Farewell, OLPC XO-1

A few weeks ago, after some soul-searching, I decided to pack up the OLPC and ship it off to a new user elsewhere in the world. I’ve relayed it to a second party in America, who is better equipped to present it to its new owner.

I decided to part ways with it for several reasons. First, I honestly hadn’t used it in well over three months. There’s practically a waiting line for computer use in this household, and tinkering with the XO-1 had fallen way down on the list.

I had lots of plans but have no time to enact them, and so disuse (not misuse) was to blame. I am far more enamored with this 100Mhz machine than I had been with the XO, and in turn more enthused by the idea of working with that hideous old K6-2 than I was with the XO, and doubly so of working with either of the Thinkpads than I was with the XO.

But I don’t kid myself either. I am a laptop fiend, and while the XO was technically a laptop, there were too many parts that deviated from the “normal” range of laptop hardware (if there is such a thing) to fall within my focus. It was, in other words, a little too unusual to pique my interest.

Perhaps more influential in the decision was my rather steep disappointment in the off-again, on-again hardware failures I had with the machine. I had committed myself to overlooking those faults; I even added it to my to-do list for the year. And I never really reported it here, but I was able to “cure” the machine of its sticky-key issue twice by using a common hair dryer to soften the glue under the CTRL key, and massage it back to a functional level. (Thanks again to the OLPC fan who e-mailed me with that “solution” … it’s what convinced me to keep it for another few months, really.)

But the idea that a six-month old computer intended for underprivileged children had a vaguely cripping hardware fault after extremely light use … well, let’s just say it was like a grain of sand in my mouth. Try as I might, I couldn’t keep it out of my mind. It just continued to irritate, with no sign of relief.

I enjoyed the time I had with it; I count my Crux installation and long-running Arch installations as coups in my personal repertoire. I would have been happier with it if, in my experience, the video subsystem better matched the demands put on it (it always seemed a bit too slow for 1200×800, or whatever) and if perhaps there was a little more power overall, in the entire system.

But aside from that there is no coda for the cute little green laptop. It was one part experimentation and one part honest-to-goodness philanthropy that convinced me to buy it and its counterpart. I probably wouldn’t do it again, but I’m willing to admit that was only my experience, and not necessarily the norm.

Now if only I could convince myself to thin out the remaining members of the herd. … :|

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5 Responses to “Farewell, OLPC XO-1”


  1. 1 Wayan @ OLPC News 2009/02/25 at 3:48 AM

    I can feel your reasons – you’re not alone in your choice. So might this be a Guest Post on OLPC News to get others thinking about the XO’s success with adult owners?

  2. 3 Alex 2009/03/06 at 4:29 AM

    Hi K.Mandla,

    I am in the same situation. I have OLPC, installed Ubuntu on it, still don’t use it… How did you find a new user for your OLPC?

  3. 4 K.Mandla 2009/03/06 at 7:39 AM

    Well, in my case I have a friend in the U.S. with better connections to people who might have a use for it. I let them control who receives it, whether it goes to a technophile, or to a kid who wants a computer but can’t afford one.


  1. 1 Two and a half epilogues « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/04/04 at 7:55 AM

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