Repair centers

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If you are looking for a repair center to fix your XO, see the Repair center locations instead.

This is a community-run effort. The content on this page is not necessarily produced or endorsed by OLPC or its employees.

Current status

Repair centers are in beta mode - a few groups of long-time volunteers, in partnership with staff at OLPC, have set up shop with bricked/broken/extra XO laptops. If you're interested in getting involved, you can help.

What this page is for

  • People who are running, or who are interested in running, an independent, community-run and community-organized, XO laptop repair center.
  • Discussion on how to best operate, plan, supply, and otherwise organize such repair centers.
  • Feedback and collaboration with the OLPC office in Boston about how to best create a supply-chain solution so that independent repair centers can obtain parts.
  • Tip-sharing, advice-giving, and best practices for repair of XO hardware problems.
  • We have focused primarily on hardware problems so far. In other words, the repairs we do tend to involve physical disassembly of the XO laptop. Another way of putting it is that we focus on fixing laptops until they can turn on and boot; debugging/upgrading software typically does not fall within the scope of current repair center discussions.

Get Involved. Meet Others Who Will Support You

  1. Email < holt AT laptop DOT org > your phone number, to discuss your plans! Include a basic outline of your repair center proposal, and which business model(s) and/or volunteering model(s) you are considering towards sustainability. Be sure to include all the best times of the week when you want OLPC to call you back. OLPC will support all reasonable plans/suggestions, as long as they are thought out.
  2. Read (and contribute to!) the How to start a repair center guidebook.
  3. Join the Repairs mailing list. Please read the last few weeks of archives to get an idea of the current discussion before introducing yourself to the list. Also consider the grassroots mailing list. Share your plans & discuss your successes!
  4. Fix laptops in your area, and document the fixes on this wiki in the Repairs cookbook. Make tutorials and walkthroughs on how to replace damaged parts, what you can substitute for a lost charger, and whatever things you might encounter. If you have started or plan to start a repair center, list it in the Directory of repair centers.
  5. If you have time to devote towards this, do join the Support gang to help field calls and emails from people who have no local repair options.


A few semi-spontaneous discussions have been held on IRC, and future talks will likely take place in the #olpc-groups channel. We don't have regular meetings (yet). Hang out in the channel if you are interested, or post on the mailing lists if you'd like to gather the community in real-time.

Meeting minutes


  • "Repair centers" can refer to individuals, schools, nonprofits, companies... any group interested in helping people get their XO laptops fixed.
  • Repair centers can charge, be free, whatever they want financially.
  • Repair centers do not get marching orders or funding from OLPC-the-nonprofit. (Financial and logistical independence.)
  • Repair centers are an educational process; things other than financial/process efficiency also matter.

Program goals

  • Minimize shipping
  • Minimize bottlenecks
  • Minimize necessary infrastructure - "we're in business to put ourselves out of business"
  • Maximize user control and choice
  • Maximize available service
  • Encourage peer to peer repair support - "repair local act global"
  • Any given XO owner should have at least 3 different routes to repairing their laptop, including fixing it themselves. (Corollary: tools for repair should be available, as well as parts.)
  • Anti-vandalism repair program design - make it hard to cheat people and easily for anyone to track down and correct it, without putting legal/financial responsibility on OLPC itself.

Legal stuff

  • OLPC is not liable for anything repair centers do. The burden is on repair centers and users to understand the legalities behind repair-related liabilities in their country.
  • We should get volunteers to research and compile guides to relevant legal information for various countries where repair centers might be starting up in (do this on the public wiki).
  • We must make it clear to potential repair shop starters/workers that they will be held responsible if they break stuff; OLPC can't help them.

Rights and Will Nots

OLPC will not

  • prevent independent groups from setting up their own optional/non-required repair-center certification processes, with that in mind, currently no officially recognized OLPC certification process exists.
  • restrict access to new or reconditioned parts

Repair center rights

  • You have the right to start up, operate, and close down when and how you wish.
  • You have the right to privacy; you do not need to advertise, be listed, or share information about yourself with anybody in any way.
  • You have the right to choose your credentials. You may choose or create a certification system yourself as long as it is clearly marked as a non-official OLPC certification.
  • You have the right to make a profit in a way that does not obstruct the rights of others, including XO users and other repair centers.
  • You can offer and charge for any services you wish, including repair programs, warranties, etc. but it is your legal responsibility to handle and fulfill them financially and otherwise.
  • You have the right to serve whom you please, and to turn down jobs you don't want. (For instance, a repair center may restrict itself to only serving children from a particular school, or decide to specialize in display problems only.)

Repair centers CAN NOT:

  • have an exclusive territorial or other monopoly over any user group
  • directly hinder or prevent any other repair center from operating

User rights

Inspired by the Maker Bill of Rights

  • You are free to obtain parts and service from any person or group you wish.
  • You are free to fix your laptop yourself; you do not have to go to a repair center if you do not want to.
  • Buyer beware.

Repair center paradigms

  1. Ship part to user, DIY repair
  2. Ship part to user, user looks up repair centers in some directory, contacts them individually for help
  3. User looks up local repair centers in directory, contacts them directly to order parts and get help
  4. User ships XO laptop to repair center, repair center ships back a working XO immediately for a flat rate, repair center gets parts and fixes broken XO then adds to "working XO" stack
  5. (variant of above:) Different centers specialize in different parts - when a user sends in a broken laptop, that part of the laptop gets replaced with a working part, and the broken part is repaired (or if complicated, sent to the specialist). When repaired, the part goes into the working-parts pile.
  6. User ships XO laptop to repair center, repair center gets parts, fixes laptop, ships same XO back to user
  7. User contacts SG, SG walks them through diagnosis with a help@ RT ticket, when they figure out what's wrong user is pointed towards instructions or local repair centers
  8. After-school XO repair class/program, students (not necessarily limited to kids) fix XOs for "homework"

Financing paradigms

  1. OLPC sponsors/certifies nobody and does not run its own "official repair shops" (although it will probably provide some helpful resources, hints, and gathering places for repair centers to use). Each repair center is financially and logistically on their own.
  2. If OLPC offers parts at a premium, and also offers a 'pedigree', repairs could become a donation source. This requires OLPC to manage, support, finance, and assume legal responsibility for such a program, though.

Business plans

Have a business plan model for how repair centers can run? Talk with one of the Repair center locations about how to apply it to their specific situation, or post your ideas here.

  • [1] Business Planning Flowchart For New Businesses
  • Business plan model - post ideas here!
  • Business plan model - post ideas here!

some ideas:
- some soft/hardware hackers 
- limited space (my living room 2x month) informal tech meeting where
reparing can be on the agenda. 
- some tools (disassembling, solder, multimeters) internet. (no scopes,
jtag tools jet)

- getting parts from broken XO's that are sent/brought.
- shipping costs by senders, receivers.

Online documentation registration:
- parts wanted/available
- disassembled / repaired XO


Scaling up:
Since there hardly any XO's in Europe, it is rather quiet now.
I see two models:

lowlevel (< 5 per cell) week:
- create more cells or get community space (University, Schools, ?)
- copy above model per town/neigbourhood
- train people in skills/knowledge

doing > 20 XO a week 
create a student training program:
- helpdesk
- hardware debugging
- Linux systems network administration

Marten 14:33, 17 March 2008 (EDT)

= The XO / XS Repair Service Center =
== Premisses ==
There will be 15,000 XOs and 49(+?) XS' in the
immediate vicinity within the next 6 months.
The (Birmingham City Schools) Bord of Educaton (as owner of 
the project and the XS' - yet not the XOs) may or may not be 
cooperating. Service contracts with The Board are possible, 
but at the moment nothing to bet money on.
Warranty on the first 1,000 XOs will expire around May 17th.

== So What? ==
If failure rates are somewhere near 1% per year this calls for 150 repairs. 
In industrial environments failure rates for mobile equipmenmt (even 
rugedized) is more in the 5 - 10% range, but there workers don't own their 
equipment and it is getting about 18 hours of heavy usage per week day and 
workers are not allowed to fix their equipment. Here (--> XO) 1/3 of the 
incidents may be fixed by the owners / kids themselves.

At new unit replacement prices somewhere in the $200 - $400 range 
(subject to availability and delivery times), repair can't hope to regularly 
charge more than 50% of the replacement value and would have to provide 
(more than 30 days of?) warranty on the work provided.
If 50% of the repair charges go to shipping and paying for spare parts, this 
leaves (150 x $300 x 50% =) $22,500 p.a. for the repair center to cover its costs.
Looking at these numbers the venture should be stopped right here.
The service (not just repair) center may none the less flourish if the 
customer / client base can be enlarged and 'high value' services get created. 
Here I am thinking of community centers, churches, local businesses with hot 
spots, and the like which might want to provide (content filtered?) web access 
for XO users. They could use something like a community XS server which could 
mirror several (near by) school's moodle (or other) contents.

So looking at the numbers, a mere repair shop won't be able to survive on much 
less than about 50,000 XOs as possible customer base (in the US - third world 
requirements for generated income may be less).
The only option for a full time job to be created is by expanding the services 
to related areas. Unfortunately the XS development seems far (!) from supporting 
this kind of venture.

TTown 14:49, 19 March 2008 (EDT)

Issues under debate

Official certification debate

"Official certification" refers to an "official" OLPC-administered certification (possibly with training) that repair shops can get.


  • Keep people from getting ripped off by scam artists
  • Community recognition and respect
  • Nice to have an "I'm good at this!" badge


  • Bottleneck; "We're in business to put ourselves out of business"
  • Paper does not determine talent - possible to forge
  • Independent groups can and will set up their own cert processes so we don't have to; see

Copycat parts

Discussion opinion on this topic was split, and the final answer needs to be determined by OLPC and its partners.

Everyone agreed that copycat/unofficial parts would happen, and shouldn't be unilaterally stopped. There was disagreement on whether there should be "official" and "unofficial" parts (as "quality guarantees") or requirements/recommendations for manufacturers to make their parts traceable back to them (legal/copycat concerns vs users being able to track/recommend particular parts to each other).

  • What components are open/not-open in terms of licensing and design?
  • Does OLPC or its partners have any issues with people designing, producing, and selling copies of existing XO parts?
    • Will there be any "official" OLPC parts or products, and if so, how will they be identified?
    • Are there any ID/logo/branding or source identification/disclosure rules they should follow or avoid?
    • What will be encouraged, discouraged, and enforced?
  • Does OLPC or its partners have any issues with people designing, producing, and selling other (non-copycat) XO parts/accessories?
    • Are there any ID/logo/branding or source identification/disclosure rules they should follow or avoid?
    • What will be encouraged, discouraged, and enforced?
  • How does this work with international patents/trademarks/copyright laws?

Resources needed

This is a list of resources OLPC and the OLPC community might consider creating.

  • Tech documentation to go off teamwiki onto public (mchua: It's unclear what further documentation is needed; please list specific stuff we need access to but don't have and we can try to get access to those in particular.)
  • A place where all repair centers can list themselves ("Yellow Book") and be reviewed (separately?)
  • Sample repair contract templates for download and use - completely optional, but encouraged for people to keep track of repairs they do or have done.
  • A place/way for people to upload the aforementioned repair contracts, so that a neutral third-party has records that can be accessed in the event they're needed.
  • Suggestions for ways repair centers can track and organize their information
    • Templates/examples on public wiki
    • "RT for repair centers" guidebook (and offers of free hosting)
    • other solutions?
  • Repair info on laptop libraries
    • a page with instructions for repair, as in Disassembly]
    • "User's Bill Of Rights" informing them that they can hack their laptop and choose who to entrust it to, and tips on how to be smart about it
    • A page on what part designs are/aren't open, and where the open part schematics are available (should also be available online)
    • A link to the repair centers info page
  • On the public wiki: a grassroots-maintained resource on any legal issues involved with running a repair center, manufacturing/selling parts, etc. for various countries

How you can help

We need action, but first we need ideas that can be put into action, since repair centers can involve the complex and costly shipping of parts across the world, and we'd like to minimize this whenever possible and discuss it in advance. Some specific things we're looking for are below.

Support the pilot

A small-scale pilot is being run near the 1cc office in Boston in order to test out possible logistics for a larger repair centers program. See Olin repair center for more information and what you can do to help - your contributions here will go directly towards making a repair center program accessible for other locations and the rest of the world.

Business plans

We need "business plan" proposals for individual repair centers themselves - which can only be generated by the folks who want to run those centers, as each situation is different. What will you do, how will you run both logistically and financially, where will you get resources and what resources will you have, what services will you offer to whom, and so on. Note that it may be a few months before we're ready to have other repair shops join the fray, but we can certainly start preparing. Add your group to the Repair center locations list, get in touch with an existing repair center group directly with feedback, or generate ideas for business plans and post them here.

Supply chain solutions

We need to find a way to deal with the financial, shipping, and legal logistics behind repair centers getting parts - wide-scale donations (even of broken machines) to any repair center that wants them isn't a scalable/sustainable solution. There's also the tough balance of ensuring repair centers are run by good people doing good work without imposing onerous "certification" burdens on either the repair centers or OLPC itself (which doesn't have the resources or the desire to be the Big Boss behind all these repair shops) - again, any help in coming up with models and solutions for this would be super-welcome. Add your thoughts on the discussion page.

Repair center kits

See Repair center kit for some equipment you might want to start off your XO repair shop.

Collaboration models

A number of global/grassroots communication and collaboration models among repair shops so that they can share ideas, parts, refer customers to each other, and so on. After generating a strawman business plan for your center, you may want to get in touch with one of the other centers-in-the-making and hash out ideas together for how two entirely different repair centers - or more! - might be able to work with each other. Get in touch with Repair centers directly, or add your thoughts on the discussion page.

Situational adaptations

The situation in the US with G1G1 and small, privately-run pilots is also rather different than the situation in the countries that the "give one" laptops are rolling out to en masse. One is the availability of parts (and transport to ship things in and out) and the proportionally higher "real cost" of parts as a significant expense to XO users not in "Get One" households. Another is saturation of laptops in an area and how that affects supply and demand - if 15 centers in Chicago want to open repair shops, but only 100 laptops exist in the entire metro/suburban area and most of those are with developers who can usually repair their own, what can centers do? Local pilots in "Get One" areas will change the saturation situation drastically - how will community groups react? Add your thoughts on the discussion page.

Doing more than just repair

Repair centers don't have to just do repairs, they can do other things that require physical equipment like peripheral/hardware/charger etc. design, community gathering places... becoming a physical meeting point for local Grassroots groups. What else can you think of? Add your thoughts on the discussion page.

Eliana y ademar

Other resources

Discussion on repair centers can be found on the talk page. Also see the pilot repair center going up at Boston-area Olin College as a first testing point of the infrastructure - more sites to follow.