OLPC OS 13.2.0 New Software Release

OLPC OS 13.2.0 is a new software release focusing on cleaning up a few edges from our previous release, and finishing off support for the new XO-4 laptop. As usual, we maintain support and consistency for older laptops models, with XO-1.75, XO-1.5 and XO-1 also included in the release.

Features

XO-4 power management

This is our core power saving technique where we suspend the processor after a few seconds of system inactivity (“idle suspend”), but we leave the screen and wireless interfaces running to provide the illusion that the system is still running as usual.

XO-4 bluetooth support

The new XO-4 laptop comes with bluetooth support as a purchase option. While such Bluetooth support is not immediately available in the user interface, we have enabled this functionality in the underlying system, ready for developers and deployers to use in their custom applications.

Enhanced touch support

In the Clock activity, you can now use the touchscreen to drag the clock hands to another time, a useful exercise for learning about time. Drop-down lists are sub-optimal for touch, they have been replaced by more intuitive and touch-friendly UI elements in Record. The pinch-to-zoom touch gestures in Image Viewer behave much better than before. FotoToon has been improved to interact with the touchscreen on-screen keyboard.

Music Keyboard activity

A new activity has been added, presenting a piano-style musical keyboard to the user. The piano can then be played using the XO’s physical keyboard, or with the XO-4 touchscreen by directly placing your fingertips on the notes you wish to play. You can even play multiple notes at the same time by using more than one finger, thanks to the XO-4′s multitouch capabilities.

Journal Share activity

We are exploring methods to improve common classroom situations of teachers handing out assignments, and teachers collecting in the students work. While this functionality should ideally be part of the core Sugar desktop, for now we are prototyping a solution in the form of an activity called Journal Share, which is new to 13.2.0. To hand out an assignment to the students, the teacher starts the Journal Share activity, shares it, and adds the assignment to the session. Students join the shared activity, and with a single click, the assignment appears in their Journal. When the teacher wants to collect in the student’s work, the teacher starts the Journal Share activity and shares it. Students join the shared activity, and add their completed work from their Journal. The submitted work is automatically transferred into the teacher’s journal for later assessment and evaluation.

Sugar updates

Several activities (such as Read, Write and Paint) are now usable when the screen is rotated. Scratch has been updated to a new version, bringing in the latest functionality and extending the library content. The Help activity content has been updated.

How to install? (Installation is distinct from update. If you have user data on the laptop that you wish to preserve, you may want to follow the Update instructions.)

XO Educational Software Project underway

Professors Doug Kranch (of North Central State College) and Terri Bucci (of Ohio State University) are launching an XO Educational Software Project this year. This will be a collaboration between them and their students, and partners in Haiti, to develop math and science modules for the XO. They are also developing a simple router/server setup that Haitian teachers can use to support such software — NCSC’s fall course on client/server development will focus on this work.

The project aims to meet Haitian curricular standards, with ongoing feedback from schools around Croix des Bouquets, in collaboration with teachers, students, and university faculty and students from University Episcopal in Port-au-Prince. These contacts are supported by Ohio State’s ongoing Haiti Empowerment Project.

The group is developing their plans on their group blog, including early efforts this Spring to enhance use of XOs.

It sounds as though they should all be subscribed to the IA Education Project mailing list to share their thoughts!

Joanna Stern takes a detailed look at the XO-3

Joanna Stern, who has reviewed many OLPC models in the past, takes an in-depth look at the XO-3 prototype at CES, in a detailed review for The Verge. In addition to an excellent writeup, she interviews Ed McNierney while exploring the laptop in person, in what looks like Max Headroom’s office. They talk about everything from hardware and power to software and deployment.

They also took the best set of photos of the XO-3 and solar-cover to date!


Rwanda on track to deploy 50,000 XOs to 150 schools this year

Nkubito Bakuramutsa, OLPC project coordinator at the Rwandan Education Ministry, talked to the Rwanda New Times this week about the first 10,000 students and teachers who had received laptops through the country’s OLPC program. Rwanda is on track to distribute XOs to 50,000 students by the end of the year, with another 50,000 following soon after.

Laptop preparation in Kigali

Laptop preparation in Kigali

The national deployment team recently finished setting up their software build, and is now flashing 2,000 XOs a day. This is a good milestone for the team — learning how to rebuild all parts of the system on their own is important, and as Zehra can attest the first time you get a NANDBlast production line up and running is memorable.

The schools are including materials from OLPC, Sugar Labs, India’s Azim Premji Foundation, the National Curriculum Development Centre, and the Rwanda Education Commons, with customization help from Microsoft and Rwanda’s Green Hills Academy network of schools.

Dextrose released for the XO

Paraguay’s national deployment, run by Paraguay Educa, has been developing its own build of a Sugar operating system for its students, with help from Sugarlabs. They are calling it Dextrose. The newly-formed Activity Central group, a Sugar-development consultancy, is helping with this work, and supporting some local developers in Paraguay.

Dextrose is a spin of the core Sugar build that will focus on teacher tools and content in Spanish.
While initially developed with feedback from classrooms in Paraguay, this will hopefully become a platform that other deployments in Latin America can use. While Peru has been shy about frequent software upgrades, preferring to have something stable for years at a time, Uruguay and other smaller deployments are good candidates to start using Dextrose as well.

Dual-touchscreen laptop: the Toshiba Libretto W100

Toshiba is testing my favorite laptop design, a dual-touchscreen model: the Libretto W100.   It will be available to the public in a ‘limited run’ later this year, for around $1,100, and will sport a pair of 7″ touchscreens.  They say the laptop will run Windows 7 and offer a variety of keyboards for the ‘bottom’ screen.

It’s good to see this design get out there and effort put into software for it — we will eventually  move away from static keyboards altogether, and I would love to see it happen in this decade.

Toshiba Libretto W100

Toshiba Libretto W100

Happiness is a warm bundle

Activity and collection designers have gotten a lot of attention in recent days.  Some of the heated discussions at FUDCon targeted the rpm v. xo debate — concluding among other things that content bundles and installation for non-technical users are regularly neglected by packaging systems (as root access is required for a lot of package work).

Numerous related projects were mentioned [CPAN, Ruby Gems, autopkg, Firefox extensions], and Michael Stone and C. Scott Ananian both got their licks in.  At the same time, a recent discussion about “making activity designers happy” brought up other ways to simplify making and publishing activity bundles.

What are your own bundle stories?  Have you plumbed the depths of Activities/All and come up wanting?  Does the Software Updater do it for you?