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  #1  
Old 12-17-2007, 11:05 PM
Geoff Harrison Geoff Harrison is offline
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Default OLPC xo laptop

Did anyone else participate in the OLPC Give One Get One program? I just received mine today, it's an interesting little machine. I'll have to work with it for a while more before I decide whether I think it will achieve its goals.

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  #2  
Old 12-18-2007, 12:14 AM
tonyv tonyv is offline
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Thanks for making me aware of this program. I just ordered one.

I've played with the AMD Geode LX800 processor quite a bit. It's a really nifty chip -- and becoming quite popular in the embedded computer market.

tonyv
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  #3  
Old 12-20-2007, 04:37 AM
Cappellanus Cappellanus is offline
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Default just ordered one...

Very interesting. I just ordered one too.

I've been thinking of buying an "itouch" to surf the internet (my whole city is going wireless over the next 12 months) the real keyboard (or "kinda real" keyboard) and a big screen may be more useful. If it's reasonably durable, I could use this as a portable internet/email machine. It won't fit in my pocket, but it still looks pretty portable. I don't want to haul around my fragile laptop, which has difficult to replace and personal data/files.

It's it's not so useful, I'll let my little boy (7 year old) play with it. Either way, one laptop is sent to a third-world country. win-win.

So, how long should it take for this to arrive? How long did yours take? I'm kinda excited about this. Thanks!

- thefinn.

Last edited by Grant Stockly; 09-10-2012 at 09:10 PM.
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  #4  
Old 12-20-2007, 01:48 PM
Geoff Harrison Geoff Harrison is offline
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You'll probably have to be patient. I ordered mine on the first day they offered the program (Nov 12) and it arrived Dec 17. Delivery may improve as production ramps up, but you may still have to wait a while. They have a tentative delivery schedule here.

A few things I've discovered about it, both good and bad:

- I was afraid the screen hinge would be a weak point, but after opening it up to look inside, it's very sturdy.

- For someone used to standard Windows/Mac/Linux environments, it takes a while to get used to the Xo's system. They use a completely different metaphor than the desktop with its focus on applications and files. The Xo interface is centered on 'activities' and collaboration between neighboring machines. In fact, it's hard to appreciate the full scope of the machine when yours is the only one in the area. It needs others nearby to mesh with. It is still usable, though, as a standalone machine connecting via WiFi.

- The underlying Linux system is fully available to anyone who wants to get to it. In fact, it ships with no root password . It relies on bitfrost for security. I haven't looked into that yet, but the first thing I did was install a root password.

- The OS and applications are clearly at a beta level, and some more or less essential features and not implemented yet. For example, the laptop can't suspend, which is a pain because it takes a while to boot. That's expected to be fixed in the next release, early in 08, and they claim that waking from suspend is almost instantaneous.

- It's S-L-O-W. Performance improvements are expected with upcoming releases, but with a 433Mhz Geode, it will never be a screamer. But it's not fair to compare it with a multi-gigahertz, multi-core desktop. As someone pointed out to me, it's a lot faster than no laptop at all.

- The keyboard is very small. Obviously, it's designed for children but it seems to me that they'd have to be toddlers to use it comfortably. My fat fingers may not be the best judges of that, but I think 10 year olds will still find it cramped.

Overall, I like it. It's a good design and its goals are laudable. I hope the OLPC team can achieve their goals and I'm sure the current shortcomings of the software will be addressed quite soon. And if not, it's still a really nice piece of rugged hardware that you could probably load a vanilla linux system onto.
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  #5  
Old 12-21-2007, 08:27 PM
tonyv tonyv is offline
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Default Thanks for the review

I figured it might finally encourage me to learn Python, at the least. And it might help provide some kid out there the opportunity to see a world he/she might not otherwise experience, at best.

If you haven't yet heard of William Kamkwamba's Malawi Windmill Blog (hard to believe, with all the hype), it is inspirational:

http://williamkamkwamba.typepad.com/williamkamkwamba/

There is a lot of great info out there, if you have web access (one of my favorite's is MIT's Open Courseware project)

http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/home/home/index.htm

I'm hoping OLPC will help.

...

On the OTHER hand, why didn't they just concentrate on getting out a cheap laptop, and not re-invent EVERYTHING, including all we have learned about designing user interfaces in the last 30 years? Desktops and file cabinets may not mean much to a third world kid, true, but it is still a great and time-proven why to organize vast amounts of complexity. This "journal" scheme sounds really screwball, to me.

Same goes with the security. "Passwords" don't mean anything to this audience, huh? Well, after half the third world goes down with a virus, I bet it's the first thing they invent.

...

Anyway, it should be interesting. It is amazing it has gotten to this point, with Intel and Microsoft trying so hard to kill it.

tonyv
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  #6  
Old 03-06-2008, 08:02 PM
sje sje is offline
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I signed up for the get one/give one notification program but later decided against the purchase, in part because of a late realization that the keyboard is just too small for me.

The XO laptop is in danger of being obsoleted by the new and upcoming low cost notebooks from several sources. I read earlier today that XO head Negroponte is leaving the project after having too many managerial headaches. That may be useful, but it's a bit late in coming.

The XO has suffered from near fatal feature creep along with over optimistic software development schedules. The correct way of doing the XO would have been to get the hardware working, but ship with only a simple book reader and the basic wireless mesh drivers. That would have had the laptops in the hands of needy children for a year or two and doing a lot of good while the rest of the software would be delivered later as an update.

It's also somewhat annoying that the XO guys have badmouthed the Dvorak keyboard layout. The XO would have been a great way of introducing millions of folk to rational typing instead of the 19th century Sholes/QWERTY layout.
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