New 13.1.0 software release pairing up with the new XO-4 Touch laptop

We’re pleased to announce the next release candidate of our new 13.1.0 software release.

OLPC OS 13.1.0 is a new software release focusing on providing support for the new XO-4 laptop and its optional touchscreen. 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.

Information and installation instructions can be found here.

Quick links for those who know which files need to be grabbed and save to USB disks:

This release adds SiS and DisplayLink USB-VGA support for the XO-1.75 and XO-4, on par with the support offered for XO-1 and XO-1.5.

We’ve moved the underlying system from Fedora 17 to Fedora 18 in this release, which was a necessary measure for touch support, and helps us keep up-to-date with the open source technologies that we rely upon. A minor update to GNOME to version 3.6 is included here.

Sugar-0.98 and touch

The most notable feature in the latest version of Sugar is the addition of touchscreen support, pairing up with the new XO-4 Touch laptop. While a touchscreen can be seen as somewhat equivalent to a mouse, there are a number of subtle differences, such as the fact that it is not possible to hover without also triggering a “click”, which called for a number of user interface modifications to make Sugar suitable for touchscreen input. We’ve tackled these challenges by making small adaptions to the UI where necessary. In some places where hovering was previously required, a click or touch will now show an informational palette (with menu) rather than immediately performing an action. In other places, a touch-and-hold operation will do the equivalent of what hovering or right-clicking does with the mouse. We’ve also made some small interface elements finger-sized, such as the activity icons on the home screen.

We’ve also sprinked some gestures throughout the interface. A quick vertical swipe from the top region of the screen downwards will cause the frame to open, and the same gesture can be used to close it. When working in the Image Viewer, you can use pinch-type gestures to zoom in and zoom out. Swiping your finger over any scrollable area will cause scrolling to happen, so you don’t have to worry about trying to manipulate small scroll bars with your fingers.

Tablet mode (where the laptop screen is rotated around and folded down, physically obscuring the keyboard and mouse) is very usable with a touchscreen – especially with the work we’ve put in. When in tablet mode, if you select a text input area, an on-screen keyboard will pop up: touch the keys to type away as normal. We’ve also taken some initial steps to make sure that the region of the screen where you are typing is made visible if it would otherwise be obscured by the on-screen keyboard.

Under the hood, this release also includes a huge amount of effort in our use of the underlying GTK platform: we have migrated Sugar itself, and many more activities, to GTK+ version 3. This invisible but invasive work, which we started for 12.1.0, is essential for the ongoing development and maintenance of Sugar, and was a solid requirement for the touchscreen work described above.

More information about Sugar-0.98 is available in the Sugar release notes

Four new Sugar Activities

Letter Match is an activity for introducing the Spanish vowels. While far from contructionist, this activity does provide a mechanism for learning the alphabet. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. There are two modes:

  1. see a letter, then click on the corresponding picture



2. see a picture, then click on the corresponding letter




AEIOU is an activity for introducing the Spanish vowels. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. It would, of course, be fun to let the learner add their own pictures and sound recordings. There are four modes:

  1. click on the letter to hear its name
  2. click on the picture to hear the name of the first letter in the word represented by the picture
  3. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding letter
  4. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding picture




I Know My ABCs is an activity for introducing the Spanish alphabet. It displays letters and images and associated sound files, such as ‘A as in ave’. There are four modes:

  1. click on the letter to hear its name
  2. click on the picture to hear the name of the first letter in the word represented by the picture
  3. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding letter
  4. hear a letter name, then click on the corresponding picture

Finally, a cool app which uses the accelerometer in XO- 4, written by a Google Code-In student:

Level Tool is an activity to check the inclination of a surface with respect to ground.




Lanedo enriches One Laptop per Child’s multitouch experience

Open source experts from Hamburg improve the devices’ software platform. Code will be available under free license to the worldwide community.

Lanedo, Hamburg-based Open Source firm, is proud to announce their contribution to OLPC’s newest device, named XO-4 touch. The 7.5“ convertible notebook, expected in 2013, focuses on multitouch technology as one of its main features.

Lanedo was involved from the very beginning to extend the OLPC sofware platform called Sugar, enhancing the user interface with touch functionality and therefore laying the foundation for future developments. The team not only improved the graphical subsystem with numerous multitouch-related bug fixes, but also extended the respective functionality of the GTK+ toolkit, used for drawing windows, icons and other UI widgets.

Sugar has been a significant diferentiating factor in the worldwide user community for the XO laptop. We appreciate the support of Lanedo to continue the development and enrichment of the Sugar platform, says Rodrigo Arboleda, CEO of OLPC.

One of the most exciting features is the new intuitive text selector, that allows on-screen selection using handles for exact positioning. Furthermore, several commonly known gestures like zoom, rotate and swipe have been added to the Sugar environment, available throughout the system. Lanedo has also contributed to XO-4’s word processor, based on AbiWord, which not only had the same text selector implemented in native code, but also saw improvements in scrolling and other multitouch functions. Likewise, many other bundled applications have been enhanced.

Martyn Russell, one of Lanedo’s founders and managing director, is excited about the work done: Lanedo is proud to have had the opportunity to engage in such a noble project as One Laptop Per Child. It has been a great experience and we are thrilled at the prospect of contributing to the Open Source based platform in the future.

Following the principles of free sofware, developers can take advantage of those new features in their own projects, as all code writen will be made available freely to the benefit of the worldwide community – the GTK+ enhancements have already been incorporated in the 3.6 releases.


Sugar 0.98 with touch support in the UI is the new version of the Sugar learning platform

The release of Sugar 0.98 also incorportates many improvements to the GTK3 port. The Sugar Developer Team deserves a resounding celebatory cheer of thanks for their effort.

OLPC has been incorporating Sugar 0.98 in the 13.1 series of builds, available for download to run on the XO.

What is new for users?

Alphabetical ordering in the Home View

The icons in the Home View are now ordered alphabetically. This change has been applied to the favourites view and the activities list view.

What’s new for developers?

Activity Authors guidelines

The most important change is that the GTK+ 2 based sugar-toolkit has been deprecated since Sugar 0.96. Newly written activities should use sugar-toolkit-gtk3, which is based on GTK+ 3 and Pygobject3, now. There will be only bug fixes being available in the future for the old toolkit no new features will be made available for it and it will probably go away at one point completely. Detailed guidelines for porting existing activities can be found at Features/GTK3/Porting.


There is a brand new step-by-step guide for developing Activities under Fedora 17.

For more details click here.

OLPC trains the teaching team in Honduras

The OLPC team conducted a training program with the Educatrachos teachers team from November 12 to 15, 2012 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The training focused on integrating the Sugar Activities into the existing curriculum with an emphasis on Spanish and Mathematics. Teachers were instructed on the various teaching resources contained within the XO laptops.

The OLPC program in Honduras will benefit 54,000 students in grades 3 to 6 in 545 schools throughout the country. These students will all have access to XO laptops and digital educational programs.
This program is funded by the Inter-American Development Bank in coordination with the Government of Honduras.

The main goal of the Elementary Education and Technology Integration Program is to improve the learning of students in the poorest elementary schools in Honduras. The program will involve training activities and will provide ongoing support to the teachers. In addition, the program is working to provide textbooks and other educational materials to these schools. The project has a special focus on the incorporation of new technologies in education.

Melissa Henriquez (OLPC educational coordinator) and Patricia Rivera (Gerente Pedagógico Unidad Coordinadora de Programas y Proyectos UCP-BID)

OLPC looking for students to participate in the Sugar Labs Google Code-In event

Sugar Labs has been selected as one of ten projects to participate in Google Code In. We join, among others, our colleagues at Fedora et al., in soliciting the participation of high-school (and in our case, middle-school) students to work on projects during a six-week sprint beginning on November 26. This is a great chance for the youth who have been so instrumental in our growth over the past year to show off their talents to the world (and two of them will hopefully win a trip to visit Google). Please help Chris Leonard and Walter Bender finalize the project and mentor lists over the next few days. We are offering coding projects, documentation and training projects, outreach, quality assurance, and user interface, so even if you are not a developer, you likely have some skills to devote to the Code In.

NOTE TO MENTORS: Please create an account and fill out the Request to be a Mentor form.

NOTE TO COMMUNITY: Please add to our task lists and please recruit participants.

Why we are participating

Sugar is written and maintained by volunteers, who range from seasoned professionals to children as young as 12-years of age. Children who have grown up with Sugar have transitioned from Sugar users to Sugar App developers to Sugar maintainers. They hang out on IRC with the global Sugar developer community and are full-fledged members of the Sugar development team. It is this latter group of children we hope will participate in and benefit from Google Code-in. Specifically we want to re-enforce the message that Sugar belongs to its users and that they have both ownership and the responsibility that ownership implies. Just as learning is not something done to you, but something you do, learning with Sugar ultimately means participating in the Sugar development process. At Sugar Labs, we are trying to bring the culture of Free Software into the culture of school. So the Code-in is not just an opportunity for us to get some tasks accomplished, it is quintessential to our overall mission

If you are interested visit wiki.sugarlabs to read the details.