Overview of Kano OS

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We bought a computer for our son. Tonight I installed Kano OS 3.8.0 and experimented to evaluate whether to use that as his operating system.  My impressions:

  1. The operating system defaults to a "story mode" which plays like a 3/4-view video game complete with music, experience points, NPCs, inane conversations, badges, levels and achievements in a "Codex" that you collect by finding items strewn around the world that explain different topics like "what is a pixel".
  2. The world is supposed to represent the inside of your computer (but actually contains trees, waterfalls, people, houses, etc so it's a pretty stretched metaphor). Different areas of the map vaguely represent the different ports and parts on the computer.
  3. NPC conversation is about programming and Raspberry Pi hardware topics. One small issue I saw with buying your own hardware is that the game is hard-coded to refer to the cables using the colors that come in the commercial Kano kit (red for power, yellow for HDMI etc).
  4. Early in the "first boot" sequence, the operating system makes you lets you register a profile online (with a username and password). This profile appears to be public on the Kano World website. I'm not totally sure how I feel about this yet. Overall, this seems like a good feature given that a power sag to the Raspberry PI can corrupt the SD card.
  5. Story mode is intrinsically networked. One building in the game is a "Museum of Make Art" with other kids' programatically generated artwork hanging on the walls. Clicking on one of the pieces of art will open it up in Kano World website, along with the associated comment thread. Also not totally sure how I feel about this.
  6. When someone likes some content you've created, it appears as though you will get a push notification in the game (it is possible to turn these off).
  7. There are several programs that the system walks you through modifying (and presumably creating from scratch, eventually).
  8. The "snake" module teaches you some basic terminal commands, step by step.
  9. "Terminal Quest" teaches you basic unix shell commands which it calls "spells".
  10. There is also a "classic mode" which looks much more like a normal desktop environment.
  11. There's a parental lock with a few different levels of settings.
  12. Operating system also has some educational linux software, games, and links to a few websites like YouTube, WhatsApp, Gmail, Google Drive, Codecademy as well as full featured web browser.

Overall, despite the mixed metaphors, it seems like a nice fun step-by-step introduction to Linux, Python and the internet, and something that might end up being the cultural equivalent of "Oregon Trail" for this upcoming generation, so I'm leaning toward leaving it installed.

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