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Installing Ubuntu On an OLPC XO 50

Posted by Soulskill
from the call-me-when-it-runs-quake dept.
Matt Lincoln Russell writes "Installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix on the OLPC XO is not for the faint of heart, but Drew Beckett has got the process down. This setup is pretty slow on the XO, but the good news is that Netbook Remix is a work in progress, and can be expected to get better."
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Installing Ubuntu On an OLPC XO

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 05, 2008 @02:18AM (#24064383)

    Why would they want to? Sugar is more than adequate as an educational UI and has great collaboration abilities and sits on top of a Fedora port.

  • by Daniel Weis (1209058) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @02:30AM (#24064435)
    Hackers have money. The children do not.
  • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @04:38AM (#24064733)

    troll? no seriously who does give a flying fsck its been done before aswell

  • too late? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Saturday July 05, 2008 @11:58AM (#24066665) Homepage

    I'm not trying to bash olpc -- I liked it enough to donate one. But I wonder whether the olpc is simply coming to market too late, and at too high a price, to be relevant. This article is an example of how fuzzy the boundary is between xo+sugar and a standard linux distro running on commodity hardware such as a eeepc or a standard laptop or desktop machine. There are basically three reasons I can see why olpc can be relevant:

    1. It's so cheap that it can be given away to lots of kids in developing countries.
    2. It's rugged and portable, can run on a generator, and has a combination of price and features (like wireless) that you don't see in ordinary laptops.
    3. There's something really cool and innovative about sugar that makes it better suited for use by kids than a standard desktop environment.

    I've never tried sugar, so I can't say anything for sure about #3, but I'm pretty skeptical. My own kids use gnome, and it works fine for them. The fuzzy boundary demonstrated by the article makes me doubt whether sugar by itself is all that relevant.

    Re #2, I'm not convinced that it's really all that important for these kids to have this particular combination of features. Is portability really that critical? How much does it matter if the machine stays in the kid's home, or at school? Is the wireless really that useful in real life, in the environments where xo's are getting used? These features seem to be tied to a particular educational philosophy and imagined model of use, but it's not clear to me whether that's really happening. One of the big killer apps for olpc was supposed to be distribution of free electronic textbooks, and that is something I know something about (see my sig); basically the free electronic textbooks that exist today are disproportionately slanted toward esoteric graduate-level books on things like quantum field theory, with less for college freshmen, and essentially nothing for K-12.

    And then there's #1, price. So far they've only got the xo's price down to $200, and $200 is not all that competitive against commodity hardware at this point. I'm going to have to compare with retail options here in the developed world (US), since that's what I have experience with. You can get a gPC from walmart for $200. I recently walked in to a Salvation Army thrift shop and bought a perfectly fine used desktop system for $89 -- and that wasn't a fluke, because there were two other machines on the shelf at the same price point that looked just fine. Memory upgrades for used machines are ridiculously cheap these days, ~$13 (including shipping) on ebay for 512 MB. So for the same price as the xo, I could spend $89 for a used desktop, $13 for a memory upgrade, $8 for a mouse and keyboard (typical sale price at Fry's), and maybe $70 for a cheap LCD (again, not an unusual sale price at Fry's). Now I'm not saying that this particular method of assembling a cheap, used desktop system is appropriate for getting a machine into the hands of a kid in Cambodia, but I think it does show that commodity hardware is getting so insanely cheap so fast that there's a real possibility that olpc will simply become irrelevant because it's overtaken by events.

What this country needs is a dime that will buy a good five-cent bagel.

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