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<< Developer's Setup

The OLPC Contributors Program (aka the Developer's Program) provides contributors with access to resources, primarily hardware that OLPC produces such as the XO (Development Laptops), serial adapters and other peripherals, and spare parts.

We also provide Project Hosting facilities to make the process of working on Software/Hardware for the OLPC project easier for external developers. For an introduction to developing for the OLPC platform, and an API reference, see the Developer's Handbook and the Sugar Almanac.

  • To apply for hardware, please visit our project database and submit an application.
    We have weekly meetings to discuss new proposed projects on IRC; see Contributors program/meetings.
    Please note that the overhead for processing and sending out CP hardware is related to the # of distinct addresses/requests, not the # of machines or projects. It you know other people in your region who are requesting XOs, try to bundle your requests so that hardware for accepted projects can be sent to a single recipient. This will not reduce the chances of any individual project being accepted, and may in fact increase chances.
  • If you have many project requests in a small region, consider setting up a local XO pool and looking after them locally. If you have a request, and are in the region of an existing pool, please first try the regional contacts provided below to get hardware.
  • To apply for project hosting (for a software project), see below.

Project Hosting

If your interest is primarily on doing some systems level or on applications level coding, then join one of the projects on our Hosting Wiki.

We have much more flexibility, bandwidth and CPU available than alternatives like SourceForge, and your project won't be as lost among thousands of other projects unrelated to OLPC. If your project has aspects related to OLPC, but is primarily part of some other project (e.g. GTK+, X11), we're also happy to provide more limited OLPC related facilities, such as bug tracking and our wiki.

Other details are available on project hosting.

XO and hardware access

There are a significant number of OLPC laptops available as part of our contributors program. This page talks specifically about access for software developers, support and testing. While these laptops are useful for some testing, they are not necessary for developing software for the OLPC platform.

Most development work done by traditional developers (as distinct from children who are actually using the OLPC-XOs in the field) for software takes place within either a sugar-jhbuild environment or an emulated XO on a traditional desktop or laptop. See Developers/Setup for a lengthy discussion of how to set up your development environment.

We will give preference for hardware to proposals that require access to the OLPC hardware to make progress.


We're looking for people able and interested in contributing to the OLPC/Sugar Community. This goes far beyond our core of hardware and software developers, eg. we also seek experienced/innovative teachers, and far beyond. Hence our criteria for judging your project proposal are evolving to take this into account!

Classically, required qualifications depended strongly upon where you were interested in working: for example, people working on BIOS/boot paths should be seriously "friends of the electrons", and not scared of JTAG and similar kinds of debugging.

EG. Most driver work takes normal driver debugging skills, though getting power management right can be more challenging than most driver development. And Window system development requires X experience, and so on; applications, experience in developing those or similar applications, and so on.

For a more up-to-date look, see the Meetings section below for actual examples of accepted and rejected proposals.

Expectations of Recipients

We would appreciate Bug Reports for any hardware or software issues you encounter, even if they are not in your own area of interest. Being technically capable, you are more likely to be able to help us isolate and fix bugs than non-technical users.

We would also appreciate it if you would read the Developer's Manual and join the community's communication's channels, the Support or Testing community.

Applying for an XO

If you have tried working with sugar-jhbuild and/or an emulator and have found that you really need a physical XO to develop on, please use this url to request a laptop:

Applying for an Active Antenna

If you need an Active Antenna for development purposes, please note your need in a projectdb submission as noted above, and include 'mesh' or 'antenna' in the project title.

A deprecated way to request antennas or other nonstandard gear:

You can also send mail to the developer at laptop dot org email alias with the following information:

  1. Name
  2. Email address
  3. Employer (if any), University/College
  4. Shipping address and instructions [name, address, (cannot be a post office box), city, postal code, country, phone number (we need this for shipping ]
  5. Quantity of Active Antennas desired
  6. Description of your plans for the Antenna(s). Concrete proposals with defined outcomes are much more likely to result in an Antenna
  7. Description of your experience, both with hardware and software

As with other requests, presuming your request is approved, a mail message will be sent to you with shipping information, or a regret.

XO pools

These are local pools of XO's which are loaned out to developers or other individuals involved in promoting OLPC's mission. (For instance, it should also be possible to get a loan in order to do a demo or have presence at a conference). If you set up a pool on the list below, and you can show evidence that you are actively promoting your program and have a plan for dealing with customs, you should be able to request moderate numbers of XOs from OLPC.

  • Country, contact, number of XO's currently in pool/link to further info

(See also Repair centers; many of these can also function as XO pools.)


Join us Fridays 2PM bringing an advocate for your project, who can independently vouch for your work, thanks!