[Server-devel] mini adventure on the XS

Sameer Verma sverma at sfsu.edu
Sat Jun 30 14:32:21 EDT 2012

I'd like to share a mini adventure we had with a XS in Bhagmalpur,
India. Not many places in India are really remote, given the
population density, but Bhagmalpur is surely rural. A part of my
family lives there.

Location: http://tinyurl.com/bhagmalpur
Blog: http://bhagmalpur.wordpress.com/
Wiki: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_India/Bhagmalpur

Anish Mangal and Arjun Sarwal decided to take trip to Bhagmalpur. I
have 18 XO-1 and a XS 0.6 there. This will grow up to be a 0.7 in the
near future, but I digress. I had to put together the XS in a super
hurry last year, when I had to fly to India on a day's notice
(https://bhagmalpur.wordpress.com/2011/07/27/internet-in-a-box/). So I
grabbed a FitPC and ended up using a mesh antenna (prototype black box
with detachable antenna) instead of a AP. I needed something that
would be plug and play via USB, and the mesh antenna was the only
thing I had handy with no drivers to mess with. This may be one of the
very few projects in the wild running on a mesh antenna...

Internet access is incredibly slow, and hard to get. So, when these
guys got there, I got on the phone and we tried out a bunch of things.
The FitPC has an Ethernet port, that acts as the WAN port. This XS
also has a OpenVPN client, that phones home to SF State University.
Anish plugged a crossover cable between the FitPC and a Windows XP
laptop, only to find that the XP laptop was so bug ridden, it became a
challenge to use it. Switching over to Arjun's Windows 7 laptop, we
ran into a ton of lockdown problems. We switched to Anish's Fedora
laptop and used the Network Manager to share the connection. He
plugged in his phone into his Fedora laptop as well. A couple of
minutes later, I had access to the box from my home in San Francisco.
Home - SFSU - Anish's phone - Anish's laptop - FitPC XS. Note: Anish
had to disable his firewall and SELinux. I'm not sure if SELinux had
to be disabled.

All this crawled at 2.4kBps (B as in bytes). Over this connection, we
had to backup, troubleshoot, rsync, and even edit the apache config to
accommodate some virtual links for non-Moodle media, following David
Leeming's incredibly detailed document
I pushed a few activities to the XS overnight. I was impressed by the
stability of our jigsaw puzzle.

We finally managed to get the kids some new pointers, some new
content, and a few other adjustments. I am sure, both Arjun and Anish
have their own impressions of the project on the whole, and we'll hear
more from them soon.

Sameer Verma, Ph.D.
Professor, Information Systems
San Francisco State University

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