Ask OLPC a Question about Software


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This page deals with issues related to Software.

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What software will be included?

Without being picky, we prefer the term activities (instead of applications). That taken care of, the software components initially planned to be included are: the operating system, a web-browser, a document viewer, a text editor, chat client, and some programming environments.

Are kids expected to program the laptop?

Are kids expected to write novels after they learn to read & write? No.
Can they write novels? Theoretically yes, but most will never go past writing for fun.

The same with the laptops and programming: just because they may learn how to do things with the computer doesn't turn them into programmers. They aren't required to learn programming any more than they need to know how to write a novel.

But they can if they want to, after all everything included is Open Source—so they can tinker with all of it. And that's the reason why several programming languages or environments are included, not for them to program them (in the software development sense) but to do things with the laptop. Currently included you find Etoys, Python, TamTam, Turtle Art, and some others to be determined. Java is not amongst them.

Will software for MS-DOS or MS-Windows work on it?

No. MS-DOS programs (not MS-Windows) may benefit from a second life through the use of third-party emulators, but don't count on it.

What will the interface look like?

The interface used is Sugar, and because it's been designed for kids (not adults) it's based on a whole different set of premises and metaphors. See the OLPC Human Interface Guidelines.

Can we try Sugar without a real laptop?

Yes. The simplest way is to use an emulator and try it in your own computer.

Will the software be localized?

Yes. A major objective of the OLPC is that communities and their children preserve their cultural heritage and have the tools to bring it to the digital world—another reason for Open Source software. It won't be easy to support so many different languages, but who said otherwise? The community (national and global) is welcome to participate in the effort.

Additional information is available on the Operating System and the Linux platform. The Expanded FAQ on Software answers many questions about what software is included and what software it should be possible to add. Specific questions about which languages are supported are answered here. Additional information about the pre-installed software can be found on this software page.

Other Software questions

Software Contributions

How can I submit software for possible distribution with the computers? I have a browser based "flash card" javascript program which I would be willing to license to the project if there is any interest in it. Please rely to my account's email address (user: MarkCarson).

If it only has 512 mb flash memory the following is not possible, but you might find it a good idea anyway: Why don't you include one copy of Wikipedia. Then each child/student has access to almost all available data. Math, physics, science, geographical information, religious information and just about anything. You might want to include a wiki cd that comes with the laptop. I mean a copy of all of wikipedia is freely available, you might want to talk with wikipedia of giving some free cd's away for the project.

This is discussed under the concept of school servers elsewhere on this site.--Mokurai 02:23, 13 October 2006 (EDT)

Dual-licensing of commercial software

I control a commercial software package that might be a good fit with OLPC: it is about 4MB in size, and (although of wide application) sufficiently specialised to make it inappropriate for inclusion in the basic OLPC system.

I would be interested in investigating a dual-licensing strategy. On any system other than OLPC, licensing would behave as it does now (in other words, whatever licensing strategy the software manufacturer currently operates). On OLPC, the software would be free to download, copy, distribute, install and use.

The reason for this dual-licensing strategy is that we want to do good without destroying our own business; also, some of the content we supply (the product is essentially a glorified e-book) belongs to other copyright holders whom we will have to reassure and placate.

I am sure that many other software manufacturers would find such a strategy appealing for their own products.

As far as I am concerned, the only thing that OLPC would need to do to enable this would be to define a means by which software can discover whether it is running on OLPC. It would also need to breach its open-source principles by saying that it is not permitted to program a non-OLPC system to pretend that it is OLPC. Speaking as a software manufacturer, I wouldn't expect OLPC to enforce this prohibition, but I do want commercial Linux distributors to be aware that if they include 'can run OLPC-only applications' in their feature lists, they are actually saying 'can illegally run OLPC-only applications'.

Maybe the ministries of education could provide digital certificates put under a license that prohibited copying the certificates? If the OLPC kernel would return such a certificate from a non-standard function OLPC wouldn't be involved in the legal problems arising from infringement and a Linux distribution duplicating the non-standard function wouldn't be able to return a valid certificate. --Fasten 09:58, 16 January 2007 (EST)
There is no way the OLPC project will ever go for this (at least I sincerely hope they won't). For one thing, there isn't necessarily any form of copyright at all in some of the targeted countries, so there would be no way for you to control the software once it gets on an OLPC. I would also tend to doubt that the software you're referring to runs on Linux (but I could easily be wrong about that), and of course the XOs come with Linux and cannot (yet) run MS Windows at all. But, more importantly, one of the primary goals is for the entirety of the OLPC software to be open and transparent to the children, as indicated by the presence of a "view source" button (or whatever it's called). Being able to download and distribute software is one thing, but being able to look at the source code, and, more importantly, to change the source code is a fundamental right, especially to someone who is interested in tinkering. In my opinion, including software such as what you've described on OLPC computers would actually do significant harm, not good.
Whew... Glad I got that rant out of the way...
P.S. I would guess that most of the computers being used to develop activities for OLPC are not OLPC machines at all. --Ben Urban at 02:24, 12 October 2007 (EDT)

Programming languages

Python is being used for the SDK but will the laptop come with Python or any other programming language? --OMouse

The laptop has bash, i.e. shell scripting language and Javascript in xulrunner. It looks like the Etoys environment will be part of the initial bundle and that has Squeak Smalltalk and the Etoys scripting language. There is a special language called csound which is used for programming music generation.
Any other language which runs on Linux could be added on if a country desires it, or the teachers want to use it. LOGO is likely to be used by some schools.

So Squeak is in the initial bundle. But will Tweak also be available? If not in the initial bundle then maybe later? -rk


Will OLPC be able to run Gnuplot?

AFAIK there is no reason it cannot run Gnuplot. It won't be included software, but there's nothing preventing someone installing their own copy. --SamatJain 13:51, 8 August 2006 (EDT)
Since the OLPC has Python installed it can run far superior plotting tools such as MATPLOTLIB and PyPlot. There is another page on the wiki discussing this. Use the Search button on the left
GNUPLOT is very important even when there is other plotting software.
As example there is wxMaxima, which would be a great tool for learning higher math. Maxima (written in LISP) would be a great tool on the XO, but it requires GNUPLOT for graphing.
MovGP0 18:40, 27 November 2007 (EST)
Also note that PyPlot is itself a front end to gnuplot.
The current gnuplot development version supports cairo/pango output, so I would expect an OLPC port to be straightforward. The gnuplot development project welcomes volunteers and contributed patches.

Communities of practice

Will olpc be creating the software and/or services to support online (either on the internet, or within the local mesh networks) communities of practice for the users of these tools? Areas where faculty can exchange and share successful strategies for learning and teaching? Areas where students can interact and communicate? The analog of myspace or facebook w/in these environments? Mrenoch 05:53, 9 August 2006 (EDT)

Excellent idea. Did you put your hand up? (That's how things are done in Free Software. If you want a program, don't wait for someone else to write it. Do it yourself, or organize some friends to do it.--Mokurai 02:23, 13 October 2006 (EDT)

CAD tools?

Are computer-aided engineering tools such as modeling, simulation, visualization, optimization, artificial intelligence and advanced design, documentation, manufacturing and information management being used in the one laptop per child project?

Some of each, depending what fits. There is Free Software in each of those categories, available for download to any computer that is big enough to hold it. CAE is certainly in line with the philosophy of Constructivism promoted in OLPC. But remember, we are starting with elementary school children. --Mokurai 06:29, 7 November 2006 (EST)
I think Blender is the only F/OSS CAD/CAE related tool that has a small enough disk footprint and memory footprint and processor usage that it could be reasonably used on an OLPC. We have investigated a little bit the possibility and there is already a port of Blender that works well on hand held computers - also a moderate amount of our current users use Blender on specs that are lower than the OLPC and the original Blender worked on specs about half as powerful as an OLPC. Biggest current negative is that its UI is a bit complex and it has a high learning curve - both of those should be solved in 3 to 4 months though. Blender needs OpenGL which isn't a problem since software OpenGL should be fast enough (that is what is being used for the handheld ports).

Recipients programming them?

Will recipients (and those involved in the program in-country) be able to program them? Will there be development environments set up on them? -Bnardone 10:34, 12 August 2006 (EDT)

These are full linux machines. If you can get to a shell, you can do a myriad of things! Getting to a shell is a trivial affair (unless security precautions are taken otherwise). I sincerely hope that students can "play around" with python, c, and other languages! -PatrickTou 17:46, 15 August 2006 (EDT)
Probably more trivial to those with a fair amount of previous experience with computers and running water. Might not be practical or advisable for a number of reasons to set up most recipients with a facilitated environment in which to bootstrap programmers in-country, but I wonder if something in that direction, perhaps for a subset of recipients, might be worthwhile. -Bnardone 09:39, 23 August 2006 (EDT)
As trivial as selecting a program called shell or console from a menu.


kudos for the Linux os as base system ! .

Re programming language how about including LOGO or BASIC both of which are easy to learn by kids


Children aren't stupid, just ignorant. Give them real languages, or work out the path from the introductory languages to the higher levels. As the joke goes, all children in China are geniuses; they can all speak Chinese!
LOGO leads naturally to Scheme or LISP and Functional Programming, and other possibilities; BASIC leads only to more BASIC. Elementary school children have successfully used LISP, APL, and other supposedly grown-up languages when introduced to them properly. The real problem is going to be teachers who have been taught all their lives that there are subjects they can't learn, math and programming among them. We need the computer equivalent of karaoke-style Bollywood movie captioning, which has had an astounding effect on literacy in India. Ed Cherlin
That means a visual debugger that steps through code, highlighting each line or even each operation being executed, with a view of the variables being created or altered.--Mokurai 02:23, 13 October 2006 (EDT)

VoIP and communication generally

Will VoIP software be included or will users be able to add VoIP software (such as Skype)? Are e-mailing, text messaging and phoning capabilities available and important for OLPC computer users?

It is doubtful that commercial software like Skype will be supported and it is contrary to open software principles to do this. However, there is no reason why VoIP software based on SIP standards could not be installed and used. To try a SIP-based application go to Gizmo Project and download it for your OS. Note that Gizmo itself is not open source but because it does use the open source SIP and Jabber protocols, it will interoperate with other SIP applications. An open source SIP client that might be ported to the OLPC is SFLPhone. Note that SIP clients are not only capable of VoIP. The SIP protocol also supports instant messaging and any other sort of application that requires "call setup" type of functionality.
Is there any update on this? I use Skype as freeware to chat, and didn't know it was a commercial product. Would love to use it to connect kids and others around the world. Has Skype been contacted about creating a version suitable for the XO or sponsoring its distribution? Tfleming 12:27, 21 August 2007 (EDT)

What are the software applications?

What are the software applications? ...

Children will primarily use Activities specially crafted for the Sugar environment. See the list on the Activities page. -- Skierpage 06:18, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

... AbiWord? Gnumeric? OpenOffice? Gimp? Will Java Runtime Environment be installed?

See Upstream Free Software Projects
Try some of the links in your question ;-)
The Write activitiy uses libabiword. I don't think there are any plans for heavyweight Gnumeric or OpenOffice; see Java page for status of free open source implementations. Software components enumerates the "software stack" on the XO. -- Skierpage 06:18, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

What about creating a interface guideline to Sugar like Apple's one?

Apple Human Interface Guidelines

I think that a Guideline would help developers to create child-like applications.

This is now underway OLPC Human Interface Guidelines

Submitting Presentation Software

I saw a request for Presentation Software, and would like to contribute this. I have created many presentation software applications geared toward K-12 users that do exactly what was requested: Create/broadcast/view presentations synchronized audio and visuals.

I've found the SDK and would just like to know how to get my team submitting work to the project. Is there a specific section where we can post trials and updates for this portion of the system?

If possible, please reply to my account's email address (user: SeanH).


There's a project called Agnubis that was abandoned or is just progressing very slowly. It was gonna be part of GNOME Office and AFAIK AbiWord is in use for word processing. Get Agnubis moving again and base it around the OpenDocument Format and I will personally be happy. --Bluefoxicy 16:12, 23 September 2006 (EDT)

International / Language Support


I can see that some attention has been given to supporting additional languages besides English. It would be helpful to see some additional information on how languages using extended character sets are supported.

See pages on languages, Unicode, keyboard layouts, and input methods.--Mokurai 02:23, 13 October 2006 (EDT)

Also, has there been any attention to dealing with countries that use a different Calendar from the Gregorian one that is used in the US. I am thinking of Ethiopia - where there are 12 30 day months, and an additional montht that has 5 or 6 days depending on whether it is a leap year. In addition, the new year takes place during our month of September. Note, calendar issues are critical for date processing.

There is some support in Linux software for multiple calendars, but it is sporadic and uneven. Hijri (Muslim calendar) is supported by itools, which also has libraries that can be integrated with other applications. There are programs for Jewish, Chinese, and some other calendars. Bill Hall has written about how to do it, but his version is for .NET.
Many of the Wiki pages here on specific languages have information on writing systems, fonts, keyboard layouts, and other localization issues. Pages for specific countries list their official languages and discuss the level of support for them in more general terms. The character set for our work is Unicode, which is a superset of national character set standards. Linux supports a variety of calendars, and work is ongoing to support more. Ed Cherlin

Greek Translation

Where can I help with the translation of the software in greek?

Mandriva Linux Greek Localization (In Greek). Mandriva is the distribution most focused on localization to as many languages as possible.
A search for Greek at shows items for Greek translations of Gnu Web pages and textbooks.
Hellenic-HOWTO: Updated: Aug 1997. Addresses Linux localization issues specific to Greek users (written in Hellenic). Sadly in need of updating.
Firefox: Greek (el-GR) Papadimas <> Kostas Papadimass Greek Localization website
debian-l10n-greek Discussion on Greek localization issues, mainly translating Debian docs and programs to Greek. Moderated: No Subscription: open
btw Did you know that all of classical Greek literature is available on the Internet for free use? My personal favorite is the Public Domain pdf of Euclid's Στοιχεῖα (Elements) in Greek on Wikipedia. You can see the rest at the Perseus Project.
PS Google is your friend.--Mokurai 02:23, 13 October 2006 (EDT)

Khmer language support

Can you please let me know if this laptop is also compatible with the language KHMER (Cambodia) as we are connected with schooling in Sihanoukville. Thank you.

--J.van Grinsven email /
A quick google of KHMER and Pango suggests that there is at least some existing language support. Walter 16:53, 17 July 2006 (EDT)
The Khmer page on this wiki points out that [Khmer OS], a project of Khmer Software Initiative, is working on a Khmer Linux distribution. Ed Cherlin 2006/7/28 14:55 (PDT, GMT - 07:00)
Mandriva Linux, at least, includes a Khmer keyboard layout and font.

The Operating System & Platform

Switching Between Programs that are not Activities

When I run a program that is not an activity (for example, VLC, emacs or Opera), it shows up on the Home screen (in the same place as my currently running Activities) as a little gray circle. However, if I have more than one of these programs running at the same time, I cannot switch between them. No matter which gray circle I click on, it always takes me to the same program (usually whichever program was launched first). Any thoughts? I am running Build 653, and have not yet tried reverting to 650 to see if I can reproduce the problem. 11:42, 9 January 2008 (EST) (bvernot --AT-- gmail)

You can use Alt-Tab to cycle through activities and other programs.

Fedora 8

Is it possible to upgrade the os to fedora 8? or are there going to be specific special downloads on the wiki?

Patching Software or OS

What would the core operating system be for all of the laptops (Just Fedora or other *NIX flavors)? Im curious as to the delivery mechanism for any updates regarding OS or incumbent software. []

I'm interested in this as well. Minix3 is claiming that support of the hardware of this project is one of its aims, is that just Minix3 spiel or is OLPC really interested? 10:30, 29 September 2006 (EDT) [moskvax at gmail dot com]
There is just one core OS and that is a specially stripped down and enhanced version of Fedora. Period. However, since OLPC is an open source project, anyone, anywhere can develop any OS to run on the device. In fact, there are enough specs now released that the average undergrad electronics student could build their own compatible hardware. It won't look as pretty and it will only be 99.44% compatible, but that is good enough for someone whose goal is porting an educational OS like Minix. Eventually, an OLPC derivative design is sure to end up in university environments although it is unlikely that OLPC itself will be directly involved in that. This is part of the power of Open Source.

Fedora-5 image

Where i can get ISO Fedora-5 image for OLPC ?

-S.David Samuel Azariya /Sona College of Technology,Salem. /

Is this the system that the laptop will incorporate ?

You can download images from:


couldn't these things be used for a Linux Terminal Server thin client?

Yes, but a terminal server is only useful when you are with in range of the server. We expect many stand-alone uses of the laptop. Walter 09:48, 1 August 2006 (EDT)

But will they be used over LTSP? After all, even though this machine has the power of a scratch pad... over LTSP it will have the power of a Cray! More importantly, this project should be introduced to every school - every child. Pupils at home can carry out text and graphic exercises, and in class can make use of higher level software over WIFI and LTSP. It's even an option for homes with a Linux server and wireless conection. It's not as difficult or expensive to set up as some might think. These machines are even ideal for business use if they connect via LTSP.

See longer explanation at: Thin client


Will there be anything in the vein of a Freenet sort of implementation? If I'm understanding the project correctly, there will be very little onboard drive, but they will have shared access to the internet provided there is something serving that access. How will personal files be stored? Network drive? N/A? Will there be something like a file server that houses files and is connected to the mesh? -Bnardone 10:34, 12 August 2006 (EDT)

I agree: A distributed storage system (like Freenet) looks like a very good idea.
The plan is to have a server at each school. Presumably the children can store copies of their work there.

Installing on a Normal PC

Hello, I am a programmer and developer and I would like to know if it is possible to install the operating system on a normal computer and then develop and experience applications in the actual environment. Is it possible that an emulator could be built to run on windows? Since I would rather not use the actual device I am wondering what the possibilites for development on a platform other than the default are. Zeeman48

At some point, but for now, it is best to contribute to Linux in general. See Upstream Free Software Projects.

Installing on a Normal PC (2)

Hello, I'm curious about the interface of the OLPC. I don't use Windows, I don't need an emulator, I'd just like to install the system on a dedicated partition/hard disk on a normal 386 intel-like normal PC, and use it. Is it possible ?

Java on the OLPC

I have not found any discussion on the use or support of Java on this wiki. (But see Java.)

The device profile for the OLPC laptop is very similar to the target platform for CDC/PP; the system requirments of the Personal Java Profile of CDC:

  • i686-compatible, 200 MHz
  • Linux 2.2 kernel, or greater (tested on Redhat Linux 7.2)
  • 4 MB available RAM
  • 4 MB free disk or flash file system

The advantages of Java on OLPC includes:

  • large developer base
  • security model to allow portable code in the mesh network
  • Support for RMI Optional Package would enable a framework for Grid computing applications

Also, work in JavaSE may be an option with the Java SE for Embedded project

The open sourcing of Java by SUN may now enable some of these options that was previously limited by licence.


You can download OLPC flash images and add/subtract software any way that you wish. If you want to develop a build around Java, please do. Note that Python is available in a version, Jython, that runs in the Java VM, so it should be possible to use most of the Python software that is being developed. You can find systems based around AMD Geode chips that are very close in spec to the 2B1 such as this one so timing tests are possible too.


I tried to install the java plugin for firefox in the XO browser making a symbolic link in the /usr/lib/xulrunner- to the java plugin file. It works in my regular linux but not in OLPC. Does anybody know how to install it? It would be great to be able to run applets in the browser because we have a lot of educational applets software here in Brazil.


I had problems with Java also, but I finally got the Java 6 Update 3 JRE to work. The biggest issue was that it requires an older C++ runtime library, which can be installed with "yum install compat-libstdc++-33.i386". I don't know if it works with the installed browser activity, I'm using Opera. To make it work with Opera, see these instructions, the instructions in the OLPC Wiki didn't work for me.


I cannot seem to get Java to work on my G1G1 XO-1, build 650. Following "user:faw"'s suggestions, I have loaded Java jrel.6.0_3, done "yum install compat-libstdc++-33.i386", and followed the Opera website's instructions on "Enabling Java in Opera for Linux". (Opera is version 9.12, build 544.) Opera is aware of the Java library path (before I set this, it complained about "can't preload"; now it doesn't), but the Opera test applet does not display. I also made the appropriate symbolic link to in /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins, but the OLPC Web activity does not seem even to perceive the presence of the Java plugin.
I think there is just not enough memory for Java. When I run the Opera test applet on a desktop machine the free memory reported by vmstat drops by 17 MBytes. Vmstat on the XO shows only about 4 Mbytes of free memory just before I try to run the test applet, and there is no swap area and therefore no virtual memory to expand into. Maybe memory management in the kernel could be improved, or is it possible, perhaps on a future build, that the SD slot might be configured as an extension of memory or as a Linux swap partition rather than as a mountable device?

Lfahlberg 17:38, 8 October 2008 (UTC), updated 2 December 2008

I have an XO box from x-mas 2007. Last week I upgraded the software to 8.2 (see [[1]] - I did have to reinstall my ttf fonts after this and am now having Flash issues ). Then from terminal I ran sudo yum -y install java-1.6.0-openjdk-plugin as per directions on [[2]]. Now Scratch applets are running, but not all Java applets such as GeoGebra.
8 October 2008 - I cannot get Java applets to run on a webpage. I cannot understand anything in this section (or on the Java page). I have tried installing FF 2 and FF3 and their respective plugins - No go. I have read and tried every link on this site and linked to from this site - either I cannot understand them or they do not work.
Please tell me where there are step-by-step directions for a normal person to get the Browser to run Java applets (I write free interactivities for learning mathematics.)

Partial RAM disk

Will or could some of the operating system be loaded onto the DRAM chip for faster operation?

Waste of time. Page cache will cache access to the flash, and loading to DRAM will just be a way of forced caching that takes away from the smooth operation of other applications when the kernel realizes it's time to trade those files back in for other files that are being accessed a lot more now. Indirect solution, much more generalized. --Bluefoxicy 16:17, 23 September 2006 (EDT)

Dual Boot?

I am interested in a possibility of having a dual OS on these machines. Freedom for children might also mean that they want to have both Linux and Windows on their machines, for specific applications or ease of use. Would that be possible?

If and when there is a Windows boot for the machine, it should be possible to make it dual boot. This would undoubtedly involve utilization of an SD card, and some BIOS changes.

I am interested about whether other operating systems will be allowed on $100 laptops. I believe I have found a sentence stating that Linux distributions could be added on top of the built-in core, but I wanted to ask whether there would be possibilities of including a Windows OS as well (or putting it instead of Linux). Thank you.

We've not worked out the details of how this would work. Our current efforts are to focus on getting the Fedora release optimized. --Walter 16:18, 13 November 2006 (EST)

Include Flash Player?

Many websites, free educational tools, and now video (YouTube, Google video) utlitze the Adobe Flash Player, which is free. It has a very small footprint and has a linux version. Have you considered including Flash on the laptop?

The laptop includes a Flash player (the GNU Flash player, Gnash). It can run many flash movies, but not all. In particular, it can't display most videos from the Internet, because they are encoded with proprietary codecs that OLPC cannot ship without paying patent royalties (and raising the price of the laptop). OLPC can't ship the Adobe Flash player with each laptop, because it is proprietary software.
Is it possible to get a working flash implementation on the OLPC at all? I have installed flash but every flash enabled page runs abysmally slow, and then the applications are not accessible at all. If a program does not capture the interest of a child because the graphics are made by someone that does not care for aesthetics at all, it comes through in the program's experience. If the graphics are bad enough to warrant a child's disinterest then there is certainly something to be said for the educational value of extraneous graphics. Can you name me a good site with children's games that does NOT use flash at all?
OLPC can't control the behavior of the proprietary Adobe Flash Player. I'm sorry it's slow for you. The Gnash team works on speeding up Gnash and making it take less resources. I hope a newer Gnash will work better for you.
How do you actually perform the installation? I have followed the manual instruction posted in the Wiki but things come to a halt when I am asked to enter the installation path of the browser. What am I supposed to input at this prompt?

See also: Flash Player

Beta-version: The OS Enviroment

What kind of applications will be found on board -for the end users to explore- before the "deployment content" (electronic versions of school books) is added in due course? --Ahmad 03:13, 2 November 2006 (EST)

An answer is available at:

License Issues with Microsoft

Is OPLC looking at other options now, since Microsoft thinks that GNU/Linux infringes some of Microsoft's copyrights? Chirag 15:04, 17 November 2006 (EST)

Allegations of infringements need to be decided in the courts first.
In any case, OLPC does have a working relationship with Microsoft. We are not mandating that Linux be used on every OLPC laptop. We are simply using Linux as our first choice of OS to develop and prove the laptop concept. We expect others to develop their own OSes for our hardware. As an open-source project, we are making the laptops far more flexible than a typical commercial laptop.

strategy change: Microsoft (win XP) instead of Linux ?

The official austrian television news company ORF write an article on their webpage at on 5 Dec 2006, describing that the one-laptop-per child project is cooperating with Microsoft and hinting that the one-laptop-per child project will maybe go away from using Linux /Open-Source-Software and instead use Microsoft Software / OS. Can someone please deny / verify this story ?

There is no strategy change. The OLPC is continuing to develop a Linux-based software set for the laptop in conjunction with RedHat. But since the OLPC project is OPEN we cannot stop other people from developing and supplying alternate software packages.

Who is developing 'Sugar'?

Why, is there no URL bar in Sugar? I know that every part of the operating system is an abstraction of what is going on with the physical hardware, but the project seems mostly unbranded up to the point where Google is presented as The Internet. --adrigen

You should read this page OLPC Human Interface Guidelines/The Laptop Experience/The Frame and probably all of the rest of the Human Interface Guidelines pages for the answer. The OLPC does not merely mimic the GUI from a PC operating system, it has an innovative GUI to go with the innovative hardware and innovative software.

Have you tought on use Damn Small Linux (DSL) instead Fedora/Ututo/Tuquito?

DSL is useful too, includes a variety of necessary applications, and it's only 50 mb. DSL provides functionality with minimum requirements (like the laptop's features), and with 128 mb of RAM it's very fast. It's opensource, so you can take it as a base for the XO software. You can write code for WiFi support and optimizations for the XOs intercommunication, create a coolest graphic interface (of course it will increase the size of the OS, but it will still be so smaller than Fedora/Ututo/Tuquito), and add/remove/change the software that you want. It will save money, because will need a less-capacity ROM device (that's cheaper), and maybe these saved money can be used to implement a 1 gb flash storage device instead the 512 mb one (something that is so useful and necessary!).

The OLPC project does not use any Linux distro therefore a feature comparison between distros is irrelevant. Instead, we developed our own custom distro using Fedora as a starting point with the help of Redhat employees. Whenever some part of Fedora did not meet the OLPC goals it was removed or replaced. The storage capacities in the first run of laptops is not a hard and fast design requirement. It is based on a tradeoff of currently available chips. We do expect to improve the storage as newer reliable chips become available at the right price.

Activities have no dependencies?

Does Activity_bundles#Other Technologies Comparison mean I cannot write an activity script and require one or more programs to be present so the script can be run? I agree that that approach may be very robust but it seems also quite inefficient to package everything you need that isn't part of the base system into every activity that needs it. Wouldn't it be sensible to have activities depend on modules that have to be signed and published by a recognized publisher? A release policy could demand that modules should be updated no more often than every other year. This way activities could depend on further software but the chances of depending on a wrong version or stale references would be very low. An activity could, obviously, insist on the correct version of a module or recommend to fetch the correct version after a more recent version had failed to provide necessary services or recources. --Fasten 16:28, 18 February 2007 (EST)

When will Linux be the most popular OS?

On what date will Linux become the most-used operating system in the world due to this project?

That is a question for other people to answer. For all we know, Linux may already be the most-used operating system in the world.

Cluster Potential

Imagine the potential of having 10,000 XO's running as one system (daisy-chained), why dont you guys donate that extra processing power to something good, similar to what the ps3's do by donating processing down-time to develop models of cells and then send them back to a server, kind of to help the server with the work, that is just a lot of power to not be using and with such a large amount of these latops (especially with their long wi-fi range) it seems that a program like the ps3's could actually accomplish something important (scientifically, because of course 10,000 laptops has tons of educational leverage also).-- 15:12, 27 November 2006 (EST)

We expect that teachers in some of the countries will indeed exploit the laptops in this way, however it does rely on cheap and readily available electricity to keep the machines running. In any case, this is not something that the OLPC will do. We leave that to users and application developers.


How is documentation for the Laptop being written? How will it be delivered? It needs documentation for teachers, schoolchildren, systems administrators, developers, and localization workers. Linux in general has a misch-masch of man pages, info pages, Howtos, and other documents aimed at techies, and frequently not maintained, plus Help files for many but by no means all applications. --Mokurai 05:15, 26 November 2006 (EST)

The OLPC laptop is not Linux. First of all, the hardware and software is designed to be discoverable so that a user can figure things out by experimentation. Since the machines are being deployed into an educational environment we do not anticipate any serious training issues. That said, we are preparing teachers by extensively lecturing and writing about how the devices might be leveraged. The OLPC laptops will come with e-books documenting how to use them. The technical details needed by application developers are available on the web including this wiki.
These are fine questions. Much of the documentation projects will take shape on this wiki; see for instance the user interface guidelines. Sj talk 03:33, 26 December 2006 (EST)
It is true that OLPC is not Linux, but only in the sense of the Chinese philosopher who wrote the dialogue A White Horse is Not a Horse 白馬非馬. The Laptop will be delivered with a selection of Linux software, and we must assume that teachers and students will soon want the rest of Linux. Volunteers at The Linux Documentation Project to write HOWTOs and at specific software product sites to write Help files would be most welcome. But the question was about writing documentation specifically for software to be delivered with the Laptop.--Mokurai 15:24, 26 December 2006 (EST)
Making things discoverable is no substitute for reference manuals. In the context we are working in, we must have tutorials in discovery, at least for parents and teachers who have been trained out of their original childlike curiosity and eagerness to explore.--Mokurai 15:24, 26 December 2006 (EST)
You (whoever you are) may not anticipate trouble, but how are the rest of us to know?--Mokurai 15:24, 26 December 2006 (EST)
May we see these lectures and writings for preparing teachers? Or at least the plan for who will prepare and deliver them, and what they will contain? May we contribute?--Mokurai 15:24, 26 December 2006 (EST)
There is an air of secrecy about this and some other aspects of the OLPC project, at least in the minds of the naysayers who trash the project in the media at every opportunity. Do you mean to create that impression? Are there secrets?--Mokurai 15:24, 26 December 2006 (EST)
There is no secrecy. If it seems so, then it is simply because we are either still deliberating the best way, or a working so hard implementing everything that we don't have time to communicate well. In the case of documentation, it is that we are concentrating on the content which kids will use first, and the documentation on the system, second. They will both be delivered through the school library.--Wad 01:58, 25 February 2007 (EST)

Can this laptop run on old DOS programs?

There are lots of free old DOS programs out there and DOS os takes very little RAM space. Is it possible to put DOS OS into this laptop? Is there any emulator under Linux to allow DOS to be used? If so, what kind of DOS? Freedos or msDOS

Contents will be an issue when this computer comes out.

Regards alanfoo

We can't boot DOS with the current LinuxBIOS/OFW ROM we use - it lacks the legacy support that DOS needs. DOSEMU ( is a decent emulator that may offer some support - how well this would all integrate into sugar is unknown, though. - JordanCrouse (Talk to me!) 11:00, 9 January 2007 (EST)

--(JK, USA) Don't forget the OLPC is not another commercial laptop project. The goal should be to port old DOS programs to OLPC and not make OLPC compatible with DOS.


Does the OS support basic programming.

Short answer: yes.
A bit longer, assuming that by 'basic programming' you mean 'simple programming' (instead of the BASIC language), you have Etoys (Squeak), Javascript (xulrunner), Turtle Art, Csound (TamTam), and most other things are in Python (most activities and Pippy for fooling around). You should also check the pages on software components and our software. And since the project is based on an open-source philosophy, even the OS will be accessible to kids to fiddle with.--Xavi 16:49, 27 December 2006 (EST) (amended --IanOsgood 21:40, 28 November 2007 (EST))

How do I get started programming on the OLPC?

Answers like the above are in many places on the wiki, but I've been unable to find a HowTo that actually explains how one programs inside of the OLPC environment. The getting started tutorial talks about editing files in directories on a full Linux environment but I can't even find a command line in the emulated OLPC environment.

See Terminal Activity and Console for a command line. -- Skierpage 06:30, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Could you please give me some simple, step by step instructions for going from the emulation image to writing your first executing HelloWorld on the OLPC?

Also, I found some instructions for installing Emacs work-alikes, but a lot of us don't know Emacs and don't really want to learn it. is that a requirement or are their other editors, like a VI clone or even a text-pad type thing available?

See TextEditor --OtherMichael 08:40, 2 June 2008 (EDT)

Finally, is there any sort of IDE for Python already in the environment? If not, has one been considered?

See Develop and Pippy. --IanOsgood 21:42, 28 November 2007 (EST)


Why don't you include perl, or C? 17:42, 17 April 2007 (EDT)

I expect that perl is not included because it is deemed to be a complicated, unintuitive language. The fact that it implicitly handles many exceptions correctly, rather than requiring them to be explicitly handled, and that when it aborts with a more end-user friendly error than an obtrusive and hostile wall of text are probably seen as disadvantages, rather than as the advantages they are. (Note: I personally find Python to be an exceedingly poor choice for any programming project for these two reasons: Python programs, as written by most Python programs, are incredibly fragile, and when they break, they terrify or at the least confuse users with the stack trace they spew. Stack traces are great for developers, but not so good for end users.) The absence of gcc mystifies me. --tgape 03:25, 28 February 2008 (GMT)
It is possible to install perl via the yum package manager as well as to build Perl/Tk via CPAN. Perhaps the an interface to the Sugar library could be made so that programs could be written in Perl as well as Python? hudson 14:25, 21 March 2008 (EDT)
Following up my own answer -- Perl Sugar is my attempt to build a Sugar compatible framework in Perl via Inline::Python. At this point I'm able to launch activities and interface with the toolbox, journal, etc. There may be some speedup in directly calling the Perl Gtk2 libraries rather than going through Python, but it works as a proof of concept. Hudson 21:35, 23 March 2008 (EDT)

Mono Framework

The Mono Framework would be a nice additon, because it provides compilers for a wide range of programming-languages. It can compile with a minimal footprint, so I think that its very suitable for the XO. MovGP0 18:52, 27 November 2007 (EST)

Bug reports?

  • First, a meta-question: is there someplace better than this to file bug reports?
Yes. There is a bug tracking system where technically minded users can report bugs, and there is an e-mail address to which less technical users can report bugs. See "How do I report a bug" on the Support page. —Joe 09:41, 18 December 2007 (EST)
Cool, I'll go enter these over there then. Thanks! /blahedo (t) 23:58, 18 December 2007 (EST)
  • Bug #2: I mentioned this on the keyboard shortcuts talk page, but here might be better: A lot of the shortcuts don't seem to work. Going to the next Activity is Alt-tab rather than Ctrl-tab, while going to the previous activity or other instances of the same Activity (among others) don't work at all. (Relatedly, sometimes the keyboard gets "stuck" in alt mode, as if the alt key were pressed and held, so that normal typing cannot proceed as the 'f', 'r', 'n', 'tab', etc., keys are mapped to their alt-KEY options rather than the simple letter. - 24 May 2008)
  • Bug #3: When I put the screen into a rotated mode with the button tothe bottom left of the screen, the scroll buttons retain their original orientation, which is very confusing and seems to be a bug. /blahedo 02:52, 18 December 2007 (EST)
  • Bug #4: Sometimes, though not always, when I click a link in the Browse activity, I get the spinny-circle cursor until I move the cursor off of that link, at which point the linked page immediately starts loading, the location bar at the top starts updating, etc.
  • Bug #5: The Frame button works if I just press it briefly, to toggle the frame on and off, but if I summon the frame by holding down the Frame button, it doesn't go away when I let go. /blahedo 03:17, 18 December 2007 (EST)

Sugar control bar

Where is it? How can I access it? I am not a computer tech savvy person. I just need to change my childs color & name

The user interface for doing this is not completed yet, but it should be in a future update. Until then, there is a command-line program for changing the user's colors and name, among other settings. There are detailed instructions for using this program in the Support FAQ. —Joe 16:10, 20 December 2007 (EST)
The graphical Sugar Control Panel is in release 8.2.0! -- Skierpage 23:06, 13 October 2008 (UTC)

UNIX date?

Is there a way to set the current date without upsetting the system?

You can synchronize the current date with the internet via instructions in the Support FAQ. You can set the current timezone via instructions in the Sugar Control Panel article. —Joe 14:17, 21 December 2007 (EST)

Row of seven dots in the top keyboard row?

In the top row of the keyboard, in the middle, is a key (or groups of keys) identified with seven dots increasing in side from left to right.

[What is it for|What are they for|What does it do|What do they do]? 18:51, 21 December 2007 (EST)

According to the keyboard section of the Getting Started guide, they don't do anything yet; they are for a future feature. —Joe 23:51, 21 December 2007 (EST)

Updates and Patches

Are there "patches" to correct bugs, or other downloads to provide improvements to the software which shipped with my XO? If so, how would I do this?

See Update. Try updating to Build 653. More improvements are on their way. --Walter 20:55, 5 January 2008 (EST)

How do I transfer a PDF to an XO so I can read it?

My PDF is on a flash drive, which mounts OK, and I can see all the files on the drive except for a PDF. I tried both upper- and lower-case extensions. I can see the PDF file in the Terminal with the Linux ls command in the /media directory, but it does not appear in the Journal.

What am I missing?

[Update] Perhaps the file is too big (36MB). I had good success with smaller files. But, although I could read a 4.5MB file (80 pages), it took over 4 min. to go to the next page. So, the practical limit seems to be well below 4.5MB. Not an ebook reader for adult books... fine for children, though. I guess that's as it should be. ;-)

Greg here ( I've had some PDF files work and others fail. I've found the larger documents with a lot of pictures, usually resulting in some kind of error in being read by my PDF reader on my Macintosh (using the 5.0 reader) fail on the XO as well. These documents just sit there with the reader trying to load them.

The really bad part about this is the reader will create a mess when trying to load these. When it fails to load them, it ends up putting files in the /home/olpc/.sugar/default/data directory, these files exist, but are absent from the Journal. They become a type of "working hidden file" and they happen for the large PDF files or larger files. Smaller ones are loaded somewhere else. This is the subject of a different post. Manual cleanup is necessary when you start running out of space. In my lightly used X02 machine I only have a couple files in this directory in the X01 machine I have many txt, jpg and PDF files were cluttering up my drive and I had to go in and "remove them" (RM command) from the Linux console.

Side Issue

With PDF's. Each time the reader fails to open the large file and every time you try to access you the reader to see if you can view the file another "working copy" will be loaded into a "data" directory. The failed load will cause the XO to create another copy of the entire PDF file in the data directory. This file will be "missing" from the journal. You'll have to use the Linux console to see it. The temporary "working" file is in the data directory or rather one of many copies. This will eat up your XO's hard drive space and eventually these will fill it up. You won't see these from the Journal, because they were a part of a failure to launch the files so they never get a journal entry. You'll end up having to use a LINUX command to find and delete the extra junk files on the drives (copies of unreadable PDFs).

Page limits are not the problem: maybe file size or complexity.

I have found that I can read fairly large PDF files on the OLPC with large page counts. Some files like a copy of "The Spiritual Man" which is over 800 pages in length and all text is easily read on both my XO machines. (But not shared on the mesh, another bug.) I found a copy of the King James Bible on PDF one site and it was reformatted over many more pages because whoever created the PDF used large fonts for the verses. The "bible" file was small however under 4.1 megs, but it had over 3000 text pages was easy to read and scroll through. I could scroll through these fairly easily. Ebooks with pictures in them will load and scroll much slower. I think the 36 meg size limit might be a good benchmark for now as a limit to the size it can handle. I have loaded some large PDF's but did not keep track of the largest sized ones. Something is going on with some of the PDF's which could be some kind of corruption or newer PDF file that the XO and my G4 ibook cannot read.

i cant get any internet video to work.

after clcking onthe approval for flash nothing comes up. i have tried youtube, crunchyroll, espn,veoh... nothing works.

also having trouble with any website that has a popup security password.


Try loading Adobe Flash. --walter

What worked and what doesn't out of the box. Some questions re software updates

I just received my G1G1 machine today (20 Dec 07).

Good things:

(1) I was able to hook to my home's encrypted network. I had to find the ancient box it came in, but when I followed its and OLPC's instructions it worked fast and flawlessly. (I've turned the machine off and back on, and reconnected it with no problems). I've been on the internet (to wikipedia) without a hitch.

(2) Since my touch pad is flakey (see below) I installed a mounse -- worked like a charm.


(1) How do I determine the software build of my machine?

(2) What's the easiest way to determine the most recent, downloadable stable software build?

(3) Like other users I'm having a problem with the ALPs capacitive pad (I've done the 4-finger salute half-dozen times, and it does seem to be slightly better).

(4) I've not seen the resistive pad work yet ... any applications where it's supposed to work?

You folks are doing great! Thanks, Bill Wvbailey 17:37, 20 December 2007 (EST)

The Autoreinstallation image article has instructions for determining the current build number. There is a link to the latest stable build in the OS images article. I don't know if your touchpad is defective or not, but I've found that when mine misbehaves, I have accidentally rested part of one of my hands on or near the touchpad surface; moving the hand away from the surface restores functionality. It seems to be more sensitive in this regard than other laptop touchpads. Joe 14:36, 21 December 2007 (EST) The graphics tablet mode of the touchpad is not currently enabled nor planned

--- I also received my G1G1 machine yesterday (20 Dec). The biggest problem I'm having is the touchpad - it seems that, more often than not, when I lift my finger and touch again, the pointer moves to the lower right corner (and invokes the frame) rather than allowing me to continue sliding where I left off. This makes it quite difficult to interact with things in the upper half of the screen! I've tried the four-fingered-salute several times, without much luck.

Thanks, chris

--- I've utterly given up on the ALPS capacitive pad. I went out and bought an optical mouse so I could explore the machine -- I had no other choice. At this time the pad sort of works vertically but not horizontally. (Personally I'd rather have use of a "stick" on the resistive pad than make use of a touch-pad. Too bad there isn't a simple "control panel" where the user could make such choices.) Bill Wvbailey 11:01, 22 December 2007 (EST)

--- Me too. My boy's touchpad seems to start out working fine, but rapidly gets into a state where it is completely unusable, and the "four-finger salute doesn't help". Powering it off and on restores functionality, but this is obviously not OK. I'm hoping that moving to the latest joyride build will solve the problem, but for now I've plugged a mouse in to make it usable. --Bart Massey 15:24, 25 December 2007 (EST)

--- My G1G1 OLPC has been having the same problems with the sensitivity of the touchpad. The mouse will go off in a random direction when you lift your finger. I have noticed that the sensitivity is much better when on DC power or with a full battery. Anyone know how to adjust the sensitivity? Chee

There is a patch to the touchpad driver in Build 653 and the new update, Build 656, which is about to be released. We expect that it will remedy most of the problems described above.--Walter 10:04, 16 January 2008 (EST)

browser crashes when trying to load a youtube video


--- Me too. --Bart Massey 15:24, 25 December 2007 (EST)

How does one get flash to autoload on websites?

I remember somewhere on this wiki, and from G1G1 experience that flash doesn't autoload, and you need to click to play the flash content.

I understand the default reasons for this, but for G1G1 this really annoying. Is there a way to disable this, or disable on a per-site basis? I looked at the gnash docs, and it seems like this was possible. It talked about modifying a config file, but that config file didn't exist on OLPC. And it's supposed to auto-play be default, so where is it knowing how not auto-play be default?

Also, installing Adobe Flash (as per Wiki page) is broken and doesn't seem to work.

Thanks in advance for any responses

Adobe Flash player install worked for me. To avoid the clickToView step, remove or rename: /usr/share/activities/Web.activity/agent-stylesheet.css which causes the indirection.

Irritating window-frame: makes bottom and top scroll-bars hard to use, etc

I've had a couple days to use my G1G1 now (playing with the various activities and especially browsing the 'net), and the appearance of the "window-frame" has becoming a major source of irritation and difficulty, especially when I'm trying to use the lower scroll bar. I truly wish I could "delete" the frame-invocation "feature" and either have just one place to "click" to return to home (e.g. a home "button" in the upper left corner) or just use the "home" button on the keyboard. My son (aged mid-twenties) had the reaction: "Why don't they make it easy for kids to use?" I'm not sure I agree with him except for the window frame -- I very much like the "home" with the "activities" bar, I found it intuitive and easy to use -- my complaint here is the overly-fussy frame-invocation. Bill Wvbailey 10:52, 22 December 2007 (EST)


I've changing the above to "window-frame", as in "invoking the window frame", as someone described it in another post. When the pointer gets too close to a corner the outer "frame" appears with the 4 buttons on the top and the activities on the bottom. Then I have to move the pointer inside the "inner window" or "inside the frame" and wait for the outer "frame" to go away so I can continue my work. I don't know how else to describe this "feature".

My son said this is a feature similar to those of Apple, and that for him this feature of shrinking and growing windows/icons etc is annoying. Whether or not it may be annoying to all, it is annoying to some, and it is certainly made worse by the G1G1's tiny screen as opposed to a 19 inch Mac.

If this was an intentional design-feature I consider this horrible human-factors engineering -- four invisible "buttons" that get "pushed" accidentally whenever the pointer (my ALPS touch pad doesn't work -- the 4-finger salute is no fix: been there, done that...) accidentally gets too close to a corner. Also -- movement toward a corner seems to be rate-dependent -- fast movements trigger the "frame". (I had to go out and buy an optical mouse. Even if the failure of the ALPS soft- and/or hardware can be implicated in my annoyance, the design should be so robust that this sort of failure doesn't happen).

I'm not kidding about this. As an electrical engineer who has designed both portable and fixed-place equipment for 35 or so years, my response to this is so adverse that I have actually looked at the Intel-Microsoft sites e.g. the Classmate PC. I think this idea of an open-source $100 laptop is wonderful, but it has to be executed extremely well or it will fail out of the gate. The goal here is the education of children, not fussing with and fuming at an unruly laptop. Both hard- and software design has got to be rock-solid before it is released to the 3rd world. My advice is to cut out every non-essential function/activity and work like mad fieds on the extremely-vital few -- and robustify their design. Let the customer download activities (e.g. Pippy, all the TamTam activities, Paint, Turtle, Measure) as they choose (and make this download process absolutely simple beyond belief -- none of this business of having to enter stuff on a command line). Bill Wvbailey 11:45, 24 December 2007 (EST)

The idea is to have a lot of area, easy to discover and invoke, without taking screen space away from the activites. Got a better way to do that? Personally I'd just swipe 45 to 75 pixels off the bottom for a task bar. The touchpad vendor has indeed done a horrible job; some improvement may be coming with software changes. Pointer acceleration seems to make things better, not worse, but it's a matter of personal opinion. If you are comfy modifying the files in /home/olpc then you can adjust this with the xset command. 02:36, 25 December 2007 (EST)

I'd just stick a one "home" button in the top left corner (or bottom left etc) that you click to "come home" from all activities. RE a task-bar and a need for excessive numbers of clicks and movements: At least in the way I'm using the machine to go between activities I have to (1) intentionally invoke the frame, (2) push the home button, (3a) hover over the activity (in the center area) that I want to "bring up" and (3b) click on "resume" or (3) just click the activity. A taskbar would reduce this process to a single hover-over-and-click: just go to the activity you want to invoke and then click on it; the home button would be part of that bar.

In that regard: is there a "catalog" of shortcut keystrokes somewhere? I accidentally invoked one that moved me between applications, but I don't remember what it was. Bill Wvbailey 09:50, 25 December 2007 (EST)

Answered my own question: Keyboard Shortcuts. (observe the capital S). Bill Wvbailey 09:58, 25 December 2007 (EST)

How to disable the auto Frame appearance when mousing into hot corners

Expert instructions:

Comment out (add a # in the first column) lines 56 & 57 of the following file:


invisible.connect('enter-notify-event', self._enter_notify_cb)
invisible.connect('leave-notify-event', self._leave_notify_cb)

then CTRL-ALT-ERASE to restart the display server.

Detailed instructions:

1. Open the Terminal activity.

2. Change to superuser by typing the following: su

3. Change directory to the directory of the file you want to edit by typing the following: cd /usr/share/sugar/shell/view/frame

4. Create a backup copy of the file you are about to change by typing:


5. Open an editor to edit the '' file by typing the following:


6. Type cntl-W and type in 'enter_notify' to find the two lines to comment out.

7. Using the arrow keys, move the cursor to the beginning of the 2 lines listed above.

8. Type the '#' symbol in the first column of each of the two lines above.

9. Type cntl-X to exit

10. Enter Y to save the changes and press enter to save as ''.

11. Reboot your machine.

This has worked on G1G1 XOs as well as on Build 625 image using VMware Fusion


Here is a different way of doing the same thing. Note that I am not an expert but this works - I have Build 653

1. Run Terminal (program along the bottom that has a $ inside a rectangle)

2. Click next to the right of the $ on the main screen then go to su (root) mode – key in su plus Enter

3. Key the following:

  cd .. plus Enter - takes you back one directory level (repeat to go back one more level)
  cd usr/share/sugar/shell/view/frame plus Enter Puts you in the right directory
  dir plus Enter - you should now see the file

4. Key vi plus Enter (this will put you into an editor called Vi)

5. Key :set nu plus Enter to see the line numbers - go to 56

  invisible.connect('enter-notify-event', self._enter_notify_cb)

You will also be adding to line 57 below it.

  invisible.connect('leave-notify-event', self._leave_notify_cb)

6. Move the cursor to the far left of the first line - just to the right of the 56

7. Key in the letter i (this puts you into Insert mode - look near the bottom of your screen)

8. Key in #

9. Move the cursor to the far left of line 57

10. Key in # The lines should now look like this (there is a gap between the # and the text in each case):

  #     invisible.connect('enter-notify-event', self._enter_notify_cb)
  #     invisible.connect('leave-notify-event', self._leave_notify_cb)

11. Press the ESC key - top left corner of keyboard - this exits edit mode of Vi

12 Key :w plus Enter - to save the changes

Ctrl – Q exits Terminal mode - reboot XO. Ctrl - Alt Erase after you exit Terminal also works.

To revert to the auto-frame simply follow 1 - 7 and remove the # marks on the lines 56 and 57.

Posted by gday Jan 28 2008

How does one get fast remote access to OLPC?

Aside from SSH, is there a way to get fast graphical access to OLPC? I tried both options in the Remote Display page, but both sucked. X forwarding is unbearably slow, as it always is. VNC worked fine, but it's in read-only mode, even when playing with server side options to allow it.

This is a killer feature to have, because as an adult setting up my kid's OLPC, typing and using the mouse is a royal pain (yes, can use USB keyboard/mouse).

Thanks in advance for any responses

The reason X forwarding is unbearably slow is almost entirely due to X being a fairly heavy protocol. Try enabling compression on your SSH session (-C on an ssh command line; other ssh implementations are out of scope of this response) - I typically find performance improvements in the range of 25% to 80%, depending on what I'm doing and how far away I am; at the low end, that's not good enough, but when I get into the 70%-80% range, it's not too horrible. Note that you can run a local window manager and have remote windows; I personally would never want to run a window manager on a remote host if I could avoid it, due to the increased lag. -- Tgape 21:00, 18 February 2008 (GMT)

Boot from SD card rather than FLASH

I'm looking for instructions to set up an SD card for boot rather than the internal FLASH:

  • to have more space for data/programs/activites
  • to allow the use of multiple OS's
  • to keep the internal FLASH version as a safe reference copy

I've tried many combinations of copying software images from the latest snapshots with no success.
I can't even tell whether the boot is happening since the new startup "clock" covers the boot text.

This is something that would be of use to many G1G1 users, enthusiasts, and new developers.
--Chris 19:34, 22 December 2007 (EST)

On the face of the screen you have a set of four buttons to the right hand side. If you hold down the one with the checkmark during start up you can get debug information/watch the actual bootup of the laptop. You'll note that the internal flash memory is booted first. I have yet to figure out how to access the boot settings but it\s a start. --Oniero 05:15, 22 March 2008 (PST)

to get it to not have the visual boot hold the check-button on boot. To boot off SD/USB you should have the and in a /boot/ directory. However, when I did this on a usb key, kernel or init had issues mounting root - I think it was trying to mount the USB drive as root but /dev/sda hadn't been made yet.

Current build

How do I determine the current build on my machine?

olpc-bios-sig reports "CL1 Q2D06 Q2D"



Hi. The information above tells you what firmware you are running (you are running Q2D06). When people say "build", they usually mean the software version. To find the software version, press the ctrl + alt + Image:Friends key f2 small.png keys together. You should see something like OLPC Build 650 on a black screen. To get back to the desktop, type ctrl + alt + Image:Home key f3 small.png. --Tomhannen 07:56, 24 December 2007 (EST)

File manager

Is there a way to see all of the files available to the XO - similar to (pardon me) Windows Explorer or Mac Finder? Something that shows all connected drives, the directory structure, and the name and size of all files, with the ability to copy/move/delete files or open/edit files with the appropriate "activity"? That would be helpful for users familiar with the other OS's. Thanks.

Option 1: Open the Browse activity and type file:/// into the address bar. You can view the files not copy or delete them --Tomhannen 07:24, 24 December 2007 (EST)
Option 2: I used yum to install Midnight Commander, a very handy terminal window based file browser that is similar to the old Norton Commander on DOS. From the terminal prompt, "su" to become root, and then type "yum install mc.i386" followed by the return key. Just say yes to the install questions that follow (Midnight Commander needs some other stuff to be installed, and yum will take care of that for you, if you let it). Once the installation is complete, you can run the program by typing "mc" at the terminal prompt. If you want to mess with system files, you'll want to become root first (but be careful with this power!). Note that Midnight Commander recognizes the mouse, so you can click on the function key buttons on the bottom of the screen to exit (rather than trying to figure out which of the mysterious top row of XO laptop keys maps to "F10"). --Madwin 15:16, 31 December 2007 (EST)
Note: There is currently a dedicated wiki page to Midnight Commander --ixo 03:51, 16 February 2008 (EST)

Sudo doesn't work -- should I worry?

I was attempting to do an RPM install following instructions found on these pages, but was surprised that the system couldn't find "sudo". I was able to proceed anyway by doing "su" to root, but am wondering if I should be concerned about the missing "sudo".

Thanks! ~mas

I don`t think "sudo" works on this version of the shell for some reason. "su -" seems to have the same effect. --Tomhannen 07:26, 24 December 2007 (EST)

How do I take a snapshot of the screen?

Keyboard shortcut page says that you can use Alt-1:

MESH BROKE 1. Read Activity Share won't load PDF file- 2. AMIWrite Shared Activity lost from Home

Brief Description of the problem(s).

Looks like the Mesh sharing is pretty well broken, at least for some activities on my machines. Sharing PDF or AMIWrite documents.

1. Read Activity (started on X02) fails to load properly on X01 laptop.

2. When sharing a ABIWord session started on X01, X02 losses the session any time it goes out to HOME.

Computers involved (I'll refer to these as X02 and X01) X02 is a lightly used X0 Laptop with under 50 Journal entries and only 36% space used.

X02 - starts Read activity as owner in hope of sharing read activity with X01

X01 - starts Word activity to document failure of read activity. When X02 looks at ABIword and goes away to home X01 ABIWord shared activity disappears from home.

For a list of log files including some comments see the following zip file. This file has txt documents from both machines that include activity logs from both machines

X02 machine - lightly used. Started viewing PDF File 103 page document, pure text. X01 machine - attempts to share read activity over mesh to see PDF file. PDF file will not load. See logs and other description in files inside zip.

X01 machine- launches AMIWord document to document this.

X02 machine - attempts to share AMIWord document. Sharing activity works, but when going to a different activity (to get log entries on X02), the AMIWord activity disappears from home and needs to be shared again. Logs included in comments. See zip.

Greg (

X Windows Desktop Ctrl-Alt-F3? doesn't work

How does one get to an X Windows Desktop? The Ctrl-Alt-F3 key combo doesn't seem to work. Ctrl-Alt-F1 (and F2) do enter the console.

The Sugar "desktop" is an X Windows desktop. It simply doesn't have a traditional X Windows window manager—it uses matchbox instead. If you want a traditional window manager, you might want to consider installing other software. Someone wrote instructions for installing flwm in a trac ticket. There are also instructions on how to install Debian as an alternate boot. —Joe 09:50, 28 December 2007 (EST)

How does the directory structure work for external storage devices and is there a way to hide files from the journal?

I have a G1G1 laptop and am exploring. I have added a 4GB SDHC card and it seems to be working fine, but it does not seem to allow for directory-style organization. All of the files appear in the journal, whether or not they are filed in directories or not. I've noticed this situation with USB sticks as well.

I have a number of ebooks on the card, as well as some downloads that I'd like to have should I re-install. Finally, I'd also like to install some programs (perhaps a stripped USB version of Firefox, for instance) and keep them on the card rather than using up space on the machine. But this would flood the journal with literally dozens of files under the current situation as I see it. Even sorting by file type (which the journal seems to be able to do) could get very messy - especially if I have a number of apps such as Firefox loaded.

Is there a way to hide files from the Journal?

Your issue has been noticed by many. Newer builds (the Joyride series, for now) cause the Journal to ignore external devices. There's some other way (I don't know what it is, though I know you can use ordinary Linux terminal commands) to access external storage devices.

mesh networking

in the interest of power saving, how can i disable mesh networking and the constant attempts to find school servers and other mesh networking partners? of course i want the "regular" wireless networking to continue to work. -- paul

From , in Terminal activity as root, enter the command
echo 0 > /sys/class/net/eth0/lbs_mesh
To make this happen automatically, you could add the line to a startup file, e.g. enter the command
echo "echo 0 > /sys/class/net/eth0/lbs_mesh" >> /etc/rc.local
-- skierpage 07:38, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

USBs Blank

Not sure if this is the correct area. When I transfer files or activities from my XO to the USB and then to my PC, the files either never appear or are blank.

how to determine the version number of an installed activity

Is there a standard approach (like Help>About in Windows applications) to determine the version number of an OLPC activity? The wiki Activities page identifies the version number of each activity listed but how can a user determine if they have an older version of the activity (preinstalled and optional) on their laptop?

In the new Sugar GUI designs, this information is shown as part of the Home list view, but for currently released builds you'll need to use the Terminal activity, and enter the below command to search the two locations, ~/Activities/ and /usr/share/activities, that activities might be living in.
  grep -r activity_version ~/Activities/ /usr/share/activities

Squeak, Simcity, etc. display size

the zoom in the browser is clear and works as expected, but there are other apps with no obvious zoom i missing a universal zoom somewhere ??? For example, squeak's smalltalk coding screens and simcity screens have text too small to read...

There is no universal zoom in the GUI; sorry. SimCity was written for a larger screen with multiple windows, and the current version was a very quick port. The Micropolis version of SimCity should be much better, zoomable, etc, in six months or so. Gnu 23:32, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

XO not playing recorded video from previous session

My XO will not play recorded video if the XO has been turned off since the video was first created. Clicking on the item in Journal opens Browse, a file is downloaded, but after hitting 'OK' or 'Open' nothing happens. I'm not the only one who has experienced this problem - [New User Guide]. What to do?

installing dansguardian...

how do you download & install dansguardian using xo laptop terminal?

please leave step by step moron proof instructions. thank you.

Other Software than Sugar

Hello, I was wondering if it is possible to install Damn Small Linux (DSL) onto my 656 build XO laptop and if it is possible can I install it directly to the internal flash drive and use it as my operating system and delete the factory Sugar interface?

Thanks, -- SR

Maybe. There's a wiki page for Damn Small Linux. People are running Debian and such on their XOs, see Installing Debian as an upgrade. -- Skierpage 06:35, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

XO button

On the map I can't find the XO button on the map to register. From Tristan

Use SD card as main memory

2008-11-25 Hi. Is there a way to use an SD card in the slot in order to increase the size of the main memory, or to use it as swap space?

my cat chewed my charger cord. is there any other methods for charging?

Redhat Remix linux organization?

i am trying to follow the instructions at

yum installs everything, but then there seems to be something wrong with the recommended options given to configure: "./configure --prefix=/usr --sysconfdir=/etc"

checking the config.log, it barfs on the gcc command (line 3679 of configure), not finding stdio.h!

and i don't find it in /usr/include, where i'd expect it to be?

can you explain how the (Fedora Remix?) distribution lays out the standard linux directories, please?

(and why am i seeing this page, but not the Ask_OLPC_A_Question page, in Italian?!)

Kiosk mode / single Activity

Is there a good way to run a single Activity or application (in my particular case, I want to run a pygame application) and nothing else on startup? Something a bit like xguest, but without being able to switch to a console, etc?

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