Are you working with XO laptops that need an upgrade?

By Martin Langhoff, Software Architect – OLPC

Part of our focus is to support deployments that have made a long term commitment to work with us. When we have new models, we work hard to provide them as an upgrade.

This means that if you have today XO-1 or XO-1.5 laptops you can purchase an upgrade kit that will turn it into an XO-1.75. It does require that you perform the motherboard replacement, but the savings can be significant.

XO-1.75 with grid membrane and mechanical keyboard. Photo by Sandra Barragan

With this upgrade you get a modern ARM CPU, much lower power consumption (it runs long hours on each battery charge, and performs fantastically well on solar panels). Depending on options, you can get larger RAM and storage. You can also choose to get the new grid membrane keyboard.

If you are thinking of doing this, get in touch with us. If you know the SKU number of the laptops you have, which you can find in the battery compartment, that will make the process easier.

For each variant of the XO you need a slightly different upgrade kit, so it is important that we get it right. Our engineers have done quite a bit of work to plan the different upgrade kits.
Do you know of any laptop manufacturer that supports upgrading 5 year old models to the latest and greatest with a motherboard change, and at a fraction of the cost?

At this time, there is a minimum order quantity of 100 kits. If you are interested in ordering 100 upgrade kits or more, please contact Leah@laptop.org  at OLPC for further details. Make sure you indicate the SKU of the units you want to upgrade.

Unfortunately, due to packing, shipping, customs and warranty logistics, OLPC is currently unable to offer upgrade kits for orders under 100 kits. The costs of shipping individual components packed properly is high.

Order quantities of 1000 kits and larger can be processed faster and at lower cost.

If you have an early XO laptop and would like to see it run better and faster, our latest Operating System release can give it a new life, see http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Release_notes/12.1.0 .

We thank you for your interest in the OLPC project.

OS 11.3.1 released for XO-1.75 and all other XO platforms

We are pleased to announce the release of OLPC OS 11.3.1 for XO-1, XO-1.5 and as a formal stable release for XO-1.75. Features, known issues, and installation details are covered in the release notes.

A heartfelt thanks to our many contributors, upstreams, testers, and other supporters. Comments and additional feedback are welcome on the devel mailing list; please download it and try it out.

If you have been following the release candidate process in the last few weeks: this is candidate build 885, released as final with no changes.

Thanks and enjoy!
The OLPC Development Team

Make your XO Racy with lightweight PuppyLinux

Mavrothal has been promoting PuppyLinux as a lightweight OS for the XO for a long time.  Last year he began releasing polished “XOpup” builds, most recently XOpup 2.2 – providing the most light-weight desktop around for the XO-1 and XO-1.5.

Recently he published a build system that lets anyone build their favorite Puppy-distro for the XO, and has used it to package the latest release: PuppyLinux Racy 5.1.110  (currently only for the XO-1).   This 90MB build includes a softphone app, printing / camera / CD support, and the Mozilla Seamonkey suite (browser, HTML editing, email, newsfeeds, and IRC).

He’s even taking feature requests for the build – give it a spin and let him know what you think.

OS 11.2 released! for XO-1 and XO-1.5

Daniel Drake has good news for XOs of all flavors:

OLPC OS 11.2 is now out for both XO-1 and XO-1.5, along with some activity updates.
Install it and check it out!

This release is build on Fedora 14 and Sugar 0.92, which includes a feature I am especially fond of: a touchpad-mode selector.  For those of you who miss being able to use the stylus-mode of the older dual-mode touchpads, this lets you toggle between stylus and capacitive modes.

This release has vastly improved build properties: olpc-update is now faster and requires much less free disk space, OS Builder is much improved for those spinning their own builds.  And the XO reflashes more than twice as quickly now:

As of this release, installation images are now sparse, meaning that data is only written where data actually resides. The result is that installation time is now more than twice as quick.

Solar charging has also been tweaked on the XO-1.5.

While there was no 11.1 release this year, there are plans in the works for an 11.3 as well.  If you have bundle updates or other fixes that didn’t get into 11.2, that’s the release for you.

huge thanks to everyone who has helped with developing and testing this release!

Rwanda adds laptop security, gets new XO-1.5s

Rwanda is rolling out a software and firmware update to the students and teachers in their current schools, as they prepare to deploy a new batch of XO-1.5s as they approach their 100K milestone.   Project lead Nkubito Bakuramutsa gave a few interviews about the process, which started two weeks ago in southern Rwanda.

The security update may also give them a chance to reflash their current machines to XOOS 11.2, which has improved solar charging performance and overall power management along with many speed and interface improvements.

The planned expansion of their program will make Rwanda the largest OLPC deployment outside of South America, surpassing even the US and Mexico.

Dextrose 2 is available for the XO

Dextrose2, a revamp of the popular XOOS flavor developed by Activity Central and Sugar Labs, in partnership with Paraguay Educa, is now available for both XO-1 and XO-1.5 laptops. It has a number of performance and other improvements, including 3G modem and connection sharing. I can’t wait to try it out on my old XO-1s.

Dextrose 2 by activity central

The original Dextrose build + activities that was released last fall was based closely on the latest XOOS release available at the time (OS 10). This version has one major difference from the main OS: it does not offer a traditional Linux desktop as an alternative to Sugar.  (Some students managed to delete their Sugar home directories from within their Gnome desktop, making work with Sugar difficult until they had reinstalled it.  As a result, some teachers asked to return to a Sugar-only system.)

This work is now formally supported by Plan Ceibal, which has started to use Dextrose in their schools. It is good to see this much attention being given to activity development and Spanish-language documentation, and to close feedback loops with teachers who use the latest tools every week with their students.

So don’t wait — download a copy of Dextrose2 and try it out!

NB: If you’re looking for the latest Dextrose with the Gnome desktop option added back in, you can request this on the sugar-devel mailing list. It’s on the list of versions to make, but not a high priority at the moment.

Fast and Smart Challenge: XO-1.5 vs XO-1.0

Late last year, an XO-1 and XO-1.5 were run through a “Fast and Smart Challenge” and videotaped both engaged in some desktop-swapping youtube-playing adventures, on what seems to be a semi-intelligent mat with built-in timer.

They show side-by-side boot and activity launching, and note improved wireless experience on the new machines. The whole recording is a bit rocky but charming; the XOs had clearly been used and customized.

DebXO 0.6 released!

(adapted from this recent mailing list thread.  this is a sweet build; try it out.)

After waaaaaaaaaaaaaay to long of a delay, I just tagged and built DebXO 0.6 (installation guide).  In some ways, it’s very polished (I’ve actually tested all of the desktops myself), in other ways it has a number of regressions (due to Debian updates breaking things, switching to an almost-stock Linus kernel, etc).  Either way, I wanted to get it out because people keep asking about it, and dropping JFFS2 leads to such a massive improvement.

DebXO is a version of Debian (testing) that is customized for the XO-1 hardware.  The 0.6 release adds initial support for the XO-1.5 hardware; however, XO-1.5 is not officially supported [yet].  I’ll update the official wiki page with instructions for XO-1.5, for the early adopters.

MAJOR CHANGES:

  • Update distribution to Debian Squeeze.  All packages and desktops have been upgraded.  This is pretty major; for example, Sugar is now at 0.88, and Gnome at 2.30(ish).
  • Kernel update.  Switch from the olpc-2.6 tree to Linus’s linux-2.6 tree (based upon 2.6.37-rc4+).  A few pending patches from -next and -mm have been included, but other than that… it’s stock.  The config closely matches the Debian stock kernel config; at a future date, we’ll just switch to a standard Debian 686 kernel.
  • Switch the nand images from using JFFS2 to UBIFS.  This makes an amazing difference in terms of usability.  Over time, JFFS2 filesystems get slower as they fragment, while UBIFS doesn’t appear to.
  • Initial XO-1.5 support. It’s still rough around the edges, but it’s functional (currently xorg.conf and /boot/olpc.fth must be edited).  …
  • Continue reading

The New XO-1.5 HS: a blue, blue world

Part 2 of a review of the XO-1.5

Over 90,000 Uruguayan high school students will receive a new XO-1.5 HS (High School edition) laptop.  So how is it different from the XO-1 that their younger classmates have?

From the outside, the XO-1.5 HS has the same feel — it’s the same size, and the same antenna ears… though they feel different somehow in dark blue.  The color variation on the backplate is more limited — there may be just one set of colors to match the dark blue casing.

To make it easier to use for high school students, the keyboard features larger keys for larger fingers — and it’s now a standard responsive, ‘clicky’ keyboard rather than a waterresistant membrane. Its light/dark blue color scheme represents Uruguay’s national colors, more subtler than the bright green of the other XOs.

Since we redesigned the keyboard, we took the opportunity to make a few other handy changes. The new keyboard screws in and pops out without dismantling the bottom of the XO — taking 2 minutes rather than 15 to swap one out.

I tried it myself during my first XO teardown – the keyboard was probably the easiest thing for me to get out. We did a half tear down and photographed it, so we can also add guidelines for upgrading your disk on the 1.5’s motherboard. And now people seem to be making hybrids of XO-1.5s with the new keyboard (see our Flickr stream for more). I’ll post again when the new repair guide section is ready.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/olpc/sets/72157624651637076/

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)

Ceibal high-school project update

An update on Uruguay’s deployment of olpc in high schools: Plan Ceibal has posted some details and images of the laptops that will be used in this project. Some schools will use the new blue XO-HS laptops, and others will use Magellans — the only implementation of the Classmate design that has been used in large scale deployments (in Portugal and Venezuela).

You can see their take on a feature comparison of the machines. While there’s no check box for “sunlight-readable screen”, robustness, or power management, it’s a good look at how schools perceive their options. I would be glad to see classrooms worldwide adopting any platform like this — both can share the same software and materials.

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.