User:Dulcan/Alvin hints and questions

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This page is a running review of what I found out on the XO laptop beginning December 21, 2007. I purchased the laptop with 20 friends at work in the 2 for 1 deal. The information was obtained through trying it out and various help pages on and Feel free to contribute to help us laearn more about using the laptop. This document was started with vi in the Terminal Activity and copied to the Write Activity using the Browser Activity to see the file system. It was, in turn, copied to this page. Liberal use was made of ctrl-a to select all, ctrl-c to copy, and ctrl-v to paste. All of the editing was performed with the XO laptop. See also at the bottom of the page has useful links.


  • Collaboration: How tp I get together with other laptop owners in Fremont, Palo Alto, or Mountain View, California? I expect a lot of people from Google bought it, so I can probably go there.
  • How to switch the screen between color to black and white
  • Where do the activities actually store the files.
  • When will we geet a print capbility, maybe lpr.
  • Sometimes the touchpad goes haywire; reboot fixes; maybe a memory management problem
  • Wireless does not support wpa encryption. wep works. I used shared key with HEX. I needed a reboot to make it work.
  • How to listen to an mp3 file:
    • If downloaded from the web, a Journal entry is created, but it only seems to let you do it once in Etoys. It fails the second time.
  • Why is my touchpad jumpy or ue a USB mouse.
  • a*if it is on a USB drive, use the Journal to launch it. It launhes in Etoys. It plays one file at a time.
  • Spreadsheet: This killer app is not ready yet. It is listd on the download page as in development. Google online spreadsheet can be used

Journal Activity

  • This should be the focus for running the activities
  • It is best to resume a journal entry to reduce the numbr of entries.
  • Clean up is slow because you can only delete journal entries one at a time.
  • USB drives can be plugged in and accessed from the journal. Files can be opened from the drive at the bottom of the screen. A journal entry can be dragged to the Drive icon to copy.
  • Downloaded files from the Browse Activity can be accessed from thr journal.
  • What does the * mean in the journal? In gmail, a star can be selected as an object for an action.


  AMD Geode LX-700@0.8W (datasheet) 433 MHz
  Disk (virtual on Flash) 1,048,576 KB (1 GB)  from terminal df command
  RAM from terminal tp command
    Mem:    237844k total,   226552k used,    11292k free,        0k buffers
  RAM and virtual disk are in file:///home/olpc/alvin/memory
  Camera. speaker, microphone, speaker/microphone jacks
  3 USB ports, SD  memory slot

Terminal Activity

  • Man pages are not loaded so I went to
  • Terminal can access usb drive. It is mounted on /media. df shows the mount.
  • ls (to list directory) cd (to change directory)
  • cp (to copy files) vi (to edit files)
  • find . -name "*.log" find . -mtime -1 -ls
  • /sbin/ifconfig -a gives Ethernet and MAC address under eth0.
  • su - to become root user.
  • Set Date and timezone
su -
export SUGAR_PATH=/usr/share/sugar
sugar-control-panel -s timezone America/Los_Angeles
date 01010957   for January 1, 9:57
  • Copy and Pate in Terminal Activity;
    • When a mouse is attached let button to highlight an copy, middle button to paste. This does not go to the clipboard. The touchpad does not copy and paste.
    • USB drive is mounted on /media. cp can be used to copy.
    • To copy to the Write Activity (top df exampe):
    df > memory.txt             to write into  file
    top -b -n1 >> memory.txt    to append to the file
    Type / in the Browse Activity and then browse to home/olpc to find the file
    Text can then be copied.
  • Screen capture has not been tested
  • How to copy and paste

Write Activity

  • Search is in edit, it is good but it should be hooked upto ctrl-f
  • Spell check, but does not list suggestion; How to add a word to the list (not in /usr/share/dict)
  • auto page break
  • Write can save (keep) as html and rtf
  • Insert image only goes to journal with poor choices
  • There seems to be no way to open a file, for example, /etc/hosts. See #Terminal Activity for how to copy text.

Browse Activity

  • FullScren: alt-enter toggles
  • View Source: cyrl-U does a view source for web pages but is really slow
  • Adobe Flash install to get, for example,,, and, to work
  • Downloaded files from the Browse Activity can be accessed from thr journal.
  • How to tell what web site you are going to (no status bar)
  • Bookmark is awkward as shown in How_do_I_bookmark_a_website_and_browse_it_later
  • Cannot search in browse


  • Find python spreadsheet and install it
  • Make your own activity, maybe a unix command (for example, find) but tie it to an actiity
  • Write tetris and install
  • Talk to Ken Gamble about online comunity and physical community.
  • Voice recognition and intruder alert
  • Picture or video processing using the camera (intruder alert)
  • Speech recognition (voice list application)
  • Use a lot of online apps
  • Screen capture: it looks like you get a screen capture called screenshot when you copy something to the clipboard. It is stored in /home/olpc/.sugar/data which you can get to from the journal
  • Install linux and sugar on another PC so we can work with it without the laptop. Emulating_the_XO
  • See what the kids have done so far, for example, Peru.


  • See Keyboard Shortcuts and
  • top row: esc search(journal) neighborhood friends home activity
  • Panels next to the touch pad are for future activies, maybe with a pen. They are resistive rather than capacitive like the toughpad.
  • Hand key next to alt: it is shown on the web getting started, as not used yet
  • alt-enter toggles full screen mode which can be used in write, browse
  • fn-erase erases from the right
  • alt-f is the same as frame button on the upper right this works in write but not in main view
  • alt-n goes to journal
  • alt tab cycles through the activities
  • alt-p also cycles through the activities
  • alt-r rotates the screen as well as the button on the lower left of the screen

Kiwanis Presentation

This presentation is for the Kiwanis Club of Fremont, CA., on February 12, 2008. The purpose is to present the idea for an audience that is not necessarily technical.

Why give Laptops to children in developing countries?

Timeline shows the idea has 40 year roots.

Will the black market ruin the program?

  • Laptop is for kids
    • Size
    • Color
    • Adults cannot figure out how to use it

Physical Features

  • Rugged, flip screen, rotate screen
  • Wireless connections including the mesh network
  • Camera, Microphone
  • Power saving features for long life: screen, processor
  • Power charging devices
  • No disk drive. Files are kept on non-volatile memory (flash)

Software Features

  • Linux operating system
  • GUI (Graphical User Interface): Sugar
  • Journal based instead of file system based
  • Collaboration (Share)


  • Web Browsing, chat
  • Write
  • Record
  • Music
  • Programming
  • Art (TurtleArt, Paint)
  • Measure, Acoustic Measure, Calculator, Concentration Game
  • Downloadable Activities

What can you do to help?


The purpose of this demo section is to have a 20 minute presentation to introduce of the most interesting features.

  • Network, Neighborhood, Home, alt-tab
  • Journal: Start Here
    • Search for TurtleArt
    • Launch MovingFlower (a TurtleArt stored in my local journal)
  • browse
    • for getting started
    • Full screen (alt enter)
    • Flip screen and close, rotate screen


  • Read about Peru kids
  • Look at otheer activities, for example, etoys, measure, tam-tam
  • 2008-06-27 Check for OS upgrades
  • 2008-06-27 Get printing working, Printer Support, maybe by installing cups

See also