What cool things can I do with an OLPC?
January 28, 2009 7:33 PM   Subscribe

What cool things can I do with an OLPC?

I've recently come into the posession of two OLPCs. Yay! What can I do with them? Surely someone's hacked some cool things into the device: or run a mail server: or something? Do tell!
posted by pita to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You can know that somewhere, at this very moment, two young children in Uruguay are asking this exact question on Uruguayan Ask Mefi.

I kid. http://i.gizmodo.com/372775/xo-olpc-overclocked-now-it-means-business-kind-of Overclock it!
posted by aleahey at 8:58 PM on January 28, 2009 [2 favorites]

Use them as ebook readers. They're very good for that purpose. Turn off the backlight, rotate the screen (there are a bunch of buttons to do this), and you're at pretty much eInk levels of readability. It's the only reason I'm tempted to get one.
posted by Gnatcho at 3:53 AM on January 29, 2009

I use mine as a sit-in-front-of-TV-light-web-surfing laptop. Since there's a solid state drive, I don't worry about waving it around and putting it at odd angles.

For airplane flights, I use it as an ebook reader. The keyboard sucks, but the "game controllers" to the sides of the display are awesome for web browsing and book reading. If I were to get one of those MSI or HP netbooks now, I would seriously miss the game controllers.

From a performance perspective, I find the thing too much of a lightweight in terms of memory to do anything beyond that (for web browsing, for example, I have Flash turned off, because it would peg memory and cause things to stop working; I restrict myself to "light" websites without much Javascript, because it would peg memory and cause things to stop working, etc. (the older WAP-compliant web sites work well in this regard with Opera)). I also use text-based Alpine (the successor of Pine) for checking email, since running a GUI mail client at the same time as a web browser will peg memory and cause things to stop working.

Given that, yeah, you can run a mail server, etc. I've done that with less computer power (albeit in the days before we had to run modern antispam and antivirus programs, which are memory hogs compared to, say, Sendmail itself). Do note that there's no wired network interface (unless you want to stick a USB on the thing).

I have XFCE running as the X Window manager instead of Sugar, because Sugar is horrible. I say this as someone living in the United States; I suppose Sugar is perfectly fine for someone else, though that person may live in Cambridge, MA, designing user interfaces.

Lastly, check out the forums.

I haven't looked recently, but they did have usage ideas, hacking, etc.
posted by chengjih at 5:09 AM on January 29, 2009

Give them away to some kids?
posted by orme at 7:44 AM on January 29, 2009

OLPC News Forums is a good place to look. Star Chart is probably the most novel application I've tried.
posted by anthill at 5:49 PM on January 29, 2009

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