On the XO Laptop

The XO Laptop can run Sahana

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[First published as xo-laptop,xo-sahana: A historic occasion, using the XO Laptop to run Sahana on November 21, 2007.]

I received the following images from Chamindra de Silva late last night.

They are evidence of a historic event in the use of the XO Laptop.

They show Sahana running on the XO Laptop.

Sahana running on an XO Laptop
(1) Sahana running on the XO Laptop

Sahana running on the XO Laptop
(2) Sahana running on the XO Laptop

Sahana running on an XO Laptop
(3) Sahana running on the XO Laptop

All three images show Sahana running the “Missing Person” application, the application that victims of a natural disaster or other crisis can use to report or locate missing family members or friends.

This is but one of the many applications supported by Sahana. Others are used to coordinate and track the delivery of medical supplies, food, and other essentials. Others are used to prepare acknowledgments for contributions. Others are used to prepare reports, and so forth.

These images are also important in that they demonstrate the XO Laptop can be used to deploy LAMP applications. LAMP, L-A-M-P, is an abbreviation for Linux-Apache-Php-MySQL:

  • Linux is the operating system kernel and the associated software infrastructure;
  • Apache is the most widely used program to serve up web pages;
  • PHP is a scripting language, and is used to make the web pages “dynamic,” in particular to store and retrieve data from a database;
  • MySQL is the most widely-used open-source database;

All these applications are free and open-source software. There is no cost to acquire, use, or distribute them, and anyone with programming skills can adapt the software to meet their own needs and desires.

The “P” in LAMP originally stood for “PHP,” the scripting language in LAMP, but other scripting languages can be used. Examples include Python and Perl.

Python is of special interest to the XO Laptop community in that it is the language used to construct the key educational applications.

Chamindra de Silva is the project lead of the Sahana Team. See my post A brief history of Sahana by Sanjiva Weerawarana,

I wrote just yesterday on the importance of a computer like the XO Laptop in disaster and crisis management. See xo-laptop: Saving Lives Using the XO Laptop

I first learned of the Sahana port to the XO about a week ago. I was then preparing a presentation for the librarians at the City University of New York, and didn’t fully appreciate the significance of Chamindra’s note.

Chamindra sent along the following note with the images after I sent him a request to send me the images in jpeg form so I could write this post about Sahana:

Hi David,

Attached are some of the pictures.

The original message on this can be found here

There are more pics on the photo section of the humanitarian-ict mailing list

thanks for blogging about it..


The cited message in the humanitarian-ict list reads as follows:

Hi All,

After waiting for a long time to get our hands on one we had an opportunity to work with an OLPC (One Laptop per Child or AKA $100 laptop) recently and did a POC [POC, Proof Of Concept, a demonstration that something can be done] to check if Sahana would work on it. Joseph from LSF [LSF, Lanka Software Foundation] did the POC and attached are some of the pictures of Sahana on the OLPC. There is still some work to do but you can get the idea.

Generally compared to other low-cost devices I think the OLPC is a great disaster response tool for the following reasons:

  1. The system is designed to be rugged and last in a 3rd world country and thus should be able to handle the rugged environment of a disaster environment.
  2. If there is no electricity or power in the field you can always crank it or pull a cord to generate electricity for the device which has a very low power consumption.
  3. There are no moving parts (no harddisk) making it more reliable and shock resistant. The keyboard is plasticky, but it is water resistant.
  4. It has inbuilt support for mesh networks which are generally considered the future of dynamic collaboration in emergency management, when traditional telecoms infrastructures fail for communication. This is the kind of vision we have for Sahana mobile.
  5. Far more lightweight and mobile than laptop, but far more feature
    rich and usable than a mobile phone or PDA [PDA, Personal Digital Assistant. The Palm Pilot is an example.] in the field.
  6. In-build camera to take pictures or for video conferencing on the mesh if required.

So apart from the kiddish looks, IMO [IMO, In My Opinion] this device is far better than putting a laptop, PDA or any other less rugged low cost PC into the field during a disaster and if it does become a success it will be sufficiently pervasive to already be present and familiar to the affected people (as it’s purpose is to bridge the digital divide)

What do you think?

Chamindra de Silva

Tue Nov 13, 2007 5:29 am

What do I think? I think the XO Laptop is a key part of a portable computing solution that folks in the humanitarian/crisis management community have been dreaming about for years.

The XO Laptop is more — much, much more — than just a computer for delivering education.


Written by daveshields

December 12, 2007 at 5:23 am

Posted in xo-laptop

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