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Fun learning activities & projects for OLPC laptops in Haiti and beyond!

Brief Evolution

Starting Sept 2013, HaitiOS 0.5.1 like its successor 0.6 require unsecured OLPC XO-1 laptops. Both are built from OLPC Release 12.1.0 with Fedora 17 and Sugar 0.96.2. We use the Tiny Core Linux installation method, instead of OS Builder for now. HaitiOS 0.6 will contain about 50 Sugar Activities gathered together from experiences across these sources:

Specifically, beyond the design doc below, here is the more final list of Sugar Activities HaitiOS 0.6 should contain:

In summary, HaitiOS 0.6 (design doc) greatly expands on 0.5.1. For lesson plans, it's sometime useful to classify these Sugar activities into 4 categories: Base, Easy, Intermediate, Advanced.

Finally, an Intl version of HaitiOS 0.6 is being installed on Contributors Program XO-1 laptops shipping around the world starting early 2014, including Intl Activities enumerated below.


Instructions follow for HaitiOS 0.6 Alpha and Beta releases, available since mid-December 2013:

  1. Remember that your XO-1 laptop must first be unsecured if you obtained it from Give1Get1 (use the offline method to "liberate" many XO-1s at once, and consider this thorough list of XO reburbishing tips!) After your Developer Key is installed on your XO-1, complete the disabling of the security system by booting the XO-1, pushing the ESC key repeatedly, then typing "disable-security" at the Ok prompt.
  2. Download the latest HaitiOS 0.6 Beta from http://xsce.activitycentral.com/downloads/ (typically HaitiOS-0.6.tar.gz) which can be unpacked to most any FAT32 USB memory stick, EG using http://7-zip.org or http://Win-RAR.com.
  3. Optionally customize which Sugar activities you want, in the "bundles" folder on your USB stick, considering intl recommendations below.
  4. Plug in the XO-1 and verify its white battery is charged, shown by a green battery indicator. BOTH live charger and full battery are required to proceed!
  5. Insert your USB memory stick into the XO-1. Hold down the 'x' game key as you boot to upgrade the firmware to q2f19. Visually confirm this firmware upgrade completes (takes ~2 minutes, a 2nd attempt after reboot may be required). You can double-check by hitting ESC repeatedly upon turning on the unsecured XO-1, to verify its firmware version.
  6. Do a classic clean install, holding down all 4 game keys immediately after powering on. (USB stick must remain inserted into the XO-1)
  7. About 15 min later, after a reboot and many scripts/installs' details proceed on screen, the install should stop, completed. Hit "Enter" and then type "poweroff". When the XO is off, remove your USB memory stick, Done! NOTE: if installation ends prematurely with rapid errors shooting down the screen soon after intermediary boot, hit "Enter" and then enter "date 0101120014" and finally "reboot", all while keeping the USB stick inserted --- regrettably you may need to try this final recovery/rebooting sequence several times if the XO-1 internal battery is severely discharged and keeps forgetting its date.

Mods for Intl Version

HaitiOS's choice of quick-to-learn Activities is being redistributed outside Haiti too, in countries with less Creole/Kreyòl and French, with the following (suggested) modifications to the installer USB memory stick's "bundles" folder.

Remove These: GeoQuiz-5HT.xo, HaitiDictionary-4.xo, livreshaiti.xol, pippy-fr.xo, Prompt-7.xo, wikipediafr-36.xo

Optionally Remove: i_know_america-9.xo if South/North American geography game ain't interesting to your country :)

Add These: geoquiz-5.xo, pippy-46.xo, wikipediaen-36.xo OR Wikipedia Simple (CAREFUL with all version numbers, Wikipedia Simple 37.1 and likely others do not run on HaitiOS!)

In the end, your USB stick's resulting "bundles" folder of add-on activities (beyond 12.1.0) will like this 157MB collection of 29 Sugar activities: http://sugarlabs.org/~holt/HaitiOS-0.6-INTL-EN-addon-bundles/


Based on the work of Nick Doiron, Bill Stelzer, Sora Edwards-Thro, Tim Moody and invaluable other OLPC volunteers in Haiti, HaitiOS brings a richer set of Sugar Activities to encourage quick-off-the-mark independent exploration, and deeper "guided discovery" where possible. It continues to be based on OLPC Release 12.1.0, which we've found remains the fastest and most reliable overall operating system for our kids' and teachers' XO-1 laptops.

See blogs http://blog.unleashkids.org, http://haitidreams.org, http://projectrive.wordpress.com and http://ferrierschool.org/blog/ for extensive backstory from 2011, 2012, 2013 and onwards.


Truly great work has gone into Nepal's NEXO software for ~4000 XO-1 laptops, OLPC France's 2013 Madagascar Build and Australia's XO-1 Training Pack, etc! In the free/open tradition, we hope this exchange among all of us only grows in coming years.

Regrettably, we have found Release 13.2.0, Sugar 0.100 and Dextrose 4 are not yet fast enough for XO-1 laptops. In future we hope this changes -- or as the case may be, that a standards-compliant Browse activity can evolve alongside Release OLPC 12.x.x year-by-year!


George Hunt and Adam Holt (holt @ laptop.org)

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