My latest at ProfHacker: Getting Started with Linux: Another Look at UberStudent
Time flies. It’s hard to believe it, but it’s been four years since I first took a look at a Linux distribution called UberStudent. Back then it was in its 1.0 release, called “Cicero.” The latest release, “Epicurus,” came out in mid-January, with a version number of 4.1.
There are a lot of Linux distributions out there. What makes this one worth checking out?
As with previous releases, what makes UberStudent unique is its target audience, and the software and little added touches it has as a result.
Installing UberStudent is as easy as installing any other Linux distribution: download the .iso file, burn it to a DVD or install it to a bootable USB, boot from it, and follow the directions. Once it’s installed and you’ve restarted the computer and logged in, you’ll see the welcome screen pictured at the top of this post.
UberStudent uses the XFCE desktop. There are two panel styles to choose from, but for those who aren’t fond of XFCE, it’s possible to install other desktop environments. (Though I didn’t test them extensively, I tried Gnome, Mate, and KDE, and I didn’t encounter any obvious problems.)
The primary audience for UberStudent, however, is students, and they might not be terribly interested in changing desktop environments, especially if they’re new to Linux. What they will be interested in is the software, and they’ll find just about everything they could want here (assuming they don’t need something as specialized as SPSS or Stata). The list of software that comes pre-installed is impressive. The software chosen is intended to help students develop good academic skills as well as get their work done; examples include Zotero, LibreOffice, CherryTree, LyX, and Anki.1
Everything students need to get started working right away is included. And those little added touches I mentioned before? Let me give just one example:
This is the screen that appears the first time a user launches LibreOffice in UberStudent. There’s an assumption that the user may not be familiar with different file formats, so there’s a helpful tutorial provided. Similar tutorials are provided for other commonly-used applications, so new users can get up to speed quickly.
Students who’d like to get started with Linux will find this distribution worth checking out; it has the software they need, and the UberStudent website has all kinds of helpful documentation. It’s also a good choice for those who’d prefer to bring new life to a slightly older computer, rather than buying a new one. It’s even possible to install UberStudent to a flash drive, and run it from any computer that can boot from USB (users who’d like to do this can also purchase a USB key with UberStudent pre-installed).
Have you tried UberStudent? Have any of your students tried it (or another Linux distribution)? Let us know what you think in the comments.
All images Creative Commons licensed by the author.
- UberStudent is Ubuntu/Debian-based, so it’s easy for advanced users to add repositories and/or install additional software.?
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