Makersbox Boot Disk

For the Corvallis Teen Maker program, I'm using a number of hand-me-down laptops. I wanted to install a common environment on them so that no matter who got the laptop, they would be able to program an Arduino and have all the sample code available in the same place. It makes life easy on both the teens and the mentors.
I'm a big fan of Open Source Software, and my current favorite version of Linux is Mint, which is based on Ubuntu.  I created an image on a host computer using VirtualBox and installed all the things I thought a budding hacker learner might need. I used Remastersys to create a bootable Live DVD, which not only lets me install the OS on the laptops, but provides a disk the kids can take home! Booting on the Live DVD gives them the same layout and tools they see at Teen Makers without making a change to their hard-drive or original OS. Just remove the disk and reboot, and you are back where you started.

Scary Startup Screen!

Here are the highlight of what comes on a Makerbox Boot Disk:
  • Arduino, the software and libraries we need to program the microcontroller and example code from the Sparkfun Inventor Kit.
  • Processing, which is an Arduino-like programming environment more suited to making visual graphics.
  • Fritzing, software that lets you design electronic projects and layouts.
  • Python, my favorite easy-to-learn software.
  • Scratch, a graphical programming environment great for younger learners.
  • Stellarium, an awesome planetarium program that will let you figure out if that bright star at sunset is Arcturus or Jupiter!
  • Inkscape, my favorite scalable vector graphics editor.
  • GIMP, my favorite image editor.
  • Reeborg, a fun way to learn programming in either Python or JavaScript.
  • LibreOffice, an open-source replacement for the Microsoft Office suite in case you need to make a presentation for school.
  • Tux Typing and Klavaro so you can get your keyboarding chops up to snuff.
  • Firefox web browsers with links to all my favorite websites like and
Hopefully after reading this, parents will be convinced to let their kids try it at home. A user would need a password, internet access, and some Linux skills to be able overwrite the original OS, which after seeing how cool Linux is, they might ask me to help them to do anyway!

If you want to see what using Live CD is like, head on over to and download yourself a disk! Its free.

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