OLPC Live CD Distribution

I was on the OLPC Wiki and realized that I could download a Live CD of the latest version of the OLPC operating system. The OLPC is based on the RedHat operating system (not Fedora). I downloaded it and ran it in a virtual machine. Here are my initial reactions.

When you first start up the system it starts up pretty quickly. I gave the virtual machine I put the Live CD into 256 MB of RAM. The PC I am using has a 1.5 GHz AMD processor. Live CD’s are usually always slower since everything has to load into the system’s memory to be able to run. However, it started up pretty quickly.

Once you get to the login screen. You type in your name and you choose a color. You have to click several times on the human icon to choose a color. Personally, I would have found a drop down menu or color wheel much more handy. Also, the cursor icon is huge. Once you login the color you chose is the color of the icon in the middle of your desktop.

Once you login and get to the desktop everything is pretty simple. There are a few icons on the bottom of the desktop. An interesting thing to note is that there is an option to use Classic Gnome. I decided to click on this and switch over to it. However, it appeared as though Gnome had been stripped down. There was no Application, Places or System menu. On the desktop you could access a file manager, developer information as well as a terminal.

After not being able to quickly get back to the Sugar interface I rebooted the LiveCD and started playing around with some of the other applications. The applications are designed for school children, none of the functionality you would expect is there. It’s also not very easy to figure out how to get back to your desktop once you have an application open. Now, this might be something they are going to correct with a button on the actual OLPC. I just found it extremely annoying to get back and forth between open applications or get out of applications. When you hover over an icon you don’t get a tooltip to explain what it means.

Whenever you open the web browser and open a website, you get a zoomed in view of the website. This, too, may be a feature they are going to allow you to control with hardware based controls.

Overall, I have to say that I am not very impressed with the OLPC operating system development. It really bothers me that the interface has been dumbed down. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that due to the limited resources of the OLPC they had to make some sacrifices somewhere. It still bothers me though. I feel as though the OLPC project is overly simplifying the operating system and not giving the children in the countries where the OLPC will go a chance to learn how to use a real operating system. Or at the very least, an operating system that resembles others.

Also, the fact may be that I am simply overly privileged to have a good computer and the children/families/people who are recipients of these machines will probably be more than happy with them.

With all the above said, I have to say that I think the project is a great idea. I think more people need to be able to gain access to computers for research and school projects. Personally, I wish they’d sell more to the United States. Some people in this country still cannot afford a decent computer.

Download the OLPC Live CD

Move from TypePad to WordPress

Over the weekend I had a great opportunity to help someone move from TypePad to WordPress running on their web hosting account. The reason the person wanted to do this is because they were no longer going to continue paying for their TyePad account. Understandable considering the fact that the person was paying for TypePad on top of their web hosting account.

Moving the Posts

Fortunately, getting the TypePad blog entries backed up and imported into WordPress was one of the simplest tasks to take care of. The first step is to login to your TypePad account and click on the Edit Posts link. Then you click on Import/Export. Once TypePad makes a backup of all your entries, which it will do in one file, you can right click on that file and save it to your computer.

The next step is also very easy to do. That is getting the posts you just exported into WordPress. All you have to do is go to your WordPress installation, login to the administration area, click on Manage, then Import. On the import page select “Movable Type and TypePad”. On the next page, click the browse button and find the file that you exported from TypePad (the file I downloaded from TypePad was an HTML file). Once you find the file click on “Upload file and import” and WordPress will import your posts into it’s database.

Moving Images from TypePad to WordPress

TypePad like any good blogging service allows it’s users to upload images to their servers so that images can be placed into blog posts. Although that’s a really great feature to offer the problem is what happens if you need a backup or want to move your images elsewhere? The solution that TypePad suggests and the one that I followed worked quite well. That is to use a program called Getleft. If you’re on a Mac you can use SiteSucker. These two programs download all of the files from a website as long as they are linked. Open the program, plug in the URLs and start the download process. When I did this I had to let it run for several hours before it got all the data. Once the software has downloaded the files you’ll want to upload the backup to your web hosting account. A great place to put these files is in your uploads folder (root directory/wp-content/uploads/).

Once you’ve got the files into the uploads folder the next thing that you’ll want to do is get the images re-linked. You could go through every single post and re-link the images by hand OR you could download the Search and Replace plugin. Download the plugin, extract it and upload it to your plugins directory (root directory/wp-content/plugins). Once it is on the server, go back to the WordPress administration area, go to Plugins and click on Activate for Search and Replace.

After the plugin has been installed, in your WordPress administration area click on “Manage” and then “Search and Replace.” The next step is a bit tricky. You need to find out the old URL and the new URL. You can get an idea of what I used from the screen shot below.

You can then click on “Replace!”. Once the process has completed go back to your blog and make sure that the images have been re-linked properly. Go back through your archives and see that images on old posts are linked properly as well.

Creating an authors list

The person that I did this for had a blog where several people contributed and they wanted to have a list of the authors on the sidebar. The idea is when you click on the author’s name you’ll get a page with all that author’s posts. I’ve inserted a screen shot below. From this you can tell how I integrated the required code into the sidebar of the theme this person chose.

Scratching the surface

I’m sure there are more features that could be ported over from TypePad to WordPress and I am sure a lot of them have been. What I have mentioned above is simply what I did on this particular project. If you’ve got other suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments section.

One last piece of advice. Before you start blogging you’ll want to set up Akismet and a backup schedule for your new WordPress blog along with other plugins that you might want to use.