Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tech Update

Friday we went and got a look at the physical layout of the school. We definitely partnered with the right school. They are very accommodating to everything that we need.

Here's how it works out. The primary school is housed in a separate building from where the internet connection comes in. Which means server in one building and routers in another. Which means, you guessed it, drilling holes through buildings, running wire down support posts, digging a trench and finally getting the wire to the router in the other building. Tomorrow is going to be a good day.

Here is a rundown of the equipment we will be using.

--WRT54GS with dd-wrt custom firmware installed on them. This is because the stock firmware on the WRT54G has connection limitations. At 30+ connections the router slowed down. With 40+ students in each class that wouldn't fly. The loading of the custom firmware was easy enough, James from the Cornell deployment gave a good post about it here []

--Server with the follow specs

- SolidLogic GS-L02 Fanless Mini-ITX System
- Mainboard: EPIA LN10000EG 1GHz
- Case: Serener GS-L02 Fanless Mini-ITX Case - Black
- Memory: DDR2 667 RAM 1GB
- Hard Disk/Flash: Seagate Barracuda 3.5" SATA Hard Drive - 160GB
- Operating System: None
- Accessories: None
- Build and Test: Build & Test: Fanless - Standard (3-5 full business days)
- Power Switch: None - Unit will be set to Auto-Power-On
- Wireless: None
- Dimensions: 31cm X 21.5cm X 5cm

Random fact about the servers. They were put in an oven for a week at ~190 degrees Fahrenheit and they still survived.

The server is a great addition to our deployment. It increases the ability for collaboration. It backs up all of the XOs every 24 hours. It can act as a content filter for the internet.

--1,000 ft of raw cat 5e cable. I bought it because it was cheaper to buy 1000 feet rather than 300 or 400 (some marketing schemes I will never understand) and it sure as hell was ridiculous to carry over here. Though having been to our site now, I am glad for the versatility that the raw cabling will provide us.

--We bought 10 1GB USB sticks so we can flash the laptops to the most recent operating system. We also learned that instead of having to individually update the system software we can use the NAND blaster (it is as cool as it sounds). One XO broadcasts the system software while up to 100 other XOs can pick up that signal wirelessly update the software. That will make updates a lot easier to run.

--A Flip Video Recorder is being generously provided to us by OLPC. We aren't sure which model we're going to get, but since OLPC said that it was going to be HD, and I assume they want to save money, we're probably getting the Flip UltraHD. It's a nice bit of electronics :).

That is about it for now. The install is tomorrow. Wish us luck.

1 comment:

  1. I am green with envy!!!

    I am super thrilled that you all are finally there and are getting this off the ground. This post is very informative. Keep 'em coming. Many of us have tested and run these technologies (like the school server) in small settings. Be sure to let us know if you run into glitches.

    Oh, and be generous with your recordings. You guys are making history :-)

    All the best!


    PS: For those who want to keep up with many of the OLPCorps Africa blogs, here's an aggregated feed page.