Gave one, finally got one. March 26, 2008 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Today a mysterious box arrived, which turned out to be my long-lost OLPC! Are there any other Mefites playing around with them?

There was talk a few months back of starting a thread once the computers started to arrive. Then......not many arrived. Anyone else get theirs yet? Any tips, tricks, rants, raves, thoughts, whatever?
posted by nevercalm to MetaFilter-Related at 9:49 AM (27 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I have mine and I was really thinking of posting an AskMe question about this because I'm sure there's a lot of stuff you can do with the thing once you can figure out the weird interfaces, esp when you drop down to a command line.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:04 AM on March 26, 2008

Oh, thanks for the reminder. I have to call FedEx, who have been trying to deliver it to my old address.
posted by trip and a half at 10:23 AM on March 26, 2008

I made a quake-terminal for them.
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 11:17 AM on March 26, 2008

I've had mine for about a week or two. From what I can tell the last batch of G1G1 XOs have been shipped.

I've been trying to get it to boot my custom kernel (built from their git tree, different config) with the root on an sd card, but it would freeze at the bootloader. I finally got it to boot into my userland, using the kernel/modules from a recent joyride release, but I haven't gotten X to work yet (it's configured fine, with the AMD driver it just crashes within a half second).

The newer joyride builds will sleep on their own after inactivity with the screen still on and the wifi still on, which is awesome. It will not go to sleep so that the wifi is off on its own (haven't tried taking down the interface yet). It will sleep and wake as you are using it, and with the screen off (lid closed) and cpu asleep the battery lasts at least 10 hours. I haven't been able to sleep it the way normal architectures will so that the battery would last several days asleep. Getting it to hibernate would mean a custom configed kernel, and having a swap partition on my sd card (can't use a swap file with the official kernel swsusp).

None of the internals are really documented. I'm guessing the Sugar runtime is sending DBUS messages to HAL (and vice versa) to do the power management. I'll have to sourcedive to find out.

I may have to give up and just boot the joyride images and build my packages in my home directory, a huge pain in the ass. I'll still have to get my own kernel running eventually, and one of these days the official builds will stop coming, and I'd like to be prepared.

I think the OLPC Foundation was killed as long as a year ago by Intel with the shitty Classmate PC ploy. I think they've been slowly dying since then, and it really started accelerating in the last few months — every single person of any consequence has quit, was forced out, or is looking for a replacement. The demanding yuppie consumer assholes that bought a large number of the G1G1 laptops certainly accelerated things as well. There is probably not going to be an XO-2, certainly nothing deserving of the name.

Sucks, but there being a shitload of cheap, widely available EEEs and such out there is a pretty good outcome.
posted by blasdelf at 11:46 AM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Me and the 2.5yo try to get it to work every once in a while. I cannot understand the beginning, middle or end of the UI. Sometimes we get into a song mode, but controlling it--or even quitting out of it--are beyond me. I guess it's cool to see there are a few other kids doing jumping jacks around us in the neighborhood.
posted by cocoagirl at 11:55 AM on March 26, 2008

The demanding yuppie consumer assholes that bought a large number of the G1G1 laptops certainly accelerated things as well.

Can you explain?
posted by neustile at 12:10 PM on March 26, 2008

We got two at work. Took 45 minutes to get the UI figured out. Multitasking wasn't obvious so I kept quitting apps and then couldn't figure out how to share them. I'd love to hear how others are doing, especially kids. I want to know if I'm as old it made me feel! :-)

The programming utils floored me. Really cool. The camera just amazed me for the price. I was a little surprised there wasn't a preferences section, say if I wanted to switch the name of the box or language. Couldn't get it on our LAN at work, nor my 64bit one at home, but I understand that last one. The work LAN just showed up as another mesh access point that I couldn't talk with.
posted by jwells at 12:39 PM on March 26, 2008

cocoagirl: I cannot understand the beginning, middle or end of the UI.

Have you looked at the online user guide or the wiki?

And seconding neustile's question. blasdelf, what are you on about?
posted by oncogenesis at 1:06 PM on March 26, 2008

I actually got mine just after Christmas. The hardware rules, but the Sugar UI has gradually come to foment a low level of mild hatred in me (in fairness, it's intended for kids rather than the likes of me anyways). It seems ridiculously hard to customize things, like I'd be far better off running an emulated XO if I want to develop for it. I'm OK with doing that but it seems contrary to the "let's get everyone to learn how to program" vision of the thing. Installing Opera made it a lot more usable, although the terminal application still can't be pasted to(!). There's also a (perceived, at least) dissatisfaction with the OLPC project in the python community. Still, overall it's a cool gadget, and I'm sure the software will only improve over time.
posted by whir at 1:57 PM on March 26, 2008

oncogenesis: Have you looked at the online user guide or the wiki?
Well, to do that I'd have to be able to figure out how to get online and find those sites with said UI. Call me a literalist, but I approached it as if I were a child receiving it fresh outta the box.

Wait, all those little poor kids have other computers that they use to figure out how to use the OLPC?!
posted by cocoagirl at 2:07 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Mine arrived a couple of weeks ago. I haven't really done much with it yet, but plans are brewing. I'm finding sugar to be more interesting than I expected to.
posted by plant at 3:01 PM on March 26, 2008

Let me clarify what I was talking about when I mentioned the 'yuppie consumer assholes':

If you spend much time reading blogs, forums, and other such things about the project (like, you'll run into them. There's a few archetypes, they overlap somewhat with each other and with otherwise decent human beings:
  • The guy that is really belligerent about how his hasn't shown up yet, calls the volunteer college kid support people to berate them regularly, and decries their incompetence online. For a while until delivery these guys were EVERYWHERE in various degrees of asshole, even on Metafilter (I remember dobbs getting pretty uppity about his outstanding order in a recent thread) There's a subtype of these that complains loudly about how they bought a piece of hardware with explicitly prototype software, but it should work the way they expect it to damnit, and no they shouldn't have to learn to use the real underlying unix userland, much less work to improve the software. These complainy 'end users' are the biggest drag on open source software with a GUI in recent years, and the OLPC multiplies this effect massively.
  • The chatty majority of public editors at that manage to take an already somewhat patronizing project and take it into overdrive. Go through random pages and you'll find lots of truly awful, horribly patronizing ideas being 'collaborated' on (they're mostly talking at each other). Thankfully most of them got it out of their system about 6 months ago, but the corpus of text mostly remains in the wiki. They post lots of self-promoting/fanboy shit derailing discussions towards their pet issues, peppering articles with links to stuff like PuppyLinux it's so goddamn awesome it's stuck on a 2.4 kernel and won't even boot!.
  • "I'm not a Linux noob, I've used Ubuntu AND Fedora". Goddamn ubuntard duggaloes, they're like the teenage macwhores, just leechier.
posted by blasdelf at 3:34 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was ready to jump in on the yuppie asshole thing. These people forgot that they were basically buying experimental hard- and software from a charity, and acted way more like...well, the children they're supplying with laptops on the "give one" side.
posted by nevercalm at 5:11 PM on March 26, 2008

duggaloes? teenage macwhores? eh?
posted by whir at 5:59 PM on March 26, 2008

Wait, all those little poor kids have other computers that they use to figure out how to use the OLPC?!

No, but they do generally have a classroom full of peers who each have their own XOs and can help them. I think a lot of what makes the interface confusing is its assumption of a local network of XOs, so when there is no such network (which I assume is the case for most of us), it's largely a bunch of empty screens.
posted by scottreynen at 6:05 PM on March 26, 2008

I received mine last week. Since I'm in education, I'm interested in exploring the OLPC's use of technology, with an eye towards how children will relate to it, rather than adults.
posted by SPrintF at 6:44 PM on March 26, 2008

I got mine yesterday, and after staying up to 1am installing Opera and Adobe Flash, I really love it. Of course, I'm mainly using mine as a travel machine, to check email and surf while out and about. Sugar took me about 5 minutes to figure out to where I could use it comfortably, but I've both read a lot of documentation on it, and am in the software industry as a test engineer, so I'm used to getting strange apps and told to master them.

I ordered mine Dec 29th, and unlike the loudmouths, I waited patiently for mine. They're a charity, they probably got overwhelmed, and this won't be my main computer. The unfortunate thing for me about the project is that, now that they're in the field and being used in public, curious onlookers as a zillion questions about them. And then, they want one for themselves. I really hope the project survives, because there seems to be a demand for this. Not just for a low end portable laptop, but a low end portable laptop that's durable and GREEN and a built in handle and has bunny ears!
posted by spinifex23 at 6:50 PM on March 26, 2008

Hows typing on it?
posted by Artw at 7:05 PM on March 26, 2008

Hows typing on it?

Almost unbearable, but I've thought that about most new keyboards I've had, though this one is small and doesn't have a lot of sort of tactile response so the normal feeback loop is a little off.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:20 PM on March 26, 2008

My typing is bad on it, but that's primarily due to the size of the keys - and I have really small hands. But, I'm already adjusting to it, and I bought it for surfing, not novel writing.
posted by spinifex23 at 7:41 PM on March 26, 2008

I initially found typing difficult, but I find that if I slow down a bit and think about putting my fingers in the 'correct' places, rather than just wherever works as I do on regular size keyboards, it's fine.
posted by plant at 8:02 PM on March 26, 2008

Just got mine yesterday. Did anyone else who got one get a confirmation email when it shipped? I didn't and it appears from what I can tell that the confirmation email is where you get the serial number to activate the free tmobile wireless access. Or do you get that number somewhere else?
posted by concrete at 11:54 PM on March 26, 2008

Reading PDFs and blogs in the afternoon sun with the OLPC in black-and-white mode at my friendly local coffee shop (free WiFi) is awesome. And there's nothing else on that market that even comes close.

It looks like Update.1 (the first big revision of the system software, firmware, and apps) will be released in the next couple weeks (scroll to item 18). I've been using a pre-release of it, and it dramatically improves the overall experience.

According to interviews, they're focusing on employing "component integration" (making one chip do the work of three or four) to bring the parts count down. This will, in turn, bring the cost down to US$50 in a couple years (!) with the eventual goal of a "zero-dollar laptop."

Oh, and the laptops we gave in the G1G1 program are in Mongolia now.
posted by sdodd at 2:35 AM on March 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

I didn't get a confirmation that it shipped, but I also have T-Mobile Wireless with my phone, so I already have access. I imagine that if you wrote the company, they'd eventually give you the info about it. Or maybe T-Mobile knows.
posted by spinifex23 at 3:43 AM on March 27, 2008

Did anyone else who got one get a confirmation email when it shipped?

I got my XO in January. I believe I got the email telling me it had shipped (along with my T-mobile code) about a week after it arrived. So you may still get that.
posted by scottreynen at 5:58 AM on March 27, 2008

Oh! I just read that the Peruvian OLPC laptops "will contain some 115 books, including textbooks, novels, and poetry." Imagine that tall heavy stack of over 100 expensive textbooks. And now imagine that tiny little laptop. Yeah.
posted by sdodd at 6:32 PM on March 27, 2008

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