Balsa Prototype

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Revision as of 12:55, 9 October 2009 by Mayhewn (talk | contribs) (Initial creation)

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So far, SIL has produced two prototypes of BALSA:

  1. Based on Xubuntu Intrepid, created by installing Xubuntu to a real system.
  2. Based on Xubuntu Jaunty, created using an automated builder process.

Prototype 1 (Intrepid)

This is available by downloading a tarball from the main BALSA site. This tarball is installed onto a newly-formatted SD card. It can be done on the XO itself by putting the tarball onto a USB flash drive and following the instructions.

The tarball was produced by a manual process which involved installing Xubuntu to a real system, adding users and installing packages, and then saving the result.

Prototype 2 (Jaunty)

This prototype can also use the tarball distribution mechanism. However, due to the use of an automated builder that is driven by a description called a "buildfile", it is open to customization through editing of the buildfile before running the builder process.

Running the builder

Note: this process is meant to be undertaken by a maintainer or distributor of BALSA only. It is not intended to be performed by language advisers or on-site technicians. They should simply download the finished image for installation to an SD card. (To do this, they can use the same process described on the main BALSA site, using the latest.tbz2 file that is created by the builder).

You will need a Xubuntu Jaunty CD. You can download the required tools from

Unpack the balsa tar file into your home directory:

sudo tar -xpf balsa-builder.tbz2

Insert the Xubuntu CD (don't run it).

Open a terminal and use cd to get to the newly created balsa-builder directory. Run this command:

sudo ./

This command will build a BALSA installation. Follow the instructions on screen.

You may then run this command:

sudo ./ install

This command will install BALSA on an SD card. Note that you only need to build once. You can install as many times as you like.


Contact LSDev Linux (the Calgary office) with any questions about the build process. Running the builder produces a file named latest_log. Including this in queries will help us to address any difficulties.


If at any time you wish to run individual parts of the installer, you can put one or more of the following words after the script name:

Command      Description
prerequisites Makes sure you have the right programs installed to build BALSA
image Creates the starting system image. Plain Xubuntu.
teapot Modifies the plain Xubuntu image to make it XO compatible
balsa Modifies the XO compatible image to make it BALSA
install Installs to an SD card

For example, you could redo the Teapot and BALSA process without creating a new image like this:

sudo ./ teapot balsa

Editing the buildfile

[under construction]