[Server-devel] Dealing with the disruptions caused by XSCE.

David Farning dfarning at activitycentral.com
Thu Aug 8 03:47:51 EDT 2013

Over the past couple of days there have been some threads about XSCE
and OLPC-XS which raised some interesting questions.

The primary impetus for the project was that several of the original
participants had struggled to deploy and adapt OLPC-XS to meet a
specific deployments needs. The original School Server design was
sound. We felt deployments struggled unnecessary with the monolithic
implementation. The project could improve from a more modular
implementation. The potential rewards or a rewrite were significant.

However, the risks were just as significant:
1. The project could fail for any of a million reasons. That would
mean wasted work and pilots left with an unsupported server.
2. The project could alienated current stakeholders. Several people
and organizations had become experts at setting up and maintain XS
systems. A different system would have a negative impact on the value
of their expertise.
3. The project would reduce the value of past investments in XS.
Several deployments had invested significant amounts of time and money
on their current systems. A different system would have a negative
impact on the value of their investment.

As the impact on of XSCE increases, the ecosystem is adapting to these
changes by adapting, ignoring, or pushing back. These are all rational
adaptations. Building credibility is an iterative process. The
responsibility for building the credibility is squarely on the
shoulders of XSCE to _prove_ that the rewards of working with the
project are greater than the risks.

This is all pretty straightforward stuff as described by Disruptive
Innovation theory.

This disruption is particularly evident in the relationship between
XSCE and OLPC. Long term, XSCE _might_ be valuable to OLPC in their
role as "The world food bank of education." Short term. in their roles
as a sustainable business, it is a pain in the ass. What do you say to
a customer when they ask for features which are still in a unreleased
version of a community project... which just showed up on their wiki
one day.

Now that XSCE exists and is a viable project, OLPC will have to make a
decision; take a wait and see approach, compete with it, or
collaborate with it.

A first question is should the XSCE wiki remain in a username space at
wiki.laptop.org ? Should it move to another home? Should it move to
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/XSCE ? or should we wait 3 months and
revisit the issue?

David Farning
Activity Central: http://www.activitycentral.com

More information about the Server-devel mailing list