Printing et al.

Greg Smith (gregmsmi) gregmsmi at
Fri Jan 4 16:34:52 EST 2008

Hi Jim,

Great use case! It raises questions about how to use the laptop to
educate but its has the undeniable authenticity of a real teacher with a
real problem to solve!

FYI there was a cross post from Benjamin Schwartz on the sugar e-mail
list about ways to extend Sugar for taking and submitting tests. That
may not promote constructionism but we could check if an automated
testing system is viable and useful. E.g. is the laptop available enough
and is that a priority for this teacher/school? 

Can we get a copy of a test and some info on the curriculum? Perhaps we
can start a dialog on ways to improve students interest and success with
a programmable (or extensible, configurable, malleable) activity that
teaches by building. We could also include an automated testing/grading
interface so the kids ace this test every time!

I don't think we should tell the teacher they don't need what they say
they need. Let's give them what they asked for and then engage a broader
design dialog if they have time for it.

The basic request sounds solvable with the right configuration. Is the
printer on the network? Can we get the model name and see if CUPS has a
driver for it? What application do they want to print from and can it
generate .ps (if not what format)? Can they just e-mail (or NFS mount,
HTTP post, rcp or whatever) the file to the desktop and print from
there? Is UBS card (sneakernet) an option?

Lastly, is the teacher up to doing it this way (we can translate if

Once the printer is installed you're close but "lpr -P fooprinter" will need a path to the file and they may not be comfortable
with the prompt.

Pardon my ignorance but how hard is it to create a mini-activity in the
Sugar GUI that allows you to run a shell script? May need the ability to
enter a file name or other arguments. Even better would be to drag and
drop a file from the Journal on the print activity and away it goes.
That's my 2 cents on design but let's hear from the teacher.

Sorry for the long post and all the open questions but I think we can
make a teacher in Peru happy if we listen and respond to their request.
Can Jim or someone else help follow up on open questions (I speak
Spanish so I can get in the loop if needed)? 

Let me know if this is not the right list for this kind of discussion. I
don't want to bog down e-mail if there is a better place to refine the
user aspects of this request.


Greg S

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Gettys [mailto:jg at] 
Sent: Friday, January 04, 2008 1:41 PM
To: Greg Smith (gregmsmi)
Cc: devel at
Subject: Re: Printing et al.

Sample 1: OLPC Trial School in Arahuay, Peru:

Needs printing: but not for the kids (too expensive) for any routine
printing.  The teachers need to be able to use an XO for preparing tests
and handouts for the kids, as conventional computers are not available
in sufficient quantities (there is 1 conventional desktop system at the
entire school).

Note that on the scale of schools in the developing world, this one is
still relatively well off.
                             - Jim

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