Release notes/12.1.0

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Contents

Purpose

OLPC OS 12.1.0 is a new software release focusing on improving the XO-1.75 user experience, and undertaking a much-needed technological shift for Sugar's internals to GTK+ 3.x. Additionally, XO-1.5 and XO-1 continue to be supported in this release, and we include a variety of new features and fixes.

Features

Sugar-0.96

More information is available in the Sugar-0.96 release notes.

GTK3

In recent years, the GNOME platform (which provides the basis on top of which Sugar is built) has been in transition from GTK+ 2.x to GTK+ 3.x. This has had some impacts on Sugar, which uses GTK+ 2.x only. During this development cycle, we have spearheaded efforts within the Sugar Labs community to make Sugar GTK3-ready and to move the recently-broken components over to GTK3.

Despite being a large chunk of work and very important for the future of Sugar, the changes you will see as a user are few. This work was limited to the back-end platform only. As we continue the transition in future, you'll receive efficiency improvements, and activities will improve in quality from having more direct access to a wider range of system libraries.

Write to the journal anytime

Recent Sugar versions have shown a "naming screen" upon stopping a new instance of a Sugar activity. The idea was to encourage the learner to provide a good name for their work, and perform some self-reflection in the details field. However, some found this confusing (stopping an activity should be as simple as possible).

Sugar-0.96 changes this - the naming screen is no longer displayed. However, all activities now have a button in the toolbar that allows a description to be set. We hope that this will continue to encourage self-reflection while not being as intrusive as before.

Text to speech

A new icon in the Sugar frame allows for any currently-selected text to be dictated by the internal speech engine.

Notable activity changes

Browse, Wikipedia and Help have been moved from Mozilla to WebKit internally, as the Mozilla engine can no longer be embedded into other applications (like Browse) and Mozilla has stated officially that it is unsupported. WebKit has proven to be a far superior alternative and this represents a valuable step forward for Sugar's future. As a user, you will notice faster activity startup time and a smoother browsing experience. Also, form elements on webpages are now themed according to the system theme, so you'll see Sugar's UI design blending more into the web forms that you access.

Wikipedia has been updated with new content, both in English and Spanish (this is the first content update since the creation of the activity, the old content was now a few years old). The activity starts up quicker and takes less time to navigate between pages.

Memorize has been moved to the new Sugar toolbar design.

Turtle Art adds support for polynomial objects and stereo sensor input (XO-1.5 and XO-1.75). A new help system has been added, and new blocks are present for speaking, sine waves, and further mouse control.

Measure supports stereo capture from sensors and features more powerful data logging capabilities.

Portfolio now exports to PDF files and can record "audio notes". Written notes are now automatically saved to the Journal's description field for each highlighted item.

Etoys version 5.0 brings new objects including a calendar, pie chart sectors, key press. New tools can be used for producing number lines and graph paper. single-step is newly supported in the scriptor. See Etoys Release Notes for further details.

Additionally, a large number of bug-fixes and smaller improvements (too many to list) are also included in the new activity versions shipped in this release.

Welcome screen

Upon launching Sugar for the first time, a new welcome screen is shown. This shows a slideshow of images. Build system customisations can be used to disable this, and for those willing to examine the code and file structures (it has not been fully documented), the build system can also be used to customise this content.

GNOME 3.4

We have updated to GNOME v3.4, upgrading from v2.32 shipped in earlier releases. For details on the changes, see the release notes for GNOME 3.0, GNOME 3.2 and GNOME 3.4.

Note that OLPC ships a stripped down version of GNOME, therefore not everything noted in the GNOME release notes applies to our releases. We do not currently have support for accelerated 3D graphics, so the new "GNOME Shell" UI is not (yet) available on OLPC laptops. We continue to use the previous UI mode, which is now known as "fallback."

Following the migration to WebKit within Sugar, we have made the equivalent migration on the GNOME side by replacing Firefox with Epiphany. In addition to maintaining consistency between our two desktop environments, we believe this transition brings a faster and smoother browsing experience to the XO, and we feel that Epiphany's focus on simplicity is appropriate for our young-age user base.

Unfortunately, Empathy (the IM client) now requires OpenGL which is not available on our platforms. It has been dropped from our software distribution as a result. See ticket #11929 for more details and possible alternatives.

Base system

The base system has been updated to Fedora 17, keeping us current with our underpinning open source technologies. This has enabled many of the enhancements listed on this page.

In the switch to systemd, the way that the system time/date is handled has changed significantly. Setting the time/date will no longer affect the hardware clock, so it may seem that your change gets lost on reboot. If you decide to set the time/date with a utility such as date or ntpdate, remember to synchronize the new date/time to the hardware clock afterwards (with hwclock --systohc).

The XO-1.75 release has moved to a different instruction architecture. In previous releases, we did not make use of the processor's floating point unit; instead, we performed all floating-point (i.e. decimal number) calculations in software. Now we move to a "hardware floating point" architecture using instructions for processor generations up to ARMv7 which results in a performance improvement in various parts of the interface.

The XO-1 and XO-1.5 platforms have been upgraded to the v3.3 Linux kernel. This brings in assorted minor back-end improvements and will be appreciated by those who wish to connect present-day external periphals (e.g. GSM modems).

Support for XO-1.5 B1 laptops has been dropped (these are early pre-production prototypes, never sold to customers). Active contributors who rely on such a unit are encouraged to contact OLPC for a possible replacement.

More disk space

Those who are familiar with our previous releases for XO-1.5 and XO-1.75 will recall that when downloading the release, they had to choose whether they were going to install it on a system with 2GB, 4GB or 8GB of internal SD card capacity and download the appropriate file. This was not ideal.

This system had further flaws. Manufacturers do not agree on (e.g.) exactly how big a 4GB SD card should be - some provide more disk space than others. Similar cards from the same manufacturer can even show such discrepency. Previously, we had to guess at a safe number for our OS images - e.g. what is the smallest 4GB SD card we can expect to see on the market? We went conservative and guessed low, because guessing too high would mean the system would be unusable on some SD cards. This was at the expense of leaving a part of the SD card unused, effectively not making use of all of the free space offered by the card.

In 12.1.0, we have improved this system. Now there is just one file to download, for any capacity of SD card. The first time the system is booted, the filesystem is resized to fill the disk, using all available capacity. In practice, this means that most users will gain 100mb to 200mb of free disk space that was previously unavailable.

DisplayLink USB-VGA

In 2010 we added support for SiS-based USB-to-VGA adapters, allowing you to hook the XO up to an external monitor or projector (very useful for training sessions). More recently, adapters based on a DisplayLink chip (instead of SiS) have been growing in popularity. 12.1.0 adds support for these DisplayLink adapters. To use them, the process is the same as it is for SiS-based devices: connect the device before turning the XO on, then the user interface will be loaded on the external display.

Miscellaneous improvements

Network connection details (e.g. preferred wireless networks, wireless keyphrases) are now shared between GNOME and Sugar, and you will notice the connection being established earlier during boot. Most of the time, by the time the desktop has loaded, you are already connected.

The display is now dimmed while inactive for power saving reasons, even when "automatic power management" (idle suspend) is disabled. While this won't change anything for XO-1.5 or XO-1.75 (where automatic dimming was already enabled, alongside idle suspend), XO-1 users will now see the auto-dim behaviour possibly for the first time.

The boot animation has changed. It is now harder to reliably calculate the progress of the boot sequence, so we just show a "stateless" animation. Internally, we have moved from our own boot animation code (which was a pain to maintain) to plymouth, a standard boot animation engine used by Fedora and other distributions. For deployments wishing to customise this, it is simple to add your own logo to the boot screen (via the bootanim module of OS Builder). Alternatively, you can take advantage of plymouth's advanced theming engine to do something different.

The OS Builder configuration format has been simplified a little. In the past, modules had be loaded by adding an entry to a list. Now simply providing the module configuration section will load it, and the modules list is ignored. For more details, see this mail.

The OS image filename format has changed. It used to be of format e.g. "os874" with "fs.zip", but we found that did not encode enough information, and resulted in filename clashes between builds for different laptop models. You can now create a USB disk including OS images for all 3 laptop models without issue. The new filename format is documented at Release_Process#Build_filenames, and fs.zip is now fs0.zip (for XO-1), fs1.zip (for XO-1.5), or fs2.zip (for XO-1.75). All recent firmware versions recognise the new fsX.zip filename format; if you are running an older version, simply renaming the file to fs.zip will allow the image to be installed as usual.

Installation

Installation is distinct from update. If you have user data on the laptop that you wish to preserve, you may want to follow the Update instructions, below.

XO-1.75

How to install signed build 21 of release 12.1.0 on XO-1.75.

The build is installed to the internal storage device. You will need a USB drive or Secure Digital card of at least 1 GB capacity, but only for the duration of the installation.

ALL USER DATA WILL BE ERASED FROM THE LAPTOP!

  • Prepare the USB or SD drive:
    • Download 21021o2.zd, see How to Download,
    • Save the file to the top directory of the drive,
    • Download 21021o2.zd.zsp.fs2.zip,
    • Save the file to the top directory of the same drive,
    • Rename the file to fs2.zip, (removing the 21021o2.zd.zsp part of the name),
    • Check that the drive contains at least the two files fs2.zip and 21021o2.zd.
  • Prepare the laptop:
    • Make a copy of any data you wish to keep,
    • Check that the battery is inserted and locked,
    • Check that the power cord is in place and the battery indicator is green,
    • Turn off the laptop, unless it is already off,
    • Insert the USB drive into any USB port on the laptop,
  • Start installing:
    • Hold down all four game keys above the power button,
    • Turn on the laptop,
    • Wait for the message Release the game keys to continue,
    • Release the game keys.

Installation progress will be displayed. Green colour will fill grey blocks. It will take about five minutes. Once finished, the laptop will reboot automatically. You may remove the USB or SD drive during or after the reboot.

The USB or SD drive can be used on other laptops. If installation progress is not displayed, you may be running an old firmware version which does not recognise the fs2.zip file. Rename fs2.zip to fs.zip and trying again. If you see a message Boot failed then either:

  • the USB or SD drive has not been properly prepared, or;
  • the firmware is out of date and should be updated (see Firmware).

XO-1.5

How to install signed build 21 of release 12.1.0 on XO-1.5.

The build is installed to the internal microSD device. You will need a USB drive or Secure Digital card of at least 1 GB capacity, but only for the duration of the installation.

ALL USER DATA WILL BE ERASED FROM THE LAPTOP!

  • Prepare the USB or SD drive:
    • Download 21021o1.zd, see How to Download,
    • Save the file to the top directory of the drive,
    • Download 21021o1.zd.zsp.fs1.zip,
    • Save the file to the top directory of the same drive,
    • Rename the file to fs1.zip, (removing the 21021o1.zd.zsp part of the name),
    • Check that the drive contains at least the two files fs1.zip and 21021o1.zd.
  • Prepare the laptop:
    • Make a copy of any data you wish to keep,
    • Check that the battery is inserted and locked,
    • Check that the power cord is in place and the battery indicator is green,
    • Turn off the laptop, unless it is already off,
    • Insert the USB drive into any USB port on the laptop,
  • Start installing:
    • Hold down all four game keys above the power button,
    • Turn on the laptop,
    • Wait for the message Release the game keys to continue,
    • Release the game keys.

Installation progress will be displayed. Green colour will fill grey blocks. It will take about ten minutes. Once finished, the laptop will reboot automatically. You may remove the USB or SD drive during or after the reboot.

The USB or SD drive can be used on other laptops. If installation progress is not displayed, you may be running an old firmware version which does not recognise the fs1.zip file. Rename fs1.zip to fs.zip and trying again. If you see a message Boot failed then either:

  • the USB or SD drive has not been properly prepared, or;
  • the firmware is out of date and should be updated (see Firmware).

XO-1

How to install signed build 21 of release 12.1.0 on XO-1.

The build is installed to the internal NAND flash device. You will need a USB drive or Secure Digital card of at least 1 GB capacity, but only for the duration of the installation.

ALL USER DATA WILL BE ERASED FROM THE LAPTOP!

  • Prepare the USB or SD drive:
    • Download 21021o0.img, see How to Download,
    • Save the file to the top directory of the drive,
    • Download 21021o0.img.fs0.zip,
    • Save the file to the top directory of the same drive,
    • Rename the file to fs0.zip, (removing the 21021o0.img part of the name),
    • Check that the drive contains at least the two files fs0.zip and 21021o0.img.
  • Prepare the laptop:
    • Make a copy of any data you wish to keep,
    • Check that the battery is inserted and locked,
    • Check that the power cord is in place and the battery indicator is green,
    • Turn off the laptop, unless it is already off,
    • Insert the USB drive into any USB port on the laptop,
  • Start installing:
    • Hold down all four game keys above the power button,
    • Turn on the laptop,
    • Wait for the message Release the game keys to continue,
    • Release the game keys.

Installation progress will be displayed. Green colour will fill yellow blocks. It will take about five minutes. Once finished, the laptop will reboot automatically. You may remove the USB or SD drive during or after the reboot.

The USB or SD drive can be used on other laptops. If installation progress is not displayed, you may be running an old firmware version which does not recognise the fs0.zip file. Rename fs0.zip to fs.zip and trying again. If you see a message Boot failed then either:

  • the USB or SD drive has not been properly prepared, or;
  • the firmware is out of date and should be updated (see Firmware).

Update

You may wish to update from a previous version of the operating system. This method preserves most user data, the Sugar Journal and installed Sugar Activities, but does not preserve certain operating system customizations such as additional packages.

(Update is distinct from install. If you have followed the install procedures above, then you need not follow this section.)

Preparation

To prepare for an operating system update:

  • remove as much saved content as you no longer need,
  • remove any large activities you no longer need (in the Home view, erase them),
  • remove any large collections (library content) you no longer need, and;
  • use Software update to ensure the Terminal activity is the latest available version.

Follow the instructions in one of the subsections below, according to which method and laptop model you are using.

Note: on XO-1, you will *not* be able to update a previous release to 12.1.0 unless you delete material from the standard installation. This is due to temporary disk space requirements during the upgrade process. Around 450mb disk space is required for the upgrade from 11.3.1 to 12.1.0. The above preparation steps are therefore essential here, so that enough disk space is available.

Simple Online Update

See Simple Online Update for more detail about the method.

  • establish an internet connection from the laptop (if you plan to do online update),
  • start the laptop normally,
  • start the Terminal Activity, and depending on the laptop model type:

XO-1.75

sudo olpc-update 12.1.0_xo1.75-21

XO-1.5

sudo olpc-update 12.1.0_xo1.5-21

XO-1

sudo olpc-update 12.1.0_xo1-21

Simple Offline Update

sudo olpc-update --usb

See Simple Offline Update for more detail about the method.

After the Update

  • Sugar will attempt to update its Activities -- you should be online for the Activity Updater to complete.

Notable fixed bugs

  • The system will now gracefully handle the case when the network card is not available during first boot (ticket #11534). It would previously disable networking until the OS was reinstalled.
  • The XO-1 will no longer perform atrociously slow when the internal disk is nearly full (ticket #5317).
  • sisusbvga USB-VGA adapter support now works again on XO-1 (ticket #10568)
  • If a software installation process is aborted late in the process on XO-1.5 and XO-1.75, the system will no longer be bootable (ticket #11776), allowing this failure condition to be easily detected.
  • The first network scan on boot or system resume will no longer return unreliable/incomplete results.
  • In the Browse homepage, the "Search OLPC" form no longer leads to a Google error page (ticket #11375).
  • The Wikimedia OggPlayer media player now works correctly in Browse (ticket #11771).
  • When loading websites, Browse once again reports that it is running under Sugar (ticket #10921), so that such sites can offer Sugar-specific functionality.
  • Browse no longer displays pages with bad scaling settings if started when the screen is in a rotated mode (ticket #10566).
  • Browse (and Epiphany under GNOME) no longer crash when loading or displaying very large images (ticket #11569).
  • Switching between Sugar and GNOME desktops several times in rapid succession no longer causes a system failure (ticket #11838).
  • After updating the system using olpc-update, the following boot can no longer be interrupted with the keyboard (ticket #11371).

Known problems

This section lists significant known issues that we hope to solve in future releases.

If deployments have solid plans and schedules to deploy this release but feel blocked by some of these issues in particular, they are encouraged to get in contact with OLPC far in advance of the installation date. OLPC may be able to produce a limited scope point-release fixing highlighted issues.

Sugar

  • When pressing the volume hotkeys (F11/F12), the volume levels are changed accordingly, but the icon in the Sugar frame does not show the change - ticket #9913.
  • The option to disable wireless networking in the Sugar Settings dialog no longer results in removal of power from the wifi hardware (ticket #10913) and does not disable XO-1 mesh functionality.
  • Copying an item from an external device to the journal may result in the copied item incorrectly appearing at the bottom of the list of Journal items (instead of at the top), the item appear at the correct position after 5 seconds (ticket #10905).
  • Etoys sound recording may freeze or record low-quality audio (ticket #9724, ticket #9527). When collaborating, items may fail to be transferred (ticket #10744), and chat messages may fail to display the sender icon (ticket #10745).
  • Record does not correctly pause itself when it is left running but is no longer the active activity. Multiple instances of Record will not always work correctly when run simultaneously (SL#2570, SL#3027). Other A/V-capable activities are likely to be affected too.
  • The Moon activity fails to launch if the system date is wildly incorrect (SL#3223).
  • When upgrading activities using the Software Update functionality, activity icons may be duplicated in the home screen until reboot (ticket #11373).
  • After running for extended periods of time (measured in days) in an environment with many Wireless Access Points, a memory leak in Sugar Shell may prevent opening activities and lead the system to an out-of-memory (OOM) condition (ticket #11708).
  • Collaboration in the Maze activity does not work (SL#3747)
  • After using the text-to-speech functionality included in the Write activity, the desktop-wide text-to-speech functionality included in Sugar will no longer produce audible output (SL#3694).
  • In Browse, previous releases including a "click-to-play" banner on Flash content, to avoid Flash content loading automatically and draining system resources. This banner is not present in this release (SL#3613).
  • The right-click menu in Browse does not function 100% correctly (SL#3455, SL#3626).
  • Scratch cannot detect USB storage media like it could before (SL#3625).
  • The school server backup service does not work (no backups are sent)

Sugar collaboration

The following issues are all believed to be regressions over OLPC OS 10.1.3.

  • When the initiator of a shared activity leaves the activity, the icon of the shared activity will disappear from the neighborhood view of other participants (ticket #10674).
  • When collaborating over a jabber server, names of other users may be displayed as their account hashes (e.g. c72019147aed6de8731769a126c2931a8a9ecfeb) rather than their name (ticket #10750).
  • If a user changes his name, the new name is not reliably communicated to his peers (ticket #10749).
  • The friends tray in the Sugar frame is incorrect for the initiator of a shared activity; it will not show other users who have joined (ticket #10801)
  • When collaborating over a jabber server, information regarding who has joined and left an activity is not displayed reliably (ticket #11075)
  • If a user is invited to an activity but does not have that activity installed, a confusing grey circle is displayed where the invitation would normally be (ticket #10821).
  • Upon accepting a private invitation via the frame, if the frame is left open during activity launch then the invitation will not disappear as it should (ticket #11073).
  • The olpc-xos diagnostic tool for developers no longer shows the users connected to the jabber server (ticket #10677).
  • When inviting another learner to an activity the frame does only show ourself, this is true for both members of the session ticket #11074

GNOME

  • Some GNOME applications now use Clutter, which we do not (yet) support because it requires 3D graphics. Such applications will crash on launch (ticket #11810).
    • None of the applications shipped in the official release are affected; this will only affect those who decide to add additional software to the GNOME desktop.
    • Affected applications include cheese and the GNOME control center.

Input

  • F5 and F6 are bound to Search and Frame on all laptops, when these mappings should ideally only apply to XO High-School laptops where these icons are printed on the keys (ticket #10534)
  • Some keyboard layouts (ie: Pt_BR) are missing the Linux console keyboard map -- can still be used correctly in Sugar's Terminal activity and in GNOME's Terminal (ticket #11557).

Power management

Automatic power management is enabled on XO-1.5 and XO-1.75 by default, and can be optionally enabled on XO-1 via the Sugar Settings dialog.

When enabled, the following bugs are present:

  • On XO-1, wireless network connectivity may disappear while the system is sleeping (ticket #10232)
  • On XO-1, touchpad may seem slow to respond as the system wakes (ticket #10233)
  • XO-1.5 and XO-1.75 may fail to be woken up by network traffic directed at it (ticket #9960)
  • XO-1.5 and XO-1.75 wireless may fail and be automatically reset during system resume. This will cause a momentary interruption of connectivity, and could result in the XO-1.5 connecting to a different network after the reset.
  • On XO-1.75, suspending/resuming with a SD card inserted in the external slot will behave as if the card was removed and re-inserted, potentially losing data in any open files (ticket #11647)
  • The laptop may only sleep for short periods of time due to being woken up by unrelated/uninteresting multicast network traffic.
  • The mouse will occasionally be excessively jumpy for a few seconds after system wakeup, before it gets automatically recalibrated (ticket #10967).
  • If put into a state where the system is suspended and cannot be woken up with the power button, typing on the keyboard while in suspended state may result in a misbehaving keyboard when the system resumes (ticket #11223).

XO-1.75

  • Sound quality may suffer when the system is busy (ticket #11187). Some clicks or scratches can be heard sometiems every 80ms (ticket #11334).
  • USBVGA support does not work yet on the XO-1.75 platform (ticket #11621).
  • Screen rotation works, but video performance is noticably degraded in the rotated modes, and some activities misbehave after the screen has been rotated (ticket #11344).
  • "Customization stick" and "collection stick" do not work on XO-1.75 units (ticket #11432)

XO-1.5

  • The microphone recording level is believed to be too low in comparison to XO-1 (ticket #10903).
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