My kid wants to use Linux and wants to be a geek in Linux. I am really glad at my kid's wish.

Now I want to introduce my kid to Linux. Which linux distribution or distributions should I suggest?

  • 2
    I think you mean distribution rather than repository. And I suggest you let your kid search & find the (say) 3 distros he thinks would be good, then you can decide together.
    – Mat
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 15:05
  • @Mat, Yes I mean distribution. And thanks for your comment. Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 15:07
  • 1
    Depends a lot on how old your kid is, how good is he/she in English and at programming? You can learn a lot on the non-mainstream distributions, but it requires reading a lot and knowing at least a bit about programming.
    – peterph
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 15:55
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    What's the kid's age? Also might want to consider asking how to introduce kids to computer on parenting.SE. :)
    – user13107
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 16:21
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    Yeah -- the difference between 8 and 11 and 14 is significant here. For younger kids, distros aimed specifically at kids/education would probably be good, but for older kids I'd try a normal, mainstream distro like ubuntu or fedora.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 16:47

6 Answers 6


Pick any of the popular distributions. I personally use Fedora, and am quite happy with it: Latest software, more than adequate software selection, easy to handle, large and helpful community. Big plus is that it is quite similar to the by far most popular enterprise distribution, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (that is important if you look at what you'll teach students). A drawback is that support for MP3 and such is patented and has to pay royalties in the US, so can't be shipped legally with Fedora.

In any case, either give them what you use (they'll come to you for help), or what the more friendly geeks in the neighborhood use. Don't let the go into "this didn't work first try, let's use the next distribution as I was told it works there", make them learn how to handle one well (and how to fix problems instead of running away).

  • Fairly easy to add the non-free repos to fedora if you want mp3 libs (although this will certainly be frustrating for new users if that is a high priority). I think another advantage to fedora (over say, ubuntu) as an introduction is that the default GUI is not as avante-garde, and thus will present less distraction from the real meat of linux.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 16:35
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    @goldilocks, funny you think Gnome 3 isn't avant-garde, with all the brouhaha it caused ;)
    – vonbrand
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 16:53

I don't know how young are your children, so I don't know how relevant this is, but there are projects targeted at kids:

  • Edubuntu: A project going after schools. It's developed with young kids in mind.
  • Qimo: Is based on the popular Ubuntu, and is developed "for children aged 3 and up".
  • DoudouLinux: A project " that suit children from 2 to 12 years old" but " also makes it easy for Dad and Mum".
  • Don't forget the Sugar environment on Fedora and others (from the One Laptop per Child project). But none of those are really geek-oriented...
    – vonbrand
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 16:56

There are valid reasons you might choose not to grab default Ubuntu (i.e. the most popular distribution).

Dock, dash, app indicators, overlay scrollbars, HUD were all inspired ideas. However this shows Ubuntu increasingly going their own way. If you want to pick up Linux in general - at least, including a GUI - it might be better not to start with the Ubuntu-specific Unity environment.

That said, Ubuntu lets you install different GUIs, or use official variants of Ubuntu which default to different GUIs. You can try different GUIs without worrying about the hardware support of a different distribution. That's true of many distributions, but it's something to look out for.

It's not just the default GUI that's different on Ubuntu... the most prominent thing is the upstart / systemd controversy. Personally I've not had much joy from learning about Ubuntu's upstart, whereas I have with systemd. Just bear in mind that systemd is new when learning it (e.g. possibly subject to change, criticism...)

I second the point about trying to find an appropriate choice first time, and then working on any problems as they arise. (Do use a livecd as a trial run for hardware support first though). It can be instructive to learn multiple distributions, but the point is to become confident and fluent with at least one.

  • You forgot THE reason for not picking ubuntu: There are so many Ubuntu forums which are good if you want to get stuff to work, but if you really want to become good at linux and computers, the Ubuntu forums tend to be a less good source for information. Yet an Ubuntu user is likely to use answers form Ubuntu forums, because it's still sensible.
    – Bananguin
    Commented Mar 23, 2013 at 21:08

My almost 3 year old kid has a lot of fun with the XFCE enviroment I prepared for him. He also feels responsible and always remembers to shut it off to not waste energy.

Removed text from task bar icons (a la dock), faenza big icons, big panel, big window decoration and fonts. I have also chosen a big cursor but at some applications it goes small again, don't know why.

I have chosen main icons cause some metaphors doesn't apply to his culture and age. For example, gCompris icon is not very distinguishable so I changed it with a monkey face :)

Applications at desktop: gCompris, direct link to fungooms website (check google, is a very good educative material but non-free :( yet?), link to vlc playlist.

Nice wallpaper too.

I made his session passwordless so he can just type at Lightdm his name and press Intro and his logged in.

I have found a children keyboard and it helps a lot to him. Different colors for letters, numbers, spacebar, ... and Big Keys! Children mouse, not touchpad, he doesn't manage well with it cause finger just goes over the whole laptop, the bump is too low for him to detect.

Welcome to educating children with and into Free Open Source Software


For a kid wanting to LEARN about computers I would suggest that you do not decide for them. Let them google around and search the forums a bit and choose a forum where they can get help in a language they understand well.

Some considerations besides language: Availability of packages. This ties in very closely with the size of the user base. The more users, the more software in the default repositories and the more often it is updated.

Package Format: Using non-native packages are possible but generally tends to become unsupportable very quickly. I would suggest a system based on RPM or DEB purely because it is easier to find packaged software.

Allow for mistakes. My favourite pass-time for a long time was to "switch operating systems". Allow them to download new distributions and try them out, install again-and-again till it is time to settle on one distribution.

Built a Dual-boot setup. Use something like Ubuntu or Fedora as the primary, fall-back distribution, and then have some spare partitions to play around with, re-install, over-install, and generally play with. I suggest Ubuntu and Fedora purely because their popularity makes them easier to use. Further more Ubuntu have derivatives like Mint with their own followings and peculiarities.

Browse Distrowatch to see what are available


The best for me is PicarOS: http://minino.galpon.org/es/descargas

Here is a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3qgBCGoW6A

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