OFW sad face doesn't say why

C. Scott Ananian cscott at laptop.org
Mon Jul 21 13:23:22 EDT 2008

On Sat, Jul 19, 2008 at 9:36 PM, John Gilmore <gnu at toad.com> wrote:
> security wizard at OLPC removed that recommendation from the Wiki
> page, thus leading to your current troubles.

If Mikus had followed your suggestion, we would not have found this
(legitimate) bug.  Thank you, Mikus.

> 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.

John, I always appreciate your "loyal opposition", but I wish you
would be a little more understanding that OLPC's country clients
*insist* on having a theft-deterrence system in place.  We are doing
our best to provide this while maintaining an open system.
Constructive advice toward this end is always welcome.

> 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.

olpc-update 656.  That does not require upgraded activities.

The forthcoming 8.2 release will provide for automatic upgrade of
activities to match; that was a feature left out of 8.1 due to time
constraints, and I sympathize.

I'd appreciate more details on your failure to upgrade.  Both Michael
and I know of the try statement, but it's not clear which of our codes
failed you.  Maybe it was OFW, and in that case I assure you that
forth has its own equivalent of the try statement, and that Mitch uses

The 'secure' update script (whichever one you are referring to, it's
not clear) is, in fact, debuggable.  Mitch, Michael, and I do so
regularly.  Again, with a little more information on your troubles I'd
be happy to help you figure out what's going on.

> 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.

I try to use olpc-update for everything, but unfortunately our users
have many different use cases, and one tool does not seem sufficient
for all uses.  The one thing olpc-update doesn't do is "one touch"
upgrades; if someone can give me a good design, I'd be willing to
address that.  But there will likely always be at least two upgrade
mechanisms: olpc-update if you've got a functioning system to start
with, and in bad situtations OFW for a 'clean start' that depends on
as little else as possible.

 ( http://cscott.net/ )

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