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[olpc-software] Discussion of the goals page



After reading up the goals wiki, I thought I'd throw out my two cents.

- "Children must be allowed to play"

There's an important conclusion to draw from this - not only is user data
important, but system configuration is as well. The distinction being user
data is documents, images, etc., and systems configuration is user
accounts, etc. User data is easily handled, but systems configuration is
not because it first must be identified as different, and second there
needs to be robust handling of errors in the config. Being able to reload
the OS pain-free, the essence of this goal, isn't pain free if:
 * There are any consequences to the reload beyond time spent.
 * Reloading doesn't actually "reset" the box to a known good state
because a systems config that we carefully maintained to avoid the last
point keeps it from coming up.

My point in all that is to accomplish this, you need to only allow a
predefined set of systems configuration to be changable at all, then make
sure each case of that is handled properly - it's not lost from a reload,
robust error handling so even if it's completely invalid there's an easy
recovery process for the kids, etc.

Beyond that first goal, there seems to be a lot of open questions that
will start defining some structure for the project:

* Release/update plan?
      Is the platform going to be maintained past the initial launch? If
so, through what? My impression so far is that you're assuming
generally limited internet connectivity. Since it doesn't have a
CDROM/DVD drive, that's not an option. USB key? Doable, but seems
expensive, and at that point you may as well wait for internet
access. How centralized is the upgrade process? Is the expectation
that the brazil government (or whoever) will be putting out their
own version of things, or does everyone funnel back to the
laptop.org mothership? Does the brazil government even have the
option of customizing a release to include their textbooks/whatnot?

* User settings/customization?
      What are the "system configurations" I brought up above? User
accounts jumps to mind. Networking? While I'm sure you want it as
auto-discoverable as possible, there may be specifics (WEP/WPA keys.
Proxy settings?) that need to be set and maintained. Can the system
be locked down (no app installs, etc?), and to what degree?

As always, it comes down to trading features for time/complexity, and I
think some further design constraints will help focus the discussion.

dave




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