While we haven’t talked about the OLPC XO laptop much here, don’t think we haven’t had our eyes on its developments. Originally shipping last November, this unit captured the interest of many for its humanitarian goal, low cost, and potential hackability. After the break, let’s take a look at what has been done with this device and poke at the prototype for version 2.
To start with, every unit ships with Sugar (a custom Linux flavor) created specifically for the OLPC. You can emulate the OS without a laptop as all images have been made available to the public. Pouring over the official wiki we find pages like Hacking Sugar but not a whole lot else. A few guys did manage to get Doom to run on it as we see in the below video.
The OLPC team has setup a developers key procedure if you are interested in accessing the firmware and modifying the bootup options. Some laptops are shipping without the firmware locked down. However, all laptops included in the Give One, Get One program have firmware security enabled.
We did find an interesting telepresence application: in conjunction with a iRobot Create you can control the camera/microphone and even give this little guy some mobility. In this example, all controls are available through a nice simple web interface.
While we are still waiting for more interesting hacks to surface for the XO, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte has unveiled the prototype for version 2. Pictured below this device almost looks too pretty to hack. With two touch sensitive displays, we can’t tell if this is the world’s largest Nintendo DS or just the work of an over ambitious designer. Even with these new bells and whistles they hope to keep the cost low and continue to encourage open source development. In fact, looking at these images one can’t help but feel this device may be embraced as an open source iPhone meets Kindle. We’re not looking forward to touch typing on a rigid surface though.
We’ve actually got an XO lying around the office; what would you like to see us do with it? Please, let us know in the comments.