Release notes/10.1.0

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This release has been developed to refresh our technologies with the Fedora 11 base operating system, and as our first software release capable of running on the new XO 1.5 laptop.

New features

Fedora 11

The release is now built on top of the Fedora 11 operating system. This software refresh results in various user-visible improvements, for example, an update to the Firefox backend results in the Browse activity being able to support HTML5 websites, and an update to the AbiWord word processing library fixes various problems where the Write activity would not function well with complex scripts (e.g. arabic).

Sugar 0.84

Sugar has been updated from v0.82 to v0.84. See the Sugar 0.84 release notes on the Sugar Labs wiki for more information.

GNOME 2.26

A more conventional desktop environment, GNOME 2.26, has been added. This is intended for older children and advanced users. Users can switch between GNOME and Sugar through the Switch desktop applet in the Sugar control panel, and the Switch to Sugar icon on the GNOME desktop.

GNOME applications

Some of the featured GNOME applications installed by default are:

  • Audacity, a multi-track audio editor and recorder
  • Inkscape, a featureful vector graphics editor
  • GIMP, a versatile bitmap graphics manipulation package
  • Abiword, the GNOME version of the word processor used by the Write activity
  • Gnumeric, the GNOME spreadsheet program

Faster startup and shutdown

In addition to the overall speed improvements as a result of the new hardware found in the XO-1.5, a significant cause of boot delay has been identified (the boot animation!), and fixed. A 15-second delay in the shutdown path has also been eliminated.

Faster Sugar activity updater

The Sugar activity updater (available in the Sugar control panel) previously contacted both the activity group page (usually hosted on the school server), as well as internet-based homepages for each installed activity. Due to the high-latency of connections found throughout our deployments, this 2nd stage made the activity updater somewhat unusable.

This has now been improved so that internet-bound requests are only made for activities that are not listed on the activity group page (which is typically hosted locally). Also, requests made over that local channel have been decreased. The result is that the activity updater runs much quicker during the checking for updates stage in any environment.

Activation over 802.11 infrastructure networks

Prior OLPC OS releases could obtain activation leases over USB, SD, or the OLPC XO-1 mesh (rarely used). Those deployments which use OLPC's theft deterrence systems now have a new option: the activation code will now search for leases over any unsecured 802.11 infrastructure networks that can be found. The school server is set up out-of-the-box to respond to such requests.

Network-based lease updates

The lease-based activation security system is designed for deterring theft within the delivery chain. However, some deployments continue to use this as a more general theft-deterrence system after the laptop has been handed over to its owner. In addition to checking for OS updates, a periodic update task will now accept updated leases from a deployment-preconfigured server (e.g. the school server). This means that deploying updated activation leases can be done hands-free. See the theft deterrence protocol page for technical information.

Key delegation

An update to Open Firmware means that deployments are now able to delegate secure generation of activation leases to localised infrastructure, e.g. school servers, with only minor reductions in security. Unfortunately no documentation has been prepared yet, although curious readers can read the initial proposal behind the new technology.

Notable current bugs

No battery monitor in GNOME

While the battery level can be monitored through Sugar's frame in the usual way, there is currently no way to monitor the battery from the GNOME environment. (<trac>9781</trac>)

No NANDblaster

NANDblaster, a technology used to install OLPC OS releases on large numbers of laptops simultaneously, unfortunately did not make it into this release. You cannot NANDblast XO-1.5 laptops at this time. This feature is a high priority and we expect to reimplement it shortly. (<trac>9484</trac>)

No image-builder

The image builder script has previously been used by deployments to add activities to the activity-less OLPC OS distributions, allowing deployments to have complete control over which activities are shipped to their users. This script is XO-1 specific and has not been updated for XO-1.5.

At this time, OLPC's customers can work with OLPC to produce builds customised for local requirements.

In the near future, we plan to publish a build tool which will make it easier than before to build and customize OLPC OS images, and this will replace the function of image-builder.

No acceleration of movies/video

The XO-1.5 includes brand new video hardware, and Linux support for this hardware is still in teething stages. While suitable for general operation, you may notice poor performance when attempting to watch videos or view video from the camera. (<trac>9407</trac>)

No screen rotation

The screen rotation key found below the bottom left of the display is currently not functional. (<trac>9350</trac>)

Low sound quality in Scratch activity

Sound output from the Scratch activity is, well, scratchy. (<trac>9375</trac>)

Outdated Help activity

The Help activity has been carried forward from OLPC OS 8.2.0, but not all of the content has been updated yet. While much of the high-quality content remains relevant, there are parts that are no longer up-to-date due to changes within the Sugar environment and the XO-1.5 hardware.

No method for disabling wireless

While the wireless chip will turn off completely when you enter "sleep" mode via a power button press or lid close, there is not currently a way to turn off the chip while the system is running. (<trac>9899</trac>)


Make sure your Firmware is up to date. These instructions were tested with OLPC Firmware q3a25.

Internal microSD

This is the conventional method; the build is installed to the internal microSD device and no external device needs to be attached afterward to boot it.


Download os64.zd from the build directory and put it on the root directory of a USB memory stick. Turn on the XO-1.5 with the check mark (tick) game key pressed down, then press ESC (X) to get to the OFW prompt "ok".

Insert the USB stick, then type

fs-update u:\os64.zd

Progress will be displayed. Once finished, remove the USB stick, and type


If you use an SD card instead of a USB stick, use "sd:\" instead of "u:\".

External SD

This is an alternate method; the build is installed onto a portable SD card memory device, which must be plugged in to boot, and must remain plugged in while the system is running. It is intended for testing, and should not change the data on the internal microSD.

Select an SD card that has nothing you need on it, and is at least 4Gb in size.


Perform the steps as above for the internal microSD, but change the target used by the fs-update command, like this

devalias fsdisk ext:0
fs-update u:\os64.zd

External USB

This is an alternate method; the build is installed onto a portable USB memory device, which must be plugged in to boot, and must remain plugged in while the system is running. It is intended for testing, and should not change the data on the internal microSD.

This method is also more risky, since it is so easy to destroy data on a system.

Select a USB memory stick that has nothing you need on it, and is at least 4Gb in size.


Download os64.img.gz from the build directory and write it block-wise to a USB stick

zcat os64.img.gz > /dev/sdX

Note: known to work on os48, known to not work on os40 (per #9681 and #9686).

Updating OS

If you wish to update the XO 1.5 operating system from a previous version, you can type on the terminal, as root:

olpc-update 10.2_xo1.5-108   # updating to build 108 of 10.2