Fwd: OLPC News (05-10-2008) - Tech Team

Kim Quirk kim at laptop.org
Sun May 11 23:48:17 EDT 2008

Chris Ball notes some great community contributions this week:
* Cortland Setlow wrote a script that allows us to support "cloaked"
wireless access points without turning off the rest of our collaboration
stack.  Moreover, he wrote it without actually having  access to such an
access point himself.  Kudos!
* Wade Brainerd conducted a marathon coding session on the "wikiserver" work
mentioned last week (http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Wiki_server), managing to
port the webserver to the XO and turn it into an activity. Chris Ball
produced an archive of the Spanish Wikipedia that contains the text of the
top 35,000 wikipedia articles as ranked by the number of "incoming links" to
each page.  The full activity, containing the snapshot, is 80M in size.
 Wade and Chris plan to add 20M of local images before releasing the
activity -- help is needed coming up with and running an algorithm to select
the images to include.

Guillaume Desmottes:
- Lots of improvement in Gadget. Most of the activities and buddies queries
are not implemented. It properly manages presence subscription.
- Started to implement pubsub notifications support.
- Worked with Morgan on improving 1-1 chat support in the Chat activity.
This allow conversations with non-OLPC users.

Dafydd Harries:
- Helped Guillaume join in on Gadget development and reviewed changes by
- Worked on making Gadget support the kind of queries the mesh view needs.

Eben Eliason:
* Created preliminary mockups for a friendly Sugarized object chooser
* Created preliminary mockups for the long awaited "Group" interactions
* Began discussions with our Season of Usability student who will assist in
designing an interaction model for handheld mode

After a few more days with the mockups, Eben intends to export sequences
representing some use case scenarios, which will be posted to the Designs
page on the wiki for comment.

Andres Salomon:
- updated master to 2.6.26-rc1
- branched 'testing', merged it with
- worked more w/ upstream.  worked with Richard Smith on battery issues
- discovered an upstream lxfb bug, still working on it.

Tomeu Vizoso:
- worked on alternative implementations of Datastore features and discussed
with others how we can go forward in the Datastore front.

Morgan Collett:
- is working on changing presence API for activities; how can we better
specify the dependencies between activities and specific Sugar versions?
Most activities he touches in this release cycle will then not work on older
builds. Also we need an effective way to track activity release numbers
(Chat-37) for stable and developer releases.

Dennis Gilmore:
- reports that thanks to Blake Setlow we have an image that boots and by
putting an  xorg.conf file in place X will start. However there the keyboard
and touchpad don't work.
- An external keyboard failed to work but an external mouse works.
- The patches for upstart need some work.  We will also want to look at
initscripts and customise for our needs, hopefully starting the X Window
System very early in the boot process.

Going forward Dennis would like to only accept packages built in Fedora's
koji. This gives us two things.
- First: its easy to recreate the rpm if needed
- Second: it will ensure that everything will be available to children to
use on a desktop or laptop that is not an XO.
- It will also make it easier for people to develop activities.
sugar-jhbuild against GIT should seldom be needed, with the possible
exception of core sugar developers.  We should ensure that packages are in
all distros and have developers use those.  Fedora, Ubuntu/Debian packages
are usable now.

Michael Stone:
* Worked with Blake, Mikus, Dennis, Marco, and Christopher Aillon on upstart
and xulrunner-pyxpcom for olpc3/F-9 rebase efforts.
* Released rainbow-0.7.12 for testing which should make it easier to create
activities from libraries that expect $HOME to be writable. This release has
also contains a work-around for #6797.
* Involved Daf in "Network Principles" reviews, inquiring about the state of
our  Process One contract, and arranging a procedural follow-up with Robert
* Analyzed Presence Service and NetworkManager maintenance problems with
Morgan, Scott, and Kim.
* Supported Denver Gingerich's testing Andres' 2.6.25-series kernels with
encouragement and with an account on teach.
* Spent a few hours on a minimal MouseKeys jumpy-touchpad workaround which
yielded excellent prior art. (Thanks, Paul Fox & "scrub"

Simon Schampijer:
- Has been working on the control panel. Checkout the branch here:
- For the timezone feature to work you need to apply this patch to
sugar-toolkit: dev.laptop.org/~erikos/001_timezone_control.patch<http://dev.laptop.org/%7Eerikos/001_timezone_control.patch>

Scott Ananian:
- Quanta mfg-data import actually went pretty smoothly this time; hopefully
the surprises will stop or slow down to allow for autmoation.
- Wrote down how Olpcfs interacts with external storage devices.
- Clarified some confusion on network principles; worked out some special
cases with wad to add to the documentation.
- There's a number of initramfs-related things to do:
   * customization key should support .i18n, .kbd, activation/developer keys
   * build quanta .img from customization key (hopefully using same
codebase); we need to document a checksum procedure for them as well
   * modprobe usb-storage to allow modular USB.
   * bundle olpcrd w/ kernel (build system integration)
   * partition support
Scott is hoping to tackle all of these in a batch while the code is in my
head; if you've got additional desiderata, tell him while he's knee-deep in

Richard Smith:
- Assembled a working multi-battery charger with enough parts for 9
functional channels.  This includes modifications to the battery retention
snap that solves the "too hard to remove" battery problem.  Starting next
week it will be placed out in the 1CC garden for people to use. Richard
would like as many people as possible to use it to charge their batteries so
he can begin to gather performance data.
- The next issue is to decide what to do for fixing the retention snap on
the upcoming test build of 50.  Make the parts and then hand modify them or
re-open the tooling.  A new tool will mean a 4 week delay.

*School Server:*
John Watlington:
- Released a new build of XS School Server software (build 163) this week
which fixes some problems with an earlier bug-fix release (build 161).
- Build 163 is recommended for all new installations.

Gainnis Galanis:
- has developed several Network testing scripts to collect and display
information about the network configuration, telepathies and their status,
the neighbor XOs and the forwarding tables. For details see
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Network_Resources. With the help of Michael Stone
these scripts will be in the next joyride. Some of the data was taken from
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Test_Network_Configuration, which he also updated.
- Yanni and Kim have also been working with the NYC team to try to meet
their short term needs. Yanni created a script for associating to a cloaked
AP. The script is available at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Network_Resources.

Polychronis Ypodimatopoulos:
- reports the latest results from his Cerebro's (http://cerebro.mit.edu)
scaling properties. A 65-node testbed was used  with build 703, Q2D14. The
NetworkManager had to be disabled in order to stabilize the behavior of each
XO's wireless interface.
- Results look very promising and can be found here:
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Simple_mesh_test_%28Cerebro%29. He was able to
share a chat session with 65 laptops.

Adam Holt:
- continues to work donor services questions as well as helping out those
who are building up repair shops and repair skills such as Cortland Setlow
(NYC) and Mel Chua (Cambridge/Boston area).
- interviewed and hired two temporary support specialists to take on the
final weeks of G1G1 calls and emails as we start to close down this program.
Sara Lesko and Michael Taylor are now in Adam's office, which is the
temporary location for the 'call center'.
- re-initiated a project to build an asterix based call center with an
automated response system.

Emily Smith:
- worked on about 75 new tickets this week, closing out 95% of the 90 that
were open from previous weeks.
- continues working the replacement, reshipment and refund requests.

Kim Quirk:
- worked with various deployment teams to address their longer term feature
- provided activation server management to allow deployments to get their
own developer and activation keys
- continues to work on issues with the Spare parts program with Brightstar;
as well as in discussions with volunteers to help create more business-like
model for repairs.
- answering pre-sales requests for technical information, network
configuration, as well as bug fix requests from Peru
- Urdu keyboard change requests, and on-going discussions to get a new
Turkey keyboard into production.
- Production issues from Quanta required testing and debug for Haiti and
Ethiopia laptops. Thanks to Arjun Sarwal and Bernie Innocenti for their

Henry Hardy and Dennis Gilmore have installed the 9 new disks in the Coraid
1521 disk system and built a RAID5 array on the new disks. The parity disk
is still being created. The new filesystem is mounted on grinch as

Henry and Richard Smith are continuing recovery efforts on the OLPC server
in China. The file system was apparently damaged in a power outage severely
enough that it is questionable if it is bootable in its current degraded
state. We have ordered and will be building a replica of the server at 1cc
in order to construct a bootable image we can physically mail to China so
the server can be safely rebooted.
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