Book Server 0.01: Pathagar + Sheeva Plug for offline reading

Sameer Verma of OLPC-SF, as he mentiond at last week’s amazing community summit, is putting together a book server for use in rural India, with 20,000 books and audio files on it for students and teachers to use locally. He is going to deploy it at a school pilot near his familial hometown.

This is a Pathagar server implementing the OPDS bookserver standard, running on a tiny Sheeva Plug device, accessible over a local network to XOs in the neighborhood.  The Sheeva Plug is low power and has USB and SD ports that make it easy to expand such an offline library.  Here it is plugged in and in use, drawing a total of 4 Watts:

Sayamindu Dasgupta, who contributed to the design of the OPDS specification, developed the Pathagar server to implement the spec; Manuel Quiñones created the version of the server used here.  Book and audio suggestions are welcome for this particular build, and a web-based form for linking to OPDS archives suitable for inclusion in the image will be up shortly.  If you have your own Sheeva Plug, you can torrent the original disk image of this installation.

The setup was load-tested last night, using a simple build: a stock Sheeva Plug and 16GB USB key (total cost: $100). Quick statistics:

  • Power draw: 4W
  • Simultaneous downolads: 500
  • Library size: 10,000 – 50,000 books

For details, images, and a mailing list for discussion, see the bookserver project page.

Why XO?

Special commentary by: Paul Fox

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.

More OS tips and tricks after the drop.

Continue reading Why XO?