The XO-1 Laptop Is Enough For Us


The question has been asked, whether the XO, as it went into manufacturing, was really ready for the children. In one way, that's like asking if your computer is fast enough, which is silly. No computer is fast enough for everything we want to do.

We can all agree that the XO isn't as fast as we could wish, but we can also consider another meaning of the phrase. The XO is certainly fast enough to provide an education. You can't even compare the possibilities with and without it. Similarly, there is no way the XO software could be finished.

We're talking about education here. There are no known limits to education, and good reason to suppose that there aren't any unknown limits either. But in the same way as speed, we can say that the software provided is working, and supports the mission.

olpc free music project
We wanna sing & dance!

The XO Laptop? Dayenu.

There is a Jewish song, sung every year at Passover, called Dayenu. This means, "It would have been enough for us."

In effect, it is the Jewish Thanksgiving song. If God had rescued the Jews from Egypt, and done nothing more, Dayenu. If he had fed them in the desert, Dayenu. If he had given them the Torah and nothing more, Dayenu. If he had brought them to the Promised Land, and nothing more ever again, Dayenu.

But, of course, God always does more. Including whacking them over the head when they don't get it. Be that as it may, when we look at the XO laptop, we can also say, Dayenu. It's $188, not $100, but Dayenu. If it didn't have Mary Lou Jepson's amazing screen, or her two-dollar clip-on microscope, it would have been enough to revolutionize education worldwide and lift multitudes out of poverty. If it didn't have the new less-toxic batteries, Dayenu. If they hadn't wrung out quite so much power drain, Dayenu. (They announced recently that they found the major bug preventing proper suspend-resume.)

And the same in software. Even if we didn't get Etoys, Squeak, Smalltalk relicensed under GPL, Dayenu. Even without the amazing Measure activity that turns the XO into a digital oscilloscope, Dayenu. And so on. If it were only a book reader with Internet access and a calculator, it would be revolutionary enough for a first cut. It's far more than that.

olpc sugar groups
Next year's Sugar groups?

Let's not stop at Dayenu

But we aren't stopping there. There will be field upgrades of the software, using an automated process driven by school servers. Much more existing software will be Sugarized to run in the XO user interface, and new software is appearing, some of it from the children. The community has started to look into localizing user interface sounds, not just text.

There are numerous improvements to hardware on next year's list, including the possibility of a touch screen. I can't give you a number for how much content can be licensed for free distribution on the XO or the school server, but it will be a lot. So much for quantity. Now to quality.

I'm not going to tell you that the XO is shipping bug-free. That would be silly. No computer ships bug-free. I'm about to file some bugs on keyboard layout switching and booting with USB devices plugged in myself. But the show-stopper bugs such as crashes, loss of sound, dud components from suppliers, and inability to suspend properly have been fixed, along with plenty of others. And work continues.

You can join in, whether you can develop or translate, or just have a conversation with a child. And so I invite you to join me in saying, Dayenu, Amen, Brothers and Sisters, Amen. Or whatever that comes to in Kiswahili and Mongolian.

The XO laptop is enough for us. And enough for Peru too!

Related Entries


They fixed the suspend-resume problems? Awesome. Does anyone have a link to the critical bug in question? I'm morbidly curious.

I agree--The XO is already a big revolution in a small green-and-white case, with more amazing features and uses yet to come.

I wonder if the info on the suspend/resume fix comes from

Ed, the "dayenu" approach may be spiritually and philosophically satisfying, but it ignores the question of whether something can be "necessary but not sufficient" to produce its intended result.

Thankfully, we have gotten beyond the initial messianic claims of OLPC that the machine, all by itself, without pilot projects or teacher involvement, will revolutionize education if shipped in vast quantities to needful societies.

Now the hard work is just beginning, the once-forbidden pilot projects, and it certainly seems that there's a lot to do both at the system and the application levels. And these tasks have to be done such that the results are sufficient as well as necessary, at the peril of losing the whole effort and any chances of support for a second attempt.

I, for one, will not say "dayenu" until we get a little further down this road.


Dear Sir,
We are the largest department store in Nigeria and have resently received number of enquiries for your Laptop products.We think there are good prospects for your Laptop products,but at present it is little known here and as we cannot count on regular sales we do not feel able to make purchases on our own account.
We are therefore writing to suggest that you send us a trial delivery for sale on consignment terms. We make the proposal hoping to place firm orders whem the market is established.
If you agree,we would rander you account of sales and send you the payments due after deducting expenses, and commission at a rate to be agreed. Our banker is Spring Bank PLC Nigeria with whom you may check our standing.
We believe our proposal offers good prospects and hope you will be willing to give it a trial.
Yours faithfully
Onyebibile Fortune
Chief Executie Officer

XO Tablets for Sale

Buy Your XO Tablet on
OLPC is selling the new XO Tablets on for just $149. Buy yours today!



Recent Comments

Community Forum