George Hunt has recently been experimenting with the XS schoolserver (currently XS 0.7) on various hardware setups. And he is tracking his work on a blog dedicated to the purpose. We are now including it in the OLPC Planet newsfeed. http://schoolserver.wordpress.com/blog/
It’s a good read if you have been trying similar things at home or in your own school. You can contact him with questions or comments through his blog.
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.
The School Server is a key component of OLPC deployments — and one that was somewhat late to the stage. So I am pleased to report that there is a new and improved!version 0.6 available.
The main goal of this release is making installation and configuration easier and more reliable. It is an incremental update on the XS-0.5.x codebase, light on new features but strong on the “it just works” side. And very easy to upgrade for XS-0.5.x users.
What is a School Server, you ask? When you deploy XOs to a school, you want a server to connect them to the internet, serve content locally, provide backup and upgrade services, and more. You can find out more in our earlier story on it, or jump straight into the wikipage that explains it all.
This release brings:
Easier installation. Mysterious ejabberd commands are gone, rejoice!
Moodle and the XO authenticate transparently. Register, restart, click the ‘Local Schoolserver’ link in Browse. It just works.
Better network scalability. Moodle can directly control the neighbourhood view which is controlled by ejabberd. Now traffic no longer swamps the network and XOs.
Delegated security. You can use time-based security even with disconnected or partially connected School Servers.
An XO can run as a School Server. Suitable for small schools or groups. This is still experimental, but is running pretty well.
Martin Langhoff — our School Server Architect, and long time core Moodle developer reports:
The Moodle UK community just had one of the best MoodleMoots ever. I had the good chance to keynote there, to tell the community about my almost-year away working on XS plumbing, and how it’s now the time to turn the XS into a learning tool.
Social constructivism runs strong in the Moodle community, so when we talk of opening doors to our users’ curiosity, they know first hand about it. And it is a good thing to be able to pierce through the media doom and gloom stories and tell them about the good things that are actually happening on the ground.
The feedback was fantastic, and I am hoping to form a “Moodle-on-XS” test team, and to draw together many very active teachers from the K-12 space to help map out how to make Moodle better for primary schoolers.
A couple of weeks ago, OLPC XS 0.5.1 was released with little fanfare. Everyone was busy — understandably so — and the announcement went unnoticed.
So perhaps it is time to go back and look at it in detail. The School Server is a Fedora-based distro that auto-installs and (mostly) auto configures itself into a server that complements with the XO laptop. Even if it is not obvious, the XO behaves much better when it is working on a network managed by a School Server. And in locations with limited or no Internet access, a School Server with a bounty of educational content makes a huge difference.
XS 0.5.x is a big leap forward from the earlier series. It upgrades the base OS from Fedora 7 to Fedora 9, streamlines instalation and configuration, and is a better platform to build upon. Ah, yes! It also has some cool new features.