[Server-devel] Can XSCE benefit a tablet deployment?

David Farning dfarning at activitycentral.com
Mon Dec 2 18:12:36 EST 2013

On Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 8:42 AM, George Hunt <georgejhunt at gmail.com> wrote:
> This is a branch off of the thread "Does XSCE need a new home?", and
> stimulated by James Cameron's comments quoted where  in part:
> I also disagree with the implication that the tablet is any more
> proprietary than the laptop.  The mix of intellectual property is
> certainly different, but the opportunity for use is also different.
> Therefore the products shouldn't be compared at an intellectual
> property licensing level.
> What is very different is that the laptop was ground-breaking
> original technology, and the tablet is buy-in technology.  This
> cascades into completely different community involvement models.
> (I don't yet see how XSCE can benefit a tablet deployment, nobody
> appears to have enumerated that.)
> At the SF summit, last month, Rodrigo demonstrated sugar running on a google
> Nexus tablet. This was achieved by running the python/sugar mega-package on
> top of the Ubuntu touch distribution.
> Is the Nexus the right hardware platform long term? Well, it's bootloader is
> unlocked! And here, in my opinion, is where the licensing becomes an issue.
> A little Vivitar digression:
> The XO tablet is rebranded Vivitar. On Amazon, besides the XO Tablet, there
> is also a lower cost/capability tablet introduced as a "Camelo".  I
> purchased one. Looked at it's End User Licensing Agreement. Under the DCMA
> (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), it is illegal to reverse engineer or
> repurpose hardware that has proprietary material, without the express
> consent of the manufacturer.  I contacted the Vivitar customer support for
> the Camelo, and asked that they tell me how to unlock the boot loader --
> that I liked their proprietary material, but I preferred to load other
> software which was not covered by their license. They refused.
> Whether Miami sees any value in giving its permission to unlock, and
> repurpose the XO Tablet seems to me an open question. My own preference
> would be to help increase manufacturing volumes of the XO tablet, and
> continue to explore classroom technology integration of client and server,
> which has really  only been successful in a few deployments.
> At the Malaysia summit, there were a few Taiwanese tablet entrepreneurs,
> pushing to become a hardware base for next generation classroom technology.
> Whether any of these initial contacts could provide a way forward is my
> current question.

Your current line of questioning is good. From Activity Central's
point of view we are going to be shifting our emphasis from specific
technologies such as Sugar or XO towards 'Open Educational Standards.'

It seems that many of the core technical pieces of the school server
are in place or shaping up nicely.

In the back of mind I have the fuzzy SAT apology of Linux distros are
to the LAMP stack as the school server is to _____ .

The idea is that the School Server can grow into the lowest level of
an educational stack.  Sorry the thought is so hand wavy :(

One approach is to:
1. Continue improving XSCE until it becomes that School Server of
choice for OLPC deployments.
2. Work with existing deployments that are piloting tablets.
3. Start looking towards other projects like OLE and add the necessary
functionality so that XSCE becomes the School Server choice for them
as well.

> I believe a tablet should be thought of as part of a learning technology
> system, which also includes a laptop, and a school server. The tablet is
> more appropriate for younger grades, and I believe will always a more cost
> effective solution. Touch keyboarding, an essential skill for upward
> mobility, can come with the addition of a bluetooth keyboard, or in upper
> grades, a laptop. The school server is essential for both of these client
> interfaces to manage media storage, limit pornography, collect usage
> statistics, etc.
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David Farning
Activity Central: http://www.activitycentral.com

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