Talk:OLPC software task list


Jump to: navigation, search

As the laptop is being developed we should also focus on bringing up the computer skills of the necessary trainers. Africa is basically a 'Windows' continent and finding a decent Linux tutor will be a task!

Look at "A commercial version of the machine will be explored in parallel." I think that commercial world of rich countries can help diffusion of knowledge for this product and relatives. In a little bit of time we can have guides, hacks, tutorials, .., .., and much more helps for anyone in the world.

A parallel commercial distribution will help motivate open source programmers. Otherwise is difficult to convince them to write to a platform they will not see (development seeding will always be finite). --pdinoto



All the software should be localized, from the GUI to the LOGO language itself. it does not make sense if the children need to learn english to be able to learn. i think this is the real issue -- Slim Amamou

Customizing PuppyLinux for OLPC

PuppyLinux is a Linux distribution that can run the OLPC machine satisfactorily. What is needed now is to customize this OS for the laptop. The lead developer, Barry Kauler, may be reached at bkauler *at* goosee *dot* com. As soon as customization is done, translating the OS and preparation of training materials about (and using) the OS can get started. PuppyLinux forum is at

Please go to this page and highlight other Minimal Linux distros that should be investigated for good ideas and useful code.

Other uses of the laptops...

As I have suggested in the discussion of the main page of the Laptop Wiki... there are many other uses for the laptops in the hands of the parents and grandparents of the kids:

  • Education for adults and senior Hobbies.
  • Remote work.
  • Health and Doctor services, as remote Doctors in Australia.
  • JOBS FOR DISABLED & ELDERS: Working as Tutors / Advisors about Problems in: Homework & Study, Domestic & Familiar, Entrepreneur & Small Business Owner, Social, Tourist & Governmental activities, which might be given by disabled, elders, and parents of “special children”, using their Green PC´s or phones.

Some considerations should be made about the software for these activities. -- 00:08, 16 March 2006 (EST) dagoflores, AGS, MEXICO

We are hoping that by deploying an open platform on a communication-rich laptop that many of these sorts of activities will naturally emerge in a way they could not if, for example, the computers were only accessible at school. Of course, someone--you?--needs to lead by example! Walter 18:31, 2 May 2006 (EDT)
looking at it becomes obvious for me that the usage of the XO PC´s by adults will become a reality, even if OLPC wants to keep it as an Educational Project. MEXICO --- AGS --- --Dagoflores 23:04, 31 October 2007 (EDT)

Where are extreme programming geeks and freaks? :-P

Well, i remember the first days of linux, when everybody was looking for killer apps. And many programmers make ultra short and ultra fast code to demostrate that linux will be the future enviroment for develop programs.

Where are these guys? We need the most cheap computer with the best, more fast and light weight software.

Where is the best place to recruit them? It's only my opinion, im reading a lot of lines about all plugins, programs and gadgets of the world, but nothing are really useful at least. Like a porsche more tunned than fantastic car.

I need feedback.

--Asmarin 06:40, 10 April 2006 (EDT)

Oh, there are killer apps out there, for science, engineering, desktop publishing, etc. What is astonishing is how poorly a lot of them are known. I am attempting to catalog what is out there and to improve the general awareness of the Linux community, as are a number of others, but the obscurity (and, surprisingly, secrecy) of some of these Open Source projects makes this a daunting task.

A student in microelectronics might play with Greensocs. Someone looking at structures or design might seriously consider Cern's Geometric Description Markup Language. A computer science class on networks might use the LUNAR ad-hoc wireless simulator or Network Simulator 2. A teacher distributing files to an entire class might use FLUTE. Mining engineer? Archaeology? Well, Seismic Unix has been used for both, and Madagascar looks very decent. BLAST and Genomorama have somewhat pathetic interfaces, but that's an easy thing to fix. Tie them in to GGobi or OpenDX and you've a superb way to teach microbiology. I'm sure biology classes could also find a use for the Medical Imaging Interaction Toolkit. Geography? GeoServer and GRASS seem nice. Interested in hydrology? The Gerris Flow Solver and Channelflow are good places to start. Of course, none of these are rocket science. You'd want the Virtual AGC for that. Speech recognition? Oh, tons of those. Ears is one of the older ones and it's very good.

I'm not even scratching the surface even of the catalog with this, never mind the totality of what is available and ideal for this kind of job. And since I'm only covering pre-existing software, it doesn't consider anything developed for this type of computer-aided learning or this project specifically. As someone who has worked in CAL for some years before defecting to the programming careers with a livable income, I can say that the ideas - and sometimes the code - is out there. But, then, so are buckyballs, and they can be just as hard to find.

Oh, and the highly-tuned racing car analogy? Add Kerrighed or MOSIX, and a continent of OLPC wind-ups would compare very nicely on the top 500 supercomputer list. It may not be trivial to do the real power computing, the network delays over an ad-hoc "roofnet" may be unpredictable and tortuous, but don't even begin to think it can't be done. There are over 250 wireless routing protocols for handling randomly mobile networks, not to mention entire working groups studying MobileIP and NEMO (network mobility) - there will be solutions that would let you build the greatest "Pile-of-PC" clusters ever assembled. If that was something OLPC wanted to do, OLPC could do it.

As for where to find the true cutting-edge CALpert programmers - if I knew that, I'd have long-ago built myself an empire. My experience with running Open Source projects tells me that such people are found by chance - though the more remarkable the project, the greater that chance becomes. Like the wise men of dark-age mythology, they're rarely expected and almost never predictable.


DIY Programs

It would be intresting to gear this project to adults as well....say a cheap programing enviroment for them. I think it would be pretty intresting to sell it to people with the aim of fostering a software community in third world countries, aimed at helping themselves with a little push form the rest of the world. That way they create thier own software for this laptop.....

Anyone working on a Dev tutorial for this project?

Networking community engagement

The global connectivity of tens of thousands, growing to of order a million schools is a major challenge of network logistics. We must help spark the involvement of networking people all over the world to successfully scale to this level.

Take a look at Netsukuku. From its documentation:

  Netsukuku is a mesh network or a p2p net system that generates and sustains
  itself autonomously. It is designed to handle an unlimited number of nodes
  with minimal CPU and memory resources. Thanks to this feature it can be
  easily used to build a worldwide distributed, anonymous and anarchical
  network, separated from the Internet, without the support of any servers,
  ISPs or authority controls.
  This net is composed by computers linked physically each other, therefore
  it isn't build upon any existing network. Netsukuku builds only the routes
  which connects all the computers of the net.
  In other words, Netsukuku replaces the level 3 of the model iso/osi with
  another routing protocol.

  Being Netsukuku a distributed and decentralised net, it is possible to
  implement real distributed systems on it, e.g. the Abnormal Netsukuku Domain
  Name Anarchy (ANDNA) which will replace the actual hierarchic and
  centralized system of DNS.

For more information:

Keyboard: why not dvorak ?

I read the announcements on this page and see that the proposed keyboard are Qwerty or Azerty, the usual keyboard on most computer, and the one I use. But these were developped one century ago with key layouts that fitted the requirements of mechanical typewriters and were designed to slow down the typists. Some other keyboard designs have been introduced and the best of them for European languages, as far as I know, is the dvorak one. Why therefore not propose the OLPC with such keyboards as this would help the new users start with a keyboard with a good design ? --Npettiaux 04:09, 25 May 2006 (EDT)

Have we forgotten that these machines are going to countries with languages which cannot be typed on Dvorak keyboards? If a developer wishes to use a Dvorak layout, they can install this the same as on any other Linux system.

SPAM, E-Mail, Messaging

Moved into Talk:Discussion of Instant Messaging Challenges.

Will the OLPC use busybox?

Since there is already a project that has built a minimalist libc and minimalist set of basic UNIX utilities for small memory machines, will the OLPC be using these to reduce the memory footprint of the base system?

Touch Typing

Touch Typing educational software to get kids used to using the keyboard QWERTY, or AZERTY or whatever, the faster you can type the faster you can use a computer. And this will be a nice introduction to a tool many of them may be scared of? Random typing speed tests but whatever solution you come up with it needs to be better than anything that is available for free currently.

A small collection of existing free "touch typing tutor" applications from the net.sources and comp.sources.unix archives is at [1]. All are for character terminals (one's in BASIC!), but the word lists and progression from easy to hard may be extractable into a graphical one. These are presented as they came over the Usenet -- copyright clearance may be required.

Educational Competitive Games Software

This section was entitled Educational Games Software until 2006-05-01. The new title may be more appropriate, yet readers may like to be aware that comments made before that date were made when the original title was in place.

I believe that the best way to educate with these tools will be the use of educational games, with the following characteristics: -a) Competitive game, among 4 to 8 youngsters teams, to promote the human touch, teamwork, help among peers, and even auto-teaching groups. -b) EVERY team member might receive questions from the rival team so nobody can just "navigate" in a team of smart kids. -c) Answers must encourage real world virtues, being PRECISE (Quality) and FAST (Productivity). -d) To stimulate interest, teams will earn points that can be traded, later on, for objects donated by sports and entretaining stars (like a football signed by the Superbowl players or Madonna´s objects signed by her, or a President´s Dinner). Who: Dagoberto G. Flores-Lozano, AGS, MEX

Suggestion: Touch Typing games to get kids used to using the keyboard QWERTY, AZERTY or whatever, the faster you can type the faster you can use a computer.

Question: Do ALL educational games need to be competitive? Is there a place for cooperative games where everybody is part of the winning team if the game is completed? William Overington 1948 GMT 23 March 2006

Question: Why is it that so many participation events are competitions (where entrants compete AGAINST each other) and are of the format where there is only one or a few prizewinners? William Overington 1953 GMT 23 March 2006

Answer: The best way to promoting competitivity is through competition. What I am proposing is a cooperative game as it is played between 4 to 8 member teams, in a pattern used by Scouts (Boy/Girl Scouts) for some time. Besides, games become a lot more interesting when it is present. One of the best characteristics of modern organizations is COMPETITIVITY, and such trend, developed by the ISO-9000:2000 is made up of QUALITY (doing things right THE FIRST TIME, and satisfying client needs), PRODUCTIVITY (doing more with less time & resources), SERVICE (treating clients with Education), and IMAGE (creating mental awareness of the organization in the objective market) Life is full of competittion for jobs & many things. And Overington is right, the winners should be the TEAMS, not specific individuals... --Dagoflores 00:47, 2 April 2006 (EST)
On 2006-05-01 0418Z the comment "And Overington is right, the winners should be the TEAMS, not specific individuals." was added.

It is always nice when someone agrees with me, yet, actually, I was not saying that. I was wondering why an educational game should be in the format of teams with one team as "the winning team" or "the winners" and thus the other one or more teams not being winners, but losers. In a game such as football there is no way that everyone can be a winner in terms of the result of the game, though for professional footballers they all win in the sense that they all get paid for taking part. If the competitiveness is taken out of the game, there is nothing left. Yet in an educational game, if one takes out competitiveness, there is still the learning left. Everyone is part of one team and if the educational game is devised in such a way that everyone learns by playing the game as one team then everyone is part of the winning team. It just seems to me that there is no need for the concept of one team beating the other team to be part of an educational culture. Having said that I suppose that I need to produce an educational game where everybody is part of the winning team. How about an educational game where the team (that is, one team consisting of all of the people present) has to produce correct answers to a number of long multiplication sums of two numbers each of four digits multiplied together. The time taken is noted and the game is played on several days. The students could try to beat their previous time. If the number of such multiplications is, say, four times the number of students in the team, then I wonder what would happen in that some students could be much faster at producing the results than would be others. It is true that life is full of competition for jobs and other things. Yet there are also situations where people in a society try to arrange things so that everyone gets something, such as people on higher incomes contributing more in taxes, often at a higher rate of taxation so that a person on a higher income pays a greater percentage of his or her income in taxes as well as more in actual money. However, that is just my own view and it may be a minority view, maybe in a minority of one.

William Overington

2006-05-01 0901Z

The thing with losing is that you will try to do better next time. As such there is a value to losing as long as it does not happen all the time. If there are enough players you can always win from a less experienced player or team. I see the value of competition because it is a very strong motivator to do better next time and it boosts the self esteem if you or your team wins. The thing with computer games is that there is a strong difference between PvP (Player vs. Player) or PvE (Player vs. Environment). A player can train (alone or in teams) against a virtual oponent until he/she feel confident to compete with other humans. Are there any other motivations that are strong enough to serve educational needs other then competition? I believe that any game that can show progress in self development is good for the OLPC project.

Hans Speijer 2006-05-25

I'd argue that competitive games (if "hostile") defeat the entire premise that reward/punishment is a Bad Thing. The moment you have hostile competition, you introduce a reward (the notion of winning) and a punishment (the notion of losing), so hitting both of the major points that are discussed. It also risks losing the focus of whatever is being presented, as the natural human behaviour is to seek out the easiest solution to a problem. In this case, the easiest solution is to focus on winning. A strategy that requires no comprehension of the problem will always out-perform a strategy that involves comprehension, EXCEPT for full-information games that are simple enough that a winning strategy can be derived. The easiest example would be an individual who put resources into opposing the other side's efforts.

Notice that I covered hostile competition. An example of truly friendly competition could be a simulation in which competitors tried to develop the most sustainable community. It's competition, in that you are competing against another individual, but it is "friendly" in that you don't run into The Prisoner's Dilemma, you don't run into all of Prof Nash's work on competition vs. cooperation, etc. There's no gain in attacking the other, you still get the aggression (because you want to win) but it's directed at winning and not forcing the other side to lose. There's no manipulation by either those organizing the game or by the players themselves. (Player manipulation is still manipulation and I can see no reason for believing it'll be any better than any other kind.)

Now, a third type of game (cooperative games) are the hardest of all - I know of no successful cooperative game system - although theoretically they aught to produce the best results. Because examples are so limited, I can't usefully add anything here.

Finally, there are games that don't strictly fit into any of the above. I never got very deep into lateral thinking (though I did come up with some novel solutions to the problems in the five day course), but I seem to remember entire categories of interactions between gamers that couldn't be fit into such a simple, linear model. Which is a good thing. Putting kids, especially, on a line is a bad mistake. I never got very deep into the work of the NAGC in the UK, either, but I certainly remember they had some serious issues with educators who used too simplistic thinking.


Well, first of all, let me tell you that LIFE IS COMPETITIVE, even here we are arguing to set our points of view as the RIGHT ONES, cooperative games are possible if we compete among TEAMS, as the do at the Scout/Guides Groups. If in the game, multiple options questions are asked and wrong answer shows the RIGHT answer, we will learn by playing. MEXICO --- AGS --- --Dagoflores
Ok, any more ideas, for constructive educational games?
Perhaps a good technique is the team solitary game, trying to break their own previous TIME RECORDS, or NUMBER OF PROBLEMS SOLVED WITHOUT ERRORS, (of course there is still competition as these records will be compared with the other team records, just like the Olympic Games).
Another idea is the QUEST, a game in which you have to solve educational riddles to win, and the prize is saving the Princess, or whatever MEXICO --- AGS --- --Dagoflores
-- Are you aware of any game for this kind with information from any theme, to supply to my students? ----Would appreciate an answer-------MEXICO --- AGS --- Dagoflores 21:39, 28 May 2008 (EDT)


Would [[Category:Developers]] be appropriate for this page?

Using Living books?

OLPC should look at "Amblerside Online"'s reading list: Most of these books are already past copyright, and one of the main goals of that project is to provide as many of these books as possible in electronic format. As for math, there are math programs that are already scanned in: These math books are already out of copyright.

The only critique that I have for AO's reading list is that they do not touch on history from 1900's to the present until 11th grade, which is too late in my opinion. The up side is that about 90% of the main part of a good education is there. The two projects would fit nicely with each other.

If you plan to use AO's list for mass production product like this, you would have to obtain permission from AO's board, but I can't think of any reason outright that they would object.

What about Maine? (gaining experience vicariously)

Didn't Maine's governor get laptops for seventh graders in 2000 or so? Did it work out well? What was learned? What unexpected problems arose? Does anybody know? What other experiences pertain?

Nitpicker 23:55, 9 December 2006 (EST)

Content Copyright

When i first stumbled across the closed knowledge problem in mexico (late december 2006) i was a it worried, there is a lack of culture for open knowledge both in business and schooling models. To overcome such problem me and a small team of people started to promote the creation of and wiki very similar to that of 'simple english' of wikipedia. probable will be based on tikiwiki. Such wiki will be available for both public and private schools, this last ones can have access to a campus wide knowledge repository only if they buy license of aula24horas software which basically is a course management system with some extra modules.

The wiki proposal will be deliver February 5, 2007 to the world bank as part of a bigger proyect for open education called ukini. lets hope such proposal will help leverage the digital divide for spanish content that our schools suffer. -- hj barraza, 31 January 2007

This page is something very different from its title

... and I can't really figure out exactly what. Homunq 23:29, 28 July 2007 (EDT)

Personal tools
  • Log in
  • Login with OpenID
About OLPC
About the laptop
About the tablet
OLPC wiki