & logic game
  • Suite educativa GCompris - educational games for young children
  • SuperTux-stable - Mario like platform (older version for older hardware)
  • Tremulous - combination RTS & FPS with great reviews and works on older hardware
  • Warzone 2100 - real time strategy with decent translation and works on somewhat dated hardware
  • Wessnoth 1.8 - Turn based strategy (under La Batalla por Wesnoth) translated very nicely and great gameplay on older machines
  • ZaZ - arcade marble game
Last Minute Changes
Number of Desktops
  • Follow directions above to change number of desktops for the "listo" user. Need to login to listo.
  • Follow directions above to change auto-login to the "listo" user.
  • De-select the box to pull up the Linux Mint Welcome panel on startup for the "listo" user.
  • for future support reasons install openssh server
  • login as itadmin
  • [sudo apt-get install openssh-server]
Remastersys - making a remastered install disk
Install remastersys
  • [sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list] This opens the apt sources to append the remastersys source
  • Add the following lines to the file: the first line is a comment, the second the correct source
    • #Remastersys
    • deb karmic/
  • [sudo apt-get update]
  • [sudo apt-get install remastersys]
Run remastersys - we will want to run as a full backup so that users, passwords and user data will be saved and transmitted to the new computers. This can either be run through the GUI front end found in Preferences/Remastersys backup or by the command [sudo remastersys backup] Here is a link to further information

Create Disk and Test
  • by default remastersys creates an iso file in the /home/remastersys/remastersys directory named custombackup.iso
  • I copied this over to another machine to burn it using
  • [scp /home/remastersys/remastersys/custombackup.iso maestra@[ipofmachine]:/home/maestra/Downloads]

Installing From DVD & followup steps

After burning the DVD, you can live boot another computer.  The menu option for directly installing from disk was not working.  Once the system is booted in live mode, you need to log off and log on as another user with admin privelages (auto boot set to boot into listo user with no privelages). 
  • switch users to Maestra user
  • open home folder
  • double click on the Install shortcut
  • language and time zone choices are not important as the system installs the options in the remastered image instead of what is chosen here.
  • Reboot after installation, removing install disk when prompted
  • Log off and back on as Maestra (need privelaged user)
  • Install any updates
  • Remove the following broken programs
    • gltron
    • gplanarity
  • Add the following programs (last minute addition - games that work well on older computers)
    • slingshot
    • pyracerz (Py Racerz)
    • tomatoes (I have no tomatoes)
  • Copy Wikipedia image from other computer
    • I saved this on a particular computer in directory /home/username/share
    • sudo scp [user]@[ipaddres]:/home/[user]/share/wikipedia_es_all_09_2010_beta1.zim /share/wiki/  --this copies from other computer to correct directory
    • sudo chown /share/wiki/wi.... itadmin

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Most Useful Linux Programs & Configurations

My list of most useful Linux Programs

The Right Distro :) - Favorites are Linux Mint (Gnome and LXDE versions), Lubuntu, Ubuntu - specifically Go-OO, which Ubuntu and Ubuntu derivatives use by default
FreeMind - Mind mapping software, great for sketching out ideas
Chrome or Chromium Web browser - Speedy and I snyc my bookmarks between all my computers, Windows & Linux
Terminal Server Client - Allows me to RDP into my Windows machines on the server
Pidgin Internet Messenger - Chat over multiple protocals
Virtualbox - so I can setup my virtual Windows machines, etc
System Profiler & Benchmark - system info at your fingertips
Xfce4 Taskmanager - only if you want detailed system usage information similar to Windows Task Manager
AceToneISO - allows mounting of ISO and proprietary CD image files like mdf as virtual disks.
Etherape - graphical map of network traffic
Dolphin - Network and web browser. Allows me to easily see Samba and Linux shared drives. Works better than many alternatives and works with LXDE desktop.

Others of note:
Zimbra Desktop - as an email client
RealPlayer - media player
Google Earth -
Skype - phone
Exaile - music player with simple, easy interface

If desktop for new to Linux user:
Desktop - change to only 1 desktop
Adobe - Install reader and flash plugins if not included in distribution
File defaults - in OpenOffice, set defaults to XP2003 file formats for saving
Add trash can icon to desktop - for Ubuntu run gconf-editor
Wifi cards - check proprietary drivers are enabled for any cards