Peru has a large and complex XO project, certainly the most varied anywhere, with its mix of rural and urban, powered and off-grid. Now they are adding local assembly of future laptops, something many countries have considered but few have carried out.
As notedrecently, local assembly offers shorter startup times for production, and gives the deploying country more of a stake in the ongoing project.
Peru is being supported directly by Quanta, our factory in China, in this. Similar arrangements will be a bit easier now that the first one is underway, but this sort of arrangement is hard to work out unless the deployment team is planning for a steady flow of hardware delivered over years.
Nevertheless, this is a great step for olpc sustainability. Between Peru’s interest in assembly, Uruguay’s recent interest in design for new audiences, and Paraguay’s interest in developing better software and OS builds, Latin American deployments are taking up shared ownership of most aspects of the project.
We have been working onÂ 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. Â 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. Â No more 10-minute teardowns!
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. Â 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.