SIL LSDev Linux Development

Language software for Linux and Mac OS X

Balsa Beta 1 has been released

We are pleased to announce the Beta 1 release of the Balsa system. There’s a Quick Start here.

Balsa is a system on an SD card that turns a netbook into a Basic Language Software Appliance. It contains basic language software with a simple to use interface.

Balsa Features

  • Balsa is free. There are no restrictions on making copies and distributing them to others.
  • Simple User interface; designed for unsophisticated users.
  • The operating system and programs are all contained on and run from a single SD card.
  • Simple upgrading without affecting your data
    • No need for an Internet connection
    • Turn off the machine
    • Put in a new Balsa SD card
    • Turn the machine back on
  • No viruses – ever! No need for an anti-virus program.
  • Can be customized to use languages other than English.
  • Can be customized with other Ubuntu programs.

Here is more information about what programs come with Balsa.

Making a Balsa SD Card

To make your own Balsa SD card, you will need:

  • A blank 4 gigabyte (minimum) or 8 (recommended) SD card
  • A Windows or Linux computer  with 5 or 9 gigabytes of free temporary space on its hard drive. After the card is made, the temporary files can be deleted.
  • An Internet connection to download about 700 Megabytes

What’s New in the Beta

Here are some of the features of the Balsa beta release:

  • Based on Xubuntu 10.04 (lucid)
  • Distributed as a compressed image file. The compression system we use is 7-Zip. It reduces the size by 30%, compared to other compression programs.
  • Quick Start Documentation.
  • Improved support for Windows:
    • Windows can now be used to make a Balsa SD card
    • You can easily set up a Windows machine to run Balsa. Plug a Balsa SD card into the machine and run a set-up script. When you boot again, you can choose to run Balsa.
    • Removing Balsa capability from the computer is simple as well. Just run a short script.
  • Improved set up in Linux. To set up a Linux computer to run Balsa, plug in the card, and click on a desktop launcher. Reboot, and Balsa will appear in the boot menu.

Here are some other changes from the alpha release BALSA-0.6-jaunty:

  • Changed the name from BALSA to Balsa
  • Dropped support for OLPC XO-1
  • KMFL support has changed from SCIM to IBUS
  • Applications have been updated.
  • Many bug fixes.

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