Introducing the Sugar Emulation Live Image 0.01

The problem: if you don’t actually have a physical XO unit, it can be a real bear to get a version of Sugar up and running. Building the packages using jhbuild can be painful, and the distro-specific packaged versions of Sugar are still being massaged. Besides, there might be people interested who don’t have Linux at all, and who knows how long it will take to get a version of Sugar running for Windows.

It’s been possible for a while to run Sugar under emulation, but if you don’t quite understand the right incantations, that can be pretty tricky as well. It took me a week to figure out how to get qemu and kqemu configured to run the XO emulation builds properly.

The solution: a customized Live Image based on Fedora 9. Bear in mind that this is still mostly a proof-of-concept, and if you break it, you get to keep both pieces. Still, I think it’s not bad for starters. Basically, you should be able to boot into the Live Image and see an XO icon on the Desktop. Double-click, and poof! you should have Sugar up and running. No muss, no fuss.

To create the USB key, you need Fedora — for now, anyway. Here’s a great article describing how to install an ISO onto a USB key.

Next steps:

* Get Luke Macken’s excellent Windows-based USB installer wrapped around this goodness.

* Make it trivially simple to change builds on the USB key. Maybe add a tool that downloads the latest build with one click.

* Maybe move from qemu to another virtual machine.

* Cut down the size of the ISO, since it really just exists to run the emulator anyway. There’s a lot of cruft that could usefully be cut out.

None of this is rocket surgery, by the way. It’s all pretty simple; the Fedora live image creator uses a kickstart file, and then Magic Happens. The kickstart I used to build this image is here. The tricky bits are all around invoking qemu properly.

I suppose that I ought to get a trac instance set up somewhere, since I doubt I’ll want to receive all the complaint emails directly to my inbox. But hey, every journey begins with but a single step. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

Introducing the Sugar Emulation Live Image 0.01

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