DebXO 0.6 release

Andres Salomon dilinger at
Fri Dec 10 19:11:01 EST 2010


After waaaaaaaaaaaaaay to long of a delay, I just tagged and built
DebXO 0.6.  In some ways, it's very polished (I've actually tested all
of the desktops myself), in other ways it has a number of regressions
(due to Debian updates breaking things, switching to an
almost-stock Linus kernel, etc).  Either way, I wanted to get it out
because people keep asking about it, and dropping jffs2 leads to such a
massive improvement.

DebXO is a version of Debian (testing) that is customized for the XO-1
hardware.  The 0.6 release adds initial support for the XO-1.5
hardware; however, XO-1.5 is not officially supported.  I'll update the
wiki with instructions for XO-1.5, for the early adopters.

The release can be found here:

The official wiki is:


 - Update distribution to Debian Squeeze.  All packages and
   desktops have been upgraded.  This is pretty major; for example,
   Sugar is now at 0.88, and Gnome at 2.30(ish).

 - Kernel update.  Switch from the olpc-2.6 tree to Linus's linux-2.6
   tree (based upon 2.6.37-rc4+).  A few pending patches from -next and
   -mm have been included, but other than that... it's stock.  The
   config closely matches the Debian stock kernel config; at a future
   date, we'll just switch to a standard Debian 686 kernel.

 - Switch the nand images from using JFFS2 to UBIFS.  This makes an
   amazing difference in terms of usability.  Over time, JFFS2
   filesystems get slower as they fragment, while UBIFS doesn't appear

 - Initial XO-1.5 support. It's still rough around the edges, but it's
   functional (currently xorg.conf and /boot/olpc.fth must be edited).

 - Switch from autox to nodm for LXDE and XFCE desktops. LXDE
   usability has been vastly improved (for example, wicd is installed
   and configured automatically; LXDE can now get online). Webkit-based
   browsers are used - less ram thrashing throughout.

 - KDE image has been dropped (at least for now). KDE4 took at least 10
   minutes to start up and then crashed, so.. I'll deal with it another
   time. Patches to make it work accepted!

 - Awesome image has been dropped. I'd intended to replace this with
   XMonad (as that's what I actually use), but currently that requires
   some tweaking and needs to drop about 300MB of devel libs. So for
   now, it's just dropped.

 - Base images have been dropped.  The 0.5 base image was broken, and,
   well... I don't see much demand for it.

 - Hal is no longer used (except for some legacy stuff in the XFCE
   images). Key bindings are pulled from DMI and loaded by udev (note:
   upgrade your version of OFW if hitting the 'fn' key results in lots
   of '='s. Alternatively, add "/lib/udev/keymap /dev/input/event0
   olpc-xo" to your /etc/rc.local to auto-load the proper keymap).

Lots of misc other changes can be seen at:;a=summary


 - Power management is currently not enabled. It's on the roadmap.

 - KDE and Awesome images are disabled (for DebXO 0.6).

 - The camera driver is disabled due to a crash in the kernel.

 - Upon first bootup, the LXDE and XFCE desktops display a wicd error.
   It only happens on the first boot, so I think it's related to
   copying files around. Just restart and it'll go away. 

 - Also upon first bootup, if you reboot XFCE via the menu
   (logout->reboot), it appears to kill the panel prior to saving the
   startup applications. This means that when XFCE boots up the second
   time, there's no panel or desktop. I believe that this is an XFCE
   bug; after the first boot, using the menu to reboot doesn't break
   anything. So, just open up a terminal and "sudo reboot" the first
   time, if using XFCE.

 - Nodm doesn't currently set ~/.Xauthority; see . This means gksu (and gksudo) are
   broken. For now, just open up a terminal and call (for example)
   "sudo synaptic".

 - The volume/brightness keys are mapped to function keys. It's unclear
   how best to handle this, as it is useful to have f11, for example.
   Will figure something out later.

 - Due to a switch from Hal to udev and upower, battery status
   reporting is broken. This is fixed with a pending kernel update, but
   it's in the process of being pushed upstream (and therefore will be
   fixed in 0.7).


To install onto the XO's NAND flash, download the jffs2/$DESKTOP.dat
and jffs2/$DESKTOP.img to a USB or SD stick (where $DESKTOP is
one of the various desktops - gnome, lxde, xfce, or sugar). Boot into
OFW (make sure your XO is unlocked!), and run

update-nand disk:\$DESKTOP.img


update-nand sd:\$DESKTOP.img

(depending upon whether you downloaded to an SD or USB disk).

If update-nand spits out any errors, make sure you're running an
appropriately up-to-date version of OFW.  The q2d* series do not
support update-nand, and versions q2e18 and q2e19 are known to be buggy
with partitions.  Firmware and instructions for upgrading
can be found here:


To install onto an SD or USB device, download the
ext3/debxo-$DESKTOP.ext3.img.gz file, and run

zcat debxo-$DESKTOP.ext3.img.gz > /dev/mmcblk0


zcat debxo-$DESKTOP.ext3.img.gz > /dev/sdX

(depending upon whether you're writing to an SD or USB disk).  Note
that this will overwrite any data that is on the SD or USB disk.


By default, a user 'olpc' is created (with no password, and sudo
access).  Some desktops automatically start a display manager and log
you in; some do not.  The root password is disabled by default.  This
is a stock Debian Lenny system with only a few modifications, so it can
obviously be tailored.


xodist is the name of the collection of scripts that are used to
produce DebXO.  The git repository can be downloaded via:

git clone git://

There's also a web interface to that:;a=summary

Help is always appreciated! :)

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