[Community-news] Laptop News (2006-06-03)
walter at media.mit.edu
Sat Jun 3 12:32:16 EDT 2006
1. Red Hat held its customer and developers conference in Nashville, at
which Nicholas gave the closing remarks on Friday to about 1000 people. The
audience, as expected, was composed of devotees and daily users of Linux.
Chris Blizzard gave a demo of the working prototype. Red Hat's CEO Matthew
Szulik was very articulate about OLPC's sanctity of purpose and had many
suggestion, including ways to engage micro-finance and the self-determinism
that it carries.
2. The working prototype was also shown in San Diego at Kara Swisher and
Walt Mossberg's D Conference: All Things Digital. Nicholas presented the
concept at length last year, for which this was an brief up-date.
3. A-Test boards are in transit to Brightstar for distribution. Some of the
boards are being allocated directly to launch countries and some to free
and open source developers. The developer's program has been announced and
requests are coming in. Please refer to the OLPC wiki for details on how to
request a board (http://wiki.laptop.org/index.php/Developers_Program).
Distribution may begin as early as next week.
4. Mary Lou and Mark Foster are exploring the possibility of leaving some
empty slots where it would be possible to add more DRAM and flash; however
the bond pads will have to be small, making hand soldering nearly
impossible. Nonetheless, we would like to include them, as surface-mount
technologies are available in most countries. (Consideration in the
software is being made for the additional memory and flash.)
5. Barry Vercoe reports that we now have Csound running on one of the
A-Test boards, and it “appears” to produce clean audio—we cannot confirm
this directly as we do not yet have a working DAC driver. (Csound is a
software-synthesis program that can model virtually any synthesizer or
audio-effects processor, transforming the Laptop into a high-end
digital-audio workstation.) Richard Boulanger and the team that will be
interning at OLPC over the summer have begun work on a mesh-network-aware
6. Marvell released a new version of their Linux driver for the 88W8388 and
an additional OLPC-specific version of the firmware; and a common
source-code management methodology was agreed between Marvell and the Red
Hat team so that the driver can be merged with the mainstream Linux kernel
7. SID — the most important display conference worldwide — will be held
next week in San Franscisco: Mary Lou is giving a luncheon talk on the
display for the Laptop.
8. Jim Gettys and Ron Minnich (of LANL) hosted a birds-of-a-feather session
at the USENIX technical conference this week.
9. The LEDs that will be used in the display backlight have started
lifetime testing in a 8-hour-on, 8-hour-off testing regime. The contrast
ratio on the transmissive mode has been raised from 50:1 to 85:1 with a
target of 100:1. The bright-state-reflectance requirement has been raised
to 30%, which rivals the best e-paper displays on the market today and
approaches the readability of newspaper.
10. Other software news: (1) The JFFS2 file system is fully functional and
being further optimized; (2) LinuxBIOS is able to boot Linux and very close
to doing so from the NAND flash on the OLPC board due to combined efforts
of people at AMD, Red Hat and Ron Minnich; we are close to reaching the
goal of using only 512K of flash; and (3) a fbdev (framebuffer video)
driver appeared in Linus Torvald's tree that may be appropriate for the GX2
and awaits testing; if it works, this will reduce the driver work to be
One Laptop per Child
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