[sugar] USB Based Community Access - What could work technically?

David Farning dfarning
Thu Oct 30 18:42:40 EDT 2008

*Clinic next door to a School* - A health clinic located right next door
Sasha's school has a close partnership with the school. Many students are
scene there so they decided to add a donated computer to their waiting room
just for kids to use Sugar. This computer still has its hard-drive, but its
dedicated for Sugar. Some of the basic sugar files are located on the hard
drive and it is set up to allow students to log out rather then shutting
down and restarting between each student.

This is an very interesting idea. A hybrid harddrive usb solutions.  From a
technology perspective it would not be that hard to implement.  When the
computer boots from the hard drive it waits at a login prompt for the user
to either login or insert a USB with the users /home directory.  The current
generation of linux distribution has excellent support for DBUS to
communicate the status of hot swapped devices such as USBs.

A big advantage of this method would be to take advantage of the hard-drives
speed while storing user data on the USB.  Furthermore, the users login
criteria would be stored on the USB.  This would allow passwordless login.

The main concern that I have heard about storing user data on a USB is that
kids will lose them.  Kids can be trusted not to lose their textbooks and
folders.  Why not reverse the trend of shrinking USBs and make textbook
sized USBs for kids:)  We make big pencils and big crayon for younger
students. Why not big USBs?
**The Zoo*: ....

This seems very similar to the clinic.
**YMCA*: After school and on snow days and vacations Sasha goes to the local
YMCA. There is a bank of 10 computers for kids to use. They are thin clients
run from one server. There is a USB port, and the user experience is just
like booting on a stand alone computer, except because it doesn't really
have to fully boot for each student switching users is much faster.

The difficulty here seems to be defining what is a thin client.  One
interesting approach is the one taken in the
* *region in spain.  Several years ago they start putting computers on the
desks of all of the students in the region. Now, as the computers are
becoming outdated (the students have faster computers at home) they are
adding high powered servers to schools.  By configuring the existing laptops
and desktops as clients for the new servers, they are able to extend usefull
life of the existing equipment by several years.

For this to become possiable with Sugar we will need to engage the LTSP

At School*: Due to the E-Rate program Sasha's school and all the schools in
tow are well connected so the schools system decided to take advantage of
the economies of scale and hosts a large server centrally. In each classroom
there are thin clients and a USB port. The user experience is exactly the
same as at the YMCA, but in this case the server is located several miles

A current preference for US schools seems to be using E-Rate to finance a
client server system where student can log into their virtual desktop from
anywhere that has Internet access.

This thinking seems to stem from the belief within the current generation of
school sysadmins that only they can be trusted with a student's data.  A
second reason is that schools tend to integrate students systems to closely
with teachers administrative systems.  As a result many districts are
putting a tremendous emphasis on backing up students data.

Client Server systems allow sysadmins to backup a student's data to school
or district level SAN.  It has been awhile since I have gone to school, but
I can't remember anyone photo copying my notebooks so that I would have a
'backup' if I lost my original.  On the contrary, I remember losing point
for losing my homework. It was called learning responsibility.

This belief also seems to stem from the quirk of human nature that if we pay
a consultant to install an expensive system, we tend to be happier then if
we install an inexpensive system our selves:(

On Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 11:54 AM, Caroline Meeks <caroline at solutiongrove.com
> wrote:

> Hi,
> This is a request for technical assistance for "Sugar on a Stick".
> It looks like we have a pilot school for our USB boot project, and a grant
> proposal in so I am trying to think through various use cases around
> creating ubiquitous access with a USB storage device.  I've written up some
> use cases here:
> http://www.sugarlabs.org/go/DeploymentTeam/School_Key#Vision_of_different_ways_the_USB_might_work_in_the_students_environment
> I'd love thoughts on what is feasible, how hard, and how much benefit would
> each scenario actually provide.
> I've done tests to show that "Home" and "Grandma's" are feasible.  I'm
> curious as to whether putting some of the boot files on the hard drive (Zoo)
> could reduce boot time or have any other advanatages as most of our donated
> computers will likely have working disk drives.  I wonder if combining with
> a LTSP or other virtualization scheme is possible (YMCA/School).
> Note all scenarios are fictional.
> Write your ideas here or on the Wiki page as you see fit.
> Thanks!
> Caroline
> --
> Caroline Meeks
> Solution Grove
> Caroline at SolutionGrove.com
> 617-500-3488 - Office
> 505-213-3268 - Fax
> _______________________________________________
> Sugar mailing list
> Sugar at lists.laptop.org
> http://lists.laptop.org/listinfo/sugar
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lists.laptop.org/pipermail/sugar/attachments/20081030/738aacd0/attachment-0001.htm 

More information about the Sugar-devel mailing list