[Community-news] OLPC News (2008-11-03)

Jim Gettys jg at laptop.org
Mon Nov 3 10:20:19 EST 2008

Community News

A weekly update of One Laptop per Child November 2, 2008

Antonio Battro presented Pope Benedict XVI with an XO on Friday at the
Vatican. The occasion was a papal audience for the Pontifical Academy of
Sciences, of which Antonio is a member. They spoke about OLPC’s
philosophy and objectives in the developing world. Benedict seemed
deeply pleased by our work. Antonio is in Rome to address a plenary
session of the academy. 


1. Joe Feinstein reports that the OLPC QA team worked with a few
different access points, and did some backup/restore testing in a 50+
laptop system test. Frances Hopkins is still capturing logs and posting
bugs, as well as writing up the test cases in the hopes of reproducing
the problems. We received an additional 50 laptops and will be building
a 100-laptop test bed that simulates a rural school environment right
here at 1CC. We continued working on test automation tools, including
remote access to XOs at the GUI level (the VNC is working now, requires
additional investigation), command level (script development is in
process) and physical (serial port) level (Tinderbox). Other approaches
are also under investigation.

2. Testing: Mel Chua reports great first test community meeting!
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Testing_meetings/20081030(soundbyte snips on
this below from

We had a great discussion on Activity testing tonight and ended up
breaking it down into 3 subproblems that we'll need to tackle to move
forward. Mel is looking forward to seeing what people have come up with
at next week's meeting...
     1. How do we prioritize Activities to test? (gregdek)
     2. How can we display testing metrics in places and ways that will
        motivate community developers and testers? (cjl)
     3. Let's look at the current procedure being used to get Activities
        through Testing - how can we improve it? (lfaraone, mchua)
Next meeting - we'll go at the same time, same place next week,
#olpc-meeting on Nov. 6, 2200 UTC (5pm EST). Pre-agenda is at

3. This week Reuben Caron continued working with QA team on testing and
automation. Jabber.L.O has been using ejabberd-2.0.0-0.1.beta1.olpc
successfully all week and has 517 registered users. Reuben also spent
some time researching virtualization methods for the XS to test running
a principal/auxiliary configuration. 


4. Kim Quirk led the first regular call with Perú on their technical
issues, plus follow-up calls with Uruguay. At the top of the priority
list for both Uruguay and Perú are time-based lease management, theft
deterence, and then easier customizations and upgrades. Greg Smith will
be taking the lead in requirements definition based on the feature
requests from these meetings. Reuben Caron continued answering questions
from deployments in Perú, Uruguay, Mongolia and Paraguay.

5. The Jabber server that Reuben has been testing -
ejabberd-2.0.0-0.1.beta1.olpc - has been up all week and has 517
registered users. Reuben also spent some time researching virtualization
methods for the XS to test running a principal/auxiliary configuration. 

6. Frances Hopkins and Sean Hooley continued to resolve tickets and
respond to questions from the first G1G1. The support gang is eager to
prepare questions and answers for the upcoming G1G1. 

7. Henry Edward Hardy and Stefan Unterhauser made some progress in
recreating and understanding the print related problems with quickbooks
that have been plaguing the finance team. Stefan will be joining us for
a few months to work on both sysadmin issues as well as Give One Get One
systems-related work.


8. Scott and SJ facilitated a Game Jam last week in Lima, attended by 5
teams of undergraduates and another 10 individuals from two
universities: USMP-FIA, the engineering and architecture school which
works closely with OLPC Peru, and the National University of
Engineering. A student team from USMP handled the local outreach and
logistics for this event, and students at both unis are in the process
of forming university chapters. USMP had only 10 XOs before the Jam,
some of them B4s; we brought them another 40 machines and they will now
be able to saturate their interested research students (some of whom had
never before seen Sugar or used an XO).

SJ met with local FOSS and free knowledge groups in Peru to discuss ways
to collaborate.
      * CC-Peru - an active force for sharing culture in Peru. They are
        planning local publicity about the CC materials on the XO, and
        helping with Lima's first ever Barcamp on Nov 8, where OLPC will
        be a point of discussion.
      * Derechos Digitales of Chile - primary advocates of improving
        access to Spanish cultural and educational works in South
        America. They are organizing Latam Commons 2008, with help from
        ccLearn and the Ford Foundation, in Santiago from Nov 19-21.
        OLPC and rural, offline access to knowledge are part of the
        agenda there.
      * The Biblioteca Nacional del Perú - the major library in Lima,
        and an archive of public domain Peruvian works. They are
        rebuilding their virtual library, and have a low-volume scanning
        center. Their digital director is interested in community input
        about books to scan, and in making their collections down
        loadable to the XO - Elmo Ledesma Zamora at the Ministry of
        Education is planning to work with them.


9. Stefan, Seth Woodworth, Aaron Royer, Christian Schmidt, Jason McCann,
Matt Keller, and Kim Quirk pulled together the final two weeks of
planning for G1G1 (November 17th!). This included community-media
updates, website updates, Daily Motion, Youtube, Amazon storefront,
donor database mailing, and much more. 

Software Development:

10. The technical mini-conference ( XO Camp) has been rescheduled from
November to early January. The agenda and exact dates are evolving at
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/XOcamp_2. Future feature requests and roadmap
goals are being collected at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Feature_roadmap.
This page collects all well motivated feature ideas without regard to
priority. Feature requests by country are tracked
athttp://wiki.laptop.org/go/Feature_requests. After a period of
brainstorming and discussion, we will choose the most important and
update them with more detail (i.e. requirements and specifications).
Then we will scope the work effort for each and pick target releases.
Some features will take longer than one release to deliver. The two
pages will be tied together so that every feature has one or more
countries identified as target users.

XO OS Software:

11. Chris Ball investigated the state of Joyride builds. Joyride-2519
contains the queued up userspace changes. Joyride-2520 (and above)
switched over to using kernels from the "master" branch, which is based
on the Linux 2.6.27 release. Please report any kernel bugs!

12. Michael Stone prepared materials for his activities talk and his
tools talk. He also spent time advising Ed and Kim and creating a
puritan compilation which regenerates 8.2-767. Michael and Chris are
preparing to travel to Uruguay next week for a 10-day technical visit.

13. C. Scott Ananian returned from an eventful visit to Perú with SJ
Klein, where the emphasis was on community-building and introduction of
our 8.2 release. Scott’s continued working on organizing 9.1 feature
proposals, and prototyping next-gen journal and “click to translate”
features. He also spent some time working on a Memorize-like
collaborative card game in order to better understand our current
collaboration framework.

14. Erik Garrison completed his analysis of issues associated with Sugar
data storage, and explored the Awesome window manager as an alternative
base for Sugar or the XO user interface. He is working to port and test
compcache in the olpc-2.6 kernel master.

15. Paul Fox spent time analyzing a possible issue with the new keyboard
controller, rearranged his git branches and repos to facilitate working
with Richard, and worked on EC firmware cleanup and a bit of new bug and
development work.

16. Dave Woodhouse found and fixed the JFFS2 problem which was crashing
laptops attempting to test wear levelling. This is still being
confirmed, but five laptops have already run for four days each, when
the previous record was about 20 hours.

XS School Server Software:

17. Douglas Bagnall spent the week getting things in order for the
imminent XS-0.5 release. He fixed bugs in XS-tools, XS-livecd, and
XS-otp, and spun an installer ISO for testing. We'll almost certainly be
looking for XS-0.5 RC testers next week.

Sugar / Activity Software:

18. Tomeu Vizoso:
      * profiled activity startup, found a simple change to python's re
        module that would save us 0.5s. Started discussing with pyMaemo
        developers [1] their experiences with python on the Nokia
        tablets, got some ideas that I want to check during the next
      * profiled frame retraction while on the shell. Found a serious
        performance issue in HippoCanvas where the redrawing area was
        calculated naively enough that at every frame step the whole
        screen needed redrawing. A fix has been submitted upstream [2].
      * started work with Eben on improving the clipboard experience.
        Designed a plan for activities to provide useful titles for
        clippings that could be used for more metadata in the future.
        Wrestled with mozilla for adding it, resulted in a patch for
        upstream [3].

19. Simon Schampijer worked on the Sucrose Development 0.83.1 Release,
the first of the 0.84 cycle out the door. With Marco he kept on working
on the integration of Network Manager 0.7 in sugar. Marco Pesenti Gritti
worked on source release automation, it is now possible to release
sources of glucose modules and activities with a single command,
including the announcement to the list with an autogenerated report of
fixed bugs. He fixed an annoying bug with palette positioning, he
published the API policy discussed last week and marked all the Glucose
public API accordingly. Finally he reviewed Benjamin patch to improve
icon caching. Morgan Collett worked on Sugar and activity tickets, and
released Chat and Read for Sucrose 0.83.1. He also worked on improving
the activity collaboration API.

20. Release notes for Sucrose 0.83.1.:

21. Walter Bender's Sugar Digest:

22. Sayamindu Dasgupta worked on SCIM integration to improve our
localization and translation support this week. He hopes to have
packages ready for testing in Joyride by next week.

23. Guillaume Desmottes pushed his last Gadget patches to Sugar master,
meaning that Sugar 0.83.1 will have Gadget support. He released
sugar-presence-service 0.83.1 too. Guillaume spent much of this week
working on the Salut file transfer branch. This branch is now using the
new requests API and gained file transfer unit tests. He also wrote a
simple file transfer demo script for telepathy-python.

24. Jim Gettys worked on understanding the current OpenGL/EXA/X11 driver
development trends and issues around Mesa/Gallium/GEM/TTM/GLSL
implementations to help guide Gen-2. This work is now nearly complete.
Jim also acted as matchmaker between Peter Korn of the AEGIS
http://www.aegis-project.eu project and Wolfgang Stuerzlinger's Façades
http://www.cse.yorku.ca/~wolfgang/facades/ projects, which may help our
touch efforts in the future. Jim also spent time investigating an
off-the-wall idea for touch event encoding (actually, event encoding in
general), reading up on diverse topics such as XML, EXI, and XML-schema.

New Touchpads:

25. The new touchpads underwent further testing. A problem with the
default kernel driver configuration was found to cause a problem on
resumption from a suspend (#8894). Deepak Saxena worked on a fix, with
help from Paul Fox and Andres Salomon, who has encountered what appears
to be a different symptom of the same problem (#8901) with his debxo
"Debian for the XO" releases.


26. Mitch Bradley released OFW Q2E20, formalizing support for the new
touchpad and fixing a partition-creation bug. Q2E20 is necessary if you
want to use Andres Salomon's recently-released "debxo" Debian OS
versions. Debxo uses a separate NAND boot partition, thus speeding up
booting. As a result, the OFW support for partitioned NAND is finally
getting some actual-use testing. Mitch also investigated 
schemes to streamline the installation of OS images onto USB sticks and
SD cards, to account for the fact that such devices have different sizes
and internal geometries and preferred filesystem layouts.

Multi-Battery Charger:

27. Richard Smith tested 143 batteries using two multi-battery charger
(MBC) prototypes. Richard has determined that the over-voltage errors
are the result of the charge balance problem that was seen in BYD
batteries in the field. One hundred percent of the batteries that had an
error in the MBC also had the same failure in the XO laptop. A sample of
twenty of these failed batteries was run though the recovery procedure.
Eighty percent of them then worked normally in the MBC. Forty-five of
them were the new BYD batteries and had zero problems. Ninety-eight were
1CC batteries or G1G1 RMAs. Forty-one had problems. These numbers are
quite high, but not too surprising since there were many G1G1 RMA's for
exactly this problem. Richard has plans to run all the 1CC batteries
through the charger in the upcoming week. Batteries out of the test bed
laptops are next.

Deployment Costs:

28. John Watlington, Richard, and Reuben worked on a manual for
calculating actual XO installation costs under various conditions.
Richard, for example, produced a rough BOM and associated costs for 1
and 2kW off-grid solar and wind power systems. What is the real cost of
giving a laptop to a school that lacks power? Using solar power alone
and providing a single charge to each laptop each day (3-4 hours of
conventional use; much longer in ebook mode), the additional cost is
around $200 per laptop for a mid-sized school (100 students). The manual
is still being refined, but already it reinforces the importance of
laptop power consumption in making it feasible to bring laptops to these
most challenging, yet common off-grid schools.


29. Javier and Colin at Cozybit continued debugging our sporadic WPA
association issues. The problem has been isolated in Network Manager,
which doesn't always correctly pass the security information to
wpa_supplicant for networks that have their information already saved
into network preferences. The already implemented workaround of removing
the network preferences file addresses this issue. Colin will be
spending some more time this week on Network Manager since this bug will
certainly annoy many G1G1 users and it is not clear yet if it has been
fixed in the current version of Network Manager (0.7).

30. Ricardo spent most of the week in testing and debugging the new WOL
( Wakeup On wLan ) functionality. He has discovered a couple of bugs in
the driver that have been corrected by Cozybit. He has also spent time
on the Internet Gateway functionality (formerly called Mesh Portal
Point) in preparation for having it enabled/disabled via the Sugar
control panel in our builds. 

31. Deepak did some more testing under 2.6.27, worked on updating kernel
build scripts and worked on hunting down a suspend/resume bug with the
new Synaptics touchpad.

Contributors program updates:

32. Last week was a bit slow, with only 20 XOs sent out (not counting
the machines sent to Peru); this week we approved another 40 and are
reviewing three large requests for 15-20 each to expand XO pools in
Boston, France and Germany.

Valerie Beyer and Lauren Laba of Desire2Learn organized a group to OLPC
at last week's EDUCAUSE conference in Orlando, organizing a booth there
with information about our mission and raising funds for 15 machines; a
good return on 3 machines loaned for a month.

Peru, after having a slow year in project requests, has 5 good requests
this week following the interest around the recent Game Jam. The
Philippines and France continue to generate lots of good project ideas.
Boston groups are setting up a locally maintained XO pool to deal with
the increasing number of short-term projects in the area.

OLPC Journal, writing and analysis :

33. Michael Stone and SJ are putting out a new edition of the
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC:Journal with brief articles and analysis,
to complement the bullets of weekend news. Other beats, writing, and
analysis are welcome. In particular, summaries of lists we don't
currently cover, overviews of blog/press notes, a rundown of new
relevant upstream changes in other communities, and highlights from new
photos and recordings (including halloween this wek :) would all be

OLPC:News :

34. Greg and others could use help updating
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC:News as well – this is a page for overall
news and can reflect more than just the weekend bullets; and should
point to other regularly updated news feeds (incl. the planet and


Mongolia: The government has appointed a new laptop project unit
manager. She will work with OLPC and the ministry to finish the
distribution of the first 10,000 computers and plan for the next 10,000
to arrive in the coming months. 

Elana Langer has continued to provide support to the laptop schools in
Ulan Bataar, emphasizing going deeper with the laptops. In one
classroom, the students worked with Scratch and were so engaged that
they remained for more than an hour after school. One noteworthy
observation was how the children all exhibited real engagement but
through different styles of working with Scratch. Some used the provided
examples. Some explored and played with the different features of the
language. Some chose a project and went about deepening it. 

Rwanda: The school year is coming to a close. Plans are underway to
launch a “summer camp” for November and December to provide powerful
experiences for children, to continue with teacher and content
development, and to help launch the next set of schools that will begin
in the next school year in January.


In the domestic Nigerian keyboard case, the court granted OLPC’s motions
to dismiss Lancor's claims. This means all of Lancor's claims against
OLPC, Nicholas Negroponte, and Quanta were dismissed. Nicholas and
Quanta are out of the case. OLPC will proceed with its request for a
declaratory judgment in the matter. Many thanks again to the outstanding
support from the legal team at Foley Hoag.

Jim Gettys <jg at laptop.org>
One Laptop Per Child
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