FLOSS, Sugar and Sensors for October

Location change! This month we are deviating from our plan and meeting at Nortel Networks again where we have a more convenient environment for doing software updates to the XO laptops.

What: Family XO Mesh Meetup
When: Saturday, October 18th, 2008, 10 am to 1 pm
Where: Nortel Networks, 101 Constitution Avenue, Washington, DC 20001 [

As the title of this post suggests, we’re going to show things related to open source software and hardware. First, we’ll pass around the very first copies of OLPC XO Laptop and Sugar User Interface printed manuals! My copies are pictured above. They look an feel fabulous. These print-on-demand books can be ordered from Lulu.com or you can download the PDFs for free to print yourself or read on a computer screen. The manuals are the result of a team of volunteers working with the FLOSS Manuals project. FLOSS stands for “free, libre, open source software.” The FLOSS web site offers an ever growing collection of community authored manuals for various popular open source packages. More than just PDFs to download, the web site lets you build your own custom PDFs by selecting only the chapters you want. Each chapter is written in a self-contained style. Adam Holt, who called in to the last meeting from OLPC Headquarters spoke at length about the recent book sprint event in Austin during which the majority of the content of the two OLPC manuals was authored. I know many of our club members have been pining for good documentation in printed form. Be happy now! Even better, if you don’t think a FLOSS manual covers a topic you need, you can jump in and add content to benefit others.

The bulk of our meeting time will be devoted to helping anyone who wants to upgrade to the new Sugar 8.2.0 update. I’ve been using it for a while, and it makes my XO feel like a brand new laptop with speed and usability improvements as well as a raft of bug fixes. As always, there’s a small gotcha: this new release is best installed clean on your XO wiping out everything on it in the process. If you have files in your Journal you wish to keep, they should be dragged to a USB drive. Customizations such as Adobe Flash, Firefox, Opera, Java, web radio, video players will be lost. We will likely be able to help reinstall some of these customizations, so please let us know in advance (curiouslee [at] gmail.com) so we can be prepared and do post to the discussion forum. This new update is the one that will be shipped with the upcoming Give One Get One 2008 program now being offered via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/xo.

One very pleasant surprise in this new Sugar update is that the Scratch Sensor board now works with Scratch! Scratch was demonstrated a few meetings ago by Richard Bullington-McGuire. It’s essentially a way to program animations and games using pieces of software code that snap together like Lego bricks. The sensor board, now marketed as the PicoBoard for USD$50, plugs into the XO’s USB port to provide light, sound, resistance, push button, and slider inputs to the Scratch environment. One club member suggested an alarm system for a child’s bedroom could be created with Scratch and the sensor board. I hope to demo this at the meeting.

Do try to check back here a day or two before the meeting in case there are any updates. I am only planning to send one email update. Not on our email list? Go here.

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one comment per “FLOSS, Sugar and Sensors for October”



Just to say its great to see the FLOSS Manuals book store on your site! Just to let you know, there is a better shop now available. There is config details here:

We will make the one you have obselete shortly. The new one can be configured so you can show just the manuals you want ot show. There is an olpc/sugar example on the link i provided above.


Posted Thursday, 9 October 2008 at 9:08 pm in: