[Community-news] OLPC News 2007-12-08

Walter Bender walter at laptop.org
Sat Dec 8 13:57:11 EST 2007

1. Santiago: David Cavallo keynoted TISE 2007, the workshop on
Educational Software.

2. Schedule: The release of our Ship.2 Build (650) and firmware
(Q2D07) occurred in time to be installed on the G1G1 laptops that will
begin shipping on Monday.

The roadmap for Update.1 has been enhanced with more detailed dates
and important bug fixes that are being worked on (Please see
http://dev.laptop.org/roadmap). We have already passed feature freeze
and string freeze (for translations). The next milestone is code
freeze on December 15. Developers not fixing critical bugs for
Update.1 should provide their recommended feature set for Update.2
(and beyond).

3. Testing: Ricardo Carrano, Yani Galanis, and Michail Bletsas spent a
number of hours with a forty (40) laptop test bed in a quiet RF
environment to ensure that we have fixed our most egregious wireless
bug—the lazyWDS problem—and to dig deeper into an occasional wireless
crash problems in mesh networks of more than 30 laptops. They have
also been working with Robert McQueen and the Collabra team to
document and simplify the process of creating a Jabber server –so
individuals and groups can create their own Jabber servers to make
their own mesh neighborhood clusters. Yani is working on a test plan
to scale the number laptops virtually connected to a Jabber server so
we can simulate having 100s of users while using only a few laptops.

Alex Latham has moved on to testing Joyride builds after adding some
notes to the Ship.2 release notes—not complete, but there is a link
from the Software Release Notes page (Please see
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_Ship.2_Software_Release_Notes). Alex
also spent time reviewing and documenting the activation and developer
key processes (Please see

4. Support: We had meetings between OLPC, Brightstar, RMS
(Brightstar's tech-support call center), and Patriot to map out the
phone, email, webpages, and processes that will help our new laptop
users to get up to speed quickly and diagnose some problems they might
encounter (Please send comments regarding
http://laptop.org/gettingstarted). Adam has been helping to coordinate
and document the internal and externally facing support mechanisms.

5. Wireless: Michail Bletsas reports that the past week was spent
testing reliability, functionality, and scalability.

On the reliability front, David Woodhouse is in the process of
sanitizing the command queueing used in the wireless driver; this
should eliminate the occasional fall into catatonia by the firmware.

Testing this week confirmed that these problems only manifest in very
busy wireless environments. Even in such environments, they tend to
only affect idle machines. When XOs are idle, the are exchanging Salut
traffic (useful) and generating probes and probe responses for WLAN
discovery (useless and a big nuisance with large numbers of XOs).
Michail is currently testing a version of the firmware that disables
probe responses from XOs with the intent to deploy it in the upcoming
learning workshops so that we can comfortably run all the machines in
the room concurrently.

Collabora also found a number of bugs in the local-link presence code
which will improve scaling in the next release. Ricardo tested
various workarounds for the UI's wireless encryption configuration

6. Active antennae: Marvell is going to release the firmware update
tool for the active antennae next week. This became more urgent after
the recent frame-format change and John Watlington's observation that
the school server's boot time is longer than the time period during
which the active antennas wait for the host to talk them after
power-up (See further discussion below). The current modules switch
into autonomous mode before the server has finished with its boot-up
sequence and thus they fail to be properly configured by the server.
We will have to increase the host-wait timeout on the antennae to
avoid this in the future and flash server modules with the standard
radio boot code (to prevent them from going into autonomous mode).

7. Sugar: Tomeu Vizoso moved the object chooser from the Sugar library
to the Journal. Activities now ask the Journal to display the object
chooser so the user may choose which Journal entry the activity should
have access to. This will help to protect the privacy of the user
while allowing activities to consume data from other activities. Also,
this removes duplicate code and facilitates sharing of features
between the Journal and the object chooser.

Tomeu also is investigating why activities startup has gotten to be so
slow of late. He has already identified some areas that can be easily
improved for Update.1. Other improvements will come later.

Simon Shampijer worked this week on tracking down and fixing issues in
the browser regarding Rainbow security: the data generated by the
"view source" command are saved in $SAR/instance and the browser
profile is saved in $SAR/data. There is still a remaining issue with
the permissions for the profile, since these are files sometimes
generated and accessed by the library. Will have to discuss this again
with Michael Stone and Marco Pesenti Gritti. Working along with Morgan
Collett, we finally have all the parts for a fix to the
Rainbow-related problem with opening links from Chat in the browser.
But not everything is in Joyride yet for testing.

Reinier Heeres spent last week getting a new evince version working
(evince is the PDF back-end for Read). It was already working in
jhbuild, but some library dependencies had to be removed and new rpm
packages built. This is now complete, so everything is in place to get
packages in Joyride soon. Reinier is also working on supporting bundle
upgrades from the Journal. Beside that, he fixed some Sugar bugs, like
leaking of icons in /tmp, and has written code to improve
unmount-failure feedback in the Journal.

8. Open hardware manager: Chris Ball worked on power manager bugs and
features. The version of OHM in the Joyride build is complete except
for two new features being added for Update.1—better handling of
user-set brightness (currently OHM will override it) and inhibiting
suspend when the CPU is not idle. These should land in Joyride next

Chris hasn't had much time to work on Pippy—if anyone can think of
Pippy "examples" they'd like to see in Update.1, please let him know.

9. Emulation: Bernie Innocenti and Mitchell Charity improved the
experience for users of QEMU, Vmware, and other emulated environments.
We now support the video driver vmware_drv, which also works with the
latest CVS snapshots of QEMU and provides a 1200x900 mode.

10. Utilities: Bernie also made changes to the boot process and
olpc-utils for better UTF-8 support. olpc-configure now regenerates
the library index after updates. The experimental Xserver 1.5 is still
in the works, and lives in a separate xtest build for now.

11. Rainbow: Michael Stone experimented with an architecture for our
automated testing; he also spent time answering Sugar-related
questions about Rainbow, he a little bit on Rainbow bug-fixing, and
helped get us unstuck on encryption export controls and

12. Builds: Last week, C Scott Ananian managed stable builds through
649, making our builds substantially less sexy, and finished and tuned
olpc-update-query, which allows you to subscribe to any one of a
number of "update streams" to keep your machine up to date.

This week Scott shepherded build 650 with Q2D06 and fixed the "fail to
boot on upgrade" bug. He has automated generation of
activation/developer keys—there are no more "sneakernet" delays! He
also added statistics collection code to the activation server in
order to let us track which builds are "in the wild"; he promises
pretty graphs next week.

Scott also cleaned up the server-side component of the XO dev key
request page; he worked with Michael on integrating automated testing
into our build system, using the pybots/buildbots framework; he edited
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Activation_and_Developer_Keys; and he did a
"sticker drive" at OLPC HQ, trying to remove machines running ancient
versions of libertas firmware from our network.

13. Presence service: Guillaume Desmottes wrote a wiki page explaining
how to deploy an Openfire server (Please see
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Openfire_Configuration). He also
investigated an alias problem with Openfire (Please see
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Openfire_Configuration#Alias_droped). He
worked on the server component XMPP protocol; wrote a fix for
http://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=13156, and started to
implement new XMPP protocol in Gabble.

Sjoerd Simons analyzed some network traces of tests with 10 or more
XOs, which lead to the discovery that idle session of Salut's Clique
protocol didn't scale as they are supposed to. He released
telepathy-salut-0.2.0, which is the start of a bug-fix-only branch for
salut. This
release fixes stream tubes on machines without nss-mdns (such as the
XO) and the aforementioned scaling issue of idle Clique sessions.

Rob McQueen has been working with Dafydd Harries,  Guillaume
Desmottes, and Simon McVittie to write up proposed XMPP component
protocol. Rob has also been liaising (or nagging :D) with ejabberd
upstream to try and address stability issues on jabber.laptop.org and
hence school server deployments. He has packaged the ejabberd trunk
and is trying it on jabber.laptop.org and he has tracked outstanding
ejabberd issues that affect jabber.laptop.org and school server
(automatic configuration of shared roster). He has been applying hacks
to keep jabber.laptop.org running (such as watch ejabberd with monit,
reduce the shared roster to recently-active users rather than all
registered users, etc.) and the odd bit of packaging/trac herding for
telepathy components.

Dafydd Harries began work on the Jabber-server extension planned for
Update 2 that we hope will greatly improve collaboration scalability.

Morgan Collett engaged in various discussions on mailing lists and IRC
about jabber servers and appropriate expectations for Ship.2 users.
Please note that there is not be a working server configured in the
Ship.2 software, since we cannot support that kind of volume on our
current server infrastructure. Anyone interested in running a server
for themselves or a specific community should see the latest
information in the wiki (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Run_your_own_jabber_server). Morgan also
tested Ship.2 collaboration and herded patches and bugs through the
Update.1 approval process, including Presence Service patches that
have been pending for a while.

14. Laptop firmware: Mitch Bradley released two new firmware for the
laptop this week. Q2D06 was release on Tuesday night to fix a problem
found which might cause problems when upgrading the laptops. It was
quickly superseded by Q2D07 on Thursday night, when a bug was found by
Quanta which will brick the laptop if the RTC battery (on the
motherboard) fails. If you are running Q2D05 or Q2D06, please update
immediately to Q2D07.

15. School server: A new build of school server software (137) was
released this week. This includes newer libertas (wireless mesh)
drivers and firmware, as well as supporting the hot-plugging of Active
Antennas. It was decided on Tuesday to proceed with the laptop
backup/restore protocol developed by Ivan Krstić and the Journal team
for Update.1; it will be included in an upcoming release to allow
testing over the next few weeks. Upcoming features are the addition of
the Jabber server and web caching.

We discovered a serious problem with the new Active Antenna prototypes
this week. These are the ones assembled around the beginning of
November, and handed out to a number of countries and developers. The
Boot2 firmware placed on them in manufacturing (3109) enters
standalone repeater mode too quickly, and once in that mode they stop
talking over USB. By the time a server has booted it can no longer
talk to its Active Antennas!  Attempts to downgrade the Boot2 firmware
to the latest—which doesn't support standalone repeater mode
(3107)--using the libertas-flash tool developed last year by Dan
Williams are failing due to changes in the Boot2 API. As the most
recent software builds now support hot-plugging of the antenna, the
temporary work-around is to plug the antennas into the server after it
has booted up.

16. From the community: Bruno Coudoin uploaded a new release of the
GCompris activities. Bruno followed Bert Freudenberg 's EToys scripts
to stay retro-compatible with previous startup sequence. Changes
include a new sugar compliant icon; a Spanish translation; a fix to
some some broken activities (e.g., algebra_plus-activity); and better
Rainbow compatibility (e.g., no more writing in the home directory).

Eduardo Silva has been working on a new application called
"XO-Monitor." The goal is to watch the XO resources from a normal PC
laptop through the network with a simple graphical user interface
written in PyGTK. It is very similar to the old developer console and
it can aquire basic information such as build, kernel, firmware, model,
serial number, etc.; trace system CPU usage; view logs; report simple
network statistics; and list all of the XOs in the local network. More
information about the project can be found in the wiki (Please see

Wolfgang Rohrmoser and Kurt Gramlich are proud to announce the initial
version of their OLPC XO-LiveCD. This new project targets these goals:
 • give children, students, teachers and parents the opportunity to
participate and use the Sugar educational software on a common PC;
 • support demonstration of OLPC software to non-developers;
 • provide an easy maintainable Live-System for developers to test
activities on the sugar desktop, this could be regarded as an
alternative to existing OLPC virtualbox and qemu images.

The technology they choose embeds an unmodified official Redhat build
into a framework (LiveBackup), which provides everything needed to run
a live system. Going this way we are able to minimize the work for
updates as new OLPC builds get released.

The ISO image are available at:


as:  XO-LiveCD_<date>.iso

Images will be mirrored to:


Wolfgang and Kurt encourage everybody to try it out and give them
feedback for improvements; please send mail to:

	XO-LiveCD at skolelinux.de.
Further information is available in the XO-LiveCD.pdf document at:


17. Urdu localization: Waqas Toor and Salman Minhasreport have almost
completed their Urdu Glossary Project; Waqas be will be testing it
over this weekend and will be ready/tested/debugged on Monday. An
ebook of science is 100% complete and ready to be included. An ebook
of Urdu (Meri Kitab) is 60% complete. Salman will attempt to complete
it over the weekend. The Urdu localization of EToys is 75% complete;
Waqas and Salman are confident to complete it sometimes next week.

18. Documentation: Anne Gentle and Seth Woodhouse are finishing laying
out a simple introductory guide to ownership and care of the XO,
working with material from Todd Kelsey and older demo notes and a
number of community artists. Translation will begin this week (Please
see http://dev.laptop.org/~sj/quickstart/).

Anne is working on fixing the banner and adding an actual index;
generated by Author-IT, a commercial tool that we are currently using.
Adam Hyde of FLOSSManuals has offered to port the documents to his
site and set up a system to auto-update manuals there with text from
the olpc wiki; we may switch to this next month.

19. Science fare: Sunee Piromprames has been working with Lauren Klein
and teacher Srinuan to organize a bug-identification project at Ban
Samhka, Thailand. David Stang of the BayScience Foundation is setting
up forums for them to use to classify their findings, with photos and
local text and pronunciation of bug names. They will have a worked
example this week for the children to follow, and are working with
Thai strings.

20. Library: Mako Hill, Lauren, and SJ Klein have worked out what
bundling scripts need to be written to provide for simple bundle
creation. It will be possible to make (and verify) bundles through a
web upload form soon.

21. Our Stories: Google, UNICEF, and OLPC issued a joint press release
regarding a global storytelling project being orchestrated by Google's
Stephen Cho. The goal of the initiative is to preserve and share
stories, histories, and identities of cultures around the world by
making personal stories available online in many languages. Using XO
laptops, mobile phones, and other recording devices, children will
record, in their native languages, the stories of elders, family
members and friends. These stories will be shared globally through the
Our Stories website (See http://www.ourstories.org/), where they can
be found on a Google Map.

Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

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