The Mexican distro Escuelas, or ‘School,’ Linux was designed to give extended life to aging hardware in financially strapped school districts in Latin America and is based on Bodhi Linux.
On Monday, a GNU/Linux distro designed to be used in schools, Escuelas Linux, released version 4.4. Just how dedicated to education are the developers of this distro? Plenty. In case your Spanish is as rusty as ours, the Spanish name Escuelas translates to “schools” in English.
There are more than a few things that are unusual about Escuelas Linux. For one, although ultimately derived from Ubuntu, it’s not a first generation descendant on the Ubuntu tree, but traces it’s *buntu roots by way of Bodhi Linux. The distro also uses the Moksha desktop, which Bodhi developed after becoming unhappy with the direction that Enlightenment was taking.
The distro, developed in Mexico, began life as a Spanish only distro, although the distro now offers support for English as well. Evidently, the distro began as a way to help financially strapped school systems in Latin America extend hardware life after Windows XP reached the end of the road.
Escuelas Linux comes loaded with apps that would be useful in a school setting. A default installation includes three office suites, LibreOffice, OpenOffice and FreeOffice; four browsers, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Midori (Chromium is installed on 32 bit machines now that the 32 bit version of Chrome is no longer supported); and a host of education programs. According to the distros website, the educational apps include “GCompris, Geogebra or KTurtle, software for mathematics, chemistry, astronomy and other sciences.”
The distro’s developers also seem to have worked hard to create a distro that won’t require much technical expertise from the school administrators, teachers and students who will be using it:
“It’s the only distribution that offers, as part of the setup, one user account completely configured, to the last details. A user has no need to download any file, modify file configurations nor compile anything. Every program came included and ready to work with everything for its use in an educational environment.”
The distro also includes a command to restore a system back to its default settings and another command meant to be used by teachers to immediately delete all files created by a user. The distro is currently used by over 45,000 students and 2,500 teachers in schools that are being directly supported by the distro. In addition, in the past five months there have been downloads from 44 countries.
The distro also uses few resources and will run on machines with as little as 256 MB RAM.