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Free High School Science & Mathematics Texts to Download; Calculus Made Easy; Ubuntu Debian Linux for Old PCs; Free Courseware

roadskater's picture

Just a quick note here on a project that deserves some skateylove for several reasons. I was poking around looking for a lightweight version of Ubuntu that might also have a live cd so I could try before installing. I looked around at various other flavors of Debian and Linux, I came across the Free High School Science Texts website at http://www.fhsst.org/

They have current projects about to be released for Mathematics Grades 10, 11 and 12, and Physical Science Grades 10, 11 and 12. Get these books free now in pdf form here... http://www.fhsst.org/node/8097

Now I have to say these are created for the South African audience so you might have to deal with (ooh!) British vs. American spelling and usage (OK, South African English, yes). Also, the grade levels might not be the same, but really, you have to love this whole open source community-based volunteer-driven effort to publish free books for high schoolers and those that love them. Free knowledge is good!

Also, they have previously published physics and chemistry texts available for download here... http://www.fhsst.org/?q=node/8088

While I'm at it, there's another mathematics book that has been burning up the charts on Project Gutenberg's free books website lately at http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page. It is Calculus Made Easy: Being a very-simplest introduction to those beautiful methods which are generally called by the terrifying names of the Differential Calculus and the Integral Calculus, 2nd edition of 1914, originally published in 1910, written as a somewhat rebellious introduction. I know not much about it except it seems cool to me that such a book would be so popular now. It ranks above lots of classics, at about 11 overall and over the last 30 days. Not bad. That doesn't mean people read it or learn it, but still, pretty fun to think of people downloading a 99 year-old calculus book. Check the various Top 100 downloads here... http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/scores/top.

Now if any of you know a bit about a nice looking desktop version of ubuntu or other debian branch of linux, I wouldn't mind hearing what you already know (not a research project for anyone, as I have done some looking). The system in question is just a gap-filler while repairing another more capable one...mostly browsing and office apps for lightweight use like Open Office that can write Microsoft Office compatible formats. I'll leave out what I learned so I don't change the response.

I think this free and open license textbook project was just what I needed to hear tonight, so I wanted to share it, iin hopes it can help someone, or at least restore some faith in part of humankindness. My 2010 A2A report will wait, it seems!


roadskater's picture

On Low Memory Ubuntu Debian Linux

Extra notes. I can't get to the PC now, but it runs XP Pro OK. It came with 64mb memory and is something like 766mhz Celeron or similar. Not sure current memory as I am not where the PC is. I did read these obvious pages...not all of this is Debian or Ubuntu...

timv's picture

64 MB is really light

Not many distros even consider systems that little memory, though you did mention that it might have more than that installed. Xubuntu is the lightweight low-memory version of Ubuntu. but 256MB seems to be their recommended minimum configuration for regular use.

I'd give a thought to Puppy Linux. It seems to still be quite an active project, unlike most of the systems listed on this Minimal Linux distros page, and they seem serious about keeping it working on very light machines.

There's also a lot to like about the approach on the website, making Linux accessible to kids and long-time Windows users. I'm a 20-year-plus Unix/Linux vet, but I'd like to give it a try on an older box on of these days just to see how it does.

For free books, it's always good to check the Archive.org Free Books site. (I see that Newton's Principia is in the top 10 there, but I don't know if I'd take that to mean that lots of people are reading it, or that it's a particularly accessible introduction to the subject.) And Google Books has a check box to search only for books with full-text available. Their collection of scanned books might be as good as anyone's by now.

Another useful thing to try is to search for "open courseware." MIT was the first university I knew of doing a lot of it, and their collection is pretty impressive at this point but there seem to be many other schools taking part in that movement too. MIT's Introduction to Computer Science and Programming course seems like it might be as good an introduction to the Python language as any I've seen.


roadskater's picture

The HP XE749 766 MHz PC has been upgraded to 256mb

Great stuff, timv. I looked today and as I thought last night (since it was running MS XP Pro) but was not able to commit to, it has 256mb. It has a slot for more and I might find a PC100 stick around when home to see about boosting it, just for fun. It would be great if an org was collecting and we were all donating computer memory when we trashed machines, I guess. eBay is close, I guess. 

The XP Pro on there may not be for real as the license sticker on the machine is for Windows ME and the XP Pro is SP1 still. Panda Cloud Antivirus didn't want to protect it, so I put on Avast, I think it was.

I gave quick tries with a live CD on Ubuntu Netbook, Xubuntu, Lubuntu and gOS. Then memories of these machines came back to me about the machine from years before when I hung out at the place that had the machine and I recall the HP CDWriter Plus was verrrry slow on these HPs.

I'm going to mess with this a bit more and might the the Puppy and some others. It's amazing that XP ran ok on some of these machines, or somewhat OK. I wonder how Windows 3.1 would feel running an early MS Word version.

Thanks for the words about books and courseware as well. These may deserve more space and an article with its own title (since Google weighs titles so heavily in search, quite properly in my view), but at least we have a start here on those topics. I may change the title to reflect changes in the content.

eebee's picture

Great Find!

...on those free High School Maths & Physics texts from SA. Howzit China! I shall take a look just now, is it, hey?

Well that's my best impression anyway, modeled after my melodic South African co-workers :-).

Seriously, those should help us out here in Math-Anxiety land. Not that my twelve heavy college Math books don't, it's just a hell of a lot quicker to hit ctrl F and find it within seconds than to flip pages. I find myself missing the find function when looking through real life books. Isn't that terrible?!

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