OFW sad face doesn't say why

John Gilmore gnu at toad.com
Sat Jul 19 21:36:57 EDT 2008

> >> mystery to me.  That is why I use a "permanent" SD card, with my
> >> develop.sig on that card -- then if I need to re-flash NAND I don't
> >> have to worry about who/how puts a develop.sig file in NAND.

Back near Christmas, I put text into the Activation and Developer Keys
page recommending that people use the simple and straightforward
"disable-security" command to put their devkey into the boot flash
(not the NAND) to avoid all future trouble about keys or security
crap, no matter how much you re-flash your NAND.  But a certain former
security wizard at OLPC removed that recommendation from the Wiki
page, thus leading to your current troubles.

It's sad watching a good team continue idiotic wrestling with how much
cost, trouble, fragility and end-user hassle they can insert into a
system that's required by its software licenses and its own philosophy
to be wide open to alteration by its users.

> While Startup_Diagnosis was the repository for that information in
> the past, the relevant bits for the vast majority of users/repairpeople
> have been moved to XO_Troubleshooting_PowerOn and I stopped
> linking to Startup_Diagnosis (which was left as a developer resource.)

The other day I added a link to Startup_Diagnosis from
XO_Troubleshooting_Guide.  The XO_ stuff seemed to be *very* hardware
oriented, i.e. if you didn't have a soldering iron in your hand, with
the laptop guts opened and a raft of nearby spare parts, it just wasn't

I went to the olpc-sf physical meeting today, and tried to help a
woman update her XO to something later than the G1G1 650 that she
received in January.  Someone had showed her "yum update" but that
didn't actually improve anything in the UI or activities.  She was at
the level that's having trouble remembering to put the space in
between "su" and "-l".  I absolutely failed to upgrade her -- I
couldn't use any automated means like olpc-update, because it required
the (%&*$&#^@*(@ USB-only activity upgrade, and it isn't documented
what release number you can safely feed the damn thing if you don't
have an Activity upgrade pack handy.  I followed all the instructions
on the Activity upgrade pack, and it failed on me (the un-debuggable
"secure" update script failed to mount my USB stick and panicked, even
though in a normal boot, the Journal mounts the same stick as
/dev/sda1.  Hasn't the author heard of the Python "try" statement?).
Result: She's still running 650, and we'll chat again in a month at
the next olpc-sf meeting.

Morals: don't assume that your Wiki readers know anything more than the
English language (or their native language).  And don't make five
different ways to upgrade your *(%&*%&^$ product, each of which only
does a third of the job and either depends upon or wipes out what the
other ones do.

> Much thanks to the authors of Startup_Diagnosis.

You're welcome.


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