OLPC Keyboard/Touchpad freeze and fix

OLPC XO-1 users who are running software builds 650-656 (from 2007 and early 2008) are encountering keyboard/touchpad freezing this month.  Some XOs became frozen thanks to a bug in an early version of the firmware. If you encountered this, your XO should start as usual, but with the keyboard and mouse not working.

Here is a quick fix to update your firmware: you’ll need another computer with Internet access, a USB thumb drive (memory stick), a charger and wall outlet, and 10 minutes. (Alternately, you can send your XO to a community repair center – see the comments.)

  • Download http://dev.laptop.org/pub/firmware/q2d14/bootfw.zip
  • Take a USB stick, and create a folder named “boot”. Put the file in this folder. (the path to it should be /boot/bootfw.zip)
  • Make sure your XO is plugged into the wall, AND has a working battery in it.
  • Insert the USB stick into your XO. Reboot the XO. Wait until you see a message saying the firmware has upgraded successfully.
  • Remove all power from the XO for 20 seconds: unplug the power cord AND remove the battery.
  • Remove the USB stick.
  • Restore power to the XO and turn it on.
  • Hold down the “X” key on the keypad next to the screen as you reboot.
  • Your XO should now work normally.

It is also strongly recommended that you

as the recent releases have many new activities and other improvements.

The XO-1.5 HS: Hackably Sweet

Part 1 of a limited series

Gillian and I spent part of the day taking apart an XO-1.5 (HS edition!) and putting it back together.  We’ll be showing you how to do everything from a (2-minute!) keyboard replacement to a flash drive upgrade.  Stay tuned for the photo series and guide.

XO-1.5HS Teardown
Gillian removes the new keyboard
Mike upgrades his onboard storage.
Me swapping out the XO-1.5 onboard storage (that's a 4G Micro SD card)

Dual-touchscreen laptop: the Toshiba Libretto W100

Toshiba is testing my favorite laptop design, a dual-touchscreen model: the Libretto W100.   It will be available to the public in a ‘limited run’ later this year, for around $1,100, and will sport a pair of 7″ touchscreens.  They say the laptop will run Windows 7 and offer a variety of keyboards for the ‘bottom’ screen.

It’s good to see this design get out there and effort put into software for it — we will eventually  move away from static keyboards altogether, and I would love to see it happen in this decade.

Toshiba Libretto W100
Toshiba Libretto W100

XOs for High School: new design, Uruguay snags 90,000

We have been working on a new XO laptop for high school students — one with a larger and more responsive keyboard better suited to the hands of older students. And Uruguay’s Plan Ceibal, expanding into high schools across the country, will be the first recipient — they’ve ordered 90,000 of the first production run.

These XO-1.5 HS machines are largely the same as a regular XO-1.5: they are VIA machines with Sugar and Gnome desktops, running both Sugar activities and Gnome apps.  Only the bottom half is different: they have ‘clicky’ rather than membrane keyboards by default, and the base has been redesigned so that keyboards are much easier to swap out or clean — there are two screws you can access from the battery compartment that release the keyboard, then you can pop it out.  No more 10-minute teardowns!

Uruguayan Flag

The new machines will be shades of dark and light blue; the factory is still working on getting the plastics and dye selection just right.  I saw an early stab at this design, and it was very sexy — but I haven’t seen the final keyboard model they are using yet. As a keyboard fanatic (I can get 70wpm on my XO-1), I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for the first one back in the office and will post a review for you.

Now that we have a half-dozen designs or models, we’ll need to come up with a better naming scheme… I’m taking suggestions for names and themes.