First day with OLPC

Part of my day job (and reason why I love it) is working with guys from OLPC Croatia in spreading a word and intention of this project. Yesterday we had great presentation in Varaždin and they are interested in pilot project.

With news like this it seems that we are fighting windmills. I hope that we are not wrong to invest time and effort into this since my first day of experience with little green thing is very positive.

For a start let me clear some doubts: it is slow machine. Keyboard is really different (much worse than Eee PC for example), but if you don't press it harder than needed (which was my problem) it's actually O.K. It's also heavier than Eee PC (which somehow I noticed carrying it around) but other than that it great machine.

Having said that, I had problems with associating to my AP (so I used scripts for that), but as a real Linux user, I decided to take a look at it. From that point on, things improved: first i noticed very nice upgrade mechanism with allowed me to upgrade to build 703 which works great. This build is not final, so it comes without any Actions (think of them as applications installed on OLPC), but installation of Action pack from USB stick is really easy (it's also possible to upgrade system using USB stick if you don't have network).

The only show-stopper problem that I now have is how to buy OLPC? I don't even know if we can order just 2000 units for pilot program, but I would really love to have ability to buy device for me and other interested developers in CARNet. Having said that, if you do have OLPC which you are not using, it can find new home with interested developer.

Aside from that, hi-res black and white screen is just beautiful, machine performs extremely well if you have in mind that it's basically 430Mhz pentium machine with 256Mb or RAM and 1Gb of flash. It seems like too little, but if you use OLPC as network connected digital notebook (with sharing!) it works beautifully. It best mobile device I had since palm back in last century.

Every little thing of this machine is designed great: kudos do development team. One small thing is that you can rotate screen in both directions (Toshiba, take note of this!). Hardware keys on both sides of display actually make usage a joy (and decrease a need to touch keyboard).

If we from moment move on from hardware to Sugar, it really great user interface which I would love to see on other laptops (before you ask, I did try it on Debian and it does work, I will take another look after I will have to return laptop).

I really hope that this project will live on and enable us to deploy units to elementary schools and hopefully achieve some benefit for students (which I'm somehow sure we'll have :-)