Making OLPC / Sugar Labs more approachable (was: Re: OLPC 10.1.2 Release Candidate 1)

Christoph Derndorfer christoph.derndorfer at
Sun Aug 8 17:09:18 EDT 2010

On Sun, Aug 8, 2010 at 3:56 PM, Ed McNierney <ed at> wrote:

> Instructions:
> 1. Report bugs at - if necessary, register
> first at (as mavrothal kindly points out)
> 2. If you have interesting experiences or user information to contribute,
> please do so at
> 3. If you're unwilling to perform steps 1 and/or 2 as appropriate, please
> don't expect the bug to be fixed, or for anyone else to even know about it.

I know I'm repeating myself here but I find the attitude expressed in these
instructions and particularly point 3 troublesome and a continued source of
frustration for me as well as other people I've talked to. Even more so I
think it's a very clear symptom of the much-discussed disconnect between
developers and end-users in the OLPC and Sugar Labs context.

The core here is that software developers seem very reluctant to step out of
their own comfort zone when it comes to processes and tools (a.k.a. point 3
a.k.a. "my way or the highway") yet consistently expect teachers and other
XO and Sugar users to do exactly that.

This leads to the current situation in which crucial information and
feedback from these users does not make it back to developers and the
broader community. Therefore rather than working on things that users need
or need to work reliably (e.g. the Journal) resources are spent elsewhere.

But that's all just basically a recap of the IRC discussion on #sugar
earlier in the week and many hours of discussions with Bernie and others in
Paraguay over the past 2 weeks.

Now at this point I'd normally stop but seeing that I've been increasingly
frustrated about this and have subsequently complained a lot about it I'll
get off my ass and try something to improve the situation a bit.

Over the next 6 weeks (can't make promises beyond that since university and
my job will then start again) I plan to:

(a) Contact people at deployments asking for their input as to whether they
see a need for a closer feedback-loop between deployments and development
(because maybe I'm seeing issues when in fact there are none). For this I'll
rely on the people I know plus the contacts listed at for starters but please
send along any suggestions on who else to get in touch with.
(b) If it turns out to be a need then ask for input as to how these needs
could be best communicated so we can figure out an appropriate process.
(c) Try to schedule some sort of meeting with several deployments, possibly
as a continuation of the Sugar Labs deployment meetings on IRC or via a
Skype call or something. In my mind the focus here should be input into what
deployments would like to see development focus (more) on.
(d) Compile all the resulting input into a readable format and distribute it
where seen appropriate.

Things I most likely won't do as part of these efforts include (but aren't
necessarily limited to) setting up new mailman-lists, creating a new
category on w.l.o or w.s.o and following wiki talk-pages, asking for a trac
instance, learning to use git send-email, switching to Mutt, booting into
Ubuntu instead of Windows 7, etc. ;-)

As always, let me know what you think.


Christoph Derndorfer
co-editor, olpcnews
e-mail: christoph at
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