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<h1>TUX&amp;GNU@school - 2nd edition</h1>
<p><i>Every month the column TUX&amp;GNU@school reports about
free education software, a homepage on the topic and an easy
to implement idea. This month I talk about <a
href="http://www.ofset.org/gcompris">GCompris</a>, a GNU
education program for the young and the old, about <a
href="http://www.pingos.schulnetz.org">PingoS.schulnetz.org</a>,
a homepage for GNU/Linux support at german schools and about
the idea "Text4mator - text modification made easy".</i></p>
<p>Welcome to the second edition of TUX&amp;GNU@school [18].
At the beginning I want to thank all the people who sent me
tips for education software I could report about. At this
place it would be good to explain this column's name: TUX is
the name of the meanwhile well-known mascot of Linux, a
little dinky penguin. But GNU [2] on the one hand stands for
the recursive acronym "GNU is not UNIX", which is the name of
a project that's developing a free version of UNIX and on the
other hand it stands for the animal species of the mascot of
GNU. Finally the "@school" means "in or at school". But now
we're going on to the first item.</p>
<h3>GCompris - free education software for the young and the
old</h3>
<p>GCompris [3] is a free education program that has become
official GNU software in the meantime. Actually it's more a
uniform interface for different learning boards. I tested the
version 1.0.5 under Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 (testing) and KDE
2.2.</p>
<p>When you start the program, the main window of screenshot
1 appears. This window is split in three sections with the
single learning boards at the top, a short description in the
middle and a short menu panel at the bottom. Up to now there
are at the head four links that are guiding to another boards
and under it, in the second row, there are four boards
guiding to the following boards: With the first one, the kid
can learn the clock or time, the second link goes to a simple
vector painting programm, at the third board you have to set
the watergates that way TUX with his ship can go trough and
eventually the child learns with the fourth board, where the
different countries are situated in North and South America.
The pictures at the head of the main window are indicated by
different symbols. The small yellow arrow tells the link is
going to additional teaching boards, whereas the little
stars, at the pictures which are boards themselves, show the
level. At teaching boards with an integrated sound output the
loudspeaker symbol tells you, if sound output is possible or
not, like it's the case in screenshot 1. You can always read
a short description and the name of the author in the middle
part of the main window. And eventually at the bottom there
are four symbols which, from left to right, go to more
information about GCompris, open the configuration menu, show
the helping documentation and with a click on the last
picture closes the program. At the configuration menu you can
make settings like the language you prefer or if GCompris has
his own window or it starts in fullscreen mode. Regarding the
language settings, you should adapt the environment variable
LANG to match your language. If not, you can change it e.g.
for english by writing the following command on a console:
<tt>export LANG=en_EN</tt>.</p>
<p><img src="./img/gcompris-menu.en.png"
alt="Screenshot 1: GCompris in action" width="808"
height="628" border="0" /><br />
</p>
<h5>Screenshot 1: GCompris in action</h5>
<br />
<br />
<p>With the board for learning the time, I want to show how
the single subprograms are built. As you can see in
screenshot 2, there is a menu at the bottom too, which
contains little pictures. By clicking on the picture
rightmost you go back to the main window. By the other two
the picture with the die shows you the current level und by
clicking on it you climb one level. If you are content with
your settings, push the hand with thumb up or alternatively
you can push RETURN and the computer checks the correctness
of the settings. If the answer was correct you see either a
happily clown face or a flower with a laughing mouth and you
can even hear it with activated sound output; if the result
was wrong, the clown and the flower are sad and you can try
it again. The problem you have to solve in this board is to
set the watch as the text at the left says. The watch hands
can be moved and set with the mouse. In higher levels even
the hour watch hand are set to the time given by the minute
hand watch. At the right you can see in which of how many
levels you are, shown by to numbers.</p>
<p><img src="./img/gcompris-uhr.en.png"
alt="Screenshot 2: Learning the time with GCompris"
width="808" height="628" border="0" /><br />
</p>
<h5>Screenshot 2: Learning the time with GCompris</h5>
<br />
<br />
<p>As already said at the beginning GCompris is supposed to
be "only" a common interface for different teaching boards.
The developer encourages everyone to build own boards as
descriped shortly in the documentation. Personally I like
this program very much because it is interesting for every
age with his different subprograms. Up to now GCompris was
translated into German, English, French and Spanish whereas
they work on an Italian translation and for the near future
we can expect a Hungarian one. What I still miss is a
evaluation or something like highscores but I think that we
won't wait as long for these features because the development
of GCompris is going very quickly. Therefore a great thank
you for Bruno Coudoin and all the other authors of GCompris
too and a lot of success for the future.</p>
<p><i>Addendum: As I saw right now on the mailing list of the
project, they released GCompris 1.1.0. The first edition with
editor functions and a Hungarian translation.</i></p>
<p>But now to the home of the PingoS.</p>
<h3>Pingos.schulnetz.org - free support for free schools</h3>
<p><i>Attention: This site is available in German only
!!!</i></p>
<p>Under the URL above you find in the first place the head
quarter [4] (see screenshot 2) of the German PingoS. That's a
project which wants to find and coordinate volunteers in (at
the moment) Germany for GNU/Linux support at schools. They
try this with the help of different online media. Willing and
interested GNU/Linux appreciators can sign in the online form
[5] which asks for state of knowledge and residence too. All
data exclusive the name, the email address and the residence
are used only internally, the others are entered in the
PingoS-helper-card (see screenshot 4). Schools in Germany
searching help for imminent project or that only have
questions on topic can search on the helper-card [6] and
click on the nearest town for a list of helpers in that area.
If you only have questions sometimes it's surely not a bad
idea to subscribe on the mailing list [7] of the preject.
There are always able and rapid answers on the main list [8].
If think about larger projects or questions, they distribute
the responsibility for it on one of the mailing lists. The
work is mostly documented with a short description on the
project website [9]. For the future interesting is surely the
corporation with groups of Austria or the "ALIS -
Arbeitsgruppe Linux an Schulen" [10] (Swiss work group for
Linux at school) of Switzerland. Particularly you can even
hear about requests from Great Britain for building up
something similar.</p>
<p><img src="./img/pingos.en.png"
alt="Screenshot 3: Front page of the PingoS homepage"
width="800" height="600" border="0" /><br />
</p>
<h5>Screenshot 3: Front page of the Pingos homepage</h5>
<br />
<br />
<p>But the support project isn't the only that's at home on
the homepage of the PingoS. Not forgetting the section with
the self-developed software [11] of the PingoS, e.g.
education or administration software. One of the most famous
projects surely is the "Tipptrainer" [12], another program
for learning typing, but more about it at another time.
Furthermore you can find there a lot of small scripts [13],
Perl or Bash, which ease the day for us. A last section of
the website I want to talk about is the area with the
documentation and the schooling brochures [14]. There you can
find almost everything from Python introductions to medium
large GNU/Linux courses.</p>
<p><img src="./img/pingos-karte.jpg"
alt="Screenshot 4: PingoS helper card" width="492"
height="647" border="0" /><br />
</p>
<h5>Screenshot 4: PingoS helper card</h5>
<br />
<br />
<p>At the end I still want to tell about a very interesting
project of the PingoS: SelfLinux [15]. With SelfLinux the
PingoS want to create a complete reference to GNU/Linux for
novices. Therefor they collect written descriptions and
articles about tasks and problems around the free operating
system and the application software and compose them
structured. Until now there is already a lot of knowledge and
texts but they still need writer for another texts. At [16]
you can explore the work made up to now. From my side good
speed for the future and may you receive a "thank you" from
time to time.</p>
<p>That's it about the PingoS, let's proceed to a new idea
for an easy to implement software.</p>
<h3>Text4mator - text modification made easy</h3>
<p>Before I talk about the idea of this month, I still want
to write something about the last one and what resulted of
it. In the first three or four months after the publication
of the first edition it seemed as if nobody had time to
implement the idea. Therefor and because I had to learn
programming for my studies I tried it myself. I wrote a not
yet satisfying program in C++ that generates random numbers
through a bash script that the program writes to a file with
LaTeX formatting. The two commands <tt>latex</tt> and
<tt>dvips</tt> transform this file into an Postscript file
which is printed by <tt>lpr</tt>. I'll release the program
and a short description in a few days on [10] under the terms
of the GNU GPL. At this point still a thank you to Diego
Kuonen for his help with the LaTeX syntax. Then before
approximately one and a half month I received an email form
Franziska Meyer that she implemented the idea too. But she
made it by far more interesting. Because she was already
familiarising herself with PHP at that time, she had the idea
to implement it as a web service (I want to use this new word
once too ;-). Thought and done and like this it is possible
today going on her website [17] to generate a worksheet which
is downloadable as a pdf-file for the quarter of an hour. An
ingenious idea as I think; because like this you don't even
have to install a separate program. When I asked her to
release the source code to install it perhaps in an Intranet
she said: "Ok, ich überleg's mir mal - und schaue den Code
durch, ob ich den wirklich freigeben kann ;-)" (Ok, I think
about it - and will go through the code whether I can really
release that ;-)). Here too a great thank you to ZIS for her
effort.</p>
<p>But now up to the actually idea I want to introduce this
time. If you learn the verbosity at school you're doing it
right often with worksheets with upper-case texts. In the
other case you use for the introduction of punctuation marks
often texts without periods, commas, questions marks, etc.
The teachers make this all in toilsome handwork. On the other
case it would be right easy for good script writers and
programmers to implement a solution. There were again
different variations and possibilities, e.g. to write all
words upper- or lower-case, to write only the first letter
lower- or upper-case, etc. Furthermore you have to pay
attention to leave always the same space between the single
words. I hope somebody of you is having a good mind and I can
report about it next time.</p>
<p>Ok, that's the end for this time. At the end I let you
know that my (spontaneous) conceptions for easy to implement
ideas are becoming quite rare. I hope so that you can help in
this case and will send some to me [1] I can tell about. The
next time is already in two weeks because this edition came
too late and I don't want to begin with delays. Bye up to the
next time when we're on it again ...</p>
<h3>Links:</h3>
<p>[1] <a href="mailto:foxman@lugo.ch">Criticism, questions,
comments, ideas and more please to: foxman@lugo.ch</a><br />
[2] <a href="http://www.gnu.org">Homepage of the GNU
project: www.gnu.org</a><br />
[3] <a href="http://www.ofset.org/gcompris">Homepage of
GCompris: www.ofset.org/gcompris</a><br />
[4] <a href="http://www.pingos.schulnetz.org">Homepage of
the PingoS: www.pingos.schulnetz.org</a><br />
[5] <a
href="http://www.pingos.schulnetz.org/anmeldung.php">Registration
to the PingoS:
www.pingos.schulnetz.org/anmeldung.php</a><br />
[6] <a
href="http://www.pingos.schulnetz.org/support/map.php">Helper-card
of the PingoS:
www.pingos.schulnetz.org/support/map.php</a><br />
[7] <a
href="http://www.pingos.schulnetz.org/support/mailinglist/index.php">
Mailing lists of the PingoS:
www.pingos.schulnetz.org/support/mailinglist/index.php</a><br />
[8] <a
href="http://www.hh.schule.de/mailman/listinfo/all-linux">Main
list of the PingoS:
www.hh.schule.de/mailman/listinfo/all-linux</a><br />
[9] <a
href="http://www.pingos.schulnetz.org/support/projektliste.php">
Already finished projects of the PingoS:
www.pingos.schulnetz.org/support/projektliste.php</a><br />
[10] <a href="http://www.edux.ch">Homepage of "ALIS -
Arbeitsgruppe Linux an Schulen" (Swiss work group for linux
at school): www.edux.ch</a><br />
[11] <a
href="http://www.pingos.schulnetz.org/project/software/index.php">
Software of the PingoS:
www.pingos.schulnetz.org/project/software/index.php</a><br />
[12] <a
href="http://www.pingos.schulnetz.org/tipptrainer">Homepage
of Tipptrainer:
www.pingos.schulnetz.org/tipptrainer</a><br />
[13] <a
href="http://www.pingos.schulnetz.org/project/scripts/index.php">
Skript collection of thePingoS:
www.pingos.schulnetz.org/project/scripts/index.php</a><br />
[14] <a
href="http://www.pingos.schulnetz.org/project/schulung/index.php">
Documentation and schooling brochures of the PingoS:
www.pingos.schulnetz.org/project/schulung/index.php</a><br />
[15] <a
href="http://selflinux.sourceforge.net">Sourceforge.net page
of SelfLinux: selflinux.sourceforge.net</a><br />
[16] <a href="http://www.selflinux.de">Homepage of
SelfLinux: www.selflinux.de</a><br />
[17] <a href="http://www.atreju.ch/1mal1.phtml">1x1
worksheets generating online and downloading:
www.atreju.ch/1mal1.phtml</a><br />
[18] <a
href="/activities/tgs/tgs.html">Homepage
of TUX&amp;GNU@school:
fsfe.org/activities/tgs/tgs.en.html</a><br />
</p>
<h4>About the author:</h4>
<p>Mario Fux finished 1999 the PrimarlehrerInnenseminar in
Brig after he made up mathematical and natural scientifical
matura. In a body with two colleagues he founded the <a
href="http://www.edux.ch">"ALIS - Arbeitsgruppe Linux an
Schulen"</a> (Swiss work group for linux at school).
Meanwhile he studies at the <a
href="http://www.ethz.ch">Swiss Federal Institut of
Technology Zurich</a> <a
href="http://www.ee.ethz.ch">informations technology and
electrical engineering</a>. And if he once doesn't spend his
time in front of the PC, he sits at his nature pond in the <a
href="http://www.randa.ch">mountains</a>.</p>
<p align="center"><i>Copyright (c) 2002 Mario Fux. Permission
is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version
1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software
Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts,
and no Back-Cover Texts.<br />
A copy of the license can be found at <a
href="http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl.html">http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl.html</a>.
</i>
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