• Edubuntu aims to be an Ubuntu version suitable for classroom use. The aim is to deliver a turnkey solution that enables time-poor educators with mid-range technical skills to set up a computer lab and/or establish an online learning environment with as few clicks as humanly possible, then administer that environment without having to significantly expand their technical skills. Centralized management of configuration, users, and processes together with facilities for working collaboratively in a classroom setting are its principal design goals. Equally important is the gathering together of the best available free software and digital materials for education under one distro.


  • Ubuntu aims to be a community OS, and Free Software in general has matured to where it is ready for widespread use. Getting Ubuntu into schools is important to its general adoption. We need a version of Ubuntu which is built to meet the special needs of the education sector. The educational environment is especially sensitive to ease of use issues, so if we can make it work there, we can make it work anywhere.

Scope and Use Cases

  • Edubuntu is targeted at formal and informal educational settings including schools, community learning centers, and on-line training environments. The tools in Edubuntu will be equally applicable to the school, business, and home desktop computing environments. In the long term, there are four areas of work which the Edubuntu project must address:
    1. Infrastructure - creating a user friendly platform on which to operate.
    2. Development Tools - creating software development tools which facilitate the rapid growth of the Edubuntu development community.
    3. Educational Software and Teaching Materials - the raison d'etre of Edubuntu, but predicated on the existence of the Edubuntu infrastructure. Growth in this area will be greatly facilitated by the creation of enhanced development tools.
    4. Training / Outreach / Marketing - it won't matter how great Edubuntu is if people don't know about it or can't get help using it once they decide to try it. Much of the work in this area will come later, as Edubuntu matures and becomes usable. Some work in this area can start now, however, such as distribution and discussion of this specification and the creation of a web presence for the project.

Implementation Plan: Phase 1 - Infrastructure

  • Goals for "Breezy":

    1. The most immediate goal for Edubuntu is to reproduce on Ubuntu what (K12LTSP) currently provides using Fedora. K12LTSP provides four specific enhancements:

      • Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP)
      • Education applications (Tuxpaint, Tuxtype, etc)
      • Tools for managing student accounts (iceWM, session/desktop management tools)
      • Tools for managing resources in an education environment (squidGuard, SchoolTool, etc)

        Generally speaking, we will need to work with the LTSP integration effort (ThinClientIntegration) and Ubuntu Lite (LightweightDesktop) to produce a turnkey, LTSP server installation with enough autodetection of client software to make connecting pxe or bootp clients "plug-and-play". The thin clients should be served a light-weight desktop that uses a minimum of resources (memory and processor).

    2. Web content filtering will be an essential component of Edubuntu, especially since schools in many areas are now required by law to do it. Since ContentFiltering is already discussed in a separate proposal, the additional requirement here is for a turnkey web content filter / web caching nameserver configuration which sits in between the LTSP server and the Internet connection and works out of the box with it.

This essential web content filtering function will be known as the SnowWhite option.

  • Note that this separate filtering system is a security device and will be subject to attack and compromise. In order to gain system assurance this box shall also network boot from the LTSP system. The necessary configuration for the filter and caching (on a local-to-the-box hard drive) would TFTP from the LTSP system just like all the other workstations. Thus the design goal should allow this box to be "reborn" whenever power is cycled on it, and it restores in an "innocent" and "protective" state.


  • Post "Breezy":

    • After completion of the above, the following improvements and enhancements should be investigated.
      1. Develop a centralized desktop management system that would enable shared configuration among groups of users. A third period Geometry class, for example, should see pyGeo and a few other math related programs in their menu. The fourth period Keyboarding class, on the other hand, should see only Ktouch, Firefox, and Teachers and/or administrators should be able to easily define and modify these configurations.

      2. Revise/extend ( for use with Edubuntu LTSP and make it an installable package.

      3. Explore integrating one of the VNC variants into Edubuntu to support the following use cases:
        • Teachers can view and take control of all student desktops through an easy to use centralized interface.
        • Teachers can show their desktops to all users on the system securely so that students can watch presentations without being able to affect the teacher's desktop.
        • Students can share their desktops with the rest of the class securely to make presentations.

Packages Affected

  • We still need to do this analysis. Initial efforts will impact LTSP and much of Ubuntu. As development proceeds it will become possible to develop and iterate a list of affected packages. What we can say is that the following packages will need to be included:
    1. Education Games / Programs

      • atomix

      • celestia

      • gcompris

      • geg (Gtk Equation Grapher)

      • gperiodic

      • gtypist

      • tuxmath

      • tuxtype2

      • tuxpaint

      • kmplot

      • Bibletime/GnomeSword (bunced)

    2. Applications useful in education

      • blender

      • bluefish

      • qcad

      • scribus

      • gimp

      • openoffice

    3. Misc applications

      • teachertool

      • cabextract

      • dansguardian

      • vicemc

      • icewm

      • schoolbell

      • squidGuard

      • verynice

    4. Other nicities

      • ltsp_desktop_reset

        GDM session that resets a user's desktop


        initscript for enabling MASQUERADE support


        Desktop icons to install additional software software (java, flash, etc)


        Allows easy access to a LTSP server using VNC.

        Source code availible at

User Interface Requirements

  • The assumption throughout Edubuntu regarding user interfaces is that they be dead simple to operate. We are reaching out to a community that does not usually have any experience with Unix or other command line interfaces. For Edubuntu to be accepted in the communities we wish to reach, it needs to provide concrete benefits and minimal barriers to use.

Implementation Plan: Phase 2 - Development Tools

  • The philosophy of the Ubuntu project is built on community and collaboration. The core team of developers will have neither the time nor the resources to write the educational software that will eventually make up Edubuntu. What they can do, however, is to provide development tools that will enable the growth of the Edubuntu development community together with support for aspiring contributors. Specifically, Edubuntu will require the following:
    1. Clearly written and easy to understand guidelines for packaging existing software for Edubuntu.
    2. An easy to understand process for the creation of new MOTUTeams and support for efforts to create them.
    3. Development tools for software development, version control, packaging, and bug tracking which are easy to learn and easy to use.
    Most of these requirements are already being developed in the current "Breezy" specifications. The role that the Edubuntu team can play here is to be the "squeaky wheel" that pushes some of the missing documentation forward, advocates for improvements in usability of existing tools, reports bugs, etc. In this way, Edubuntu can contribute to the overall development of Ubuntu, since what is good for new learners in terms of simplicity and usability is equally good for enhanced productivity in general.

Outstanding Issues

  • The following issues will need to be addressed to create demand for Edubuntu:
    1. Educational Software / Teaching Materials - success here will entail two aspects: gathering and integrating the best work already available in the Free Software community, and stepping in to fill critical gaps in what is needed but not yet available. Among the things that need to be done:
      • Support for Java in some form will be required for Edubuntu to be used in many University and secondary school CS programs as a platform for instruction.
      • Mono integration

        • offers the possibility that Edubuntu could be used in courses using
        • Can use MonoDevelop and boo for rapid application development.

      • Ubuntu packages should be created for existing software such as Squeak, Childsplay, etc.
      • Web services such as Moodle and SchoolTool and "plug-able" content in the form of courseware, wikis, blogs, and photoblogs should be easy to integrate into an Edubuntu environment.

      • Coordinate and collaborate with related projects such as:
      • Promote the use of Free Software on other OSes the more people using, etc., the easier it will be to transition people to Edubuntu.

    2. Training / Outreach / Marketing - Much of the work here overlaps and should be coordinated with the AbsoluteBeginnerCommunity work. Aspects of this area specific to Edubuntu include:

      • Training for teachers and administrator.
      • Outreach to Departments of Education.
      • Materials aligned to State / National curricula.
      • Targeted outreach to educational Tech conferences.

CategoryUdu CategorySpec

UbuntuDownUnder/BOFs/EdubuntuBOF (last edited 2009-07-24 17:34:33 by sub-223ip196)