Question #2: I wonder if we could merge our funny OLPC activity-and-base-system upgrade mechanism with PackageKit? It seems it was explicitly designed to be tolerant of weird back ends like ours. We could make installing user-local fonts, etc, much more robust and "standard", as well as provide a standard backdoor into RPM for tasks which simply must modify the root filesystem.
Link: a few weeks ago, I put together some screencasts of next-generation Journal prototypes for OLPC. If you're curious what I'm working on, here's part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4 at about 5 minutes each (created with recordMyDesktop).
But that's not what I'm working on right now, which is another proof-of-concept prototype of "click to translate" functionality for GTK apps. I'll screencast that as soon as I've got something to show.