Ubuntu is composed of many software packages, the vast majority of which are distributed under a free software license. The only exceptions are some proprietary hardware drivers.The main license used is the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) which, along with the GNU Lesser General Public License (GNU LGPL), explicitly declares that users are free to run, copy, distribute, study, change, develop and improve the software. On the other hand, there is also proprietary software available that can run on Ubuntu. Ubuntu focuses on usability, security and stability. The Ubiquity installer allows Ubuntu to be installed to the hard disk from within the Live CD environment, without the need for restarting the computer prior to installation. Ubuntu also emphasizes accessibility and internationalization to reach as many people as possible.

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GCompris userguide completely free educational software suite (Chapter III).

Monday, November 7, 2016

GCompris is a high quality educational software suite comprising of numerous activities for children aged 2 to 10.

Some of the activities are game orientated, but nonetheless still educational.

Below you can find a list of categories with some of the activities available in that category.

  • computer discovery: keyboard, mouse, different mouse gestures, ...
  • arithmetic: table memory, enumeration, double entry table, mirror image, ...
  • science: the canal lock, the water cycle, the submarine, electric simulation ...
  • geography: place the country on the map
  • games: chess, memory, connect 4, oware, sudoku ...
  • reading: reading practice
  • other: learn to tell time, puzzle of famous paintings, vector drawing, cartoon making, ...

Currently GCompris offers in excess of 100 activities and more are being developed. GCompris is free software, that means that you can adapt it to your own needs, improve it and, most importantly, share it with children everywhere.




Children recognize their name and click on it.


Children enter their login.

If you have created user profiles in GCompris, and you start GCompris with a profile, a 'Log-in' screen will appear.


There are two identification modes : a 'list' mode where you have to find your name from a list of names. This mode can encourage the child read his name. The second mode asks the child to enter his name. It can help the child learn how to use the keyboard.


Networking / Multiple Users.

If you administer a school network, you can overwrite the configuration options of your users with your own configuration. The instuctions bellows apply to a single system on which you want to share the configuration between several users or for different users on multiple computers. In the last case, you need to put the configuration files on a networked partition.


GCompris uses 2 disctincts files for its configuration:

  • The file 'gcompris.conf' (configuration) contains end user specific choises like sound and screen preference.
  • The file 'gcompris.db' (database) contains :
    • The list of all the activities and their menu position.
    • The user log, what activity was played, at what time and was it successfull.
    • The users, classes, groups and profiles.
    • The configuration of each activity.

To edit a configuration file, the easiest way is to create one from GCompris. Simply configure GCompris as you wish, quit it and copy the created configuration file into the system one. From it, you can then remove the options that you don't want to be compulsory.

Configuration file example:



GNU / Linux.

On GNU/Linux, the configuration file is in the user directory under ~/.config/gcompris/gcompris.conf

To make the configuration global to all the users:

  • You can copy your configuration file to /etc/gcompris.conf
  • You can run GCompris with the --config-dir option passing it a fully qualified path to a directory containing the configuration file (it is created on first run if not found)

To make all users using the same database, run GCompris with --database option passing it a file on a local directory or a networked folder. The users must have read and write access to this file.


You can create a desktop launcher for the children and pass in it the options you need (--config-dir and/or --database). You can create another desktop launcher for the teacher. It must include the --administration option and the --database that points to your database.


Portable GCompris.

Portable software is a class of software that is suitable for use on portable drives such as a USB (thumb) drive or iPod, although any external hard drive could theoretically be used. The concept of carrying one's favored applications, utilities, and files on a portable drive for use on any computer is one which has evolved considerably in recent years.

GCompris can be made portable very easily by installing it on the target thumb drive and adding in its directory a gcompris.conf configuration file which includes a local user and configuration directory. The directory are specified as relative to the gcompris.exe binary.

Configuration file example:

user_dir="../My GCompris"
key="your 6 digit key if you have it"

Console Switches.

Running GCompris from a command console with the --help option will display all the parameters it accepts:

  • -f, --fullscreen run GCompris in fullscreen mode.
  • -w, --window run GCompris in window mode.
  • -s, --sound run GCompris with sound enabled.
  • -m, --mute run GCompris without sound.
  • -c, --cursor run GCompris with the default system cursor.
  • -C, --nocursor run GCompris without cursor (touch screen mode).
  • -d, --difficulty display only activities with this difficulty level.
  • -D, --debug display debug informations on the console.
  • -v, --version Print the version of gcompris
  • -l, --root-menu Run GCompris with local menu (e.g -l /reading will let you play only activities in the reading directory, -l /strategy/connect4 only the connect4 activity). Use '-l list' to list all the availaible activities and their descriptions.
  • -A, --package_data_dir GCompris will find the data dir in this directory
  • -S, --package_skin_dir GCompris will find the skins in this directory
  • -L, --plugin_dir GCompris will find the activity plugins in this directory
  • -P, --python_plugin_dir GCompris will find the python activity in this directory
  • --locale_dir GCompris will find the locale file (.mo translation) in this directory
  • -M, --menu_dir GCompris will find the activities menu in this directory
  • -a, --administration Run GCompris in administration and user-management mode
  • -b, --database Use alternate database for profiles [$HOME/.config/gcompris/gcompris_sqlite.db]
  • --create-db Create the alternate database for profiles
  • --reread-menu Re-read XML Menus and store them in the database
  • -p, --profile Set the profile to use. Use 'gcompris -a' to create profiles
  • --profile-list List all available profiles. Use 'gcompris -a' to create profiles
  • --config-dir Config directory location: [$HOME/.config/gcompris]. Alternate is to set $XDG_CONFIG_HOME.
  • --user-dir The location of user directories: [$HOME/My GCompris]
  • --experimental Run the experimental activities
  • --disable-quit Disable the quit button
  • --disable-config Disable the config button
  • -g, --drag-mode Global drag and drop mode: normal, 2clicks, both. Default mode is normal.
  • --nolockcheck Do not avoid the execution of multiple instances of GCompris.
  • --no-zoom Disable maximization zoom
  • --timing-base Increase activities timeout delays; useful values > 1.0; 1.0 to not change hardcoded value
  • --timing-mult How activities timeout delays are growing for several actors; useful values < 1.0; 1.0 to not change hardcoded value


Create an application launcher and configure the command line parameters. Here is an example that runs GCompris in kiosk mode in full screen given a specific database:

gcompris -b /etc/gcompris/gc.db --disable-quit --disable-config -f

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GCompris userguide completely free educational software suite (Chapter II).

GCompris is a completely free educational software suite which contains a wide range of activities. It offers various activities aimed at covering a variety of fields such as the functioning of the computer, using the mouse and keyboard, general learning, reading, writing, foreign languages, algebra, as well as various activities such as memory and logic games, scientific experiments etc.


In GCompris you will find many individual software packages which together make up the complete GCompris suite of activities. Unfortunately, it is difficult to follow and maintain them as each one offers different graphic interfaces which vary widely in quality. The purpose of GCompris is to provide a development platform for educational activities. GCompris is part of GNU project and is placed under the GPL license.


Notes on the internationalization.

GCompris is internationalized and is available in more than 50 languages. If you want to check if your language is available, you can start GCompris and select your language in the option of configuration. Be careful, your operating system must support your language so that GCompris can use it. If you find a red cross while selecting a language in GCompris, this means that your system doesn't support it, even if a translation is available in GCompris.


On GNU/Linux, if your language is not available, select another language support on your distribution to add it. In most cases, you have to install an additional package 'locale-xx' or 'language-pack-xx' - xx is a language code such as 'En' for English –.


If your language is not supported, you can contribute to the software and add the translation of your language. If you are interested, you can contact the translation team of the Gnome project for your language.


You can check the level of translation for your language on the gnome web site.


Language learning.

You can use GCompris in a foreign language that you are learning. Select a foreign language in the configuration Menu. Don't forget to install the optional audio modules for this language in your GNU/Linux distribution. Windows' version is provided with all audio support that are available. Whilst using GCompris in another language it is possible to configure some activities more precisely using the audio set through the administration module.


Customizing activities.

Control Panels allow you to enrich the lexical content of activities to make them fit your needs.

vertical reading

missing letter

In the activities of reading or math, you can add your own lists of words or numbers, and thus adapt the content of the activity to your curriculum.

Configuration table of the activity of vertical reading:

  • Default: Indicates the default language of the activity that can be changed.
  • Language: selects the language of the word list.
  • Level: indicates the level of difficulty and allows the display of lists that you can complete and / or modify.

Administering GCompris.

GCompris contains a very powerful administration module to assist in simplifying its use in schools. This module was designed to satisfy the many different ways of using GCompris in as simple a way as possible.


Activity selection.

Select an activity.

GCompris currently offers nearly a hundred different activities. It is not always sensible to offer all of the activities to children at once. One approach could be the introduction of the activities little by little as the children develop their skills. This will keep their curiosity alive and will avoid them losing time doing activities which may be too complex for them.

There are two different ways of selecting the activities :

Only the activities 2, 3 and 4 are selected

  • By levels or intervals of levels. In this case, you use GCompris'levels (1 to 6 stars), You can choose a specific level such as 1 star, or an interval of levels - from 2 to 4 stars -.
  • By activity. In this mode, you can tick or tick out each activity or all the activities of a same section.

Profile creation.


Editing profiles.

A profile permits the creation of a behaviour model of GCompris under a unique name. It is possible to create profiles without any links to users, groups or class.

If you want to use GCompris with children of different age groups, you can create a profile for each one. For each profile, you will be able to associate a set of activities.

For instance, it is possible to create a profile 'grade 1' or a profile 'grade 2'.

To launch the administration module, find the start menu on your desktop or on a command line with gcompris -a.


Using a profile.

Start GCompris with the option --profile 'my profile' :

gcompris --profile 'cycle 1'

To get the list of existing profiles :

gcompris --profile-list

Of course to simplify the start of GCompris in a particular profile, the easiest is to create a new launcher for your desktop and to associate it to a command that include the correct options.


Activity configuration.

The profiles exist mainly to specify a list of activities but you can also personalize the behaviour of each one whenever it is possible within the activity.

The activities marked with an icon Stock preferences 24.png can be directly configured in the administration module. For example, You can configure some activities to function in English.


User and class creation.

The classes and the users.

If you want to set up a personalized recording system, you can create a user profile for each pupil. This option will permit them to enter their 'user name' when they start GCompris. GCompris will then record a list of activities the pupil has attempted and show whether or not the pupil has completed it. GCompris is very flexible, you can group all the pupils in the default class if you don't use GCompris in several classes. You can also create classes without mentioning pupils. It will give you the possibility to define profiles for your classes.


Groups creation.


Creating groups.

A group is a number of pupils from different classes. It is an optional function, you can use GCompris, create users and define profiles without creating any groups.

The creation of groups will help you if your functioning mode is based on user groups which are composed of small groups of classes but also of groups of children from the same class or even of children who have not been associated to a class.




Trace usage for the children Jon.

Each activity lets appear a bonus image when the child has accomplished it or not. GCompris keeps in its internal base all the results for each child or for the default user.

You can display the results for all the pupils or for one in particular. A button allows you to erase all the records.

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GCompris userguide completely free educational software suite (Chapter I).

GCompris is a completely free educational software suite which contains a wide range of activities. It offers various activities aimed at covering a variety of fields such as the functioning of the computer, using the mouse and keyboard, general learning, reading, writing, foreign languages, algebra, as well as various activities such as memory and logic games, scientific experiments etc. In GCompris you will find many individual software packages which together make up the complete GCompris suite of activities. Unfortunately, it is difficult to follow and maintain them as each one offers different graphic interfaces which vary widely in quality. The purpose of GCompris is to provide a development platform for educational activities. GCompris is part of GNU project and is placed under the GPL license.

gcomprisMinimal configuration.

  • Processor : Pentium 3 500Mhz
  • Memory (RAM) : 512 Mega Bytes
  • Disk : 400 Mega Bytes
  • Operating system : GNU/Linux, BSD, MacOSX, Windows
  • Video : A 3D card is NOT required. 32 bits color depth mandatory.


The software is delivered under several forms. Follow the process according to your case.

  • GNU/Linux : Use the packages delivered by your GNU/Linux distribution. You may have to install the package gcompris-sound-en to have the english voices. If GCompris is not packaged in your Linux distribution, please contact them to ask for the inclusion of GCompris in your Linux distribution.
  • Windows : Delivered under a classic installer for Windows. This version requires an activation code.
  • MacOSX : Delivered under a classic installer. This version requires an activation code.

The user interface.

The interface is designed for easy use by small children. GCompris is controlled with a mouse, it cannot be used without a mouse or a pointing system.


Main window.


The main menu. On the left are the main sections. On the top are the sub menus.

When you start the program, GCompris shows a graphic interface which presents the list of activities with a control bar at the bottom.

Each icon represents an activity. When the mouse is set on it, the activity is highlighted and the name, description and author of the activity are displayed in the description area.

Around each one, you can find small icons which give additional information about the activity. A simple click on the icon will lead you to an activity or a menu of activities.

An icon indicates if a functioning sound system is required for an activity :

  • Soundspeaker : The audio files are included for this activity.
  • Soundspeaker with a red cross : The audio files are not installed in the present language.

The stars indicates the age group for which each game is designed :

  • Difficulty star1.png 1, 2 or 3 stars - for 2 to 6 years old.
  • Difficulty star4.png 1, 2 or 3 complex stars - greater than 6 year olds.

At the bottom of the screen there is a control bar for GCompris. The following icons are described below from the right to the left (the icons are only displayed if they are available in the activity) :

  • Home.png Home - Leaves the current activity, returns to the previous menu.
  • Button ok.png Thumb - Validate, confirm your answer. Some activities do not detect automatically whether or not the child has completed the task. In this case, you have to click on this icon. You can also use the "enter" key on your keyboard.
  • Level1.png Die - The present level is displayed. Click on the die to select another level. Generally, the activities offer several levels whose numbers depend on the activity. In GCompris, it is possible to go to the next level without having completed the current level.
  • Repeat.png Lips - Ask GCompris to repeat the question.
  • Help.png Question mark - Display the help dialog box. Sometimes, an activity can be too complex to be described easily in the description area. In this case, this function gives access to additional information.
  • Config.png Tool box - Configuration menu. The configuration is saved in the user repository(Folder) under the name .config/gcompris/gcompris.conf. This is a text file which can be edited manually.
  • About.png Tux and his plane - Information box on GCompris, presents the main contributors and the version of the software.
  • Button exit.png Night - Quit GCompris. You can also use the short cut on your keyboard 'ctrl-q'.


Kiosk mode.

When you use GCompris with small children or on a self-service kiosk, you can disable a certain number of options :

  • gcompris --disable-quit : disable the "quit" button.
  • gcompris --disable-config : disable the "configuration" button
  • gcompris --disable-level : disable the level button

These options can of course be combined.


Keyboard shortcuts.


Escape or ctrl-w
Quit the current activity or dialog then return to the main menu.

Quit GCompris without further notice.

Toggle fullscreen mode.

Toggle sound mute.

Display or Hide the control bar.


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Friendica, a decentralized, federated Social Network.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Why Friendica? Because somebody has to stand up for the people of the Internet.  This is why we exist. Friendica is our alternative to those "creepy" social networks that don't really care about your privacy, and only seem to care how they can profit from taking it away.  They seem to be constantly making it harder for your social communications to actually reach your friends and families, and easier for unwanted people to sell you stuff.


If these things concern you, perhaps it's time to join other freedom loving and privacy respecting people on the free social web.


The Friendica Project is a world-wide consortium of software developers creating decentralised social platforms and technology for the coming post-Facebook world. We aren't as flashy and well known as some of the other projects working on a decentralised/federated social web, but we've been quietly working behind the scenes to provide the most reliable, full-featured, and extensible alternative to the monolithic providers.


We are currently involved in three different projects.



Friendica is our flagship platform.  It is an open source, free social web server running on the popular LAMP stack. Think WordPress or Drupal, but for social. It is a mature platform with over two years of development behind it, and provides a wide range of connectors to both legacy and indie social networks. Your "friends" can be from Facebook, Diaspora, Twitter, StatusNet, pump.io, weblogs and RSS feeds - and even email. No other project has ever brought together the social universe into a single federated stream to this degree. We have pioneered ground-breaking technology such as decentralised photo albums with working privacy controls and cross-site wall-to-wall posting via hidden single sign-on. Not even Facebook will protect your private photos from "fuskers" (look it up, but be warned - it's real creepy).  If you make a Friendica photo private, it's private.

Caveat: Some of the corporate-owned networks are not happy that we've managed to integrate their networks so seamlessly and have started to close off and restrict the ability to interact with their members. Friendica can stand on its own without them, but while it lasts, it is pleasant to interact in a global social space without walls.




Red is our next generation communications platform, currently under development. In building Friendica we learned a great many things about how to make reliable and scalable decentralised communications systems. We also know that to achieve critical success, we need to go far beyond "how to install servers" and provide a distributed platform which exists everywhere and can serve millions of people - while avoiding the traps of advertising monetisation (which brought us all the creepiness).

We also have stopped calling Red a "social network", as it is conceptually quite different from those things. It's more like a collection of channels and web spaces that can all interact.  Sure, you can use it as a "social network" and many people will. But that's like saying you can use a mobile phone to make phone calls.  Most mobile phones can do a lot more.



The Friendica Directory

The Friendica Global Directory was initially created to index and search the members of Friendica - who are located around the world. Many of these are operating from their own hubs (which all connect together into a super global social network much like the web itself). A central directory was important to be able to find them all, as searching large numbers of decentralised resources does not easily scale. We're currently applying our mature decentralisation technology to break up the global directory and provide replicated directories located at various places on the planet so that we aren't dependent on any single service provider anywhere in the system.

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Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) Available For Download.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS is available to download! Let's take a look at the most important new features and changes in this long term release.


Before I dive into what's new in Ubuntu 16.04, it's worth pausing to reflect on what's missing: Scopes online search, now off by default.


That means no more potentially socially awkward search results when all you really wanted was to open Brasero (speaking of which, Brasero is gone too). Scopes, introduced four years ago, were justified as making Ubuntu more of a web-friendly client – letting you find "anything anywhere," according to Ubuntu daddy Mark Shuttleworth.


Scopes worked through a Home Lens universal search feature built into the Unity Dash and could combine a search of local hard drive with results deemed relevant from Amazon.


Thomas Mashos has announced the launch of Mythbuntu 16.04, a community edition of Ubuntu which facilitates setting up a MythTV system. This release is a long term support release with security updates and support for just over two years. Mythbuntu is compatible with MythTV 0.28. "Mythbuntu 16.04 has been released. This is a point release on our 14.04 LTS release. If you are already on 14.04, you can get these same updates via the normal update process. This is our third LTS release and will be supported until shortly after the 18.04 release. The Mythbuntu team would like to thank our ISO testers for helping find critical bugs before release. You guys rock! With this release, we are providing torrents only. It is very important to note that this release is only compatible with MythTV 0.28 systems." Details and a list of known issues can be found in the release announcement. Download: mythbuntu-16.04-desktop-amd64.iso (1,376MB, SHA256, signature, torrent, pkglist).


The Ubuntu Kylin project, which provides a Chinese language community edition of Ubuntu, has released Ubuntu Kylin 16.04. The new release includes long term support for security updates as well as a number of key changes. The English translation of the project's release announcement reads, in part: "Using the latest 4.4 kernel, upgrade to the Unity 7.4 desktop environment. Added a more concise and friendly login / lock screen and moves the application launcher to the lower part of the screen. The first boot of the system runs the setup wizard. Ubuntu Kylin Software Center becomes the default software manager front-end." This release also features a new version of the WPS productivity suite. Download: ubuntukylin-16.04-desktop-amd64.iso (1,476MB, SHA256, signature, torrent, pkglist).


The Ubuntu Studio project has announced the launch of Ubuntu Studio 16.04, a long term support release which will be supported for three years. The project had another change to talk about as well: "In January 2016 we had an election for a new project lead, and the winner was Set Hallström, who will be taking over the project lead position right after this release. He will be continuing for another two years until the next election in 2018. The team of developers has also seen a positive increase lately, which bodes well for the future. So, all in all, this release marks a new page in the history of Ubuntu Studio and makes the distribution as strong as it has ever been. 16.04 Xenial Xerus Released! We're happy to announce our latest LTS release. Ubuntu Studio 16.04 will be supported for three years. Since it's just out, you may experience some problems." The new features in this release and a list of potential problems can be found in the release notes. Further details can be found in the release announcement. Download: ubuntustudio-16.04-dvd-amd64.iso (2,624MB, SHA256, signature, torrent, pkglist).


The Kubuntu team has announced the launch of Kubuntu 16.04. The new version of Kubuntu is a long term support release and features the KDE Plasma desktop environment. "What can you expect from this latest release? Our new software centre: Plasma Discover brim-full of software to choose from. The latest KDE PIM with lots of features and fixes Including the latest Akonadi support and integration with MySQL 5.7. Plasma 5, the next generation of KDE's desktop, has been rewritten to make it smoother to use while retaining the familiar setup. Kubuntu 16.04 comes with KDE Applications 15.12 containing all your favourite apps from KDE, including Dolphin. Even more applications have been ported to KDE Frameworks 5 but those which aren't, should fit in seamlessly. For a complete desktop suite of applications we've included some non-KDE applications such as LibreOffice 5.1 and Firefox 45." Additional details can be found in the project's release announcement and in the release notes. Download: kubuntu-16.04-desktop-amd64.iso (1,450MB, SHA256, signature, torrent, pkglist).


The Xubuntu team has announced the release of Xubuntu 16.04. The new version carries the code name Xenial Xerus and will receive three years of security updates. One of the bigger changes in this release is the package manager front-end, Ubuntu Software Centre, has been replaced by GNOME Software. "The Xubuntu team is pleased to announce the immediate release of Xubuntu 16.04. Xubuntu 16.04 is an LTS (Long-Term Support) release and will be supported for 3 years. The final release images are available as Torrents and direct downloads from http://xubuntu.org/getxubuntu/. As the main server will be very busy in the first few days after release, we recommend using the Torrents wherever possible." Additional information on the Xubuntu 16.04 release can be found in the project's release announcement and in the technical release notes. Download: xubuntu-16.04-desktop-amd64.iso (1,184MB, SHA256, signature, torrent, pkglist).


Martin Wimpress has announced the launch of Ubuntu MATE 16.04. The new version marks Ubuntu MATE's first long term support release and features an up to date MATE desktop environment as well as support for Ubuntu's Snappy command line package manager. "Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS has not just been in development for 6 months. Ubuntu MATE 16.04 LTS has been in development for nearly 2 years. Since the project started in June 2014 this release, this our first official LTS, is what we've been working towards. This was the goal we had firmly in our sights every step of the way. I extend my sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed to Ubuntu MATE over the last 22 months. None of this would have been possible without the countless contributions from the amazing Ubuntu MATE community. I can't thank you all enough for what you've helped create. I only hope this release makes you all proud." A list of changes and known issues can be found in the distribution's release announcement. Download: ubuntu-mate-16.04-desktop-amd64.iso (1,560MB, SHA256, signature, torrent, pkglist).


Canonical has announced the availability of Ubuntu 16.04. The new version of Ubuntu is a long term support release, meaning it will receive security updates for the next five years. Some of the big changes in this release include support for the "snap" package format; Snappy packages can be installed alongside traditional Deb packages. Python 2 is no longer installed by default, but can be found in the distribution's software repositories. This release is the first to feature built-in ZFS support. "Ubuntu 16.04 LTS introduces a new application format, the 'snap', which can be installed alongside traditional Deb packages. These two packaging formats live quite comfortably next to one another and enable Ubuntu to maintain its existing processes for development and updates." Further details can be found in the Ubuntu 16.04 release notes and on the features page. Download (pkglist): ubuntu-16.04-desktop-amd64.iso (1,417MB, SHA256, signature, torrent), ubuntu-16.04-server-amd64.iso (655MB, SHA256, signature, torrent).

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