More specialty Linuxes to the rescue

Whether your focus is security, storage, music, or religion, there's a flavor of Linux that fits the bill

Musix is still rough around the edges. Although you can configure English as the system's primary language, various alert and informational screens will still pop up in Spanish. And as described above, installation is less than straightforward. Nevertheless, Musix is such a fine environment for musicians that we will be watching it with nothing but enthusiasm.

Ubuntu Christian Edition

Ubuntu Christian Edition is an Ubuntu foundation topped with applications geared toward the practice of the Christian religion. The primary focus of Ubuntu CE's applications is, of course, Bible study. Heading up the list is the GnomeSword 2 Bible Guide, an elaborate front end for modules from the Sword Project (the work of the CrossWire Bible Society) that creates what amounts to the Biblical study equivalent of an IDE.

You can load Bible texts, commentaries, and dictionaries into GnomeSword. It comes pre-loaded with three English-language Bibles, a Spanish-language Bible, three commentaries, and three dictionaries, including Strong's Greek and Hebrew dictionaries/lexicons. You can search by book, chapter, and verse, and GnomeSword provides windows synchronized to the selected location for each Bible or commentary. Select a word, and you can search for it in one of the dictionaries.

BibleTime is another Bible navigation application that uses the Sword Project library. Its three-paned user interface provides navigation in the upper left, Bible verses in the right, and a dictionary in the lower left. Hover over a word in the scripture pane, and Strong's reference appears in the dictionary. BibleTime is not as powerful as GnomeSword, and it seems to be a work in progress: Several of the toolbar icons were missing in the version I tested, but it was otherwise usable.

Another work in progress is BibleMemorizer, which is a tool for creating lists of Bible verses for memorization. You create and name categories, then populate each category with verses. When it's time for memorization, you click a category and are shown the book, chapter, and verse of the entries you've placed in that category. The actual text is hidden until you click the entry, at which point you can verify how good (or bad) your memory is.

Bible software is not all that Ubuntu CE's developers pre-installed. They added a parental control system as well. From the System | Administration menu, select Configure Parental Controls, and a window opens into a front-end GUI for the pre-installed DansGuardian content-filtering system. From this interface, you can set criteria whereby incoming Web content is rejected: file extensions, URLs, phrases, and more. You can also set the "naughtiness limit" applied to browser sessions. DansGuardian maintains a library of "bad" phrases (which can be edited), and applies a weight to each phrase. When a page is loaded, it is scanned for unfit phrases, and the weights are tallied. If the page exceeds the naughtiness limit, the page is rejected.

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