Christmas 2009: Give an XO-1.5 Laptop Get an XO 1.5?


While I previously mainly focused on the challenges awaiting OLPC and Sugar Labs as a result of last week's XO-1.5 announcement there are also a lot of very interesting opportunities that I could see as a result of this development.

G1G1 puts a smile on people's face

One particularly interesting angle is the question of whether OLPC might attempt another shot at Give 1 Get 1 with the XO-1.5 come Christmas 2009. Let's see, how might that go?

I'm thinking that the XO-1.5 hardware combined with the generally very well-working process of Give 1 Get 1 2008 (in the United States that is, Europe not so much) could make for a successful program. I dare not say that it would yield a million sold XOs, as Nicholas Negroponte had hoped for in last year's G1G1, but I do believe that there's a significant market potential for a Give 1.5 Get 1.5 refresh.

Some might argue that the XO-1.5's hardware specs, while being a significant increase compared to the XO-1, will be a little on the slow side by the end of the year. However I have to say that the XO-1 has been working mighty fine for what I personally use such a small system for: checking my e-mail and going online when I'm traveling, taking notes at university and watching the occasional video while sitting on planes and trains. Even if you don't happen to fancy Sugar there are now alternatives such as DebXO and Ubuntu available that allow you to use all your standard applications and plug-ins.

Plus I still consider the XO's screen a very interesting advantage over what other netbooks have to offer. Yes, the colours aren't as vibrant but given that 90% of my computing time is spent with text-based content I really couldn't care less. Plus the sunlight-readability and sheer quality of the black-and-white mode still doesn't seize to amaze me and it's come in handy on many occasions.

But what do you think, will (and should) OLPC set up another Give 1 Get 1 program this year? Would that have the potential to generate some significant sales or am I just kidding myself here as the market has simply moved on too quickly?

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Assuming that the machine will play Flash properly, have a power management/battery that can give it ~4h autonomy in full use and ~8h in non-intensive use (browsing/typing) and sells for less than $400 (for 2) I do not see why not? Most of the netbooks out there are selling for $300+ so if you can do 99.9% of the things that comparably (eg twice as much) priced machines are doing, and then some that they can not (eg use it outdoors), I can see a market.

If you have something reliable to show from your previous deployments, get SugarLabs/OLPC to work on an XO-1.5-customized 0.86 Sugar versions and have a couple of XP-on-XO torrents out there (!… :O - assuming of course that MS will not officially provide XP-on-XO) you can go really far.

However, a lot of negative things (from hardware to software, to project validity) are circulating, and the trust on any given promise is at a fairly low level by now. So somehow these new machines should gain some reliable evaluation before they hit the “mass market”, to improve the climate (if indeed worth it of course).
This can be tricky, but a limited number of machines could be “offered” at shipping costs (~$50) to pre-existing US pilots replacing XO-1 with the “obligation” to publicize their views on the new machines. Or employ a “Get a new 1 (for ~$200) Give your (in good condition) old 1” for a small number of G1G1 donors on a first come-first served basis, or to donors that also have another netbook and could better compare. Or…?

PS: Please don’t start with XP… My views should be known by now. However, like it or not as a marketing tool for the prospective “donor” is really strong. It should not be ignored.

The first G1G1 the computer was novel, unique, one of a kind. That attracted a lot of people. Supporters of the project also went ahead and participated.

The second round fell flat on its face. People interested in small machines already had a plethora of higher performance "Netbook" machines (better suited to their non-child, non-developing world needs), supporters of the project had already contributed, and news of how poorly managed the project, and the OS is started to circulate.

Any indication that things will change by Christmas? Why make it a limited time offer? Any proof it won't be vapourware? Has any development / beta models been released? Will older XO-1 models be abandoned, leaving a bad taste in the mouth of owners (both G1G1 recipients, and actual educational implementations)

Dump the XO and focus on something like getting Sugar optimized on the classmate 3 with touchscreen input. It is the same price as g1g1 (except you don't give one) but you can order several.

2x price, 3x energy, no outdoors screen. Whom this machine would be for? Besides Sugar already runs fine on the classmate and sugarlabs supports it. Who's stopping anyone for implementing it TODAY?.
Do you suggest that XO-1.5 should be just abandoned? And if yes, why?

currently not all the sugar activities works on SoaS. In addition, I don't think wireless works on SoaS (that I could get working). In addition, the screen resolution is different so many of the activities are cut off along the bottom. And finally, not all the fonts on the activities work.

Focus on getting Sugar AND the Activities working outside of the XO.

Some might consider Sugar questionable. I need it to teach. Yes, the XO is more robust but I suspect the Classmate can hold its own.

SoaS is sill in beta and improving on every release for non XO machines. Actually the way things are going is likely that by the time XO-1.5 is out Sugar will work better on anything else but the XO.
So don't worry...Just file the bugs with SugarLabs.
Stopping XO-1.5 will make very little if any, difference in Sugar development for other machines. Is already announced that the XO-1.5 will run Sugar 0.82. The 2008 version. No resources willbe "sacrificed" for the XO-1.5

Dump the XO? huh? aside from something like a Toughbook, the X0 is one of the most durable computing platforms out there. One thing we have never seen is the classmate abused physically the way we have seen XO's done and come out smiling.

I will leave the debate over the highly questionable sugar interface to others, but for the purpose it was designed for the XO hardware platform is a winner and should see continued production and evolution...

water pourable keyboards anyone?


If they're going to do it again, they should reinstate the campaign in Canada, which they dumped from the second campaign in favour of Europe.

And that's pretty much all I can say about that. The rest is immaterial to me since as a Canadian I wouldn't be able to participate easily unless it's reinstated here.

As an XO owner from the very first G1G1, I would be thrilled to be a purchaser of a G1G1 of the XO-1.5. I am 62 and totally foreign to all the typing of code, but I managed recently to successfully tackle installing the Ubuntu 8.10 on a 16GB SD card and am enjoying my XO as an Ubuntu laptop for "grownups" :-).
I am already long salivating at the prospect of XO-2.0 and will purchase that on a G1G1 when that time comes, too. There are just so many ways that the XO has it all over any other laptop/netbook. I am typing this on my 2008 MacBook and, at my age and lack of real confidence with technology, I have never considered taking my MacBook (or its predecessor iBook) out and about with me. Yet I don't hesitate at all to tote my XO around. Its ruggedness, built-in handle, and all-'round durability make it second nature to tote it and use it. I plan to take it traveling with me this summer, something I have never considered doing with my Macs (which, understand me, I truly love, as a dyed-in-the-wool Mac person). So yes, let's hear it for a G1G1 for the XO-1.5.

I favour G1G1 forever, no more limited-time offers, and whatever models (XO-1, XO-1.5, XO-2) might be available, in as many countries as possible, starting with the biggest markets. OLPC seems to have lost a lot of momentum as well as staff. Making onesies and twosies readily available will re-encourage developers and volunteers. As a Canadian I was interested in G1G1v2 until I discovered my cost would be 50% higher than G1G1v1. The XO-1 is a nice machine, and I often prefer it over my two XP PC's. I would go for G1G1v1.5 if available in Canada for around C$430 same as G1G1v1.

A third program may be successful if:

1) Has no time/country limit
You can buy it any time, from anywhere. Start it early before Christmas to avoid shipping problems.

2) Much lower price.
A Give Half Get One would be appropriate for ~$275 + shipping. If they manage to lower the factory price to ~150 by then, this may be feasible.

3) More powerful hardware.
I have an Ubuntu equipped XO-1 and am mostly satisfied with it (it was not alway like that) but my daily-use would certainly improve with 1G RAM and a bit faster processor (e.g. I run Azureus for bittorrent). This hardware would help Sugar run better (0.82 is still slow on the XO-1 and children don't like to wait and get frustrated easily). This hw may run OpenOffice 3 with acceptable speed and that would make it appealing for a lot of users.

4) Desktop OS or Sugar/Desktop OS-dual-boot for the machine sent to the donors. Teapot's Ubuntu may be ideal but I suggest a customized version with an ideal set of base software (Pidgin, Abiword, Gnumeric, Java, Flash...etc). Some more storage on the integrated flash drive for this would be nice.

The last G1G1 failed miserably (no surprise there, most of us predicted that). Only a MUCH BETTER offer will get visible results and start the momentum again.

A time-unlimited program is necessary because it would continually widen the user-base in the developed world and would make a steady supply finally available for school trials in the developed world (those are frustrated because it is hard to get XOs in lower quantities from OLPC. funny but seems to be true).

It would also be nice if the computer which is sent to the donor would be different in color. This would make it obvious that it is from the public sales program, not some stolen and resold unit from a developing world school-program. It doesn't have to look very business-like, but a less vivid color set would make it more usable.

I think that to be successful, the next G1G1 program should:
- have a competitive price (i.e. cost below 300$ + shipping)
- have a reasonable shipping price (the £50 flat cost in Europe for G1G1-V2 was prohibitive)
- include the latest version of Sugar (surely something better than v0.82)
- include a dual boot Sugar/Linux, or better a Linux boot with the possibility to activate Sugar from within Linux.

I was a G1G1-V1 participant. I will contribute again if ALL the conditions above are met.

For marketing reasons, an optional XP boot (via the SD card slot) could be offered, provided MS manage to produce a version with acceptable performances and security, i.e. including an anti-virus.