Configure Balsa programs and applications

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Revision as of 15:50, 8 September 2011 by Mayhewn (talk | contribs) (Re-initializing the Balsa Machine: Fix typo)

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Programs included with Balsa

Balsa comes pre-installed with software for working on a language project. Most of the programs have their own websites with instructions for use; here are some links and other helps.

Note to IT personnel --If you are a regional IT consultant, and you are preparing SD cards for more than one Balsa user, you may create a card, then run it and customize certain programs on a regional basis. Then you can rsync your customized card to a folder and from there copy multiple cards for distribution.

  • For KMFL, you might install a regional Keyman keyboard.
  • In BibleTime you might pre-install certain Bible resources (see below).

KMFL: Set up Balsa to use a Keyman keyboard

See Configure KMFL under Balsa - Jaunty/SCIM version

Bibledit: Set up a translation project

See Bibledit tutorial: Project. In addition, a good Help menu system is included with the program. A sample Bibledit project is included with Balsa, which you will find in Balsa User's home directory.

WeSay: Set up a dictionary

Log in as Balsa User. Open WeSay-config (on Work or Settings tab). WeSay-config is fairly self-explanatory about setting up a new dictionary project. For more help see WeSay's website. If you would like to import dictionary material from Flex or Toolbox, start here.

Adapt It

The Adapt It program is used for adapting a Bible translation in one language into another closely-related language. When Adapt It is used correctly, the computer can assist with producing a rough draft in the second language. Adapt It includes a very good Help system; open the program and click on Help in the menu line.


BibleTime resources must be in SWORD format. To install a Scripture resource into BibleTime you need an internet connection, or you may order a cd with many free Bible resources from the Crosswire Bible Society. See

To install Bible resources from Crosswire's online repository into Balsa,

  • Log in as Balsa User (resources are installed in each user's Home folder). Start BibleTime from the Work tab.
  • From the BibleTime Settings menu select Bookshelf Manager. You should see a CrossWire Bible Society tab, with a Refresh button. Click Refresh.
  • Select one or more resources to install from the expandable list. If you hover over a resource name, a popup will give more information. Click install, then close the Bookshelf Manager window.

The installed resources will appear in a collapsible folder pane on the left of the BibleTime window. You may double-click on a resource to open a window, and you may resize or rearrange windows. Use the Help menu for more information about using BibleTime.

For English speakers suggested resources are:

  • NETfree- Free version of New English Translation with limited notes (you can pay $15 for a version with full notes)
  • ESV- English Standard Version
  • Commentary: Netnotesfree- Free version of NET Bible Footnotes with limited notes

Other tasks and applications in Balsa

Advisors: Show or Hide programs for the Balsa User

See Customizing Balsa User's Desktop

printing with Balsa

See printing with Balsa


Thunderbird is installed for email capability.


Several games are included in Balsa. Games can help computers improve keyboard and mouse dexterity, but the Advisor may disable some or all games for the Balsa User if desired.


TuxType has configurable data and lesson files, so Advisors may add custom word lists, edit existing typing lessons or write language-specific lessons. [ToDo:instructions for this].

Translators Workplace

It is possible to configure Translators Workplace to work under Wine. See Translator's Workplace in Wine.

Note: This has not been tried yet in Balsa itself; nor in Ubuntu Jaunty. It should work well in the newer Lucid Balsa.

Translators Toolbox

Translators Toolbox is included in the Balsa distribution as a zip file. It's in the advisor's home directory at /home/advisor/AdditionalSoftware/Toolbox/ See Translator's Toolbox in Wine.

Setting Balsa User and Advisor Password

  1. In the advisor account, select the Applications Menu | System | Users & Groups:
  2. Balsa will display the Users Settings Box:
    Users Settings Box.png
  3. Click on the Unlock button and enter the Advisor's password when prompted.
  4. Click on the Account that you want to change the password for.
  5. Click on the Properties button. Balsa will display the Account Properties box:
  6. Select the Account Tab
  7. Type the new password twice, once in the User password box and once in the Confirmation Box.
  8. Click the OK button
  9. Close the User Settings Box.

Tips & Tricks

Instructions on controlling the Tips & Tricks are here.

Re-initializing the Balsa Machine

If it becomes necessary to re-initialize a Balsa machine, this can't be done once you are logged into the machine. You can do it the following way:

  1. Backup all the files that you want to keep from the Balsa advisor's and user's accounts.
  2. Shut down the Balsa using the Restart option.
  3. When the Balsa Login comes up, type <Ctrl-ALT> F1. A text login labelled OLPC login will appear at the bottom of the screen.
  4. Type advisor. It will ask for the advisor password
  5. Type the advisor password. The screen prompt will be similar to the prompt from the terminal program.
  6. Type following commands:
cd /
sudo umount /home
sudo rm -rf /media/nand/balsafiles
sudo reboot

When balsa reboots, the Balsa advisor and user accounts will be re-initialized. You can restore the data you need from the backups you made at the beginning of this procedure.

Links and Notes

For more information about configuring the Balsa desktop, see Install and use Balsa.