Documentation Team/User Manual

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One should see

The Sugar user manual

Sugarlabs_mainpage_07.png available as: HTML or .pdf 128 pages, 8.3 MBytes (for saving or printing).

How To Use Sugar

Using the Interface

Where's the desktop?

Sugar is a different desktop environment to what is normally used in Windows, Apple's OS X or other Linux operating systems. One of the first things that a child sees, therefore, is not a hard disk or a trash can—it’s the other children in the “neighborhood.” Sugar's closest desktop metaphor is the Home view: where the user can see what Activities they are currently using and access the Journal, which acts as a history of usage and allows the user to access files they viewed or applications they ran previously.

Using Activities

What is an Activity?

The program that you run using Sugar are called Activities. Why? Because Sugar, in its departure from the desktop metaphor for computing, is the first serious attempt to create a user interface that is based on both cognitive and social constructivism: an environment where learners engage in authentic exploration and collaboration in the act of learning.

How can a user start an activity from the command line?

How can a user start an activity from the command line without starting Sugar? Please supply a sample command.

Why? I'm tired of digging around for the error logs. I figured I could do something like

sugar - run pippy 2>pippyerrors.txt

bemasc suggests

less ~/.sugar/default/logs/org.whatever
Note the above command will take some messing around with to get what you want.

I have tried:

user@ubuntu:~/sugar-jhbuild$ ./sugar-jhbuild launch pippy
sugar-jhbuild launch: command not found
user@ubuntu:~/sugar-jhbuild$ ./sugar-jhbuild sugar - launch pippy
sugar-jhbuild sugar: command not found
user@ubuntu:~/sugar-jhbuild$ ./sugar-jhbuild pippy
sugar-jhbuild pippy: command not found
user@ubuntu:~/sugar-jhbuild$ ./sugar-jhbuild run pippy
sugar-jhbuild run: Unable to execute the command 'pippy': [Errno 2] No such file or directory

And the response.

<bemasc> dgd: impossible.
<dgd> bemasc, ?
<dgd> not possible to run activities from jhbuild is that what you mean bemasc 
<bemasc> dgd: sugar activities cannot run outside of sugar, and more than a java applet can run outside of the JVM, or a flash applet can run outside of a flash interpreter.
<bemasc> s/and/any/
<dgd> ok, so running just the activity in sugar?
<dgd> just one activity, none of the home stuff etc.
<bemasc> also not possible
<dgd> I thought for sure I read in the docs that you can run just an activity...
<bemasc> by "not possible" I mean "requires you to modify the code for the Sugar shell".
< bemasc> You can probably cause Sugar to launch and immediately start an activity.  You might be able to do  this using a .xsession script.
<bemasc> However, users will still be able to bring up the frame and switch to the home view, etc.

Where are the activities stored?

Some users will find them here:


Jhbuild users will find the activities here:


Sharing an Activity

The interface (.85) doesn't show who is an activity until you join it. Apparently, once you join you can also destroy whatever work was there and the owner/starter of the activity would be none the wiser.

versioning for the activity?
control over who has access?

Here's a video showing the sharing activity in action.

Installing and Deleting Activities

    • Installing Sugar Activities Using Browse
    • Installing/Removing Sugar Activities Using Terminal
    • Installing/Removing Linux Applications
    • Installing an .xo file
    • Installing Sugar Coated Linux Applications
    • Windows Applications

Customizing the Interface

Changing an XO's Nickname and Color on Sugar Views

    Your XO's Nickname and other options can be changed using the OLPC:Terminal Activity's command line OLPC:Sugar Control Panel.

Changing the "XO Guy"

To change the XO Guy, the symbol in the middle of the Home view (with applications opening around him/her), you have to follow a few steps:

  • Create An Icon - You first have to make an icon image and save it as an SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) file with the name computer-xo.svg. Probably on your Mac or Windows machine. There are instructions on how to do this on the OLPC wiki.
  • Transfer It To Your Computer - Copy computer-xo.svg to a USB or SD card and plug it into your OLPC or computer.
  • Install it - Open Terminal and type the following commands to back-up the original icon and copy your new icon into the correct location:
su -l
cp /usr/share/icons/sugar/scalable/device/computer-xo.svg /usr/share/icons/sugar/scalable/device/computer-xo.svg.bak
cp /media/<your usb or sd>/computer-xo.svg /usr/share/icons/sugar/scalable/device/computer-xo.svg
  • Now close terminal and press Ctrl,Alt,Erase.

Example of modified icon:


Restoring Icon To Original

To restore computer-xo.svg back to the original, open terminal and type:

su -l
cp /usr/share/icons/sugar/scalable/device/computer-xo.svg.bak /usr/share/icons/sugar/scalable/device/computer-xo.svg
rm /usr/share/icons/sugar/scalable/device/computer-xo.svg.bak


Setting the Clock and Timezone

You may set the date and time as follows:

  1. Connect to the Internet. (For details, see Documentation Team/User Manual/Connecting to the Internet)
  2. Open a Linux prompt. (For details, see How do I access a Linux command prompt? Note that unless you are an advanced user, you should use the Terminal Activity button to open the prompt.)
  3. Log in as "root". Assuming you are using the Terminal Activity program, you can log in as root by typing "su -" at the command prompt and pressing the Enter key. Note that as user "root" you have the ability to destroy all software on the XO, so you should end your session as soon as you successfully change the date and time.
  4. At the command prompt, enter the following commands:
    /usr/sbin/hwclock --systohc
  5. Press the Enter key after each. In response to the ntpdate command, if it successfully contacts this US government official time server, the system will output a line of data displaying the correct date and time.
  6. Click the "Stop" icon OLPC::Image:Quit.gif at the upper right corner of the screen to log out and close the Terminal Activity program.

How to set the timezone on my laptop

You can set the timezone by typing the OLPC:Sugar Control Panel command in the OLPC:Terminal Activity.

Sound Control

    Disabling the bootup sound

    Turn the volume down while the laptop is booting (i.e. before getting into Sugar).

Taking Screen Shots

To take a screen shot, typing Alt+1 at the same time will take one and store it in your journal.

Networking & Communications

Connecting to Wireless Networks

To some degree, networking is specific to the platform upon which Sugar is running.

    On the XO-1 laptop, there are three ways to connect to the Internet:
    • Wireless access point (Wi-Fi hotspot);
    • “School Server” mesh network; or
    • “simple” mesh network, which lets you collaborate directly with other XOs.

Read Connecting to the Internet for detailed instructions.

Connecting to Jabber Servers

Jabber servers allow Sugar users to interact, play and collaborate with each other in the Sugar environment.

While the OLPC is designed with mesh wireless networking built in (where users can connect to each other without having a central wireless internet router/connection), Sugar users around the world may not be able to connect with others using the platform unless it's through the Internet, since mesh networking relies on a concentration of users (for example, in a classroom, school or business environment).

Jabber networks link Sugar users to each other in order to chat, interact and collaborate. There are global Sugar Jabber networks, or regional ones hosted by organizations and individuals around the world. You can choose whichever Jabber network you wish to connect to. Connecting Sugar to one of these networks will greatly enhance your Sugar experience.

IRC Chat

Install the XoIRC activity and connect with other Sugar/OLPC users and enthusiasts on the internet and chat with them in real time. XoIRC uses a system called IRC.

It defaults to a "room" called #olpc-help, but you can also enter other rooms by typing /join #room where room is the name of the room you wish to join.

Some other Sugar/OLPC IRC chatrooms are listed here.

OLPC/Sugar as Webserver

  • Open Terminal and type the following to install Boa (approx. 100k)
su -
yum -y install boa
  • Now put your index.html in /var/www
  • Find your Sugar Computer/XO's IP Address. Still as root user (having entered su- already), enter into Terminal:
  • Look next to eth0 for 192.168.whatever (for example)
  • Go to another machine on your LAN and type your Sugar Computer/XO's IP Address into your browser. There's your Sugar computer serving up a web page!

Installing Sugar

Developing For Sugar

See also