Proyecto Ceibal: Uruguay's project for OLPC deployment


Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Sep 18, 2008 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

Last week I was in Montevideo, Uruguay. While there I visited the people who are rolling out the deployment of the XO (nee OLPC) systems, named "Proyecto Ceibal".

Ceibal's office was located in an incubator where small businesses are started. Project Ceibal occupied two locations in the series of "incubator" buildings. Uruguay is very serious about deploying the laptops, and today the project is deploying about 1,600 laptops per day. They believe that the first wave of laptops will be completely deployed by the end of 2009 (the country of Uruguay has a population of 3,460,607 people according to a July 2007 estimation).

Along with the notebooks, of course, is the deployment of servers and Internet connectivity. Some servers support up to 1000 laptops, others as few as five. One teacher reported that before the project brought the laptops to his five students, there was no electricity in the village, not even a light bulb. Now the parents of the children are also coming to the school to "connect to the Internet" for the information they need.

Proyecto Ceibal has rooms of people who are performing tasks such as assembling and testing access points and antennas. Other rooms have people planning placement of those access points and antennas to assure line-of-sight radio over long distances, and good WiFi coverage throughout the rooms of a school. Still more rooms have a group of support people, who can remotely monitor the servers and laptops seeing if they are still working properly. If not, they try to log in and fix the problem, or dispatch a person to a potentially far-flung village to help get the system(s) back on-line.

Proyecto Ceibal is busy trying to figure out how to remotely administer and support all these servers. Part of the problem is that download speeds are fairly high, but upload speeds are relatively small. The budgets of these small schools do not allow for the larger update speeds.

Despite some issues, the Ceibal people keep delivering laptops to children.

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