Non-Network Time Protocol for Haiti?

Adam Holt holt at
Sun Mar 6 12:06:23 EST 2016

Clarifs below~

On Sun, Mar 6, 2016 at 11:51 AM, Adam Holt <holt at> wrote:

> In Haiti many teachers and kids would prefer the time was set correctly on
> their XO-1 laptops, no matter if the time is off by a couple minutes.  So
> they could really use a script that creates the following /boot/olpc.fth,
> writing it out to an attached USB stick:
> \ Open Firmware
> select /rtc decimal 0 0 0 1 1 1804 set-time
> \ Optionally unlock XO
> disable-security
> Then the teacher/operator can walk around the room to fix all XO's clocks
> (refreshing the USB time as often as she/he wants).  Of course not every
> day can be Haitian Independence Day (Jan 1 1804!) so what the script should
> really do is create a timestamp 1 minute into the future, filling out those
> 6 numbers above correctly.
> The untrained operator (teacher typically) will then move the USB stick to
> the XO(s) in need, to set their RTC's (real-time-clocks).  Some ambitious
> teachers will want to do this every month/semester it appears, to
> sanitize/harmonize all clocks in their classroom/school as much as possible!
> Any recommended approaches to getting the UX clean, so that such untrained
> operator have a visual confirmation that the USB stick has been updated
> with a proper time-stamp, and (perhaps just as important??) the stick
> mounted+unmounted effortlessly without too much risk, when this USB stick
> is recreated hundreds of times within 1 day?  A non-confusing command line
> script can work, that says basically 2 things:
> The less keyboard activity required from the teacher the better.  But I'm
> tempted by command syntax as follows:

usb-timestamper <minute*s*-into-the-future>

> Such that running "/bin/usb-timestamper 5" would create USB sticks
> timestamped 5 minutes into the future.  The default should be 1 minute into
> the future, so running "/bin/usb-timestamper" would be equivalent to
> "/bin/usb-timestamper 1".
> Conclusion: am just looking for general suggestions from everyone as we
> cook up something simple!

We do not want to rely on networking or mesh At All.  KISS (key it
simple/stupid) at the firmware level allows the teacher/operator to move
thru the classroom quite rapidly, fixing the time on each XO laptop as
often as s/he wants.  2 examples scenarios, showing how this will be used:

   1. Teacher/operator may choose to run "usb-timestamper 10" once as s/he
   enters each classroom, if she wants to timestamp the USB stick 10min into
   the future, and then apply this rapidly to all 50 XO's in a classroom/lab
   over the coming 20minutes.  Works great ifs/he does not care that the XO's
   clocks are off by +/- 10min!
   2. Or if teacher/operator is perfectionist, then usb-timestamper
   (interactive command-line program) can be left running on hir own XO laptop
   that s/he carries around the room -- updating the USB stick repeatedly
   while walking around the classroom -- such that each of that room's 50 XO
   laptops has an almost-exact clock, accurate within a minute or so.

> in this case, as USB sticks are the most reliable and quick approach in
> this case.
> Clarif: I will of course train the teacher/operator to set the clock
> correctly on their own XO-1, which will typically be running OLPC OS 13.2.7
> -- so that all these "offline-NTP sticks" are created based on a reasonably
> accurate baseline timestamp :)
> --
> Unsung Heroes of OLPC, interviewed live @ !

Unsung Heroes of OLPC, interviewed live @ !
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