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New OLPC Laptop 1.5 Dual-Boots Sugar, Gnome Desktop 81

Posted by timothy
from the but-gnome-is-for-children dept.
griffjon writes "The new hardware release (you can read about the upgrade here) also comes with a dual-boot option. Start rejoicing now; it's not XP or Sugar (the native, education-centric OS) — it's Sugar or Gnome. And of course there are other homebrew distributions like Xtra Ordinary, built off of Debian."
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New OLPC Laptop 1.5 Dual-Boots Sugar, Gnome Desktop

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  • Chrome OS (Score:4, Informative)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:01PM (#29531235) Journal

    The boot time on both seem a little slow however. Would be nice if they also build really minimalistic OS that supports just browsing - kind of like Chrome OS. Maybe it gets integrated in the future versions? Would make a good sense with OLPC.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by oldspewey (1303305)
      It would be even nicer to see a minimalistic OS that supports basic internet connectivity, and also acts as a virtualbox container so that I can run something more robust inside an image
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I don't think you realize how slow this computer is. Having used one (actually, I own one), I think it would choke on any kind of virtualization. It has enough trouble doing normal tasks in Sugar, let alone something "more robust".

        • by griffjon (14945)

          To be fair, the new hardware is a huge improvement - still not up to virtualization, but I don't think that's a reasonable task to expect out of a machine meant primarily to be rugged and cheap.

          Also, if you haven't updated your software to the latest build, you're missing out on a lot of performance tweaks. You might also consider overclocking it to 500mhz - you can find detailed instructions on the OLPCNews forums.

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        re your sig, the famous economist herbert simon once remarked, possibly sarcastically, that something that can't go on forever won't.
        I agree that economists are little more then PR guys for whoever pays them, but that doesn't mean they are guilty of what your sig says

        • What is true of ecpnomists is that if you lined them all up head-to-toe, they'd still point in different directions.
      • Yes and it would be nicer if they included a minimal O/S that can cook me breakfast and give me a handjob. You do realize that the whole point of these machines is to be as stripped down and inexpensive as possible, as well as being simple enough for children. Pining for something more robust is wishing the machine to be something other than what it is intended to be.
    • by wall0159 (881759)
      ...except that the OLPC is about learning and participatory culture -- not the passive consumption of media (there are already many devices for that!)
    • by jhol13 (1087781)

      NO!

      Why the FUCK would I want some "Symbian" or "Windows Miniscule" or whatnot on a LAPTOP?

      Bloody hell, EeePC runs NetBeans very nicely indeed.

  • I'm really not complaining too much about Gnome; my wife finds it easy enough to navigate. However, it's still got its problems, and Sugar turned out to be a mess.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by RoboRay (735839)

      I've been tinkering with the lightweight XFCE desktop on my XO and it seems to be a pretty good fit for the hardware. I'm still experimenting with various packages (using it as a learning experience, as I knew basically nothing about linux before starting this project) but I've got most things working. The only real snag seems to be unreliable connections to WPA-protected wireless networks. Several methods and WIFI managers are mentioned in the various wikis and blogs covering XFCE on the XO, but there s

    • by RoboRay (735839)

      Update: I've been fooling around with DebXO for the last couple of days. It is installable to the built-in 1GB flash or can be run from SD, and offers a variety of desktop choices. If you're looking for an alternative OS for the OLPC, this is worth trying.

      I installed DebXO with XFCE to the internal flash, added Iceweasel and DOS-Box (for some old favorite games) and am loving it. The wireless networking works perfectly, unlike the crap I was suffering from using XFCE on the standard OLPC OS.

      It is missin

  • by Orange Crush (934731) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:07PM (#29531295)
    From TFA, it sounds like you just have a choice between desktop environments. . . like you can do in every other Linux distro . . . Not that dual-booting two separate OSes makes much sense (as a default shipping option, anyway).
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      I sure hope they don't actually mean the "booting" part. If you have to reboot to switch GUI environments I'm very not impressed.

    • Seriously, either the poster or whoever's deciding to dual-boot it is making a mistake in my estimation.
  • by RichMan (8097) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:07PM (#29531303)

    The hardware is fixed. I don't see why boot can't be just load/uncompress an active image.

  • A backwards step (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hande1 (1619561) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:14PM (#29531383)
    All the innovation is slowly being peeled back. Look at the OLPC now and you see a stripped back, diluted netbook. The VIA C7-M architecture is about 4-5 years old. To say the core of this hardware is pushing the boundaries is laughable. Once upon a time the OLPC team would take a leap and risk their necks on an interesting HW choice - now they're tied to X86 so they can suckle off MS. I sincerely hope that V2 brings the design back to its low power roots by embracing ARM although the way Negroponte is shacking up with the Windows brigade does not look hopeful. Kids don't need 720p playback (The screen for one isn't suitable). Looking at the OLPC now just makes me sad, and a little angry that this revision is going to be lauded so much. My Dell Mini 10 is more innovative...
    • by bwthomas (796211)

      Amen. Did anyone read the interview about how they went about the monitor design for the original OLPC? That alone was a testament to what good engineering with a goal can accomplish.

      [ ... looks for link ... ]

      pfft, can't find it. Look it up though, it's well worth it.

      • I was in awe about it. I had hopes for the ultimate field notebook finally being designed; netbook with crazy in voltage regulation, solar recharge capability, hand crank capability, minimal os almost no power use...The XO was crude but it had incredible potential. The mesh networking alone, if they could get adoption...insane!

        If I had more time I'd fork off the project and work on this. Pricepoint $600 or so, a netbook intended for field work. Insane recharge capabilities, crazy networking, sun viewable sc

    • by xzvf (924443) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:43PM (#29531693)
      I believe the Negroponte's goal is to get computers into the hands of students in developing countries. Not to promote open source software. Now, I know from experience that open source software is significantly less expensive on a per seat basis, builds local skills and support, and offers flexibility you just can't get from other options. The problem is the customer doesn't. I've seen too many school board members and district technology heads married to Microsoft and Apple and whoever else with a marketing budget that walks through the door. All Negroponte is doing is adjusting to his customers to get the hardware through the door. Now I'd prefer he use his bully pulpit to drive the cost savings and flexibility open source provides, but they've chosen not to. The technology is easy, the politics are hard.
      • by klapaucjusz (1167407) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:56PM (#29531861) Homepage

        Now, I know from experience that open source software is significantly less expensive on a per seat basis, builds local skills and support, and offers flexibility you just can't get from other options.

        That is not the main point.

        The main point is that by using Free software, OLPC will get millions of children exposed to the idea that computers are tweakable -- that it is okay to look under the hood of your computer. By using proprietary software, OLPC will get millions of children exposed to the notion that computers are frozen, that you're allowed to look but not to touch.

        The choice is political, not economic.

        • by Locutus (9039) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @03:48PM (#29532469)
          proprietary software on such a learning tool keeps it a mystery and probably will keep them afraid to do even simple things for fear of it locking up or breaking and requiring someone else to reinstall the software. Then, it's poof, magically fixed by a reinstallation and the feeling that you shouldn't do whatever you did to "cause this" again.

          LoB
          • by mwvdlee (775178)

            Seriously, installing a dedicated version of Linux is any easier than installing a dedicated version of Windows (or any other OS)? None of these should require any user interference on the OLPC, so what would be the difference to the end-user?

            Sure, open source may be easier to maintain by it's developers. But out there in the field that doesn't make any difference.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Locutus (9039)
              because the idea for the OLPC software was to have the "desktop" get out of the way ASAP and let the application/Activity software be the learning tool. They built it so that instead of a file manager an a dozen ways of finding or saving files they built a queue called a Journal. It's designed as a learning tool not to learn the OS but to learn what the Activities are designed to teach. This also goes along way toward simplifying much of the software too.

              When you throw Windows on there you've got a half doz
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by rtb61 (674572)

                The OLPC project is proving to be a very successful project but not necessarily in the way envisaged. It launched the netbook concept which in turn is evolving into smartbooks. Those smartbooks running FOSS of which the help of competitive pressure will drive lower prices and basically point them within reach of school children the world over, not just third world countries but first and second world as well.

                Why, FOSS, because you are training a future work force and that work force should absolutely be

          • proprietary software on such a learning tool keeps it a mystery and probably will keep them afraid to do even simple things for fear of it locking up or breaking and requiring someone else to reinstall the software. Then, it's poof, magically fixed by a reinstallation and the feeling that you shouldn't do whatever you did to "cause this" again.

            A lot of people, not a few of them in third world, know how to keep Windows boxes running for years without needing to keeping nuking them and reinstalling.

            • by Locutus (9039)
              so are you saying that they will start working for the schools to help support Windows on the children's devices? Or are you trying to show that some people know how to keep their Windows based computers running?

              I know alot of people in this country who know how to fix windows and keep it running for a few years. But, I know more who don't and have to rely on someone else to help them. I've also seen many of them pay out about $250 each time to have Windows "fixed", others have just purchased new computer w
      • by trybywrench (584843) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:56PM (#29531867)
        if i had mod points i'd mod you up solely for your last sentence. In addition to the politics, never underestimate the logistics problems. I bet only 10% of the over all project is actually engineering and software.
      • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @02:59PM (#29531903)

        I believe the Negroponte's goal is to get computers into the hands of students in developing countries. Not to promote open source software.

        One of the original goals/specifications was to have the entire platform be open source. This wasn't to save money. This was to allow those students to use the entire platform as a learning tool. They would be able to tinker with the guts if they wanted to. And they wouldn't be beholden to any particular company to roll out a new update/patch/localization/whatever.

      • I believe the Negroponte's goal is to get computers into the hands of students in developing countries. Not to promote open source software. Now, I know from experience that open source software is significantly less expensive on a per seat basis... All Negroponte is doing is adjusting to his customers to get the hardware through the door. Now I'd prefer he use his bully pulpit to drive the cost savings and flexibility open source provides, but they've chosen not to. The technology is easy, the politics are

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      First thing in my mind was "Oh, they've upgraded the OLPC, wonder how much cheaper they made the hardware". Turns out they just made it more expensive and therefore less likely to be used for it's intended purpose.

      Who of the intended audience requires dual-boot, and how many of them want to see a CLI? They need the the most goddamned user-friendly and non-technical interface you can think of, and they need to have it for half of what anybody here on Slashdot would find "dirt cheap".

    • Re:A backwards step (Score:4, Informative)

      by schwaang (667808) on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:49PM (#29533227)

      I don't know about "backwards", the XO-1.5 is a just "harware refresh" of the XO-1, giving it more speed, more RAM, and more flash memory, while fixing some of the bugs. Nothing is rolled back, the original innovations (some of which have not yet been matched even by your Mini 10's generation of netbooks) are still there.

      Meanwhile, aspects of XO-2's design (two hinged touchscreens) have been widely copied by MS's Courier and others for their next generations of netbooks/tablets.

      For those interested in the hardware differences, here's the XO-1 motherboard [laptop.org] and the XO-1.5 motherboard [laptop.org].

      To summarize the differences from eyeballing the diagrams:
      - CPU is upgraded from 400MHz AMD Geode to 1GHz Via C7.
      - The corresponding AMD southbridge is replaced w/ Via VX855
      - RAM is upgraded from 256MB DDR to 1GB DDR2
      - flash is upgraded from 1GB soldered-on to 4GB microSD in a slot (i.e. replaceable, interesting!)
      - WLAN is changed from a soldered-on Marvell part to a daughtercard (currently still a Marvell part IIRC).
      - the Marvell CaFe chip is apparently gone. This provided NAND FLASH and SD interfaces and some camera functions?
      - audio seems to be upgraded

      Some stuff that's the same:
      - The display controller (Hymax HX8837), that lets the display remain live with the processor suspended.
      - The embedded controller (KB3700)
      - external SD slot (though not controlled by CaFe anymore)

      Not sure:
      - battery and charging circuit
      - other power supply design

      • by hande1 (1619561)
        It's a massive backwards step in power consumption for one - and a muddled mess of user focus.

        I don't understand how moving to an underpowered generic piss-poor central hardware framework does not constitute a step backwards.

        Geode was a crime of necessity that fit the schema at the time. We've moved on, and the options WERE out there this time. If Geode was a crime, then C7-M is a travesty.

        • by schwaang (667808)

          It's a massive backwards step in power consumption for one

          Do we know that? The Via part implements frequency scaling, did the Geode? (I don't think so.) I'd like to see some numbers on power consumption of the XO-1 vs. XO-1.5 for similar usage patterns.

          [Also, it's my understanding that hardware issues prevented OLPC from implementing the micro-sleep idea that would have something like doubled battery life. If this refresh fixes the hw issue and they implement it, that might pay off handsomely.]

          - and a m

      • The flash change is in some ways a downgrade, because wear-leveling is now done by firmware in the flash controller rather than in the filesystem (which was JFFS2). Although JFFS2 probably doesn't scale to 4GB, ubifs might.
  • The OLPC needs to cost half as much, run twice as fast, with twice the memory. Then it will meet the expectations they made for it two years ago. I know. I own one.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 24, 2009 @04:16PM (#29532769)

      I think it's called the Acer Aspire One D250.

      Then again: the acer wouldn't exist if the OLPC hadn't lit a fire under the ass of the industry.

      • There's an EEE that costs $180 CAD. It comes on sale every few weeks at NCIX.com. I think it's one of the older Celeron/8GB-Flash versions.

        Still, for a cheap email computer, not bad. I agree that OLPC has a ways to go, but I would take a C7 over a Celeron.

  • Xtra Ordinary is not free. The author wants to make money from it. You can buy a flash card of the release or mail him a flash card for a reduced price. I have asked the author to provide a downloadable image but the request was refused. This can only mean one thing.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      This can only mean one thing.

      Which is...?

      Seems perfectly fine to me, as long as he's making the source available to his paying customers.

      • by timothy (36799) Works for Slashdot

        Yep. Selling software (as RMS has pointed out many times) is not antithetical to Free software of the FSF variety; it's one way the FSF makes money! As you say, unless the source is denied the paying customers (and it's not under some separate license more restrictive on this front than, say, the GPL), there's no contradiction.

        (As the owner of an XO with a borked OS, I do *wish* this was otherwise available as a straight download, though.)

        timothy

      • He also can't stop one of his paying customers reselling the code and undercutting him.

  • This subject-line joke is solely topical and will lose its meaning in a week or less.
  • Why does this article have a Debian graphic? Sugar OS is based off Fedora and Xtra Ordinary is a totally separate project.
  • It's a shame the work of the OLPC kernel developers / volunteers who made the Xtra Ordinary distro possible don't get any credit. The "debxo" distribution http://wiki.laptop.org/go/DebXO [laptop.org] has been going for a long time and has done all the hard work (i.e., XO-1-specific work) of getting debian to work on the XO-1.

  • The XO-1.5 is not an upgrade; it's a new model. For all you XO-1.0 owners, you can go back to sleep now.

    And the link is to an article dated September 8th. I'm sure most OLPC-watchers have seen it already. (I know I did. And said "ho hum, it won't apply to my XO-1".)

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