What Would You Tell a new G1G1 XO Laptop User Like Drew?


Jonathan helping with XO usage

Drew wrote in to say:

Alright, so I got my XO last night. I ordered it for a xmas gift for my family, but I haven't any idea how to use it!

I'm not familiar with Linux or Sugar, so I putzed around playing with the camera, tamtam and journal apps a little. I wasn't able to get a wifi connection, though I do have a wireless connection in the house.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this thing! I had planned on having my wife use it for internet access, but I'm having 2nd thoughts. I desperately want to keep it, but I may be having a little buyer's remorse.

Anyone know where I should start with this new toy?

PS: I didn't get any shipping confirmation or tracking # in my email (so don't despair, it may just show up on your doorstep like mine did), AND I still don't know if the T-Mobile Pin# is coming or what.

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Where is Drew from? Are the laptops getting anywhere near Oregon yet? ;)

You can install firefox on it or opera if those are more familiar to you. I believe opera will go on the activity bar and be slightly sugarized. Firefox is more of a hassle to launch as you have to go into the admin console to launch it.

Directions for either of those are in the wiki


The built in browse seems nice but lacks tabs.

I'd be interested to know how to configure wireless if anyone can enlighten us


Congratulations! You have one of the first G1G1's and I'm OLPC green with envy. And before you get a flood of suggestions on how to use an XO, let me be the first to say no matter what you should not have a moment of buyer's remorse.

Your purchase has helped OLPC jump start production and your donation will soon empower a child in the developing world. That alone is worth $400.

And if you find the XO isn't right for you (it was designed for children after all) please do the right thing - donate it to a child in your life.

Or to a worthy local OLPC Learning Club (ahem): http://olpclearningclub.org/

If your home wireless set up uses WPA for encryption, maybe that is why you can't get a wifi connection. I guess WPA support isn't working seamlessly yet.

From the OLPC wiki:

"Connecting to a WPA enabled AP

We continue to work on improving support for WPA encryption, and hope to have a better solution in our Update.1 release. In the meanwhile, WPA AP documents procedures for manual use of WPA encrypted access points. "

Here is the link that mentions a manual way of getting it to work (I'm still waiting for mine to arrive!):

This is Drew. I'm from Chicago, I ordered my XO the first morning and I honestly didn't know if I'd get it or not....until a week or so later when my Visa was billed (no shipping fee btw). I got the first day email confirmation around the time I was billed for it.
Overall, I would say there were some glitches in the whole process, but nothing TOO bad. I was suprised to find the box on my doorstep when I got home from work yesterday, so I don't know if it came via USPS or FedEx or what (I don't have the shipping box with me right now).
I'll be off to Borders or Starbucks at lunchtime today to figure out how to get a wifi connection.

One other nice thing....the packaging was easy-to-open plastic bags and the battery came fully charged!

There is some networking information at http://xoexperience.blogspot.com/2007/12/networking-quicktips.html. More generally, XO questions are answered on the Wiki at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Ask_OLPC_a_Question.

The XO is certainly different. I have been putting in some time on the emulator so I'll have some idea what to do when the unit arrives. My first session with the emulator had me feeling a lot like Drew.

As for the email, I suspect the T-Mobile mail may lag the laptop deliveries some. I suggest everyone stay patient on that for at least a week or so.

Good question - where are you, Drew? I'm in Seattle, and it's hard to concentrate at work knowing my OLPC might be on my doorstep! I thinking about going home for lunch today to check for it.

The one I ordered is for my family as well - my 5 year-old daughter, so she can have 'her own' computer - that'll also free up her parent's iMac for 'work'. And I want to geek-out with Linux a bit - it's been a long time.

As for potential buyer's remorse - I'm a bit worried about this as well - worried that my daughter won't like the computer as much as I hope, that it'll be clunky, slow, etc. Like my recently purchased Chumby http://www.chumby.com which - while nifty - has been a bit underwhelming.

I normally am not such an early adopter of tech products, but both of these products got me excited, and I've got some faith that the software available will blossom and improve as time goes on. Not to mention - I hope to be able to get the Chumby and the XO to talk to each other, and then...I'm not sure what, but something fun.

I've found that connecting via WEP or WPA is a bit dodgy, though WPA seems to work find on Joyride build 1403 (B4 machine).

Just one comment for the G1G1 donors: this is very much a work-in-progress machine. You should decide whether you're going to track changes as they come along, or if you're going to stick with the ship.2 build come hell or high water. If you're going to do the former: do yourself a favour and get a 1 GB USB thumb-drive to install OS images on, and don't use the OLPC for any work that you want to keep. If you're going to do the latter, be prepared for a bumpy ride because the ship.2 build is really geared towards schools.

Short answer: Sorry, we're working on it.

Anne Gentle (a tech writer out of Texas) and I are working on OLPC's Simplified User Guide. It should cover the basics of how to use the base applications, wifi and of course how to open it :).

It's on the wiki now, and a more polished and stable draft will be ready soon. Probably before most people get their XO's.

Its interesting that these boxes are being dropped off 'automagically' at door steps. Could it be the OLPC santa? Is there an OLPC santa? If so, how can I get mine dropped off under the Xmas tree?

Drew, this link might help you:

Drew wrote:

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this thing! I had planned on having my wife use it for internet access, but I'm having 2nd thoughts. I desperately want to keep it, but I may be having a little buyer's remorse."

This is going to be a very common feeling for the next few weeks. People must remember that the XO was created for kids ages 5 through 12 in third world countries where the computer's many limitations in the hardware and software departments would not be a big deal.

Any American adult expecting to use the XO the same way he/she would use a $700 Dell machine is surely going to be very, very disappointed.

Drew, you ordered by phone, right? Were you really not charged the $24.95 I was charged when I ordered on-line?

Can everyone else chime in and let us know if you were or werent charged shipping??? thx eve

Correct, I ordered by phone and was not charged a shipping fee. I believe I heard that the phone order system was a pilot project, so that might be the reason, I really don't know. They seemed a bit disorganized, but it was the first hour of the first day.

a few thoughts:

1. should i just let my five yr old, not wildly computer savvy ,just go for it. put the machine in front of him, maybe show him browser and activity area, and just leave him alone with it?

2. SO looking forward to simple guide. Will it list how to install firefox, will it be hard for a non-techie (me)?

3. I also wasn't charged shipping on the order i made day one -- the moment phone lines opened. i was worried that ordered didn't happen, so i ordered a 2nd machine via pay pal on day 2. Confirmations came days apart and I tried to cancel 2nd machine order...but OLPC customer service couldn't figure it out.

Paid by Paypal, shipping automatically added. It hasn't shown up yet.

Hey, i'm surprised that no one's given clear, simple responses to Drew's questions.

Drew, you are having second thoughts not because you are a little confused on how to use the programs and how to connect to the internet.

Read this for an intro to the laptop and all the programs and how to configure the internet. It's the main manual i can find. It is easy to understand.

On that website, you will find information on connecting to the internet under the heading "Getting Connected". It seems like you are not very savvy with wireless protocols. When you set up your wireless internet in your house, you had the option of choosing different modes for security (WEP and WPA). I am assuming you didn't do this, so that would mean you don't have to worry about that for setting up the wifi connection on your computer.

I hope this helps.

When I set up the wireless in my house, I'll have to confess that I did it rather hastily so my son could get his Xbox Live up and running. I don't think I even set up any password/encryption (oops). My problem last night was that I didn't realize I had to go to the Neighborhood view to connect. I wasn't able to go to laptop.org via my desktop b/c it was 1:00 am and I didnt' want to wake up my wife.
So I went to a local pub at lunchtime today and was able to get online (they have free wifi).
The more I mess with this little green box, the more I'm liking it. As some others have noted, it can't be expected to run like a conventional laptop....and that's fine for what I plan on using it for.

As several of the commenters have mentioned, Drew needs to remember he has purchased a children's computer, not a computer designed for adults or experienced computer users. People thinking they will be getting a cheap ultra-portable may be in for a rude surprise. If Drew is looking for a computer for his wife, I'd seriously suggest he get her an ASUS Eee. (I love mine.)

I've had my XO for a couple days and am really being challenged by the experience - both from the standpoint of learning a radically different OS (Sugar) and trying to remember to look at this machine as though I were a kid, not an adult.

I am also optimistic a large support community will grow up around this device who can help with issues like wireless connectivity.

Good luck, Drew!

Doug Johnson

Looks like the gates have opened. I live near Carbondale Illinois (southern part of state) and mine arrived this morning at 9 am. Delivered by FedEx Ground, no signature required. I've received no shipping notice nor any tracking info. For those wondering I completed my order over the internet about half an hour after the official opening time. Hope this helps. Sorry no time to do more than open it yet, so can't answer questions along those lines.

You can install Simcity for her.


That is... if she is into this kind of game...


"Any American adult expecting to use the XO the same way he/she would use a $700 Dell machine is surely going to be very, very disappointed."

Huh? Why would an American adult who has been following oplc closely enough to order one from g1g1 going to think it is like a Dell machine? Wouldn't he or she be ordering it because it is so different?

Eduardo Montez asked:

" Why would an American adult who has been following oplc closely enough to order one from g1g1 going to think it is like a Dell machine? Wouldn't he or she be ordering it because it is so different? "

Some people are under the impression that the XO can do the same things that a regular (dell or otherwise) laptop can: browse and bookmark sites (bookmarking, which everyone takes for granted, is not possible with the XO's browser), install all sorts of 3rd. party applications (virtually none exist for the XO today, but that may change in the future), store their work/files without having to invest in additional hardware, visit flash-based sites, use a CD/DVD drive (none comes with the XO), etc., etc.

In short, while they recognize that the machines are different, they are surprised to find that out-of-the-box functionality is very different (and very limited in the XO - after all, it is a children's computer, not really meant for adults). Read the other post (by Wayan) about Drew's experience to get a beeter idea of many people are saying regarding this issue.

Jordan wrote:

...this is very much a work-in-progress machine. You should decide whether you're going to track changes as they come along, or if you're going to stick with the ship.2 build come hell or high water. If you're going to do the former: do yourself a favour and get a 1 GB USB thumb-drive to install OS images on...

Got my XO up and connected. Can somebody point me to some K.I.S.S. instructions for making an image?

My intent for getting the XO is to have a rugged, little laptop I can toss into my backpack and not worry about it. I've been lusting after the Toughbooks from Panasonic, but they start at $3,000.

For work uses, I intend to use it at meetings to take notes, check my mail, and look at online spreadsheets at Google Docs. (I should see if someone has got the Linux version of pidgin to run on the XO).

For fun uses, I probably will use it as an ebook reader, and possibly for the occasional game.

I was pleased to find out the XO has an SD slot that can take up to 8GB memory cards (possibly even larger). So I can store plenty of stuff on it. At the moment, SD cards cost about $10/GB.

To create a bookmark in Sugar, press Control-L. In order to find it in the future, go to the activity tab, give the activity a descriptive name (e.g. olpcnews.com, planet.laptop.org, wiki.planet.org may go in an OLPC activity). To access that group of bookmarks in the future, click on the activity name in the Journal. It will take a bit of fiddling to translate my instructions into a clear model of how the OLPC works, but I must comment that I love this scheme.

You can find the latest release on the main wiki page (wiki.laptop.org), and there are instructions on how to write it here:


(Note, I linked directly to the section on Windows because most Unix users should be familiar with dd.)

You will need 7-Zip to decompress the image (there are alternatives, but this is the most flexible). You also need WinImage to write the image to the USB stick. Incidentally, this method will take over the entire USB memory stick so you need at least a 1 GB unit. If the memory stick is greater than 1 GB, you are just wasting the extra space.

Also incidentally, WinImage can be used to read files from your USB stick. Windows uses FAT or NTFS to store files on a disk. Linux uses EXT2 (among others). WinImage also reads EXT2. :)

My XO arrived yesterday (ordered by phone, paid no shipping costs). The interface was alien to me but I just jumped in. When I saw the available networks I clicked on mine and it asked for the security code. I typed in my WPA passphrase and nothing happened. I went to the getting started site and found a link for the WPA hex converter. I went to the site (using my windows computer), typed in my SSID and passphrase and in a minute or so it gave me a 64 character key. I put that in the password box on the XO and I am browsing. Now I just need to get Flash running so my little girl can get on webkinz and I am good to go.

Ha! It's funny that you mention Flash and WebKinz. I know that will be a primary need for my 9 year old daughter. I order an XO on day one (though later in the day) and am hoping it arrives shortly. As someone who cut their chops on an Apple IIe with the build-in BASIC editor, I'm hoping the ready access to programming languages helps my daughter get interested in the how computers work also.

Want to help out Drew and the other like him who have XO laptops but not the geek skills to explore and play with the coolest computer this Christmas?

Then head to the OLPC News XO Support Forum and live vicariously through your help of other XO users:



Hi David you paid no shipping too!!! I paid shipping online order and now 3 people who didnt pay shipping got thiers before I did??? I guess I paid thier shipping for them -- grrrrrrr -- double grrrrrr ---

Since Paypal handled the online purchase transaction, maybe thats why we paid $24+ for shipping (maybe Paypal didn't handle the transaction just to be nice guys); however, you would have thought the online orders would have been first in the database for shipping. BTW, I charged my G1G1 order to my credit card and NOT my Paypal account, even thought they really tried to convince me to use my PayPal account instead. I used a CC in the event the unit never arrived, so I might have some recourse. Paying with Paypal appeared to still have the same shipping charges.

Just Some Thoughts

The online manual helps a lot. I have two XO's. I have had a few little glitch problems. Mostly due to the XO being not on the correct mesh net when trying to chat between them. (I just need to study up a little more about selecting the correct mesh and getting using the group menu functions to "find a friend", etc.)

Once in a while the XO will not seem to attach to a WIFI. I think it's usually becuase I'm attaching to the wrong router, if there's more than one around. If I try to go to the correct router it will usually work. Sometimes the boot up takes some time. It's definetely not as fast as a normal laptop with some of the delays, launching the browser, etc.

Some "shared write" activities have hung up especially when adding a picture to the document. Not sure what that's all about. If I try to download some really big books, like huge PDFs from "the internet archive" they may hang the little XO. I'm talking about 300 meg sized books which may be to much for the memory left.

I've had some books (PDF files) from the Internet Library stop the processing of the READER and they would cuase the XO to basically hang. Solved by a reboot. These same PDF files are "more recent" in the level of the PDF reader than my older G4 ibook would be able to display and would cause my Ibook to hang as well.

The little USB thumb drives work well. I've also used a 100 gig seagate USB drive mounted on one of the Right side USB ports. Heard the Right side of the XO can provide more USB power. Thing to keep in mind is all devices have to load the data onto the flash drive before they can use it. So you need the flash drive memory space. I have heard there are some HUGE over 1 gig PDF ebooks out there and they would not work on a XO because it would not have room to load them in the 800 meg free space left over for applications and data.

Sometimes if the system hangs up or something and I'm paging between the browser and the journal to check up on things. The Journal will just disappearfrom the home view. I think if this is the ONLY technology and the kid has to have some patience to deal with it, like in the developing world, it's okay for the delays. Today's young kids at home might be to impatient for an XO however, you need to keep that in mind. The delay of launching or running due to the low processor speed, might be to much for the patience of some kids. (You know the kind of kid that presses the reset button impulsively on a game console at the first sign of trouble.)

Because the journal is just something that boots up, it apparently isn't something you can launch or find from the Activity pane. So once it's gone, it's gone. Probably due to the XO loading it by default.

So I have to reboot to see the journal.

The Journal is your file manager or finder okay. For Newbies, think of the journal as your place to be. Look at the docs out there on the WIKI site, you can sort and view only text files, only images, etc.

There apparently is a multi select function as well using stars or dots next to the filenames. I havnen't used that function yet so I cannot comment further on it here. Read up and find out.

Would like to see a quick way to select everything in a range for example old files to bulk delete them. I know I could do this with a Linux/Unix command line statement from the console, but I would prefer an easy perhaps icon based finder type journal application. That's simple and can select all the files of one type, perhaps in a date range. Like selecting all the past bookmarks or just past PDFs. PDFs and Bookmarks are treated like TEXT files and can be seen as text files. But PDFs are really ebooks for USA users and most others and bookmarks are graphic pages or graphic and text pages. So I'd like to see a distinction in my "selection of those types" easily perhaps from a graphics way and by "sorting dates" or giving a date range. Something easy okay. And then select those mark them and move them to the USB key or delete them all.

Also is there a graphical place where I can see the status of the drive space left on the internal flash drive? I haven't found it, but perhaps it's hiding somewhere. Do I need to go to the Linux prompt to find that out?

Bookmarks are TEXT entries in the JOURNAL. You don't have to store them. Just look back on your journal entry. If you select one, it will launch a new browse activity, since the default browser will only show one window at a time (not tabbed). So you don't need to "store a bookmark" as some posts would like to do. They are all stored automatically in the journal.

Why? Probably for an easier and less cluttered interface. This also would give a teacher the ability to do a quick audit as to what the kid did or where they visited. If the entire XO is backed up everyday on the school server, the bookmark journal is a good security audit and way to insure nothing bad is going on.

The XO also seems to "scan and look for a school server". I have at times hit "register" hoping it might help me connect to the internet. Thinking it might help me get some WIFI surfing going, but that didn't seem to matter. I think the "register" funciton was for school laptops in the developing world, to insure the thing was near the school server each day. In class to keep the laptop running. That's my guess. You'll have to read more on the WIKI site. (As you can see I'm just whipping out a fast post, about my limited few day experience.)

It's very interesting to start up one of these things. The "READER" is a bit slow, because it only loads a few pdf pages at a time for display. Many pages in display memory would eat up a lot of flash time. So viewing PDFs can take a while if your hoping to quickly page through and see them render off several pages, you will not see that happen. This to save flash memory "rendering" space of the PDF screen. Probably a memory saving feature.

I'm a bit disappointed with the video capture quality. I thought it would be higher quality 640 by 480 30FPS. If the camera is doing that, it certainly is compressed all to heck and ends up looking like a 180 by 120 video or something that blocky. Maybe due to compression artifacts for low file size. Also the PRESET times are setup to limit usage of memory space. No chance to record 640 by 480 in true resolution as video and see it play back for "4 minutes" as some previous testers supposedly did.

XO Speed --
So it's a lot slower than a regular computer in the West, but it's adequate after a short wait and for browsing and reading a book sequentially it's fast enough.

That's some quick comments.

I've found chat and sharing to be okay. My shared document in write hung up after a page of text was put into it. Perhaps a bug or problem that will be improved on later.

I do need to create a basic boot USB stick for the OS as a safeguard. I heard on a different (pepper computer forum) the USB stick cannot be FAT32 formatted.

I also want to say everyone I've shown this to and who knows anything about gadgets and computers is really impressed with all the features. Those in the know, think it's a tremedous value for the "price" for third world kids.

The photo grab feature always gets a good impression, even from those who know more about higher resolution digital cameras, after all it's included in the laptop.

The thing that prevents some from "buying one" is thinking about it as a buy of the price of two laptops. If they think as a regular consumer and take away the "give factor" they think it costs me $400 to get one. And then I can have a low end regular laptop for that price. So it weeds out those folks as possible consumers. Becuase it's not really for sale. HOwever there are some who are interested enough to want to get one.

I was surprised to find my XO outside the door this afternoon, exactly one month after ordering it, since I was not expecting it until after Dec. 26.

It's definitely not for North American kids, except perhaps tiny tots (way too slow and unfamiliar, compared to what they have in school and at home.

But it's perfect for checking email, googling, finding directions on Mapquest, YahooMaps, GoogleMaps, etc. I also expect my husband to use it as a reader.

It will be much lighter to carry than my little iBook 12" (not to mention my 15" XP laptop).

I enjoyed figuring out how to get online (by disabling my WPA) and then going into Terminal and installing the "patch": http://wiki.laptop.org/go/WPA_Manual_Setting

I'll be looking forward to more developments.

David and Ben,

I've been trying to get Flash working for days, so my (nearly) 8-year old son can get to Webkinz. Let us know if (and how)you are successful.

Perhaps we should have a sub-group of Webkinz users on the XO !!

Hi, I'm typing this on my new xo computer. I ordered it on the first day, and I just received it yesterday 12/22. I am not a computer savy person. I use them daily but the set up stuff hard for me. I didnt have the communication problems some have described. They let me know when it shipped and provided a tracking no. I found the instructions for getting connected to confusing. I have DSL at home. They assume you already know about wireless connections, which i didn't but after a trip to staples the people there advised me to buy a wireless router (netgear) and within 20 minutes i was online. The internet speed seems pretty fast to me. Thats about all i've done so far.

I paid online, I got mine right before christmas, I got charged 24.something shipping, I just wish I could find another person in louisville ky with one!!

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