Dextrose 2 is available for the XO

Dextrose2, a revamp of the popular XOOS flavor developed by Activity Central and Sugar Labs, in partnership with Paraguay Educa, is now available for both XO-1 and XO-1.5 laptops. It has a number of performance and other improvements, including 3G modem and connection sharing. I can’t wait to try it out on my old XO-1s.

Dextrose 2 by activity central

The original Dextrose build + activities that was released last fall was based closely on the latest XOOS release available at the time (OS 10). This version has one major difference from the main OS: it does not offer a traditional Linux desktop as an alternative to Sugar.  (Some students managed to delete their Sugar home directories from within their Gnome desktop, making work with Sugar difficult until they had reinstalled it.  As a result, some teachers asked to return to a Sugar-only system.)

This work is now formally supported by Plan Ceibal, which has started to use Dextrose in their schools. It is good to see this much attention being given to activity development and Spanish-language documentation, and to close feedback loops with teachers who use the latest tools every week with their students.

So don’t wait — download a copy of Dextrose2 and try it out!

NB: If you’re looking for the latest Dextrose with the Gnome desktop option added back in, you can request this on the sugar-devel mailing list. It’s on the list of versions to make, but not a high priority at the moment.

Ceibal high-school project update

An update on Uruguay’s deployment of olpc in high schools: Plan Ceibal has posted some details and images of the laptops that will be used in this project. Some schools will use the new blue XO-HS laptops, and others will use Magellans — the only implementation of the Classmate design that has been used in large scale deployments (in Portugal and Venezuela).

You can see their take on a feature comparison of the machines. While there’s no check box for “sunlight-readable screen”, robustness, or power management, it’s a good look at how schools perceive their options. I would be glad to see classrooms worldwide adopting any platform like this — both can share the same software and materials.

XOs for High School: new design, Uruguay snags 90,000

We have been working on a new XO laptop for high school students — one with a larger and more responsive keyboard better suited to the hands of older students. And Uruguay’s Plan Ceibal, expanding into high schools across the country, will be the first recipient — they’ve ordered 90,000 of the first production run.

These XO-1.5 HS machines are largely the same as a regular XO-1.5: they are VIA machines with Sugar and Gnome desktops, running both Sugar activities and Gnome apps.  Only the bottom half is different: they have ‘clicky’ rather than membrane keyboards by default, and the base has been redesigned so that keyboards are much easier to swap out or clean — there are two screws you can access from the battery compartment that release the keyboard, then you can pop it out.  No more 10-minute teardowns!

Uruguayan Flag

The new machines will be shades of dark and light blue; the factory is still working on getting the plastics and dye selection just right.  I saw an early stab at this design, and it was very sexy — but I haven’t seen the final keyboard model they are using yet. As a keyboard fanatic (I can get 70wpm on my XO-1), I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for the first one back in the office and will post a review for you.

Now that we have a half-dozen designs or models, we’ll need to come up with a better naming scheme… I’m taking suggestions for names and themes.