Introducing the Hall's - Developers of Qimo 2.0

Michelle and Mike Hall, developers of Qimo 2.0, are two of the most friendly, out-going, give you something to smile about personalities I have meet throughout the past year in the FOSS community. They are both active Ubuntu members and I was excited for them when I saw the release announcement this weekend and I hoped I could catch up with one or both of them to ask a few questions about this release and the future of the project.

Here is what they had to say:

Who are the developers for Qimo?

Qimo was developed by Michelle and I, and my brother Brian. Michelle came up with the overall concept and goals of the software and included games, Brian developed the characters and all of the artwork, and I put it all together into packages and a CD image.

What is the release schedule for Qimo?

We don't have any official release schedule, but so far we've been doing one release per year in the spring. Now that Qimo has packages in the Ubuntu repositories, and as we become more integrated into Edubuntu, we plan on continuing at that pace.

What do you see as the significant advantage to vendors selling systems with pre-configured Qimo systems?

Computers have traditionally been seen as tools for adults and older students. Part of this has been because of the cost of computers, and part of it has been because the operating systems they came with were not accessible to younger children. Over the past several years, the cost factor has come down significantly, but operating systems are still mostly designed for adults. The OLPC project has shown the learning advantages computers give young children, and has also shown that there is a significant demand for inexpensive, child-friendly and educational computer systems here in the USA. Qimo allows vendors to take advantage of their new low-cost hardware, and design a product for this under served market.

Are you currently marketing Qimo to pre-schools? Has it been adopted into any curriculum? If so, where is it being used?

Pre-schools and day care facilities were some of the very first adopters of Qimo. As part of our non-profit we personally placed Qimo computers in some local facilities, and they were always a big hit with the children and teachers alike. Many of these schools provide self-directed play centers in their classes for things like reading, imaginative play, math/science games, etc. Qimo lets them add self-directed computer time to their offerings, because even the youngest children can learn how to use is by exploration (the way children naturally learn) and the teachers don't need to worry about them breaking the software.

What made you choose Ubuntu to base Qimo on?

When our children were 4 and 3 they both showed an interest in my personal computer, which at the time was running Ubuntu. Since I had an older workstation not being used, I decided to set it up for them, also running Ubuntu, with some of the open source games I had found. This turned out to be the prototype for what would be come Qimo, I customized the default Gnome to provide the large launcher panel at the bottom for their games, and their initial game selection was almost identical to what would be in Qimo 1.0. After that computer I setup several others the same way, and decided that it would be easier just to build the modifications into a custom CD image, and Qimo was born.

Do you foresee Qimo becoming a supported Ubuntu derivative like Kubuntu?

Not at this time, Qimo really has it's own brand and direction that parallels, but isn't really connected to, that of Ubuntu. However, wealready take advantage of some of the things Canonical provides, like Launchpad, and we are looking forward to more services Canonical isplanning on offering to the unofficial derivatives community. That said, Qimo is going to be an optional desktop session in Edubuntu in thevery near future (planned for 11.04).

How can people who want to get involved with Qimo do so?

Anybody who wants to help spread Qimo can download the 2.0 CD image from our website. We encourage others to use Qimo to give new live to those old workstations or laptops they have cluttering up their closets. If you don't have kids yourself find someone who does, or a pre-school or day care facility, and donate it to a good cause. For those interested in helping us developer Qimo, you can join our group on Launchpad and help us find bugs, build packages or contribute language translations for the games we include.

Is there anything else about Qimo you would like to mention that I haven't asked you about?

There are 3 over-arching design goal for Qimo, it must be accessible to the youngest of children, it must be open to learning throughexploration and experimentation, and it has to be capable of running on a wide variety of available hardware.The first goal, that of accessibility, was not a conscious decision at first. Our son, the oldest child, is on the Autism spectrum, and theoriginal decisions for launcher placement, game selection and other customizations were made so that it would be easy for him to use,without being overwhelming or frustrating. What we've found is that these same decisions also make it extremely easy and fun for allchildren to use. In our next release we're taking a more deliberate approach to accessibility, so that Qimo can be used by all children,regardless of their condition.

Allowing the children to explore their computer is important, I'm constantly surprised at how quickly they learn to do things they aren't taught, even things that we didn't try to make obvious to them, just through experimentation. Within the first month of having his own computer, my then 4 year old son figured out how to change his wallpaper image all by himself. We often get requests to hide the main menu, or remove things like the terminal emulator from the menu, but what's the worst that a child (with a non-admin account) can do if they find it? Learn bash?

As I alluded to in an earlier question, Qimo got it's start on older, second-hand workstations, both for our own children and as donations through our non-profit efforts. Today there are many more organizations around the world using Qimo the same way. Because of this, we want to make sure that Qimo will run well on these kinds of systems, which is why we use Xfce instead of Gnome, why we limit ourselves to a 700MB CD image rather than a larger DVD, and why we don't focus on Internet integration. That's not to say that you can't add more games, use a different desktop environment, or connect Qimo to the Internet, but these design restrictions have allowed Qimo to be useful to the widest possible audience.


For more info on how you can download, use, participate and contribute to Ubuntu, visit: .

Questions, Comments suggestions can be sent to Amber at: amber [AT]


Follow along as Ubuntu enthusiast and Community organizer Amber Graner helps put the "You" in Ubuntu.

Amber Graner is an active Ubuntu community member and organizer who encourages everyone around her to participate, support, and learn about Ubuntu and Open Source. With a smile and a sense of humor, Amber reminds people that there is a place for everyone in the Ubuntu community – regardless of technical skill level (or lack thereof). She is constantly looking for people, places, and events within the Ubuntu community that help inspire Ubuntu users to participate actively within the Ubuntu community. Email Amber at amber AT ubuntu-user DOT com.


Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31