Sugar on a Stick/FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions about Sugar on a Stick

Post questions here for the Sugar on a Stick project team.


See the Sugar Labs community FAQ for more answers.


What is it?

Sugar on a Stick is, in essence, a Sugar Labs project to design, distribute, and deploy the Sugar Learning Platform software on inexpensive USB and SD flash storage devices, which people can easily carry from home to school to library to clubhouse to boot or run on any computing device for seamless continuation of their learning Activities and collaborations.

Is it - learning games, homework help, search engines?

Sugar on a Stick provides a consistent, child friendly environment with learning games, software for music, graphics, text, and software creation, a calculator and physics modeling Activities, an Internet browser and chat programs, an electronic book reader, and a tool for teachers to select and package web-based content for students for offline exploration. Additional learning software is available for download in the Sugar Activity Library. The software on the portable memory device allows students to have the same learning tools at school and at home. The teacher can use it to assign homework, but it does not in itself provide homework help. The web browser can be used as a search engine.

What do I have to obtain to make it work?

The software can be run on must personal computer systems, but at this point, Sugar on a Stick in-school deployment is in Beta testing stage. After learning from its first pilot deployment at a school in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, we would welcome other pilot deployments, but this is still technology in its early stages. At this stage, one might need a technical person who can interface with the Sugar community to make it work. Re: Sugar on a Stick/TODO
You will also need at least a 2 GB stick for each student. If updates or large activities will be installed, however, a 4-GB or larger stick is recommended.

How much does each stick cost?

(Note that Sugar Labs does not sell hardware, software, or services.) Check your local computer store for prices. Right now, it's about $8 USD for a 2 GB stick. To deploy on a large scale, you will also need either very dedicated volunteers or a bulk copy device. We are using one from NeXcopy that retails for about $1200. You should also budget for some USB stick loss. See this page section for a commercial source of USB sticks or SD cards with Sugar on a Stick installed.

Can I try some of it out?

The full software package can be downloaded from Sugar on a Stick/Downloads. You can use this download to install Sugar on a Stick onto a USB flash memory drive and test it out.

Is it the whole Sugar Learning Platform?

Not entirely. You will need a computer to run Sugar on a Stick, and for school deployments, you will also want an administrator's computer for the School Server. We refer to the Sugar Learning Platform as platform because it is a complete software environment for learning. The server software is free, but also in a Beta testing phase. The School Server does not need to be high powered: a $500 to $1000 server hardware budget should be sufficient for a pilot program.
Current versions of the Sugar on a Stick software package have a basic set of learning software, and is designed to be customized by the learning team to provide the specific learning tools appropriate for a given setting.

Is it an effective learning tool?

Please see the first question on this FAQ, Government FAQ.

What answers can you provide to common questions about deployments?

Please see this FAQ list, Government FAQ, prepared for common questions from governmental officials.

What hardware is it known to work on and what are the known hardware-related bugs?

computer comments
OLPC-XO-1 Works (but doesn't support all XO features, such as power management, special keys)
Intel Classmate Works great on the Magellan version
HP Compaq 6715b Works great
Acer Aspire One Works great; no access to SD slot in sugar
Toshiba Satellite Works great; boots very quickly
IBM Thinkpad X60 Works great
IBM Thinkpad T43 Works great
IBM Thinkpad Transnote 2675 Boots from CD; no network, touchscreen, graphics pad, or sound
Eee PC 900A Works great
Dell Latitude 600 No network due to proprietary driver
Dell Latitude 610 Network with Intel Pro Wireless works
Dell Latitude 630 Wired and wireless networking works
EeePC1000HE No Wireless ; Wired works, use VMPlayer for wireless
Please add your results to the table above.

Do all the activities (including collaboration) work reliably on SoaS these days?

Collaboration on SoaS is as robust as collaboration anywhere. Sugar 0.88, 0.90, 0.92 (SoaS Mirabelle, Mango Lassi, & Coconut) have progressively improved on this front, although there remain collaboration issues with particular Activities, networks, and server versions.
There are some Network Manager issues that need to be worked out in general regarding Sugar on non-OLPC kernels, but these are issues of connectivity.
We saw some problems at FOSSVT with some laptops and netbooks accessing wireless, while others worked great.
As you pointed out development is going very quickly right now. As we take this out into the world we are finding and fixing bugs. Our main goal right now is to get volunteers to help us do this and keep track of what hardware is working.

Does SoaS allow for power-management to kick in on netbooks?

Yes, but currently not the special OLPC XO-1 features.

Are there networking or audio issues?

AFAIK, any audio problems were fixed in the Beta release. There is a discussion upstream about the best way to handle csound support in Fedora.
We had found some issues with connectivity with a small number of machines--this seems to be a Fedora issue, not a Sugar issue, and is being worked on upstream.

How do I set the keyboard map for a non-US keyboard?

Hover the pointer or right click the Learner iconLearner.svgin the Home view, and then click on the 'My Settings' item on the pop-up menu.
  • Sugar on a Stick uses by default the English (USA) keyboard layout.
    From the My Settings control panel you will see a 'Keyboard' control tool that will allow you to change the default keyboard layout.