Experimenting Android x86 vs Sugar Desktop

Recently one of my colleague, gave me 3 old dismissed PCs , after speaking about shortage in IT assets in the school of my little daughter. He gave me those PCs in order to refurbish them. The PCs come without operating system. This presented an interesting challenge to me because I don’t want install a pirate Windows, but honestly the linux distros light enough to work smoothly on a P3 450MHz will totally sacrifice the usability, specially by the point of view of a teacher in a kindergarten.

At this point I’ve decided to experiment something unusal.

I’ve put my attention on some prerogatives :

– performance
– easy to use with very few options
– easy to find and install free applications

Following these considerations i’ve found two possible candidates : Sugar-desktop (OLPC) and Android.

Sugar-desktop is a very interesting project targeted to children education, the installation may be based on ubuntu, it have a dedicated ‘click&install’ software repository with a decent number of applications. Sadly almost all of these applications are in english,therefore the teacher must search and try many application before finding the right one.

Android is a well-known smartphones interface, its features  are simplicity, lot of free applications in many languages, interface very  light. Cons are that is very difficult to mantain, specially in a ‘non-smarphone’ platform.

I’ve already tried sugar-destop, now is time to experiment Android.

Today I’ve tried the live CD of Android 3.2 in a qemu environment downloaded from http://www.android-x86.org/, sadly no prebuilt images from that site is made for a generic PC, therefore the kernel come with only a limited sets of drivers. This is a big problem for a generic PC where the hardware architecture is  unpredictable!

Further readings from that site made me discover the possibility of build an iso image for a generic platform starting from the source code. Finally I’ve followed the instructions in order to setup the build environment and I’ve launched the ‘build’, which probably will last all this night ;P

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