OLPC upgrades

Bobby Powers bobbypowers at gmail.com
Tue Feb 3 03:38:00 EST 2009

2009/2/2 Tiago Marques <tiagomnm at gmail.com>:
> On Thu, Jan 29, 2009 at 4:03 AM, Mitch Bradley <wmb at laptop.org> wrote:
>> Guess what? The people at OLPC, who aren't stupid, already considered
>> every point in the message cited below, a long time ago. So why aren't
>> we doing them? ...* *On Wed, Jan 28, 2009 at 9:57 PM, Carlos Nazareno
>> <object404 at gmail.com>wrote:
> Nobody's saying anyone is stupid. It is perfectly natural for people to
> complain about things they don't understand. I also wish I could, from time
> to time, to ask this or that, to understand many things I don't comprehend,
> to know what I can do to help. This without getting into any kind of fight

As you note in this email (which reads more like a rant than
constructive criticism, I must say), there is a lot to help with!
What are you areas of interest and expertise?

> with the people involved with the project, who are the only ones who can
> answer those questions.
> As with any critical comment I may issue in this mailing list, please take
> it as something constructive, to help (if it does, in any way) and not to
> criticize the people who are hard at work. That, I think, is what Carlos was
> trying to do.
> I got my XO three weeks ago and there's a lot I was surprised to learn that
> some of the more important features are WIP or simply don't work, especially
> given the news that I've read, already detailing prototypes of a second
> version, when there's still a lot to do with the first one.
> Sugar is a fantastic window manager/desktop/user interface/learning
> tool/whatever. I don't understand how can any government give 6 year olds
> anything that's not Sugar - it is wonderful, it integrates very well with
> the XO and I would like to be able to use it more but it doesn't really
> blend well with the rest of the Linux software ecosystem.

We need a lot of help in this area, interested?

> This, among other things, may be the cause that the G1G1 program wasn't
> successful this year. There are too many better options, for a regular user,
> currently available, and cheaper. Most people don't care for a reflective
> screen if they can't have Youtube. They already can have 5 hours of battery
> life(or more) in some netbooks, a lot more flash memory/HDD, better *color*
> screen. Even then some people claim the performance of netbooks isn't good
> enough - imagine what they would say about an XO.
> I'm surprised how much stuff still doesn't work in the XO. I can't, for as
> much as I think about it, how can you be shipping these things without space
> for swap memory. I can open a PDF and a browser without the XO being
> apparently crashed and this is the most basic stuff. I know why the system
> "crashes" but you can't expect a politician to understand why Intel's
> offering doesn't crash and yours does all the time, it just makes it look
> like crap, which it certainly isn't. Doing SWAP in the embedded flash is a
> bad ideia but there's an SD card slot and having the XO crashing all the
> time is a worst case scenario - it may be a compromise in Africa but not in

I use debXO and haven't had a single crash.  if activities are
crashing, please please please look up or create tickets for the
crashes, with as much info and logs as possible!  (take this as
constructive criticism, on how to make your constructive criticism
reach the right people faster and more constructively :) )

> the least developed country.
> There's no stylus support yet, there's no view source working(AFAIK) and the

The current dual mode touchpad hardware is being discontinued and new
machines are either currently, or will be in short order, being
produced with a 'standard' capacitive touchpad.  IN FACT, the stylus
mode had been implemented and enabled in the driver in previous builds
(joyride, up to the beginning or middle of summer 08), but was
disabled and removed from the driver because having the device in dual
input mode made things worse for a large number of laptops.  The dual
mode hardware is pretty flakey.

I believe view source is implemented to some extent in Sugar 0.83 (the
current development branch).

> wireless range isn't as awsome as announced. My mother has an Acer One
> which, apparently, has a significantly better wireless signal, at least from
> small experiences, I haven't messed with it much, it's an initial impression
> - which for most people is the one that matters.
> Worse is the battery life, I can't get more than 3 hours out of my XO and
> all seems fine with the battery. If I was to heavily depend on the 24 hours
> touted(when not even 24 in suspend), I would be very disappointed, let alone
> 6 hours which I also don't get. Experimental results isn't something that
> the project should be shouting about all the time - that's just vaporware.
> Worse, it makes the OLPC Foundation loose credibility as a whole. No company
> can be constantly over promising and underdelivering, let alone a non-profit
> foundation.

Have any experience with the kernel or suspend/resume issues?  I'm
sure CJB would love some help here.

> Currently, aside from the screen and mesh networking, you're loosing by big
> points in all the rest. The advantages the XO still has are things that
> don't matter for most potential buying governments, the ones who have the
> big bucks.
> I don't know where the foundation got the numbers in the first time, but 50
> million laptops was far from anything that can be achieved. Especially
> without retail availability of a $170 laptop. IMHO, or the XO-1 has retail
> availability soon, that can(finally) bring that number to the desired
> target, or you eventually loose out to Intel (with dire consequences). After
> all, retail availability has been bringing production costs down for them.
> Either you make it unprofitable for them or they make it unfeasible for you
> to follow the vision.
> You can't expect most people to pay $399 for a laptop (spectacular for third
> world countries) of no (or limited) usefulness for a regular person. Not
> with faster netbooks available at $199 (have you seen an acer one
> booting???) - not everyone is so good at their heart to give one away, when
> they can save $199 for themselves. Not everyone knows that your battery
> lasts four times more, that it costs only $25 to replace, that all parts are
> cheap, if they ever break! That doesn't matter for most people, even though

So help spread the word!

> they should, and that leaves the XO in a competitively bad position. And
> that's what you should also talk about, nowadays everyone knows they're
> ripped off in their laptops, iPhone, PSP, whatever battery, that's part of a
> good image that the project can benefit from, if retail availability ever
> comes.
> Python is killing the XO, what's being done in that regard? The $100 laptop
> will always be hardware limited, how can python be a benefit and not a
> *huge* burden? I for one can't get my head around that.

The idea is to give kids as much transparency into the software stack
as possible, AND make it easy to hack on and easy to create new
activities for.  Python is much more forgiving than C.  Its killing
the XO?  A personal pygtk based project launches in a few seconds on
my debXO install on an XO, but much much longer on 8.2.  It is a
completely loaded statement to say that Python is killing the XO, and
didn't really deserve a response :)

> I got my XO to help someone also, if I didn't, I would have bought a PSP, a
> DSi, a Eee 701, something cheaper with wireless. All I wanted was a smaller
> wireless device with good battery life to read books, browse the web and
> little more. This could've come cheaper but I like my XO - I already knew
> how underpowered it would be.
> I could also go on and on of what's about great about the XO, and there's a
> whole lot, but that's not something that can be improved, that's already
> great as is, and you know what it is!
> What's bad is what needs to be improved, to be talked about, it's necessary
> to fix the rest so there's nothing left hampering a bright future for the
> machine, and for the project.

Glad to have you on board!


> Best regards,
>                             Tiago Marques
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