One Laptop Per Child user interface - In pictures

One Laptop Per Child user interface - In pictures

Summary: Taking a look at the One Laptop Per Child user interface.

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TOPICS: VMware
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[Updated: Nov 23, 2006 @ 5:20 am] Added a new gallery of OLPC images showing how the design changed over time.

The other day I downloaded a VMware image of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) so I could have a play with it and I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with what I'm seeing (you'll need the free VMware Player to view this unless you have a full copy of VMware Workstation).

I'm particularly impressed with how simple and straight-forward the interface is.  I really wasn't sure how simple an interface could be and remain useful.  I think that this strikes the right balance.  Since it's mostly graphical I'm sure that with a little trial and error a kid can get to grips with it pretty easily.  The idea is that kids use the PC for learning, and not waste time learning how to use it.  It'll be interesting to see how different countries use this tool in different ways.

This is a fantastic use of Linux.  It's making a different where it counts.

Take a look for yourself - gallery here.

New gallery showing how the design of the OLPC changed over time.

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Topic: VMware

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  • The right tool for the job...

    I keep hearing basically 2 thoughts over and over again when it comes to Linux. There's one camp that thinks Linux is worthless and has no valid uses. Then there's the other that thinks Linux should be used for everything under the sun to the exclusion of everything else. Then there's this small minority you never hear much from. They understand that the operating system is a tool, not unlike any of the tools in a real world toolbox. In some circumstances, you use tool A. In others, you use tool B because it's better suited to the job at hand, even though tool A is capable of doing the job. This seems to be a great example of someone choosing the right tool for the job at hand. There will inevitably be people who claim that these laptops should be loaded up with Windows. Their reasoning...because it would be Windows and not Linux. That's their whole thought process in a nutshell. These are the same people who will use a pipe wrench to pound in a nail instead of going to the toolbox and grabbing a hammer. Maybe they don't know better, maybe they're just lazy, or maybe they think their time is so valuable as to preclude wasting it by walking across the room to the toolbox.
    jasonp9
    • Add Linux and Windows in your post...

      And you have an OS neutral post expressing the implied opinion that the appropriate tool should be used for the appropriate job.

      Pretending to not have an agenda while promoting one is disingenuous at best.

      "There will inevitably be people who claim that these laptops should be loaded up with Windows. Their reasoning...because it would be Windows and not Linux. That's their whole thought process in a nutshell. These are the same people who will use a pipe wrench to pound in a nail instead of going to the toolbox and grabbing a hammer. Maybe they don't know better, maybe they're just lazy, or maybe they think their time is so valuable as to preclude wasting it by walking across the room to the toolbox."
      Confused by religion
      • Maybe you missed...

        in my original post "There's one camp that thinks Linux is worthless and has no valid uses. Then there's the other that thinks Linux should be used for everything under the sun to the exclusion of everything else." Maybe you have an agenda every time you make a statement and you're trying to project that onto me. I don't have an agenda besides being a professional IT staffer. That means I make every effort to make sure I use all tools available to me. You really should tune up those critical reading skills...
        jasonp9
        • I saw the bias very well.

          The first part is fairly neutral.

          "I keep hearing basically 2 thoughts over and over again when it comes to Linux. There's one camp that thinks Linux is worthless and has no valid uses. Then there's the other that thinks Linux should be used for everything under the sun to the exclusion of everything else. Then there's this small minority you never hear much from. They understand that the operating system is a tool, not unlike any of the tools in a real world toolbox. In some circumstances, you use tool A. In others, you use tool B because it's better suited to the job at hand, even though tool A is capable of doing the job. This seems to be a great example of someone choosing the right tool for the job at hand."



          Now comes the linux bias.

          "There will inevitably be people who claim that these laptops should be loaded up with Windows. Their reasoning...because it would be Windows and not Linux. That's their whole thought process in a nutshell. These are the same people who will use a pipe wrench to pound in a nail instead of going to the toolbox and grabbing a hammer. Maybe they don't know better, maybe they're just lazy, or maybe they think their time is so valuable as to preclude wasting it by walking across the room to the toolbox."

          No there was nothing wrong with his reading skill. But there is something wrong with your professed neutrality with regard to your debating skill. Even your rebuttal to him cherry picked a neutral part of the argument as reinforcement to your professed objectivity. It was the last part of the argument in conclusion that showed your bias. It is all broken down quotes for everyone to see. Personally, I like to use pipe wrenches on spin doctors.
          osreinstall
    • Your un-professed Bias is showing

      A Better un-biased analogy would have been.

      There will inevitably be people who claim that these laptops should be loaded up with Windows Vista or Red Hat enterprise Linux. Their reasoning...because it's their personal bias for Windows or their Linux Distro preference. That's their whole thought process in a nutshell.

      These are the same people who use a 8 pound sledge hammer (IE: Vista or Full distro GNU Linux) to pound in a nail instead of going to the toolbox and grabbing a carpenters hammer (IE: Windows Mobil, CE, Thin Client Linux, Embedded linux). Maybe they don't know better (Never used anything but their OS of choice), maybe they're just lazy( Don't want to download a Distro ISO and burn the CD's/DVD, or have to deal with MS to get a reasonable price), or maybe they think their time is so valuable as to preclude wasting it by walking across the room to the toolbox (IE: Their just plan arrogant!).
      You can get the same type of tools from different vender's with slight variations on design!

      Something like that would have been more of a true un-based opinion!
      bka1959
    • Tool A/Tool B were taking toolBOX A/toolBOX B

      This person is you tipical Windows user.

      They think that Windows is a TOOL.
      It's not.

      A better analogy is the it's the toolbox

      You don't endeavour to carry around several toolboxes in someone else's house while fixing the plumbing.
      It's far better to put all the tools you NEED in the one box.

      With Windows you get a toolbox with some tools, but not many.
      This costs more then the empty toolbox, but they don't sell those so you never know this.
      The tools look really useful but when you come to actually use them they seem to lack something or they break too easy.
      Then you have to keep going back to the shop to buy more tools.

      So this is where you come to Linux.
      It's like you go to Halfords and buy a filled toolbox for the same price as an empty one.
      The tools are of high quality and are intended for real professionals.
      And you get free unlimited vouchers for extra tools.

      The Windows way is better?
      ihatelinux
  • You really need to take out the OLD picture of the computer, they have

    long ago eliminate the hand crank, and the final prototype looks much different, including swivel screen.
    DonnieBoy
    • Tell it to the folks who put out the VHD

      It is not anything the author conjured, but what is offered via the 'net.
      Confused by religion
      • How's it powered?

        Solar? Is their an area on the system large enough to accommodate the power usage the overall device will require? With out the crank, how does it power up?
        John Zern
        • Foot pedal

          They decided that the hand crank was too awkward and prone to damage, so now it has a separate foot-power accessory. If you have other sources, it can use them instead.

          IMHO a generally better plan.
          Yagotta B. Kidding
          • Makes sense

            Frees up the hands for keyboard so you don't have to stop what you're doing to pick up the unit to crank it.
            John Zern
    • As far as i can tell...the crank remains

      check out the link

      http://www.laptop.org/download.en_US.html
      just_wondering
      • No, the crank has definately gone.

        There are many, many quotes I could point you to that prove this, from OLPC people as diverse as Walter Bender, Christopher Blizzard, Nicholas Negroponte or Ivan Krstic, all them explicitly stating that the handle has moved to an external supply. Here's a picture of it, care of another ZD Net blog:

        http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=3635

        The laptop will use the "donut" shaped gang charger - still in development.

        It really doesn't take much probing to discover this sort of stuff - after all, the machine has just gone through a first production run of 200 units. These units take the form of the laptop at the top of the page you linked pictures of which have very recently been referenced and linked to from this very site.

        This production model does not have a crank.

        The other pictures on the site are of older prototypes, design ideas and mock ups that OLPC went through before the B1 machine was built; the green one with the yellow crank being the first or second - I remember some very early CG pictures of a silver model - design iteration.

        If the fancy takes you and you want to read more about OLPC power supply issues, have a look here:

        http://www.olpcnews.com/hardware/power_supply/

        and bone up a bit. (caveat, I write for OLPC News, pardon the self link)
        davehat
        • Yeah, the crank is gone

          ... I let an old image slip in there. My bad ...
          Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • I like a lot about this concept......

    The whole idea of getting a computer to those who normally
    would not hope too see and or own one is fantastic because
    people grey matter or brains are the natural resorce of "CHOICE"
    for the comming years and it's true a mind is a terrible thing to
    waiste.

    However I am concerned that it is too limited in scope. Granted
    the United States is a rich nation but there are way too many
    children even in this country of riches that won't get a tool like
    this, and might not even see one or see much of one in their
    schools. I would think that this project should be open to the
    entire planets poor yes even those here in the states for with a
    relatively small population our minds are trully a terrible thing to
    waiste when we are facing global competition and such.

    Pagan jim
    Laff
  • By the way, we could use these right here in the good old US of A.

    Imagine how many kids do not have their own computer, right here in this country.
    DonnieBoy
    • Would rather the kids got this than a Gameboy Etc

      I would rather get one of these for the kids than a Gameboy. If it had some games, that would be good, but, think of all the other stuff they could do with something like this.
      wwm1234
    • One Laptop Per Child will offer them for sale on eBay

      OLPC news article -- "The surprise is that One Laptop Per Child will offer them for sale on eBay. Unless there are as yet un-announced security features on board - which is entirely plausible - this does little to assuage current fears that laptops may not reach their target audience - poor children in developing countries."

      My thoughts -- This will only help get the bugs out faster
      wwm1234
  • Effective use of money...?

    Has anybody involved in this project actually read any of the studies done on the effects of computer use in the classroom?

    But hey, let's assume that computers are a net benefit in the classroom.

    Students still need a teacher. A computer is an educational tool, nothing more. And a tool is only as good as it's user. In this case, the educational value of a computer is entirely dependent on the ability of the teacher.

    In this, as in other things, there is no magic bullet. Simply throwing money -- or computers -- at a problem won't make the problem go away.

    Remember that the laptops come with a hand crank to supply power because there is strong expectation that the computer will be used where there is no electricity. No electricity means no internet access. Without internet, the machine is a cumbersome word-processor (using a Latin alphabet keyboard). Chess? Free-cell? Concentration? RSS Readers? A Music synthesizer? These are the things that third-world, poverty-stricken children need most desperately?

    At $125 per child, will the laptop come with a decent teacher? Or clean drinking water?
    pkstephens
    • Well isn't the "classroom" subject to a great many variables?

      Like class environment. Quality of teacher ranging from really
      bad to superb? How about effective use of classroom tools that
      might include a computer? All these variables and more can
      effect studies regarding computers in the classroom. However I
      thought the purpose of this project was to get computers to
      children who might never see one or have a chance to use one
      not so much in the classroom but have one with them. So they
      (in their youth) can use this tool as their young and rappidly
      growing minds adapt to the new technology available to them at
      the right age I might add. Then perhaps reach out to the world
      around them and announcing "Hey here I am" and if their
      potential is large enough and their genious obvious to those
      who would hear them then the world gains but tapping into what
      was before this project an unknowable and unreachable natural
      resource?

      Pagan jim
      Laff