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Debian Jr. is a project to make Debian an OS that children will enjoy using. This is the documentation wiki for the project. See also Teams/DebianJr. Debian Jr. is a project to make Debian an OS that children will enjoy using. This is the documentation wiki for the project. See also ["Teams/DebianJr"].

Debian Jr.

Email: ?MailTo(debian-jr AT SPAMFREE lists DOT debian DOT org)

Debian Jr. is a project to make Debian an OS that children will enjoy using. This is the documentation wiki for the project. See also ["Teams/DebianJr"].

Guiding Principles

We aim to help children and those who care for them to get the most use and enjoyment out of their Debian systems; to help them acquire some of the skills and experiences we have as adults; and to convey to them our values: our love of freedom, our appreciation for software that works well, and our strong sense of community.

That is to say, we do not aim to diminish or limit Debian to "domesticate" it for little people, but to give them the best of what Debian has to offer so they will grow to the point where they no longer need our help.

Behind every child user of Debian, we assume there is at least one older person who uses Debian and helps them with it: a guide, a mentor, a parent, a relative, a friend. So these people are our users too. It would be too easy to treat them as our primary audience. After all, they are the ones reading this web page. They are the ones installing and maintaining the system. However, they also have other places to get support in the broader community of Debian and free software. In thinking about where our energies should be focused, then, we place [:/children first:children first] and their guides second.

Live CD development

At this point the prereleases of the Debian Jr. live CD are strictly for discussion purposes and are not yet intended for end users. That being said, images are available which you can try out if you want to help us make them better. But we are not yet ready to give user support for them.

Test images are temporarily available here:


If you would like to discuss the development of the Jr. live CD, please join #debian-jr on irc.debian.org or drop us a note at debian-jr@lists.debian.org.

A Debian Jr. live CD can also be built using live-helper with the following steps:

svn co svn://svn.debian.org/debian-live/dists/trunk/live-helper
( cd live-helper ; debuild -us -uc )
sudo dpkg -i live-helper*.deb
svn co svn://svn.debian.org/debian-live/configs/junior
sudo make-live --root junior &>make-live.log

Currently the junior config in svn is for a usb key using gnome. You can change this by editing the appropriate variables in junior/config. Other possible values for LIVE_PACKAGES_LIST are "kde-junior" or "xfce-junior", and LIVE_BINARY_IMAGE can be changed to "iso" to generate a CD image.

For more help with live-helper configuration, see ["DebianLive/Configuration"] or join #debian-live on irc.debian.org.

Desktop customization tips

A default Debian desktop is already fairly usable by children of most ages with minimal configuration changes. Of course, like older users, children will want things arranged for their maximum convenience and to suit their tastes. So we encourage you to spend some time with each child user you look after adjusting their account settings and, where possible, helping them to adjust them on their own.

Typical things you might want to change are:

  • Choose a desktop theme and background they like.
  • Use your child's own artwork, favourite game & movie screenshots, etc. as background images.

  • Add buttons to the panels to launch favourite programs, customizing the icon as needed (as some programs don't yet have icons).
  • Add extra panels, drawers, etc. as the default panel gets too full. It is handy, especially for younger children who haven't learned to read yet or to handle the mouse very well, to have everything they can run out in plain view as a panel button, rather than buried in a menu.
  • Increase the panel size to make it easier to see and press the buttons.

But for the very youngest children, something a bit different from the standard desktop can be set up, if you prefer.

  • On the Debian Jr. mailing list some months ago, we discussed how to create a simple ["Desktop environment"] for [http://article.gmane.org/gmane.linux.debian.devel.jr/1069 very young children].

  • Probably the simplest way to do this is to have your X system launch straight into a [http://gcompris.net gcompris session], by putting a single command in the child's ~/.xinitrc, "gcompris".

  • Or with a bit more effort, use this more thorough approach: configure a DebianJr/SpecialSession for that small user.

  • Gcompris has a number of command line options and configurations to make it use the full screen quite well for this scenario (! provide examples!).

  • OpenRating aims to "implement a classification of the stuff that some parents and educators won't consider appropriate for their children (violence, sex, sexism, drugs, religious matters, ...). The idea is not to provide a moral classification of what is good or bad, but to inform the parents and teachers about it, and let them decide."

  • ["Freeduc"]