[Server-devel] XSCE Release 5.1

Tim Moody tim at timmoody.com
Sun Jul 27 19:57:35 EDT 2014

On behalf of the many contributors to the School Server Community Edition I am pleased to announce Release 5.1.  

XSCE 5.1 has been tested on a variety of hardware platforms including OLPC XO-4 laptops, 64 bit servers, and VBox VMs.

Please help with further testing.

To get started (assuming you have git setup) please follow the instructions at https://github.com/XSCE/xsce/blob/master/docs/INSTALL.rst or the instructions in the Release Notes.

The 5.1 release can be cloned by

git clone https://github.com/XSCE/xsce.git --branch release-5.1 --depth 1

or if you want the entire repository:

git clone https://github.com/XSCE/xsce.git
git checkout release-5.1

The release notes that follow are at https://github.com/XSCE/xsce/blob/master/ReleaseNotes5.1.rst

Release Notes for XSCE 5.1
Release 5.1 pursues two parallel goals, the addition of New Features and Improvements to Existing Features.

New Features
In addition to being a web server, XSCE can now operate as a file server. For this release /library/public is publicly shared by default, but another directory can chosen by changing the variable {{ shared_dir }}. N.B. that an XO does not have a samba-client installed by default.

The XO Visualization package, created by Martin Dluhos, draws graphs that represent XO usage extrapolated from backup files on the server. There are a number of ansible variables that can customize this package.

vnStat is another arrow in the management quiver that allows console-based network traffic monitoring for analysis and trouble-shooting.

Easier Customization and Administration
With 5.1 we begin a framework to make customizing installations easier.

  a.. Introduction of vars/local_vars.yml: variable values in this file will override the values in vars/default_vars.yml. A new git repo has also been created, https://github.com/XSCE/xsce-local, in which branches can be used to store variable settings for a particular deployment. 
  b.. Conditional Install: we have begun to add install and enable flags for optional features. Hopefully this will be built out further in the next release. 
  c.. Standard Admin User: Variables are in place to add an administrative user the name and password of which can be customized through local_vars.yml. There is also provision for a custom authorized_keys file which can be specified for a particular deployment.
Support for Fedora 20
A new rpm repo has been added with rpms for Fedora 20 at http://download.unleashkids.org/xsce/repos/xsce/testing/.

The version of IIAB has been upgraded to include Full Text Search in the wikipediae and in Open Street Maps.

Whitelist filtering and https filtering have been added.

Ansible Structure
Nine aggregate categores have been created to make a clearer delineation of xsce features. Changes required by ansible 1.6. have also been implemented.

OpenVPN was in previous releases, but without sufficient customization to make it easily implemented. This is now greatly improved and includes support for 3g modems.

More localization and directory-driven content menus have been added.

Server Install
To get started please install git and ansible and then issue as root:


git clone https://github.com/XSCE/xsce.git --depth 1 -b release-5.1

cd xsce


On an XO-4 the machine will reboot and it is necessary to execute ./runansible again.

Some services, such as samba and Authserver, do not become active until a reboot.

Server Tests
A testing checklist is at https://github.com/XSCE/xsce/blob/master/docs/TESTING.rst.

The first step in automating testing is reflected in https://github.com/XSCE/xsce-tests, which includes scripts that can be loaded onto an XO client to perform basic smoke tests.

Please help test this and file bugs at https://github.com/XSCE/xsce/issues?state=open

  a.. 64 bit Intel: tested on both VBox and physical machines. 
  b.. XO-4: the install works, but it may be necessary to issue ./runansible more than once or use the runtags command to install in smaller steps.
Known Problems
  a.. Pathagar has a problem at source and is not installed by default. 
  b.. On XO-4 it is sometimes necessary to reboot when network is configured and NetworkManager fails to restart.

Tim Moody
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