RFC: Supporting olpc-ish Deployments - Draft 1

Michael Stone michael at laptop.org
Thu Feb 19 00:14:24 EST 2009


Pia Waugh (greebo) and I have spent a fair bit of time in the last month
talking and thinking about what we can do in the next few months to best
support present and future olpc-ish deployments (typically with XOs, typically
running Sugar) and we'd like to share some of our thoughts with you. These
thoughts are presented in draft form in order to solicit your feedback, which
is eagerly awaited, and will likely be incorporated into future drafts.




1. Motivation

We think that many deployment-related needs are not being adequately met,
particularly in the areas of:

    * knowledge-sharing and the ability to benefit from others' mistakes.

    * volume and quality of aid available for conducting deployments.

    * bandwidth, latency, and SNR of channels to other communities which work
      with deployments; e.g. other deployments, educators, software teams,
      distributions, researchers, consultants, and volunteers

2. Use Cases 

We're particularly interested in addressing these situations and needs:

      D1) I'm running a deployment...
            a) ...and I need help! Who shares my problem? Who can help me?
            b) ...and I want to do more! Who/what can I work with? 
            c) ...and I want to share! Where do I go? What is needed?

      D2) I need to talk to people deploying XOs.
            a) Where do I go?
            b) What can I expect?

      D3) I'm working on a deployment plan.
            a) Where to I start?
            b) What have I forgotten?
            c) Am I using best practices?
            d) Can I get a review?
      D4) I need to know...
            a) real deployment numbers, 
            b) maps, 
            c) examples, 
            d) photos, 
            e) techniques,
            f) contact info,

3. Existing Resources for Use Cases

Before we started, there were three basic mechanisms for addressing these use

    1) read the Deployment Guide and the Deployments page(s):


    2) ask olpc-techsupport at laptop.org. (Only available to large deployments?)

    3) poke people on IRC.

These three mechanisms are problematic because none of them can be relied upon,
alone or in combination, to adequately address any of the use cases listed

4. New Resources for Use Cases

So far, we've created two new resources which help bridge the gap: 

    4) weekly deployment support meetings, with minutes at 


       which get aggregated each month into

    5) a Deployment FAQ, 


       similar in form and spirit to the G1G1 


We think that these two new resources, in combination with the pre-existing
resources, will help us provide the next level of support for our use cases.

4. Projects

We presently have several ongoing (interrelated) projects which you might like
to become (more deeply) involved in:

    P1) Keep improving the deployment support meetings

        -- so far, so good!

        -- your participation in these meetings is our best current source of new
           content for the Deployment FAQ and for...

    P2) Organize material captured in the meetings as FAQ entries

        -- the meeting minutes are chronological, which is good for minutes, but
           not particularly helpful for random-access reads. 
        -- FAQ entries seem like a good compromise between maintenance cost,
           timeliness, and satsifaction of the use cases

    P3) Update the Deployment Guide

        -- The Guide is now ~1 year out of date 

        -- and it leaves too much to the imagination: just look at its advice on
           critical areas like connectivity, content acquisition, and means of
           participation in the larger community of 1-1 educational laptop
           programs in general and XO deployments in specific.

5. Status

Project P1 (meetings) is rolling along quite happily only one month after its
inception but it could use your help in order to become even more vibrant,
dense, and ingrained in the olpc-psyche. 

Project P2 (FAQ) is just beginning -- we've done a first rough-cut which you
should review for us and help us edit down into something awesome!

Project P3 (Guide updates) is just a twinkle in our eyes -- and it needs your
help to fly! In particular, three different mechanisms have been tentatively
proposed for how to accomplish the update(s):

    a) By sprints, like the FLOSS Manuals sprints that created the XO and Sugar

    b) By accretion, like the rest of the wiki, performed on a piecemeal basis
       by participants in the deployment support meetings.

    c) By issue-tracking, like software releases.

6. Questions:

   * Does this analysis hold water?
   * Is there anything we could spend our time on which would yield a greater
     return on investment?

   * Are there any fixable roadblocks which prevent group ____ from

         (e.g., pervasive use of IRC for meetings?)

   * <your question here>

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