Announce: OLPC software strategy

Chris Ball posted this to an OLPC announce mailinglist and I thought I would share with you all.

Now that the 10.1.1 release for XO-1.5 is out, it’s a good time to
talk about OLPC’s software strategy for the future. We’ve got a few
announcements to make:


OLPC wasn’t planning to make a Fedora 11 release of the XO-1 OS, but
a group of volunteers including Steven Parrish, Bernie Innocenti,
Paraguay Educa and Daniel Drake stepped up and produced Fedora 11 XO-1
builds that follow the OLPC 10.1.1 work. I’m happy to announce that
we’re planning on releasing an OLPC-signed version of that work, and
that this release will happen alongside the next XO-1.5 point release
in the coming weeks. So, OLPC release 10.1.2 will be available for
both XO-1 and XO-1.5 at the same time, and will contain Sugar 0.84,
GNOME 2.26 and Fedora 11. We think that offering this fully
interoperable software stack between XO-1 and XO-1.5 laptops will
greatly aid deployments, and we’re very thankful to everyone who has
enabled us to be able to turn this XO-1 work into a supported release!

To prepare for this XO-1 release, we’ve started working on fixing
some of the remaining bugs in the community F11/XO-1 builds. Paul Fox
recently solved a problem with suspend/resume and wifi in the F11/XO-1
kernel, which was the largest blocker for a supported release. We’ll
continue to work on the remaining bugs, particularly the ones that
OLPC is uniquely positioned to help with.

The first development builds for this release will be published later
this week.


We’ll be continuing to work on XO-1.5 improvements, incorporating
fixes to the “Known Problems” section of the 10.1.1 release notes¹
into the 10.1.2 release.

XO-1.75 and beyond:

XO-1.75 software development is underway. Today we’re announcing
that we’re planning on using Fedora as the base distribution for the
XO-1.75. This wasn’t an obvious decision — ARM is not a release
architecture in Fedora, and so we’re committing to help out with that
port. Our reasons for choosing Fedora even though ARM work is needed
were that we don’t want to force our deployments to learn a new
distribution and re-write any customizations they’ve written, we want
to reuse the packaging work that’s already been done in Fedora for
OLPC and Sugar packages, and we want to continue our collaboration
with the Fedora community who we’re getting to know and work with

We’ve started to help with Fedora ARM by adding five new build
machines (lent to OLPC by Marvell; thanks!) to the Fedora ARM koji
build farm, and we have Fedora 12 and Sugar 0.86 running on early 1.75
development boards. We’d prefer to use Fedora 13 for the XO-1.75, but
it hasn’t been built for ARM yet — if anyone’s interested in helping
out with this or other Fedora ARM work, please check out the Fedora
ARM page on the Fedora Wiki². We’re also interested in hiring ARM and
Fedora developers to help with this; if you’re interested in learning
more, please send an e-mail to jobs-engineering at

We’ll also be continuing to use Open Firmware on the XO-1.75, and
Mitch Bradley has an ARM port of OFW running on our development boards

EC-1.75 open source EC code:

OLPC is proud to announce that the XO-1.75 embedded controller will
have an open codebase (with a small exception, see below). After much
behind-the-scenes effort, EnE has agreed to provide us with a public
version of the KB3930 datasheet and is allowing our new code to be
made public.

The code is not available yet due to a few chunks of proprietary code
that need to be purged and some other reformatting. A much more
detailed announcement will be provided once the new code is pushed to
a public repository. The code will be licensed under the GPL with a
special exception for OLPC use.

The exception is because EnE has not released the low-level details on
the PS/2 interface in the KB3930, so there will be some code that is
not available — relative to the codebase this is a very small amount
of code. The GPL licensing exception will allow for linking against
this closed code. We’re going to investigate ways to move away from
this code in the future. (As far as we’re aware, this will make the
XO-1.75 the first laptop with open embedded controller code!)

Multi-touch Sugar:

We’ve begun working on modifications to Sugar to enable touchscreen
and multitouch use (the XO-1.75 will have a touchscreen, as will
future OLPC tablets based on its design), and we’ll continue to do so.
The first outcome from this work is Sayamindu Dasgupta’s port of the
Meego Virtual Keyboard³ to Sugar — you can see a screencast of it in
action here⁴.

It’s an exciting time for software development at OLPC. Many thanks
for all of your support and efforts!

– Chris, on behalf of the OLPC Engineering team.


Chris Ball
One Laptop Per Child


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