David Findlay

a man, a plan, a cake: nirvana

Playing with the OLPC XO Emulator

While I wait for my XO to arrive (as they stated, there's no ship date yet), I thought I'd give the emulator a go. Conveniently the laptop.org site has a no-brainer startup guide on the OLPCWiki for running the XO emulator on the Mac (and others) using a port of QEmu to the Mac called Q.app. (I first tried building qemu via MacPorts but it wanted to use GCC 3.3 and 10.5.1 has GCC 4.0; I didn't fancy pulling in the old compiler just for this.)

I downloaded Q.app and a recent build of the XO emulator disk image - olpc-redhat-stream-development-build-542-20070801_0412-devel_ext3.img and configured a VM as per the instructions on the OLPCWiki. It started up first time, asked me for my name and I was in. Here's a view of the main page:

I didn't mess around with the emulator's DPI settings as suggested, so it looked a little fuzzier than the real thing would. Paint wouldn't start for me, but the word processor, chat program, browser, and other things I tried did. Some, like the chat program and connect 4 game needed other XO users to be in your neighbourhood, and for some strange reason there wasn't anyone else running the XO emulator on my rural street at 2am; weird huh?

I'm excited for it to arrive. I wish I could have gotten a couple to be able to have them talk to each other, but I was pushing my luck getting one, never mind two. One of the guys at work is thinking about getting one as part of the Give One Get One program. I'll have to try and persuade him so our XOs have someone to play with.

One Laptop Per Child: Give One Get One

The OLPC Give One Get One program starts today. For a donation of $399 (plus $24.95 shipping), they will send one XO laptop to "empower a child in a developing nation" and "receive one for the child in your life in recognition". $200 of that $399 is tax-deductible and T-Mobile is throwing in a free year's access to their HotSpot service, which is in of itself worth $360.

I ordered mine today. Even though I don't use my laptop at Starbucks that much, I'll get some use out of the HotSpot service and I would really like to see OLPC get off the ground and do well. There's some truly innovative technology in there - see David Pogue's video for more details - and it's all good old-fashioned open source. How could I say no?