XS Community Edition/FAQ


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The XS Community Edition content hereunder does not necessarily reflect the opinion of OLPC. These pages were created by members of the volunteer community supporting OLPC and deployments.


How does XS Community Edition (XSCE) help?

Read about Internet-in-a-Box and building your school's very own ebook library below. Bring the power of a (generally free) Digital Library of Alexandria into the hands of any school worldwide.

A School Server brings your classroom/school laptops together, communicating & coordinating learning in ways that deeply empower kids, teachers and community.

XSCE is built by professional volunteers, inspired by One Laptop per Child's famous laptops and their innovative Sugar Learning Platform -- but serving all!

To get a taste of longer-term possible roadmaps, please see Tony Anderson's suggested use cases, and one possible larger XSCE Vision.

What hardware should I use?

XSCE (XS Community Edition) is free software that runs on many different hardware platforms, listed below.

  • Deployment Managers: an all-inclusive, tough and lower-power unit (great for developing world) is expected in 2014, similar to the resilient TrimSlice (rebranded as Utilite) devices. Please check back in coming months!

What OS should I use?

Smaller deployments often prefer the comprehensive features provided by a recent version of the Fedora Operating System, eg. Fedora 18, similar to OLPC Release 13.2.0.

Larger deployments often prefer the 10-year-support (security updates, etc) provided by CentOS to minimize upgrade/maintenance costs.

Both above are free and open software systems supported by enterprise Linux corp Red Hat, Inc founded in 1993.

Other OS/distribution support for this global community project would be most welcome in future!

What can I do with E-books and Internet-in-a-Box ?

Purchase a packed hard-drive full of the incredible Wikipedia + Maps + Literature + Khan Academy resources of http://internet-in-a-box.org.

This permits entirely new opportunities for semi-connected schools and offline libraries worldwide, for the 1st time ever starting in 2013.

We'd like educators' suggestions especially -- how should kids best take advantage of these crown jewels of learning? Perhaps starting with OLPC/Sugar's laptop browser in places like:


Coming Soon: In the near future (v6.0?) we hope the Pathagar "E-book library" will begin to work much better with XSCE!

How do I get Internet-in-a-Box updates every few months or semester?

Great question: the magicians behind http://internet-in-a-box.org anticipate this will be critical. Several people are working on streamlining this process, ideally with an on-demand mail-order service available on different continents, to wipe your terabyte/external hard drive clean with the latest free maps/encyclopedia/books/video lessons, for a extremely low shipping/service fee. Keep in touch!

PREVIEW: In 2014, we will detail Internet-in-a-Box's progress with Wikipedia full-text-search, which remains compatible with XSCE 0.4 and 5.0.

CONTACT: Please make contact with http://unleashkids.org if you would like to order a copy of Internet-in-a-Box from these volunteers' community store.

How do I provide Wifi (wireless) to all my kids?

We try to work with http://villagetelco.org where possible. Specific recommendations are coming, no matter how large or small your school. This is a vital engineering piece for schools, libraries and orphanages even when offline -- so kids can take advantage of the amazing free "digital libraries" of http://internet-in-a-box.org and Pathagar ebooks.

Please join the http://lists.laptop.org/listinfo/server-devel mailing list to ask us all for the latest tips about high-performance Wifi access points, depending on your coverage needs.

And if your school is online, this is a great place to ask about various schools' filtering recommendations for different age groups.

And please share your experience so that we can build a repertoire of devices that work.

How do I provide Solar Power to my school or orphanage?

This is a very hard question depending on the growth path of your electrical needs, maintenance options within the country in question, price, theft, etc. Some experienced deployment voices provide concrete examples, typically involving a standard 12-volt deep-cycle battery. Please don't wait to get your feet wet today however! That means investing in the hard work of research, getting this right for your own community:


Thanks for taking solar engineering seriously, as we do wherever possible! Engineers definitely subscribe to Richard Smith's "power" discussion list if you can.

Can my XO-based server boot with a unique startup sound?

Yes, when using an XO as a server, it is easy to mistake it for a child's laptop, when it has been detached from storage and networking components.

Here are instructions for adding a unique startup sound.

Where are the docs?

Please see the "Installing" and "Configuring" sections in the latest release, off of http://schoolserver.org, noting that XSCE 5.0 docs are evolving here: https://github.com/XSCE/xsce/tree/master/docs

Also: Add a Service to School Server by Creating a Plugin (for XSCE 0.3 and 0.4, original written April 2013) and others by George Hunt at http://schoolserver.wordpress.com

Finally, Anish Mangal hopes to formally write up his deployment recommendations based on his experience setting up XSCE in Northern India in May and June of 2013, while http://unleashkids.org/blog documents the human experiences around a growing number of Haiti deployments.

Where is XSCE used?

Since June 2013, XS Community Edition is being used in a growing number of smaller OLPC implementations -- including several orphanages and schools in Haiti to a youth community in Malaysia, to a village in Northern India.

Of course, many contributors are using XSCE for other personal/community purposes as well, helping refine our community product for diverse/larger deployments.

How can I help?

Great you asked! Take a look at our quasiweekly Agenda/Minutes to see what others are working on, and see if you can knock off a few volunteer microtasks.

Take seriously the "Features Planned" section of our Features page helping schools globally getting their highest priorities implemented.

Schools greatly benefit from testing on diverse hardware if you can help! Online contribution are strongly welcome, with in-person human interaction at our quasi-quarterly face-to-face meetups advancing our education efforts faster yet.

Finally, organizing everyone's many ideas, use cases and docs is real work, and as such we very strongly welcome savvy communicators!

Please also suggest your own ideas on public mailing list server-devel@lists.laptop.org, or contact Adam Holt (holt @ laptop.org), thanks!

Where can older versions of XSCE be found?

Older RPM builds from 2013, at your own risk of course: http://xsce.activitycentral.com/repos/xsce/devel.

Or consider the main repo definition: http://xsce.activitycentral.com/repos/xsce-devel.repo

How did XSCE's design evolve?

Here's our brief-but-growing participatory design archive / lineage:

Original OLPC XS design and implementation is available here.

Community history is vital to all seeking to avoid reinventing mistakes of the past, thanks to Everyone's thoughtful input past & present!

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