[Community-news] OLPC News (2007-04-07)

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Sat Apr 7 12:23:24 EDT 2007

1. OLPC "Game Jam"—a game design and programming event designed to
encourage development of open-source games for the OLPC platform (the
XO)—is being held at Olin College next weekend. A group of game
developers will get together over a three-day period to make as many
innovative games as possible for the laptop. "Our goal is not just
some great games and experimentation for the XO but also to bring the
unique constraints and output of this project to next year's GDC
Experimental Gameplay Workshop." Code will be released on SourceForge
under the GNU General Public License so everyone can freely experiment
with the source and games.

2. Mechanicals/ID: The XO mechanical design is finally complete. The
last major item—the insert molded rubber/plastic bunny ears—was
approved on April 4th. The core team responsible for this milestone:
Frank Lee and Victor Chau of Quanta, Yves Behar and Bret Recor of
Fuse, Jacques Gagne of Gecko, and Mary Lou Jepsen of OLPC. This is the
culmination of nearly two years of efforts on the ID and mechanicals.
It bares mention that many contributed to the ID/ME over this time on
the laptop, and in addition to the above, we would especially like to
acknowledge the following who at various times shouldered large parts
of this effort:
Quanta: Ben Chuang, Johnson Huang, Sam Chang, Alex Chu, and Roger Huang
Fuse Project: Mitch Pergola and Martin Schnitzer
Design Continuum: Kenneth Jewell and Kevin Young
MIT Media Lab: Ted Selker
ChiLin: Albert Hsu, HT Chen and Scott Soong
OLPC: Nicholas Negroponte, Rebecca Allen, Mark Foster, Walter Bender,
and Michail Bletsas

3. System software: Build 385 and firmware Q2B87 form a new stable
build. We do not anticipate another stable build for approximately 3–5
weeks, as we work on suspend and resume, power management, and the
Geode LX bringup. Please update your systems to this build. Key
changes and improvements include:
* a fix for a number of crashes in Sugar, which have been seen
occasionally became much more common in Build 368 was finally traced
to a bug in the fontconfig library;
updated library content;
* improved UI for selecting networks, and further bug fixes in the
network driver;
* fix for LiFePo battery problems (This is the last known battery problem.);
* memory of the WEP wireless key should be much improved;
* updated TamTam bundle (save and restore work properly);
* a new, improved calculator program from Reinier Heeres;
* a temporary workaround for a presence-service problem is in place; and
* sufficient aliases for old X11 core fonts that most applications not
yet updated to the current X client-side font model should work
(specifically, this fixes a crash in the Adobe Flash 9 plug-in for

We will have a automated backup script before the next stable build
for backup of laptop contents to the school server; this is simply
using the "rsync" command which is already included in current builds.

4. Firmware:  Mitch Bradley completed preparations to cut over to
fastboot/suspend/resume firmware. The Q2Cxx series will include these
new features:
* suspend/resume support;
* memtest86 built in to firmware;
* keyboard diagnostic that displays key presses graphically;
* explicit probe-usb no longer needed: attempts to open the USB node
automatically handle connection-status changes;
* new boot flash layout per Quanta's request, plus tools to inspect
manufacturing data and save it to a disk file; and
* faster boot time.

Lilian Walters released to Mitch the keyboard self-test code and the
auto reprobe for USB. Richard Smith released q2b86 and q2b87 with new
EC bits that fix outstanding LiFe battery problems.

5. Power management: As mentioned above, we are cutting over to the
"C" series of firmware releases as we develop our suspend/resume work.
Richard worked on resume SD bug with Pierre Ossman. It seems that
after a resume, the clock on the SD is not coming back up right. It
starts but then goes away. Richard is still trying to hunt this down.
Only SD is not resuming properly now. The resume time without SD is
down to 0.23 seconds!

6. Kernel: Andres Salomon did the regular Linux tree merge, merged the
libertas wireless driver into the stable tree, and worked on the open
firmware (OFW) device-tree kernel patch. The device-tree
implementation is going to require a lot of tender-loving-care to get
it upstream, unfortunately. Dave Woodhouse diagnosed a latent bug in
the JFFS2 file system caused by pretty pathological logging behavior;
it will require some work to fix. Jordan Crouse worked on the Geode LX
frame buffer driver (lxfb).

7. User environment: Jim Gettys figured out how the old core X font
system worked, to enable applications using the obsolete X core font
system (e.g., Adobe's Flash 9 plugin) to work properly on our system.
Chris Ball tested fontconfig-2.4.2, which Jim correctly predicted as
the fix to Sugar crashes that had become very common in Build 368. We
had been about to revert the branch prediction firmware workaround
instead. Both Chris Ball and Chris Blizzard have confirmed that the
crash disappears as of Build 380. Chris also tracked down the Unicode
scripts as the cause of our console font becoming tiny. John Palmieri
came up with a fix, which is in the latest build.

8. School server: John Watlington reports that we have a school server
up and running as a mesh portal in Cambridge. Up to three mesh
networks are supported, with routing supplied between each other and
the Internet.


Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

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