[Community-news] OLPC News 2007-10-13

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Sat Oct 13 13:17:09 EDT 2007

[It has been suggested that I CC @devel with this weekly update.
Feedback from the list members would be appreciated.]

1. Indianapolis: Benjamin Mako Hill and David Cavallo gave keynote
talks and led a session on the laptop at the OpenMinds conference in
Indianapolis this week. Indiana is in the vanguard in the US on
laptops for learning (over 110,000 already deployed) and in using free
and open-source software (FOSS) for learning. The conference brought
together educators and developers to discuss issues and share
experiences. OLPC was highlighted for making laptops more affordable
everywhere and for our commitment to FOSS. In attendance were various
governmental entities about to begin 1:1 laptop initiatives.

2. Suspend/resume: John Watlington has written a long description of
the B3/B4/C1 suspend/resume problems, along with what it takes to
modify a B4 to correct the problems can be found at in the wiki (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/B4_Suspend_ECR). A small pre-build will be
assembled next week to test the circuit changes introduced since the
C1 build.

3. Schedules: The Trial-3 Open Firmware (OFW) first code-drop is
scheduled for Monday. Testing of the Q2C28i is happening this weekend,
and a final drop will be available for Quanta next Wednesday. Trial-3
is essentially complete, but we do not need to drop it to Quanta for
another week or two, so we will consider critical bug fixes—if there
is adequate time for testing. Everyone should please be focusing on
First Deployment bug fixes, minor features, and, most especially,

4. Test: Alex Latham spent most of the week performing suspend/resume
testing. We now have a setup that is pretty easy to get running and
keep running. Yani Galanis has spent the week documenting and testing
various network configurations. There were a number of
bugs/enhancements found this week that will help people who have
recently been experiencing problems connecting to their home access
points; for example, now that we support multiple key types, it is
necessary to type $: in front of a hex key for a WEP connection.

Michael Stone is spear-heading a "Test Sprint" day to review test
plans, automation, and finding ways to make it easy others community
to help out. Next Wednesday will the the test sprint day. Please join
in. (Details will be sent to devel, sugar, and testing mailing lists.)
SJ Klein will be getting the wiki to produce inline diffs of watched
pages in response to changes to those pages so that we can more
efficiently track the progress of the sprint.

5. Mesh view: Polychronis Ypodimatopoulos has developed a new
activity, "Space," which displays an alternative mesh network
neighborhood; it offers a sense of space by placing you in the
center and everyone else in the mesh network at a distance proportional
to link quality between you and the node that is being displayed (See

6. Kernel: Andres Salomon spent much of the week debugging
suspend/resume patches related to the display controller (DCON). He
also worked with upstream, massaging patches in, getting more patches
ready, and helping others with their patches.

7. Sugar activities: Simon Schampijer set up a page in the wiki for
the activity template (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Activity_Template) in order to set a
standard by which activity developers communicate about their
projects. (Now that loading new activities is as easy as clicking on
an .xo bundle from the browser, there is certain to be more
activity-related traffic in the wiki.) Simon also implemented the
standard control for providing in-activity alerts (See
https://dev.laptop.org/ticket/2822);  these can be used in the
activities and can be placed at the top or bottom of the window. He
has also begun work on a Sugar control-panel window.

8. X Window System: Bernardo Innocenti has gotten Xorg 1.4 fully
packaged and available for general testing; while we haven't done any
benchmarking yet, it seems to be quite a bit faster. There is still
need for a "kludge" in the kernel to help the hardware abstraction
layer (HAL) and evdev_drv see the glide sensor as a normal mouse, but
that will soon be fixed.

Bernie also reports that we have a fix for the glibc problems
affecting Ethiopian, but it requires upgrading to the F8 version of
the library.  Replacing glibc at this later stage isn't as
destabilizing as it may seem:  the only fallout Bernie can see is the
exposure of a latent memory allocation bug in the olpc-dm program,
which he has already fixed. Of course, we have more testing to do. Rob
Savoye may be helping us with the Geode specific optimizations in
glibc, for the benefit of Gnash and all other applications that rely
heavily on memcpy() and similar functions.
Walter Bender has been working with Bernie, Tushar Sayankar, Jens
Petersen, Parag Nemade, Manusheel Gupta, and Rosh Kamath on a
Devanagari keyboard for the laptop that will be deployed in Mumbai
(See http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Devanagari_keyboard).

9. Build system: Scott Ananian has made significant progress on our
internal build system. We had our first "joyride" builds this week and
hope to open it up to the rest of the developers next week. Scott also
continued to work on the new hourly build system, creating "Joyride,"
"Meshtest," "Rainbow," and "Xtest" branches of the main  build.
Joyride is the current unstable build; Meshtest is a fork for network
testing; Rainbow is a fork for testing security-related patches; and
Xtest is a fork for testing the Xorg 1.4 bits. (The Meshtest branch
contains configuration and testing code to run on the OLPC mesh
testbed; Scott has not quite gotten to the point where he can manage
the build installed on the entire mesh at once, but he is getting very
close.) Michael Stone has begun the process of cloning our
build-system onto teach.laptop.org so that he can fully duplicate
Scott's knowledge and so that he can document the process of
constructing a build machine as he goes. Scott, Michael, and Chris
Ball also have made plans for automated changelog collection that they
hope to help implement next week.

10. Incremental updates: Michael worked closely with James Cameron and
Reynaldo Verdejo to implement several small enhancements to our
present incremental update strategy that user-testing suggested would
be particularly valuable. These enhancements include:
 • better documentation of available update options;
 • the ability to list all available builds;
 • better generic error-reporting;
 • retargetable updates, which give us XO-to-XO updates (See
 • updates that are more robust in the face of intermittent network
connectivity (diagnosed and implemented by Reynaldo).

11. Activiation/leases: Scott also finalized MP security requirements
with Mitch Bradley; they ensure that we can seamlessly upgrade to new
signing keys even after machines are in the field. Scott also
prototyped a "manufacturing-server-less" activation process, to reduce
our deployment risk; and he began to prototype a simple lease-creation

12. Activity Containerization: Michael Stone reports that you can now
update to Rainbow (security-enabled) builds by running

 # olpc-update rainbow-7

Build rainbow-7 comes almost ready to use; you just need to

 # touch /etc/olpc-security

and reboot. The resulting system will demonstrate the current state of
activity containerization.

This state can be inspected in two places:


The Rainbow stdout log records a running commentary on Rainbow's
actions as the system runs. The per-activity-invocation stdout and
stderr files record data printed by activities (including exception
traces printed by failing Python activities). The strace log contains
a detailed log of all actions performed by activities that can be used
to diagnose the causes of activity failure.

13. Language: Ben Lowenstein of Colingo has released Spanish 1-2-3 and
Portuguese 1-2-3 and is looking for feedback (See

14. Music: The music curation team had a listening jam last week,
pulling together works from individual artists and DJs, from the
Beatpick and the Free Music Project. This is being coordinated by
Romain Becker and Sylvain Zimmer of Jamendo, and by Elizabeth Stark,
who are processing the faxed copyright releases and attribution needs
of the artists. Artists and bands on-board since last week include DJ
C, DJ Spooky, Tripwire (tripwire.in), Rainvan, and Split.  All have
contributed songs under an attribution license and at least one
collection under a non-commercial license (for school libraries).

15. Books: Arjun Sarwal is working with Hemant Goyal and Assim Deodia
on a text-to-speech synthesizer for the Read activity (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/E-Book_Reader). Biguniverse has 12 authors
who have offered OLPC use of their stories.

16. Wikitext: Zdenek Broz has been improving the format of topical
bundles of articles (See
The newer templates now need to be ported to other languages.
The Fudia team developing the "Ksana" multilingual wiki reader are
close to releasing a version of their reader/search platform that
editing. Fudia wants to sponsor 8G "wikisticks" or SD cards for our
partner schools.

The MindTouch team, developers of DekiWiki—a popular derivative of
MediaWiki with a "more friendly" editing interface—are working with
Mako Hill to make their platform one of the backends that MikMik

17. Community journalism: The Report activity has been updated (See
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Report); Dan Sutera and his team have put
together a Knight Foundation grant to support making it a scalable
platform for local and regional news.  They now have the site
xotimes.org set up as the global overview of news reported with the

18. Games: A group blog has been set up for OLPC games by the group at
the Education and Technology Center at CMU working on a soccer game
for the laptop (See http://www.olpcgames.org/). They are running a
Pittsburgh Game Jam Nov 16–18 (See http://www.olpcgames.org/?p=16
and http://www.olpcgames.org/?p=18).

Game Jam Brasil was moved to November 10–11, and looks as though it
may be larger than previously expected (See

GAMBIT at MIT are developing a card-game platform on which one could
define and share new card games.

Mind Candy software is turning out a new global puzzle game that they'd
love to have as a channel connecting children in the developing world
with their core audience in the US.  Michael Smith there is planning
to turn a developer or two onto making an XO web interface (e.g., no
Flash) as soon as their site goes live next month.

19. Other content actvities: Hemant Goyal and a small team is working
with Arjun Sarwal in India to develop digital signal processing tools
to work with measure. They are going to implement the filters in
CSound this coming week.

20. Java: Adam Bouhenguel has an interest in evaluating and
benchmarking light-weight versions of Java for the laptop. He would
appreciate input from others who have considered the same questions.

Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

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