Fedora 18 features that could affect xo-1

Chris Leonard cjlhomeaddress at gmail.com
Sat Jun 23 10:26:20 EDT 2012

On Sat, Jun 23, 2012 at 3:32 AM, John Gilmore <gnu at toad.com> wrote:

> And foolish me thought a few years ago that with a million+ machines
> in the field, under relatively common management, that there would
> be time & effort allocated to make those old machines run even more
> efficient software over time -- running faster, using less power,
> and taking less space.

I can't speak for OLPC either, I'm just a volunteer, but it seems to
me that a GB is still only a GB regardless of the compression you use.
 Power usage improvement also has limits (which have been pushed
farther by OLPC in EC and OFW than most) until you switch hardware to
say an ARM SOC as the XO 1.75 does (also sensibly adding more

> And to add high leverage features to the old machines, like sharing a
> cache of their infrequently used files automatically among the network
> of machines, backstopped by a local or global server.

See work by Aleksey Lim being developed and soon to be field tested in
Peru as "Sugar Network" that will ultimately help address issues in
poor connectivity environments.


> (We could put
> 43MB of constant debug info into 43 machines, one megabyte in each
> one, if we had a protocol for each machine to get the part it wants
> when it wants them.  And could do the same for the entire Wikipedia
> dump, or the entire library of ebooks, or thousands of free videos
> both educational and entertaining, from all the places in the world
> that are doing free-curriculum development).

See also work bty Sameer Verma on a Pathagar based book server

and work by Gonzalo Odiard on off-line Wikipedia production (I believe
versions are currently available in English, Spanish, French, Polish,
Kinyarwanda, Quechua, others upon request).


or the work on re-encoding the Khan academy videos to ogg (reference
not handy, but available) and putting them on a biggish SD card or

> Where are the audio chat
> programs that turn these laptops into phones for the kids, or let them
> hear the day's lessons from home when they're sick and can't get to
> school (when nearby Internet access is available)?

See widespread talk-to-speech addition to latest Sugar release,
although admittedly the Video Chat activity could use more love.

> We have 95% of the
> deep infrastructure built, and nobody's bothering with the other 5%
> of polish and interface that makes those capabilities usable by the kids.

I think you do not give enough credit to the work being done by Sugar
Labs volunteers and local communities (given that appropriation of
technology is almost a goal in itself).   More developers are always

> OLPC itself was likely to get sucked into new product development,
> paying less attention to the older platform, and indeed that did
> happen.  But what about the in-country education departments?  Do they
> simply not have the expertise (nor enough gifted high-school or
> college students to put in the human labor) to look through their
> software release with a finer comb than OLPC's always-rushed release
> teams could do?  To toss the irrelevant or useless, to recompile with
> optimization for space, to pare away configuration options, to
> actually investigate what happens in DRAM as you run low and improve
> on the sketchy kernel behavior?

More testers always welcome.

> Or even to stick a 1-gig SD card into
> the old laptops as $2 a midlife kicker (and improve the software so it
> can effectively use both the internal and external storage without
> requiring kids to do sysadmin)?

I believe such SD card usage improvements have been made, although
there are challenges keeping up when the upstream moves the mount
point for USB around in the default tree.

> I really don't think it is the nature of software to always get
> bigger and slower.  I think a focused effort can pare it back.
> The country education departments would get clear benefit from such
> an effort (as well as giving their older kids a serious education
> in how modern operating systems work inside).  But no?  Clue me in,
> please.
>        John
> PS: Many improvements made by an efficiency improvement team would be
> welcomed back into the upstream global Linux code base, too.  So it
> shouldn't be too hard to backstop the older kids with country teams
> and the country teams with global developers.

You asked to be whacked with a clue bat, you seemed to have missed or
underestimated the work done by Sugar Labs volunteers and local
communities.  I can't fault you for wanting to see more, we all do, so
send some developers our way.  Beating on OLPC for not doing the
things you want to see them do is not going to move things forward.

Sugar Labs Translation Team Coordinator

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