[sword-devel] OLPC - One laptop per child

DM Smith dmsmith555 at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 6 13:41:34 MST 2008

Earlier I reported about BibleDesktop running on an OLPC. Since then I  
have been trying out 3 other SWORD alternatives.

GnomeSword - Bottom line: not very workable.
I encountered several problems. First, while the laptop is based on  
Fedora 7 and has GTK it is very light on what packages it has  
available. I enabled yum to look at the fedora 7 repository. I then  
installed GnomeSword. It required 54M of download and by the time the  
packages were installed there was only about 30% of the 1G available.  
That is, it took up about 1/3 of the available flash. I was surprised  
at what it installed, such as perl. I don't think everything it needed  
got installed, either. There were diagnostics as to some missing items  
when starting the program.

When I ran the program, I was impressed that the fonts were  
appropriate for the screen's size. The screen is 1200x900 with 200DPI.  
It appears that GnomeSword uses resolution independent font size.  
Super! However, the program at 6" x 4.5" was squished.  There was only  
enough room to see a verse or two at a time. The controls at the top  
of the window overlapped.

But the biggest problem that I ran into was constant out of memory  
errors. Not so much when running GnomeSword, but when doing anything,  
whether or not I had run GnomeSword after reboot. It seems that the  
OLPC needs a lot more of the 1G flash available to run programs. Don't  

Anyway the machine wouldn't run any two programs at the same time. The  
second would hang and not die gracefully. So essentially the machine  
was unstable and I had to re-image it.

Sword Read - Bottom line: Great first start.
This program is custom built for the OLPC and is very simple. The  
interface has an input box where one can input a reference and the  
chapter containing that reference is shown below. It is not at all  
clear what English Bible translation is being used. I think this is  
being done via the Python wrapper for SWORD.

This is fast and light and takes up very little of the machine. And  
this is the only solution that is integrated into the desktop and  
available directly from the OLPC activity list.

However, while it is a published activity it doesn't seem to be not  
very OLPC like. I didn't see any way to share the activity with  
another. And personally, I think that the large amount of text is a  
bit much for a child.

Bible Tool - Bottom Line: very usable.
The Bible Tool can be reached from the "Browse" activity. Like  
GnomeSword, it appears that Browse uses resolution independent font  
size. This made it very readable. In the parallel tab, having two  
texts is reasonably the most one could have. But over half of the  
screen was taken up with the list of Bibles on the left and the list  
of Commentaries on the right.

What would be cool would be to have a simplified UI that could be used  
on small devices (iPhone, PDA, OLPC, ...) that have real browser  
capabilities. And for the OLPC, to have a Browse Bible activity which  
would bring up the website in Browse.

As to developing for the OLPC, I think most development will be done  
via emulators. If you want to develop for the OLPC see: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Developers

Working together in Christ,
	DM Smith

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