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Frequently asked questions

November 2010 — last update November 2013

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English] [français] [română] [русский]

On this page you will find a list of questions that users might ask themselves. Please do not hesitate to contribute and expand this list, for example, by contacting us. Note: questions regarding the use of DoudouLinux are included, but not philosophical questions about the DoudouLinux project! For those types of questions, please refer to section About.

Article table of contents

General questions

Can I copy DoudouLinux?

Yes. The license of DoudouLinux permits an infinite number of copies; moreover, unlike many editors or manufacturers, we encourage each of you to make as many copies as possible! In fact we believe that software should be part of the technical and scientific patrimony of humanity, just as any other intellectual creation. Please refer to section About of this site if you are interested in this topic.

Can I give, distribute or lend DoudouLinux?

Again, yes. Unlike licenses of many other computer softwares this is fully allowed, even encouraged, to give, distribute or lend DoudouLinux as you wish, without any limitation in regards to the manner of doing this [1]. However, you must preserve and keep visible the name DoudouLinux as indicated in our license agreement. This is a good way to help the project and advertise for it, of course.

Can I modify DoudouLinux?

Again, yes. Unlike licenses of most computer software, you can also modify DoudouLinux in order to adapt it to your specific needs. In this case you have to make the DoudouLinux name apparent enough, as the origin of the project, but as stated in the DoudouLinux license you must also make clear that it is a modified version. On the other hand, we also ask you to not use the name DoudouLinux for any new, derived project, in order to avoid unnecessary and unwanted confusions. Finally, you must know that you are not allowed to change the DoudouLinux license, even if you modified it.

Why do you sell DoudouLinux, it is not free of charge?

DoudouLinux is a project that grows fast and requires always more resources, more contributors and more involvement. Selling media and goodies is a way for our project to solve this impossible equation: do always more with quite the same limited resources. If you like our project, if you feel concerned by its evolution and its future, but cannot get involved for any reason, please consider donating or buying our products. This is another way to help our project. The money will be collected by our non-profit organization, the Association DoudouLinux, a French association “loi 1901”.

So, yes, DoudouLinux can be freely downloaded and will always be, but you are also free to pay for it the amount you value our project. If you have no time and no money then just enjoy: DoudouLinux wants to be available for everyone without any discrimination. If you have time, then get involved. If you have some money, then you can donate or purchase our products. Shortly speaking: support us!

Is DoudouLinux a new Linux, a new « distribution », jargon speaking?

Not really. DoudouLinux is based as much as possible on Debian Linux so that the project maintenance effort is considerably reduced. Therefore, DoudouLinux is not really a new distribution, but closer to another Debian Linux more suited to children. Some applications are developed specifically for DoudouLinux, but each application targeting children comes from Debian. This way we can concentrate our effort on adapting the interface to children’s needs and capabilities, and on maintenance of the website.

Why choose and use Linux?

The answer to this question will be more fully developed in the About section. Briefly, the reasons are the following:

  • Linux natively comes with many applications, an important number of which are dedicated to children
  • Linux installs with a very large base of drivers developed for almost all hardware available in the marketplace
  • Linux requires less system resources than its competitors, OS X® and Windows®
  • well designed tools do exist in order to create Linux systems on CD or on USB sticks as is DoudouLinux
  • Linux is highly customizable
  • Linux is more fun :-p
  • and last but not least, the license allows users to use and duplicate Linux infinitely, while its competitors OS X® and Windows®, want just the opposite…

When will … ?

We do not know! DoudouLinux is a young community project. Setting up a plan supposes that we can rely on stable resources, either financial or human; but, unfortunately, we still have neither of them!

Name of the project, for US speakers

If you think that the name of our project is weird for US speakers, please read our page Known issues.

Contents of DoudouLinux

Why some translations are not completed or contain mistakes?

Depending on the language, it is true that some applications and the DoudouLinux interface may not be totally translated or may contain mistakes. Of course, you can inform us of any mistakes you find; but if you wish, you can download the Translation files or visit our translation portal on TransiFex as well and help us improve translations. As you may know, DoudouLinux is planned to be translated into more than 60 languages! And after 3 years of existence, there are already 40 language teams on TransiFex, we are on the good way :).

NB: as there are very few languages that reached a 100% translated status, we cannot wait for a language to be fully translated before proposing the CD for download. Our policy is then to propose a language as soon as someone has started to work on translations on TransiFex.

How to get a new language?

If the languages available for download do not match your language, you can contact us to build and upload on our servers a version for your language. Please note that, although DoudouLinux can support more than 60 different languages, the version built at your request will be a “raw” version not fully translated. Thereafter, if the workload does not frighten you, you can help us improve the translation and send us new texts by email for example. If you are motivated, you can translate our key web pages too, especially the user documentation.

How can DoudouLinux be contained in such a small DVD or USB?

There are two main explanations for DoudouLinux to contain a full system (including drivers for hardware) and almost eighty applications on a small 1.1 GB DVD. On the one hand, DoudouLinux is built upon a Linux system, not a Mac OS X® system nor a Windows® system. Nowadays, Linux runs on 95% of the world’s supercomputers and on the majority of ADSL boxes used by Internet Service Providers. Truly, Linux is a very powerful and efficient system that does not need the latest hardware available on the market to run. On the other hand, DoudouLinux uses a technology to compress data onto the CDROM (or onto a USB stick). Without this, DoudouLinux would need from 2.5 to 2.8 GB of disk space. However, this is still much lower than the 20 GB required by some systems which themselves pretend to be at top of technological innovation…

Why DoudouLinux is not fitting a single CD anymore?

Compared to DoudouLinux 1.0 to 1.2, we have added new applications and some of the applications that were already in previous releases have significantly grown in size. Unfortunately we have not found the time to work on reducing the DVD size, it is then not fitting a single CD anymore (it fills approximately 1.1 GB instead of 700 MB for a single CD). In the future, we are planning to provide a single multilingual DVD that will be even larger, while CD’s for one language would be available with a reduced set of applications in order to fit a single CD. This work will only be possible once we have provided a tool to easily change the default language of the DVD after having downloaded it.

How have DoudouLinux applications been chosen?

Nearly all of the applications included are from the Debian Linux program repositories, and have been chosen for their accessibility, their ease of use, the low space required on disk and, of course, for their educational or entertaining value. Generally, you will not find some of the more commonly installed applications because they are often overloaded with functionalities and waste disk space. This is also a good way to help them discover another manner to do computing and then to open their minds.

Why is there no office suite?

Why should there be one? Is it really an indispensable tool for children who will not be asked to write reports nor to make tables of figures? The truth is office suites are often not very useful at home for parents. Moreover, these tools require a lot of disk space just for a tool that would see little use… So, we preferred ignoring office suites all the more since we see in professional life that these tools are often used incorrectly because people try to make these tools fit all their needs. To us it seems then, even more judicious to show them other programs and habits. These tools are available in many other Linux distributions.

Why is there so few modern music in DoudouLinux (pop, rock, etc.)?

Because of worldwide restrictive laws about copyright and authorship. To distribute a piece of music, you need to comply with its licensing terms as owned by its authors: composers, singers, musicians. Any composition can be freely interpreted 50 years after the composer’s death, 75 or 90 years in some countries like France or USA. Any recording can be freely distributed following the same rules. For this reason, it is not possible to distribute DoudouLinux with songs that were played on the radio. We would need a special agreement from composers, singers and musicians, who generally give their rights to records companies!

Why is there no Flash player?

There are several reasons why no Flash player is embedded into DoudouLinux:

  • Flash players are greedy in computer resources
  • they are greedy in disk space
  • they often crash
  • Adobe’s player cannot be distributed without signing a commercial agreement (we would have to pay them :( ), the free version does not handle the full Adobe format
  • Flash contents cannot be analyzed by the parental controls
  • there are known ways to spy on the user activity on its own computer using Flash tricks
  • Flash contents is specific to web while we have built DoudouLinux to make children use the computer, not services on the Internet!

Prerequisites

What is the minimum configuration required?

Please read the paragraph Recommended configuration from the Download page.

Which version of Windows® is required for DoudouLinux to run?

It is totally indifferent: DoudouLinux does not use the system installed on your computer at all. You may have Windows®, BSD, FreeDOS, or anything else installed, it does not matter and it does not change anything, so long as you use a CD, DVD or USB.

Which version of Mac OS X® is required for DoudouLinux to run?

As said before concerning Windows®, this is totally indifferent, except that DoudouLinux does not run on Macintosh systems from before 2006. Consequently, it will run on systems shipped with OS X versions from that time or later.

Is it possible to remove the CD or the USB stick while running DoudouLinux?

In no way you should do this while DoudouLinux is running! DoudouLinux data are stored on the CD or USB key and these data are loaded whenever needed according to the user’s actions. If you remove the CD or USB key while running, you will most likely cause a “crash”, soon! However, your computer will be not damaged nor the CD, but eventually the USB key might be. On the contrary, just before computer shutdown, DoudouLinux will ask you to remove the medium because it is not needed anymore.

Can DoudouLinux run on older processors like Pentium® I?

Yes it can. While our official CD set is targeting newer processors (Pentium® II or newer, or equivalent), we can also build CD’s on demand for older processors. The resulting ISO images have an additional 486 in their name and can be downloaded from our dailybuild section.

Can DoudouLinux run on ARM™ processors?

Again yes. Since DoudouLinux 2.0, an ARM™ port is available from our dailybuild section. ARM™ disk images are build for Genesi Efika MX and Raspberry PI especially, you have to adapt them to your hardware if needed. Note that we are still using the slow port armel because DoudouLinux 2.0 is based on Debian Squeeze. Performances on ARM™ hardware are then not yet impressive, under the oldest low-end netbook computers that appeared years ago. You need to wait our move to Debian Wheezy to be able to test the faster port armhf with improved performances.

Daily use

Can DoudouLinux be abruptly stopped?

The answer is yes. If you press briefly the computer power button, the standard shutdown process will be started. If you press longer the same button, or if you experience a breakdown in the main power supply and there are no battery (laptops) or no UPS, your computer and your DoudouLinux system will not be damaged! At most will you loose data created in this activity, even if you have activated the data persistence.

How to preserve data?

As DoudouLinux does not record modified data, there is no risk to damage your computer or its data. But unfortunately you lose your work too at computer shutdown… You have three solutions to backup your work:

  1. you can manually save your work onto USB memory devices (please read the page about using an USB key or an USB hard disk)
  2. you can activate data persistence to make the system automatically save any modified data onto an external device
  3. you can install DoudouLinux definitively on the computer, alone or along with another computer system

How can I minimize (or hide) an application window?

There is no area to host application icons (window list or task bar). If you have opened more than one application, you can do one of the following:

  • press simultaneously the keys Alt + Tab to browse running applications
  • use the mouse wheel while the mouse pointer is above the window title in order to “shade” the window, which then collapses
  • use the small button on the left of the window title bar to “shade” the window

Where can I find the generated PDF files?

If you print a file using the PDF printer, the PDF file will be saved in the folder simply named PDF. It can be found in your home (personal) folder. Please note that we are talking about the folders hosted in DoudouLinux, not the folders hosted in the system installed on your computer… You can access PDF files using the file manager. We invite you to read the page about USB key or USB hard disk use in order to get information on finding and moving PDF files onto an USB key for example.

How to read or export drawings from other activities?

Since release 2011-02 it is possible to access the Tuxpaint drawings of other activities from any activity featuring a file manager. Please refer to article Using a USB key or a USB hard disk to learn how to open the file manager and save files to an USB key. Once the file manager is showing, just go to the directory “Pictures”. You will find sub-directories that contain the Tuxpaint drawings from other activities. These sub-directories are created when entering an activity and only if Tuxpaint has ever been launched in another activity. For example when you enter “Whole DoudouLinux”, DoudouLinux scans other activities and creates a sub-directory in “Whole DoudouLinux” only if it finds a Tuxpaint directory in these activities.

Why using OGG video files?

When you export movies from Stopmotion, we have chosen to force the video file format to OGG. This format has open specifications that allow anyone to use it for any purpose. This is rather exceptional concerning video file formats since most of them are covered by patents or copyright and then restricted to the use with fee payment, which we cannot do. Not all countries tolerate this kind of limitations but we must comply with the strictest ones. For this reason, OGG seems to us the best choice.

To play your OGG files outside DoudouLinux, you can install one of the many video players that can read OGG files. If you want to share your OGG video files with people without asking them to install such player, you can similarly find a video converter that can read OGG files. Note nevertheless that finding a video file format that plays well on every computer without additional software is kind of impossible mission. Due to competition between computer system editors, system designers manage to avoid including video file formats that other systems can easily read!

Security

Are parental controls available for Internet browsing?

Yes, since version 2010-11 we provide true web content filtering, see the page Parental controls. It has shown good results for English, French and Russian but it is known as alpha version for Galician, Greek, Romanian, Serbian and Ukrainian. We also plan to add controls for restricting hours of use, this is not related to Internet browsing of course!

As for instant messaging?

The instant messaging software provided, Empathy, is installed with just a local communication protocol. It is not able to join other users on the Internet. The objective is to teach children messaging communication tools on a local network, without the need to open accounts and above all while perfectly knowing to whom they are talking! For this you just need to connect at least two DoudouLinux with a network cable, via a networking box (hub or switch) or via a wireless network.

Why safe websites can be blocked?

Content filtering is a difficult problem that would ideally require computers to understand the content of pages, which is not the case yet. As a result, no content blocking is perfect and you have the choice between using less restrictive settings to let safe sites be all displayed (but let some non-safe ones be too), or use more restrictive settings that may occasionally block safe sites. We chose the second alternative.

Are you sure to block all the non-safe sites?

No, we cannot be sure. People telling you that their filtering system is perfect are just lying, see above. As a result there may be some non-safe sites that are shown, especially if they mainly contain images, videos or animations and very few text. However, we believe our filtering system is enough for children that won’t search for non-safe websites intentionally.

Why web pages are not displayed like they are on my computer?

There may be parts of web pages that are removed by DoudouLinux. This is not due to censorship nor content filtering but most likely to the tools that we added to preserve user privacy. These tools mainly remove advertisement from web pages and block user tracking codes that many pages are trying to run behind your back. The web we are proposing to children should then be much more quiet than what you get on your own computer if you have never installed such tools.

Is it possible to access local disks?

No, at least, this is not child’s play. Internal disks are not displayed in the file manager since version Gondwana 1.2 of July 2012. They are “mounted” read-only at boot, which means that even if someone would be able to find the path to the internal disks, he wouldn’t be able to change or delete anything. Moreover, if your computer runs Mac OS X®, access to internal disks is not possible at all because the necessary tools are not installed in DoudouLinux. Please note that we do not recommend using local data because one of the main purpose of DoudouLinux is to let the computer and its data remain untouched –just for you to keep relaxed and worry free!

DoudouLinux installation

Can I install definitively DoudouLinux onto my computer?

Yes, please read the page named Install DoudouLinux definitively.

Why is the installation tool so difficult to find in DoudouLinux ?

The main reason is one of the objective of DoudouLinux: avoid damaging your computer data by mistake. This is why the installation tool in DoudouLinux is not easily accessible. This tool does not show in menus and cannot be accessed using the mouse only.

Can I install DoudouLinux definitively using the CDROM only?

Yes, since version 2.0 DoudouLinux is able to get installed using the live media only. Once you have started DoudouLinux using the CD or an USB media, you can launch the installer that will not ask you the location of the DoudouLinux media.

Can I install additional applications in DoudouLinux ?

Yes, DoudouLinux is just a special version of Debian Linux, so you can install any software package from among the nearly 25 000 packages available for this system! But to achieve this, the first time you will need to perform some manual and technical operations that are explained on the page Installing DoudouLinux definitively. If you really want to do this, you must have a working ADSL Internet connection [2]. Moreover, if you did not activate the system data persistence nor performed a real installation of DoudouLinux, your installation will be lost at computer shutdown. Please note that if you set this type of persistence, you will loose one of the DoudouLinux strengths: the impossibility to record altered data in the case of a system failure (due to hardware issue, due to a mistaken command or very unlikely due to a malware computer program [3]).

Can I update softwares in an installed DoudouLinux ?

Yes. This is described on the page Installing DoudouLinux definitively.

How to upgrade from a previous version of DoudouLinux?

The upgrade process is not officially supported yet. Managing the upgrade process would require that we spend much time in writing and testing update scripts. We currently have no task force to achieve this. As a result the recommended way for upgrading is to backup user data and reinstall the new version. Note however that, if you are using a real installation of DoudouLinux, you may want to perform a standard Debian package upgrade from within an administrative account, but this may sounds a bit complicated to many people and this is not described in this documentation.

Other questions

Why Google is not the default search engine?

We have replaced Google with DuckDuckGo because Google search results are mixing results and advertisement too closely and because Google is using the history of your queries to build a detailed profile of who they believe you are. This profile is then used to impose targeted ads on you in many websites or to filter search results in a way that users cannot control. We believe people should instead expect to get objective results from search engines. We also believe advertisement should not have a place in our computers because they are ours and not theirs, and because we do not want our children to be influenced by third parties without our explicit consent. Please read our page Preserving user privacy to learn more about these issues.

Is it true that DoudouLinux signed an agreement with DuckDuckGo?

Yes, we have signed an agreement with DuckDuckGo to make it the default search engine in the DoudouLinux web browser. We have accepted this agreement because DuckDuckGo is one of the rare search engines to respect enough user privacy while we were looking for a replacement for Google because of this issue. The agreement we signed is planning revenues to our project according to the monthly visits coming from DoudouLinux. However, as we have set DuckDuckGo with ads and affiliates removed and told them we would do, we will get an amount very close to zero!

Can I read persistent data from within another system?

Yes in principle, but depending on your system this job can be very simple or nearly impossible… Saved data are indeed stored in a file that represents a hard disk image. This partition is created using a file system natively used by Linux, named ext2. To be able to read this partition, your system has to know how to mount a file as a storage device and, on the other hand, it has to know how to read the Linux file system. Obviously, neither Windows® or Mac OS X® natively knows how to read this file system. Finally concerning partition mounting, we do not know the answer for your system neither! [4]

Where are the LiveUSB image files?

Since version 2.0, there is only one image file for DoudouLinux per language: the CDROM ISO file. To make a live USB media, you have to turn your USB media into a bootable device and configure it to start the ISO file that you have copied onto the USB device. DoudouLinux is shipping a dedicated tool to easily achieve this. Please read the page Creating a DoudouLinux USB key to learn more.

How can I easily build an USB key without installing additional software?

If you do not know what to install, you still have one alternative: use the DoudouLinux CDROM in order to create an USB key. You must restart your computer with the DoudouLinux CDROM, then connect the USB key that you want to be written and start the USB key build tool. Since DoudouLinux 2.0, you do not need to provide the ISO file anymore, the tool shipped within DoudouLinux is able to use the running CD to make the USB key. This operation is described on the page Creating a DoudouLinux USB key.

Where is the source code?

DoudouLinux is a free software project, which means anyone must be able to get the source code of DoudouLinux. However, as we are a Linux distribution and not just a piece of software, there are several places in which you may find the source code you are looking for:

  • If you are curious about how DoudouLinux is made, or if you want to get the code of the DoudouLinux specific applications and tools, visit our source code repository on Gna.
  • If you are looking for the source code of packages that we have modified to fit our needs, visit our package repository, it contains Debian source packages for each of our custom packages.
  • If you are looking for the source code of other packages, you have to use the Debian package search tool since our distribution tries to use unmodified Debian packages whenever possible.

Footnotes

[1] DoudouLinux is not associated to a specific user or a specific computer that is running this software, unlike pre-installed software provided with most of machines.

[2] DoudouLinux cannot easily manage networks that are not similar to ADSL boxes.

[3] The probability to download a malware computer program in Linux is incredibly lower than in Windows®, but you have to consider this risk.

[4] Of course, Linux knows to do it in standard configuration…


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