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The screenshot (the sharks page) has a typo in it -- "it's" should be "its".

It looks like the content was originally taken from this page about sharks, although I can't find information there for the other animals mentioned in the screenshots, so I assume that it's just a mock-up and isn't something that ships with the laptops. —Joe 12:28, 21 October 2007 (EDT)

Install read-89 on a xo-1.5 for newbies

  1. Download and put it on a USB stick as fs.zd
  2. Boot the xo and keep the circled x key (corresponds to the esc key on other keyboards) pressed
  3. Run fs-update u:\fs.zd (remember, you renamed your zd file in step 1., if not, use the appropriate name here)
  4. Once the update is done, reboot the xo by typing in
    on the prompt, hit enter
  5. Type in your username and wait for the icon spiral to appear and switch to list mode (the terminal activity is not in the spiral)
  6. Connect to your favorite wifi connection
  7. Start the terminal activity and type in
    sudo yum install gstreamer-plugins-espeak
    and answer all the following questions with y (yes)
  8. Reboot the xo (restart at this point did not work for me and I always got errors saying my journal was full, so I rebooted the xo using a long press on the power button; after the reboot the 'journal full' messages were gone and did not show up again)
  9. Install the read-89 activity (download from and start it on your xo; if you're in doubt how to do this, see the actual read page on this wiki:
  10. Download an ebook using the GetBooks activity and open it with read from the journal
  11. Play!


The following anonymous question was posted on another page. —Joe 10:50, 20 January 2008 (EST)

Read seems to be missing from "preinstalled" activities. How do I retrieve a U.S. English version?

You probably do have Read installed. Read was in G1G1 and is part of most Activity packs. But since it has no UI to open a document and is pointless starting with a blank document, it is not supposed to be on the activities taskbar. Read starts when you browse to a PDF or open one from the Journal. -- Skierpage 01:11, 3 June 2008 (EDT)

Feature Requests

availability to turn backlighting on while in high res. b/w mode. instant switch to sleep mode after turning pages to save battery. no need to always be on for about a minute after changing pages.

please make it read other formats as well...I don't think it's very useful to read plain text and html books in the web browser and pdf in the Read activity...

The comment for Consider unifying Read and Web (Trac #3212) indicates an earlier ticket was rejected; IMO that should be reconsidered because the user experience with a separate Read activity is pretty bad. The underlying Evince code would have to be made a browser plug-in, Googling suggests this is a common request in distros. -- Skierpage 00:51, 3 June 2008 (EDT)

... and also, it really needs a page up/page down setting on one of the game buttons...scrolling line by line isn't really comfortable in ebook mode...

More formats are on the drawing board, and you can press the 'x' game key to skip to the next 'page' of text.

Every eBook I own could greatly benefit from a 'view single page only' view mode; it's extremely irritating to have to open the laptop and re-center the page every third page. In Evince on any desktop distro I can do this by unchecking Continuous in the View menu and setting zoom to Best Fit.

The Read Etexts activity can read plain text files.

I hate to mention this format, because I find it gross, but: multi-page TIFF. This is commonly used for scanned books. TIFF is crummy for most things, but actually does a damn fine job for high-resolution black-and-white text when using the Group 4 (T.6) two-dimensional fax encoding. AlbertCahalan 00:59, 29 August 2007 (EDT)

Read activity version 45 supports the image/tiff mimetype. But the multipage TIFFs I tried showed up blank in Read or crashed (Trac #7166) . -- Skierpage 06:10, 3 June 2008 (EDT)

A sequence of JPG's would also be useful as this is a fairly standard format for comics and other, more visual, scanned works.

The View Slides activity can do both of these formats if the files are stored in a Zip file.

ability to write on a pdf or type comments and save it

Hello. I would like to suggest a feature that "remembers" the user's last-read document page number. The next time the user opens the document, the page view will "jump" to the last viewed page. This feature exists on the Apple Newton, and it is quite handy.

Read already does this in the joyride build, and will be part of Update.1

Is there a way to call Read from the terminal?

(sign your comments with -- ~~~~ please). Sounds like sugar-activity can start an activity; someone wrote a script at -- Skierpage 03:44, 3 June 2008 (EDT)

There is a message on the article saying that read can ONLY read PDFs and not rtf/txt/html. Is this still the case? I think the #1 feature would be the ability to open txt (at the very least) so that public e-texts (from Gutenberg and others) will be available. So that's my biggest feature request.

See the Read Etexts activity.

Other feature requests:

  1. A way to select and save portions of text to a clippings file for later review... and ideally I'd be able to grab portions of that clipping file easily when working in Write.
  2. A way to annotate or create a margin note, then later review a list of my margin notes and underlined text...
  3. A really quick and easy way to increase the font size while reading. Maybe even while in ebook mode.
  4. It is unclear to me how I would access files stored on an SD card in Read. Does Read have an "open" function?

--Beagley 12:01, 13 December 2007 (EST)

The "clippings file" feature is already supported. Copy text to the clipboard, then save the text to the Journal. The "View" menu lets you zoom in on the document.
I only managed to read PDF files with it, on Sugar build 650, using File:Read-32.xo, and couldn't open txt, rtf, etc. I'm not sure if it is supposed to be able to, so I wrote "it can currently open PDF files", as this seemed the most accurate user experience at the moment... Also, the Write activity can open rtf and txt I think. --Tomhannen 12:19, 13 December 2007 (EST)
Regarding point 4 above - I think you would access the SD card from the Journal (it would appear as an icon in the bottom of the frame), and then choose a PDF to read. --Tomhannen 01:26, 19 December 2007 (EST)

Add the ability to open password protected PDF files.

Can you provide a link to such a file on the Web for testing? It's unclear if the underlying Evince code can read password-protected PDFs, see this bug -- Skierpage 00:51, 3 June 2008 (EDT)

Anyone else having trouble reading pdfs? When I tried, I got an inordinately long-lived "Loading" message on each page. Even when they loaded they often reverted back to the blank "Loading" page. Tips to get around this would be appreciated. --Gusandrews 12:56, 26 February 2008 (EST)

There is a problem with the Journal activity that prevents activites from being able to load large files (over 15 mb or so). You can correct this by getting a developer key and updating the OS.
Read will still crash in build 703 (Update.1) if you zoom in enough on a PDF image (Trac #7090) -- Skierpage 00:51, 3 June 2008 (EDT)

Many issues going from Browse to PDFs

The OLPC Library in build 703 + "Bert's script" to install activities has lots of PDFs. But the user experience is uncomfortable enough that my conclusion is:

OLPC content should avoid PDFs. Certainly the worldfactbook-maps images don't work well as PDF, they should be SVG. Elsewhere maybe use HTML instead of PDF for multi-page documents.

-- Skierpage 01:50, 3 June 2008 (EDT)

Sounds your main complaints are Browse/Journal issues, not Read issues, right? So I'm not clear why you think PDF should go. It sounds like you're saying: 1) Browse + Journal + other application is clumsy/wasteful; 2) Read is slow and the visual "page" view is unnecessary; and 3) because of 1 & 2 we shouldn't use PDFs. MartinDengler 03:25, 3 June 2008 (EDT)
The experience of arriving at a PDF in Read is poor, some of the bugs are in other parts of Sugar. I'll try using Read with multi-page documents. -- Skierpage 05:25, 3 June 2008 (EDT)

Here's a long list of glitches. To play along,

  1. Start Browse (Web) activity, "OLPC Library" appears
  2. Click images > world maps
  3. Click Africa image

A dialog bar appears:

 Download started Cancel / Continue (countdown)
  • "Download" with a countdown here makes no sense! This is local content present in the file system (file:///usr/share/activities/worldfactbook-maps/index. There is no download!

Then the dialog bar is replaced by:

 Download completed africa.pdf (Open / OK)

Clicking OK just makes the dialog bar go away. (The "download" is in the Journal.) Clicking Open takes me to the Journal, where I have "File africa.pdf from file:///usr/share/activities/worldfactbo"...ok-maps/africa.pdf

  • The right margin in the Journal seems excessive, there's room to display several more characters in the text "bubble".
  • Does it really make sense to dump me in the Journal when I browse to a PDF? I lose backward-forward, I lose history, my reading dumps me into a separate app. Some of this would go away if Read worked as a plug-in in the browser; that sounds like Consider unifying Read and Web (Trac #3212) and should be revisited.

Each time I click Africa, this Download dialog bar + Journal dance reoccurs. It's maddening.

  • Is the local PDF really being added multiple times to the Journal?!?
It seems so! Every time I look at this PDF, I get another identical 438,720 byte file in ~olpc/.sugar/default/datastore/store ! This might be due to fixing Read doesn't save the PDFs it opens (Trac #6729) .
  • If the index.en.html file at least had a border around each image and a different color for a visited link, it would remind you that you've already accessed the file.

Click Run in the Journal, and Read starts.

  • It's slow to start. I could have viewed all the world map images in Browse by now.
  • In the africa.pdf, when you zoom the text gets illegible. It's not a vector PDF, so it's a bad PDF.
    • Actually, if I download the .xol from Projects/World_Factbook_maps, unzip it, and view it in Acrobat Reader 8, the yellow borders, blue lines, and type do zoom smoothly, all the way past 1000%.
  • In Read version 45, if I zoom in past 400%, readactivity exits. activity crashes if you zoom PDF 7090 (Trac #Read activity crashes if you zoom PDF) .
  • In Read version 45, if I zoom in the horizontal scrollbar never appears, only the vertical. And I can't seem to pan using the mouse.
  • Browse has a clean background. Read has a horizontal rule below the menu, then gray, then a shadow on the right margin and bottom. I guess it's a "page" viewer so this makes sense, but as the OLPC doesn't print, "pages" themselves aren't very helpful.
  • In Read, the back and forward buttons don't indicate when they're inactive (same as Browse activity bug)

Implementation Discussion

Uses the Evince document viewer to render ebooks.

Document limitations??

Are there file size, memory allocation, PDF version or other known limitations to the PDF read functionality?

There may be, in the underlying Evince library. E.g. see elsewhere for <trac>7090</trac>, "Read activity crashes if you zoom PDF". The best thing to do would be to file a bug giving the URL of a file that doesn't work, but also try it in a plain Evince reader on Linux, and Acrobat, etc. -- Skierpage 23:32, 4 July 2008 (UTC)

Both large PDF files I'm using in a college course downloaded ok but did not display properly. The 17x11 textbook chapter (two-up layout - 14 double-width pages) crashed the viewer when I tried to scroll to page two at 200% magnification.

The other (WM 66pages)displayed the cover image and page footers, but said "loading" on the other pages for a half hour.

Chapter 3a, Inside Reporting by Tim Harrower 2.2mb

We Media: How audiences are shaping the future of news and information 3.2 mb

Give them a try... -- Robby 23:34, 26 January 2008 (EST)

I tried both on the latest Release Candidate for Update.1 (future update) build, and neither crashed at 200% and showed correctly, if a bit sluggish. -- HoboPrimate 09:30, 27 January 2008 (EST)
Thanks! That's good news. I think it still would be a good idea to document any size or format requirements, especially for Library developers collecting documents. (Pointer to that update or its release date?) -- Robby 12:59, 27 January 2008 (EST)
This Roadmap gives some info on the changes of update.1, and I'm sure once it is released there will be release notes for users. As for downloading it, you'll need to request a developer key (open Browse, and click "About your XO" to find the link) and then use olpc-update. -- HoboPrimate 21:46, 31 January 2008 (EST)

Links from eBook Reader

Feature request: working hyperlinks. I'm making an eBook PDF which would ideally work well for any user and have links to extra information for people with internet access. While the cursor recognizes links (turning to a hand and showing the URL in a tooltip), it can't click the link. Could this copy the URLs to the clipboard so they can be opened in Browse? -- Ndoiron