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Teenbuntu: Reaching Out to Teens

People, Ubuntu
Location: D135 Level: Novice
Average rating: ***..
(3.00, 1 rating)

This talk is given by Andrew “Tuna” Harris, the teenaged founder of TeensOnLinux.org, and Samuel Baldwin, a 15-year-old hacker from Boston. It will focus on three main points: why we should get teens involved in open source, getting them interested, and making freedom in software matter to them.

Teens are a great market for open source. They love community and the “breaking away from the Man” sort of feeling, so they are quick to adopt alternatives to what everyone else uses (take that society!). As students, they usually aren’t too busy to find some time to contribute something. It is also the age of learning and exploration of new ideas. Getting involved in Ubuntu and FOSS is a great way to learn something new.

Many people say that Linux is a horrible platform for gaming, and for that reason, nobody but old Unix hackers with chest-length beards ever use it. However, with the development of tools like Wine and CrossOver, along with awesome games like Tremulous and OpenArena, that is becoming less and less true. Benchmark tests have shown that many games, such as World of Warcraft, actually run better on Linux using Wine than it does on Windows.

Teens also use Windows for things like instant messaging and music. Pidgin and Mugshot’s desktop integration make Ubuntu the ultimate OS for such purposes. Pidgin has become probably the best instant messaging client freely available on the Internet, with support for more protocols than any one person would ever use in their entire life. Users of Yahoo!, AIM, and even MSN will feel right at home with Pidgin. Amarok and Rythmbox both have Magnatune integration that is comparable to Apple’s iTunes music store. You can listen to the songs directly from the player and buy albums just as you would with iTunes or Napster. The difference is that the music is DRM-free and licensed so that you are allowed to share the music you buy with a friend!

I believe that teens could be a great and welcome addition to the Ubuntu community. Their ideas could push us into the mainstream and beyond.

Photo of Andrew Harris

Andrew Harris

Teens on Linux.org

Andrew “Tuna” Harris is a 15 year old living in Arizona. He founded TeensOnLinux.org in the summer of 2007. His interests include programming, tea, heavy metal, European techno, and Open Source. Tuna likes to program in Ruby and Gambas, and prefers Earl Grey tea. Tuna has been using Ubuntu since his laptop refused to boot Windows about a year and a half ago. Ronnie Tucker of Full Circle Magazine recommended Kubuntu Dapper to him, and has been happily running the ’buntu’s since.

OSCON 2008