More OLPC notes

After using the XO laptop for a few days, my opinion of it is mixed. On the plus side, it’s small, lightweight, easy for kids to use, and seems to be a good way to help kids learn programming. It’s a real Linux system (kernel 2.6.9) and it looks like it will run GCC-built x86 binaries from a standard Linux system.

However, it has some very serious flaws. The battery life is worse than my MacBook Pro. After about 20 minutes, the battery is 75% drained. This doesn’t look good for a laptop meant to be used places where power is scarce.

The security is very lax – in the terminal you can simply type ‘su’ with no password and you have root access! It’s also very slow. It takes a while to launch an activity, which is surprising since everything is in flash memory so it should load very quickly. The UI also feels kind of sluggish.

The wireless connectivity is terrible. I haven’t been able to connect reliably to any of my networks, even sharing from my mini as an open network without encryption. If I have such difficulty connecting, how do they expect a kid somewhere with limited connectivity to get online?

Hopefully a software update will fix some of these issues.

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