[Community-news] OLPC News 2007-05-26
walter.bender at gmail.com
Sat May 26 12:18:33 EDT 2007
1. 80 B3 machines arrived at the OLPC offices in Cambridge on Friday.
These machines, which are close to final, feature the Geode LX
processor, improved keyboard and touch pad, many electrical and
mechanical enhancements, and a brightly colored XO logo on the back.
First impression: Wow!!
2. Dorchester: Walter Bender paid a brief visit to the Lilla G.
Fredrick Pilot Middle School, one of three one-to-one computing
programs funded by the State of Massachusetts. Although they are not
(yet) using XOs, Principal Debra Socia has observed all things we have
come to expect: more teacher and student engagement, more parent and
community involvement, a higher level of discourse around learning,
more writing, etc.
3. UL: Quanta and OLPC met with UL this week to determine the exact
strategy for certification of the laptops. Nearly all testing will be
done by UL Taiwan, close to the Quanta offices to allow close
communication. The B3 units will undergo test starting end of next
week. The main areas of test are thermal, electro-magnetic
interference, and radio-frequency noise (from WiFi). We will test at
40C, 45C and 50C to determine our maximum sustained ambient operating
4. Green: Mary Lou Jepsen met with John Bullock, the author of the
Basel Convention take-back protocol for mobile telephones. The Basel
Convention was started in 1987 as a way to globally address toxic
dumping through recycling and take-back programs. It has been ratified
by almost all countries, a notable exception in the USA. John, a
recycling expert, said "OLPC has set a new environmental standard with
XO" and wants to find a way to both help us continue, and to get the
story out to other CE manufacturers. He offered many suggestions for
improving our environmental position.
5. Sugar: Over the last couple of weeks we have seen great advances in
the Sugar user-interface and the underlying systems that support it. A
particular ficus has been on the mechanisms for collaboration:
* Marc Maurer has the Abiword-based Write activity hooked up to the
Presence Service and Tubes API so it can find other people on the
network. He is the first person who has tried to do it from C/C++; we
are interested in seeing that experience documented.
* The Collabora team has been making a lot of fixes to the Presence
Service. They have also been working on patches to dbus to fix some
issues and are pushing for a new dbus release. John Palmieri is
integrating those patches and working on a new release.
* The Collabora team has also been working on a stream API that will
make it very easy for activities that want to talk directly with each
other to do so from the Presence Service. And they have started work
on integrating the peer-to-peer (called salut) XMPP code into the
* Marco Gritti and Tomeu Vizoso have been very busy working on new web
activity features. They have a new feature that makes if very easy to
embed the browser directory into a python program and makes it
possible to access the DOM directly from python instead of having to
do it from C++. As a result, they were able to implement session
restoration and saving of data to the Journal.
* Marco also hooked up the xdg mime system into Sugar. This is one of
the pieces required to let activities say which mime types they
handle and how to associate them in the Journal.
* Tomeu has also been working with Ben Sadder to implement new
features in the data store that are needed by the Journal.
* Chris Ball began work setting up a tinderbox for Sugar, so that our
activity and Sugar developers can see whether a Sugar build will
succeed before trying it themselves. This should save them a lot of
time as the Sugar build pulls in many external modules and often
* Chris also came up with a kernel patch to expose our ebook-mode
"flip" kernel events to the input layer, which is where HAL listens
for them. Once that's tested, we can have rotate on ebook-flip
happening through Sugar, on a per-activity basis.
6. Etoys: Bert Freudenberg continues on dbus support in Etoys;
bypassing the launcher program written in Python, the start up time of
Etoys will be much shorter. Takashi Yamamiya's work on clipboard is
also continuing: he is experimenting with the X protocol to copy
objects from Etoys to Sugar, where they can be accessed by other
activities, including the Journal. Yoshiki Ohshima is working on the
integration with Pango. which will allow more and better language
support in Etoys. Scott Wallace has been experimenting expression
tiles and Ted Kaehler continues work on an Etoy example of physics
7. School server: Dave Woodhouse worked with John Watlington on the
configuration of IPv6 and the school server. Holger Levsen has built a
local mirror that now carries the Fedore Core 6 and 7 source for i386,
PowerPC. Building the livecd now only takes 33 minutes compared to 45
minutes against a remote mirror. The mirror is located at
http://fedora.laptop.org. Holger reports that last week's issues in
Anaconda were fixed by upstream, but he found a new bug, which
prevents using a kickstart-file and thus automated installations at
the moment. Luckily this error happens in textmode and graphical mode,
so I expect it to be fixed soon. (The manual workaround for the moment
is to not use a kickstart file and answer the questions about
partioning and networking manually.) Builds are available at
http://xs-dev.laptop.org/holger/ and documentation is found at
8. Power management: Chris Ball talked with David Zeuthen (HAL
maintainer) and Richard Hughes (gnome-power-manager maintainer) about
the best way to design our power manager. Chris upgraded to the latest
version of HAL and tested that it can expose our lid open/close events
over dbus. Adding functionality to go to sleep with the backlight off
when the lid is closed is only a few lines of code away now.
9. Suspend/resume: Marcelo Tosatti has been working on USB
suspend/resume. He also has been working with Cozybit on trying to
track down some suspend/resume issues with the wireless firmware. And
he has been verifying another fix related to suspend with a starvation
problem for the gc thread for the jffs2 filesystem; it sounds like
this is fixed. Bernardo Innocenti and Dave Woodhouse also fixed a bug
in the kernel serial driver on LX resume.
10. Systems infrastructure: Mitch Bradley investigated redoing the
startup scripts in our system, which will end up being about 1/6th the
previous size, understandable by mere mortals, and speed boot time.
Chris Ball took a tcpdump of the web browser rendering over Ethernet
for analysis with netplot. Rob Savoye has been working with Bernardo
Innocenti on integrating Geode specific GLibc functions, which will
improve performance in a number of areas. Bernardo is also worked on
setting up to do the X Window System build environment for power
management and for better handling of our input devices.
11. Kernel: Jon Corbet has a patch to turn off the camera LED when it
is not in use. Andres Salomon worked on a DCON bug that appeared in
some B3 hardware; after a resume, some of the GPIOs were in an
inconsistent state, resulting in problems with DCON interrupt
handling. The real cause is still unknown, but open firmware (OFW) has
been changed to ensure that the necessary GPIO bits become unset after
resume. Richard Smith is investigating further. Andres also worked on
branching a new stable kernel, syncing the libertas tree up with
master, and also syncing master up with Linux 2.6.22-rc1.
12. Firmware: Lilian Walter been making sure that power on/off audio,
SD and the camera work on B3. Lilian is also working on the IPv6 and
ping6. She has some very simple code for the IP layer (no extra
headers for now). Next is to work on the address resolution bit
(maybe hard code it just to test the Ipv6 layer so far with ping6).
Mitch Bradley released released new firmware Q2C14 with several bug
fixes, a first pass at "quiet" boot screen support, wireless LAN
auto-boot support for manufacturing, microphone LED blink reduction
code (reduces the cost of the hardware workaround. Mitch also showed
Quanta how to make an initrd image for manufacturing diagnostics and
rrticulated a scheme for the mechanics of quiet boot across the
firmware, kernel, userspace, and X transitions.
13. Hardware testing: Richard Smith worked on the B3 hardware
checkout. Helped John Watlington test all parts of the system,
including the firmware protect circuitry. Further testing (separate
from the tens of functional tests that each XO is subjected to as part
of the manufacturing process) includes such favorites as:
* Thermal shock: spending twenty minutes at –20C, then jumping to 60C
in less than two minutes; staying at 60C for 20 minutes, then dropping
back to –20C in less than two minutes (the whole process is repeated
* Thermal profile: taking the temperature of most chips on the
motherboard, while running a suite of applications at 50C;
* Altitude testing: operation tested for 8 hrs at 5.5 Km;
* Free-drop steel-ball test (onto LCD);
* Free-throw test: simulating a child free throwing an XO, its
battery, and power brick onto the floor.
One Laptop per Child
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