Our software


Jump to: navigation, search
  english | 한국어 HowTo [ID# 271209]  +/-  

The currency of this article or section may be limited by out-of-date information.
There may be relevant discussion on its talk page
See Sugar for some more up-to-date information.


What software will be used with the $100 laptop?

The one-laptop-per-child computer (OLPC) is delivered with some general purpose software: web browser; word processor; basic tools for personal expression; etc. There are also high-quality educational examples of OLPC use. A more complete list is found here.

OLPC is working with Red Hat on a Linux kernel for the machine, but we are opening up the design; it is inevitable that there will be several variants of Linux to choose from, as well as some version of Windows, and perhaps an OS X offering.

We made a decision to base the OLPC laptop on open-source software in order to provide countries (as well as the teachers and the children) with the freedom to decide for themselves what to place on the machines, and to share and localize examples of best practice generated domestically and taken from abroad.

Open-source software gives children the opportunity to “own” the machine in every sense. While we don't expect every child to become a programmer, we don't want any ceiling imposed on those children who choose to reach towards complexity. We are using open document formats for much the same reason: transparency is empowering. The children—and their teachers—will have the freedom to reshape, reinvent, and reapply their software, hardware, and content.

For more information see the Software Page.

Add to the discussion...

Which Unix-like Operating System?

I can find no link among section sub-headings to give me any clue as to where I find information about all the Operating Systems under consideration for this OLPC machine. It will be a Unix-like Operating System I am sure but that could be a Linux Distro, a version of FreeBSD or some other OS such as Minix. Or will this machine be a platform capable of running a wide range of Unix-like OS's?

The OLPC group is developing an open-source laptop OS using Redhat Fedora Linux as the base from which to start. This software will be freely made available to the countries deploying the laptops. However, since the CPU is a standard AMD Geode and the entire design is open-source, a country is free to develop their own OS or to choose some other OS for their laptops. The OLPC group will provide support for the OS and software that we develop.

Other Linux?...

Can I install other Linux OS?... in particular can I install Debian etch? And if so will all hardware work?

Yes and yes


Please see Installing Debian as an upgrade as an example.

OS languages that OLPC will release

What are the languages that OLPC will be released with? What are the first Priority ones?

The first priority languages are the languages of countries where the ministry of education has signed an agreement to deploy OLPC laptops to their children. In some of these countries there is more than one official language such as Nigeria with Edo, Efik, Adamawa Fulfulde, Hausa, Idoma, Igbo, Central Kanuri, and Yoruba.
If there is a language that you would like to see higher priority then you need to convince the ministry of education in a country where it is the official language, to sign an agreement with OLPC.

Usability and User Testing

There is very little public information about requirements gathering, usability and user testing. In other words, how do you know whether the OLPC (i) will meet your users' needs and (ii) is easy enough for them to use? Have the target user groups been characterized? What ongoing plans do you have for this? I`d Like test the OLPC in Argentina, Please contact with me to know how. Thanks.

As far as I know, there are two local groups in Argentina with test boards (don't know if anybody has the 2B1/XO prototypes though). They are Ututo and Tuquito. I know Ututo had some explicit arrangements to let other people use/test the boards. If anybody knows about other groups (or about any local XOs) please let me know (or post in the OLPC Argentina pages. --Xavi 07:23, 6 December 2006 (EST)
There is more to life and education than requirements gathering. Usability and testing are of course important, and on-going. Research is often just trial, error, and adjustment. If you want, you can participate by setting up an emulator and seeing how the software works now. The research is going on now, and you can participate. Exciting, don't you think? -Jeff 21:47, 9 March 2007 (EST)

What about usability testing for children? A recent article quoted the OLPC chairman as saying: "Granted, I'm not a child. I don't know if it's going to be intuitive to children." Was there research?

We've been employing an iterative design process that is grounded in over 30 years of research regarding children and technology. We've engaged an international development community that has been quite open and vocal in their critique and feedback. Most important, we have been running numerous field studies and trials with children and teachers.


What mechanisms are in place to get feedback and bug reports from the participants in the third world?

We have pilots (ongoing or in the works) in ~20 countries and developers around the world.

Is the OLPC laptop a PC?


Is the OLPC laptop a PC in the sense of being an IBM-compatible PC rather than just a “personal computer”?

The OLPC is clearly NOT an IBM compatible (or MS-DOS compatible, for that matter) PC even though it does currently use an x86 CPU. The OLPC laptop has many features that take it beyond a basic PC. And the designers reserve the right to change to a non-x86 CPU in the future if it makes sense. As one of the team said recently, AMD will have to earn our business. The goal is not to make another IBM compatible but to make a portable personal computer that a child can use as a core tool for their elementary education.

No other PC has a screen that can switch to a low-power, high-res monochrome mode. No other PC has such a low-power, extended-range wifi with its own CPU that can keep sending while the main CPU sleeps. No other PC is intended to be, first and foremost, a tool for educating children.

Does Allowing Windows Violate A "Core" Principle?

Negroponte has said this is a "learning" project, not a laptop project.

One of the "core principles" you outline in this Wiki is the use of open source.

You state that the child should not be a "passive consumer" -- which means that he should have access to the source.

Now the news is reporting the XO will run Windows?

This seems like a contradiction.

Allowing closed source to ride on top of the OLPC makes it no more than a Trojan Horse...right?


John A. Bailo The Texeme Construct

The Microsoft announcement has resulted in some confusion in the press. It is being suggested that because of the Microsoft announcement, OLPC will be switching from Linux to Windows. On the contrary, OLPC remains steadfast in its dedication to FOSS and has no plans to distribute Windows. However, we have consistant and public with our position that the spirit of openness and freedom; everyone, including software engineers at Microsoft, are welcome to develop for the machine. The fact that Microsoft has been making efforts to bring the price of Windows within reach of children in the developing world gives those children more choices. --Walter 04:11, 28 April 2007 (EDT)

http://www.mobilised.com.au/content/view/947/1/ --Steve (on second look that author may not be very knowledgeable. He understands the 3M minimum units as 3M minimum dollars) --Steve

I wish that we could build a $1 laptop, but that is out of reach for the time being. --Walter 16:42, 29 April 2007 (EDT)

http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=379 --Steve

I am unaware of any government asking for Windows. There is more to the difference between Windows and Linux than just $3. --Walter 16:44, 29 April 2007 (EDT)

But http://blog.wired.com/monkeybites/2007/04/negroponte_olpc.html --Steve

It's only a contradiction if you have more then education in mind. Like future consumers. Children are just like many computer systems; always changing and growing.Their Tojan Horse could be a brighter future inside! I think it was hard for the OLPC program to keep giants like Microsoft out of the program for as long as they did. But as we can all see by the news as of late every one wants in. Well when you have created something great every one wants one. Don't you think?


Add to the discussion...

I just want to try the software

I've read about the software and the UI online. I want to try the software. I want something like a "liveCD" that I can stick in my computer to try it out and show other people. a) Is it possible? b) If possible, is it explained anywhere on this eiki? c) if yes, why is it so hard to find? A nice big link on the homepage might be nice.

Don't know if there's a LiveCD, but you can try an emulator. On the left there's a navigation bar with a section titled "about the laptops", and under it you'll find the emulation link that'll take there... That wasn't so hard, was it? Enjoy!--Xavi 07:05, 5 January 2007 (EST)

Is there access to email and the internet?

Will access to email and the internet be available if a wireless connection is available?

I've seen the XOs working at a conference using the convention center's commodity wireless connection, so I believe the answer is "yes". Of course, such access will be easiest if you are using webmail and everything you need online can be accessed via Firefox, since that is the main internet application shipping with the laptops. Running other internet programs may be more difficult, depending on a number of factors (whether someone has made an XO version of it, whether it is bundled for Fedora, whether it is ported to Linux, how many resources it uses, etc.). —Joe 20:19, 24 September 2007 (EDT)
The browser is not Firefox (unfortunately); it uses some of the guts of Firefox but trashes the user interface. So you can only view one web page at a time, for example. And there is no email client at all. However, there's a rumor about Installing Debian as an upgrade on the machine, which when perfected, would free it from many of its software limitations. --gnu
While we haven't exposed all of the Firefox features (yet), it is essentially a fully featured web browser. Contrary to the assertion above, you can have multiple webpages open at once and multiple windows when spawned by a page. Other options include loading Opera on the laptop. Switching to Debian won't make much difference. If you are so inclined, you can run X Windows without the Sugar UI and use a standard Firefox, but you will miss out on many of the Sugar features, such as mesh collaboration and the Journal. --Walter 23:21, 24 September 2007 (EDT)

Spreadsheet Program

Shouldn´t a calculation program - some clone of EXCEL - be part of the standard software delivered with every computer ? Remember, most of the kids are living in families that are peasants, and they might like to make accounts of what their "business" is producing, what resources are needed to produce it, and so on.

On my XO-1, I am successfully using Google Docs, which includes a spreadsheet application. It's a little slow, but usable. -Adam Keck

Does the laptop use programs such as word?

I am curious to know if the laptop provided uses programs such as word for things like typing reports.

The laptop comes with a wide variety of software (See Activities) including a word processor based upon Abiword. --Walter 09:14, 13 July 2007 (EDT)

What word processor does the laptop use?

I am not a computer person, so this might be a dumb question, but it is one that confuses me. Say I use the word processor on this laptop to write a document. Now say that I send the document via e-mail to someone with a conventional computer. Before I e-mailed it, would I have to convert my document to Word? If so, how would I do this? If not, can it still be done? Or can conventional computers read the document no problem? Thanks a bunch for answering.

The XO laptop uses AbiWord as its word processor. If the person receiving a document cannot open it using their normal PC software, AbiWord is available for many platforms and many languages from this site.

OpenDocument in Write?

What will be the default format for saving documents in Write? I think I read somewhere that all Write documents will be saved in Microsoft's proprietary doc format. It seems to me that OpenDocument should be promoted wherever possible. Will it be OpenDocument or some other open format? -Danny 12:31, 17 June 2007 (EDT)

We are hoping that we'll be able to use open document (odt) as the default, although there is some more work QA work to do. --Walter 13:01, 17 June 2007 (EDT)


Will students be able to install OpenOffice?

In principle, OpenOffice will run on the laptop, but it is not designed for such a small memory footprint on a machine that doesn't use swap. As an alternative, we recommend the Write activity, based upon the Abiword project, which in addition to being a much smaller footprint, also is designed with a younger audience in mind.


Will you be able to Print from the OLPC? If so, does it print to all printers or just some?

Linux print drivers run on the XO, but not many have been tested. We are not encouraging printing, as we don't know how to make it practical and economical in the developing world.

Other software

Will you be able to load other software packages (small) on OLPC? For example data logger or GPS software?

OLPC is physically capable of loading all kinds of Linux software, and some of it can be run in a terminal window, or by replacing the Sugar UI with a more capable GUI. There are DRM modules that some OLPCs will ship with, that prevent installation of new software. I hope and pray that these will be disabled on OLPCs that are sold under the "Buy 2 Get 1" program. In theory, "developer keys" that would disable all the DRM will be available to any OLPC owner, but OLPC has not actually created a mechanism for getting one yet. --gnu

Is there a way to run other programs on the laptop?

The user install other programs on the pc, like on a normal pc using linux? If not, there is a way to run programs on the OLPC? The programs that I am referring are other programs, developed by users, etc...

The OLPC has a pretty small footprint. The OLPC Redhat distribution is very small, and has few programs. There is an OLPC Redhat Development distribution which has a few more Linux programs, but it's still small. Sugar is the GUI interface, and has special activity programs. Activities are inherently networkable and sharable. -Jeff 21:45, 6 March 2007 (EST)

The answer to your question is yes. You can install other programs on the OLPC, like on a normal PC running Linux. The window system (Sugar) currently makes that hard, though someone is working on fixing that.

RealPlayer in OPLC and applications download

We are developing some applications that can be used to education purpose and we have some doubts: - Is it possible to make applications download using the OLPC ? - Is it possible to run the RealPlayer in OLPC ? Thanks in advance Vivian (vivianlona@hotmail)

The OLPC is based on downloadable activities, not applications. It will not have any RealPlayer support so you will need to encode in an open-source format. Ogg/Vorbis is good for music while Ogg/Speex is better for pure voice recordings. Read the Activity bundles page to see how to program a downloadable activity in Python.
What format do you require? RealPlayer can play many different formats. Quicktime can be played with GStreamer through OpenQuicktime and Gnash is mostly SWF v7 compliant (this makes Flash an open-source format). Gnash can play Flash movies from local files. If you would like to see either GStreamer or Gnash included you could add them to Category:Feedback. Thin client explains about use of the OLPC as a web client or thin client. --Fasten 11:40, 31 January 2007 (EST)

See also: Flash Player

"Activities" is just OLPC jargon for application programs. Don't be put off by people "correcting" you on that.

Real has been working to produce an OLPC version of their Helix Player, which is a free software player. The big problem is codecs -- most of the ones in common use (e.g. MP3) are patented and require the payment of commercial royalties. If you want to produce multimedia for children and make them useful to kids with OLPCs, then you will need to take care to encode your multimedia into freely licensed formats (Ogg Vorbis for music; Ogg Speex for speech; Ogg Theora for video). These can, of course, also be played on proprietary systems like Macs and PCs, though to encourage the use of their own locked-down formats, neither Apple nor Microsoft ships these free codecs with their OS; your application will have to install them.

The Gnash flash player doesn't come with any codecs; it relies on GStreamer to decode any media embedded in the flash movie. OLPC can distribute gnash, since it's GPL software, but can't distribute the codecs needed to play "FLV" (Flash Video) files, because they are proprietary to Adobe.

Where can software developers get laptops with which to work?

The vast majority of early software developers can work on ordinary Linux laptops or desktops. The machine will run Linux, X, and Gnome. Write your applications to use minimal RAM and minimal file system space, and to not depend on having a color screen. A release of the Fedora software for the OLPC is available (See Installing Fedora Core. If you want to simulate small memory, you can boot linux with the "mem=256m" parameter.) Some developers who need laptops, e.g. to work on device drivers, will receive prototype boards from OLPC. Here are Notes_on_using_the_OLPC_developer_boards.

What instruction set does the processor in the laptops have?

The Geode processor that is currently used in the laptops supports the full Athlon instruction set (including MMX and 3DNow!), plus Geode-specific instructions.

Support for application languages like Java?


I think this laptop could have huge potential as the hardware infrastructure for supporting scientific projects in the developing world. I´m a software engineer and I think it would be great to begin building custom applications that suited this particular kind of machine.

Does anyone know what programming languages or software development kits work with this? Dare I ask whether standard Java applications would work on this? Java is supposed to work on Linux based systems but I wonder whether the AWT works with the kind of display used in the laptop.

By the way, it would greatly help the developer community if we could get easier access to the laptops themselves. It could spawn all sorts of open source development projects to build software applications that were relevant to the groups who used them.

You might want to take a look at the Getting started programming page. The main programming environment supported on the laptop itself is Python, but you can also develop in Smalltalk in Squeak and Javascript in a browser-based activity. Note that Python is currently used for a variety of scientific applications.
Java is not in the official build, but I imagine Java and AWT can be made to work, since it works on other Linux/GTK systems (although performance may be poor, given the limited-resource environment). Running a full Java (or C/C++) SDK on the laptop may prove difficult, though... The easiest way to get a particular Java application on the laptop might be to compile it to an x86 binary on a more powerful system.
You can apply for a laptop through the Developers program. —Joe 17:23, 25 July 2007 (EDT)

Will the display be able to rotate orientation?

The OLPC laptop runs the X Window System, which has resize and rotate extensions.

Can you use the xo machine as music streamer?

i am interested in doing the 2 for 1 program; I would like to know if the machine can be used to contually stream music off the internet (using rhapsody service)/ thank you

The hardware is certainly capable of streaming music continually. As shipped, the XO can't play MP3 files, because of the MP3 patents; it uses the freely available Ogg codecs instead. But freely available MP3 software is widely available and would work on the laptop. There has been an effort by Real to port their pseudo-free Helix player to the Sugar XO user interface (called Watch and Listen). I don't know if it will stream anything from Rhapsody. Unfortunately, the Sugar implementation makes it hard to install common Linux GUI programs (like other music players) on the machine. -gnu

Adaptation of Musical Editor for local music systems

Hello, While browsing through the software that will be put on the B2 release, I remarked the screenshot of the Musical Editor, and I saw that it was based on the western notes system (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, do). These notes have more or less fixed frequencies ('la' has 440 Hz, and going from one note to another happens by stepping of halve tones where the frequencies need to be multiplicated or divided by 1.059, the twelfth root of 2).

The OLPC project is ment for children in third world countries, like for instance India and China and other countries, where different music systems are used. Therefore I propose to foresee these adaptations within the Musical Editor (after all, it can't be the intention of forcing children to abandon their own musical culture :-?).

In case OLPC people are interested, I am willing to do some investigation in order to figure out which are the mostly used music systems with corresponding frequencies in order to facilitate the work. I can be reached via my e-mail address under my OLPC subscription account 'scampsd'.

The OLPC includes csound software which can be adapted to work with any type of musical system. If you want to document these systems and any csound software that works with them, feel free to start a new page on this wiki. --Memracom 05:30, 13 January 2007 (EST)

Best regards and good luck with the project Dominique

Hey "scampsd" i couldn't work out how to contact you about this, I am interested in alternative scales, mail me, simon att simon chadwick dt net

---from another contributor---

yes - i can see nepal, peru, thailand and india on the pilot project map that will be using different scalings 'naturally' without the fixing of the western scale to their use of the software. from the wikipedia.org page on microtonal music: "By this definition, the following systems are not microtonal: a diatonic scale in any meantone tuning; much Indonesian gamelan music; and Thai, Burmese, and African music which use 7 approximately equally spaced tones in each (approximate) octave." - there should be a module in csound for microtonal music: the most sensible option would be to have a special settings page to configure a preset choice of tunings for different regions to fit with preferred choice of tuning for the region. to eliminate locally tuned music would be an ethical crime, and is a big risk with a music program dictating that users have a 'western scale' for their music. i would not like OLPC to be responsible for the destruction of some of the most musically interesting and unique styles of music simply because there was no option for local tunings in the easily available and (relatively) powerful sequencing capabilities of freely available computers. it looks like Csound’s value converters for microtonal programming are functions "ampdb" and "cpspch". documentation on csound available at www.csounds.com/chapter1/index.html

That may well be the case.-- 11:39, 24 March 2007 (EDT)

I confirm that for a music educator (and, of course, for a child too) OLPC music software, even if good, doesn't meet at present the need of cultural neutrality. It is based on a variety of rhythms and sounds (good) but, concerning pitches, it offers a superimposed cultural model (not so good). It simply ignores any scale and any system, except the only one chosen. Almost any country in the world, in any continent, has more scales and more systems, that deserve an equal (i.e. NOT equally tempered) attention. Due to the quality of the work they have already done, I'm sure the same music software developers could (or rather should, respecting the cultural identity of most end users) add new "multicultural" features. It can be made starting from Csound, that allow virtually anything about pitch and scales, or with the help of Scala, the de facto standard software for experimenting and making music with "non-standard" or rather "other"-standard scales, with its related (and rapidly increasing) database of more than 3600 (!) scales. Scala, unfortunately missing (as far as I know) in any Linux distro, can also "collaborate" with Csound.

Dario (larm-remove-anti-spam-words;iol;it-----OLPC account: musixo)

Mono libraries on OLPC for activity developed on MonoDevelop


I will make an activity for olpc, but i want to develope on c# with monoDevelop how can use gtk librairies for the Gui of my application.

It is possible to install the Mono libraries on the fedora core how works Sugar ? and it is possible to execute c# code on the olpc

Thank you for your answer.

It is possible, but we are trying to keep the number of dependencies minimal in order to keep the footprint small. Is there some reason Python and pygtk cannot work for you? --Walter 16:13, 27 September 2007 (EDT)

thanks. I carry out a work of diploma and the goal of this work is to make the portage of already existing .net code on sugar linux as an activity. I have also the possibility to re-code all in python but the portage would get the possibility to the .net developer to create activities for olpc and to make this portage I absolutely need the framework .net on olpc and Mono makes it possible. --Cihan 09:53, 28 September 2007 (EDT)

I also would like to port existing C# code to this platform using Mono, such as a lightweight client for Second Life.

Assistive Technology Software on the OLPC Laptop

In regards to accessibility, I think the 3 USB prots are a great idea. But what kind of assistive technology will be available on the computer itself? Will synthesized speech, for example, have to be provided by an external synthesizer? Or, will a separate Nraille display and Braille keyboard have to be connected for a blind user to use the machine? Will the system have the necessary drivers built into the kernel or provided by external programs (such as Brltty)? What about support for mouse alternatives such as switches and head mice? Will the laptop be capable of playing sounds on events? I apologize for all the questions, but these are questions we are still trying to answer in mainstream operating systems.

The OLPC system has it's own set of rules and computing factors as mentioned on the many pages devoted to that subject.USB is also answered on this page. The answer to main stream operating systems would be Yes they have servers that are cross coded to allow them to give a limted out put via these servers. Will you be able to directly receive tagged pages? Not at first but because from what has been said and the feed back they seem to work well and have few glitches that will end up in the main stream if any at all.-- 23:04, 3 April 2007 (EDT)


What mechanism olpc is going to adopt to make it accessable for child with physical disabilities? Will there be seperate keyboards for blind with braile? Will there be alternate input methods for child with dysfunctioning hands?

--Ankur Sharma, olpc Nepal

As far as I know, OLPC keybords are standardized for each country's language/s, but not braille. The OLPC has 3 USB ports to which external (braille) keyboards may be connected (quick search and sample result or alternative method). In order to better gauge the dimension of the issue, the World Health Organization (WHO) has some statistics on the incidence of blindness.
I have posted some observations about Dasher as an alternative input method, not only for physical disabilities but general use too. --Xavi 09:45, 21 December 2006 (EST)

Further to the question above, does the OLPC initiative include distributing laptops to children who are currently going through patient care in a hospital setting? And if so do you have links to devices that can allow a child to utilize a laptop from a hospital bed (i.e., wall mounted mechanical laptop ARM)? This is a great initiative!!!

Regards CReid

I'm not sure if the information about accessibility on this WIKI answers the questions we have received about the laptop/program. So here goes: Someone asked me if the device would work for children with disabilities? And if you been designing this device with disability accessibility in mind from the outset? For instance, most persons with vision disability are not Braille readers so might need font enlarging capacity or some sort of audio outputs? Likewise for children with fine motor skills disabilities (e.g., one hand or less than the usual number of fingers or dexterity impacted by other neurological damage) would the keyboard design work for them? Likewise, for children with intellectual disabilities, is the interface usable for children who are not average? We've heard that 10% of the world's population, or more than 600 million people, live with life altering disabilities, and two thirds of those persons are in developing countries (UN statistics). We assume many of these are children. Would you give me a heads-up if you are designing, developing and fabricating this $100 laptop with disability accessibility needs in mind? Thanks! J. Simpson Senior Director, Telecommunications & Technology Policy, American Association of People With Disabilities (AAPD) 1629 K Street, N.W., Suite 503 Washington, DC 20006 Tel Ext 31 Website http://www.aapd.com

We are thinking about this; there are certainly significant disabled populations who will hopefully be using the laptop. You can sign up for our accessibility mailing list: accessibility at laptop. Thank you for your interest. Sj talk 16:51, 6 April 2007 (EDT)


I'm colour blind, and it is likely that any sons I have will be too.

How will they be able to fully access the Sugar interface?

For example, will my son be able to tell how much battery charge is left? Will my son be able to distinguish his friends' icons on the mesh map?

Red-green colour vision deficiencies affect around one in twelve caucasian europid males, although other types of colour vision deficiencies affect tiny numbers of all races and sexes.

The XO is unique in that it has both a backlit color mode and a sunlight-readable monochrome mode. The interface is being designed so that it will be usable in both modes; for instance, colors are being chosen both for their difference in value as well as their difference in hue, so that they are distinguishable in both modes. Hopefully this should go a long way in making the laptop easier for colorblind people to use. (See also Colors in the OLPC Human Interface Guidelines)
Also, there are alternate ways to identify users beyond the color schemes; since there are only 200-some color pairs, some duplicates within a school are inevitable. —Joe 15:53, 5 October 2007 (EDT)


Would it be possible to give LAPTOP NEWS RSS feed capability? I use a NewsGator RSS reader, and I like it very much. It saves me a lot of time, and the releases in each feed are always the most current when I log on. I try to check my feeds at least every 2 or 3 days. Thanks!

PenguinTV is one of the activities already running on the laptop; you can run an emulator and download the latest image of the OLPC environment to try it out for yourself. Sj talk


Add to the discussion...

How much is reserved for Content?

The operating system and “mandatory applications” occupy ~200MB. This provides ~800MB for the user.

Christian content

Are there any Christian based initiatives with regards to providing Christian content on thumbdrives to be used with the laptops?

OLPC is only looking at basic literacy and numeracy; we leave it to the countries to determine what other content to provide on the laptops.

How can I help translating contents?

I am japanese. I would like to help translating contents of this web site. Though I looked at help,FAQ,I can't understand. Someone help me how to translate,please.

A (too) short answer: see Translating & Translators. If you have any questions or doubts, you can drop me a note. Cheers, --Xavi 22:28, 22 May 2007 (EDT)

Game Jam

Can Game Jam games be accessed through FireFox in a format that people can can try it or see an in action demo of the games themes?

If not as many programs can be presented for view in diffrent system formats do you think becuase of the Google link that the program is not being relistic in the real world of internet? In some ways the clanist social pratices of many people and nations is a mid level part of their problem. By following this type of only if you.... belong to the group ,have this kind of system, have a laptop ect... may not be progressive. WHAT DO YOU THINK? jULY 7,2007

Science curriculum

I do not see any content related sections for the sciences (physics, chemistry, biology) and math. Can you please point me to that section or include this in your curriculum?

Every page has a search section in the column on the left. If you don't see something in the table of contents then use the search capabilities to find it. If you still can't find something which you think should be on the wiki, then start a new page and write an outline of what you think we should have. Others will fill in that outline for you. If you return in a week or two, you will have your answer. --Memracom 05:23, 13 January 2007 (EST)

Source-code editor with transparent native-language display

This is just a note to draw people's attention to my concept of Source-code editor with transparent native-language display. I think it is a perfect fit for the OLPC. --Homunq 16:48, 25 July 2007 (EDT)

Contribution towards Programming


I am really interested in contributing towards the programming efforts in linux kernel and python. Please let me know how shall I proceed and start contributing towards it?

Suresh, Bangalore, India.

Suresh, check this page "Getting involved in OLPC" and this page"OLPC Python Environment" -Jeff


Add to the discussion...

Accessing another school's Mesh Network

If a teacher takes an OLPC laptop to another school for a meeting, can they access the other school's Mesh Network to transfer documents and software, etc? Is a laptop strictly limited to only accessing one school's network (without some time-consuming reconfiguration of access-permissions)? If access is possible, how would it be granted?

--Ricardo 12:43, 26 July 2007 (EDT)

I don't think this has been entirely worked out yet, but a recent post to the Sugar mailing list shows that the developers are indeed considering the case where an external laptop (either XO or non-XO) wants to participate in the school's local network. —Joe 19:07, 26 July 2007 (EDT)

Server applications: Squid caching, Sendmail

Should the server include Squid cache, Sendmail or some other open sourece POP3 and SMTP server, and an admin interface such as WebMin? My experience is that there is a great benefit to using off-peak network capacity and one-way satellite downloads so people have their e-mail with attachments waiting nearby when they log in. Many web documents can be e-mailed to the viewer and downloaded as low-priority bits, what Nicholas calls "Stand-by Bits." from Edresor (I now have a username.)

yes, it should. join the devel@lists.laptop.org list if you want to help...

School Gateways follow follow up

Thank you very much for the response on School Gateways -- I had a big misconception about the internet. I am still curious, however, about how the School Gateways for the mesh networks are intended to be powered, and how much energy they will require. I looked at the power page, and it mentioned microbial fuel cells, which is what I was going to ask about. Are the gateways going to require a lot more power than a microbial fuel cell could provide? Thank you!

---(JK, USA) There ought to be a sister project of the OLPC to bring internet connection to schools in the developing world. One internet connection per school wouldn't be a bad name for such project. Wireless Gateway/APs powered by environmentally friendly and renewable energy sources like solar or wind power, perhaps linked to a bidirectional satellite internet receiver, and then use [1]WifiPaypal so that donors in the developed world can donate monthly Satellite connection bill direct to the schools using Paypal.

  • I think you should develop your idea and get about doing it. Gus, Chile

Yes, that would be great to get internet capabilities, I agree -- I hope you do start that up!

Does anybody know about the approximate power needs for the gateways? I know somebody working on microbial fuel cells and he asked me to find out what the power needs would be, and I just have no idea. I'm assuming that power is going to be a biggish issue for the gateways, as many of them will be in areas with no electricity -- Am I wrong? Thank you!

This question might be bettered answered on one of the Tech pages.

How many schools will have internet connections on rollout?

As far as I know most (all?) of the trials in Peru, Uruguay Nigeria and elsewhere, schools where provided with permanent internet access via dial-up, satellite etc. I would like to know if there are any estimations on how many of schools will actually be connected to the internet when the big roll out begins`?

--Nils 11:20, 12 September 2007 (EDT)

The roll-out plan includes providing a connected school server; our plan is that 100% of schools will have a connection to the Internet. --Walter 11:53, 12 September 2007 (EDT)


There is a general statement on security with regards to malware, child predators, and porn at Online threats and security.

Add to the discussion...

Preventing Porn/Adult Content?

At launch time will the laptop include any software for content controls (to prevent porn, etc). I realize that one's definition of "acceptable content" varies over regions, but isn't most content filtering software for the client Win-based?

This will, as far as I know, be left up to countries. Because the hardware and software OLPC will provide is as open as possible, there is no real way to implement such filtering on the laptops themselves; the kids could just change the software to get around such restrictions. -- 19:16, 17 February 2007 (EST)
Since most computers will be used with no Internet access whatsoever, this is a minor problem. In areas where there will be Internet access it will be provided by a school gateway. The filtering will either be implemented on the school gateway or at a central regional gateway.
Sorry, but lack of the Internet won't matter. OLPC is all about locally-produced content. This laptop has a camera. Having an Internet connection is only required for worldwide sales and distribution.
The laptops will have Internet access. Children will be both exploring and producing content. --Walter 11:40, 2 April 2007 (EDT)

This question has not yet been answered with sufficient care Please click here for a comment (on another talk page within this wiki) about the machines being used to create pornography. The OLPC team will be making a grave error if they expect developing world governments to address this issue without guidance.

My guess is that considering that the XOs will basically access the Internet through the mesh (connecting to the School server—acting as the gateway) a simple filter or proxy can be configured... it is (imho) a worthy preocupation, but must not be taken as the issue; most kids will not care about such things, and when they do, they'll manage to get their hands on it regardless of how adults feel about it... --Xavi 00:39, 23 March 2007 (EDT)
Are you talking about a particular already existing sort of image filter? Please elaborate. What sort of proxy? The reason that I am stressing this issue is because the reactionary element within a developing country will see this as "the" issue when it hits the press and they can keep these computers out of the hands of their children. Even if computer literate people can look past this sort of issue, large traditional populations are not likely to. Again, I'm not concerned about people looking at pornography. Every single internet cafe that I visited in 24 African countries last year had at least two young men looking at porn and nobody cared. I am concerned about the video camera being used to exploit poor young women and children. Whoever is putting this project together doesn't seem to know enough about the resourcefulness of the people who they will equip with these machines. Why isn't someone from the actual OLPC project bothering to respond. Have any of those guys actually lived in the marginal areas of the developing world? --[User:Onlinementor] 24 March 2007.
The School server can be used for content filtering; the extent to which it will be is based upon a country-by-country decision. In regard to the children being exploited in the creation of pornographic content, it is certainly a concern, one we are trying to address through a number of mechanism, some technological, but most of a societal nature. The camera and microphone are hardwired to LEDs and are protected against remote access (See Bitfrost for details). The Journal logs all activities, including picture-taking. But neither of these measures is adequate if the family and community turn their backs on their children. We are striving to engage all community members in the program, which includes guidance about the exploitation of children. --Walter 11:40, 2 April 2007 (EDT)
Thanks for the feedback, Walter. Is there somewhere on this site where I could track the conversation about how to create a suitably vigilant societal mechanism to protect against the creation of exploitative content? It's a huge challenge and while it is particularly relevant to the OLPC initiative, it is an OLD, often-confronted, unbested challenge. To paint it as a question of family and communal back-turning is somewhat misleading, as it suggests that any shortcoming on behalf of the responsible community will be committed with purposeful disregard. It is much more likely that they will be ignorant of the situation, powerless to do anything about it or coerced into accepting it.
I'm sure you are familiar with the fact that it is not uncommon for teachers in the developing world (especially in Sub-Saharan Africa) to use their students sexually--indeed the notion of what constitutes "exploitation" is rather variable. If you cannot have a meaningful allegiance with educators, I don't know how you hope to engender this new breed of social responsibility. I don't mean to sound glib. I would just love to hear, in reassuring detail, what sort of local and regional expertise is being applied to the question.
On the other page, I suggested a possibility that is less trusting of the local community; but productive of jobs and, perhaps more reliable.

A possible suggestion: Whenever someone is uploading pictures or video (via the mesh) to the internet, it must be approved by human eyes. Those eyes should belong to women in another part of the world. For instance, Uruguayan women, approve every image and video that Nigerian computer users upload. Libyan women approve every image and video that Uruguyans upload etc. It will be harder to corrupt the filter if it exists further away, speaks another language and is built of women.

The countries where you are going to pilot this program are full of women who would happily take an image filtering job for $50/month or thereabouts (and that, in many cases, would be a generous salary). Invest an extra $60,000 in each country towards the power of external, female filtering and you might be able to save yourselves considerable embarassment. In the context of this project, $60,000 sounds like a very modest investment; but it could create scores of jobs in each country and help to protect young people from the world's thirsty perversion. --[[User:Onlinementor] 2:20, 9 April 2007 (EST)

The laptop is a tool, and can be used "for good or evil". Personally I think that censorship is evil and that kids should be free to see what humans look like without their clothes. The kids I've known who grew up that way didn't turn out badly. So please stop trying to push your own cultural prejudices onto every kid in the world. If you made colored pencils for kids, would you set up a system of censorship to make sure they didn't draw anything sexy?

I think it's not about Onlinementor's, yours, or my prejudices. What counts is what the parents of the children want, that we are trying to influence here. They have the right to decide, if pornography/violence is accepted in their community. They should be empowered to limit the influence of the internet on their children.
Society change is always a violent process. The faster the change, the more violent it is. The best chance for success of OLPC in a community will be, if it does not change too much.I think it it very important to fit the filtering to the local community and their values. Internet-Access is a Social Change Tool. If the social change it creates is not wanted, the programm will fail. Every community might need a different level of porn/violence/political filters, so the change doesn´t get too much. But developing the restriction mechanisms should be a high priority for OLPC. Parents/community/nation want to stay in control of the minds of their children. If you refuse to let them have some control of the new influence on their children, they might refuse the whole offer.
In the end OLPC has to listen to the parents of the children, and take on all their key concerns. There is no way of saying: "we from the big wide world know what´s best for your child!" -User:Bones 14.09.2007

Data security regarding the camera, microphone and mesh network

Data on a laptop, that is in the hands of a child can never be called secure against malicious intruders, but that is not a great concern as long as the data consists basically of the childs homework. But the OLPC XO has a microphone a camera and a mesh function (through the latter other people can observe its movements through the house). A malicious intruder might manage to remotely turn those devices on and gather a lot of private data on the family, including high risk data, like political opinions. This is a problem in the first world already, but in the third world, with its dictatorships or unstable democracies and often powerful criminal organizations the damage can be huge. So to my question: Does the XO have off switches for the aforementioned three critical devices and, if yes, are they physical (really cutting power off)? If they are not physical, how does the system prevent malicious software from turning them on? Is there an accompanying paper, that explains the security precautions necessary for such a device to the child? --Steve

Please refer to the Bitfrost specification, which goes into detail about our plans to address this potential threat. Also note that there will be LEDs that indicate that the camera and microphone are on physically attached to the power lines of those devices. --Walter 09:01, 21 April 2007 (EDT)

I was imprecise. Certainly there are features, to make an attack difficult in the xo as well as in any other system. But ways around will be found, and my question is, what if (and it WILL happen) the software layer of security is already broken and the computer "owned". What safely prevents the aforementioned devices from gathering data, when they are not explicitly used? --Steve

I'll also try to be more precise: Please refer to OLPC_Bitfrost#P_MIC_CAM:_microphone_and_camera_protection. "The use of the camera and microphone require a special permission, requested at install-time as described in its chapter, for each program wishing to do so. This permission does not, however, allow a program to instantly turn on the camera and microphone. Instead, it merely lets the program ask the user to allow the camera or microphone (or both) to be turned on. This means that any benign programs which are taken over but haven't declared themselves as needing the camera or microphone cannot be used neither to turn on either, NOR to ask the user to do so!" --Walter 09:53, 21 April 2007 (EDT)

Thank you for your reply. The LEDs are certainly a real gain of security. If permissions are a protection depends on the severity of the attack. If the attacker achieved kernel privileges, all protection measures, that come from the operating system are off. Since in unstable countries governments and their agents must be counted among the potential attackers, the signature exception is furthermore a major hole in the (by its software nature already imperfect) protection.

The simplest actually secure solution to the problem would be three good old-fashioned power switches, one before the camera, one before the microphone and one before the antennas. Steve

Typical scenario: A democratically elected president turns into a dictator and wants to spy on his people. Millions of microphones with communication gear are already in the households and, as a leftover from his old democratic days he has the cryptographic keys necessary to activate them. Steve

Now they said, that the XO will run 3$ Windows too. Not even Bitfrost is there when Windows is running and the project has no legal way to even see, where that OS has its weaknesses. This makes a physical solution to the microphone problem almost unavoidable. But since on-off switches are really dirt cheap when bought in masses, it should be easy to do. Steve

The LEDs in the B4 laptops turned out to be great for debugging all the times when the camera and mic were powered on when they shouldn't be by the software. They really work. Of course, that only tells you that the cam or the mic is in use; the LEDs don't provide a way to turn them off. A piece of tape, or a gooey bit of rice, will suffice to shut off the camera if it's turned on and you don't want it to be used. The microphone is a bit harder to shut off temporarily (if you've lost control of your software), since ambient sound penetrates the case. --gnu

Photo use suggestion

Apologies if this is the wrong place; I couldn't find a better spot on the wiki to suggest this. I hope someone can route it for me.

As I understand it, the OLPC system takes a photo of the laptop's owner at an early stage, and uses that in various UI elements to identify the child (e.g. the "neighborhood" view).

Suggestion: this photo should also be displayed during startup, so that a teacher can work out who owns a laptop left behind in the classroom immediately, instead of needing to wait for the entire boot sequence.

It should also be displayed when/if the laptop is locked out due to a failure to contact the authentication server inside 21 days, or because it's been explicitly disabled due to theft.) This would allow a stray laptop to be reunited with its owner far easier, and/or make it simple for the police to ascertain that the person holding the laptop is not the owner.

What do you do for process virtualization in Bitfrost?

I had read that in the Bitfrost security system you do true virtualization of processes with almost no overhead. I was wondering what kernel module you use for that and where I can get it.

Laptop Security

I think it is pretty obvious these laptops will be quite possibly the most valuable thing in villages. What security features will these laptops have to make sure they don't get stolen? I have heard that they will be unusable if not used by the owner for 24 hours. Is this true?

There are several ideas aiming to avoid the problem, amongst them is saturation (why steal something that everybody has access to?) If you are interested in the more technical aspects, please see the Bitfrost security platform, and the specifics on anti-theft protection. --Xavi 10:29, 21 May 2007 (EDT)


Add to the discussion...

Internet access

How is internet connectivity achieved?

OLPC laptops talk to each other in an ad-hoc mesh network. Each school has a server which connects laptops on the mesh to the internet. -Jeff 21:28, 9 March 2007 (EST)

Thin Client Model and OLPC? Sugar

Hello, --Sam-c 04:57, 28 April 2007 (EDT) (Please Recategorise if needed, Thanks sam) 1) How do I Download Quickly Sugar On My Linux Machine that at Present Has Limited Resources, For Development and Evaluation Purposes. 2) What about the Thin Client Model? Which Many think is best for inexpensive Educational Purposes? Thanks, OLPC Newbie Sam --Sam-c 04:57, 28 April 2007 (EDT)

RE (1), please refer to the OS images for emulation page in this wiki; (2a) it is not clear that one could build a thin client for significantly less than you can build the XO; (2b) you can use the XO for thin client applications; and (2c) laptops are useful even when they are not connected to the network. --Walter 19:35, 29 April 2007 (EDT)

Proxy configuration

Is there any way to configure a proxy in the OLPC Firefox?

The web activity is just a version of firefox. As such, you can get to the firefox configuration by typing "about:config" in the location bar. Once there, you can narrow the settings to "network.proxy". Now, edit the fields to configure things properly from behind your corporate firewall :) -Jeff 12:06, 12 March 2007 (EDT)

About internet access

I am very interested about the OLPC. I am a pc programmer too and I am interested on programming for other plataforms, like the Playstation2, cellphones, and now, to the OLPC, too. I know almost all about he OLPC, ecxept one thing: What are the plans about the Internet access on the OLPC particularly on Brazil?

You can find informations about this, in Portuguese, at the DMU site

I think the platform is similar to all the other nations except the language is different. The subject matter is to reflect each nations individual lifestyle and customs. Brazil is also one of the first nations to receive the proto types.-- 11:54, 24 March 2007 (EDT)

Mesh Network Emulation

I'd like to try running a mesh network with emulation software; using say several laptops and a server (they could all be on one physical machine). I can't figure out how to create a mesh network using the qemu image, and don't see any images for the server. Thanks.

(I am a graduate student in Computer Science and Education, and would like to contribute to this project; but need to evaluate a working environment first)

Could this Virtualized Sugar page be what you're looking for? --Xavi 08:26, 6 February 2007 (EST)

Thanks... maybe. I fired up two instances of olpc on moka5, on separate machines in the same LAN, but couldn't them in the neighborhood. What more tinkering is required?

Looks like it didn't work, uh? I would suggest then that you raise the issue in one of the mailing lists probably networking. If you find an answer (solution or reason on why not) please post it here, so that we may then add it somewhere. Thanks and good luck! --Xavi 00:45, 7 February 2007 (EST)
Try turning on Bridge network for the virtual machines. There is an option to select that on top of the window.

By default, it is NAT.

All of the Mesh software is running inside the Marvell chip set on the OLPC, in currently-proprietary software; there is little or no support in the free Linux kernel or the Sugar UI. (Just configuration interfaces, and a way to gateway to the broader Internet.) So without the hardware, you can't run the mesh -- just an ordinary network. But since the mesh emulates an ordinary network, it's not usually a big deal. As the OLPC's higher level collaboration software starts working (soon, I hear) it should work over both ordinary networks (e.g. WiFi with an access point; WiFi in ad-hoc mode; or a USB Ethernet adapter) and over the mesh. --gnu

Wouldn't having a choice of operating systems mess with the idea of having mesh networking, educational software and external mass data storage?

We anticipate that the choice of operating systems will be made at either a very coarse level of granularity, e.g., regionally, or by individuals. In the former case, it would have to be done in concert with some sort of "school-server" strategy. In the latter case, presumably the child making the choice has a reason for it.

Network library for Python

I am trying to write a code in Python that will establish direct communication between OLPC computers via WiFi.

Normally I would use the "twisted matrix" library or the "raknet" library. Does anyone know if one of these libraries (or other equivalent) will be included in the OLPC build?

Thank you.

The main networking library to be distributed with the laptops is Telepathy Tubes—see the relevant section of Getting started programming. According to that page, other libraries are not being distributed, probably for space concerns. The python socket library is, of course, also available. —Joe 09:58, 26 August 2007 (EDT)

Will the mesh networking be an effective replacement for Internet access?

We don't anticipate the mesh network will replace the Internet, but rather it will complement the Internet. The mesh is for local communication. An uplink at the school will be the gateway out. Providing local telecommunications is in and of itself of benefit to the children and their communities. There may be local regulatory issues that need to be addressed.

Personal tools
  • Log in
  • Login with OpenID
About OLPC
About the laptop
About the tablet
OLPC wiki