Simple Linux menu/window system for kids


Continuing the discussion from 1x81: The Bad Voltage Holiday Gift Guide 2016:

I’ve got an old laptop running Lubuntu. Our 4 1/2 yr old uses it to play games. I’m also going to look at putting some old DOS games on it, probably using DOSBox.

This machine needs to have a dead simple GUI. I had it loading directly into GCompris for a while, but that only allows you to run GCompris activities. No good for Tux Math, or shortcuts to DOSBox games I might set up.

So what I’d really like is an application that starts full screen at login, over top (or instead of) LXDE, and has nice big clicky icons for different program shortcuts. You’d need to be able to add and edit shortcuts, and ideally change the icons.

I’m a bit surprised I haven’t found anything. Maybe I’m using the wrong search terms. All the instructions on building Linux kiosks seem to assume you’d do this using a browser and kiosk mode. But I don’t see how that’d work in this case.

I’m open to hacking some configuration, or using something other than Lubuntu if necessary. Full-fat distros might be a bit much for this poor machine though :smile:

Any ideas?


Hmmmmm. I don’t know off anything off-hand. Would be curious if there’s a good configurable launcher for that.

… Anyone remember what the launcher for the old ASUS Eee PC netbooks was? They had a KDE-based, super simple launcher if I remember right. Kinda-sorta what Unity was like back in the Netbook-only days (only a little nicer). Wonder if that’s still around… was vaguely reminiscent of the Simple Finder from the classic MacOS.

What I did for my daughter was made her a .bat file menu. So she could press a number or letter that corresponded to a game. That was all in DOSbox/FreeDOS though.


I’m genuinely surprised there’s not a ton of these packaged and just an apt install away. Posting this thread prompted me to spend a bit of time hunting for such a thing again today.

In my travels I found KiLauncher. I had so many tabs open that I’ve no idea how I found it, why I didn’t find it last time, and I haven’t tried it yet. But it looks like it does what I want. Not packaged (unless I want to run Arch), but that’s hardly a big problem.

Think I’ve just worked out my little Christmas project.


What about Sugar?


SOAS could be interesting. I’m not really a Fedora guy so it never crossed my radar. I’ll give it a look - if nothing else it’ll be interesting.

For now, though, KiLauncher seems to be working OK on top of Lubuntu. Here’s the simple install & config I hacked together if anyone else ever has a similar requirement.

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