OLPC: Upgrading X0-1 to new SugarLabs Release


I saw an announcement the other day about a development OS release (os16) for the OLPC XO-1 laptop that basically brings it into parity with the release on the XO-1.5. I downloaded it, got a developer key, unlocked an OLPC, and figured out how to install it. Once you become familiar with the process, it is actually easy and straight forward. I even played with the FORTH-based firmware for the first time.

The main new features in the OS16 devel release are:

  1. Based on Fedora 11 (was 9)
  2. 2.6.31 Kernel (was 2.6.27)
  3. Includes "Switch to GNOME" option
  4. Additional productivity Apps
  5. Updated Sugar release

Of course the hardware in the XO-1 has not changed but the new software still runs quit well in 256MB of RAM with no SWAP.


GNOME is listed as version 2.26.3. Applications installed include:

  • Accessories - File Roller, gedit, and Thesaurus
  • Graphics - GIMP and Inkscape
  • Internet - Empathy, Firefox (3.5.9) and XChat
  • Office - AbiWord (2.8.4) and Gnumeric
  • Programming - MySqueak
  • Sound & Video - Audacity, Etoys, Gnash SWF Viewer, and Totem
  • System Tools - Nautilus File Browser, Switch to Sugar, and Terminal

I tried out most of the apps and they work just fine given the resource limitations. I do not recommend having more than two or three apps open at any given time to save memory.

In Firefox I decided to reduce the font size down to 10 because the default size of 16 was a tad big. Given the screen size of the OLPC, you might have to do more scrolling around than on larger screens but it does work well.

NetworkManager works great and I was able to use wired networking at work (with a USB-to-ethernet adapter) and wireless networking at home just fine.

About Sugar

The updated Sugar runs just fine. I didn't do an activity by activity comparison to see what might be missing but at first glance it appears to be your standard G1G1 set of activities.

What is Missing?

The new OS image is about 120MB bigger than the previous one which isn't bad considering the addition of GNOME, the various productivity apps, and the updated Sugar. One thing still missing is printing support... no CUPS and no printer config app under System -> Preferences. Maybe they'll add that some day if they decide to dedicate even more of the precious storage space to a printing system.


Overall I was impressed with the new devel OS and was glad to see a new announcement (OLPC software strategy) saying that they plan on coming up with an official release in the near future that is signed, supported, and doesn't require unlocking the OLPC with a developer key. Although there is still a debate going on in the OLPC community about perhaps hiding the "Switch to GNOME" feature, specifically among teachers, they have decided that it is a good idea to keep the software on the XO-1 and XO-1.5 in parity.

Keep up the good work OLPC and SugarLabs... you guys always amaze me... and I posted this from the OLPC. I think I'm getting more used to the child-sized keyboard. :)

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Scott Dowdle's picture

OLPC os301 devel release


Compressed image size: 595.62mb (+62.88mb since build 300)

Description of changes in this build:

* #10207, powerd: Fix wake on LAN
* #10208, kernel: Fix "disable wlan" control panel
* #10209, sugar: Fix "Start" menu item on activity palette in Sugar
* #10211, NetworkManager: Fix sporadic mesh connection failure
* #10214, kernel: Fix gstreamer segfault when using Record
* #10221, kernel: Fix wlan activity LEDs
* #10219, Browse: Re-add standard content bundles
* #10228, kernel: Fix screen blanking events on the VT
* Set nautilus to "browser mode" by default
* Turn on idle-suspend by default
* Temporarily disable pretty boot, to diagnose boot hangs like #9100

Package changes since build 300:


Scott Dowdle's picture

New os300 release

Just found out that there is a new release today (os300) that has some additional bug fixes. Will be trying it out RSN.

The new release is from the laptop.org folks rather than the SugarLabs folks and I don't think the email is public so I'll not share the complete info until it is.


I have one, sitting in a box, having purchased originally for $399 to support the program (buy one, get one). I believe in the cause, still.
However, I can't tell by my research what to do with it now, if anything! And wondered if you have any recomendations? It would be great if the original one could be modified to work as a handy netbook to read emails on the web when away from home, but that seems far fetched!!
Thanks in advance for any comment.

Scott Dowdle's picture

Using GNOME on the XO-1

I emailed you directly but yeah, the GNOME 2.x desktop is very... well... desktopy. It includes the Firefox web browser, GIMP, Inkscape... and Abiword I think... along with a few desk accessory type apps.

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