[Server-devel] Regarding my OLPC XS Wishlist

Sridhar Dhanapalan sridhar at laptop.org.au
Thu Jun 2 04:29:51 EDT 2011

On 28 May 2011 08:31, Aleksey Lim <alsroot at activitycentral.org> wrote:
> On Fri, May 27, 2011 at 11:39:54AM -0400, Bernie Innocenti wrote:
>> On Fri, 2011-05-27 at 21:14 +0545, Abhishek Singh wrote:
>> > Dear All,
>> > I've put down my OLPC XS wishlist at
>> > http://asingh.com.np/blog/olpc-xs-my-wishlist/ . Please comment upon it.
>> >
>> > Thank You.
>> Thank you! Forwarding this to the Dextrose list as well.
> I've also CCed guys who do XS work in .au
> Abhishek: thanks for sharing your wishlist.
> From my side, I see the whole picture in case of school server like having:
> * sugar-server[1], the base of any school server. it doesn't provide
>  stuff like moodle (too complicated to be basic) or puppet (useless on
>  this level, since configuring sugar-server should be just install
>  packages/iso and do some automatic work, the higher levels might user
>  puppet or so)
> * any additional services that might be useful in some deployments but
>  are not basic, eg, moodle or wiki.
>  sugar-server should provide needed info via reliable API for these
>  services.
>  in my mind, such services might be formed as separate projects (like
>  sugar-server-moodle) to make it possible to attach it on purpose
>  (there might be useful configuration tool that is being used in
>  sugar-server, mace[2]).
> * final products that include components on purpose (but sugar-server is
>  a required one). It is entirely depends on local needs.

We are looking to make our XS-AU[0] more modular to suit different use
cases. Our initial goal (completed over a year ago) was to make it
work on a single interface to integrate well into existing networks.
Installation is via USB and fully scriptable via kickstart files.

The current XS is very monolithic and bureaucratic. It requires
moderate sysadmin skills to install and maintain. Maintaining the
presence service is cumbersome and impractical in our schools. The
turnover of teachers and students is far too high to ensure that
anything gets managed properly.

We're looking to slim down the XS-AU such that we can have a simple
collaboration server (which we currently call "XS Lite") that is
installable in a classroom as a drop-in appliance. All we really need
is an ejabberd. Registration, Moodle, Squid, backups and so on are
unnecessary. Each teacher can run their own server for their own
class. Conveniently, this could easily run on an XO (XS-on-XO).

> My own running though your wishlist keeping in mind sugar-server plans:
> 1) Porting XS to new version of Fedora
>   sugar-server will be build on OBS[3] for distros that are being used
>   in the field (deb or/and rpm based).
>   So, downstream can just use these packages, add new one and create
>   the final product (there is an idea to teach OBS to create isos for
>   not only SUSE, obs is designed originally)

You're using SuSE as a base? That sounds like an awful lot of work
porting to a distribution that isn't widely used. Why not stick with
the current platform, which benefits from Red Hat engineering and has
a much larger developer, installation and user base? Not to mention
that the XOs use the same platform, meaning that skills can be shared
across client and server.

The XS-AU has been working pretty well on Fedora 11 for quite some
time. We've reconfigured it so that it runs as a set of packages on
top of Fedora 11[1] rather than being a fork. We're quire confident
that it'll work on Fedora 13 without much effort. Fedora 14 will need
a bit of work since it has a newer version of Python.


[0] http://dev.laptop.org.au/projects/xs-au/wiki
[1] http://dev.laptop.org.au/projects/xs-au/wiki/Install_on_an_existing_Fedora_installation

Sridhar Dhanapalan
Technical Manager
One Laptop per Child Australia
M: +61 425 239 701
E: sridhar at laptop.org.au
A: G.P.O. Box 731
     Sydney, NSW 2001
W: www.laptop.org.au

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