[Community-news] OLPC News (2008-08-12)

Jim Gettys jg at laptop.org
Tue Aug 12 11:45:52 EDT 2008

Community News

A weekly update of One Laptop per Child August 12, 2008

India: Nicholas and David Cavallo spent Monday in Mumbai with Satish
Jha, president of OLPC India, under the aegis of Reliance. The day’s
events included a national video conference, a meeting with Johny
Joseph, chief secretary of 

the state of Maharashtra and a lecture to the Asia Society. Maharashtra
is huge, with 100 million people, or about 10 percent of India’s total

On Tuesday, Reliance and the Digital Bridge Foundation organized a
one-day workshop for teachers, laptop donees and volunteers. The goal
was to provide a basic understanding of the XO and the OLPC approach to
learning in a saturated deployment. The program motivated many attendees
to launch new XO deployments and also to improve existing XO sites in

On Wednesday a similar workshop was held in Goa, organized by Dr. Rita
Paes, the director of a local teachers’ college, and sponsored by the
Goa Chamber of Commerce. Just as in Mumbai, more people and sites were
engaged. With the support of local business and the teachers’ college,
they will pursue a statewide deployment initiative for Goa, which
already is advanced in providing connectivity and computers to schools.

Nicholas, David, Satish, Manusheel Gupta and the Reliance team also
visited the remote Vastishala Khairat-Dhangarvada School, 81 km from
Mumbai, where Carla Gómez Monroy deployed XOs some months ago. The
children sang for their visitors, and presented them with red roses.
Sandeep Surve, Khairat’s single teacher, believes deeply in the OLPC
program. “Education through XOs has completely solved educational
problems like child absenteeism, parent-teacher interaction, and lack of
interest towards education,” he said. “Children relish coming to school
every day, and their interest towards education has risen dramatically.”


Haiti: It was a busy week at OLPC Haiti as the team wrapped up the
summer camp at Republique de Chili. Every major television and radio
station came out as well as several government officials, including the
ministers of education and communication and public works. One of the
second graders showed off her problem-solving skills to the minister of
education. When her computer lost power as she was attempting to
demonstrate her very impressive work in E-toys, the student ran to
charge her laptop while a reporter held the minister's attention. Within
five minutes she returned with a gentle tug on the minister’s sleeve,
excited and determined to display her work.


At the end of camp, the teachers wrote reports on their personal XOs for
the Ministry of Education. They were uniformly enthusiastic about the
program, and training team, and impressed with how the kids easily
worked with one another. They thought the training period was too short,
that the students’ parents should have been more involved and they asked
for more content.

The team spent the rest of the week working on the operations manual.
This was both a content-driven task and a team-building exercise, led by
national coordinator Guy-Serge Pompilus, and organized into three parts
- administration, technology and pedagogy.

The translation of Pootle is now 67 percent complete, and the core
system is 97 percent finished. Translation of the Getting Started OLPC
guide is in progress, and the team is double-checking the current
translation because many volunteers did not use Haitian kryol. They also
have started to translate Scratch, as well as finish Etoys.

Here is an FAQ for the translation

Rwanda: This week saw the first teachers’ development workshop,
conducted from Wednesday to Sunday in the Regional ICT Research and
Training Center. Sixty-five teachers participated from the three launch
schools in the districts of Kagugu, Nonki and Rwamagana. 

The core team involved the teachers in simple XO activities, such as
using the camera, text editor, and Speak. They explored mobility by
taking activities outside the classroom. The main goal was to break any
initial fear among the teachers, and to make them comfortable with
exploring the laptop by themselves. They also used more complex tools
such as Scratch, doing basic programming to create short dialogs in a
very playful way. 

The experience was valuable to the core team, too, for they will be the
ones to provide long-term support as the deployment expands to more
schools. The OLPC team feels they are gaining broader acceptance from
other ministries and organizations. The national coordinator, the
primary participants, the core team, and the OLPC team continue to
develop a strong collaboration. People are very enthusiastic.


China: The Summer Olympics aren’t the only big news coming out of
Beijing. Nortel Networks is setting up a research and development center
in the capital to develop localized software activities and content for
One Laptop per Child in China. Anthony Wong, Manu Gupta, Robert and
Darah Tappitake are working with Eric Lauzon, CIO of Nortel Asia and
Teresa Oon, IT and Business Operations head to develop a framework for
this project. 

1. Michail, Ricardo, Kim, Javier, Ronak Chokshi from Marvell and all the
Nortel people involved with OLPC conferred in Cambridge on how to
advance Nortel's 

involvement with OLPC's mesh. It was decided that for now Nortel would
have the strongest positive impact by assisting Ricardo with his MAD –
Mesh Adaptation Daemon - effort and helping to fine tune the wireless
driver. MAD is a user space process that watches mesh statistics and
dynamically tunes operating parameters like path expiration times and
allowable transmit rates. 

In the next few months, Marvell will release the SDK for the 8682 (the
wireless chip that will replace our current 8388 in early 2009), and we
hope that the company will be able to have some engineering resources
available to work on firmware-level code for the wireless chip. 

Javier will start investigating real-world performance of mesh multicast
schemes by implementing them on top of the open802.11s software stack.
We expect to have such functionality available on the 8682. 

2. Mitch Bradley fixed an OFW2 bug which made "text mode" Windows
screens look garbled (choppy blue screen of death, anybody? ;-). He has
completed the first phase of the Windows-support work. The second phase
involves support for booting Windows from the internal flash. 

3. Deepak Saxena worked primarily on tracking down and fixing an audio
quality regression issue (#7603) in the 8.2 release. Deepak also started
setting up new kernel repositories as outlined


4. Greg Smith, with help from Francesca Slade, created a new page to
track location as well as the hardware and software status of
deployments. See: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Deployments

5. Greg also finalized release 8.1.1 (build 708). Read the release notes
carefully as this release is not for everyone. Do not use it with an SD
Card and be prepared to re-install activities if upgrading from a build
earlier than 703. See:http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Release_Notes/8.1.1

6. Kim is working with a number of people to get the 8.2.1 (build 710)
finalized. For details of fixes in this release,

7. Guillaume Desmottes spent some time this week with Greg, Michael
Stone, Dafydd Harries and Morgan Collett to triage and prioritize the
collaboration tickets.

8. Greg, Kim, Jim Gettys, and Michael are part of a regular team that is
doing daily triage of new bugs for 8.2.0. We will be starting change
control and choosing just the bug fixes that we want in the next few
days in order to get a ship date for this release. 

Software Development:

9. Jim worked with Greg Dekoenigsberg and Sebastian Dziallas to explore
the feasibility of an easy-to-install "conventional" Fedora distribution
(these are called spins) for the OLPC. Preliminary study suggests this
is simple to do. While considerably larger than the OLPC distribution,
it would be small enough to install easily, unless support for Eastern
languages is necessary.

10. C. Scott Ananian continued integration and upgrade work, releasing
new versions of Sugar-update-control and OLPC-update. He also worked
with Martin Dengler to help diagnose and fix a bug which broke
networking in Joyride builds. Prodded by Chris Ball's frustration at the
delays involved in getting new code into a build, he took apart the
joyride package collection system and stared hard at all its components
until he found a tricky bug in an implementation of __contains__ that
caused it to invoke itself 33 million times over the course of a short
run (!). Fixing this bug (and performing a few other performance
improvements for good measure) sped up package collection from several
hours toabout 10 minutes.  As a result, the joyride build process is now
started hourly, instead of every three hours, reducing the testing cycle

Scott also investigated the space penalty imposed by adding an XFCE
environment to our basic build. Initial results (on the 'faster' branch)
show a 50M space penalty, even without adding applications for use in
this environment. 

11. Erik Garrison worked on implementation of partitioning support, plus
building build-side tools to integrate with Open Firmware's partition
update system.

12. Sayamindu Dasgupta spent most of this week trying to coordinate with
the translators on pushing in translations for the next release. He also
wrote patches to fix the Dari keyboard issue and to partially resolve
the Amharic Compose sequence issue. 

Sayamindu spent most of this week trying to coordinate with the
translators on pushing in translations for the Sucrose 0.82 release. At
the time of the Sucrose release, the following languages have more than
80% translations done for Glucose and Fructose modules (and a few other
extra activities).

       Language Overall %
       Greek 	100
       Sinhala 100
       Turkish 100
       Dutch 	99
       German 	99
       Kinyarwanda 98.5
       Spanish 	97.5
       Nepali 	97.5
       Italian 	97
       Kreyol 	97
       Marathi 	96.5
       Mongolian 95.5
       French 	95
       Telugu 	94
       Urdu 	93.5
       Slovenian 82.5
       Dari 	80
       Pashto	80

Note that this does not include Etoys translations.

13.Chris Ball worked on several power manager features which are present
in the new weekly build (joyride-2263). The "sleep" functionality on lid
close or power button press is now more robust, will reliably wake onlid
open, and saves battery life by no longer having temporary wakeupsfor
deciding whether to wake up fully. The "olpc-hardware-manager"script has
now been retired, with all of its functionality taken overby OHM, which
saves us 5-10MB of RAM. 

14. Michael wrote about OLPC's "security" software subsystem, updated
the rainbow and OLPC-utils packages and scheduled a meeting with the
Boston Linux and Unix User Group (blu.org) for the night of August 20th.

15. Eben Eliason created some new mockups (to be posted shortly) for
Creative Commons licensing integration in the Journal, and for a Speech
device which will provide text-to-speech throughout Sugar. 

More Software Activities:

16. Deepank Gupta made tremendous progress with Mohit Taneja on the Food
Force project. www.code.google.com/p/foodforce). The efficiency of the
project has increased dramatically with the development work on the
following features: 

	1. Optimization of the collision detection algorithm
	2. The frame rate has been adjusted to make a better experience for the
children in the shared mode
	3. The changed sprites in a frame are only displayed instead of the
game canvas. 

A number of reported issues have been fixed, too: 

     1. Unhandled exceptions
     2. Increasing the minimum zoom level
     3. UI issues on the movement of villagers near the rural

Integration of texts and creation of a Sugarized package will be
completed during the coming week. The project will be released for
testing and feedback on August 15th.

Spreadsheet Activity: 

17. Manu and K.S. Preeti have been building use-case scenarios to check
the performance of the spreadsheet activity.

Educational Toolkit: 

18. The code in the “model” module was re-factored and the user
interface of the project now supports better interaction tools. Ross is
about to complete the performance testing of the connection module.

School Server (XS):

19. Martin Langhoff reports that the "xs-rsync" package is available,
which allows the XO to back up its data to the XS. In general terms, it
allows publishing of resources on the XS via rsync, with special support
for XO update images. More documentation
athttp://wiki.laptop.org/go/XS-rsync. Scott has applied a small patch to
OLPC-update that adds support for a server parameter. 

A mechanism for triggering scripts when you insert a USB disks intoa XS
is ready. This allows us to deploy content and management scriptsvia USB
disks. Policy and guidelines on how to use this, includingsecurity, are
taking shape. The mechanism uses a ported version ofusbmount - early
documentation athttp://wiki.laptop.org/go/XS_Automount_triggers

Douglas Bagnall started working on the school server this week. He
tackled some bugs in the idmgr (#7606 and #7653), but most of the week
really devoted to familiarization with Fedora and the specifics of
theXS. For a while he was befuddled by a faulty network card, but
byFriday he was back in control and enjoying himself.

20. Thanks to Axel Thimm we have a fixed fakeroot on the XS, and one
less race condition. Jerry Vonau is exploring the Fedora 9 port for the
XS, looking at our custom network scripts, xs-config and
livecd/installcd build infrastructure.


21. Alex Leventhol created a poster about his work on X2O and finished a
working framework that the MIT gamelab programmers got quite excited
about on Wednesday.

22. Francesca finished her work on making Semantic MEdiaWiki accessible
to other wiki editors, which will greatly help us organize our data-rich

23. There are a number of groups interested in getting laptops for
development and test purposes such as SFXO, Fedora, and Ceibal in
Uruguay. SJ Klein is working with them through the contributor's


24. Charlie Murphy, Francesca, Seth Woodworth and SJ put finishing
touches on the design of the test case writing/reporting system. They
were helped by S. Page, Asheesh, Diane Serley, Michael and Henry Edward
Hardy. The first test cases and some results can be seen

25. Greg and Michael have been helping get the word out for others to
help test: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Friends_in_testing. Martin Langhoff
is coordinating a Wellington, NZ smoketests-and-brunch morning with
various Wellington hackers.


26. Erik and Kim are working with Hernan Pachas to prepare the next
15,000 laptops to be upgraded and activated. They will be supplying a
developer to take over the maintenance of their scanning code software.
They also are updating the content in this next upgrade. Erik has also
been involved in Uruguay's problems with the Nand-full issue. He is
helping them with thoughts on how to integrate our solution with their
code base. 

27. Kim finalized the Letter of Intent for allowing some ecommerce
websites to sell OLPC spare parts. We hope to take the first orders in
the next week or so.

28. Greg Dekoenigsberg of Fedora and Red Hat and Henry are exploring
utilization of community resources to enhance our systems administration
capabilities. A mailing list,olpc-sysadmin at laptop.org, has been
established to facilitate this collaborative effort.

29. Mike Lee, a volunteer and active long-time friend to OLPC and the
Media Lab, came by CC100. He is debugging a periscope for the XO so that
you can look at the computer screen to see the scene you want to record.
It is progressing but too still not yet ready for release. 

30. Jack has been fixing the TurtleArt intro. Since this is his last
week at OLPC he is working on getting everything uploaded to the wiki.
Currently the TurtleArt intro is on the wiki as a book. Cynthia also
uploaded a really nice paper by Marvin Minsky on kids and computers.

31. Brian Silverman and Artemis Papert have made three books using
TurtleArt and describing the scripts as Logo procedures. Cynthia is now
converting the procedures to TurtleArt scripts. Some pages of the
TurtleArt books are viewable online at

32. Morgan Collett assisted with triaging the collaboration tickets
for8.2.0. He released Chat-45 for the Sucrose 0.82 release. He started
ona version of Read using Cerebro as a back end instead of the existing
collaboration framework, as a test case and for performance comparison.
He also started contacting activity authors of older activities to find
out if they can be updated or if they need a new maintainer, and to
survey the needs of activity authors.

33. Marco Pesenti Gritti released Sucrose 0.82 and packaged it for
joyride, in collaboration with Simon Schampijer. He fixed a critical bug
which was causing the second instance of some activities to crash. He
looked into the Arabic issues, landed some of the patches and suggested
a solution for the remaining problem with icons direction.

34. OLPC intern Francesca Slade and community volunteers have done
excellent work in implementing our new semantic wiki capabilities for
testing, deployment reporting, and activity tracking. Volunteers S.
Page, Asheesh, and Diane Serley, intern Seth Woodworth and OLPC'ers SJ
Klein, Michael Stone and Henry Edward Hardy contributed.

35. Richard Smith continued to work on the EC command timeouts. Most of
the week was spent testing the new "fastpath" command code. Most EC
commands are now processed in under 3ms with periodic spikes up into the
9ms range.  The spikes are the result of the EC code doing other tasks
before rolling around to processing the command. If necessary these
spikes can probably be eliminated by identifying what parts of the EC
code are taking the longest time to process and either reducing that
processing time or interleaving command code processing inside those
routines. Using multiple machines in his suspend/resume test bed he has
run over 100k cycles without seeing a timeout. While Richard won't claim
that the original problem is fixed because the root cause of the
timeouts was never identified he's moving on to other things. Richard is
going to continue to run his suspend/resume testbed and watch for a
re-occurrence of timeouts.

The thermal issues that we plaguing the multi-battery charger now appear
to be solved. Thermal tests on the 2 existing prototypes by both
Flextronics and RCAL are passing. RCAL is now going to perform a
destructive test to determine the max operating temp of the unit.
Prosoyo shipping 10 units from the chassis they have built and RCAL will
assemble these into complete chargers. The remaining 40 chassis will be
shipped after they are completed. The 10 units will be used for further
testing and software development. At least one of these units 
(and probably 2) will be sent to the OLPC offices.

36. In between continuing ad-hoc testing of joyride builds, Paul Fox
managed to get the EC code booting (built under sdcc) with enough
stability to bring the laptop up. This sped up the debug cycle
dramatically, since the SPI flash can now be reprogrammed in-place. 

37. Michael Stone coordinated volunteer testing by broadcasting and
amplifying the request to help test joyride-2263 on the Wiki, forum, and
on many mailing lists. He also ran meetings, created trac reports,
produced some builds for release 8.1.2 (ECO-6), wrote about OLPC's
"security" software subsystem, updated the rainbow and olpc-utils
packages, scheduled a meeting with the Boston Linux and Unix User Group
(blu.org) for the night of August 20th.

38. Walter's most recent two Sugar digests can be found at:
and http://lists.sugarlabs.org/archive/iaep/2008-August/001471.html

>From the Field

Pakistan: An advertisement Habib Khan ran in the Punjab press reaped
these responses: Eighty-two callers inquired how to purchase one or two
XOs for their children; Two NGOs said they wanted to provide about 150
XOs each to their schools; Almost everyone asked about a warranty, and
wanted to know about machine repairs.

The OLPC user’s manual in Pashto and Dari for Afghanistan is finished,
thanks to the help of two Afghan volunteers, Usman Mansur Ansari and
Sohaib Ebtihaj Obaidi, both graduate students at IIU Islamabad. The
manual is under review for translation of technical terms by the
Ministry of Education and the Ministry of IT and Communication in Kabul.
It is downloadable at:


Telecom,a popular IT magazine in Pakistan, visited the OLPC office to
learn about OLPC, and to interview Habib for a forthcoming issue.

The Islamabad office also added three more books to their school bag
activity, as well as Units Five and Six to their Learn English content
bundle. http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_Pakistan_Activities

Localization of Urdu received a lot of feedback from the children and
teachers. The completed translation reviews can be seen

Habib reports:

“Our prized school for slum children has finally found a small house
where it re-opens later this month. The other school, Mahfooz Shaheed in
Korall valley, also re-opens this month after their summer vacation. We
are planning to test new activities.

“We have performed tests on OLPC build 703 so that we can upgrade the
builds at our pilot project sites soon after the schools reopen. Some

      * The XO battery charge lasts 3.5 hours, but decreases when the
        laptop is used for activities such as TurtleArt and E-toys.
      * The journal slows down when entries rise above 150. 
      * We have selected two fonts that work perfectly with Urdu. Like
        Arabic, Urdu script is written from right to left. Characters
        tend to join in similar fashion to make word. Only Nafees, Web
        Naksh, and Tahoma have complete Urdu character sets which work
        with Sugar. Other fonts are not compatible with the character
        set of Urdu: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Urdu_Screenshots We are
        going to randomly deploy both fonts, then test them with
        children at our pilot sites to gauge their comfort levels with
And in Other News…

The Times of London has published a provocative article entitled, “Why
Microsoft and Intel Tried to Kill the XO $100 Laptop.”

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