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

Uruguay celebrates 5 years of Plan Ceibal!

Plan Ceibal’s first pilot, in Cardal, began 5 years ago on May 10, 2007. The town has a sign commemorating the event. And tomorrow they will host a celebration of the program’s fifth anniversary with a small festival, starting at 11:30. If you’re nearby, come and celebrate ;-)

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.

Princeton-Engineers Without Borders collab grows in Ghana

Separate from the national program being rolled out in Eastern Ghana, Princeton University has a student-run Ghana School Library Initiative which is building a physical library in Ghana stocked with books and OLPCs.    This program started in 2008, and is one of three projects coordinated by the Princeton University chapter of Engineers Without Borders. They shared an update with East Coast OLPCers this Spring, and have been writing about their new milestones this summer, as the library nears completion.

 

After some work earlier this year to repair and update some donated XOs, children have started working with their own laptops at the EP Basic school in Ashaiman, Ghana, where the team is working. They recently completed a week of physical construction and two classes a day with the students.   The classes included working on educational activities with the children in Sugar, “to whet their appetites” to use the XOs more on their own.

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!

TuxPaint contest for kids, with Sugary prizes

The Tux Paint dev team last week announced a 2011 summer drawing contest, with prizes including three OLPC XO-1’s, Sugar-on-a-Stick drives, and TuxPaint shirts.  All children 3-12 are encouraged to submit their best Tux Paint art; the best 10 drawings will receive prizes. The contest is sponsored and judged by the retail company Worldlabel, which will showcase the winning art on their blog.

HOW TO ENTER:

  • Download Tux Paint
  • Make your drawing in Tux Paint and save it in png format
  • Send your finished drawing in png format to worldlabel@gmail.com and include “Tux Paint” in the email subject line
  • In the email submission include: 1) the artist’s’ name 2) the artist’s age 3) the title of drawing 4) the country where the artist lives
  • All artwork must be the contestant’s original work created on Tux Paint.
  • Only one entry per child

Entries will be judged on the quality and originality of the artwork. Extra points will be given to drawings that tell a story.

Entries must be submitted by midnight USA Easter Standard time on 12 September 2011. Winners will be announced no later than 22 September 2011. All entries will be licensed: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported and will be exhibited on this page.

Kudos to Russell Ossendryver and the other devs who keep Tux Paint one of the best drawing activities out there.

How to use a stylus with your XO

A team sponsored by Uruguay’s Universidad de la Republica has developed a simple electronics kit that can be used to modify an XO-1 to let you draw on its screen with a wireless stylus and a thin acrylic sheet, turning it into a touchscreen.  Christoph has written more about this and their related robotics work.

The methodology described in their project poster is brief and tantalizing – it looks like a most promising idea. The invention can in theory work with any screen or computer, but here they are showing how it works with an XO. Here is a closeup of a Lapix set in action:

Lapix hooked up to an XO, being used with inkscape

Lapix in action

 

Check out the photo and transcription of the project poster after the jump.
Continue reading

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.

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.

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

Repair workshop this Saturday at OLPC HQ

This Saturday we’re holding a repair workshop and presentation — if you haven’t torn down your XO and rebuilt it from the motherboard up, now’s your chance to try on someone else’s machine — and to learn how to break down and rebuild one in under half an hour, with nothing but a Phillips screwdriver!

We’re holding a workshop Saturday through the early afternoon. RSVP if you’re planning to come. The machines worked on will primarily be XO-1’s, since those are still the machines most likely encountered in the field. The major differences on the 1.5 make these sorts of repair much easier, not more complex — there’s little reason to take apart the bottom on a 1.5, for instance, since the keyboards just pop out.