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OLPC OS 13.1.0 is a new software release focusing on providing support for the new XO-4 laptop and its optional touchscreen. As usual, we maintain support and consistency for older laptops models, with XO-1.75, XO-1.5 and XO-1 also included in the release.
Sugar-0.98 and touch
The most notable feature in the latest version of Sugar is the addition of touchscreen support, pairing up with the new XO-4 Touch laptop. While a touchscreen can be seen as somewhat equivalent to a mouse, there are a number of subtle differences, such as the fact that it is not possible to hover without also triggering a "click", which called for a number of user interface modifications to make Sugar suitable for touchscreen input. We've tackled these challenges by making small adaptions to the UI where necessary. In some places where hovering was previously required, a click or touch will now show an informational palette (with menu) rather than immediately performing an action. In other places, a touch-and-hold operation will do the equivalent of what hovering or right-clicking does with the mouse. We've also made some small interface elements finger-sized, such as the activity icons on the home screen.
We've also sprinked some gestures throughout the interface. A quick vertical swipe from the top region of the screen downwards will cause the frame to open, and the same gesture can be used to close it. When working in the Image Viewer, you can use pinch-type gestures to zoom in and zoom out. Swiping your finger over any scrollable area will cause scrolling to happen, so you don't have to worry about trying to manipulate small scroll bars with your fingers.
Tablet mode (where the laptop screen is rotated around and folded down, physically obscuring the keyboard and mouse) is very usable with a touchscreen - especially with the work we've put in. When in tablet mode, if you select a text input area, an on-screen keyboard will pop up: touch the keys to type away as normal. We've also taken some initial steps to make sure that the region of the screen where you are typing is made visible if it would otherwise be obscured by the on-screen keyboard.
While the amount of work undertaken by our Sugar developers in a short time has been incredible, there are still some imperfections in the touch experience, and missing features that we had hoped to add but didn't manage to implement in the limited time available. As such, this release should be treated as our initial touchscreen offering, but at the same time, you can expect significant improvements to the touchscreen experience in future releases.
Under the hood, this release also includes a huge amount of effort in our use of the underlying GTK platform: we have migrated Sugar itself, and many more activities, to GTK+ version 3. This invisible but invasive work, which we started for 12.1.0, is essential for the ongoing development and maintenance of Sugar, and was a solid requirement for the touchscreen work described above.
More information about Sugar-0.98 is available in the Sugar release notes.
Previous OLPC OS releases included a reduced-glyph version of the base system font, as a space-saving technique. With an increasingly international audience, we've revisited that decision and now ship the full-glyph version of the font, enabling the use of many more languages and dialects, with only a small decrease of available disk space.
Going hand in hand with the new glyph support, we've also added Armenian language support to the release, aimed at our active project in that country.
Improved USB-VGA support
Previous OLPC OS releases have added SiS and DisplayLink USB-VGA support, allowing the XO to be connected to a large screen or projector via an affordable external device. However, this functionality did not work on XO-1.75 until now. This release adds SiS and DisplayLink support for the XO-1.75 and XO-4, on par with the support offered for XO-1 and XO-1.5.
We've moved the underlying system from Fedora 17 to Fedora 18 in this release, which was a necessary measure for touch support, and helps us keep up-to-date with the open source technologies that we rely upon. A minor update to GNOME to version 3.6 is included here.
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.
- 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 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
- 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.
- 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).
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).
- Sound quality may suffer when the system is busy (ticket #11187). Some clicks or scratches can be heard sometiems every 80ms (ticket #11334).
- 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).
- The "Customization stick" does not work on XO-1.75 units (ticket #11432)
- The microphone recording level is believed to be too low in comparison to XO-1 (ticket #10903).