Ubuntu MultiverseThis weekend I installed Ubuntu Linux on an old PC in an effort to create a new platform for my kids to safely access the internet and play Java and Flash based games. I’ve installed dozens of different Linux distributions over the years. Nothing I’ve ever used compares to the usability and simplicity of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu includes more than 16,000 pieces of software, but the core desktop installation fits on a single CD. Ubuntu covers every standard desktop application from word processing and spreadsheet applications to internet access applications, web server software, email software, programming languages and tools and of course several games.

I used Ubuntu’s standard distribution, but there is also a specialized variant called Edubuntu tailored specifically for the young user. (Too bad I didn’t see that when I first did my install!).

Looking for educational software for Linux? Tux4Kids serves up typing tutorials, math games, and other helpful software. For free, of course.

My only gripe in setting up Ubuntu was that it didn’t enable ‘proprietary’ plugins for the FireFox browser such as Java and Flash. After quite a bit of poking around I discovered that installing these plugins is easy through using the Ubuntu’s software installer (the Synaptic Package Manager). The trick is enabling proprietary software. Here’s how:

After install, open ‘System » Administration » Synaptic Package Manager’. Under ‘Settings » Repositories’ click yet another ‘Settings’ button, and you will see an option to Check ‘Show disabled software updates.’
Click the ‘Add’ button, and check all the checkboxes, especially the ‘Non-Free (Multiverse).’
Check all the binary updates
No you’ll see options to install important Firefox plugins such as Java and Flash. Simply right mouse click on the software to select it component for installation, and click ‘Apply.’ The rest is magic!

Read more about this amazing software at Ubuntu – Linux for Human Beings.