[Server-devel] Feedback: Problems with XSCE

Jerry Vonau jvonau at shaw.ca
Fri Nov 29 16:58:34 EST 2013

Funny you just described the situation that I was dealing with in Australia, very centralized administration with some of the lower level IT people having no clue on the design of there infrastructure. Let's not forget the need to function with proxies that my require userid/passwords. Avahi addresses the need to have control over the DNS when you have a server local to the LAN that it serves. Anything is possible when you have cooperation with the IT staff where need to have the DNS work correctly, that is few and far between. Yes one could run a custom image with the schoolserver's info imbedded in the image, don't think that would scale to well with potentially a different image per school. Now one could alter an image to embed this info using the xo-custom routine of mktinycore, that would save generating new images per school given that you're only changing small bits of info, think that would be the preferred method. 

I await your proposals, I'm all for cleaning up the mess to make sugar easier to deploy on a existing network. I'm sure with enough brain storming a workable solution can be found to cover most of the deployment situations if upstream sugar is receptive to the idea that doesn't come from the select few. 

Good luck,


----- Original Message -----
From: "Samuel Greenfeld" <samuel at greenfeld.org>
To: "Jerry Vonau" <jvonau at shaw.ca>
Cc: "server-devel" <server-devel at lists.laptop.org>
Sent: Friday, 29 November, 2013 1:40:16 PM
Subject: Re: [Server-devel] Feedback: Problems with XSCE

Apart from on a flat network, we are not going to solve the problem of working on "corporate-style" school networks using Avahi. That presumes you can get multicast support working across the desired region. 

The equivalent for larger networks would be DNS service records, presuming you can get permission to create them. 

Without going into whom is doing what, I personally know that Sugar is being used: 

    * On networks where DHCP is controlled by centralized IT. 
    * Where the schoolserver's DNS name has to match an existing naming scheme. 
    * Where there is no DNS hierarchy, so computers at every school are named like computer-xyz.example.edu 
    * Where various forms of wireless authentication (PSK, 802.11x, etc.) are required for wireless access, and the students are not supposed to know the password. 
    * Where the schoolserver is required to be in the School District's central datacenter. 
    * Where a single schoolserver has to support more than one school. 
    * Where a single network IP address range is used by multiple schools spaced several miles apart. 

Some might think that these are insane network setups. But when you get into larger organizations things like this become the norm. 

Teaching Sugar to use these sorts of resources instead of a hardcoded name should not be that hard. The catch is there are a lot of historical places which independently have hardcoded this name. 

I may toss out some design proposals on Sugar-devel later this weekend to address some of these. I think the basics should be simple enough to be GCI tasks. 

On Fri, Nov 29, 2013 at 7:48 AM, Jerry Vonau < jvonau at shaw.ca > wrote: 

I agree that deployment on preexisting networks has not really been given any attention given the long standing issues that have been ticketed in the past[1][2]. I like the idea of using avahi to advertise the "schoolserver's" services offered, just need to address the sugar side[3][4]. The changes would entail both a change to the server side and the sugar client side, that is outside of the scope of just "schoolserver" and is part of "sugar"-land. 

I don't think the documentation of the XSCE is any better or worse than what is provided for the XS-0.7 but there is always room for improvement. 


1. http://dev.laptop.org/ticket/11775 
2. http://dev.laptop.org/ticket/12156 
3. http://dev.laptop.org/ticket/8499 
4. http://bugs.sugarlabs.org/ticket/1976 

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Samuel Greenfeld" < samuel at greenfeld.org > 
To: "James Cameron" < quozl at laptop.org >, "Anish Mangal" < anish at activitycentral.com >, "server-devel" < server-devel at lists.laptop.org > 
Sent: Friday, 29 November, 2013 4:10:03 AM 
Subject: Re: [Server-devel] Feedback: Problems with XSCE 

I think you need to be careful how you phrase that -- you just half implied that all laptop.org hosting is going away. There has been a fair amount of fear that resources may suddenly disappear, and I have been concerned about fragmentation where hosting of resources ends up all over the place. 

If there is a perceived need to migrate resources then that should be made clear, as others have already offered potential alternative hosting. But there needs to be coordination. 

Focusing on the Deployment side, I would tend to agree with John's comments as well. 

Both Sugar and the Schoolserver have been historically focused on being their own ecosystem. This has never changed, yet Sugar and the XS are often offered for use where existing DHCP, DNS, and other services already exist. 

Due to local policies, you may not be allowed to name your schoolserver "schoolserver". You may have to support 802.11x network authentication, etc. It is possible to kludge these but the solutions are not elegant. 

If the Sugar and XSCE communities feel that the "enterprise"/first-world use case is a desired scenario where Sugar, IIAB, and/or Moodle may only be a part of a school's network instead of the primary role, then this specifically needs to be targeted. 



On Fri, Nov 29, 2013 at 3:33 AM, James Cameron < quozl at laptop.org > wrote: 

I agree with John. Every point in his documentation section should be 
handled. Especially the point about wiki.laptop.org , which has so 

many distracting links on the navigation bar that we are all used to, 
but which new people become lost in. 

With regard to forums, the type that Google Groups has where they can 
also be received in mail may suffice. 

On Fri, Nov 29, 2013 at 11:44:33AM +0530, Anish Mangal wrote: 
> Hi, 
> I would like to share this blog post from John Ellis with the XSCE community: 
> John is a high school student who is trying to setup XSCE in his class/school 
> under the supervision of his teacher Jeff Elkner. 
> http://johnmichaelffs.blogspot.in/2013/11/problems-with-xsce.html 
> Some of the stuff he points out certainly makes a lot of sense to me, I think 
> the core underling message is to make XSCE more approachable to the end user 
> and the advanced end-user/deployer. He has gone to some lengths to point out 
> specific aspects which could be improved. 
> As we think about the possibilities for XSCE-0.6, I would like to further the 
> discussion along these topics here and/or on IRC. I think the project could do 
> well listening to end users' needs for the 0.6 cycle, especially that we now 
> seem to have our house in order codewise thanks to the terrific work by all the 
> software hackers here :-) 
> Thoughts? 
> Cheers, 
> Anish 

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James Cameron 
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