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  english | עברית HowTo [ID# 269610]  +/-  

This page from 2007 describes the basic instructions for Build 542, the Trial 2 Build for the XO B4 laptops.

Some translations of this page are being made and remerged with the wiki. Doc versions (with some wikitext artifacts):

Important Notes

Please note that the B4 laptops are Beta units and that the software is Alpha. We expect that the Trial-3 software will be our first Beta software release. There are bugs (please refer to the bug tracking system at, and not all components are operational yet.

There are still some outstanding issues with power management; battery life will improve over time.

More detail regarding the status of various software components is available on the OLPC Trial-2 Software Release Notes page in this wiki.

Getting Started

An overview of the laptop

There are LED indicator lights above both the camera and the microphone to indicate if one or both are turned on.

The keyboard


The center part of the Graphics Tablet, which is called the Trackpad (gray shaded area in picture), can be used as a pointing device. Move your finger around the Trackpad to move the cursor. The entire surface of the Graphics Tablet can be used with a stylus.

Opening the laptop

Position the handle away from you and lift both antennae ("bunny ears") up and towards you until the laptop clicks open.

The laptop display and the keyboard are connected on a hinge. Lift the laptop display up and hold the keyboard down to open.

Note that the laptops in these figures are B2 units (B4 units have a dual-tone XO on the back of the machines).

Power on and power off

The Power Button is located in the bottom right-hand corner of the bezel surrounding the screen. Press the power button to turn the laptop on. The green power LED will come on immediately when turned on. However, it takes approximately two minutes for the laptop to boot.

Once the laptop is running, you can use the Power Button to suspend the laptop by pressing it briefly. To shutdown the laptop, you need to hold down the button for 10 seconds.

Using the laptop

Home View

Features of the Home View include the XO icon (the XO figure in the center of the screen), the Activity Circle (which includes the Journal icon--a book and pencil), the network-status indicator (either a circle or a triangle located above the Activity Circle), the battery-status indicator (located below the Activity Circle), and the Frame;

If you leave the Home View to engage in an activity, you can return to the Home View at any time by pressing the Home Key (circle with one dot) Key zoom.jpg.

or by clicking on the Home Icon (circle with one dot) on the Frame (as per above).

XO icon

Each laptop is assigned a color dyad that is used as an identifier throughout the interface.

A menu (hover menu) appears when you place the cursor over the XO icon in the center of the screen. As of Build 542 (software build installed on this laptop), this menu is only used to shutdown the laptop. See image above. In the future, it may be used for setting user preferences, such as colors. The XO can also be shutdown by holding the Power On/Off button down for 10 seconds.

Activity Circle

The circle around the XO icon is used to display activities that are currently running on the laptop. The Journal is always displayed at the bottom of the circle (Journal-icon.png). You can resume an activity by clicking on its iconic representation in the circle.

Network status

The status of the wireless network is indicated by either a circle (mesh) or triangle (access point--school server or other network) on the Home View. Details regarding connectivity are described below.

Battery status

The battery status is indicated by the battery icon. The icon fills with color from left to right to indicate the current charge. Moving the cursor over the battery icon provides a pop-up menu with more information. Please note that the battery LED, which is located in the right-bottom corner of the display screen, is illuminated when the battery is charging; it varies from yellow to green. A red light indicates that the battery is running low.


The Frame always appears on the Home View. You can toggle the Frame (to hide or show the Frame) with the Frame Key, which is located on the upper-right corner of the keyboard Key frame.jpg or by moving the cursor to any corner of the screen (aka 'Hot Corners').

Upper-left icons on the keyboard and display (Keys to help navigate around the laptop)


  • Circle with eight dots: This icon takes you to the Neighborhood View; you can view network resources and other users on the mesh network;
  • Circle with three dots: This icon takes you to the Group View; you can see users you have identified as friends;
  • Circle with one dot: This icon takes you to the Home View;
  • Circle with rectangle: This icon returns you to your last open activity, so you can resume work on your current activity.

Bottom icons found on the display (Keys to take you to activities)

Different builds have different collections of activities. In Build 542, the activities available are (from left to right on the menu bar):


Right-side icons on the display (your XO buddies)

This menu found on the right-hand side of the Frame contains the XO icons of the people with whom you are collaborating on XO online projects.

Left-side icons on your display (clipboard)

The menu on the left side of the Frame contains the icons for the clipboard. Most activities support drag and drop onto and off of the clipboard.

Neighborhood View

Neighborhood Icon

From the Neighborhood View (sometimes referred to as the Mesh View), you can see who is present on the network; which activities and objects are being shared; and which networks are available. You can access the Neighborhood View by pressing the Neighborhood Key (circle with eight dots -- Key zoom.jpg) or by pressing the Neighborhood Icon on the Frame.

Your XO icon appears in the center of the screen in the Neighborhood View. Moving your cursor over another XO icon will bring up a menu that provides additional details (user's name) and actions you can take (add to list of Friends). For example:

Getting connected

Icon representations in the Neighborhood View include the circle for the mesh network 542-mesh-meshicon.png and triangles for the infrastucture 542-mesh-apicon.png access points (school server or other networks). (The access points are randomly color-coded.) By default, the Network Manager (software program internal to the laptop) first tries to connect to a school server; if the connection to the school server fails, the Network Manager tries to connect with an access point (a network); if connection to the access point fails, the Network Manager connects to a mesh point on Channel 1. This searching process can take up to five minutes, since there are many channels to check and timeouts associated with each one. You can override the Network Manager by clicking on a triangle (access point). The interior of the triangle (or circle) blinks while the connection is being established. The exterior of the triangle (or circle) will blink when the connection is established. (If you are connecting to a WEP access point, you will be prompted for a hexadecimal key. We currently do not support WPA access point.)

More details regarding the connection:

  • if you connect to an access point, your laptop becomes a mesh portal point—other XO laptops in the vicinity will be able to connect to the Internet through your laptop;
  • similarly, if there is another XO laptop connected to an access point, you can connect to that laptop—and the Internet—through the mesh;
  • if there are no access points available, your laptop will default to a mesh point on Channel 1, which enables your laptop to connect to other laptops;
  • please be patient; it takes the Network Manager up to five minutes to progress through a number of the options until it finds a suitable connection.

Joining an activity

From the Neighborhood View (also, called Mesh View), moving the cursor over an activity icon and pressing enter launches that activity on your laptop as a collaboration. Details of the collaboration vary from one activity to another.

Adding a buddy

Hovering over an XO icon creates a pop-up window with the name of the person associated with that icon and a menu that can be used to add this person to your Group View as a friend. Move the cursor to and select "Make a Friend" to add this person.

Group View

From the Group View (also known as the Friends View), you can see which friends are on the network. You can access this view by pressing the Group Key (circle with three dots -- Key zoom.jpg) or by pressing on the Group Icon on the Frame.

Activity Circle

You can initiate activities from the Home View by pressing the icon for that activity from the menu bar located at the bottom of the Frame. An icon representing the activity you started will appear in the Activity Circle and blink for a few seconds before launching into that activity. If you leave your activity without closing it, you can resume your current activity by pressing the Actitvity Key (circle with rectangle --Key zoom.jpg) or by pressing the Activity Icon on the Frame.

You can open activities until the ring is full; you will not be able to start any more activities until you close one or more.


Switching between activities

Multiple activities can run at once. You can move between running activites by returning to the Home View (key with one dot—Key zoom.jpg) and clicking on an activity found in the Activity Circle.

Exiting Activities

Every activity has an Activity tab that includes a Stop Icon 542-stopicon.png. Clicking on this icon exits the activity. Alt-C works -- in most cases—as a shortcut for exiting activities. (The Keep Icon 542-keepicon.png will be used for version control in the Journal.)

An instance of the activity can be renamed by typing into the text field (542-textfield.png) on the Activity Tab.

Many activities can be run either stand-alone or shared with other users on the mesh by selecting "My Neighborhood" within the activity (542-sharemenu.png).



The Journal is accessed from the Journal Icon (Journal-icon.png) at the bottom of the Activity Circle on the Home View.

The Journal automatically logs your activities on the laptop. From the Journal, you can search by keyword and sort by activity or date. Clicking on an entry brings up a detail page from which you can resume an activity (by clicking on the Activity Icon or Key542-resumeicon.png) or copy its contents onto the clipboard (by pressing on the Copy Icon 542-copyicon.png).

The Journal also supports external media. When a USB key is inserted into the machine, the contents from the USB key are entered into the datastore of the laptop and become accessible through the Journal. Click on the USB icon Journal-usb.png to access the content. You can also drag and drop Journal entries on to or off of a USB key.


Browse is an Internet browser.

To launch the web browser, click the Globe Icon File:Web.png on the Frame. The browser has two tabs: the standard Activity Tab and a Browser Tab. The Browser Tab has an address field, forward and backward history buttons, as well as a reload button.


Squeak Etoys is a media-rich authoring environment with a simple, powerful scripted object model for many kinds of objects created by end-users that runs on many platforms. It includes 2D and 3D graphics, images, text, particles, presentations, web-pages, videos, sound and MIDI, etc. It includes the ability to share desktops with other Etoy users in real-time, so many forms of immersive mentoring and play can be done over the Internet.

From the Frame, press the shooting-star icon Etoysicon.png; the Etoys activity will load and present a launch screen.

There is a PDF guide to Etoys, and other tutorials here.


TamTam is a suite of three music and sound related activities for the XO. TamTam is written in python with some C functions for speed-critical services. The audio engine for TamTam is Csound.

From the Home View Frame, click on the drum icon—Tamtam.png.

Use the keyboard to play sounds at different pitches.

Use TamTam Edit to compose music.

Use TamTam Synth Lab to create new instruments.


This activity uses a camera to take still pictures or videos.

The video and still image record activity is launched by pressing on the Camera (Eye) Icon—Record.png in the Frame. If you share the camera activity, then a Camera Icon appears in the Neighborhood View. Other users can launch the Record Activity from the Neighborhood View (542-mesh-cameraicon.png) and share pictures.

Watch and Listen

Watch and Listen is based on the Helix multimedia player. It supports a variety of audio and video formats. Launch the Watch and Listen progrm by clicking on the File:Watch&listen.png icon in the Frame.


Write, based on the Abiword word processor, is a basic word processor. To launch Write, press the Write icon Write.png in the Frame. When shared, multiple people can simultaneously edit the same document (i.e., group editing). To launch Write as a group activity, press the Write Icon from the Neighborhood View (542-mesh-writeicon.png).


Calculator activity provides classic calculator functions such as add, subtract, divide and multiply, as well as scientific functions such as cos, sin, exp, etc. To launch the Calculator application press the calculator icon Calculator.png from the Frame.

Turtle Art

Turtle Art is a logo-like application that draws colorful art via a turtle and scratch-like visual programming elements that snap together in compilable ways.

To launch the Turtle Art application press the Turtleart.png icon on the menu bar in the Frame.


The Read (PDF) Activity allows you to share books on the mesh (in the Neighborhood View) 542-mesh-readicon.png.


The Chat activity provides a simple interface for collaborative discussion, be it between two individuals or among a group as large as an entire classroom.

To start a chat, open the Chat Activity by clicking on the balloon icon—Chat.png in the Frame. A Chat Icon will appear in the Neighborhood View on each laptop in the mesh: other users can join the chat by clicking on this icon (542-mesh-chaticon.png). Enter text at the bottom of the screen on one XO, and the text will appear on the screen on other XOs engaged in the chat.


BlockParty is a falling-blocks puzzle game; the object of the game is to create a horizontal line of blocks wthout gaps. Launch Block Party by pressing the Blockparty.png icon on the meunu bar in the Frame.


This is an activity to make drawings and paintings. Launch Draw by pressing the Draw icon Paint.png on the menu bar in the Frame.


Connect4 is a two-player game; the object of the game is to be the first player to place four circles in a row.

To connect another player to the game, Player One launches the game from the menu bar on the Frame Connect4.png. Player Two joins the game by selecting the Connect4 icon in the Neighborhood View (542-mesh-connect4-icon.png).

News Reader

The NewsReader activity provides an interface for viewing news feeds (RSS feeds--Really Simple Syndication) of current news.

To launch the News Reader, press the News Reader iconNewsfeed.png on the menu bar on the Frame.


Other Activities

There are many more Activities that can be loaded onto the laptop. Automatic installation is working in recent builds (547+) but not yet in Build 542.

Sunlight-readable display

The XO's unique display works both indoors and in direct sunlight. The display works in the following ways:

  • A color image is generated from the backlight passing through color filters in the display.
  • A high-resolution grayscale (black and white) image is generated from ambient light reflecting off of mirrors in the display.
  • When the backlight is on and there is a source of ambient light—the sun, a room light, etc.—you see the combination of two displays.
  • You can save power (and thus extend battery life) by turning the backlight off. The display remains visible, but there is no color.
  • If the ambient light is too intense, the color is washed out; typically you would turn off the backlight in sunlight.

On the top row of the keyboard, there are three long buttons. The long button on the far right controls the lighting and sound on the display.

Key brightness-volume.png

This long button contains four keys. The left two keys control the lighting.

  • The small sun key on the left dims the backlight when pressed; repeated presses on this key puts the display into black and white mode.
  • The large sun key, the second key from the left, increases the brightness of the backlight and enables color mode when pressed repeatedly.

The two keys on the right of the long button are used to decrease and increase speaker volume.

Handheld mode (or eBook mode)

When in the eBook mode, the keyboard and touchpad are covered. Only the game controller buttons, which can be used for scrolling, the camera, and the microphone, work.

Keyboard shortcuts

Ctrl-C – copy
Ctrl-V – paste
Ctrl-X – cut
Alt-C – quit
Ctrl-Alt-Erase – restart Sugar (and X Windows)
Alt-= – toggle on/off developer console
Ctrl-Alt-F1 – console (1)
Ctrl-Alt-F2 – console (2)
Ctrl-Alt-F3 – X Windows
Alt-1 – save snapshot of screen into the Journal

(F1 is the same as the Neighborhood View Key; F2 is the same as the Friends View Key; F3 is the same as the Home View Key.)

Bugs and/or Known Issues

Audio suspend problem

There is a bug that causes the laptop to squeal if it goes into suspend mode while using TamTam. Please exit TamTam before closing the laptop (which puts it into suspend mode). The work-around is to turn off the laptop: When it is turned back on, the squeal is gone. (NOTE: fixed in later builds)

Battery status icon problem

The battery status icon does not always accurately reflect the percentage of charge left in the battery. Please monitor the battery LED located in the right-bottom corner of the display to determine when to recharge. If the battery LED is red, battery needs to be recharged.

Keys that do not work

75 — Journal search key
75 — Bulletin-board key
Key grableft.png Key grabright.png — Grab keys (on either side of the space bar)
Key viewsource.png — View-source key (NOTE: enabled for Browse in later builds)