[Community-news] OLPC News 2007-07-07

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Sat Jul 7 17:43:11 EDT 2007

1. Arahuay, Peru: Carla Gomez Monroy has been helping the ministry of
education with a school trial at the Institución Educativa Apóstol
Santiago, a combination primary and secondary school in a small town
in the Cordillera de la Viuda, 2600 m. above sea level.

2. Taipei:  Mary Lou Jepsen gave a keynote at a display manufacturing
conference in Taipei where she highlighted the fact that the XO
display took only six months to go from specification to full
certification, ready for high-volume mass production product. This
rapid development is unheard of in the display industry where 10-to-20
years is more the norm for a new display—and thus the XO was the
center of much discussion at the conference. Other large display
manufacturers are expressing interest in helping with Gen2 development
as well as providing a second source of the Gen1 display. Of course
Mary Lou explained our loyalty and strong relationship with ChiMei.
The reception was quite different from 18 months ago, when getting
buy-in from the display manufacturers was one of the largest
challenges for OLPC.

3. OLPC was nominated and selected as a potential beneficiary of the
American Express Card's Members Project (www.membersproject.com).
Projects are voted for through several rounds and the winners are
eligible for a grant of between $1–$5 million. OLPC is listed under
project number 07229.

4. XO testing: Quanta has put an enormous effort into testing the
laptops in each of the five builds to date (A Test and B1–B4). The
approximately 7000 prototypes have undergone temperature, electrical,
mechanical, durability, and environmental testing:

Temperature: 55C/40% relative humidity (RH) operation test, 32C/50% RH
operation test, 30C/85% RH operation test, –0C operation test, 85C
storage test, –40C storage test, thermal shock and profile test (60C
to –20C);

Electrical: AC power, BIOS flashing, Open Firmware, power management,
USB 2.0, NAND flash, Wireless LAN, camera, memory, battery, LED
indicator, stress test, ESD, battery discharge, LCD module
verification, line-voltage and frequency test, power-on/off test,
altitude test, wave-form measurement, frequency response, speaker
performance, touch-pad performance, S0 state, S3 states, driver level,
frequency accuracy, oscillation allowance, negative resistance, load
capacitance, DDR1, critical trace, power-rail ramp, voltage level and
noise, USB 1.1, Radiation of EN 55022, EN 61000-4-4, skin/case
temperature, etc.;

Mechanical environmental test: operating and non-operating vibration
test, operating and non-operating shock test, package drop test,
package storage test, tilt drop test, free drop test, LCD stress test,
base pressure test, LCD-pressure vibration test, switch-protection
test, LCD-twist test, connector-tension test, adapter-cable bending
test, spill test, water test;

Durability test: hinge 65K cycles, battery 10K cycles, buttons 1M
cycles, power button 700K cycles, touch-pad buttons 3M cycles, USB
ports 10K cycles, DC in 20K cycles, DC-in, line-out, and mic-in 10K
cycles, wireless-antenna 5K cycles, SD card 16K cycles;

Special environmental test: sand and dust test, salt-fog test, solar-
radiation test, rain test;

Abusive test: free-throw test, USB and SD card reverse test, tumbling
test, water-sprinkle test, hinge max-angle test, tablet-mode max-angle
test, antenna max-force test.

These are torture tests. Most of these tests are harder—by far—than
that required for conventional laptops Currently, XO has passed the
vast majority of tests. Provisions to pass the tough ESD, salt-fog,
power-on/off test, and operating shock test are under way; as are even
higher free-drop tests, more stringent hinge-torque tests; as well as
stronger set of testing underway at UL as we enter C-Test phase in

5. Mechanicals: Bret Recor of Fuse Project was in Shanghai this week
to work closely with Frank Lee of Quanta on finalizing the texturing
for plastic-housing parts. Bean texture will appear on the exterior
white housing and a matte—"satin"—texture on the interior and the
green parts.

6. Trial-2 software: At the beginning of the week we added the latest
Marvell firmware to both the XO and the school server software images
to get past "flag day" in Cambridge: builds before Build 486 (or Build
406.16) will not work with these later builds. Henceforth, as we send
products out to the field, we need to know if the recipient already
has XOs; any older machines will need to be upgraded so the new ones
and old ones will work together. (The test group continues to keep a
log of Release Notes for each build, which can be accessed in the OLPC
wiki at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Test_Group_Release_Notes).

7. Hardware management: Richard Hughes continued his work on our
hardware policy manager.  He is in the final stages of getting it into
our builds by running it through the Fedora review process. Matthias
Clasen has been helping him run through the process and has been
pointing out improvements to be made. He also integrated open hardware
manager (OHM) with the new X IDLETIME alarm interface. He also added
support for the battery and AC adapter to the hardware abstraction
layer (HAL) so that it is more easily exported to programs. Using this
interface, Marco Gritti has added support to Sugar to extract the
battery information from HAL.

8. Mesh collaboration: The Collabora team had a busy week working on
bug-fixes in the dbus-python bindings, debugging interactions between
telepathy and the other modules, working through details of the tubes
API, fixing issues with the peer-to-peer extensible messaging and
presence protocol (XMPP), working on the multicast protocol for the
mesh, finshing up the "hellomesh" activity, and fixing the chat

9. Building builds: John Palmieri continued pushing builds out the
door. He has been splitting his time between trying to get Trail-2
work done and also working on a stable 406 build (the latter build
includes power management and other low-level features, but not the
new collaboration and Journal features). He also worked on getting
QEMU (an open source machine emulator and virtualizer) and VirtualBox
(a commercial virtualizer) working with our images again.

The basic Vmware image conversion process outlined at in the OLPC wiki
(http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Emulating_the_XO/UsingVMware) is also
working. Scott Devine has been working on VMware mesh-network
emulation and the XO images are now part of Vmware's daily regression

10. Sugar: Marco Gritti and Tomeu Vizoso continue to chase bugs in Sugar
and the Journal as part of the Trail 2 work. Walter Bender and Eben
Eliason revisited the XO color schemes; more vivid and legible color
dyads will be available in the upcoming builds. Dan Williams worked on
Network Manager, fixed an avahi bug, fought through numerous packaging
issues as part of the Fedora Core 7 move, and also worked on some
gstreamer issues around camera support.

11. Updates: Scott Ananian wrote a recursive binary diff tool based on
bsdiff/bspatch in order to investigate the lower limits of upgrade
sizes. Comparisons with rsync and the Dan Williams patched version of
"updatinator" showed that our various upgrade strategies are now not
too far from optimal.

12. X Window System: Bernie Innocenti spent much of the week working
on bug #1837, the "fancy color on text" bug, which turned out to be
pretty tough. The more he dug into it, the more he keep getting
evidence pointing in opposite directions. We see similar text
corruption on OLPC, F8 and Ubuntu Gutsy on the Geode LX (both 16bpp
and 32bpp) and Radeon R200 (but only in 16bpp) in both with EXA and
XAA. Disabling acceleration cures it. The plot thickens.

Another serious bug that had been making the X server on the GX (B2
and B1) unusable in the development builds was found through work of
Jordan Crouse and Adam Jackson late Friday afternoon.

13. Kernel: Andres Salomon worked on getting code upstream this week.
The Geode support in master is mostly in Andrew Morton's tree; some is
trickling into Linus's tree as well. Andres also did the standard
merge dance (nothing exciting there, though we should be approaching a
final 2.6.22 soon). Marcelo Tosatti spent time merging his USB changes
to master.

Marcelo and Chris Ball looked into some suspend/resume failures. We
can reliably suspend and resume wireless so long as the wireless
module remains connected to the USB; Marcelo and Cozybit continue to
investigate issues suspending and resuming with the wireless
disconnected entirely.

The "pop" that we receive from the amplifier is barely audible on the
B4 machines, but we will continue to investigate it—if the pop is
caused by a hardware bug, now is the time to fix it.

The microphone LED was turning on regardless of whether we were using
the audio device for playback or recording. Chris came up with logic
to keep it turned off when we aren't recording, implemented it, and
will send his patch to Jaya Kumar for review.

Scott imported glibc into git and (after some fighting) got it to
build, so he is setup to write the glibc RDNSS-over-RA patches.

14. School server: Mitch Bradley got a preliminary version of PowerPC
Open Firmware running on the school-server development machine. Mitch
also released the core PowerPC Open Firmware code to openbios.org
under an MIT license.

Dan Margo completed the scripts that will let us build OLPC-specific
RPM configuration packages. These packages follow a fairly complex
install-and-update policy that: (A) organizes OLPC-specific
configurations into a central directory, etc.olpc; and (B) respects
user's configuration changes, while clobbering RPM defaults. These
scripts are in want of more debugging on large, serious use cases, but
are concept-complete.

Next week we plan to start building Fedora Core 7 livecd build scripts
from a clean slate (and merge the work Holger has done based on Fedora
6) Once that is straightened out, we can start determining and then
exporting the XS-specific configurations.

Scott also fought the QEMU/KVM (kernel-based virtual machine) fight
and got XO and (sort of) XSX images built and working under emulation.
The ground is laid for Dan and Scott to create XSX builds based on
Fedora Core 7 images next week using Dan's rpm-configuration code.

15. Security: Mitch and Ivan Krstić hashed out firmware security
issues around activation, firmware updates, and developer keys. Ivan,
Mitch, and Scott defined three code-paths: (1) the chain from booting
a signed kernel though invoking activation or pivoting to one of two
base file-systems (upgrade or backup); (2) the anti-theft server,
anti-theft client, and "invoke-upgrade-now" interactions; and (3) the
fetch-upgrade hand-off to the security kernel, which validates the
upgrade and tweaks some bits to signal the boot code (closing the
circle). Implementation has begun: Ivan has built a skeleton antitheft
server and client, and Scott has an initrd that takes control
immediately after open firmware boots our (signed) kernel.

16. Embedded controller: Mitch helped Joel Stanley (Richard Smith's
Summer of Code intern) get started on embedded controller (EC)
development and in the process discovered a fix for the flakiness of
the EC recovery process.

To help with the ongoing debugging efforts of Trac Bug #1752 Richard
created a test version of the EC code that asserts the WLAN wakeup pin
before issuing the SCI to the host. This allows the WLAN to have its
USB bus up and running prior to the host. Experiments with WLAN
firmware that does not detach from the USB bus works with
suspend/resume. The EC test firmware was a possible workaround but
Chris found that it still had issues.

David Woodhouse and Richard worked on making the PCB temp sensor work
and verify that the resistor divider is set correctly. However, they
found that the EC code is not working correctly. The voltage A/D
readings do not appear to be updating. With a bit of Forth code under
OFW to read the A/D directly and then they looked at the range of the
sensor. The hardware is OK and there is enough resolution for our

17. Content jams: The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is working
actively on open content for educators and students, especially those
in regions newly introduced to computers. They are interested in
starting a Summer of Content project along with OLPC, supporting
existing open content efforts and focusing on short-term goals that
will lead to literacy and more content creation. They are starting
work on a Spanish Wikieducator, and planning content-creation
workshops in each of the 53 Commonwealth states. Mel Chua met with
Wayne Mackintosh of COL and worked out some initial details. Summer of
Content would provide visibility to open content projects that need
help and a unified way for interested students and young teachers to
intern for these projects, focusing on potential interns in the
Southern Hemisphere and running two summers a year, starting at the
end of this calendar year.

18. Our Stories: UNICEF has presented "Our Stories" to their country
offices in Uruguay, Brasil, Argentina, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Ethiopia,
and are starting to collect stories that can be published and shared
from their existing youth networks. Google's OurStories team now
includes two engineering leads and website and interface leads.

19. Educational activity guidelines: Lauren Klien has been working on
templates for learning activities and guidelines for people writing


If you are working on activities of your own, please post them to the
wiki and add/suggest guidelines of your own that you have found

20. Distributed content: Thibaut Lamadon is working on the next
iteration of his MeshBoard activity—a community bulletin board that
runs serverlessly on the mesh network. Thibaut is testing out a new
implementation that uses Tubes APIs.

21. Wiki: A weekly review of the OLPC wiki changes (now ~1000 a week)
began last week. Xavier Alvarez's latest round of categorization and
organization of the wiki includes a proposal for a standard set of
information boxes covering licensing and subject matter and audience,
where to get more information, and what features or WikiProjects
something is associated with. Comments and suggestions welcome:


MaMaMedia has started to move content into the OLPC wiki:


22. Reading: David Teller reports that the Lector book-reading
project, which is javascript-based and runs inside the browser without
its own UI, has a new version. They are just now in touch with Ian
Bicking and Stephen Thorne about integrating their work on an
in-browser interface for XO. Ian has a simple booksplitter working to
split large files into small readable chunks. Josh Gay is working on a
proper annotation spec to send around for how a generalized stet
implementation will work; for the coming week.

23. Games: Julius Lucks and team continued to tweak their number
munchers game, making sure it was properly localized and can share
tilesets with the Memonumbers game (See


Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

More information about the Community-news mailing list