Category: Geeky Stuff

Running Edubuntu from a Live CD

logo.pngFor screenshots of Edubuntu check this out.

So, with  all this talk about Edubuntu, I realized that maybe I should explain how to go about downloading and running it.  In fact, there is a bit of a trick to it which I have messed up more than a few times because I am a ditz like that–enough so that I went ahead and made a few cd’s for people who want them instead of explaining to my less technically-minded friends how to go about it.  (I have wasted plenty of cd’s because I “forget” how to burn an image.)

Before you download and run it there are two things you need to do.  (It doesn’t take much space to run so most people will not have issues with that.)

  1. Reboot your computer.  When it is starting up there will be a splash screen that tells you what type of processor you have.  As long as it doesn’t say 64 somewhere in there you should be good with the regular install.  (You can also check this by going into your control panel, system, and looking at your computer info.   AMD 64 requires a different setup which is the second one listed.)  Most people have a regular 32bit chipset and can run the first version.  If you can’t tell I suggest downloading and running the first chipset (or if you aren’t sure, email me and I will be glad to make you a cd and send it to you or you can order one from their site.)
  2. You need a cd burning software that can burn a cd image.  You are not burning data or an audio file you need to burn an .iso which is a disk image.  Nero Burning Rom can do this as can Sonic.  More than likely the program that came with your cd burner can burn a disk image but you need to tell it that is what you want.  DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT try to burn it as a data cd.  It won’t work.  I know because I ALWAYS forget and mess this up several times before remembering that I need to “Burn Disk Image”.

Now you can go the website and download.  You want the personal version, not the server.

Once you have downloaded and burned the cd all you do is put the cd in the cd/dvd player before rebooting.  Reboot and if your computer can boot from CD then it should automatically take you to the Edubuntu screen.  There it will give you several options but you likely won’t have to do a thing.  It will auto start in 30 seconds.  It will sit there a while–remember, you are running an entire OS from a cd, but it will start.  Just wait (probably about 3-5 minutes, on older machines like ours it takes a bit longer).  Once it boots you are good.  The screen looks quite a bit like a Mac (at least what I remember Macs looking like–it has been a while.)

Now you can play the games and run the programs without needing to install the software.  If you decide you love it you can install from there but I wouldn’t advise it unless you don’t mind losing what is already on computer or have everything backed up and I would recommend reading the docs on the site before doing so.  You can’t run Microsoft programs on an Ubuntu machine and have to convert your mp3s to .ogg format.  It is great if you don’t use Microsoft software and tend to use open source anyway or if you have a second computer for the kids (like us, we have 4 computers, two are old ones that belong to the kids.)

There are a few games that say they are missing bits.  If you install, it is easy to update those–they use other software that is normally already installed on a Linux machine.  If you don’t install you can’t update those but the rest is still well worth it.

I will talk a bit more about the games available in a future post.

A Day in the Life 19

My neck is out and my back aches. Sigh. We got a big snow and I shoveled even though my neck was twinging so my dad could get in the driveway. I only shoveled a little but it was too much and now. Sigh. I am off to spend several hours flat on my back playing Harvest Moon because I can’t sit up for long. Before I go I want to share a couple things:

This morning my “teaching himself to read” child called me over to the table where he sat eating animal crackers.

“Look Mom, this says low fat!”

“Did you read that yourself?”

“Yup.” He grinned and went on eating.

As I said he has been having me “read” a hymn book to him. He likes to help me read the words, which are divided into syllables so he can easily sound them out. He then helps me sing the songs. It is very sweet. (It had never occurred to me that all the old hymn books I collect from yard sales would make such great easy readers.)

My little boy has taught himself to read!

Also, all three kids are very into Edubuntu and are spending lots of time playing GCompris and and several other great educational games. The other cool thing about Edubuntu is that you can go to the Edubuntu site, download the isntaller and burn the image to a cd–which will allow you to run the whole thing off the cd without installing over your copy of Windows. We have two copies running though one of the machines still has Windows on it. It is amazing to see what they are learning from this wonderful program.

Pagerank, SEO , and other bits of Geekiness

Since I just spent the past week setting up this new site I figured I would make sure I optimized it in the process. This meant a little research. I go in spurts when it comes to what interests me and this week I was on a technology spur–updating my understanding of Page Rank, Sitemaps, and SEO. Things have changed a bit since I started doing this and sometimes it is hard to keep up. I found some information that will not only benefit those who have websites through me but anyone who has heard these terms being thrown around. (For those who have websites through Elasah.com–in the next week I will be optimizing your sites for search engines–yeah!)

First, I am sure most of you have read here and there about page rank and SEO, and while some are all on top of this stuff and already get it others are scratching their heads.

First, what is Page Rank?

Page Rank is Google’s way of determining how important a website is on the internet. (You can check yours here.)

I found a very detailed, mathematical explanation of how Google’s page rank works here. Very cool but a bit too much explanation. Basically it is a way for Google’s spiders, without having to actually understand the page, to look at all the links in and out and in between and decide its importance based on this information.

This is important to you (if you care about such things), much more important than those cute little movie rating or getting a great vote on Homeschool bloggers because it determines how easy you are to find by someone looking for you. It affects whether you get on the front page for different searches. This isn’t that important if you are running a small family website for fun or a personal journal type blog, it is VERY important if you are trying to make money from ads on your site, if you are trying to be a big blog/website, or if you have something to sell.

That said, getting a Sitemap and keeping it updated helps Google better index your site. Sitmaps used to be a big deal when I first started designing web pages (about 10 years ago), then they weren’t for a while, and now they are BIG. So what is a sitemap and how do you get one and submit it?

The simplest explanation of a Sitemap is here. It is a page on your website that shows the organization of your site, listing vital information like when it was last updated, it’s importance, and other useful (for search engines) information. This page has a special format that the spiders from search engines can navigate and recognize. (In order to make it accessible to humans you have to make a copy of the page in .html.)

You can create one by hand using the protocol (I wouldn’t recommend this if you are uncomfortable around code) but you can create one for free using http://www.freesitemapgenerator.com. It still takes some technical knowledge and the ability to access your ftp server but once you get it going it works pretty well. (As I said, those on my server will soon have this occur automatically since I am in the process of doing all my sites and those I serve.)

While you are waiting for it to generate you should be setting yourself up on both Google Analytics and Google Webmaster control. Once you have submitted your site to Google Webmaster control and have your sitemap finished you can submit the sitemap in the same location you submitted your website.

Another thing you can do while you are waiting is read up on what Google has to say about SEO (Search Engine Optimization. Very good advice, especially good since it is right from the source.) There is a brief and easy to comprehend overview here and the full document can be found here. If you follow these guidelines you are more likely to have a decent Pagerank which means more readers will find your page.

Finally, once you have done all that you will have time to explore the wonderful stuff available at Google Webmaster Control and Google Analytics. There are some interesting and helpful bits of information there, and enough fun bits to keep you busy for hours–for instance: Google Analytics shows you where everyone who visits your page is from, in fact–if you click on the map it will show you the states and then the cities. You will also learn what your most popular articles are, which outgoing links get the most clicks and all kinds of other fascinating things. Have fun.