Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Feelin' the Launchpad Luv!

The screenshot above shows Scratch running natively on Ubuntu Karmic.  There is a Scratch in Launchpad web page that greatly simplifies the installation process, at least for someone generally familiar with basic Debian system administration.

I've been running the Windows version of Scratch using wine for the past year, and using the new version has several important advantages:
  • Most of the midi features now work, so students can be exposed to music ideas through Scratch.
  • The operating system is now aware of the application, so clicking on any of the half a million Scratch programs on the website now offers the option of loading the programs directly into Scratch.  This is a big step forward for the Scratch user experience on Ubuntu, especially for the young learners who are the target of Scratch.
  • Saved programs now have a scratch cat logo on them in the graphical file browser.  Clicking on the file icon with the mouse loads them into Scratch.
  • Fonts look nicer, making reading the programming blocks easier.
This is fantastic news for educators using Ubuntu!  While I understand that there are still software freedom issues to be worked out with the Scratch developers, Scratch is compellingly excellent software (the best educational software I have ever seen), and having it available on Ubuntu means that I can stay with the operating system I love best and use the software I need to use for the benefit of my students.  It also opens up the possibility of Ubuntu Live USB sticks with Scratch pre-installed.

Sugar Now Available Too

In related news, Sugar now works on Ubuntu Karmic as well.  The Sugar Team on Launchpad provides a Personal Package Archive (ppa) with the latest (version 0.86) sugar.  This is great news for us at the Governor's Career and Technical Academy in Arlington (GCTAA), where we plan to make contributing to Sugar a central part of our Information and Communications Technology program, and needed to be able to do that on Ubuntu.

Feeling Warm Fuzzies from Launchpad

I've been using Launchpad since soon after it was first available on-line.  Ever since hearing Mark Shuttleworth talk about his vision for it back at the Ubuntu Down Under developer conference, I understood that Launchpad is a core part of bringing developers and users together to make Ubuntu better.

Getting Scratch and Sugar delivered to our computer lab through the fine work of the Scratch and Sugar Teams on Launchpad is definitely giving me the warm fuzzies toward the Ubuntu community and the Launchpad platform.

Thank you Ubuntu community!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Update from Los Chilamates

The picture above shows the students from Los Chilamates who have been attending Saturday XO classes at la Universidad Evangelica de El Salvador.

Classes have been proceeding well, and I'll report back with more details as soon as I have them.  My son, Louis, will be heading to El Salvador on December 17 to help with the project.  I'll be sending detailed reports back from Chalatenango during his visit.

Louis's goals for the project during his visit include:
  1. Bring two mini computers running Ubuntu Karmic for the lab.
  2. Get a router working so that multiple computers can connect to the Internet at the same time.
  3. Organize at least 2 classes with the 5 teenage activists in the project using the networked computers.
  4. Jump start work on the website.
Scratch on Ubuntu

In related news, there is now a PPA (personal package archive) with the latest Scratch available on Launchpad.  The project is located here.  It works like a charm!  I've been using wine to run the windows version, but midi functions like playing notes and instruments never worked this way.  Now it does, and having a native version makes saving and finding projects a lot easier as well.

Since I will also need Scratch running on the Fedora 12 machines we have in the lab for Sugar development, I needed an rpm.  Sabastian Dzaillas, maintainer of the Fedora EDU spin, suggested I try using alien.  I did, and it worked!

Email me if you want a copy of the rpm.  I want to find a place to post it, but I'm still not sure about the licensing issues.  It works, but it still needs a bit of love to get rid of the errors that are reported during installation.