Video: XO-1.5 Laptop Dual Boot - Gnome and Sugar UI


You've heard the talk about the XO-1.5 laptop having a dual boot of Gnome and Sugar user interfaces on the Fedora 11 core. You've been thinking how this dual boot system might work, and how easy it would be to jump back and forth between the two.

Well wonder no more - here is an OLPC News exclusive video of the XO-1.5 laptop dual boot in action, seamlessly and quickly shifting between user interfaces:

Don't you wish your XO-1 could make such an easy transition between Sugar Learning Platform and Teapot's Optimized Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid? But more relevant to OLPC's stated aims - how might a dual boot between Sugar and Gnome expand educational opportunities for children in the developing world?

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Am I the only one that prefers standard gnome to XO system?

Hello Jose . . .

If you are an adult and are familiar with standard computer operating systems (Windows, Apple, etc.,) then you will probably prefer the Fedora/Gnome. The Sugar is there for children users.

What is exciting is that the new XO-1.5 allows you to switch between the two in a matter of seconds, which was main point being illustrated on the video.

Hi Benjamin

The thing is, who are the XO people to know what children like? In fact they choose for them without them.

I think XO is an ugly system that goes against (universal laws) of aesthetics in a lot of ways.

It's a good thing the children can now choose, it would be a very good thing if I'm wrong too.

I also think that Gnome can be as suitable for children as Sugar after the appropriate customizations.

A well-customized Gnome could have been enough for the children and OLPC could have worked on sensible developments instead of spending a fortune on Sugar.

Hi Jose . . .

I've had only about a week to play around with it, but "ugly" isn't an adjective that comes to mind when thinking about the Sugar OS. As an adult computer user with about 15 years of varied experience, I would describe it as "limiting." But, then again, I'm not the target audience.

One can endlessly debate what it is that kids like. Ten years ago, my son (now 14) liked Barney and Thomas the Tank Engine. Then it was Pokemon and Digimon. Electronic devices included (in rough chronological order) a GameBoy, a Wii hooked up to the television and laptops. Last year he was into World of Warcraft, but that didn't last very long. Now he listens to Metallica on his iPod. What can I say? Typical American teenager.

What do kids like? You first have to ask how old they are and where they live. Probably you also have to ask WHO THEY ARE, and that's the hardest one to quantify . . . and it seems to change constantly as they grow older.

If the XO-1 with Sugar was available when my son was 6 or 7, it would have probably been an ideal fit for him. If he didn't already have a Macbook running OS 10.4 today, I bet he would find Fedora/Gnome on a conventionally proportioned "adult" laptop to his liking, but he would probably prefer a fast Windows machine loaded with the same games all his friends are playing.

He thinks that my used XO-1 is "cool," but I can't see him lusting after one. It's just another computer to him that happens to come in a funky two-toned plastic box. I think he's just surprised that fuddy-duddy middle-aged dad, who almost never carries his cell phone, actually bought a computer that is portable.

This really doesnt look like any kind of dual booting. The computer was never rebooted, X was just reloaded with a different window/desktop manager.

This is good. Regardless of whether you think Sugar is a better interface for children or not, having a standard GNOME interface available allows the XO to more easily tap into a wider selection of software. As well GNOME is probably a better fit for older children.

And from the development point of view, Sugar is a disaster. A lot of interpreted language, making for poor performance, changing APIs making it hard for developed applications to work with different releases, etc. The availability of a more standard UI gives the end users, and the developers more choice.

Somewhere there was a video of Developers booting a XO-1.5 beta board, and they were laughing about how poor the performance of Sugar was on XO 1.0. The "lean design for low end hardware" is the biggest myth ever about Sugar.

Not that GNOME isn't a bloated pig.

On a different note... If this is the performance of XO-1.5 is rather disappointing. The XO-1 overclocked to 500MHz and the using F11-XO1/os7 build is doing the switch just under 20 seconds. So 15 sec for the XO-1.5 is nothing to write home about I'm afraid :(

While I agree that having a GNOME desktop in addition to Sugar will be a valuable thing, I do not agree with those who are criticizing Sugar. You really need to live with Sugar for awhile to appreciate its benefits. One key one is that kids don't have to learn about files and directories right away. The Journal keeps everything they are working on organized. If they download a file it goes in the Journal. If they install a new Activity it goes in the Journal. To uninstall an Activity remove it from the Journal. Limiting? Perhaps. I would not want to create Sugar Activities using Sugar in its present condition. But for running the same Activities it works very well.

As for spending a fortune developing Sugar, currently Sugar is being developed by volunteers.

Looks cool... but it's not dual booting. Both the sugar and the gnome are using the same kernel. That that is changing is the window manager for X. This is why you jump back to console then jump back to graphics (X is restarting with a new window manager).

Looks good though.

I'm using this dual-desktop (and NOT dual-boot) system for more than months now with the F11-XO1 builds (the latest here ) and are pretty handy for more experienced users.
The problem that I can see is that they are using the same home directory and you can easily mess one desktop from the other without even realizing it. In a deployment setting and with "curious" young users pocking around, I can see that happening quite often.
It can also be confusing. For examples in GNOME you see the documents, music, video, etc folders, that have nothing of your Sugar music, video, etc documents. The same thing is happening when you open a terminal to see what's in your home directory. On the other side, if you activate the view of the invisible files in the GNOME file browser, you can really mess-up your Sugar seeing all these "strange" files and folders...
I hope that in a deployment release will be the option to have one or both depending on the local needs and the level of the users.
It would be also possible to better integrate or fully separate the two desktop environments but that might be more cumbersome and less rewarding in a deployment setting.