[Community-news] OLPC News (2007-03-17)

1. Stable build: After a final few bugs that had hidden in corners
were driven into the light, we issued Stable Build 303 along with
Q2B76 firmware this week. Highlights of this stable build include:
(a) a working mesh network;
(b) an updated web browser that scales on our high-resolution screen,
making for improved web experience;
(c) Gnash-the FOSS Flash player (still somewhat
unstable)-pre-installed; Adobe’s Flash 9 is also known to work, but
not packaged or installed as part of the build;
(d) a touch-pad driver fix for jumping cursor: the touch pad should be
more usable, and the tablet is enabled on B2 systems; and
(e) boot time has improved due to a scheduler fix.

Please read the release notes, which are found in the wiki at

2. Activities: There are some new activities in the new build:
* Blockparty (aka Tetris) was written by Vadim Gerasimov and John
* Slideshow was written by Erik Blankinship and Marco Gritti; and
* Journal “Preview” (a first pass at the journal activity) was written
by Marco and Tomeu Vizoso.

3. Community: Mauro Torres and the team from the Tuquito Project in
Argentina have put together a calculator activity that will appear in
soon in our builds. They are working on a extensions that will let the
children explore their calculations in notational form as well as get
the “answer.”

4. Kernel: While Andres Salomon was working on the new stable release,
he found (and fixed) a build-system bug/interaction that was keeping
fixes from hitting the stable kernel builds.

5. Richard Smith and John Watlington modified some B2 machines to ship
out to suspend/resume developers; these mods fix some known hardware
problems that only affect suspend/resume.

6. Q2B76: This firmware release should have a temporary work-around
for the problem that has been costing us about 1/3 of our system’s
performance whenever a network interface was alive on USB (either our
wireless or ethernet).

7. Mitch Bradley continued improvements to the suspend/resume code:
* time-to-resume is now down to 12 mS, except for the CAFE;
* reinit is working well; he can suspend/resume reliably without a
serial port;
* suspend/resume is now working on B1 in addition to B2;
* the suspend routine is now independent of the virtual address from
which it is called.
Mitch also integrated Lilian Walter’s first cut at self-test
diagnostics into the experimental firmware.

8. Community II: William Cohen reported a major coup: he got the
system-level performance tool “oprofile” running on the Geode, and
immediately started posting very helpful performance data. We have
wanted this tool for quite a while, and have not had the time to do it
ourselves. Our great thanks to Bill.

9. Trac: The bug-tracking system has passed several milestones: more
than 1000 bugs reported and more than 250 people registered.  Our
community is growing quickly (See dev.laptop.org).

10. Mesh status: Michail Bletsas and teams from Cozybit and Marvell
spent the past week doing intense debugging on the mesh firmware.
There were two serious bugs uncovered: mesh routing was erratic in
noisy environments (e.g., OLPC’s Cambridge office) and there was data
corruption observed during large file transfers. The first problem was
solved by allowing route request and reply frames to be sent at rates
as low as 1Mbps. The data corruption issue was tracked to MTUs (frame
sizes) larger than 1494 bytes. Firmware addressing the first issue was
released early this week and a fix for the second will be incorporated
in next week’s firmware build. (In the meantime, people should set the
MTU of msh0 to 1494 if they want to utilize the mesh interface). In
parallel a variety of driver issues were addressed and should be
pulled into the XO build next week, at which point the mesh substrate
will be fully functional.

11. Fun and games: Chris “sugarized” a game called Kye
(games.moria.org.uk/kye/pygtk) and posted the bundle to the
Sugar mailing list.


Walter Bender
One Laptop per Child

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