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The OLPC XO laptop

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Originally known as the '$100 laptop' from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project, the XO laptop is now available through retail. I bought one under the Give One, Get One program where for a $400 donation, OLPC would send one XO to the donator, and another to a child. This is my story of working with it for a couple of weeks.

Opening the laptop was the first challenge. Being an IT professional - I'm a system administrator - I decided I didn't need to read the documents, and was promptly stymied by an inability to get the laptop open. A Google search revealed what the document I had tossed aside without reading showed: to open the laptop, first swing out the antennae, and open it from the opposite side of the handle. This may sound easy, but the majority of people who tried to open it weren't able to do so without being shown how, either.

The CPU is a Geode LX-700 from AMD running at 433MHz, with 256MB Ram and a 1GB built-in Flash drive. There are three USB ports, plus microphone and headphone jacks on the sides of the screen, and an SD card slot on the underside. Accessing the SD slot is a pain that requires pivoting the screen 90° and then turning the laptop over. The XO has Wi-Fi, but no Ethernet port. I found the speakers to be loud but more tinny sounding than those on, say, the Asus Eee. The XO also has a built-in 0.3-megapixel quality webcam.

The screen is 7.5 inches wide, and has two modes

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olpc xo review: linux for africa, not america

The XO is designed as a PC for schools in the developing world, and the OLPC team makes that goal apparent just from opening the box. While this has been covered in Electronista's hands-on, it bears repeating that the XO packaging is absolutely barebones: the design is even more barebones than for a MacBook and includes just the computer, an AC adapter, and a few sheets of paper providing (very) basic information about how to use the system. For first-world buyers used to a 10-minute setup process, the XO is a slight breath of fresh air.

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