The One Laptop Per Child XO Laptop is a unique device for a number of reasons. Cosmetically, the XO is unlike any other laptop, since it’s made to be a durable machine for use in classrooms in developing nations. It’s rugged, features a sunlight readable display, a tablet mode, and twist-up WiFi antennae. But it’s not just the hardware that sets the XO apart. It also runs Linux with a custom desktop environment called Sugar OS which is designed for children who have no experience with computers.
But from a hardware perspective, there’s no reason the XO can’t run a more standard desktop environment and open source applications including OpenOffice.org, Firefox, and Pidgin. People have been hacking XO laptops pretty much since day one to get them to run alternate operating systems. Now a company called On-Disk is making it incredibly easy by offering software on an SD card that you can plug into the XO in order to use an alternate operating system.
On-Disk’s solution is called Xtra Ordinary. For $41.09 you get a 4GB SD card with a Debian Linux-based operating system that uses the LXDE desktop environment. It feels more like a typical desktop operating system than Sugar OS, and uses a layout with desktop shortcuts, and a Windows-like taskbar and start menu.
On-Disk points out that the OS boots in under a minute, doesn’t reuire a login, and has a color scheme which plays well with the XO Laptop hardware. It supports display resolutions ranging from 320 x 240 to 1200 x 900, and ships with software including a web browser, Thunderbird, OpenOffice.org, Skype, Ekiga, GIMP, and a movie player.
The operating system runs from the SD card, so you don’t need to erase Sugar OS. On-Disk includes instructions for getting the XO to boot from the SD card. You can also pay extra to get the operating system on an 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB SD card. Or you can save $10 by sending the company your own storage card to have the OS installed.
via OLPC News