Archive for May, 2007

Noughts and Crosses


My XO arrived today, courtesy of the World Wide Workshop for whom I am developing some Sugar activities which will take advantage of the mesh network.

It will also come in handy with the work I’m doing for Collabora Ltd on enabling collaboration for OLPC using Telepathy and Tubes!

The above picture was taken with the XO’s built in camera – the dot above the speaker on the side closest to my face.

The laptop is a B2 prototype, with 256 MB RAM and 512 MB NAND flash storage.

Restricted to be Free?

Craig A. Adams, co-leader of the Ubuntu ZA LoCoTeam, wrote an insightful piece on the Principles of Free Software a while back which I have been meaning to comment on.

It made me think that, in order to guarantee freedom, we place restrictions. It sounds ironic at first: Wikipedia defines Freedom as “the ability to act without restraint”.

But the freedom in software and intellectual property isn’t arbitrary and it needs to be protected. In my view, the GPL is often misunderstood as too restrictive. But what if the BSD licence was the best we had?  Where would “Open Source” be today without Free Software?

A lot less Free.

Nokia Web Browser – the missing manual

I can’t believe I only just found out that * and # zoom in and out in the Nokia browser on my E61.  Very useful!

Now, how can I open a link in a new window? I know that the site can trigger this, but I want to do it when I want… No more linear web browsing! Anybody know?

OLPC video demo from dfx

Found a writeup on OLPC, on SA Rocks, with (surprisingly) the video Jason Norwood-Young took of me demonstrating the XO at DFX. Not a very polished demo – I hadn’t had more than a few minutes with the XO and the footage is unedited, but there you go.

OLPC video

Sun patents protect Ubuntu

Tectonic: Sun pledges patents to defend Linux

In a surprise move this week Sun Microsystems CEO, Jonathan Schwartz, said the company was ready to use the company’s extensive patent portfolio to help defend Red Hat and Ubuntu Linux against Microsoft’s patent threat.

Jonathan Schwartz:

“Sun has what I’d argue to be the single most valuable and focused patent portfolio on the web (and yes, we’d use it to defend Red Hat and Ubuntu, both).”


There is a Big Truck driving over my TUBES!!!

Bug 1

OLPC’s bug #1 is very much in the style of Ubuntu’s bug #1

One Tube Per Laptop

We all know the Internet is a series of tubes.

So it’s fitting that to get two OLPC XO laptops to talk to each other, you use… a tube.

OLPC Sugar on Ubuntu 7.04

I got Sugar running on Ubuntu using the Sugar on Ubuntu Linux page on the OLPC wiki. It uses Xephyr, so it runs the matchbox window manager in a full-screen window.

There was only one missing dependency, librsvg, which also stumped Guido so I’m in good company…

Here’s the Home view, which functions as a simple task switcher:

Sugar Home view

It helped that I had already experienced the XO laptop, and seen that the special keys along the top correspond to the function keys, so that I knew F3 gets you to the Home view – otherwise I would have been lost! (F1 to F4 correspond to the icons you see across the top of the frame.)

Icons in the ring show running activities. All the segments look equal to me, but the concept is that the ring is all available memory, and the activities or tasks show how much of this they are using by the amount of the ring they take up. When the ring is full, you need to close something… Maybe the sizing according to memory use isn’t implemented yet.

Here are the software components I have running:

The Gecko-based browser works:

Sugar browser

The feed reader, PenguinTV:

Sugar - Feed Reader

This seems to be not properly “sugarised” yet – I couldn’t find a way to quit the application.

Here’s Block Party – a Tetris clone:

Sugar Block Party

Other activities didn’t work yet on my system – Writer, based on abiword, wouldn’t launch at all, and Etoys and Chat both displayed only a gray screen.

It wouldn’t make sense to run Sugar on Ubuntu on the real hardware, since the OLPC distro incorporates tons of special optimisations, but this should make a reasonable development environment.

One final thing – had to ask on IRC on #sugar to find this out: To quit Sugar, use alt q.

Censorship, Ubuntu and… Digg

It’s one thing when an organisation takes action restricting the community temporarily to keep some breaking news from leaking out early – news which would be coming out officially anyway, and which is still published elsewhere, just not on a site clearly linked with the organisation

but what if the freedom to publish IS the product? What if the community IS the value they provide? What if the conflict of interests between the organisation and the community affects their very operation?

Digg fights user revolt over HD-DVD ban – Digg founders took HD-DVD sponsorship.

I think in the Ubuntu case, minor adjustments will be made, and business as usual will continue with a stronger community. In Digg’s case, well this had to happen sooner or later… I wonder about their survivability.

And now, back to business as usual! :-)


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