[Server-devel] Looking for new low power server hardware candidate
david at leeming-consulting.com
Sat Apr 14 20:23:40 EDT 2012
I am just about to go to Oksapmin in the remotest highlands of PNG, where
there will never be road access, as nature surrounds it with her finest such
as the Strickland Gorge. The only access is a 5 day trek or a single engine
plane (landing on a one-way strip sloping with 9000 mountain on one end).
People only have access to newspapers several days late, there is no free to
air TV, no power, and of course school libraries are non-existent partly
because they can never be sustainably stocked with having to be flown in. In
a nutshell, a very information poor area.
Thus the school servers are seen as a highlight of the programme. Even
before the XOs are being used in class in a properly focused way, the
teachers themselves, who are also almost complete beginners with computers,
point out the early gains in terms of early-age students learning
information literacy skills by searching through the resources on the
server. This is a selling point (badly needed as there is such weak support
from the education authorities and their donor partners) that is obvious to
everyone, i.e. the highly efficient means of enriching the educational with
I agree with Sridhar that with the skill sets available in these remote
schools, it is simply not an option to train them and support them in Moodle
administration and so on, but there are some basic functions that the
teachers can use and are very useful, such as the upload facility. I was
just training some teachers to prepare worksheets for students (mostly using
Write but also Joke Machine and other formats) and upload them to a folder
where the students can access it in class. This is so simple and obviously
useful, saving time, engaging the students, and allowing teachers to work
more on one to one basis, that it makes a great introduction to lesson
planning. Not to mention the productivity gains saving time writing and
copying from the blackboard, as they have no way to provide paper worksheets
We are also now training teachers to access the OLPC-AU training resources
offline, via the server. The excellent XO-Cert Manual can be browsed with
all the instructional videos and examples of lesson plans, etc, from a
teacher's XO. The mobile network there is only just workable for Internet at
2kbps and the teachers can't afford to view videos online even if possible.
So the server makes it possible to provide a self learning resources - which
w support with an initial workshop. At a later date w hope some of the
teachers can do the guided online XO-Cert and XO-Expert courses, and we will
localise them for PNG. Thanks Sridhar, Tracy and team!!! [Note - to do this,
we had to figured out how to install offline all the codecs needed for
Jukebox to play FLV, etc]
So the XS is really a highlight for us. We do use Moodle but only to provide
links to the 40GB or so of mainly OERs, which are mainly accessed in html
(Schools Wikipedia, UNESCO ASEAN SchoolNet resources, regional organisation
resources, Khan Academy videos, PNG teacher curriculum documentation,
diverse local stuff, e-books collections). Those are just links to /library
folders using aliases, added as resources on the Moodle home page. We then
add a couple of folders and set up the system so teacher's XOs can upload
and "edit files" and students just browse and download, plus another for
students to upload. We don't bother anymore with class segregation because
even with a maximum of 250 XOs potentially connecting to the server, the
server use is still not very intensive. We just set up the systems, which
run on solar power, and give some basic trouble shooting training mainly on
rebooting the server and checking the access points are on. The small
e-boxes that we use (15W, 1-2GB RAM, with BIOS set to auto power up in case
of power outage), seem to be very robust as well as the XS itself. In one
school we returned after 18 months to find it all working with the server
having run almost continuously 24/7 throughout that time with no problems.
The maintenance strategy would be - make it as reliable and simple as
possible. If it doesn't work, return it to someone who can fix it, and sorry
the "school library" will be closed for a couple of weeks.
The only other feature we use is to enable the news and announcements so
teachers can discuss things with each other and announce to students.
It still needs someone to add new roles for XOs when the teachers are
transferred and so on, but it is a great initial compromise.
Solomon Islands Rural Link
P.O.Box 652 Honiara, Solomon Islands
+677 7476396 (m) +677 24419 (h)
From: server-devel-bounces at lists.laptop.org
[mailto:server-devel-bounces at lists.laptop.org] On Behalf Of Sridhar
Sent: Thursday, 12 April 2012 1:58 p.m.
To: Martin Langhoff
Cc: George Hunt; XS Devel
Subject: Re: [Server-devel] Looking for new low power server hardware
On 11 April 2012 22:59, Martin Langhoff <martin.langhoff at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 5:29 AM, George Hunt <georgejhunt at gmail.com>
>> I think it was Sameer who was telling me that in Australia, they are
>> thinking about one XS per classroom. In that setting, seems to me that
>> XO1.75 (even with only 512MB memory) would be more than adequate.
It's just an idea for us. We haven't actioned anything.
> One XS per classroom is a _bad_ idea for other reasons. One AP per
> classroom is a good idea, OTOH, and an XO-1.75 can probably handle a
> mid-sized school OK.
Why is it such a bad idea?
The thought was to do away with registration, moodle and other
unnecessary services and focus only on the XMPP server.
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