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Education Software Linux

OLPC Fork Sugar On a Stick Goes 1.0 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the one-easily-lost-usb-stick-per-child dept.
Marten writes "It was more than a year ago that Walter Bender left OLPC and started SugarLabs.org. Now, the first version of the new project has been released. Sugar on a Stick is a USB drive that runs on Mac and PC-style hardware. 'The open-source education software developed for the "$100 laptop" can now be loaded onto a $5 USB stick to give aging PCs and Macs a new interface and custom educational software.' Bender said, 'What we are doing is taking a bunch of old machines that barely run Windows 2000, and turning them into something interesting and useful for essentially zero cost. It becomes a whole new computer running off the USB key; we can breathe new life into millions of decrepit old machines.'"
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OLPC Fork Sugar On a Stick Goes 1.0

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  • by DigitalReverend (901909) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @07:57AM (#28451321)
    None of of my old computers that were from the Win 95/98/2000 era have the option to boot from USB. Is there going to be other media available?
    • ...also not forgetting that blank CDs are much cheaper than flash drives.
    • by Toy G (533867) <toyg&libero,it> on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @08:02AM (#28451373) Homepage Journal

      Exactly. Shouldn't it be a bootable cdrom, at least ?

      • by COMON$ (806135) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @08:14AM (#28451475) Journal
        Good lord people, do none of you actually run linux? Sugar on a stick is just a conceptual item, it is to show the versatility of the OS they built. A CD-DVD-hard Disk-Flash port would be trivial from here.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by EMH_Mark3 (305983)

          Well not necessarily. If the 'sugar on a stick' build expects to be able to write to the stick, you'd need to add something like UnionFS in order to be able to run it from a cdrom. Not to mention that you'd need to setup something to keep users' settings in between reboots (e.g. a usb stick).

          • by COMON$ (806135)
            Not necessarily, you could still write to a floppy or USB, you would just be running the OS from an alternative location.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @08:40AM (#28451669)

        There is a CD spin too, but the USB solution means the kid can do stuff in school, then come home, boot up the old computer and show her parents what she did right off the stick.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @08:57AM (#28451845)

          Why aren't more schools doing something like that? Issue/sell USB flash sticks with the OS on it to kids, that way they can essentially carry their entire computer with them to home and school. Give the kids OS-less computers at school to boot with their sticks, and you can stop spending so much money on OS support for every single terminal.

          • by Ironica (124657)

            Why aren't more schools doing something like that? Issue/sell USB flash sticks with the OS on it to kids, that way they can essentially carry their entire computer with them to home and school.

            Because Sugar on a Stick just came out, and they haven't had time to implement it yet?

          • Because "everybody" knows if you don't buy Microsoft software, you are "stealing" software. After all, you can't run a computer without a Microsoft, can you? An absolute certain zero-tolerance policy violation! Expulsion and jail time certain! Turn back young lad, for you have done evil.

            • by Yfrwlf (998822)
              rofl, sadly a fairly accurate portrayal of the minds of many IT directors these days, usually the ones getting the kickbacks from software corps like M$.
          • by Yfrwlf (998822)
            "Why aren't more schools doing something like that?"

            M$? Failure in general? The fact that corporations direct most all tax spending in most countries?
    • by COMON$ (806135)
      heaven forbid you have to use a floppy or CD boot loader...that would be a MONUMENTAL effort...
      • by scubamage (727538)
        Ah yes, because spare floppy drives, floppy discs, cd drives, and writable media are everywhere in places where all they have access to are machines which can barely run win2k.
        • by COMON$ (806135)
          Ya, because places running pcs that old have no need for removable media obviously...no one has any floppies lying around. Take 5 seconds and consider that anyone who has access to sugar and a USB drive will also have access to a plethora of other material.
        • by 1u3hr (530656)
          Ah yes, because spare floppy drives, floppy discs, cd drives, and writable media are everywhere in places where all they have access to are machines which can barely run win2k.

          Maybe you were intending to be ironic, but actually, that statement is pretty much true. I've got boxes full of that kind of stuff I haven't got around to throwing out; anyone who needed that kind of gear could get it free just by asking around.

          • by COMON$ (806135)
            yes I was being sarcastic :) In a situation where someone could procure an old computer, I can guarantee you that you would find a box of disketts right next to it. Some people just dont think things through, it is something that comes with experience, the person I was replying to is probably too young or too new to the field to think in situational terms rather than finite terms (sorry best way I could think of it).
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @08:30AM (#28451571)

      There is a boot helper CD available, see http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Sugar_on_a_Stick/Strawberry under the section "Boot it!"

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @08:33AM (#28451605)
      It's an .iso image written to a USB stick with Fedora LiveUSB Creator. Linky link [sugarlabs.org]

      You can just burn the iso to a DVD, if you prefer, but it is a 1GB image so CD is out of the question.
      • by iYk6 (1425255)

        You can just burn the iso to a DVD, if you prefer, but it is a 1GB image so CD is out of the question.

        Correction. The iso is 380 MB, so burning to a CD would work just fine.

    • by epedersen (863120)
      They have a solutions for that: "If you have an older machine or you just want things to immediately work without fussing with the BIOS, you can burn a "Boot Helper" CD using the .iso below. This will start the boot from the CD, then read files from the USB stick: http://download.sugarlabs.org/soas/releases/soas-boot.iso [sugarlabs.org]"
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357)

      Parent has been modded up. Should have been modded down - maybe "-5000 Failed to read link"

      Clicking on the links, and browsing the site, one learns that he must download a standard 320MB ISO of a CD. Using this image, one then creates either a bootable CD or USB drive. If a guy really wants to run Sugar from the USB, but he can't boot from the USB, he can burn a "Boot Helper" CD, which apparently loads the kernel, then looks to the USB stick for the rest of the operating system.

      I hope you're not represen

    • by RevWaldo (1186281) *
      Include the number of older PCs (presuming laptops in most cases) that don't even have a built-in USB port, or just one USB to work with.

      And many of those will be USB 1.0, although (hopefully) that shouldn't pose a problem.

    • Yes, you can use Sugar on a Stick with your old PC that doesn't support booting from a USB drive. In this case in addition to the thumb drive you need to make a "helper CD". Your system boots off the helper CD but all the data goes on the thumb drive. This is not just a Live CD to try out Sugar; it's a system children can actually use to do all their work. It's quite impressive and I encourage all Slashdot readers to try it out.

      • by irtza (893217)

        amazing how a little "children can actually use" and "all slashdot readers" juxtaposition can lead an insightful comment to +5 funny. you know, a little mixed bag wouldn't have hurt (I just ran out of mod points).

        The way I see it, we are in a good disposition to try and judge the technology. Readers of /. should try it out. It has other potential uses as well. I have already been using Ubuntu in this fashion for about 6 months now. It is absolutely phenomenal. And if you will indulge some self-promotio

  • Um, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @07:59AM (#28451339)

    What we are doing is taking a bunch of old machines that barely run Windows 2000, and turning them into something interesting and useful for essentially zero cost. It becomes a whole new computer running off the USB key; we can breathe new life into millions of decrepit old machines

    The problem with that is that a lot of computers that old don't support booting off of a USB drive. Plus, some of the computers might only have USB 1.1 leading to slower transfer times. If this is your goal why not try to have it be "sugar on a disk" thats going to be infinitely easier than "sugar on a stick".

    • Re:Um, (Score:4, Funny)

      by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @08:05AM (#28451401)

      If this is your goal why not try to have it be "sugar on a disk" thats going to be infinitely easier than "sugar on a stick".

      Or a compromise between the two.

      And no, I don't mean "sugar on a stisk".

      Wait for it...

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702)
        Sugar on a Kid?

        That's not what they mean by "Think of the children!" you pervert!
        • by Ironica (124657)

          Sugar on a Kid?

          That's not what they mean by "Think of the children!" you pervert!

          Offtopic funny story...

          When my older son was learning to talk, he went through a period where he was saying certain words backwards. For example, "cup" was "puck." He'd ask for a "puck" for water (which he said "wow", strangely). He also said "game" backwards, and would substitute m's and n's in the middle or end of words with hard consonants, so it took us a long time to figure out what "bayg" was.

          One day, he acquired the word "kid." But he said it backwards, too.

          We were SO glad when he got that turned

    • You can boot from a CD as well as a stick, if your system can't boot a USB device.

      Go to http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Sugar_on_a_Stick/Strawberry [sugarlabs.org] and look at "Boot it", where it says: "If your machine doesn't support that (booting from USB), download and burn: http://download.sugarlabs.org/soas/releases/soas-boot.iso [sugarlabs.org]". It's a small 8MB bootloader that easily fits on a CD.

    • If this is your goal why not try to have it be "sugar on a disk" thats going to be infinitely easier than "sugar on a stick".

      Because bootable CD's are so 1995. Which essentially sums up the problem with the entire project - both Sugar and the OLPC have concentrated much more on being 'hip, with it, and politically correct' at the expense of functionality and usability.

  • Most of those Older Pc's cant boot from a USB stick. It's only been the past 3 years that booting from a usb drive has become the norm, before that it was an oddity.

    Really cool project, But it's gonna be hell to un-shovel even the Windows 98 machines in schools as the teachers for the computer classes are highly xenophobic when it comes to OS changes.

    • Re:Problem is.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by amram9999 (829761) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @08:39AM (#28451655)

      Most of those Older Pc's cant boot from a USB stick. It's only been the past 3 years that booting from a usb drive has become the norm, before that it was an oddity.

      There is a boot helper CD [sugarlabs.org] for older computers like this. The beauty is that the OS on the computer is untouched, since Sugar runs from memory not the hard drive. Additionally, all progress is saved to the USB drive, so the stick is portable from computer to computer.

  • by daid303 (843777) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @08:10AM (#28451443)
    Going by the pictures I would keep this away from children:
    http://www.sugarlabs.org/index.php?template=page&page=learners [sugarlabs.org]
  • Careful! (Score:2, Funny)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671)

    A word of caution. In the U.S., asking for sugar on your stick is only legal in Nevada and Rhode Island. [sexwork.com]

    • by gaderael (1081429)

      What about asking to put your USB drive into her port? Remember to ask whether it'll be 1.1 or 2.0 style.

      • by Shikaku (1129753)

        I'm pretty sure hispeed data transfer from male end to the female port would be bad in this case.

        • I'm pretty sure hispeed data transfer from male end to the female port would be bad in this case.

          Only if it's part of a SQL injection attack.

      • What about asking to put your USB drive into her port? Remember to ask whether it'll be 1.1 or 2.0 style.

        I miss the old, kinky days of Daisy chaining.

  • Is a sugar stick anything like a disco stick?

  • With my new invention, what I call "The Sugar Stick", Bender has been given god-like abilities and can breathe new life into millions of decrepit old machines!
  • Great! Now there is a real chance that many teachers can test this new learning platform.
  • Shiny? (Score:3, Funny)

    by DuranDuran (252246) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @08:51AM (#28451783)

    > Bender said, 'we can breathe new life into millions of decrepit old machines.'

    If it doesn't work, I wonder if we can bite his shiny metal ass?

    • by kimvette (919543)

      Meh. I don't care about Bender's sugar stick. What I want is a Smell-o-scope and a finglonger!

  • I know, individually, what all the words/acronyms mean but when put together in that order, they make no sense to me.

  • From the demo video, I've got to wonder what the they were thinking. This doesn't seem like a kid-friendly UI.

    http://www.sugarlabs.org/index.php?template=gallery&page=media_01 [sugarlabs.org]

    The intial interface showing what I assume is the "neighborhood" view of other Sugar users/machines (arranged in cum-by-ya campfire circles) is cute, but seems more designed for a Movie than for actual use (cf Jurassic Park's "Oh, it's Unix! I know that!" interface where they zoom down from a building view to an individual computer

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by grumbel (592662)

      is cute, but seems more designed for a Movie than for actual use

      Why that? It is very simple and easy to understand and most importantly it does something that your normal OS can't even do, as other OSs aren't build with group work in mind.

      The biggest problem I have with the Sugar interface is that all that talk about zooming interface sound cool, but only till you realize that the OLPC isn't exactly a powerful machine. The machine is just to slow for fluid full screen animation, so every animation that Sugar does, looks kind of jerky and broken on a real machine and it

      • I don't think a zooming interface needs a lot of CPU if done right - Qt's QGraphicsView widget supports zooming on a massive hierarchy (millions of sub-widgets) very efficiently. The display code (in this case the Qt library) just needs to be smart so that it doesn't actually draw things that are too small to be seen or are obscured by other objects. The Qt widgets sit atop a VERY effifient Qt drawing library with multiple backends... Qt's own raster engine is much faster than many native drawing APIs and a

        • by grumbel (592662)

          I don't think a zooming interface needs a lot of CPU if done right

          You underestimate the problem. The OLPC is quite slow, has very large screen (1200x900) and no hardware acceleration to speak about, so it isn't even fast enough to do fullscreen refreshes at good framerates, let alone draw anything half complex while doing so. So a zooming interface, which does fullscreen refreshes a lot, really isn't exactly the most speedy way to do an interface there.

          but it's hardly the best way to select between a small number of other users that you may actually be interacting with on a daily basis.

          Sugar has both the global view of everybody, as well as a local view of just your friends.

          An clickable set of photos of those users (maybe with online indication shown too), displayed on a single page regardless of their physical location, would be much nicer and more productive to use.

          Sure, but it could be easily ab

  • I don't have a USB stick handy but I just tried the VirtualBox image and it didn't work. The errors aren't very kid friendly. Kernel Panic.

  • At first I thought "Sugar on a Stick" was a new Jeff Dunham puppet to go with José Jalapeño on a Stick [wikipedia.org]. I was simultaneously pleased and disappointed that I was wrong.
  • by gubers33 (1302099) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @10:29AM (#28453039)
    Can someone tell me how many of these old PCs have USB drives fast enough to run an entire OS off of them?
    • by sowth (748135) *

      If the executables are small and efficient, then a "slow" old USB port with a "slow" sub-GHz processor shouldn't be too bad. Especially if you are used to "fast" supercomputers running bloated crap such as Vista, Gnome, or KDE with all the flashy effects turned on full. Someone already posted the image is under 400MB, it can't be that inefficient. Here is a clue: those old "slow" computers were considered fast at one time.

      In the 80s, many people used floppy disks as storage which were many, many times slo

      • by gubers33 (1302099)
        No, I think something is better than nothing, I mean I had an Apple II as a kid. It wasn't exactly the fastest computer in the world, but I got on it.
  • It is NOT a fork! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nicestepauthor (307146) on Wednesday June 24, 2009 @11:07AM (#28453689) Homepage

    I'd like to correct the title of this post. What Sugar Labs is creating is NOT a fork of Sugar. It is the thing itself. There is no other version of Sugar being developed now. Sugar Labs is making Sugar available in all major Linux distros, as well as creating the version that runs on the XO and Sugar on a Stick. All this will make it possible for far more children to be able to use Sugar.

    • by hey! (33014)

      I suppose if you start a fork, and the other tine dies, then you end up with a skewer.

  • i was reading BBC News and noticed that Sugar on a Stick is targeted at old PCs, well a lot of old PCs are not capable of booting from USB devices, a live CD would be more apropriate...

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