A stray comment today about Windows not working on ARM machines, by someone who thought all OLPC laptops had moved away from Linux, reminded me to reaffirm something:
Every XO we have ever made shipped from the factory with Linux. The 2M+ XOs running Linux is one of the largest deployments of Linux in the classroom anywhere in the world, and the largest in primary schools.
A few thousand dual-booted into Windows [XP] as well, either at the time they shipped or after being reflashed – after a Microsoft team modded a version of XP for the XO, and our firmware made dual-booting possible. That was an impressive bit of coding and optimization, and Uruguay in particular was interested in dual-boot machines, testing them in classrooms on XO-1’s, but decided not to continue those tests. The only other machines that ever made use of the dual build were part of programs sponsored by Microsoft. In all, under 7,000 XOs have ever run Windows natively, 5,000 in Uruguay. That is less than 0.3% of all laptops we have ever produced. (In contrast, running software under emulation through wine or SugaredWine is popular in Latin America.)
I have heard of a few teachers that had those machines in at least one class, in Uruguay or Peru, but have never seen first-hand reports from anyone using them. If you visit or know of a school that tried this please share your stories; I would be interested to hear about the experience.
Abhishek Singh from OLE Nepal published his long and excellent XS wishlist, generating a long discussion on the server-devel mailing list (1, 2) and other discussion online. He discusses some specific use cases for current and requested-future features, including:
Porting XS to new version of Fedora
Support for more architectures
Web content filtering
Shared Journal Backup
A platform for socializing
Some specific packages needed for the above.
On the list, Martin comments on the package requests, Mokurai weighs in, and Sridhar points out what OLPC-AU has been doing with their XS builds.
Red Hat is sponsoring summer POSSE bootcamps (Professors’ Open Source Summer Experience), a brainchild of Mel’s, to introduce students to open source development and projects. Most POSSE projects have supported Fedora, Mozilla, or Sugar Labs in some fashion. At RIT, bootcamps this summer continue to build on the FOSS@RIT group’s efforts to develop tools that will support better hacking on tools for children in Sugar.
In particular, the group at RIT has been working for the past two years on tools to improve communication for deaf and hard of hearing children with XO laptops. Alumni of 2009 and 2010 workshops, bootcamps, and other events, worked with RIT’s Lab for Technological Literacy (LTL) and took a couple field trips to our Cambridge office, to develop a videochat activity with sufficient quality to support readable sign language over videochat.
It’s great to see this program thrive, and that OLPC and Sugar continue to be part of the motivation for some of the good work being planned.
Sugar has been moving steadily to many platforms and distros beyond the XO and Fedora. Last year Guy Sheffer helped to get it working on the Nokia 810. This February it was repackaged for Ubuntu. And Mirabelle, the latest version of ”Sugar on a Stick”, is a bootable image for a USB key that lets you use almost any computer to run Sugar.
Have you tried the latest Sugar Activities on your favorite laptop? Give it a try, run an intro session at show-and-tell or a local computer lab, or introduce it to a child you know who is learning to use computers… and let us know about it.
Bernie Innocenti and the team in Paraguay have released build 180py of their Fedora 11 + Sugar desktop. It is fast, offers both Sugar and Gnome desktops, and includes many recent features from the past year into a build that isn’t too large.
Some call it ‘the best XO OS ever’ – and it is indeed fantastic. Everyone who has an XO-1 should download this build and try it out. (but don’t forget to back up your files and any customized activities first!)
At the same time, Sugar 0.88 is being designed to work on both the XO-1 and the XO-1.5, and is currently available for testing and development. Bernie needs help with finding “a more pronounceable name than F11-0.88” – describing the combination of Sugar 0.88 and stock Fedora 11 – so once more, please share any good naming conventions. If your name is chosen, I will personally ship you one of the near-mythical Red XOs.
Here’s a quick link to the Fedora 10-on-XO SD card, now available individually via Amazon. Please let me know when yours arrives; I have ordered one in the mail, and it came in short order. This was a much better experience than burning my own, but the boot time is still too slow. Trying to boot a stock F10 image doesn’t make sense. The real win will be the ability to switch between F10 and Sugar environments on the sane NAND — similar to a project Scott was working on half a year ago.
I also want to point out some of the lovely international OLPC blogs and sites that are being added to the sidebar, including olpcapac. Some of them I like as much as our raptor friends. There should be a couple of longer posts about this coming out soon, on the Fedora-OLPC list.
Most of the marketing and message surrounding the OLPC project, and the G1G1 fund-raising effort, is centered on the kids of the world who are our true mission. And that’s as it should be — you only have to look at some of the pictures from the deployments to convince yourself of that.
But let’s face it — if you’re going to donate enough money to both “give one and get one”, you might want to be convinced that the “get one” half — i.e., _your_ cute little green machine — is actually going to be useful. Call it enlightened self-interest. (I’m assuming you’re thinking of this at least partly as a toy for yourself. Go ahead — admit it — it’s okay.) I got my XO during last year’s G1G1 promotion. Maybe I can help convince you.
One of the best parts, for me, is the screen. Shirtsleeve season always feels too short here in New England, so I like getting outside as much as possible when it’s practical. Being able to walk outside to surf the web is a great feeling. Another screen feature: by flipping the laptop into “e-book” form, I take less space on the subway while reading email (offline reading, of course).
Another XO plus for commuting: the extra wireless sensitivity offered by the cute green antennae makes it possible to hit the web, courtesy of a nearby open access point, from my bus stop.