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XO laptop
a flexible, ultra low-cost, power-efficient, and durable laptop computer designed by OLPC; features include mesh networking and a sun-light readable display
XS school server
the school server extends the storage and computation provided by each laptop, as well as providing a local library and a mesh portal to the Internet.


mesh network
A wireless mesh network is a communications network made up of radio nodes in which nodes can forward information on behalf of each other so that even nodes that are not in direct radio contact can communicate via nodes that are between them. The collective coverage area of the radio nodes working as a single network becomes a mesh cloud.
infrastructure mode
network connectivity through a WiFi access point, e.g., 802.11b/g
mesh mode
network connectivity through a mesh network, e.g., 802.11s
simple mesh mode
a mesh network that is running between laptops without a School Server
school server mesh mode
a mesh network that is mediated by a School Server
a discovery service for finding other laptops on the network
a protocol that the laptop uses for collaboration
a protocol for passing data between laptops
mesh channel
the laptops use three channels for communication: 1, 6, and 11; in simple mesh mode, the laptops can only see other laptops on the same channel; in a School Server mesh, laptops on all channels are visible
access point (AP)
an AP is a device that connects wireless communication devices together to form a wireless network. The AP usually connects to a wired network and can relay data between wireless devices and wired devices. Several APs can link together to form a larger network.
mesh portal point
a mesh node that serves as a gateway (portal) to a network external to the mesh

Operating system and firmware

operating system (OS)
The low-level system that manages the various files, processes, etc. needed to operate the laptop; the OS used by the XO laptop is the RedHat Fedora distribution of Linux.
a specific instance of the operating system, designated by category and number; e.g., Ship.2-656; Update.1-698; Joyride-1792
the process by which a fresh build is installed in the laptop; reflashing overwrites all files, including files in /home/olpc, so it should be done with caution
update (olpc-update)
the process by which incremental changes to a build are installed on the laptop;
system firmware
The system firmware is made up of 2 parts: The EC and OFW. The first part is the software that runs the embedded controller (EC). The EC handles the processing of the keyboard, touchpad, game buttons, power button, and charging the battery. The second part is OpenFirmware (OFW). OFW is responsible for initializing the hardware and booting the operating system. OFW also handles boot security so that it will only load “offical” OLPC operating systems.
wireless firmware
The wireless firmware is software that controls the operation of the wireless radio. It is downloaded into the wireless radio by the operating system.

Internal storage

NAND flash
the 1G internal storage used in the laptop
SPI flash
internal storage used by the embedded controller
component that manages the access to the data displayed in the Journal; these data are stored in individual files; an index that contains the metadata and speeds up searches

External storage

jumpdrive/thumb drive/USB drive/USB stick/memory stick
A small, external storage device that plugs into one of the USB ports on a computer. They can store between 16MB (enough to hold several music files) up to 4GB (enough to hold several high quality full-length movie files) and a wide range in between. Jump drives are easily purchased at any electronic store starting as low as $5 to $10. The XO laptop has three USB slots.
SD card
Secure Digital (SD) is a flash (non-volatile) memory card format used in portable devices, including digital cameras, handheld computers, PDAs, and mobile phones. SD card capacities range from 8 MB to 32 GB. The XO laptop has one SD slot.

User Interface (UI)

Sugar UI
the user interface of the laptop is called “Sugar”; it consists of four views, the Frame, and the Journal
home view
a view of what activities you are running and other status information—home view is the starting view on the laptop;
group view
a view of your friends with whom you are working on shared projects;
neighborhood view
a view of who is on the network with you and what activities and content are being shared;
activity view
a view used by the current activity that is running on the laptop
the Frame, which can appear in any view, holds a clipboard, the task bar (for starting activities), navigation controls, and list of “buddies” (collaborators);
a special activity where you can see your previous work done in other activities. You can also resume the work done at those activities;
an user-interface element that appears in the top part of most activities and contains one or more toolbars
an user-interface element that can contains several buttons, text entry fields, drop-down menus, etc. that is usually contained in a toolbox; common examples of toolbars include: Activity, View, Edit, et al.
a black box that appears when the mouse hovers over an object; a palette can contain the name of the control, some details about it or some related actions

Activities and Content

an application that has an icon in the taskbar, e.g., Write, Record, Browse; Activities engage you in taking a picture, reading a book, creating a page, annotating a page, animating a drawing, making sounds and music, measuring and sensing, sharing your favorites, inviting your friends, surfing on the web, etc...
books, music, movies, photographs, drawings, etc. that are created on the laptop or downloaded to the laptop
content library
content that is created on the laptop is accessed through the Journal; preloaded content is stored in a library and is accessed through the Browse activity
bundle/activity bundle
a “zip” file with a .xo suffix used to package and distribute activities; bundles are installed in /home/olpc/Activities
content bundle/collection
a “zip” file with a .xol suffix used to package and distribute content; bundles are installed in /home/olpc/Library

Power Options

human power
energy generated by people, typically through mechanical means, such as a hand crank, pedal, or pulley system
solar power
energy generated by the sun, either in the form of a 5–10 watt panel to power an individual laptop or a 150–300 watt panel to power a multibattery charger or school server
multi-battery charger
a prototype classroom device used to charge 12–15 batteries at one time
power adapter
each laptop comes with a power adapter to allow it to be plugged into a power socket
a prototype classroom device used to power up to 8 laptops without the use of individual power adapters


the OLPC security platform.
Rainbow implements the isolation shell implicitly described in the Bitfrost security specification. This means that it isolates activities (and eventually system services) that it is asked to run from one another and the rest of the system.
In order to use your laptop for the first time (or after a “reflash” of the operating system), it must be unlocked by an activation key.
activation key
The key that unlocks the laptop
developer key
If the boot firmware sees a developer key, it makes the XO laptop work just like any ordinary PC-style laptop, in the sense that it will let you interrupt the boot process and enter commands; and it will try to boot and run any program you supply to it, no matter whether the OLPC organization has tested or signed it. (The laptop also works this way if its firmware security is disabled.)
signed/unsigned builds
OLPC produces both "signed" and "unsigned" builds of the operating system. Signed builds are release builds that have undergone QA testing. Unsigned builds are development builds, which are used for testing new features and bug fixes. You cannot run an unsigned build in your laptop unless you have either a developer key or security has been turned off (as in the case of the G1G1 laptops).
key generation
The process of generating both activation and developer keys
When a laptop is activated, the activation has an expiration date. The period between activation and expiration is the lease period. The lease period is determined during the key-generation process; the laptop can be reactivated after the lease has expired.
passive kill
currently unsupported, this is a mechanism that uses the lease mechanism to require laptops to periodically ask for a renewed activation. Without the renewal, the lease will expire and the laptop will be locked.
active kill
currently unsupported, this is mechanism where by a laptop that has been reported stolen can be remotely shutdown when it connects to the Internet.
Malware is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner's informed consent. Linux is relatively robust in light of malware and Rainbow provides additional protections above and beyond the standard Linux defaults.
computer virus
a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer without permission or knowledge of the user, a type of malware.

Documentation and Support

a collaborative website that allows for community contributions and editing, e.g.,
IRC/chat (Internet Relay Chat)
real-time text chat used by the development and technical support communities (and hopefully the learning community as well)
email list
a collection of email addresses—an efficient way to send email to a group of people who share an interest


a server that is used to store and manage translation templates and files
POT file
the master translation template for a project
PO file
a file containing the instance of translated strings for a single language based upon a POT file

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