Archive for the 'sugar' Category

OLPC discontinues “Change the World”


In a stunning moment of irony, OLPC has discontinued “Change the World”.

In an email that leaked out onto the grassroots mailing list, OLPC quietly announced the end of the “Change the World” program previously known as “Give Many”, where you could buy 100 or 1000 XOs for the school of your choice.

Here’s the relevant excerpt:

> Unfortunately, as some of you might have heard "Change the World" aka "Give
> a School" aka "Give 100, Give 1000" will cease to exist. We are just waiting
> for the info to be taken off the main website (any second now).
> We are doing this in an effort to refocus back to large-scale deployments
> that create change in a major way. We WILL honor all requests that we have
> received prior to the info being taken off the website. So if you know
> anyone who is interested, tell them time is of the essence!!

Indeed, the ways to give page no longer lists “give a school” as an option. That option used to read (courtesy of Google cache):

Give 100 or more laptops with this special program that allows donors to choose the country where the laptops go. This geo-targeted program can impact a village, a region, or even a country, with large group donations.

The page it linked to is still live, but the link is gone.

I’m speculating that the minimum deployment is back up to 10,000 XOs, which was a previous category of deployment.

This is a blow to future small deployments in South Africa, as we have over 600 XOs deployed in South Africa through this program with more that were planned. Marco Rosa has been setting up a local non-profit organisation to raise funds and coordinate deployments – now to no effect unless we use laptops from other vendors.

Now I’ll get back to making Sugar, the learning platform originally developed for the OLPC XO, work on other hardware via Ubuntu

[Image remixed from Ploum, CC-BY]

Status of Sugar on Ubuntu

Here’s the status of Sugar on Ubuntu:

[ Help wanted sign ]

Sugar 0.82 on Intrepid (8.10)

There are various bugs and issues with Sugar 0.82 on Intrepid.

I’ve finally got a fix released for the problem of Browse not starting – it breaks every time we get a Firefox security update and we need to go through the process of getting hulahop rebuilt against the newer xulrunner path and uploaded to -proposed, tested and pushed out to -updates.

Other issues in Intrepid include needing support for Network Manager 0.7, and the Journal appearing not to store any entries (which is a xapian corruption thing fixed in Debian which we need to apply to sugar-datastore). We need to get these fixed, and there are patches available, so it takes people to do the packaging, sponsor the uploads, test the results, and keep testing and giving feedback.

Sugar 0.84 on Jaunty (9.04)

I’ve been working on packaging Sugar (sucrose) 0.83.x for jaunty. At this stage, the packages are uploaded to a PPA: Don’t expect them to work yet, but if you have a troubleshooting mindset, please do help test.

I’ve got tickets open for uploads to jaunty, ready for sponsoring. In the mean time, jaunty still has 0.82.x.

(Please note that PPAs now have signing keys, so you need to add the GPG key to your apt config. Instructions are on the PPA page.)

I’ve packaged glucose and Browse and Chat for now. I could use help packaging the rest of the activities that we have in the archive.

Also, we need to get Read and Write working for Jaunty, which means evince and libabiword. I know Tomeu’s working on the former, and Luke on the latter. Please give feedback to the Ubuntu Sugar Team if you are stuck, or if you have been in contact with the Ubuntu packagers for these.

Logging bugs

If you have problems with Sugar on Ubuntu, please report bugs per the instructions on If you don’t report a bug, please at least let us know by mailing the Ubuntu Sugar Team (

Sugar bugs a-twitter

Inspired by how Launchpad posts bugs to twitter via an atom feed using TwitterFeed, I set up a twitter account for the Sugar Labs trac instance: Follow to see new bugs posted.

Due to rate limiting of a maximum of five updates in 30 minutes, it won’t show every bug logged during a busy period, but it gives a nice real-time notification of new bugs on trac.

Now I see TwitterFeed supports too, so I’ve added the feed to as well.

The status of Sugar, post-OLPC

[The following was largely written by members of the Sugar Labs marketing team.]

[UPDATE: Collabora also provide engineering resources.]

The recent layoffs of almost the entire OLPC software development team have been widely circulated, but not the implications for Sugar, the learning platform originally developed specifically for the OLPC XO but now available on various GNU/Linux distributions including Ubuntu, Debian and Fedora.

Here’s where the Sugar project stands:

  • Sugar’s development infrastructure is now mostly independent of OLPC, thanks to many generous partners (Ivan Krstic, OSU Open Source Lab, Free Software Foundation,, MIT Media Lab, Solution Grove, Collabora and Develer).
  • For about 3 months now, Sugar Labs has already been taking care of Sugar development with almost no support from OLPC (other than contracting the core development team until recently).
  • Sugar has not lost any of its full-time core developers as a consequence of OLPC’s layoffs: All of the core team will stay around as unpaid volunteers while we’re looking for new ways to finance their full-time contribution.
  • Today, development of Sugar and activities relies upon 20 active contributors.
  • Over the past few months, we have grown our community with new contributors, new partners and new distributors.
  • The rate of development seems to be increasing steadily as we consolidate our new community driven development model (we can obtain some support evidence from git).
  • Through the Software Freedom Conservancy, Sugar Labs is receiving some very generous support (although we’re not yet able to credit individual donors).
  • While we do not plan to hire a development team within Sugar Labs, we’re working to get some of our full-time volunteer contributors sponsored by external organizations.
  • Red Hat, Collabora and Solution Grove are contributing with engineering resources and covering traveling expenses for some of our members.
  • The development cycle is proceeding steadily and Sucrose 0.84 will be released as planned in March.
  • We’ve been working to establish Local Labs, grassroots organizations which, in our mind, will fill up the gap left by OLPC in deployments.

It’s starting to become clear that 0.84 is where we’ll prove our credibility as a self-sufficient, community-driven project.

See our Getting Involved page!

OLPC in Limpopo

I found a great video produced by One Here One There of their OLPC deployment in Limpopo province, South Africa:

Sugar development needs funding

My contract with OLPC hasn’t been renewed due to financial reasons. I’ve added myself to the rather obscure Professional Services Sugar Labs page – look for more of us to appear there in the near future, as almost all the Sugar developers are in a similar position.

We either need funding, or a way to provide contract services developing and supporting Sugar.

Sugar git repository change

There’s a shiny new instance of gitorious on, the new home of the upstream repositories for Sugar.

The following modules have moved over from

  • sugar
  • sugar-base
  • sugar-toolkit
  • sugar-datastore
  • sugar-presence-service
  • sugar-jhbuild
  • read
  • chat

sugar-jhbuild has moved over as well, and updated to use the new repos. Some of the module names have been changed at the same time, for example presence-service is now sugar-presence-service, and chat-activity is now just chat.

If you’re using sugar-jhbuild, the old repo is up to date as of now with the new repos, but I recommend a completely clean build, cloned from the new repo, unless you have the git-fu to change it in place.

Anyone who could commit/push to the old sugar-* repos is welcome to ask for commit rights on the new repos – we can’t add you until you register on In the mean time, it’s trivial to clone a personal repo in the web interface and push to that and request a merge.

OLPC Give 1 Get 1 2008

One Laptop Per Child resumed the Give 1 Get 1 program on Monday, via Amazon, available in the USA and 30 countries in Europe. USA orders can be shipped overnight, so buyers get the XOs much faster than last year. You pay $399, get an XO, and help fund OLPC deployments in developing countries – see where the laptops from last year’s G1G1 went.

The XO rose quickly to #1 on Amazon’s “Bestsellers in Computers and PC Hardware” and is still there.

There are videos on OLPC’s Youtube channel, introducing the XO laptop, OLPC’s mission and how the laptops are used for education.

The XO laptop runs Sugar, a platform and user interface designed for learning. You can run Sugar on various GNU/Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, Debian and Fedora.

You can also run a conventional GNU/Linux distribution on the XO, either by installing onto the built-in NAND flash storage, or from a USB drive or SD card – including Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora. Amazon also lists Fedora 10 preinstalled on an SD card as a companion product to the XO (for preorder before F-10 is released). You do need a developer key, but then you can simply insert the SD card and boot Fedora without needing to install anything.

Microsoft also have a version of Windows XP for the XO, but this is not available for sale anywhere, as far as I can tell – so you’d need to be in one of two towns in Colombia to run it. “OLPC builds XOs with Linux. OLPC will continue to build XOs with Linux. OLPC has no plans to change this. None.

In addition to the comprehensive description on the Amazon listing, see OLPC News’s buyers guide for more information on buying the OLPC XO.

Sugar notifications and window manager plans

Subtitled, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know to be working on it…”

gregdek wrote:

We should also be using the standard notification, alert mechanisms, and system tray specs that supports. (Seems like the only reason this hasn’t been done so far has been time.) Here’s what that means to me: when I use my IRC client in GNOME and someone says “hello gregdek,” I get a glowing icon on my system tray. (Yaaay! Somebody likes me!) But XoIRC, right now, is incapable. Which makes IRC much less useful for me (although I’ll probably get more done.) This is an opportunity to work directly with the folks at, and this is important; if Sugar is to be viable, we must learn to work with other projects and take advantage of the work they’ve already done. What will these notifications look like in Sugar, exactly, which currently doesn’t have a “system tray”, per se? Unclear, but thankfully Eben is really good at solving these kinds of problems.

Notification support landed recently in Sugar git master and XoIRC, courtesy of Tomeu, so if you run the crack-of-the-day or wait for a release you can use, that’s fixed.

It’s probably time to move beyond Matchbox

The Sugar development community is in agreement there.

Scott is looking at Awesome, which is a tiled window manager that also has a compatibility mode that allows for floating layers. There are other tiled window managers being considered; everyone’s got their favorite, of course, but it does look like Awesome is in the lead right now.

Sayamindu‘s been working on Metacity for some time. Who you think is in the lead depends on who you spend time with…

I’m looking forward to an event where we can all be represented and discuss all the options – hopefully the January XO Camp will be that event.

I hope the Sugar Camp will have been of value – certainly some communication is better than none. But we have so many people expressing their opinions at the top of their voices, not leading to actual implementation, that my response is “show me the code”.


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