[IAEP] Sugar Digest 2009-08-05

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Wed Aug 5 14:04:53 EDT 2009

===Sugar Digest===

1. As Caroline Meeks and I are wrapping up the Sugar-on-a-Stick summer
programs, it has been a time to reflect upon what we have learned and
what challenges face us in September (Many thanks to Greg, Anurag,
Jennifer, et al. for their help). The goal of our pilots was to
identify any issues we might face with a school-wide rollout of Sugar
on a Stick and to work through many unknowns regarding the logistics
of deployment.

We learned a great deal, e.g., replication of custom keys: be sure to
remove any owner keys in the .sugar/default directory before copying.
And we experimented with a number of different workflows regarding how
to prepare for a class: use USB extension cables if possible; preload
helper boot CDs; have the children turn on their computers and then
gather for a discussion of the lesson plan while the machines are
booting; have a cache of hot spares since some keys inevitably will
not boot (more on this in a moment); have the children shutdown the
computers and then gather for a wrap-up discussion while the machines
power off; etc. And we uncovered some bugs in our sharing logic (See
my post from last week); and experienced some issues regarding
robustness of the USB images.

It is this latter topic that was the subject of much debate on the
Sugar mailing lists this week and which I would like to touch upon

While we did experience some "failures", given the circumstances, we
were not able to do a very systemic analysis of the situation. We know
that some sticks fail to boot and some have corrupted user data. We
don't have an actionable characterization of the circumstances under
which these problems occur.

James Cameron summed up the situation:
"If any state is preserved by the children on the USB sticks, and
there is no copy of the state kept elsewhere, and there is a
possibility of power failure, premature removal, or other
interruptions, then every software component that uses the saved state
must be either capable of detecting corruption of the saved state, or
graceful recovery from apparently invalid state."

Meeting this challenge is not trivial; the more clarity we can bring
to the use cases, the more likely we will be able to engineer

In the meanwhile, we need to: experiment with more USB manufacturers;
be more careful about characterizing the different failure modes; do
some workflow experiments to see if we can minimize failures; try
different file formats; and come up with simple and robust
backup/restore mechanism so that we can end run failures.

Greg Dekoenigsberg has suggested we take advantage of Fedora Test
Days] to put a more rigorous analysis together. But we need a testing
plan which means we need to first come to consensus on what it is we
are trying to test.

Variables include:

* Which Sugar-on-a-Stick image is being tested?
* What customizations have been made?
* What process was used to create the key?
* What size and brand of key is being tested?
* What hardware the key is being tested on?
* What is the nature of the failure? (no boot, corrupted data, etc.?)
* What was the history of use prior to failure?

Let's get a plan together and take advantage of this generous offer
from the Fedora community.

2. Jeff Elkner reports that Jamie Boisture completed his summer
project: using GASP with 15 middle-school summer-enrichment students,
and it worked wonderfully! Jamie also submitted a merge request with
Pippy to have GASP included in Pippy. (Jamie was sponsored by Jeff in
a program modeled after Google Summer of Code. We should try to do
more such programs.

===Help wanted===

3. It is not too late to sign up as a candidate for the Sugar
Oversight Board. Also, please add yourself to the Membership List in
the wiki if you are not already listed.

===In the community===

4. Werner Westermann reported that "Patricio Acevedo left the audience
shocked after presenting Sugar [http://prezi.com/139914/] in the 2nd
Innovation Workshop: The Creative Teacher, held in the Metropolitan
Educational University, in Santiago, Chile." It was the first official
activity of the newly formed Sugar Labs Chile.

5. Squeakfest USA [http://squeakland.org/squeakfest/usa/schedule/] is
next week in Los Angeles.

===tech talk===

6. Sebastian Dziallas announced the availability of a new SoaS
snapshot [http://download.sugarlabs.org/soas/snapshots/3/SoaS3-200908021950.iso]
that includes the latest Sugar Release 0.85.3. It is a developer
release--any testing would be greatly appreciated.

===Sugar Labs===

7. Gary Martin has generated a SOM from the past week of discussion on
the IAEP mailing list (Please see [[:File:2009-July-25-31-som.jpg]]).

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

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