OLPC Keyboard Failure Rates


I am Richard Smith of One Laptop Per Child. Recently some posts of mine have been taken and twisted a bit in various blogs and Slashdot to indicate that the keyboard failures are "widespread". I would like to clarify what I see as incorrect info about the failure rates of the OLPC keyboard.

Stop the keyboard madness!

OLPC does not have evidence that the keyboard failures are widespread like the blog posts I've seen indicate. The overall RMA return rate of all XO problems is less than 1%. Verified keyboard problems are a small part of that.

Correlating the RMA data to the actual failure rate of the keyboard is a bit more difficult because many people with the problem have discovered it outside of the 30 day RMA window. Its also hard to get a good estimate of how many unique users there are in the forums that reported keyboard problems.

There has not been a rash of reports from our other deployments so we believe that the problem was primarily in the early production runs. The first shipment of G1G1 machines were part of the early manufacturing runs. The manufacturers of the keyboard have worked with OLPC to make some changes to the internal construction of the keyboard. We think these changes will help with the sticky keys issue.

These changes have been rolled into the current keyboard production. If indeed the problem is much more widespread then OLPC needs more accurate data on the failure rate. OLPC invites the community to help.

If you currently have an XO with a sticky key then please add your serial number to the Stuck Keys wiki page and what key(s) appear to be sticking. Please don't add a lot of extra info. A simple one line post entry will be fine. I don't need e-mail addresses or long problem descriptions.


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I have keyboard problems on my G1G1. I'm not included in the statistics as I didn't start having problems until after my 30 day warranty had run out. How many other people do you think are in a similar situat9ion.

Oops. Hadn't noticed that you had already considered this issue. I should finish reading the article before posting...

I had one XO fail under warrantee and the one I got as an RMA return failed about two months after it arrived. Two out of a sample of two doesn't sound like "no real problem" to me. If I remember my probability theory, having two failures in a population having a 1% failure rate is a probability of 1/10,000. Which means there should only be 7 or 8 other G1G1 donors who have had my sort of bad luck.

Since my second XO was out of warrantee, I opened it up -- sure enough, there were small or missing dots for the keys near the left edge, just as described in http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Stuck_Keys

The good news for me is that after reassembly the keyboard is functioning again (so far).

I ran the diagnostic for fun and found my "little dots bar" has stuck keys. Luckily for me, this feature hasn't been enabled yet so no worries. When it DOES start working, things could be a problem. Unless other window managers see those as F-keys and crashes?

Anywho, I'll add me to the list once I get the XO back in a few weeks.


I had to RMA my 1st XO. My 2nd XO is past my 30 day warranty and has another sticky keyboard. Fortunately, it gets unstuck sometimes.

Two out of two is a defect!

Earth to Richard Smith. The problem is of course widespread. Many people who have the problem don't report it. I have talked to many other people with XOs, many of them not very involved with the online OLPC community as much as the rest of us nerds. If you check out the forums on this site alone, you'll see dozens and dozens (if not more) of people with funked up keyboards.

I think the keyboard issue is extremely widespread. Mine started showing simptoms after almost 3 months (no RMA by any chance).

Luckily, mine was very easy to fix (see the forums about sticky keys). I only has to take the keyboard apart and put it back together and it worked again (no idea why).

I'm interested in purchasing several XO's with broken/stuck keyboards. I've not seen any advertised. If you know of anyone interested in unloading their defective XO, please contact me (Frank Hage) at fhage at comcast dt net. If there's enough demand, I may be willing to start a XO repair or keyboard replacement service. Since I've only done my XO so far, initially I want to purchase rather than take XO's in for repair because I can't guarantee a successful repair or keyboard replacement. Once parts suppliers and costs and labor requirements are well known (and I have a spare XO in case of disaster),
I could probably quote a standard, hopefully reasonable repair fee.

My sticky key problem developed nine days past warranty. I reported this problem to the help e-mail address, and I received a return e-mail asking for more information, and I was told that they were making a "determination" on my case. There were a few other e-mails asking for other information. I have supplied all of the information requested, but I have not heard anything now for over two months. I have asked twice for a status update, but I have received nothing. Can someone explain what's going on? Thanks.

I am also a 2-for-2 failure: rma for my first xo (d-o-a), and no end of problems with my second. I took it apart several times to clean up 'sticky' keys, but my real complaint is that both the usb and sd ports corrupt my drives. I can't use the machine at all.

complete keyboard failure, after 30 days, 0LPC won't help. I finally ordered a replacement keyboard from ilovemyxo.com, and fixed it. Not an easy fiX. Works fine. OLPC sent me an email asking me to help sell the new GIGI program, and boy oh boy did I let them have it! How can I suggest my friends and family buy such a piece of crap. They already laughed when I told them how much money I spent I and now laughing more. Ex -Peace corps (rpcv)guy here and I would never get my village involved with such a product! Way too many problems! But I enjoy using it and hacking it, I just wish I had not given them any donations-THEY JUST DON'T DESERVE IT- THE KIDS DESERVE BETTER. They can't convince me that they have not shipped bunch of crap to poor children!
signed g1g1 early PCORPS CAMEROONBETTER. They can't convince me that they have not shipped bunch of crap to poor children!
signed g1g1 early PCORPS CAMEROON

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