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OLPC Project Interface Revealed 196

BogusToo writes to mention an EE Times article describing the interface for the OLPC project laptop. Using some fairly intuitive UI concepts (like simplified web browsers and a chat client), the Linux-based system attempts to do away with the kludgey parts of computer use. A video demo of the interface has been placed on YouTube. From the article: "Earlier postings around the Internet have also shown how the physical design of the laptop has changed, including the elimination of the much touted on-board hand crank that was supposed to power the cheap, lime green laptop. It's still there, reportedly, but has now been moved to the power adapter. The OLPC's produced earlier this week in Shanghai still need to go through loads of testing, such as knocking them off desks and dropping them in mud, as kids are wont to do. They may also be kicked around, like soccer balls, a popular sport in 99.9 percent of the world."
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OLPC Project Interface Revealed

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  • by pieleric ( 917714 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @12:32PM (#16975320) Homepage
    Actually, although the youtube demo shows mostly everything, you can try it yourself using emulation (it runs on a x86 after all).
    Intructions are here []. It uses QEMU and a special 100Mb system image.

    Happy slashdotting...
  • Re:OLPC BS (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wooloomooloo ( 902011 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @12:42PM (#16975424)
    Sigh. It has been mentioned in every single OLPC discussion here in Slashdot that the laptop is not intended to be used in poor countries "where people starve all day inside their mud huts" (as people like to say here), but in places where kids have the most basic needs covered already, like Argentina, Lybia and [some parts of] Brazil.
  • by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Friday November 24, 2006 @12:48PM (#16975490) Homepage Journal
    And how are you "wasting your money on other people" seeing as the countries who want this will pay for it themselves?
  • New UI - why?? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Richard_J_N ( 631241 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @01:02PM (#16975662)
    I don't understand the reason for the new user interface? It can't be due to resource limits, since they already ship GTK (with firefox), and it can't be for reasons of complexity, since most kids pick up computing skills really fast. So why re-write all the apps? I think that it's quite wasteful of programmer effort. Wouldn't it be better to work on reducing the resource requirements(*) of Gnome (refactor it to make some parts of it compile-time options)? Existing minimal linux distros (eg DSL) are very good at providing good programs with low resource requirements; they just need some "tidying" to make them more user-friendly.

    * For lower resources still, use the excellent IceWM. But if we already have firefox, then we've already loaded GTK, and may as well use Gnome. Anyonw who wants a demonstration of how fast simpler programs can be, please try Dillo.
  • by gdek ( 202709 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @01:04PM (#16975682)
    Bzzt. The prototype I played with last Tuesday did, in fact, have a URL bar in the browser.

    Nice try, though.

    P.S. it's unbelievably cool in person. :)
  • by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) < minus poet> on Friday November 24, 2006 @02:13PM (#16976470) Homepage
    Family laptops are bigger [e.g. what we're used to], usually kept safe by the adults. These are smaller and meant to be used solely by kids.

  • by solevita ( 967690 ) on Friday November 24, 2006 @02:50PM (#16976792)
    There seems to be an easier point and click alternative for Windows [] and OS X [] users.
  • VMPlayer files (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 24, 2006 @04:44PM (#16977786)
    Here is one for VMPlayer 51 []

    The download issue that is discussed in the first few comments on that page has been resolved.

    I had never seen anything about the OLPC GUI or how to use it before I ran this image. I figured it out pretty quickly, not sure how others would do in my situation, but once you figure it out it is quit nice.
  • Re:gimme a terminal! (Score:4, Informative)

    by burns210 ( 572621 ) <> on Friday November 24, 2006 @05:28PM (#16978160) Homepage Journal
    One thing I was wondering while watching the video is that it seems there is no way to open a terminal. I agree that the interface MUST be dumbed down a lot but I am also completely sure that there MUST be a terminal in order to access more "complex" things in the computer

    There is a terminal activity. It does not, by default, have a frame icon (bottom left row of icons). It is opened with a key combination.

    A terminal and a python enabled system would be enough (IMHO).

    Which is also included An activity's UI, Sugar itself, etc, is all written in Python and is the 'blessed language' for development on the OLPC. Backend code (Abiword, Gecko) are obviously not Python, though.

  • Re:Durable Laptop? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 25, 2006 @01:05PM (#16984738)

    It's marked insightful because it is true. After 2.6+ GTK is a dog. Cairo didn't not improve GTK one bit. Cairo can, and is, used separately from GTK. It's use within GTK has done nothing but turn it into a slug. Cairo might one day be a route to faster graphics in GTK... right now it's a millstone.

    The GTK developer, Owen Taylor, who ripped out all the X code was adamant that it would improve performance... he never ran a single benchmark before making that claim (ironic because he used to be rabid about demanding benchmarks from other people). He ran some later, and the performance penalty turned out to be disasterous. It was, however, too late by then, because the GNOME mugs had already committed to using 2.8.

    To say the Cairo switch was a complete fuck up is understating it. NO-ONE trusts anything the GTK developers say anymore.... and frankly, it's about time. It's been plain for a couple of years that none of them really have any idea what they are doing beyond adding and polishing new API. You might also be interested to know that various PDA manufacturers have forked GTK and ripped out Cairo and started optimising the rest themselves.

    Here's hoping for a coup.

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