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

Caroline Meeks caroline
Thu Oct 30 19:03:58 EDT 2008

On Thu, Oct 30, 2008 at 6:42 PM, David Farning <dfarning at sugarlabs.org>wrote:

> *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?

Yes I think loss will be an issue.

Big is definitely an interesting idea. I also like the braclet USBs -
Mostly we have to make it cheap enough, and making replacing them easy
enough that its not that big a deal if they are lost.

> *
> **The Zoo*: ....
> This seems very similar to the clinic.

Interestingly when I discussed this with Marco the Zoo is hard use case.
Everywhere else we can assume the kids are all attending the same school
district, thus we can assume they are all running the same version of
Sugar.  For the Zoo we might have kids from different towns all coming with
Sugar USBs but different versions.  This might be harder to support.
However, this is a problem I would love to have!  Not very close to our
current reality, so we don't need to focus on it. So basically, for right
now its 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 Extremadura<http://www.hotcosta.com/Extremadura.Spain>
> * *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
> developers.**

Yes, I emailed Eric Harrison and he believed it was possible.  But yes, we
need someone very familiar with LTSP to do this.

> *
> At School*: Due to the E-Rate program Sasha's school and all the schools
> in town 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 away.
> 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:(

Yeah, I know how you feel. But its not our job to tell the IT departments
how to spend their money, its our job to make sure their students can use
Sugar, at as many locations as possible both inside and outside of schools,
regardless of what decisions the school IT departments make. Pesonally, I'm
hoping that this trend is just this year's fad and it will go away.

But I'm all for computers backing up user's data!!!

> 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

Caroline Meeks
Solution Grove
Caroline at SolutionGrove.com

617-500-3488 - Office
505-213-3268 - Fax
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