Debian Jr. -- How are we doing?

July 16th, 2002

We have established a page at DebianWiki as a space where users and developers can collaborate on documentation. Beyond merely listing packages here, the site documents why Debian Jr. has chosen to include each package, and what particular features or mis-features they may have for children. The community of developers and users is encouraged to make requests for including new packages in Debian Jr. here, cross-referencing them to RFP or ITP bug numbers in the bug database at bugs.debian.org as appropriate.

So, teetering on the brink of the release of Woody, how are we doing with Debian Jr. anyway? Let's have a look at our goals:

Making Debian desirable to children
The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say. Are the children in your life using Debian? If so, what do they like about it? What don't they like about it?
Working with other child-oriented free software projects
Recently, I officially became liaison between Tux4Kids and Debian Jr. The TuxPaint package is the first new Tux4Kids sponsored package to be added to our project since that relationship was formalized. We look forward to more great software from Tux4Kids.
Applications
I think we have done well to give broad coverage over a number of categories. If you feel there are still holes, please submit requests to fill them in.
Childproofing and account management
We haven't produced anything here yet. However, we are working behind the scenes with the debian-med project on the foundations for this. The basic idea is that all subproject users (whether med, junior, or some other similar Debian subproject) should belong to an appropriate Unix group. This allows certain account features to be implemented for all members of the group. The first of these will be subproject menus.
Learning to use the computer
This has been addressed up until now merely by seeking for and including packages which support learning about the computer, such as Gcompris, which teaches small children how to use the mouse and keyboard as well as other basic skills. There is certainly room for improvement here. Perhaps we could record some ideas at our new Wiki site.
User interface
Although you haven't seen active discussion on the list, I have been working with Andreas Tille of debian-med on this. You can expect some actual code before the summer is out.
Family guidance
Another possible topic for the new Wiki which hasn't really been given any attention.
Children's System
I have heard from time to time users share with me on irc and elsewhere that they are setting up systems specifically for their children. If you have a story to share, we want to hear it and learn from your experience.
Ports
I think we have our hands full enough with material either already in Debian or that can be readily packaged for Debian. Still, if there is a particular applications which you feel needs to be ported to Linux and you have the time and energy to petition for a port, go for it.
Internationalization
The Debian Jr. web site itself (at least the front page) has now been translated into six languages. Also, the number of applications with alternate languages supported is on the rise. However, nobody has made an effort to focus on Debian Jr. applications in particular. If that sort of work interests you, we'd like to hear from you.
Marketing & PR
Andreas Tille has been a spokesperson for the Debian Jr. project at some recent speaking engagements where he gave talks about his own new project, Debian Med, which is patterned after Debian Jr. We appreciate his continued efforts to spread the word, as well as the work he is doing with Debian Jr. on a common infrastructure for both Debian Jr. and Debian Med.