[IAEP] Sugar Digest 2009-01-13

Walter Bender walter.bender at gmail.com
Tue Jan 13 11:26:43 EST 2009

=== Sugar Digest ===

1. The announcement of changes at One Laptop per Child (OLPC) this
week dominated the discussions on the lists, IRC, and in the hallway
conversations at FUDCon and XO Camp. While it came as no surprise that
OLPC was going to focus its efforts on deployments, largely leaving
engineering, including software development, to third parties, the
abruptness of the transition and its direct impact on so many talented
and dedicated people was a surprise, even within the context of global
economic upheaval.

I'd like to take this opportunity to extend say thank you to the
engineers who have worked so tirelessly on the project for their
leadership, both those whom I had the pleasure of working with when I
was at OLPC—Eben Eliason, Jim Gettys, Scott Anahain, Michael Stone,
and Henry Hardy—as well as many others—those who joined OLPC after I
left—whom I learned to respect through my interactions with them while
wearing my Sugar Labs hat. Having spoken with many of you, I know you
will remain active in the Sugar community, even as you seek new

One of the reasons we start Sugar Labs nine months ago was that we
anticipated these changes at OLPC. It was clear to many of us at the
time that the Sugar learning platform could and should be made more
widely available and that in order for Sugar to grow, it would have to
become a community project, without extensive ties or dependencies on
any single company or organization. The Sugar Labs community is
expanding. The downsizing of OLPC's engineering efforts, while
significant to OLPC deployments in the short term, is actually a
catalyst for a needed change. It compels the deployments to be more
self-sufficient and more interconnected. Indeed, one direct
consequence of the events of last week is the acceleration of plans
for local Sugar Labs around the world. A decentralize approach, where
engineering investments in support of Sugar and learning are made
locally, is one of our great strengths.

Short-term contingency plans for supporting the current OLPC
deployments were discussed at FUDCon and are a topic of discussion at
XO Camp. While not all of the details of how the OLPC 9.1 release will
be managed, the overall direction that is being taken is one that
relies more directly on the upstream Fedora community. There remains
at OLPC a core engineering team that will be able to liaise with
Fedora (and Sugar Labs) to make sure that an OLPC-XO-1-specific
dependencies are met.

Long term, OLPC will undoubtedly directly leverage the efforts of the
Sugar community as it continues down the path of integration with the
various upstream GNU/Linux distributions. Having Sugar run everywhere
only enhances their position.

2. Meanwhile, we've all been busy this week, using FUDCon and XO Camp
as an opportunity to meet face to face with many of of colleagues.
Feature freeze Sugar 0.84 is at the end of this week and we have
already begun discussion about our goals for 0.86. The various Sugar
Labs community teams have been active. Christian Marc Schmidt
continues to make great progress on a new landing site for
sugarlabs.org]. Greg Dekoenigsberg is taking a lead role in the Sugar
Labs Engineering Community (Caroline Meeks, David Farning, and I are
reaching out to a number of potential partners to fill Greg's shoes on
the Marketing Team.

=== Community jams, meet-ups, and meetings ===

3. There are numerous posting on the
[http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/FUDCon/FUDConF11 FUDConF11 site]
regarding what we accomplished at FUDCon this past weekend.

4. You can follow along with the events of XO Camp
[http://wiki.laptop.org/go/XOcamp_2 here].

5. We are still looking for someone to represent Sugar Labs at
[http://scale7x.socallinuxexpo.org/ SCALE] in LA in February.

6. I will be a Sugar Labs representation at [http://linux.conf.au/
LCA] next week. Mel Chua will also be traveling from Boston to
Tasmania for the conference. We are looking forward to seeing our
colleagues in Hobart.

7. OLPC Learning CLub DC will be holding a Family XO Mesh Meet up on
Saturday, January 17th, 2009 (See

=== Help Wanted ===

8. Wade Brainerd had started a [[ActivityTeam| Sugar Labs Activity
Team]] to develop and maintain the activities available for Sugar. The
team encourages independent developers to write activities and will
support them in those efforts.

:Our goal is to ensure that Sugar provides a complete set of
high-quality educational, collaborative, constructivist activities.

9. We are still seeking help in regard to copy and illustrations for
the new site. One project we have in mind is a comicbook-like
narrative about Sugar to be featured on the static site. Also, we'd
love stories from the field—from teachers, parents, and students,
about their experiences and perspectives on Sugar. It is important
that we communicate our message more widely and in language that is
more approachable to the non-technical community.

=== Tech Talk ===

10. .xo vs .rpm: One interesting discussion at FUDCon was in regard to
the format for Sugar Activities. You can follow the discussion in
detail [https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Sugar_on_Fedora:_RPMs_or_.xos%3F

11. Tomeu Vizoso has an illustrated blog (also in the planet) about
all that he has been up to in the past weeks]:

* reviewed and pushed Ryan Kabir's work on moving most of the actions
from the palette of the Home View XO icon onto the Frame so that they
are always accessible, regardless of which view you are in.
* worked on the file transfer UI
* added a utility class (util.TempFilePath) that hopefully will remove
the temp file leaks we have been suffering in past releases
* worked on removable devices in the Journal (They no longer use an
index or write to the device without user action)
* changed the Home View to display the last entries for every activity
and resume by default when the icon is clicked.

12. I've released Verison 1.0 of a portfolio tool for Sugar
TAPortfolio-1.xo]. Preliminary documentation can be found on my user
page [[User:Walter/TAPortfolio]]. TAPortfolio is a presentation
Activity that lets you create multimedia slide shows from material
retrieved from your Journal. The basic idea is to import objects from
your Journal, along with descriptions and preview images, into slide
templates, not unlike Powerpoint, and then show a presentation by
stepping through them. TA Portfolio includes the typical major
functions of presentation software: an editor that allows text to be
inserted and formatted (this is largely incomplete), a method for
inserting images (from the Journal), and a slide-show system to
display the content. What makes it a bit different than tools such as
Powerpoint is that you can program your slides using TurtleArt blocks.
TAPortfolio also has an export-to-HTML function so that presentations
can be viewed outside of the Sugar environment. Feedback appreciated.
(Version 2.0 should be available shortly.)

13. Wolfgang Rohrmoser reports that Version 090110 of the XO-LiveCD is
available for download from:


This release is still based on the stable 8.2 build:


but has significant improvements for the Live-System runtime environment:

* A new Content/ directory tree improves the selection of activities,
content collections and language packs as well as selection of
additional RPM packages
* There is a new pre-configured home/olpc directory tree packed as
squashfs-image. The current version contains more than 50 activities.
* Improved hardware detection and additional boot options especially
to get more graphic cards working
* Updated documentation, the topics "how to create a bootable USB Pen"
and "how to install the Live-System on hard disc" have been improved

Further information is available in the PDF document:


For discussion and feedback Wolfgang invites you to join the mailing list:


Kurt Gramlich reports that if Wolfgang's server is overloaded, you
will find a copy of the LiveCD here:


14. Hilaire Fernandes announced an alpha bundle of www.iStoa.net for
Sugar. (iSTOA.net is a research project to build a platform for
interactive teaching and monitoring the Internet. It is free and
cross-licensed MIT.) There are about 40 "etayages" (a type of
scaffolding) and all in all more than 150 exercises.

The bundle can be downloaded directly from:

=== Sugar Labs ===

15. Gary Martin has generated another SOM from the past week of
discussion on the IAEP mailing list (Please see

Walter Bender
Sugar Labs

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