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

James Cameron quozl at laptop.org
Tue Dec 3 00:16:37 EST 2013

On Mon, Dec 02, 2013 at 09:42:46AM -0500, George Hunt 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.)

I note this has become the subject of this thread ... but then you
went on to say:

> 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.

You lost me at this point, although I did go back and read the rest
later.  The digression did not address the question.

> [...]
> 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.

True, but not really relevant to the subject of the thread; how can
XSCE benefit a tablet deployment?

> The school server is essential for both of these client interfaces
> to manage media storage, limit pornography, collect usage
> statistics, etc.

Well, I don't see it as essential.  I see it as helpful, and
potentially useful.  XSCE is a niche product; the niche being schools
with no support from a large scalable ICT team provided by central

(Schools with such support will find it difficult to adopt XSCE,
because centralised ICT tends to resist shadow ICT).

So I tried to answer the question myself.

For the research, I used the summary feature list here:

And the planned feature list for XSCE 0.5 here:

And the planned feature list for XSCE 0.6 here:

How can XSCE benefit a tablet deployment?

1.  it can be an advanced home router; probably you mean the core
services, like DHCP, BIND, and Jabber.

2.  it can be an internet gateway; probably you mean the core service
iptables, the extended services proxy server, web cache, and content

3.  it can hold content, (a cache); probably you mean extended
services such as web server, course manaement system, backup, book
server, offline content,

4.  it can hold software updates, (a cache); probably you mean
activity update, olpc-update, and customisation stick.

Now, a tablet learner can benefit from these things to varying

- DHCP, helpful, if the wireless routers don't do it,

- BIND, helpful for finding local resources, but not essential,

- Jabber, not useful,

- iptables, helpful, if only because the server is to be positioned in
  the exit path to the internet,

- proxy server and web cache, potentially helpful, if a tablet can be
  properly configured to use it,

- content filtering, as above,

- content caching, useful,

- software updates, not useful, unless tablet specific updates are
  made available.

Where is the documentation for how to use an XO laptop with XSCE?  A
teacher must have this.  Such documentation may be a basis for writing
documentation on how to use a tablet with XSCE.

p.s. note how the future features in 0.5 included MediaWiki and a
Restore service, which are not listed in 0.6.  Why is that?

James Cameron

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