OLPC image with sahana

This guide shows you how to use the sahana olpc image to create a bootable USB disk. For some background on the advantage of using OLPC for disaster management with Sahana see this thread

You can see more pictures here


  • Sahana OLPC image - OLPC image with sahana.
  • A USB pen >= 1GB - The minimum requirement is 1GB flash drive and it is better to have a higher capacity flash drive if you are planing to use this system for actual data collection.
  • dd command - You need dd command to flash the usb pen. ( You can find it in a GNU/Linux system )
  • OLPC laptop - If you want you can also use a emulator. For more information on emulating see http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OS_images_for_emulation

Creating a Dedicated USB disk

  • Unzip the images using bzip2 command.
%> bunzip2 sahana_0_6_olpc_build1.img.bz2
  • Plug in the USB pen to your PC and unmount it. Remember you have to unmount the usb not to eject it. Type the following command in a console to do it.
%> sudo umount /dev/<device> 

When you are issuing the above command change the <device> to USB pen's device file ( Ex: sdb1 or sdb2 ).

  • Next step is to flash the USB pen using the dd command. WARNING : By doing this you will loose all the data in the USB drive so back up data before you flash the USB.
%> dd if=sahana_0_6_olpc_build1.img of=/dev/sdb bs=1M

%> sync
  • When the light in the USB stop blinking remove the usb from the PC.

Booting OLPC

  • Plug the USB pen to the OLPC and turn on the machine. The olpc will detect the USB and use it's environment to boot.
  • This process will not alter the internal flash memory, all the changes will be done to the environment in the USB drive.
  • Usually the first time boot will be bit slow because some software's need to be initialised.
  • Once the system is booted it will ask for a user name and a theme colour, select them according to your preference.( This happens only at first boot )
  • Then you will be loged in to the suger environment. For more info on suger read http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Sugar
  • Now start the web browser by clicking the icon which represent a globe in the bottom menu.
  • The web browser will start and take you to the sahana installer.
  • Use the installer to install sahana



  1. Create an optimised image with minimum size.
  2. Removing Suger and using some other desktop environment like XFCE which is more user friendly for adults ;-).
  3. Making a generic live usb which will work on any machine including OLPC laptop.
  4. ( Add any suggestions you have…. )

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