Best Free Operating System For Kids


Keeping young children occupied these days is quite a challenge. Quite naturally they see computers as a source of entertainment and want to enjoy them along with the rest of us. Herein lies the next challenge in that some areas of the internet are not suitable at all for child viewing and can potentially present real life dangers.



DoudouLinux Activity MenuDoudouLinux aims to achieve an optimum balance by providing an environment aimed at kids 2-12 which is fun, educational and safe to use. This is good thinking because it removes the need to let your kids loose with your own operating system and also prevents the possibility of them bypassing whatever security software you have installed on it. Never underestimate the ability of little minds to work these things out. Instructions for bypassing parental filters can easily be found via Google or on social networking sites.

DoudouLinux WholeThe easiest way to run DoudouLinux is from a downloaded CD image. Once you've burned the image to a disk, there is nothing to install, update or configure. Running it from a live CD also means you wont interfere with your normal Windows installation. To run Windows again just pull out the live CD and reboot.

An alternative using a USB key is also provided but this is a lot more complicated and not supported by all systems. The download link and instructions for both options are here.

Although DoudouLinux is designed primarily to run as a live CD, if you like what you see and have a spare computer, it is possible to make a full install.

DoudouLinux MiniAccess to the installed system on which the CD is running is not possible so your resident files and settings are in no danger of being lost, altered or infected.

The system comes complete with a range of programs which are both fun and educational. Content filtering is included by default so you have no worries about your charges accessing inappropriate material when connected to the internet. Most of the programs don't even require a knowledge of files, folders or menus and can be operated without the ability to read.

The latest release, 2.1 (December 2013) contains quite a lot of new features.

Some users may even find DoudouLinux suitable for older people with learning difficulties or other disabilities.

There's no doubt that older kids will soon outgrow this and want the “real thing”, but for younger children, DoudouLinux is an ideal introduction to the world of computing.


Qimo DesktopQimo is another option which although aimed at kids from 3 and up, is much more sophisticated in what can be accomplished with it. Based on Ubuntu and using the Xfce desktop, Qimo can be used as either a live CD, or fully installed as a complete system. To use the live CD, just boot from it, select the language to use and then choose “try Qimo without any changes to your computer”.

As expected for an Ubuntu based distro, Qimo recognized my network and I was able to connect straight away. You can also assign custom DNS servers thus adding a range of default online protection safeguards depending on the service chosen (see the DNS related section in this article for more information). Firefox is the default browser so familiar territory for many there.

Qimo comes pre-installed with a range of educational games some of which, and a basic text editor, are already configured as desktop icons. Everything else is available from a standard drop down menu.

Although Qimo is more than usable for very young kids, it's better suited to the older age groups that will be more capable of getting the most out of it. This might be especially important for “transitional” types who don't want to feel they are being obliged to use a kids system.


Another option aimed at young children is the Fedora based Sugar on a Stick (SoaS) featuring the award winning Sugar Learning Platform. (My appreciation to fellow editor Panzer for informing me about this one). SoaS is available in 25 languages and comes as a x32 or x64 bit live CD image which can also be installed if users so wish. According to the stats, Sugar is used every day by over one and a half million students in classrooms throughout the world.


A final option is Edubuntu which focuses mainly on the older age groups. This is also available as a live CD or can be installed as a complete system. Additionally, Edubuntu can be previewed as a two hour live web session on a range of platforms or downloaded as a series of application bundles. The latter comes in four groups from aged 5 and under up to university level, but requires an existing Ubuntu installation.


Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

10 Websites That Help Kids Spell Words Right
An Office Suite That's Especially Designed For Kids
Best Free Parental Filter
Free Printable Coloring Pages and Handwriting Worksheets For Kids
124 Sites For Free Children's Books Online



This category is maintained by volunteer editor MidnightCowboy. Registered members can contact the editor with any comments or suggestions they might have by clicking here.



Kids, operating system for kids, free operating system.

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by Panzer on 17. March 2014 - 10:53  (115071)
by Panzer on 14. October 2013 - 9:33  (111475)

MiniNo PicarOS Diego - Customized version for Primary Education (3-12 years), with a desk and features designed to make it nice and comfortable for children: (Click on Download button to get to the page with the version for children)

by Panzer on 3. June 2013 - 8:58  (108235)

" ... Levinux (download ~18 MB) is a tiny virtual Linux server that runs from USB or Dropbox with a double-click (no install) from the desktop of a Mac, Windows or Linux PC — making it the perfect learning environment, and a great way to run & keep your code safe for life! Think of it as an introduction to old-skool “short stack” development—more relevant now then ever as Linux/Unix gets embedded into everything.

What I propose…

Even if you never programmed before, I propose beginning teaching you how to do it “old skool” in minutes from you reading this sentence. Download a file, double-click it, and follow the instructions to start down a path that will begin enabling you to undertake projects you would have never previously dreamed doing yourself. I do this with a particular philosophy that is at odds with much of today’s world, and that is precisely why it will give you an edge over the competition for years to come ...":

by Panzer on 14. January 2013 - 9:36  (104468)

"... The ubermix is an all-free, specially built, Linux-based operating system designed from the ground up with the needs of education in mind ... With a turn-key, 5 minute installation, 20 second quick recovery mechanism, and more than 60 free applications pre-installed, ubermix turns whatever hardware you have into a powerful device for learning ...":

by Panzer on 27. December 2012 - 8:46  (104014)

ClicNAct - Offline computer learning for young children:

Features :

- Audio-visual: made for oral cultures (explains everything with a voice for non-readers)
- Comprehensive: contains more than 1000 learning activities (maths, languages, colouring in, etc).
- Extensible: designed to include new activities and languages
- Flexible: Can run from CD/DVD, USB device or Computer hard disk
- Free: Can be used with anyone anywhere, freely distributed, given away
- Groups: Customised for classroom use
- Informative: contains model lessons to help the user work towards a goal
- Lightweight: Can run with as little as 128MB RAM and 2GB hard disk (suitable for old computers).
- Ludic: The majority of the learning activities are presented as games
- Multilingual: runs in Moroccan Arabic, French and English
- Offline: Does not require an internet connection to function (all activities are installed on disk)
- Operating system independent: A Linux boot system will enable it to run on any machine independent of installed operating system
- Solid: Interface specially designed for use with children with special needs

by Panzer on 20. December 2012 - 10:13  (103783)

KidsRuby makes it fun and easy to learn how to program. A complete KidsRuby OS based on Ubuntu is available here: (click on Download on the top of the page)

The other option to access is to go to the following page:

Then just go to the bottom of the page and click on link "KidsRuby".

by Panzer on 19. December 2012 - 10:02  (103755)

" ...LinuxBBQ is pleased to announce the immediate availability of LinuxBBQ "Stud", a 32-bit (i686) special edition aimed at students ...":

It includes (among other things) the following software:
DrGeo - Interactive geometry software
Lybniz - Graph plotter
gperiodic - Periodic table
qalculate - Powerful calculator and conversion application
Granule - Flashcard program
FreePascal- IDE for Pascal

by Panzer on 15. October 2012 - 11:15  (100777)

Safe Internet for kids is a free operating system designed for protecting kids' and teenagers' browsing experience from the dangers of the Internet: only content suitable for them will be displayed, while inappropriate content will be completely filtered.

Safe Internet for kids is based on the mature Instant WebKiosk and:

*it is an easy, browser-only operating system: only the browser interface will show up.
*all system configuration is done via an user-friendly web interface; nothing else required;
*it does not require installation (it is a so called "live" operating system), so there is no need for buying a PC for kids.
*it is complete: Safe Internet for kids features audio support, video files support, Adobe Flash support, PDF and images viewing and compressed files support; it also features full internationalization. It supports printing (plug&print for most common USB printers) and both wired and wireless networks (for Linux Debian supported hardware) in order to access the Internet.

by MidnightCowboy on 15. October 2012 - 11:20  (100778)

Thanks. :) This one looks interesting, I'll take a look at it.

by MidnightCowboy on 16. October 2012 - 7:46  (100825)

Unfortunately doesn't recognise either of my connection methods and no way I can see of contacting the developer so this one is dead.

by m (not verified) on 16. October 2012 - 21:36  (100866)

Wired connection, doesn't it work?

by MidnightCowboy on 17. October 2012 - 4:43  (100881)

No. I need to enter DSL name and password details for this and there is no where to do so.

by m (not verified) on 17. October 2012 - 11:12  (100897)

Is that DNS or what else? Password for DNS?

by MidnightCowboy on 17. October 2012 - 11:15  (100898)

Username and password for ISP, DSL account.

by m (not verified) on 17. October 2012 - 12:05  (100902)

No, the operating system requires Ethernet (router) or WiFi (access point).

by MidnightCowboy on 17. October 2012 - 12:43  (100904)

Thanks. :)

by Panzer on 9. July 2012 - 12:32  (95944)

Hanthana Linux has 33 educational software included:

by Sympology (not verified) on 4. July 2012 - 7:17  (95702)

Good idea these OS'
I prefer to whack on Bluecoat's K9 protection on a Steady State XP machine and policy the hell out of it. Then I can white-list sites using K9 (UK readers will no doubt know how good the Cbeebies website is).
As I use it in a youth club as well I know all the tricks for nailing it down. Yet to see anyone bypass it.
However I accept it's a lot more technical to do than just whacking on a custom Linux distro.

by Panzer on 3. July 2012 - 9:26  (95676)
by Panzer on 2. July 2012 - 10:06  (95642)

I know, I know, this is a only a game, but there are games which make you smarter if you use them. Here is one of them:

Gbrainy is a brain teaser game and trainer to have fun and to keep your brain trained.

It provides the following types of games:
Logic puzzles. Games designed to challenge your reasoning and thinking skills.
Mental calculation. Games based on arithmetical operations designed to prove your mental calculation skills.
Memory trainers. Games designed to challenge your short term memory.
Verbal analogies. Games that challenge your verbal aptitude.

Gbrainy provides different difficulty levels making gbrainy enjoyable for kids, adults or senior citizens.


by Panzer on 27. June 2012 - 7:25  (95431)

There are around 30 educational programs included in Knoppix 7.02 DVD version:

by MidnightCowboy on 27. June 2012 - 7:40  (95432)

Thanks for posting these additional resources, Panzer. :)

by Panzer on 12. April 2012 - 7:47  (91954)

Zorin OS Educational Lite:

"Zorin OS Educational Lite includes dozens of educational programs for primary, secondary and tertiary education students."

by Panzer on 2. March 2012 - 10:44  (89806)

USU Desktop:

"... USU can be your perfect learning tool, no matter whether you are a child, a student or a teacher. There are a few dozens of preinstalled quality educational applications, grouped by field of knowledge and covering the whole educational process. Many more applications are just one click away ..."

by MidnightCowboy on 2. March 2012 - 11:05  (89807)

Thanks again Panzer :)

by Panzer on 18. February 2012 - 8:48  (89006)

Knosciences (geometry, chemistry or algebra):

" ... The target audience of this operating system is mainly educational institutions or parents that want to create an environment for students to learn from different fields of knowledge in an interactive way ..."

LinuxKidX is a educational livecd based on Slackware Linux. LinuxKidX has a gigantic list of educational softwares to children from 2 to 10 years old:

Foresight Kids:

You can find other useful Edu Linux Distros here:

by Panzer on 18. February 2012 - 7:43  (89002)


" ...This release includes carefully selected software for students, educators as well as parents ..."

by MidnightCowboy on 18. February 2012 - 7:50  (89003)

Thanks! :)

by Panzer on 17. February 2012 - 10:09  (88954)

Sugar on a Stick is a Fedora-based operating system featuring the award-winning Sugar Learning Platform and designed to fit on an ordinary USB thumbdrive ("stick"). Originally developed for the One Laptop Per Child Project and designed specifically as a 1-to-1 computing environment for K-8 students to collaborate with others in exploring the world around them, Sugar is used every day by over one and a half million students in classrooms throughout the world.

The heart of the Sugar Learning Platform is its Activities for children - fun and engaging programs for reading e-books, writing, drawing, browsing the Internet, programming, and so on. Each Activity is designed to achieve specific pedagogical goals.

by MidnightCowboy on 17. February 2012 - 11:11  (88957)

Thanks Panzer - now included :)

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