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THE recent porting of the Sugar XO desktop platform to Ubuntu, the human face of the popular Linux OS, has given hardcore Ubunteros an opportunity to modify one of the coolest desktops to emerge this side of the equator. How about Sugar XO activities for adults? We are talking Amazon jungle computing and yes, the current range of activities, created by MIT graduates, do look as if they were produced for chimps on the International Space Station. If one can get over the plain and simple geekiness encased within the beautiful Sugar XO, the system wins hands down in the look and feel department.

There are no actual files or folders. Everything is “remembered” and each session is part of the overall global interactive session in which Sugar XO users interact. I can think of a lot of other interesting things to do with such global interactivity and my online session, — it is only a matter of time before somebody comes up with a Global Web Jam using Sugar XO. Isn’t this exactly what the world’s youth are crying out for – a global whiteboarding experience, replete with music and video mashup? If only we could get the geeks out of the python lab and into the real world, Sugar could actually offer Ubuntu users a desktop experience with a lot more popular innovation than the current Gnome/KDE/XFCE trio that seems merely to reproduce the experiences of earlier periods of computing in a business fashion. Sugar brings back the kind of fun I once had with Atari, remember the prototypical kidcomputer?

As a platform for modified applications taken from the broader Linux-Ubuntu community, XO surely cannot be beat. I guess XO must stand for ‘derived operated system’, since the whole project is really a Linux distribution and the first releases were based upon Redhat-Fedora. I’m betting this is a chance of a lifetime in the world of Linux, a huge opportunity to produce cool apps forĀ  what has been referred as, you got it, the XO generation.

Sugar is cool, and we all deserve a more right-brained approach to modular computing that does away with files and the aweful windowed mind-map you end up with as you gaze into cyberspace trying to remember where you put your stuff, so yes, why remember anything? Lets just integrate into a world of total media- sugar music, sugar video, a sugar editing suite, mixing desk, DJ console and in no time, the Ultimate Edition of Sugarized Ubuntu I predict will be up and running and giving Gnome and KDE a run for its freedom of expression.

Now I don’t want to undermine the lofty aspirational goals of the current OLPC platform and its XO offshoot, which will invariably result in derivatives, (does anybody know which GNU license XO is released in?) but surely there is something a bit bizarre about offering early learners, pre-teens python with their basic math?

Oh the joys of programming – a lot of kids in Africa can barely read, and the OLPC programme is really taking all this localisation for granted – foreign character recognition, language games, art – there is a lot that is simply being left out of the equation, which is why a modified XO could fill in where others fail.

Yes, sadly from an activity point of few, the current Sugar XO sucks, not unless you find a calculator interesting. I know I had one as a kid, and wished for a supercomputer. Now that we have supercomputers to give to our children, why give them calculus? Surely art, literature, the world wide web in a format even a fetus can understand?

On the down-side the XO browser also leaves a lot to the imagination, and one could do better by offering Seamonkey or another lightweight alternative in a Sugar style.

If you want to give Sugar a try, running the XO on Ubuntu is simple, and there is really no point to doing this on another distro.

In Ubuntu, all you have to do is

apt-get install sugar sugar-activities

Which will download the Sugar desktop which you can run in a separate session. Currently there doesn’t seem to be a good method for getting out of the session, and you will therefore have to hack a little. I have yet to come across a good script that actually works, but this is only a minor gripe. If you have a solution please post it here.

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