XO-1 Laptop Triage: 5 Quick OLPC Repair Tips


Do you have an XO-1 laptop that is acting strange? Does it not start or start in the wrong build? The use the following five XO laptop tips and tricks from the Ghana School Library Initiative:

Beth fixing an XO laptop
  1. Plug in the XO and turn on the machine. If the screen does not turn on, there is likely a hardware problem.

  2. If the screen loads grey, there is likely going to be an error message. If the computer is unlocked, pressing the escape button at start-up will exit you to the "ok" prompt. If pressing the escape key does not get you to the "ok" prompt, you will need to get a developer key if you want to enter commands at this stage of the start-up. I will deal with the grey screen errors in a bit.

  3. If the computer loads fine but is in the wrong build, which you can check by going to the "Settings" or "About this XO" panel, then it can either be NAND Blasted or individually formatted. For setting up a computer as a NAND Blaster, it must have a developer key/ be unlocked. In our experience, using the command nb-secure in the "ok" prompt window with a USB drive containing the files fs.zip and fs.img was most successful. The NAND Blastee just needs to be turned on by first pressing the four game buttons and then pressing power.

  4. If you would like to individually reformat, turn the computer on the same way, with the four game keys pressed, with a USB that contains the files fs.zip and a named image file, for example os860.img or gg-767-4.img. Once set up, these two reformatting methods should proceed without any more intervention.

  5. If the computer boots up fine, but the keyboard is frozen, power down and remove the battery for a minute or so. Put the battery back in and turn the computer on and the issue should be resolved.

  6. If the screen loads grey and the line "Invalid System Date" appears in red, then the computer has somehow been set to the wrong date and is stuck somewhere in the past. The first computer that I fixed with this problem thought it was back in 1999. The computer will continue to load and is operable, but cannot be reformatted, cannot connect to mesh networks, and cannot get a developer key. Wait for the computer to fully load and then press Ctrl+Alt+Fn+1. This combo will take you to the Linux screen. Log in by typing "root" and you will not need a password. First, type clock --set --utc --date "YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS" to reset the clock, where the month, day, year, etc. are the current values (i.e.  clock --set --utc --date "2011-04-18 18:00:25″).

    Then type date --utc -s "YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS" with the same values as you used for the clock setting. Note: these values should be in universal time, hence the utc, but I do not think it actually matters as long as the clock is about right and is not a decade behind the present. Next, type clock and then date while in the Linux terminal to check that the two have been updated to the present and are in relatively close agreement. You can then escape the Linux view by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Fn+3, and shut down. Reformat as before, keeping in mind that the keyboard will likely be frozen upon the next boot-up, and the computer will have to be shut down again, the battery removed and reinserted, and the computer turned on for a final time.

If you need more support, be sure to check out the OLPC News Forum where an entire cadre of volunteers can help you out.


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I am very interested in contacting someone directly from the Ghana OLPC School Library Initiative. We have placed about 50 OLPCs in Axim, Ghana. There are about 30 more in one of the schools there, but the local teachers know little about them. Of the 50 we've placed there, about 20 are being used by children who live in a Children's Home. The rest are being deployed in an "OLPC Center" for school kids, since the schools themselves, and their libraries, are not able have such a facility in each school.

Neither on the US side or on the Ghana side do we know ANYONE in Ghana who is doing this. We've been involved for about 4 years, now. PLEASE CONTACT ME OFFLINE,so I can get some contact going for the Ghanaian teacher(s) in Axim and you. Thanks!! [email protected]

About your item #6:
Please see this URL:

Your instructions are not quite right above, but that page gives the correct instructions---nit-picking spacing, etc., but when typing commands accuracy is paramount!! But, good for you for trying to do your own repairs.

i followed the info about reseting the time and date. but my keyboard and mouse continue to be frozen. help?
thank you

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