QA is Killing Me

Our pilot starts in less than 10 days and I am mired in Software and Hardware testing (QA). We were supposed test 70 XO’s against our access point yesterday but early into testing we noticed that activities were crashing on startup w/ build 703.

I spent 3 hours on IRC troubleshooting the problem w/ the help of Sugar gurus Tomeu Vizoso and Simon Schampijer. They were incredibly patient w/ my complete ignorance of Sugar actually works. The only thing I know about dbus is that it produces a lot of errors. I still haven’t figured out what is causing the problem and I can’t reproduce the problem.

I am so glad I only have to deploy 150 XO’s next week and not 5,000. The amount of QA for that would be staggering. I will take it personally if a single kid gets his first XO and it won’t boot, connect to the network, or launch activities.

Other problems encountered: USB key inserted doesn’t show up in Journal, XO keeps trying to connect to the mesh networks while connected to an AP, wasting precious power. I promise I will create tickets for both of these issues.

So here is the significance of my current situation. In my respects I represent Joe system administrator – your prototypical sysadmin – I slept through my CS classes at university and earned a respectable C+ average. I have an MCSE in Windows 2003 and have a moderate level of linux knowledge but never compiled my own kernel. The guys rolling out OLPC for implementations will look more like me and less like linux gurus.

The technology underpinning OLPC is so novel that it is hard for work-a-day sysadmins to support this project. Unfortunately, the XS is still in a lot of flux so enhancing the documentation for it right now would be a waste of resources. So what’s my point?

#1 I am tired and need a nap

#2 We need to make it easier to load activities, customize builds, connect to AP’s reliably, get the XS up and running so the average sysadmin can do the rollouts. More stable XO builds would be an important first step. I believe there is already discussion of this on the developers list.

I really want to thank Tomeu Vizoso and erikos for their help. They have been extremely helpful and patient. They should also visit a pilot site soon. It will give them sense of how important their work is and of what their users need. I humbly welcome the Sugar guys to Nepal.

nap time

Post Nap: Looks like 703 wasn’t at fault after all. A corrupted file on my usb key crashed the datastore-service every time I inserted it. My  apologies, os703

1 Response

  1. mir April 10, 2008 / 11:51 pm

    Hi Bryan,

    I find this a fascinating website/project. I am currently hard at work on a paper exploring the uses of OLPC in developing countries. I would be happy to learn more about your first hand experiences of the machines and the software they are running. It sounds like you are busy and also exhausted, but if you happen to have any reports or evaluations lying around that aren’t confidential and you wouldn’t mind sharing them with a grad student from montreal canada, please send them to the email address listed above.

    Good luck and have a fun time.

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