[Community-news] OLPC News (2008-07-21)

Jim Gettys jg at laptop.org
Mon Jul 21 09:39:05 EDT 2008

Community News
A weekly update of One Laptop per Child 

The XO is becoming a Uruguayan national icon. Go to
http://www.ceibal.edu.uy/gobiernoelectronico/pdf_libro/Libro_CEIBAL_en_la_sociedad_del_siglo_XXI.pdf for a look at UNESCO’s extensive Spanish-language report on the Ceibal deployment. Also, see an Argentine newspaper editorial below.


Haiti: The students at Republic de Chile School continue to have a great
time exploring with their XOs. The fifth graders erupted with joy as
they discovered 

“YouTube” during their continued exploration of electricity. They ran
around to the other kids and teachers to show off their discovery. The
fifth grade teacher expressed concern whether her students fully
understood all the information about electricity that they were getting

The fourth graders spent the first half of the week analyzing their
video interviews of their family and community as part of their
transportation study. Several of them were unable to complete their
interviews because their parents, fearing for their safety, required the
children to hide their XOs when outside of school. There was some
discussion among the teachers whether parents are hindering learning in
their efforts to protect their children. 

The third and second graders spent the first half of the week learning
how to create their own game in Memorize. Accustomed to old top-down
pedagogy, it took some time for them to let their creative instincts
take over. Not to be left out, the first graders showed off their
writing and articulation skills (see image below).

During the second half of the week, the Haitian core team and Wanda
Eugene of OLPC took a trip up the mountain to meet with the teachers,
directors, and administrators in Jacmel, the next site where the XOs
will be distributed. Thursday morning, they visited Cap Rouge, which is
a wifi-ready city, in the region of Jacmel, where this is no electricity
and whose public primary school has an enrollment of more than 700
students. The school itself is solar powered. 

The teachers, directors and administrators were really receptive and
asked some big questions, such as, How will the XOs transform education
for everyone?

Rwanda: Juliano Bittencourt met with Théoneste Mutsindashyaka, the state
secretary for primary and secondary education, who re-affirmed his
commitment to the project and stated that Rwanda will be expanding its
commitment next year. Mutsindashyaka also has decided that the
deployment in Rwanda should start by saturation of Kigali, the capital
city of the country where electricity is available.

Juliano also briefly met with Daphrosa Gahakwa, the minister of
education, and Nkubito Manzi Bakuramutsa, executive director of the
Rwanda Information Technology Authority - RITA. Mr. Nkubito shared his
enthusiasm for hosting a regional OLPC workshop in the country and
offered total support. 

The RITA team has translated 96 percent of Sugar into Kinyarwanda. They
are now working to improve the quality of the translation. The Rwandan
core team and the OLPC team began started to work with Scratch in order
to give them a better understanding of the tool before beginning its
translation. The team also gained access to the digital version of the
text books used in Rwandan schools. Together with the staff from RITA,
we are studying the best way to load this content inside the laptops

Birmingham: The team continued to work with youth at the Birmingham
Public Library to learn about diagnosing problems with the laptops as
well as experimenting with their disassembly.

They held meetings with the technical project manager to discuss a plan
for bringing laptops to all the primary schools. They will meet with the
city’s curriculum leader next week to continue to work on the
professional development plan.

The summer camp is going well. Students have formed into groups and plan
to create projects addressing health issues from diabetes to nutrition.
They intend to make commercials and games in Scratch to help educate the
community about their chosen healthcare topic.

Mongolia: The core team and the OLPC group went to the countryside in
the north of Mongolia to begin delivering laptops and to work with
children, teachers and parents. Due to lack of connectivity in the
region, the full report will arrive in the next two weeks. 

Cambridge: The group developed more materials for doing solid learning
projects using the programming languages available on the XO for
distribution to the countries.



1. Deepak Saxena continued to test 8.2 and to work on fixing release
issues, including digging into a suspend/resume lockup and improving
power management control via interfaces to the EC. 

2. Ricardo Carrano spent his first week in Princeton diagnosing various
networking issues reported on Trac for our upcoming release. In the
process he managed to find another serious bug: XOs won't destroy your
network even if OLPC staff tells you that it will ;-).

3. Ankur Verma worked on extending the communication between XO and
other mobile devices that do not support Internet Connectivity - i.e.,
the only way possible to communicate with them is through text
messages/voice calls. A modem/GSM AT compliant mobile phone is intended
to be connected with the school server. It hosts a SMS Gateway which can
be accessed by XO through web browser.

Ankur tested this by hosting up SMS Gateway on his computer and was able
to send and receive messages on XO as shown
here:http://wiki.laptop.org/go/SMS. He also worked on integrating a GSM
phone so that it can be shared between multiple XOs for SMS messaging
and demonstrated that by using off-the-self open source components. 

4. Michail Bletsas attended the 11th International Symi Symposium in
Ouranoupolis, Greece. The Symi Symposium is an invitation-only event
organized every year by the Andreas G. Papandreou foundation. It is
attended by a number of high level politicians, academics, business and
civil society leaders. This year's roster included a Nobel Prize-winning
economist and two European heads of state, as well as many international
development officials. Michail spent a lot of time demo-ing the XO to
very enthusiastic audiences, many of whom recalled having heard Nicholas
describe the OLPC plan four years ago during the 8th Symi Symposium. On
his way back, Michail stopped in Athens to keynote the “1st
International Conference on Pervasive Technologies Related to Assistive

Multi-Battery Charger

5. Lilian received a new charger board with fan control and temperature
sensors. She will update the firmware to read the system temperature and
control the fan accordingly. A prototype unit with a fan (set to full
speed) is on its way to Flextronics for them to run a suite of thermal
tests on the power supply while fully loaded.

Andres Salomon

6. Fixed an ov7670 bug Daniel Drake had noted and sent the patch
upstream. He also sent some of our mmc/sd quirks upstream, so that
2.6.26 users would be able to use SD cards. In the process, we
discovered that one of the fixes we were using was actually incomplete.
Completing it meant that larger SD cards (8gb and such) appear to work.

7. Merged Linux 2.6.26 into the master. In upstream merge window news,
2.6.27-rc1 will include sysprof (via ftrace), so we can stop carrying
around that module, and will include UBIFS (if we decide to play with

8. Worked with Richard on some battery patches, committed them to
testing/master. Unfortunately, he's not happy with them yet, so they
need additional work before they can go upstream.

9. Committed the new mouse driver, prepared it for upstream, but
discovered a race a few days ago. He prepared a fix which awaits

10. Committed the various spec file cleanups/mkinitrd removal stuff to

11. Tested an fb blanking fix from Jordan, as well as another console
fix from lkml. They work, but there's still some weird blanking problem
with either the kernel or geode hardware. Now that we turn off the
console, though, it's a pretty low priority.

12. Spent a bit of time documenting outstanding patches in our kernel

13. Andres also installed Debian Install and discovered Joyride bugs.

14. Running Gnome (on Debian testing) on the XO still continues to work

(other than a jffs2 bug that caused my home directory to get eaten!).

Killing off /versions and the initrd freed up lots of memory and disk
space (also, using xorg's Geode driver rather than fbdev saves a lot of
memory for some reason).

-/+ buffers/cache: 153484 83828 

That's with 83MB free with Gnome (Gnome-panel, nautilus managing the
desktop, etc), epiphany-browser, claws mail, pidgin, network-manager,
and a few Gnome-terminals running. He's pretty unhappy w/
firefox3/xulrunner1.9, but maybe they've worked out the bugs in the
latest update.


Brian Jordan 

16. Wrote a script for getting activities from git repositories and
symlinking them from the Activities folder. This allows the user to
simply git pull the newest versions of activities from their
repositories while keeping them working in Sugar. We are working towards
engaging developers with simpler participation

17. Worked on fleshing out OLPC Physics portal

18. Continued work on the physics activity, collecting a lot of good
advice from teachers and testers. Ben Schwartz and Martin Langhoff sent
messages to OLPC-Sur announcing physics and asking for input. This has
resulted in multiple contacts (one speaks English and is at MIT for the
summer) and is a prime example of the importance of cross-lingual
communication throughout our organization.



Bobby Powers 

19. Continued to work on his system dynamics activity, Model. He made
some small visual improvements but spent most of the time on the
simulation engine. Bobby also made a bunch of mockups of ways to extend
the activity and updated some documentation on the wiki.

For more information:




20. Sayamindu Dasgupta worked on the language pack issue this week. He
has come up with what he believes is a fairly usable interim solution.
His mail to the localization mailing list
has the details on the new features and enhancements in the newer
language packs. Sayamindu also investigated some of the keyboard layout
issues this week, and has been following up with the Fedora maintainer
for xkeyboard-config to best resolve the issues in the newer development
OS releases.

UI & Sugar

21. Eben Eliason continued to create, triage, and close tickets relevant
to the pending release. This included creating new mockups for a
software update system, an icon for the Help activity, and a patch which
logically orders the control panel modules, among other things. This
also included initiating a (perhaps too detailed) discussion about the
plan for activity versioning moving forward. A consensus has yet to
emerge, so the question has been deferred.

22. Eben also spent time discussing possibilities for handheld mode with
Alessandro, the season of usability student. Together they laid out
various interactions that should be supported in this mode, discussed
pros and cons of various interaction models, and began a series of
sketches to visualize the possibilities which will later be discussed
with Sugar developers for technical feedback.

23. Finally, Eben spent some time reviewing the release notes and
cleaning up any information regarding the brand new look of Sugar and
the improved interactions that the new designs offer.

24. Marco Pesenti Gritti returned from vacation. He answered backlog
mail and spent some time thinking about the interaction of OLPC and
SugarLabs release processes. Discussion about it has been going on the
mailing list and the irc channel. Progress has been made, but there is
more thinking and work to do. Marco also helped out with 8.2.0 bug
fixing by triaging and diagnosing tickets and reviewing patches. Finally
he fixed several problems with the zoom level logic in Joyride.

25. Tomeu Vizoso continued fixing bugs, added the ability to delete
activities from the home view and solved the remaining issues that
prevented Google Gears from running on the Browse activity.

26. Faisal Anwar worked with the Sugar community this week to document
best practices for internationalizing activities and integrating fonts
using Pango. Next week he will document the use of the clipboard. Faisal
encourages the community to visit
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Sugar_Almanacand to offer feedback and
concrete suggestions.

27. Morgan Collett tested his fix for blocker #7444 in Joyride. He
tested collaboration with Joyride builds, and struggled to get five XOs
on a Mercury KOB WL465 AP to reliably connect to a Jabber server –
usually one or more of them would not connect or be routable from the
others. The problem might be a funky AP, although it worked reliably
with fewer XOs. Morgan assisted James Munro with packaging updated
Sucrose packages for Ubuntu.

28. Elliot Fairweather continued to work on the BuddyInfo interface for
telepathy-synapse and now has Cerebro/Synapse enabled buddies appearing
on the mesh view
-http://people.collabora.co.uk/~elliot/synapse_buddy.png. Next week, he
will start implementing the Activity Properties interface, and hopes to
make some progress towards working text channels.

29. Guillaume Desmottes made good improvements on Gadget integration
into Sugar. The presence-service is now able to properly manage buddies
and activities from gadget views and update them according Gadget
events. He also installed Openfire and started to test Gadget with it.



30. Daniel Drake continued his bugfixing efforts for the v8.2.0 release.
He identified a problem in the wireless driver that was preventing
simple mesh presence from working; fixed installation of content
bundles; and removed a number of unnecessary packages from the build.
TamTam is currently broken on 8.2, Daniel started working on bringing it
back into shape.

31. Simon Schampijer released a new xulrunner rpm
(xulrunner-1.9-1.olpc3.2) which contains olpc specific patches. The
layout on many sites were broken without these patches. It is available
in Joyride >= 2155.

32. Simon added documentation for the graphical control
panelhttp://wiki.laptop.org/go/Sugar_Control_Panel#The_graphical_user_interface and fixed related control panel bugs like 7510.

33. This week saw the midterm evaluation of the GSOC projects in which
Simon mentors Hemant Goyals' “Integration of Speech Synthesis in Sugar
Environment” project. Simon's evaluation is absolutely positive. Besides
being satisfied that the project is on track, he is particularly happy
with the interaction with Hemant. He is showing great interest into
learning and does not stop to go where it might hurt in the first place
(e.g. the picky Fedora Package review process :). You can read more
about Hemant's project athttp://wiki.laptop.org/go/User:Hemant_goyal.

34. C. Scott Ananian continued working this week on an activity update
control panel (http://dev.laptop.org/ticket/4951) inspired by the
community's work on XO-get and similar tools. Activity authors, please
consider adding 'update_url’ fields to your activity.info files!

35. Erik Garrison tested LZO compression performance, and investigated
the requirements to use it on the XO. He also attempted to learn more
about OLPC’s long-term software distribution plans. He spent most of the
later part of the week working on Trac #7407.


36. Richard worked on EC code, implementing various bug fixes that have
piled up in his queue. He plans on releasing them out into Joyride next
week after a few more fixes. The most notable fixes are:

      * New board ID code for the C3 spin.
      * Critial voltage warning prior to the EC turning off the system
        both with the LED (red/yellow flash) and with a critial SCI
      * New EC command that permits finer control over what battery
        conditions issue a battery status SCI.
      * High-Speed EC command protocol. Approx 2x faster. (“Even faster
        if I

turn off my debugging output,” he reports.)

37. Richard worked with Paul Fox to get the sdcc port of the EC code
base actually booting on hardware, which is wonderful news. Richard
looks forward to when he can stop using the Vmware/virtual box setup.

38. For 8.1.2 Richard released firmware q2e11 which is based on the new
OFW2 code base capable of booting Windows. All of the Windows boot
features are only active if security is disabled. The only EC code
change is the updated board ID for C3.

39. Richard also started work with Deepak on Trac #7458. There seem to
be some messages in the kernel logs indicating EC timeouts. It takes a
few thousand suspend/resume cycles for the problem to occur so testing
is slow.

40. Mitch Bradley got suspend/resume working for Windows XP under OFW2.
There are still some reliability problems with XP suspend/resume, but
getting it to work at all was a major milestone.


41. The QA team (Joe Feinstein, Charlie Murphy, as well as Frances
Hooley and Sean Hopkins - part time on loan from the Support team)
continued with the Trac meeting. They also ran a full-length smoke test
on the 8.1.1 backup release candidate.

42. Charlie wrote test cases for an "Under the tree "scenario for 8.2.0
testing, while Joe verified the stability of the "Under the tree" test
bed running 8.1.1. Charlie has also worked on creation of the
wiki-incorporated test case template.

43. Joe tested the experimental XO provided him by John Watlington. The
machine is running build 708 and is equipped with the new C3 motherboard
and Q2E11 firmware.

44. Joe and Charlie continued working with the volunteer group in
Chicago on the simulation of the school environment and incorporation of
the test documentation into the wiki.

Release Management

45. Michael Stone worked closely with Greg Smith to push us one week
closer to release by conducting extensive ticket triage, running our
release and software status meetings, updating wiki documentation,
studying Semantic Mediawiki and Trac plugin architectures, advising
Hemant Goyal and Martin on packaging issues, performing security work
for Kim, Scott, Hemant and the Sugar team, liasing with Collabora on
collaboration and NetworkManager, and performing some basic community
maintenance with Fedora and with the Boston Linux and Unix group (BLU).

46. Greg Smith created a Releases
pagehttp://wiki.laptop.org/go/Releases with status and links to
currently active releases.

47. Greg also triaged bugs and reviewed feature designs for 8.2.0.
Updated 8.2.0 Release Notes (still draft and subject to change but
getting better) at: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Release_Notes/8.2.0

48. Greg started setting strategy and gathering requirements for 9.1.0


49. Adam Holt returned from visiting almost 20 volunteers - at his own
expense, as he reminds us. Adam drove well over 5000 km to Chicago and
then Atlanta, and then back to Boston. He used Paul Fox's Roadtrip XO
software all along the way to meet volunteers at their home/work
addresses and beyond. It was an intense/heartbreaking/heartwarming (and
hot, without A/C!) trip. Thanks to all who made this trip possible,
opening their homes to Adam, as well as taking him to their favorite
restaurants. Thanks also for the car repair advice, wireless, stories,
and everything else.

50. Give1Get1 shipments finally are falling off, dramatically. Serious
support-oriented preparations are now just beginning for this fall’s new
G1G1: (1) documentation, (2) improving support tools, (3) community


51. dev.laptop.org will pass 1/2 year of continuous uptime this week:

root at crank:~# uptime

10:13:50 up 181 days, 6:36, 7 users, load average: 0.41, 0.56, 0.61.

52. All monitored systems report 100% uptime this week.

53. We are working with Boston Properties to evaluate the costs of
adding a second rack to the 1CC datacenter.

The Manu Report

54. Food Force Project: http://code.google.com/p/foodforce/). This week:

      * Functions have been added that provide the best resolution for a
        better child’s experience of the project.
      * The artwork now fits very well with the text display. 
      * A messaging system has been developed for the various stages of
        the project, making it a more interactive experience for the

In the coming week, Mohit will be working on including a mini map that
will be displayed on the screen whenever the child wants to
navigate/explore the village. 

55. SocialCalc (Spreadsheet): The first version of the spreadsheet has
been well received by members of the open-source community. A mailing
list has been created to explore the use of spreadsheets in education
and rural community development. Subscribe
athttp://lists.laptop.org/listinfo/socialcalc). Thanks to Henry Hardy
for his great support. 

56. K.S. Preeti continues to work on the toolbar to bring it completely
in sync with the OLPC human interface guidelines.


Carlos Slim

Mexico: Nicholas, Jorge Castañeda, Manuel Rodríguez and Carla Gómez
Monroy met with Carlos Slim, Hector Slim, Johana Slim, Arturo Elías,
Javier Elguea, Cecilia Soto, and Raul Cerón. On Monday, Telmex initiates
the deployment of 30,000 XOs in several Mexican states, kicking off the
largest pilot yet.

Trainer training is concluded. Teacher training starts in August, a few
weeks prior to the start of the new school year. In an effort to make
the pilot more far-reaching, the rest of the 20,000 XOs purchased by
Telmex will be deployed at sites throughout Central America.

Nicholas, Jorge, Manuel and Carla, along with Enrique Chavero and Paula
Rivera, also met with Fernando González, Mexico's sub-secretary of basic
education, as well as key members of his staff. These included Juan José
de la Mora, the educational technology coordinator, Rosalinda Morales,
director of indigenous primary education, Ana Lía Babinsky, director of
strategic planning, Virgen Robles, the sectoral coordinator, Leopoldo
Rodríguez, director of curricular development, and Juan Martinez, a
curricular development coordinator. They discussed how to roll out the
machines in Mexico's primary schools. 

The budget for the first phase allows for 20,000 XOs to be deployed at
indigenous schools of one state in Mexico this coming school year. The
second phase, now under consideration, would saturate two to four states
the next school year. All the digital primary school curricula will be
developed in parallel. Both processes will take several months. Jorge,
Manuel and Brightstar will play 

key roles as deployment progresses, as will Carla, who will assist with
the logistics.

Pakistan: Habib Khan brims with news, per usual. He reports a new
marketing strategy has been devised for Pakistan, and will be launched
today. Details next week. Also, Sonia Palwasha Khan, a faculty member at
Bahria University in Islamabad, has signed on as a volunteer. A product
of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, public schools, Sonia was excited to
hear about XOs being deployed there, and in Pakistan.She is interested
in examining the social impact of OLPC on the two societies. 

Salman and Sonia Khan filed the following report about former students
of the now defunct Atlas school, OLPC Pakistan’s first deployment
(Weekend, July 13):

“Equipped with their OLPC’s at home, on the road, while traveling,
playing and at work, the former students of Atlas Public School have
shown their enthusiasm to keep learning despite the odds. The grilling
heat and continuous power failures here in Pakistan make it difficult
for even the best of us to work and think in air conditioned rooms. The
story for the slum dwellers who mostly live under the poverty line, is
quite different. Every individual must contribute to the family’s income
for them to survive. Such is the case of the former students of the
Atlas Public School. 

“Their hunger for knowledge is the same as their hunger for food. Yet
they strive to make ends meet. And they strive to keep learning. Last
week we reported that our first pilot project, the Atlas Public School
was shut down by the owner of the building as he was unable to cope with
expenditures. The news was disturbing for the children as well as the
entire OLPC team. However, when we sought out the children, we were
pleased to learn that they had taken the initiative to create an OLPC XO
Club. With or without a building, learning with the OLPC was on! 

“This week we dedicated another day to these children in order to guide
them, tutor them and observe changes in their behavior. We also attended
another session of the XO Club meeting. 

“The day began with the children setting out for work in the morning.

“Some of these kids sell fruits and vegetables in a nearby market, while
others rummage through junk yards in search for recyclable materials.

Children using their XOs at work

“We talked to them during rest breaks as the day progressed. The kids
had many questions which we answered. They showed us the things they had
learned. Their behavior and talk was a sure indication of the importance
of the OLPC in their lives. The OLPC has been serving more than a just a
learning tool, it’s become a factor for social change. The OLPC children
engage in positive learning activities, whenever possible. The level of
conversation has risen not only between peers, but also in their
interactions with their friends and family members. 

“The impact on this community at large also needs to be mentioned here.
During evening jirgas(local community center meetings) sessions are held
where the adults use the children’s XOs and try to benefit from the
learning tools available on them. Parents are pleased that their
children have been provided with the rare opportunity of learning. At
home the siblings share the XO and are thus benefiting. The environment
within homes is undergoing a gradual change. It is indeed a pleasant
change with a renewed motivation to learn and smiles all around. 

“During the XO Club meeting, the children shared the wonderful things
they can do with their laptops with their friends. The club meeting is
not only a learning session but has also become a showcase of talent.
The children strive to learn and thus impress each other with the
various things they can do with their machines. This has created a
healthy competition amongst the members and participants. 

“The meetings are light and fun. The kids showed us and each other
picture albums they had created with their XOs. The pictures are helpful
in indicating what’s important to these children and how they perceive

An XO Club meeting

“With or without a school building, learning with the OLPC has
continued. The XO has had a major impact on these children’s lives. The
enthusiasm to learn and to seek knowledge is great and can be found not
only on the children, but the adults as well. The XO is not just a
learning tool; it is becoming a factor for social change as well.
Despite the setbacks, the changes are positive and extremely encouraging
for us all.”

And in other news…

An editorial in the July 18theditions of the Argentine newspaper, Diario
La Nacion,discussed the Ceibal deployment at length, and urged action on
similar plans for Argentina. Highlights:

“The OLPC program is a valuable contribution to the educational
propositions developed by the UNO (United Nations Organization) for this
century. Its main purpose is to offer all the children of the world a
worthy education appropriate to the requirements of a globalized

“The OLPC program takes care of making sure that the laptops are
delivered free of charge to the children and to the teachers. The
governments assume the total cost of the project; bidding process,
purchase, implementation, Internet connectivity, maintenance of the
equipment and continuous training for the teachers and children.

“To date, more than 400,000 XO laptops have been distributed around the
world by OLPC. In Latin America, Peru and Uruguay lead the program; In
Argentina, in March of 2006, the Minister of Education at that time, Mr.
Daniel Filmus, had announced he would go ahead with the OLPC project, to
purchase one million laptops to be distributed among schools in
Argentina. So far, the proposal is still in the air.

“In regards to Uruguay, the government is delivering more that 1,000
computers a day through their “Plan Ceibal.” This guarantees total
coverage of their population (children and teachers) by 2009. This means
400,000 computers connected to the Internet. Uruguay will be the first
country that will have achieved this level of penetration of information
technology in their school-age population and represents a significant
model whose benefits will extend to an entire generation.

“It would be good that soon Argentina could offer their school-age
children and teachers, resources that will guarantee the accomplishment
of one of the most important objectives of the millennium.”

OLPC has openings posted for:

      * X Window System/UI Engineer
      * User Interface Developer for Sugar
      * School Server Software Engineer
      * Helpdesk Support Technician
      * Field Network Engineer
      * Networking Software Engineer
      * Accounting Support Specialist

See http://laptop.org/en/jobs.shtml for more information.

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