I have an idea. It contains no facts or statistics, just pure speculation.

Linux is an extremely powerful tool. In an age where technology is a driving force to prosperity, an education in this feild is extremely important. Almost everyone has to have some insight to the use of GUIs to say the least! But this advancement is expensive not only in training but in equipment costs and time. Many people will donate linux 486s and provide some training to schools and children with non tech inclined parents. Which is a great thing to do. But is it really a good idea to put something that powerful in hands that do not realize its dangerous potential and do not yet have a developed idea of what impact their actions have?

Lets pretend that we travel back in time to when fire was a commodity. Fire rocks. It keeps us warm, cooks food and provides some safety. But it can also destroy. We give the knowledge of how fire works, how to start a fire and how to stop a fire to some people who have not been introduced to this technology before. They now thrive and begin to advance due to the introduction of the new tool. That would be the best scenario. This is much like distributing a powerful knowledge (in our case computer related) that can accel someone to higher level of moral/economic/intellectual prosperity. If we had just given the low-tech ancient people a flint and some kindling they might have taken a long time or never to invent fire through their own discovery. What if we had given fire to a young person in that society? What if they had been irresponsible and accidentally burned down their entire dwelling?

My point is (heh, finally) that powerful tools given to the wrong people might be bad. Unless that enough instruction can be provided to them of the technology that they control they might end up using it for ill or accidentally opening themselves up to flaws in security and privacy. This is bad!

It takes training and responsibilty to keep a proper linux machine. We cannot provide enough training to keep these machines safe. To really learn about linux takes some real world experience. They can learn the basics, but admining on your own does occaisionally take root... Are we opening up a hole in our childrens privacy and security by giving them fire and not telling them about fire extinguishers?

I would like to come back in some years and compare the thoughts presented here with what is now the future. And no, I don't really think we should not allow people access to linux. I was noding as a devils advocate.
You don't have to teach young children immediately now about the inner workings about Linux. If little Ruthie in "Pokey Oaks Kindergarten School" should be taught Linux, she should start by being taught the basic commands, shell scripting and what not.

Linux is definitely not like fire. Fire exists as is. Fire (heat in general) is one singular natural force that does not have a substitute. Computer software has flavors and you can use anything you want, even if it's Microsoft stuff that will break in front of you.

The best part of teaching people how to use Linux is that they are not brainwashed to use Microsoft products on default. If they grow up to be computer newbies, they will not ask about the "paper clip" (unless they use vigor, which will be another story).

Teaching children to use such a powerful operating system is not the same as teaching them "to be liek Jeff K. and be supal33t." You are to instill responsibility and work to them at the same time. You'll have to teach them the idea of the root account later, when they grow up to be 15 years old or what not. If something goes wrong in terms of computer security, shouldn't they have the morals to tell a teacher or the nearest hacker who will help? Wouldn't that child be considered a child genius?

I have asked Jon "Mad Dog" Hall about putting Linux in schools in a conference for Free Software/Open Source software. He said folks in Mexico have made a Linux distribution with programs for schools, and the "Tree of Knowledge" program for the United Nations to bring Linux to schools. Well, I loved this idea. I wondered what happened to it?

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