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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

By Joe Barr on December 28, 2007 (3:36:51 PM)

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The XO laptop I received last week as part of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Project's "Give One Get One" (G1G1) promotion is unlike any other laptop I've ever used, both in appearance and functionality. It's smaller, for one thing. The XO weighs only 3.13 pounds, is 9 inches wide, and approximately an inch thick when closed. But there's a lot more difference between the XO and a normal laptop computer than size. It has strangely marked keys, unusual buttons, external wi-fi antennas, a unique UI, and an original reason for being. Most people, myself included, will compare the XO to normal laptops, but that's not a good comparison. The XO is not designed to do the things that most notebooks are called upon to do, and no other notebook in the world can do the things the XO can do. There is some overlap, of course, but in the main it's apples to oranges.

So this is how you change the world

That's what I was thinking as I opened the box the day the XO arrived, remembering the talk at the Red Hat Summit in 2006, when Nicholas Negroponte mesmerized the audience with his vision of a laptop for every child in the developing world. I had a hunch then that Negroponte might be on to something. Today I think he certainly was, and now it's here. And here in spite of Microsoft's and Intel's best but Johnny-come-lately efforts to derail the project with competing products as they wake up to the problems the OLPC addresses.

The only documentation included came in the form of a glossy fold-over card that explained how to open the laptop, identified its external ports (mic, headphone, USB, and power) and the SD memory card slot. There was also a note from Nicholas Negroponte welcoming the recipient to the OLPC community and thanking them for their donation. The note included a link to help find more substantial documentation, and an 800 number to call if additional help is needed.

The XO itself, its battery, and DC converter were the only other items inside. I installed the battery per the instructions, then set about opening the top. It took more effort than I expected to snap the antenna ears open, which is the first step. But once they were open, unfolding the laptop to expose the display and keyboard was easy. The display, by the way, can be rotated and tilted. It can even be folded back down into itself with the screen visible, in eBook mode. The display, unlike that on any other laptop I'm aware of, also works in direct sunlight, and you can rotate the image in 90 degree increments so that you can view it right-side-up no matter where you are positioned in relation to the XO.

Sugar is sweet

Sugar -- the XO's UI -- is novel and unique, and it brings its own grammar to the table top. You'll probably need to add a few new words to your vocabulary no matter how long you've been using computers. Don't think multiple desktops: think views. There are four views: neighborhood, group, home, and activity. The neighborhood view shows all the wireless activity the XO can see. The group view shows any direct connections you have with other XO users. The home view is akin to a normal desktop view, from here you can change views, see the status of your battery and wi-fi connection, select new activities or go to previously opened activities.

At the end of the boot process, which takes about 90 seconds, you're in the home view, shown in the accompanying image. You can change to any of the other views by clicking on an icon along the top left portion of the home view. Alternatively, you can do the same thing by using one of the four matching keys -- they are labeled with the same icons -- laid out where you would normally find the F1-F4 keys.

That stick-figure in the center of the screen is you, and any open activities you may have are shown in the ring around the stick-figure. Beneath the ring are icons showing the status of the XO battery and Wifi connection. The tray along the bottom of the home view contains various activities which are available to you, and you can scroll through them using the arrow icons at either end of the tray. Included out of the box are activities for chatting, web browsing, writing, taking pictures or making videos, digital art, digital music, playing games, doing calculations, reading news, and more.

To get connected, go to the neighborhood view to see what is available. There are three ways you can make a wireless connection with the XO: to a wireless AP, to a school mesh server, or directly to another XO user. APs will show up as circles in this view, and their signal strength is indicated by the fill-level of the circle. Hover the cursor over a circle to reveal if it's an AP or a wireless user. If it's an AP, the ESSID will be shown, if it's another user, it will say "Mesh Network" followed by a channel number. Other XOs are shown as stick-figures, not circles.

Click on the AP you wish to use to connect to the Internet. If the AP is using encryption, you'll be asked for the key, if not, you'll simply be connected to it. The G1G1 (Give One Get One) version of the XO does not support WPA out of the box, but if you know how to configure it manually on Linux, you can do the same on the XO.

Since there may not be a lot of other XO users in your geographic neighborhood, here is a tip to be able to connect to them over the Internet: From the Home view, click on the arrow on the right hand side of the activity tray, then on Terminal Activity. Hover over each Activity so it is identified in a text box if you're not sure which one you need. Wait a few seconds for the Terminal Activity to be loaded, and when it appears, click inside it, then enter:

sugar-control-panel -s jabber xochat.org

Then press CTL-ALT-ERASE all at the same time to reload Sugar. When that process is complete, go to the neighborhood view and you'll start seeing other XO users appear. You may also see a new type of icon there, indicating XO chats.

So many activities, so little time

The Chat activity allows you to chat one-on-one with other XO users or groups of users. To join an existing chat, click on it in the Neighborhood view. A chat activity will appear in the ring of current activities in the home view. Click on it and you're in the room.

The Browse activity does exactly what you expect it to do: Browse the Internet. The OLPC Library is the default home page, and from there you can search for new activities or go wherever you like on the Internet. Firefox is the default browser, but I've run across Opera users as well. If that's your favorite, you can install Opera on your G1G1 XO with the following commands:

su rpm -vi http://snapshot.opera.com/unix/olpc-544/opera-9.12-20070122.10-static-qt.i386-en.rpm

The Record activity attracts the most attention when you're out in public with your XO. Several people who have seen the XO on 60 Minutes or elsewhere came up to get a closer look after seeing the Record activity on the laptop. As soon as you start the Record activity, most of the UI becomes a live video display of whatever the camera sees, but it's not recording anything. To record something, you first need to select the mode -- Photo, Video, or Audio -- then click on the bulls eye icon near the bottom of the image to record or start recording.

Both the Video and Audio recording sessions start immediately and last 15 seconds by default, but the UI allows you to adjust both the time to wait (Timer) before starting and the length (Duration) of the recording. After the recording has finished and been saved, a thumbnail shows up along the bottom of the UI, and you can display/play the file simply by clicking on the thumbnail.

The Journal activity is the glue which holds all the activities together. Through it, you can return to previous activities and continue work or simply remove them. You can also use the Journal activity to drag-and-drop multimedia files from Record activity sessions to a USB drive. If you're a CLI kind of user, you can use the Terminal activity and do it from a command prompt, either from the XO itself or via ssh from another machine.

A second or two after it was plugged in, my USB drive was visible either as /media/KINGSTON in Terminal activity or as an icon along the bottom of the UI in the Journal activity. Drag-and-drop is the easy choice, because if you use the CLI it can get a little bit messy with long paths and hashed file names.

The multimedia files live in the /home/olpc/.sugar/default/datastore/store directory. Because the file names are hashed, you can't tell which ones are which from their names. You'll have to use the file command for that, like this:

file * 1c166aff-f298-42b8-9446-2ad6cd1e9b6e: Ogg data, Theora video 30898492-db66-4ed4-956c-94abbd370e4c: XML 388a92cb-da27-458f-99b2-699869891146: Ogg data, Vorbis audio, mono, 16000 Hz, ~48000 bps, created by: Xiph.Org libVorbis I 3d224ec1-b495-4760-97bb-b11a20ab7946: Ogg data, Theora video 3e01b8f1-bb2a-41ab-b59b-f239c9817da0: ASCII English text, with very long lines, with no line terminators 3e1f4537-116c-4a6f-801e-c5f74b7294a5: XML 41eb686f-189d-4c1a-ace9-51753c4e3569: XML 43a14097-2140-4a4e-8654-540f77da62f9: JPEG image data, JFIF standard 1.01 58ca7fd7-5feb-44ae-96a5-04cebb0010ae: XML

Then it's simply a matter of using the cp command to copy the files you want from this directory to the USB drive. Thank baud for tab completion!

You can also do the above via ssh from another machine, but before you do, you'll need to set a password for user olpc on the XO. There is no password by default.

In conclusion: a marvel in spite of bugs, boo-boos, and bad expectations

As you might expect, there have been a few glitches in this first public release of the XO. Not all first day donor/purchasers received their XO in time for Christmas, which was one of the project's major goals. Some of those who received their XO in time for the holiday had hardware problems. That was the case with the one I ordered. A faulty display unit made it impossible to use, but thanks to a stellar debugging effort by one of the volunteers on IRC -- there are several OLPC/G1G1 channels on irc.freenode.net -- and my black-belt in whining, I was able to get another display unit shipped to me in time to have a working XO under the tree on Christmas Eve.

I'm still amazed that I was able to do the repair, as I am not a hardware guy by any stretch of the imagination. It took a couple of high-stress hours for me, fumbling and dropping tiny little screws, opening and closing unfamiliar latches holding ribbon cables in place, in order to remove the old and install the new display unit -- something a qualified technician could do in less than ten minutes. But luck was on my side, and my friend on IRC was dead-on in his diagnosis, and the XO has performed flawlessly since then. My guess is that one of the ribbon cables was not properly seated. I sent the original display back so their technicians can determine for sure what the problem was.

As for bugs, the only one I've run into that I'm aware of is the inability to adjust the mic volume in the Record activity. For the most part, based on what I've heard on the IRC channels, those who have received their XO from the G1G1 program are happy and excited about the device. Yes, it is something of a learning experience for everyone. No, it won't replace your MacBook Pro. But then it was never intended to, and most donors are well aware of that.

I have seen some complaints along the lines of, "But it won't run Adobe Photoshop/MS Office/Halo," or some other mission critical task. I chalk most of that up to misplaced expectations, because the XO was never designed to be a cheap replacement for run-of-the-mill laptops. It is designed to bring the IT age to children in developing countries, children who for the most part have never seen or used a computer before.

If you're considering plunking down the $400.00 to Get 1 and Give 1, the best advice I can offer you is simply to paraphrase President Kennedy: ask not what the OLPC can do for you, ask what you can do for the OLPC. The promotion has already been extended once, and it ends December 31, 2007.

The good news is that the OLPC team has worked, and is working, magic. From dream to vision to reality in just a few short years, in spite of Microsoft's taunting, in spite of cut-throat competition on the hardware side from Intel and others, Negroponte and his team have succeeded in bringing the XO to fruition. Best of all, because the software side of the XO equation is free/open source software, it will only improve over time. Unofficially, the number of XOs in North America is now at 20,000 and climbing. More developers means more activities. Everyone involved with OLPC, from Negroponte to Red Hat to the students helping out on IRC, should be proud of what they've done and what they're doing.

Useful OLPC "help" links

keyboard layout
troubleshooting guide
ebook mode
features
olpc wiki
cheat codes
Developers manual

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on Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.115.126.13] on December 28, 2007 07:43 PM
Like just about every other OLPC review I've seen, this one didn't so much answer my questions as inspire a host of new ones. What's the email client? How fast is it? What's the actual screen resolution? What's it like surfing the web with such a small screen? How much storage space has it got? how easy is it to manipulate files? What sort of graphics apps has it got? Is the audio/video quality good enough to use it for a poor-man's podcasting studio? Has it got an FTP client? Has it got a software-filled repository like any other Linux distro? Does the package manager have a GUI or do you have to do updates from the command line? Does it even get updates? How frequent are they? How long does it run on a charged battery.

Ratsandberries, I'm just going to have to buy one of the silly things aren't I?

Grrr!

Don Crowder
http://www.don-guitar.com

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Re: Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.151.126.146] on December 28, 2007 09:54 PM
http://wiki.laptop.org is the place to start :)

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Re: Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.101.237.55] on December 29, 2007 11:46 AM
No email client at the moment, though one is in the works. I just use ssh (installed by default) to log in to my computer at home and check mail with mutt. According to /proc/cpuinfo, the process or is AMD Geode, running at 430MHz. In use, it doesn't feel particularly fast or slow to me. According to /etc/X11/xorg.conf, the screen looks to be 1200x900. In black and white mode, it looks like the screen is higher resolution still (it looks incredibly sharp) but I don't see any references to that in xorg.conf. The OLPC has 1gb of total flash storage space, with 327mb used by the basic system, leaving 698mb for additional programs / data. I have a usb flash thumb drive that I plan on using for space-intensive data (movies, music, etc). Surfing the web seems okay screen-wise because it's pretty decent resolution. I'm not used to the particular browser that comes pre-installed, but even if I can't get used to it, I could install something else later. For pre-installed graphics apps, it only has a simple (but pretty satisfying) paint program for kids. I assume you could install gimp / inkscape / etc later if you wanted. Regarding audio / video quality, I've heard on the freenode irc #olpc channel people saying they're watching movies on the OLPC and that the screen looks great, but I haven't tried it myself. I'd be impressed if the processor can handle smooth playback. I don't know if it has an ftp client installed by default. I don't see the "ftp" program anywhere. It does have ssh, like I said, and you can install additional applications with yum later. I don't know about how well it'd do for podcasts. The built-in mic is pretty low-res, but it has a mic input. YUM is the package manager and I don't know if it's tapping into the regular Fedora repositories, or something set up specifically for OLPC. I've read that you can download sugar Activities (applications) and install them from the Journal gui screen. There are new disk images being prepared continually and the next one to come is supposed to bring a lot of important updates (email, suspend / resume, etc). My machine seems to run for about 4 hours with the screen at full brightness. That is w/out suspend, so once that functionality is included, I assume it will increase somewhat. I hope all that is helpful.

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Re: Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 81.231.73.122] on December 31, 2007 12:14 AM
I'm sure it can't be worse than surfing the web with Opera Mini on my Cell phone (SE K800i)

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I hate to carp about such a great device, but ...

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.192.250.149] on December 28, 2007 09:27 PM
Why did the Shift and Ctrl keys have to be the opposite way round from a standard keyboard? What was the point of putting the Ctrl key just above the shift key, when normally the shift key is just above the Ctrl key?

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Re: I hate to carp about such a great device, but ...

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.92.218.124] on December 29, 2007 01:42 AM
Shift key is in the standard place for a US keyboard -- just to the left of the Z key.
the Ctrl key is above the Shift key, which is where it SHOULD be.

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Re(1): I hate to carp about such a great device, but ...

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.48.8.249] on December 30, 2007 12:02 AM
Of course you meant to say "where it SHOULDN'T be."

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Re(2): I hate to carp about such a great device, but ...

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.92.11.195] on January 03, 2008 06:04 AM
No, that is where God intended it--above the shift, below the tab. You can verify this by looking at a VT100 keyboard.

I'm quite happy to see that there is no capslock key. Capslock is an abomination, and is deserving of death.

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Re(3): I hate to carp about such a great device, but ...

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 130.212.217.97] on January 26, 2008 06:33 AM
Keyboards? You stinkin' humans need to get on the ball and write brainwave recognition software. -God

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.187.233.202] on December 28, 2007 10:03 PM
There is no e-mail client but gmail works fine as well as a number of other web mail clients. I believe there is a tinymail client running around but it never became more than a proof of concept. It is slow by current standards but what we though was fast a couple of years ago is slow today too so there it is evident that slower does not equal useless. The XO trades off speed for better power consumption and less expense. Applications take a bit to start up but once they are up they run fairly zippy. Certain web pages with a lot of data will be slow to render but overall the performance isn't bad. The screen is a 7.5” dual-mode TFT display with an amazing (200 DPI), 1200(H) × 900(V) resolution in reflective, black and white mode and approximately 800(H) × 600(V) in color mode. This makes it even nicer to surf the web with than even some modern lcd screens, especially in the sunlight where normal TFT's can't go. In black and white mode the resolution approaches that of print. Storage is 1 gig of flash where about 300meg or so is taken by the OS and applications. There is 256 megs of memory. I'm not sure what you mean by graphics apps. Files are not part of the XO paradigm. You work in activities which has data associated with it in the Journal. Every time you exit an activity the state is saved in the Journal and you can resume what you were doing later. In fact you don't close activities like you do applications, you stop them and then resume them to pick up where you left off. Journal entries can be copied to a pen drive to support legacy devices. It has a paint program and you could technically install and run the gimp fine on it though it hasn't been ported to the Sugar interface. Sure it could do podcasts. Encoding video is a bit of a stressful activity so quality is an issue there but audio is really good. Video just needs some more tweaking. Pictures are a lot better than what you find in most phones. The last picture in this article looks like it was taken from the XO. It's got command line ftp support which can be yum installed. It is based off of Fedora Core 7 and will have all the same apps though that is not to say they will all work. The XO works with a package format called an Activity. Activities are self contained and can be installed by clicking on one from a web page. Not sure on the frequency of stable updates. There are new development builds every day. The base system gets updated via rsync diffs and manifest checking for integrity. Remember this is a targeted device not a general purpose computer so things are done differently from a regular distro. That being said, with some hacking you can get a regular distro up and have it work like a general purpose computer but then you lose things like much of the power management work, mesh networking and control of the screen backlight. It runs pretty well with XFCE though I have also had GNOME running on mine. Battery life varies on how you use it but there is potential of getting it up to a full day of use. Right now I am hearing four to seven hours on average but you will have to go to OLPC for exact figures. More work on power management is ongoing. The batteries themselves are built to be able to be recharged more times than conventional laptop batteries. More info can be found at the laptop.org wiki http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Home. Have fun.

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.38.146.78] on December 29, 2007 05:43 PM
If you really need an FTP program on one of these machines, since it uses Firefox as the browser just install the FireFTP extension or any other FTP client extension for Firefox.

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Re: Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.161.13.183] on January 12, 2008 08:37 PM
(Coming from a G1G1 participant) Their version of Firefox is hugely downgraded and does not support extensions (I wish it did). I'm currently failing at trying to install a new OS.

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Re: Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 130.212.90.61] on January 26, 2008 02:14 AM
Sounds like a good fix. I'm poking around the xo...soooo how do you install the extension on the xo? It's nothing like win/mac...Thanks!

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 217.216.157.2] on December 30, 2007 03:22 AM
AFAIK you can only get G1G1 in USA and Canada.

Does anybody know when it'll be available in, for instance, Europe?

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 211.30.163.5] on December 30, 2007 04:40 AM
No G1G1 in Australia? I would love to get my hands on one to help develop apps! :)

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.26.139.173] on December 30, 2007 09:15 AM
Shame it's (yet) another organisation that only accepts orders from US/Canada addresses.

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: buffalo soldier on December 30, 2007 01:23 PM
When is this program going to be accessible to Australians?
There are a lot of people in the far reaches of this country also who would benefit by this.

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: buffalo soldier on December 30, 2007 01:35 PM
Just a thought after reading a number of the comments above.
I realise you are all probably very well meaning, but don't you think a lot of you guys are missing the point here. These obviously aren't meant to be the next new wizz bang bloated over stocked fat wallet boys plaything.
The dude responsible for this needs to be considered by Nobel sometime soon.
How about one of you who has that kind of influence making it happen?
Like I said, just a thought.

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.219.160.161] on December 30, 2007 07:13 PM
I also want to re-emphasize that the OLPC project is not about creating a 'does everything' laptop. The focus is on providing an educational tool to kids in developing nations. For those of you expecting to by a low-cost laptop that will do everything you expect, the XO is probably not for you. You can complain about it, but keep in mind you are not the target market the OLPC people designed the XO to fill.

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Re: Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 217.216.157.2] on December 31, 2007 05:35 AM
Wrong, man.

We aren't "expecting to by a low-cost laptop that will do everything", we are expecting to give one XO and get another to help to improve apps available.

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F*** up delivery time

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.126.191.42] on January 02, 2008 10:28 AM
I ordered at the beginning and the *** still hasn't arrived. *** OLPC. I want my money back.


[Modified by: Joe Barr on January 02, 2008 02:25 PM]

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Re: F*** up delivery time

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.126.207.182] on January 08, 2008 06:41 AM
Hey *** you Joe Barr. Quit censoring stuff.

Anyway, I got the clunker, and it's interface is ugly as hell.
[Modified by: Joe Barr on January 08, 2008 06:50 AM]

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 216.179.3.80] on January 03, 2008 01:14 AM
Got mine and am having a blast! Very different experience from MS and Apple, but for what it was designed to do, it's amazing! Just work within the framework/restraints presented by the XO, and let your talent show. This forum has already been very helpful- keep it up- and thanks!

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.15.235.15] on January 04, 2008 04:55 AM
Great article, Joe. I got mine in mid December and find it fascinating. A whole different way to look at computing,

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.82.9.82] on January 07, 2008 12:10 AM
I received mine shortly after the first of the year. It is a truly amazing product. The apps available cover things of interest to all ages, from the youngest preschoolers to junior high and even high school students. I am impressed with every aspect of the laptop: the tiny keyboard built for little fingers, the swivel screen, the cool handle for carrying, the rugged construction. My hat is off to the whole XO team

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.173.17.228] on January 07, 2008 01:07 AM
Sorry to ask such a newbie question:
Having typed in 'sugar-control-panel -s jabber xochat.org' and got it working....how does one shut it off and go back to the normal function of just showing local XO machines. Feeling a bit like the sorcerer's apprentice....

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We're all newbies with the XO

Posted by: Joe Barr on January 07, 2008 01:21 PM
According to what I've learned on #olpc-help on irc.freenode.net, the following sugar-control-panel commands returns things to the default state:

sugar-control-panel -s jabber ship2.jabber.laptop.org

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I'm thinking of another use for OLPC

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 194.72.106.22] on January 08, 2008 01:41 PM
I've been planning on going for a bike trip to South America. I need as little electronic equipment as possible at the same time I need it to be reliable, sturdy and power efficient. I was thinking of using OLPC for simple communication with the world, i.e. googlemail, wordpress blogging, web browsing. Would you say this is a good idea? Also, on the OLPC website I read "It will come with at least two of three options: a crank, a pedal, or a pull-cord." How does it actually work? Have you tested recharging the battery using any of the alternative options? Thanks. Brunon.

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Re: I'm thinking of another use for OLPC

Posted by: Joe Barr on January 12, 2008 08:11 PM
The XOs that came as a result of participation in the Give One Get One program did not come with any alternative power devices. Whether or not those devices are available elsewhere, I don't know.

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Re(1): I'm thinking of another use for OLPC

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 130.212.217.97] on January 26, 2008 06:23 AM
Any 12v source will charge the mainland xo. Any sort of car battery or cigarette lighter. The battery can be one discarded from automobile use...you only need enough amperage to charge the xo, not crank an engine. A solar array to a car battery. A water wheel to a tractor battery.
The 12v input, alone, in one of the most brilliant designs of the xo. Why the fuck are my macs and dells 14.5volts!?
-Chris

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Re(2): I'm thinking of another use for OLPC

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 130.212.217.97] on January 26, 2008 07:36 AM
Please excuse me for update myself so soon.
"In addition to plugging the laptop into an electrical outlet (110-240 volts AC), the XO laptop can take a DC input ranging from 11 volts to 40 volts, a range that’s far more flexible than most portable devices."
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Support_FAQ#What_kinds_of_power_sources_can_I_use_with_the_XO_laptop.3F

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works great for what I wanted

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.18.154.248] on January 09, 2008 11:38 PM
Have had this a week and it's fun/useful. I planned to use it only for web, writing and reading PDFs - does all just fine. I use it on my 1+ hour bus commute each way each day and never have to worry about the battery. It opens and displays a 7MB PDF readable in full sunlight no problem. Entering text requires learning a new typing style but that's ok. I am having some confusions transferring files to the USB device, but will figure that out too. Is it a full laptop, no way - it it better for some focused tasks, yes. Another bonus is the mental exercise of learning an new operating system and interface - better than wasting time with soduku...

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Hands-on with the OLPC XO laptop -- and loving it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 130.212.90.61] on January 26, 2008 02:23 AM
I love this little thing! I would like to develop some protocols for doing rugged environmental work. The size, ruggedness, sealed keyboard, and sunlight compatible monitor make this an ideal laptop for environmental field work of all kinds. For our applications, we'd need to figure a way to log an incoming ascii datasteam from an oceanographic instrument through the ancient db9 serial. Is there a way to run a usb-serial convertor on the xo? How would one then log incoming ascii text?

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