I was planning to have an easy Tuesday, but then I got wrapped up in Reddit. But not just any Reddit topic — this one was special; as many of them are, of course, but let’s just put that aside for a second.
Reddit had a topic in r/Linux entitled “Should I /make/ my kid use Linux?” And because I have, um, a “history” with this topic (e.g., I have a child and she does use Linux and free/open source software, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News), I am going to go out on a limb and say the following:
“Make” your kid use Linux, as if you were “making” him or her eat Brussels sprouts? No.
Encourage your kid, by all means necessary, to use Linux? Absolutely, because he or she will want to use it from the start.
The Reddit topic is worth a read. If you haven’t done so already, go there now. There are a lot of good posts, but my favorite is from someone with the handle Robsteady, who says, “TL;DR Don’t MAKE them use it, just set them up so they grow accustomed to that being what gets used. Raise them in it instead of trying to change them to it eventually.”
That’s pretty much the key right there, in a TL;DR. If they haven’t experienced Windows, then they have nothing to compare Linux and FOSS to in saying which is better or worse. If it works, it works — and we all know that Linux and FOSS work.
I can vouch for this because for the last nine or so years, my daughter has used hand-me-down after hand-me-down (until she got her own ZaReason Alto 3880 laptop), all running Linux. With the exception of the first one, she had even installed her own distros. I don’t think she uses Linux to placate her old man — I think she has grown to become a pro at Linux and FOSS by her own choice, to the point where she’s doing her artwork using GIMP and Inkscape on her laptop.
Another thing: As long as she’s been using Linux, she has chosen her own distros. She was a long-time Ubuntu user, which was OK with her Dad because it’s what she wanted to use — her hardware, her choice. It wasn’t until Unity came along — which she hated (that’s my girl) — that she switched over to Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop, which is what she uses today (which, of course — say it with me — makes her my “Cinnamon Girl,” in a nod to Neil Young).
In fact, her prowress around Linux and FOSS is to such a high degree that it makes her father proud beyond words. Recently she was having some problems with Linux Mint for which the solution, she decided, was to upgrade to Rafaela 17.2 shortly before it was ready for prime time. I started into the litany of what to do in a upgrade, and she shushed her old man — “I got this Dad,” before adding the family head shake accompanied by the word, “Sheesh.”
And she had it, upgrading and on her merry way in the usual amount of time for such a project, with most of the time involved restoring backup files while her father beamed with pride the whole time.
My colleague Ken Starks can go on for days about kids and Linux, and he often has, but it’s fairly clear that if you start them early enough, when they are not burdened with a Windows “point of reference,” then I think that’s more than half the battle in getting kids — and anyone else, for that matter — to use Linux.
And that’s a good start in the world of computing, by any standard.
Help keep FOSS Force strong. If you like this article, become a subscriber.