GCompris is completely free educational software suite which contains a wide range of activities. It offers various activities aimed at covering a variety of fields such as the functioning of the computer, using the mouse and keyboard, general learning, reading, writing, foreign languages, algebra, as well as various activities such as memory and logic games, scientific experiments etc. In GCompris you will find many individual software packages which together make up the complete GCompris suite of activities. Unfortunately, it is difficult to follow and maintain them as each one offers different graphic interfaces which vary widely in quality. The purpose of GCompris is to provide a development platform for educational activities. GCompris is part of GNU project and is placed under GPL (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GPL) license.
The software is delivered under several forms. Follow the process according to your case.
The interface is designed for easy use by small children. GCompris is controlled with a mouse, it cannot be used without a mouse or a pointing system.
When you start the program, GCompris shows a graphic interface which presents the list of activities with a control bar at the bottom.
Each icon represents an activity. When the mouse is set on it, the activity is highlighted and the name, description and author of the activity are displayed in the description area.
Around each one, you can find small icons which give additional information about the activity. A simple click on the icon will lead you to an activity or a menu of activities.
An icon indicates if a good functioning of sound support is required for an activity :
The stars indicates the age group for which each game is designed :
At the bottom of the screen there is a control bar for GCompris. The following icons are described below from the right to the left (the icons are only displayed if they are available in the activity) :
When you use GCompris with small children or on a self-service kiosk, you can disable a certain number of options :
Both options can of course be combined.
GCompris is internationalized and is available in more than 50 languages. If you want to check if your language is available, you can start GCompris and select your language in the option of configuration. Be careful, your operating system must support your language so that GCompris can use it. If you find a red cross while selecting a language in GCompris, this means that your system doesn't support it, even if a translation is available in GCompris.
On GNU/Linux, if your language is not available, select another language support on your distribution to add it. In most cases, you have to install an additional package 'locale-xx' or 'language-pack-xx' - xx is a language code such as 'En' for English -.
If your language is not supported, you can contribute to the software and add the translation of your language. If you are interested, you can contact the translation team of the Gnome project for your language.
You can check the level of translation for your language on the gnome web site.
You can use GCompris in a foreign language that you are learning. Select a foreign language in the configuration Menu. Don't forget to install the optional audio modules for this language in your GNU/Linux distribution. Windows' version is provided with all audio support that are available. Whilst using GCompris in another language it is possible to configure some activities more precisely using the audio set through the administration module. 
GCompris contains a very powerful administration module to assist in simplifying its use in schools. This module was designed to satisfy the many different ways of using GCompris in as simple a way as possible. 
GCompris currently offers nearly a hundred different activities. It is not always sensible to offer all of the activities to children at once. One approach could be the introduction of the activities little by little as the children develop their skills. This will keep their curiosity alive and will avoid them losing time doing activities which may be too complex for them.
There are two different ways of selecting the activities :
A profile permits the creation of a behaviour model of GCompris under a unique name. It is possible to create profiles without any links to users, groups or class.
If you want to use GCompris with children of different age groups, you can create a profile for each one. For each profile, you will be able to associate a set of activities.
For instance, it is possible to create a profile 'grade 1' or a profile 'grade 2'.
To launch the administration module, find the start menu on your desktop or on a command line with
Start GCompris with the option --profile 'my profile' :
gcompris --profile 'cycle 1'
To get the list of existing profiles :
Of course to simplify the start of GCompris in a particular profile, the easiest is to create a new launcher for your desktop and to associate it to a command that include the correct options.
The profiles exist mainly to specify a list of activities but you can also personalize the behaviour of each one whenever it is possible within the activity.
If you want to set up a personalized recording system, you can create a user profile for each pupil. This option will permit them to enter their 'user name' when they start GCompris. GCompris will then record a list of activities the pupil has attempted and show whether or not the pupil has completed it. GCompris is very flexible, you can group all the pupils in the default class if you don't use GCompris in several classes. You can also create classes without mentioning pupils. It will give you the possibility to define profiles for your classes. 
A group is a number of pupils from different classes. It is an optional function, you can use GCompris, create users and define profiles without creating any groups.
The creation of groups will help you if your functioning mode is based on user groups which are composed of small groups of classes but also of groups of children from the same class or even of children who have not been associated to a class.
Each activity lets appear a bonus image when the child has accomplished it or not. GCompris keeps in its internal base all the results for each child or for the default user.
You can display the results for all the pupils or for one in particular. A button allows you to erase all the records.
If you have created user profiles in GCompris, and you start GCompris with a profile, a 'Log-in' screen will appear.
There are two identification modes : a 'list' mode where you have to find your name from a list of names. This mode can encourage the child read his name. The second mode asks the child to enter his name. It can help the child learn how to use the keyboard.
If you administer a school network, you can overwrite the configuration options of your users with your own configuration. To edit a configuration file, the easiest way is to create one from GCompris. Simply configure GCompris as you wish, quit it and copy the created configuration file into the system one. From it, you can then remove the options that you don't want to be compulsory.
Configuration file example:
music=1 fx=1 screensize=1 fullscreen=1 timer=1 key="default"
On GNU/Linux, the configuration file is in the user directory under ~/.config/gcompris/gcompris.conf
You must copy your own system configuration file under /etc/gcompris.conf
On Windows, the configuration file is in C:\Documents and Settings\YOUR USER\.config\gcompris\gcompris.conf
You must put the system configuration file at the GCompris's root installation directory. By default, it's C:\Program Files\Gcompris
On Windows, it makes sense to put at least the line 'key="your 6 digit key"'. This way, all users on this PC won't have to activate GCompris.
On school networks, you can simply copy this file using your deployment system.
Portable software is a class of software that is suitable for use on portable drives such as a USB (thumb) drive or iPod, although any external hard drive could theoretically be used. The concept of carrying one's favored applications, utilities, and files on a portable drive for use on any computer is one which has evolved considerably in recent years.
GCompris can be made portable very easily by installing it on the target thumb drive and adding in its directory a gcompris.conf configuration file which includes a local user and configuration directory. The directory are specified as relative to the gcompris.exe binary.
Configuration file example:
user_dir="../My GCompris" config_dir="../GCompris_config" key="your 6 digit key if you have it"
Running GCompris from a console with the --help option will display all the parameters it accepts: