[Community-news] OLPC News (2008-10-27)

Jim Gettys jg at laptop.org
Mon Oct 27 09:22:54 EDT 2008

Community News
A weekly update of One Laptop per Child October 26, 2008

>From the field…

Note from the editor: more field reports are always welcome for
community news! - Jim

Twenty-five XOs apiece were distributed last week at the SAM bin Noah
and Ghamdan Schools in Sana’a, Yemen. The donor was Mövenpick Hotels &
Resorts. “The laptops are a creative way for children to learn through
discovery, exploration and independent interaction,” said Mövenpick
Hotel Sana’a General Manager Mr. Nasir W. Saudi. “Not only that,
children will be able, through the laptops, to expand their horizons
beyond that of their immediate environment”

Fritz Hoff reports: “In the Netherlands, since November 2007 a
grassroots group is active: OLPC NL. Since May 2008, there is also a
foundation OpenWijs.nl (OpenWise.nl) that helps organizations to start
and implement OLPC projects. Two projects are underway and 15 projects
are in preparation (Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, Suriname, Ghana,
Tanzania, Sierra Leone, Kenya). 

This week we will receive the first 72 XO's for the Netherlands and 15
XO's for Nicaragua. In Nicaragua 2 other projects are being prepared and
through a network of Dutch sistercities perhaps another 10 cities with
more than 50 schools will start projects. Therefore the Ministry of
Education of Nicaragua is already involved. 

In addition to projects in primary education, we are also working with
illiteracy, blind and visually impaired (translated text-to-speach,
braille), tele-health / telemedicine, adult education, technical
education, elearning (Moodle and Dokeos) and websites (communities with

As you can imagine we have an urgent need for people who can help us,
although we have already some very good volunteers.

More information: www.openwijs.nl 



1. Reuben Caron worked with the deployments in Birmingham, Paraguay, and
Haiti this week. He continued work on jabber.laptop.org, installed XS
0.5-dev7 and began testing the installation. Ed McNierney, Kim Quirk,
Michael Stone, and Chris Ball have been involved in discussions of
Uruguay's field issues and preparations for a developer visit. Everyone
benefited from detailed presentations and discussions with learning team
members recently returned from Rwanda, Haiti, Ethiopia, and Perú. 

2. For the G1G1 program, Kim Quirk and Aaron Royer were able to review
the first draft of the Amazon storefront this week. We have first draft
of the returns and refund policies as well as revenue and settlement
report information from Amazon. Most of the community media, magazine,
newspaper ads, TV commercials, and billboards are well underway. 

3. This week Seth Woodworth worked on media for the community, including
posters, banners for blogs and flyers for volunteers/contributors to
distribute. Seth has also been working with our new Google advertising
grant and establishing OLPC presence at DailyMotion/YouTube.

Updates from the Web: A growing number of people are blogging about the
upcoming g1g1. Very little of the conversation lately has been negative,
but people are still looking for more specifics about what we're doing
in specific countries.

Stats for en.forums.laptop.org: ~300 hits a day;~8000 unique visits a
month; Most hits come from the US, followed by the UK, Canada, India,
Austria, Germany, and China

Stats for wiki.laptop.org (previous week): 76,000 unique visits last
week; one of the most popular pages was Greg's Release notes:
(Release_notes/8.2.0). After search engines http://distrowatch.org
directed the largest amount of traffic to the wiki


4. Joe Feinstein reports that the QA team conducted a large school
environment simulation test, with 59 laptops connected to a school
server and ten people using the Write activity simultaneously. The team
tested various access points attached to a school server with the
purpose of developing recommendations for field use. We also started
testing the backup/restore feature of a school server, and continued
working on approaches to automate testing. 

5. Mel Chua is organizing some community
testing:http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Analyzeby Eduardo Silva (User:
Edsiper), which has been chosen as the first community test activity of
the week. We need help finishing the test cases at
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Tests/Activity/Analyzeand facilitating
community testing of this activity over the next week. Join the
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/testingmailing list to participate, or if you
have an activity you'd like to have tested as activity of the week. Mel
is also looking for volunteers to develop a community testing portal on
the wiki. Email to the mailing list if you're interested. Mel also
rediscovered thehttp://wiki.laptop.org/go/XO Monitoractivity, which is
similar to what Joe wants for multi-XO monitoring/testing. We're working
towards using it to oversee a multi-XO test bed now.


6. Henry Edward Hardy reports that the group has made some progress in
setting up mirror servers for dev and pedal. An experimental mirror of
dev is now up and running. There are still a few technical issues to
resolve but progress is being made.

Software Development:

7. Many G1G1 users and country technical leads are now downloading and
evaluating release 8.2. So far, most reviews are very positive.

8. Future release planning is now focused on the Feature Roadmap page
-http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Feature_roadmap- which tracks all the main
features under consideration by the OLPC community for development.

The entire software development group continued with preparations for
the technical mini-conference to be held in mid November. The call for
proposals has gone out. See the planning page for this event and submit
proposals athttp://wiki.laptop.org/go/XOcamp_2

9. Chris Ball worked on adding feature specifications to Trac. We now
have a "specification" ticket type alongside defect/task/enhancement,
and a specification ticket contains fields that the other ticket types
don't (and vice versa). My first pass at a set of specification fields

- Spec reviewer (text)
- Spec reviewed? (checkbox)
- Spec current milestone (draft/submitted for review/approved/first 
milestone/second milestone/third milestone/reviewer signoff/finalize)

Chris expects these fields will be refined before we start using them to
hold the specifications that result from the planning meeting. The goal
is for the release manager(s) to have an overview available as a Trac
report that shows the state of the path through design and
implementation for each proposed feature -- which ones are progressing
steadily, and which are blocked or insufficiently described. Having us
create specs for proposed features should ensure that a round of review
on proposed designs takes place, and also help to guard against feature
creep near the end of the release.

XO OS Software:

10. C. Scott Ananian spent the week in Perú with SJ Klein, and will
bring back a better understanding of the in-country issues we can
address in future software development work. Erik Garrison continued
getting feedback about the use of compcache and issues encountered with

11. Paul Fox now has a working version of the merged EC firmware,
building under wine, and incorporating all of the changes made during
his initial sdcc porting attempt. This should eliminate Paul and
Richard's need for Windows during EC development. Paul has also been
looking at the touchpad issue again, and proposed a button-triggered
shutdown menu for discussion for release 9.1. Paul also thoroughly
appreciated the several presentations made by the deployment/learning

12. Michael Stone began to address some important gaps in his education
by practicing collaborative resumable graphical app design and by
reviewing some important documents like the Cerebro thesis, the DNS RFCs
(1034,1035), Reed's dissertation, and the GPLv3. He also participated in
conversations with the deployment folks and made some preparations to
visit Uruguay with Chris in a week and a half..

XS School Server Software:

13. This week Douglas Bagnall worked on tidying things up for the XS 0.5
release. That involved quite a lot of work on the XS-OTP package, which
is finally out, some repackaging of pam_sotp and ejabberd, and tweaks to
quite a number of other XS packages.

Sugar / Activity Software:

14. Morgan Collett worked on ejabberd on jabber.laptop.org to try and
resolve the issues we are seeing. He wrote up instructions on deploying
ejabberd on Ubuntu Intrepid and Debian, which ship our shared roster
patches, at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Installing_ejabberd/deb. This
should make it much easier to set up school or community jabber servers,
for those not using the XS.

15. Marco Pesenti Gritti spent most of the week working with Simon on
porting Sugar to NetworkManager 0.7. we made a lot of progress and we
have something partially functional. We need to get security handling in
shape (only WEP works at the moment and just as bad hack), implement
settings persistence, re-implement frame devices. He fixed the annoying
flickering when switching between activity and home view, spent some
time on release automation and build system and submitted three proposal
for XOCamp, about performance, compatibility with desktop applications
and web based activities. Finally he did some investigation of Browse
and Firefox usage, results are posted on the mailing lists.

16.  Tomeu Vizoso worked this week mainly in performance, preparing
thevwork for the next weeks and already landing some fixes in startup
performance. He also modularized global keybindings so that by dropping
a single python file like the following in a predefined directory,
actions in response to key combinations can be defined:


Based on this last feature, proposed a solution to extend the "View
source" key to all installed activities:

17. Sayamindu Dasgupta continued his work on the multilanguage support
in Sugar, and came up with patches for Sugar, Rainbow and olpc-utils to
implement the feature (trac ticket #8875). He also investigated a
possible upgrade of the Pootle server to version 1.2.0.

18. Faisal Anwar of Media Modifications integrated community suggestions
into the Sugar Almanac of best practices for developing Sugar
Activities. He also further documented how to use Stream Tubes in
activities and how to use unique inputs such as the game buttons. Please
contribute and refine the Sugar Almanac with your contributions at

19. Walter Bender's Sugar Digest can be found at:

Multicast Update:

20. Mitch Bradley got the multicast updater working via the mesh at a
high data rate, with an XO as the sender. The sender can be running
either Linux or OFW. The latter case is interesting because the setup
effort is virtually nil and it lets you "clone" one XO's OS installation
onto a bunch of other XOs. In the process of developing this capability,
Mitch managed to achieve a mesh throughput of twice that provided by our
current Linux builds, which suggests a possible performance improvement
for the Linux driver.

New Touchpad:

21. Pre-build laptops with the new touchpad have arrived at 1CC and are
being tested. There are mechanical problems with the touchpad buttons.
Quanta assures us they have already been redesigned to correct this
issue. A late-breaking report from the QA team implies other issues, as
well, but tickets have not yet been filed. 

Future Hardware:

22. There was a Gen2 design meeting at 1CC this week. Fuse Project and
Gecko Design have been refining both the hinge and ways of carrying the
next generation XO. The proposed hinge would be very robust and low
cost, but it leaves a "speed bump" between the two screens. An
alternative (and less robust) design eliminated the speed bump but
increased the separation between the screens. It was discarded. Fuse and
Gecko will continue to refine the design to minimize the bump. While an
externally removable battery was proposed, it was rejected as unduly
compromising the machine’s environmental integrity, without providing a
battery that could be swapped on a daily basis.

23. Jim Gettys met with a possible Gen2 CPU vendor to scope the effort
required for X Window System and OpenGL support. He also attended the
UIST conferencehttp://www.acm.org/uist/uist2008/. A fundamental issue
with touch base interfaces has been that they are not "discoverable.”
Many of you will remember the problems presented by systems such as
Graffiti on the Palm. Such large gesture command requires "cheat sheets"
and lots of practice for effective use. The presentation on "OctoPocus:
A Dynamic Guide for Learning Gesture-Based Command Sets" by Olivier Bau,
INRIA Saclay / LRI Wendy Mackay, INRIA Saclay / LRI shows a solution to
this dilemma. A video of this in action should be available soon.

24. NAND device management testing continues. This week one of the LBA
devices failed catastrophically - they have performed about 1.1 TB of
writes, and 5 TB of reads at this point. Mitch and John Watlington are
working with the vendor to determine the cause. Dave Woodhouse generated
a patch to JFFS2, which should eliminate the crashing problems
encountered by the tests. It should enter testing next week. We are
still awaiting a patch fixing the problems with UbiFS. 


25. Deepak Saxena worked primarily on moving the OLPC kernel forward to
the latest 2.6.27 stable release. 

26. Ricardo Carrano continued testing the XO running as an Access Point.
He has encountered some minor issues with XOs disconnecting after long
periods of operation and he is working with Cozybit to resolve them.
Ricardo also added more nodes, and trained engineers at UFF (in Brazil)
to do testing and reserach in the Sparse Network Test

27. Javier, aided by Colin at Cozybit, is digging deeper into the
sporadic WPA association failures. Since the low level stack (driver and
firmware) doesn't produce any association failures when tested by
itself, they have shifted attention to wpa_supplicant and Network
Manager. They have already found that wpa_supplicant tries to reset the
association state machine by issuing an association to an all-zeros
BSSID (which is wrong and seems to correlate strongly with subsequent
failed associations) and that Network Manager calls wpa_supplicant with
arguments different from the ones that we have found to produce 100
percent successful association attempts in our testing. 

28. Guillaume Desmottes spend most of the week integrating Gadget into
Sugar and merging all the long standing pending branches. Sugar HEAD is
now able to detect the presence of Gadget on Gabble connections, publish
user's information according his sugar settings, request random
buddies/activities and display them on the mesh view.

This need the newly released telepathy-gabble 0.7.12 and
telepathy-python 0.15.3. A last minute bug was found in Gabble and will
release a new Gabble next week. A small modification has been made to
the presence-service too which has the nice side effect to close #8444
as well.

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