Using Linux for Homeschool

I am constantly promoting Linux for homeschool families. As you may know, my husband and I own a computer shop. In that shop, Sharkman is the Microsoft Tech and I am the Linux Geek.

My dad introduced me to Linux in the mid-90’s and even then, he believed it was the future of computers. I ran a Linux system up until my second child and then life got very busy. Fast forward to the release of Windows 8…I hated it and wanted no part. I began looking at Linux again as my main system. We’ve offered Linux systems in our shop since the beginning but not many people were interested. Now I sell several Linux systems each month (thanks to the Windows 10 chaos.)

When my son cratered his computer for the fourth time with viruses, we decided to give him a Linux OS. At that time, we went with Ubuntu 12.04 and he took to it like a duck to water. Two years later he had a system crash and I gave him Mint 17.1. That is currently what he works on most of the time. I also gave him his old system back with Ubuntu 12.04 (once it was repaired) but now he thinks he likes Mint better. I use Ubuntu 16.04 at home and 14.04 at the shop and I love both. So, Gameboy does all of his homeschool work on Mint and I do all of my shop and blog work on Ubuntu and neither of us has run into any problems.

Linux for Homeschool: A Perfect Fit

Independence. Why do families choose to homeschool? Most will say that they don’t want their children to be devoured by the status quo of public schools. They want their kids to be able to have independent thought and to have a solid education in more than just test taking. Linux is an open source system that allows you to get “under the hood” and allows you to design your computer just the way you like it. You can’t do that on a Mac or Windows system. They are closed operating systems offered on high dollar equipment. You won’t find Mac or Windows loaded on a Raspberry Pi. The idea behind Raspberry Pi was to give a learning platform to people based on a $25 single board computer. Microsoft hides their system behind a locked door so kids only learn how to surf the Internet and draft letters or build spreadsheets.

Not enough of a reason to use Linux for homeschool? Here is another reason:

Linux was designed for security. As the user, you must explicitly grant permissions for any change to the operating system by providing your password. This blocks most infections. Also, there just isn’t a lot of malware in the wild that is written for Linux because globally most users are either on Windows or Mac. Any malware that attempts to attack Linux systems is taken down quickly by the vast Linux community. Peace of mind: a great reason to use Linux for homeschool.

What about support? There are many forums filled with helpful Linux users and developers offering tons of sources for answers and tutorials for almost every problem. The community is very friendly and trolls are not welcome and quickly flushed out.  The Ubuntu community is the best community out there for people who are new to Linux but I've found great people in many of the distros' communities. Linux users ban together.

"I've heard that using Linux for homeschool will limit the types of programs I can use."

What about programs? Yes, now Microsoft calls them apps but I still call them programs. You can find a program for any job and most are free. Plus, most software that is written for Windows can be installed on Linux by using Wine (the program, not the drink). Most programs download easily straight from the Internet. If you ever need to use the command line, it is also a very easy process and most software gives easy to follow instructions for loading from the command line.

Cost effective. Linux distros like Ubuntu and Mint can be loaded on older equipment. We have many homeschooling families who have come into the shop to have an old XP desktop or laptop converted into a Mint or Ubuntu machine for class. This is wonderful for homeschooling families that are strapped for cash. They can use equipment that has been gifted to them or was collecting dust in a closet, and turn it into a working computer with a fast and up to date operating system.

Dad was right: The future lies in Open Source. Microsoft and Apple continue to stagnate in ideas because they rely on limited manpower and vision that is created by corporate shackles. Linux, on the other hand, is supported by millions of the best and brightest software innovators. If you give your child a head start using Linux for homeschool, they will be able to name their price in the job market later.

These are just a few reasons to use Linux for homeschool. I am finding new reasons all the time. If you have any thoughts on the matter, please offer them below. If you have any questions about using Linux for homeschool, head over to my contact page and I will respond quickly.

An excellent example of the comparison of Linux versus Mac or Microsoft is the 1997 essay: The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary (CatB) by Eric S. Raymond

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