[OLPC-Philippines] OLPC Ph Jan.31 meeting

Allan E. Registos allan.registos at gmail.com
Fri Feb 20 22:39:03 EST 2009

Carlos Nazareno wrote:
> I would make it clear to the schools that it is their duty to ensure
> their internet connection is appropriately filtered for specific
> content they don't want their kids to find.
> Filtering directly on the laptops would be a lot less effective,
> because smart kids always find ways to disable the restrictions, and
> the other kids ask them to do it on their laptops too :-)


The site opendns.com provides a free service to filter web contents,
it might be a good choice for public schools and organizations to use
and it is very easy to implement.

God bless,


On Thu, Feb 19, 2009 at 2:35 AM, Bernie Innocenti <bernie at codewiz.org> wrote:
> (sorry for the long delay, I have been traveling a lot lately)
> Carlos Nazareno wrote:
>> I'm going to be blunt here (sorry, Bernie, Mel :-/), but as we
>> discussed in the developer list last year, Sugar has major problems
>> interfacing with other systems because the concept of files (which is
>> central to almost any existing computer system) has been removed and
>> replaced with the journal system (which has its own problems, key of
>> which is being flooded with unnecessary entries over time).
> You should test the upcoming 0.84 release, which has a lot of
> improvements in the Journal backend and UI.  The implementation is
> now much closer to what was originally designed (but important
> features are still missing).
> You can easily preview Sugar 0.83 in SoaS.  A little less easily, you
> could install beta releases of the upcoming round of Linux distros
> such as Fedora 11, Ubuntu Jaunty, Mandriva 2009.1 and so on.
>> Also, I am for the exploration of alternative OSes/UIs to XO OS
>> (Fedora + Sugar). Although Sugar presents a clean UI, the speed at
>> which applications launch is... um. slow.
> Startup speed has also improved *a lot* lately.  You can improve it
> even further by disabling the rainbow security daemon, which is a
> feature that does not even exist in other OSes.
> But the real "fix" for startup speed is switching away from the slow
> NAND of the XO.  You will find that things start really quickly with
> on regulr netbooks, and decently fast on an XO fitted with an SD card.
>> Anyway, given all the current upheavals at OLPC, the fact that the
>> XO-2 is probably now under development, and the speed at which
>> hardware/software tech evolves, I'm looking more towards the
>> least-common cross-platform denominators: web browsers, Java, the
>> Flash Platform (which includes Flash Lite and AIR) for content
>> development.
> Frankly speaking, I wouldn't count on the XO-2 being available anytime
> soon, or even at all.  It's not even clear who is working on the
> hardware and the software.
>> IMHO, it's a good route to take and will benefit more communities and
>> systems as any content we create with these platforms in mind should
>> be forward compatible and would run on other systems well since any of
>> the apps we create will be made with a low CPU & Memory footprint in
>> mind. Thus, any stuff developed with this in mind should run on Linux,
>> Mac & Windows - practically everyone who has a computer! (and
>> hopefully smartphones too)
> Indeed.  This is why we've been working hard over the last 6 months to
> make Sugar run smoothly on all Linux distributions and all available
> hardware.  With some effort, it could be ported to OSX too.  However,
> Nicholas idea of porting Sugar to Windows would require a considerable
> amount of effort, and it's not even clear what version of Windows such
> a port should target (XP is obsolete, Vista is doomed, Windows 7 is
> not yet out).
>> Okay, the 3 Flash-dev XO units entrusted to me by 1CC for Flash dev
>> are named after the Ninja Turtles (for obvious reasons). I've got
>> Leonardo & Donatello for testing Adobe Flash and Gnash with (when I
>> get free time, I'll test to see if Adobe AIR for Linux will run on
>> 'em). Michaelangelo is now with John.
> :-)
> We are in contact with Rob Savoye, the author of Gnash.  With some
> funding, he could adapt Gnash to our custom requirements.  Or we could
> hire anyone else experienced in C++ development to do it.
>> I've also installed Teapot's Ubuntu Linux 8.10 Intrepid Ibex
>> (http://olpcnews.com/forum/index.php?topic=4053.0) on Leonardo via an
>> 8GB LiveSD card and have been taking him everywhere as he fits in my
>> manpurse.
>> No complaints so far and it pretty much serves a lot of my travel
>> purposes. It even runs http://processing.org (albeit a little slowly,
>> pretty much the same speed as my PC 6 yrs ago), runs MP3s w/ playlists
>> & DivX movies via VLC, Opera browser runs fine and dandy, Javascript,
>> Flash & Java can be turned off with a few simple dropdown menu clicks
>> for surfing speed.
> Have you tried installing Sugar? :)
> To experience 0.83, you would have to upgrade to Jaunty first.
>> Another nice thing about Teapot's LiveSD card is that it's
>> nondestructive and doesn't touch the XO's internal NAND so I can
>> immediately switch back to XO OS just by removing the SD card after
>> shutting down the unit.
> Indeed.  I wish future netbooks came with no internal flash at all,
> so users could download or purchase operating systems and appliances
> separately.
> The Gdium Liberty, an interesting product we have been shown at
> FOSDEM, works like this:
>  http://www.gdium.com/en/product
> The company that produces them seems eager to find partners in the
> education sphere.  Would you like me to put you in contact with them?
>> Anyway, as I said, XO OS (Sugar) is not very suitable for older users
>> (nor quite compatible with other systems because of the removal of the
>> file & file manager paradigm). As such, maybe we can try and customize
>> alternate Linux builds for the XO-1?
> Agreed, at this time Sugar does not meet the expectations of older
> students.  This is not a design limitation ("low floor, no ceiling:),
> but it's a practical shortcoming of the current versions and it might
> take another year or two for Sugar to offer a better experience for
> advanced users too.
>> I was also talking to Ed Cherlin and Yama Ploskonka and Mel Chua from
>> the developer lists and I suggested that maybe the XO could also be
>> used to jumpstart entire communities and help scientific projects and
>> not be restricted to the just the use of education of small children.
>> We also discussed possible usage to aid in electoral polling.
>> Maybe other customized lightweight Linux flavors could be tested/used
>> for projects such as geotagging and cataloguing ecological diversity
>> (the Philippines is a biodiversity hotspot)? And even cataloguing
>> language, culture, music, dance, oral tradition, etc as the
>> Philippines is very rich in culture.
> DebXO comes to mind, if you want to try it.  The desktop choices it
> offers seem more suited for geeks like me rather than students, but it
> might be a good base for further work.
> My sense is that, the moment you drift away from Sugar, you have to
> start putting together an educational suite from scratch.
> Mandriva and Canonical are working on educational flavors of their
> respective distros, but for young children Sugar remains unbeatable.
>> I was also talking to Gabby Dizon, president of GDAP (the Game
>> Developers' Association of the Philippines) about possible development
>> of content on the XO by local game developers (and not just 1-3 day
>> game jams! we mean quality indie games!)
> Interesting project.  You should contact SJ of OLPC, he organized a
> few of these already.
>> Anyway, those are some thoughts.
>> Ed & Yama immediately advised me to fill out a contributor's program
>> form to apply for units for some of these projects as some like
>> working with universities & DENR (the Philippines' Department of
>> Environment and Natural Resources) for the cataloguing of Philippine
>> biodiversity as results from such studies would immedately benefit the
>> world science.
>> There's so much we can do with the XO-1 to change our country and
>> change the world.
> Indeed.  The tremendous social impact of OLPC is the #1 reason why me
> and many others have been attracted to this project.
>> I suggest we start pooling ideas for programs and usage of XO-1s for
>> the Philippines, and then make combined contributors' program requests
>> addressed all in one go to a single address for convenience of 1
>> Cambridge Center (and as per 1CC contributors' program guidelines).
>> So we need an address where the dev XO units will be stored and then
>> lent to developers and accounted for library-style.
>> As for the use of XOs in classroom settings, again, I recommend
>> starting pilot programs with private schools for reasons of security,
>> staff support and infrastructure. In fact, I even recommend that the
>> pilot programs be done first in top-tier schools because there,
>> better-educated faculty can perform controlled scientific studies on
>> best practices for 1-to-1 computing as it still a relatively new
>> concept on such a massive scale here in the Ph.
> Good points.  Also think of setting up two development teams: one of
> software engineers to make software customizations, and the other to
> to produce localized contents matching the national school curriculum.
> I'd like to help with the former, if we find funding for me to come.
> Bryan Berry of OLE Nepal can offer a lot of advice for the latter.
>> One good deployment target might be Xavier School. Take a look at this link:
>> 1-to-1 Computer-Based Instruction Lesson Plan Design Contest
>> http://w3.xs.edu.ph/?p=5088
>> Also, Xavier School has just dumped Windows for Linux ;)
>> Dump Windows, save millions
>> http://www.chinwong.com/index.php?/site/comments/dump_windows_save_millions/
>> Again, I wasn't at the meeting and haven't watched the UStream yet,
>> but although jumping headfirst into the poorest communities with
>> laptops seem like an incredibly noble effort, IMHO it would be slight
>> shades of blind leading the blind. So again, I suggest start with
>> controlled environments where 1-to-1 computing best practices can be
>> developed, and then knowledge transferred to further communities.
>> I hope that I'm not raining on everyone's parade but although there
>> have been many success stories about 1-to-1 computing, there have been
>> a number of horror stories in the U.S. as well like students IMing
>> each other and cheating, a school left with laptops and no idea how to
>> effectively use them in a classroom setting when the faculty member in
>> charge of the laptop program up and left, difficulties in making the
>> laptops relevant to school curricula, and even horror of horrors:
>> students using the laptops to access porn on the internet.
> I would make it clear to the schools that it is their duty to ensure
> their internet connection is appropriately filtered for specific
> content they don't want their kids to find.
> Filtering directly on the laptops would be a lot less effective,
> because smart kids always find ways to disable the restrictions, and
> the other kids ask them to do it on their laptops too :-)
>> Furthermore, the XO or any laptop or computer + networks are simply
>> delivery systems.
>> What is our payload? Educational content/curriculum. Without properly
>> contextualized educational content, these laptops a lot of their
>> potential would be wasted.
> This is why I think all these small and rugged netbooks are capable of
> offering an equivalent learning experience.  The key point is the
> software.
>> Regarding Sugar, since Sugar has been built to be very lightweight and
>> CPU-friendly from the get-go, what I'd like to see is Sugar
>> installable and can be run on top of other OSes like Mac and Windows,
>> very similar to http://scummvm.org or educational CDs with plenty of
>> educational games and activities for the user. This would be quite
>> challenging, but if sugar can evolve be transformed into a
>> cross-platform runtime environment, it would really change the game.
> See above for what can be already done today, and what could be easily
> done with some development effort.
>> As it is, typical Linux programs cannot just be launched from
>> sugarized icons in Sugar, they still have to be sugarized and this has
>> become a bit difficult because of the XO's Rainbow security system and
>> not all apps can be sugarized. I hope the sugarization can be
>> modified to be more sugarization-friendly for the many, many
>> existing non-sugarized apps out there.
> We've been wanting to deliver better integration of native Linux
> applications from day 1, but we always lacked engineering resources to
> do it within OLPC.
> Now that Sugar is a community-driven project, anyone could step up and
> work on interoperability.  2 to 3 months of effort of an experienced
> developers should solve most of the existing issues.
> As a last resort, Rainbow can be disabled to push the tradeoff from
> maximum system protection to maximum choice of available applications.
>> After all, XOs can be
>> jailbroken and kids who have access to the XOs also have root
>> control of their Linux systems. I like this ethic of "you own the
>> machine, you can do anything you want with it" as it encourages
>> experimentation and curiousity-encouraged creative hackery.
> Rainbow has never been designed as a way to restrict users from doing
> unwanted things.  It restricts *applications* from doing unwanted things.
> The OFW security, however, is a form of DRM and could theoretically be
> used to restrict users from doing things.  We chose instead to let
> users request a developer key if they wish so, because our intent is
> to block thieves from using stolen laptops, not kids from learning how
> their computer works.
> Uruguay wanted more restrictions on the kids, so they implemented
> another security system that I have never seen.  It's open source,
> they can do whatever they want :-)
>> Kent, I think you used to do package building for Vector Linux right?
>> I wonder how fast it would be if ported to the OLPC XO... same if a
>> version of Damn Small Linux or Puppy Linux with the 2.6 kernel could
>> be created...
>> Doc Mana! If you have time from your busy schedule, maybe you can
>> modify Teapot's XUbuntu XO version:
>> http://olpcnews.com/forum/index.php?topic=4053.0
>> Another very game-changing tech would be the ability to utilize
>> Internet-enabled celphones as data modems via USB like the newer Nokia
>> devices. Now since celphone coverage is very ubiqiuitous in the
>> Philippines, this would bridge the digital divide between haves and
>> have-nots even better.
>> Anyway, food some for thought.
> Yeah, really a nice summary.  You should summarize the result of this
> discussion and publish it on planet.sugarlabs.org or OLPCNews.
>> I hope I haven't stepped on anyone's toes or rained on anyone's
>> parade, but in todays toughening economy, we have to be very
>> pragmatic.
>> Nyt all!
>> -Naz
>> P.S. the XO's wifi range is unbelievable. It's a wardriver's wet
>> dream: whereas normal wifi devices pick up 3 hotspots somwehere at
>> Araneta Center, the XO picks up 10. In fact, when driving in a car, it
>> picks up private residence and internet cafe signals on the go :P
> Yes, the wifi range is great.  Be warned, however, that the mesh does
> not scale very much, and some doubt there will ever be a proper fix
> for this.
> Plan access points in schools.
>> P.P.S. I haven't been playing hanky-panky with Leonardo, promise!
>> John, I had lent Donatello to DISCS for some time, but I had to get
>> him back for proper research and benchmarking because wiping Leonardo
>> then installing/uninstalling Flash & Gnash was already getting very
>> ridiculous.
>> P.P.P.S. John, when you're done experimenting with Michaelangelo,
>> maybe you could lend him to Dr. Manalastas for a while. (saksakan din
>> muna natin ng Ubuntu para makita mo diperensiya) Ubuntu on the XO
>> really changed things for me as an "average" user. Anyway, I really
>> need at least 2 units to do proper comparisons and benchmarking.
>> P.P.P.P.S. Jerome, Rowen, the guys at the devel list said that Ubuntu
>> on XO's power consumption may have cut battery time in half because
>> some of the special AMD Geode power-saving instructions hadn't been
>> placed in the Ubuntu XO yet.
> --
>   // Bernie Innocenti - http://www.codewiz.org/
>  \X/  Sugar Labs       - http://www.sugarlabs.org/
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