Getting involved in OLPC

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There are a number of different places where users can contribute to OLPC. This list currently highlights software and text related contributions, though there is a need for active volunteers to help us connect with specific countries and organizations as well.

Software development

OLPC core software

The OLPC core software includes the firmware (Open Firmware), operating system (Linux, Fedora 7), and various other large Open Source projects. Much of the core development work of the OLPC goes on within these "upstream" development projects, so contributing to them will often help the OLPC project.

We also write a lot of custom software, primarily the Sugar GUI shell and its services. You can monitor work taking place within our community by:

If you are interested in developing software specifically for the OLPC project the Developer's Manual provides guidance on how to get started and integrate your project into the community.

See also the Category:Developers.

Fedora community and projects

Skilled developers who have experience programming C or C++ and who are not afraid of getting involved with low-level details, should visit the OLPC Project Development Streams at the Fedora Project Wiki.

Upstream Free Software Projects

Countries that adopt the OLPC hardware platform will be using a variety of different pieces of existing Free and Open Source software. While the final list has not yet been determined, most countries will include the following pieces of software which will be included in ongoing deployment base systems:

For each deployment location, OLPC staff will also work with local administrators and volunteers to develop a consistent set of 'core bundled activities'. To be installed on all base-software laptops deployed in that area. For examples, see Peru bundled activities and G1G1 bundled activities.

OLPC plans to build off the work of other projects. Aiming to bring the best of GNU/Linux and the free software world to the OLPC program. Work in these projects is a great way to get involved in making a real difference in education especially in developing country learning in environments. If you are planning to develop an application or course ware for the OLPC, then you should use the OLPC Python Environment to build it.

Quality Assurance and Bug tracking

OLPC bug tracking system: You should use the software that we will use and you report bugs. In addition to simple functionality and usability bugs, you can also look for performance and optimization related bugs. Due to our memory and disk constraints, we need to be much pickier about certain types of inefficiency in software than many other users of free and open source software.

Please add OLPC bugs filed in other bug-tracking system to our bug tracking system.

Server and classroom solutions

There are many different pieces of only learning or "courseware" software out there. We are working on specific options for School server implementations with each country. You can help by writing reviews of different school tools, courseware systems, and specific courseware. Please add these to the OLPC Courseware Review page.

You can contact Lauren and Sj for ideas and details on classroom and library tools.

Curriculum and content development

While ultimately, the work on curricula will be done by the ministries of education who buy this, there are several efforts underway to explore some of the education potential from this project. These projects include:

  • OLPC Publications has links to proposed outlines of books for teacher training and developing XO software.

Translation and internationalization

If you know English and another language, you can help us by translating software interfaces and our core library. You can do some of this with your favorite PO file editor or through a piece of web-based software like our translation portal, where you can register and join any existing localization group. There is also a project to localize this Wiki. For updates, please sign up for the Localization mailing list.

There are numerous projects in Asia and Africa to localize Linux into one or more of the languages of the country. Check with the Linux User Groups and other such organizations in the countries concerned, such as IndLinux in India and in South Africa. If there isn't a project for your language, you can start one, even if you aren't a programmer.

See also the IOSN/UNDP FOSS Localization Primer, an introduction to localizing Linux.

Writing systems and input methods

We need as much information as possible on easily making this system work with different input methods and associated keyboard layouts and Input Method Editors (IMES), whether alphabetic, syllabic, or logographic. If you input a language other than English in a writing system other than Latin alphabet, please check the relevant wiki articles, including countries, keyboard layouts, writing systems, and fonts, and add information on what software and Unicode fonts are necessary for inputting and displaying text.

About 30 writing systems are used for at least one modern national language. Linux systems now routinely come with support for almost all of them, lacking only Mongolian alphabet, which is in development. There are free tools for making keyboard layouts for any language and writing system.

Windows XP lacks Mongolian, Ethiopian, Oriya, Laotian, Burmese, Cambodian, and Tibetan.

Unicode code charts for all of these writing systems are available online in PDF format, so you can see the characters even if you don't have a matching font installed on your computer.

A good resource for Unicode fonts is the Unicode font guide. There are large Unicode fonts such as Code2000 with the characters for most writing systems. Windows and Macintrash also support many writing systems with fonts and keyboards.

More ways to help

Work on the software can fall into a number of types of work detailed below.

Developers working on hardware and some softwware developers can get laptops, but you don't need the hardware to develop applications, just the Sugar development environment, which can be emulated on any other system.

Satellite projects

See also 101 Things To Do and Earth Treasury.

There are many related projects that also need help, and could be usefully connected to OLPC's efforts through active contributors. These include:

  • Buying laptops for a poorer country, or funding national Internet connectivity.
  • Creating more content on the Web in as many languages as possible.
  • Localizing your favorite Free Software projects.
  • Connecting emigrants and expatriates to their home countries and communities.
  • Connecting schools in your country with schools in another country, including students, teachers, and communities.
  • Connecting all sorts of other organizations: OLPC User Groups, Linux User Groups, churches (of any religion), service organizations, the PTA, developing country schools, hospitals, churches (of any religion), refugee camps, orphanages,...
  • Creating a curriculum around global connections, using new resources to update coursework in all relevant subjects: languages, literature, history, geography, economics, art, music, biology, health, statistics, civics, home economics,...
  • Working with organizations such as Junior Achievement on international business opportunities and business education for schoolchildren.
  • Field work in Green MBA programs, the Reuters Digital Vision program, and the like.
  • Community health interventions along the lines of Partners in Health or Sarvodaya.
  • Work on international relations, including your own country, any treaty organizations it belongs to, and more general legal frameworks for ecology, economic development, Intellectual Property, and human rights.
  • Peace in Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Palestinian territories, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka...
  • Creating new human rights, to health, to information, and more.
  • Starting more microbanking institutions.
  • Get involved in Village Computing projects with organizations like Sarvodaya and Grameen Communications.

Feedback and Ideas

The best way to get things done in this project or to push it in a good direction is to get involved and help push it yourself. That said, feedback is still welcome. You can add ideas to the OLPC Idea Pool.