OLPC


OLPC XO Build 656 and WiFi WPA

OLPC update

I finally got around to playing with the OLPC XO in an effort to get it to work with WPA on a wireless LAN. It turns out that the build 656 update back in January added WPA support. The OLPC wiki has detailed instructions at…

Olpc-update

…but here’s the condensed version.

  • Open up terminal window (scroll right to see the icon in the menu)
  • su - (the OLPC does not have a root password)
  • olpc-update 656
  • shutdown -r now

The olpc-update command has an option to reboot after a successful update. But. you might want to review the process outputs before rebooting. After rebooting, I selected the WPA enabled access point (I left the old 802.11b WAP in WEP encryption mode in case I couldn’t get WPA working with the OLPC) and typed in my passphrase. The WPA encrypted 801.11g WiFi connection seems to work fine with the OLPC now. Now, if only they would fix the external USB keyboard problem (shift key doesn’t wok).

You can find OLPC WiFi Access Point compatibility information at…

Wireless Access Point Compatibility

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Amazing Flash Prices

SanDisk Ultra II SD twin pack

I gave my spare 2GB SD card to my daughter last night to put into her OLPC XO. The SD card showed up right away and was usable from applications such as the word processor. I’m not sure how Fedora generated the card name (model number?). But, it was definitely not user friendly (e.g., /media/flash). In any case, I wanted to get another spare SD card in case one failed in my Pocket PC or an older camera (that doesn’t use SDHC cards). So, with coupon in hand, I head over to Costco this evening and picked up an empty card to take to the cashier. The coupon dropped the price $10 to $30. This was an ok price, but not great for a 2GB card. Then, when I received the real package from the Costco runner, I noticed it was a twin-pack. $15 for each 2GB SanDisk Ultra II SD card. Now, that was pretty good and I didn’t have to wait for it to be delivered.

It has been amazing to watch prices drop while capacities increased over just the past few years. It wasn’t too long ago when 128MB SD cards were considered large and with relatively large prices too. The huge demand and success of the Eee PC (and to a lesser extend the OLPC) shows that  inexpensive computers with small flash based storage devices (compared to hard disk) can be a hit. I’m still waiting for for the Asus Eee PC 8G (1GB system RAM, 8GB storage flash RAM) to become available before buying one for myself. And, I am definitely interested to learn what Apple announces at Macworld next week. Fingers crossed that the rumored subnotebook flash-based device is reasonably priced (under $1500).

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Dual Booting Linux/Windows OLPC in the Future?

Computerworld’s article…

OLPC developing dual-boot Windows, Linux OS for laptops

…reports that there are plans to produce an OLPC that can dual-boot Linux or Microsoft Windows. When I first heard people suggest this, I was against it. I couldn’t imagine how to shoehorn something as huge as Windows Vista or even Windows XP into the tiny flash drive space built into the OLPC. But, the idea is starting to grow on me… especially as I find the various little limitations in the mini-Fedora environment it has now (like the inability to print out of the box — and, yes, I used yum to install CUPS but that seemed to blow up during the installation).

Here’s what I wish would happen though. Back in 2004 I wrote a slightly tongue-in-cheek blog item asking Microsoft to Open Source one of the best lightweight operating systems ever released: Windows 98 SE. It runs fine with 128MB RAM (or less) with a few gigabytes of hard disk and has excellent driver support for WiFi, printers, and a host of other peripherals. Imagine running it on a flash based storage device like the OLPC or the Asus EEE PC. This won’t happen, of course. But, it sure would make for a great little light weight, low cost, well supported ultraportable.

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