In the developing world, paper is a precious resource, so children store their work on their laptops rather than print it out. However, there may be some cases where a printer is available, and may be useful to print assignments, test scores, or saved activities on paper.
The XO laptop can only connect to a printer via USB cable or over the network. Check your printer to see if it supports either of these two options. For most classroom settings, a network printer over wireless is probably the most convenient option.
The XO runs a modified version of Red Hat's Fedora, so we need to also determine if the printer is supported on Linux. Check the Open Printing Database for the level of support. This database has come up with the following ranking system. Printers are categorized according to how well they work under Linux and Unix. The ratings do not pertain to whether or not the printer will be auto-recognized or auto-configured, but merely to the highest level of functionality achieved.
- Everything the printer can do also works under Linux
- Works almost perfectly - enhanced resolution modes may be missing, or the color is a bit off, but nothing happens that would make the printouts not useful
- Mostly does not work -- you may be able to print only in black and white on a color printer, or the printouts look horrible
- These printers don't work at all. They may work in the future, but don't count on it
If your printer only supports a parallel cable connection, or does not have a high enough ranking above, you may need to obtain a different printer. The Linux Foundation website offers a list of suggested printers and tutorials.
Print using another device
- Select the KEEP button to save the document, such as the Write activity.
- Use Alt-1 to capture the screen itself as a PNG image file: hold Alt key down then press "1" (one) key.
- Connect the USB drive or SD card to your XO laptop. For USB, use any of the three slots that are located on the left or right side of the screen. To access the SD card slot located at the bottom of the screen, rotate the screen 90 degrees (quarter turn), insert the SD card, then rotate the screen back to normal position.
- Connecting the USB drive or SD card will automatically "mount" the new device to the base Linux operating system.
- Go to Journal activity, you will find the document you saved there. An icon representing the USB drive or SD card will appear at the bottom of the Journal activity screen
- Move the cursor to the document you wish to save, hold down the mouse button and drag the document to the USB drive or SD card icon
- You may move several documents to the USB drive or SD card in this manner
- Unmount the USB drive or SD card, position cursor over icon and select UNMOUNT. You may now disconnect the USB drive or SD card from your XO laptop.
The USB drive or SD card can now be passed to the next student, or taken to another computer that can print the document.
Some printers have direct support to print documents from USB drives or SD cards.
Software to enable printing will probably be added sometime with a software upgrade that supports the standard CUPS / IPP protocols.
You can add network printing yourself, in the meantime, if you are in a real pinch and somewhat technically inclined.
A few experiences printing with particular printers.
Some more recent work: