The One Laptop Per Child Foundation’s XO Laptop was designed to be cheap, durable, and usable in places without consistent access to electricity or the internet. And so one of the features that distinguished the first generation XO Laptop was the inclusion of “mesh networking,” which let computers create local networks by searching for other XO Laptops nearby and forming connections. You could even share an internet connection this way, if one user was near a WiFi hot spot, and there was a chain of OLPCs long enough to provide someone a half mile or more away with internet access.

But it looks like that feature has been dropped from the latest XO Laptops. The XO 1.5, which features a faster processor than the original XO, doesn’t do mesh networking.

That’s kind of a shame, because mesh networking was one of the most innovative features of the XO Laptop. But the OLPC folks have had a series of setbacks over the past few years, and have had to scale back their vision several times, so this is really the least of anyone’s worries.

Still, it’s arguable that Nicholas Negroponte sparked the netbook revolution with the original OLPC XO Laptop, so it’s not like the project was a complete failure. It’s also led to other interesting projects such as Walter Bender’s Sugar OS educational operating system and Mary Lou Jepsen’s Pixel Qi display technology for low power screens that can be used indoors or out. Maybe we’ll see someone take up the banner of mesh networking in the future… although it’s the kind of technology that really does seem like it would be most useful in the developing world.

via OLPC News

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8 replies on “OLPC XO 1.5 laptops don’t support mesh networking”

  1. It could be the cost factor that limits them from putting it into the OLPC XO 1.5

    Although mesh is being stripped there could be other models like star networks which could be established few kms apart to work as repeaters.

    I would not say it would be a failure as it many new dimensions to the way we think about computing.

    1. What cost factor? It’s not like WiFi was stripped out completely… just the mesh networking protocol stack…. software. Software that was already written and running.

      A more likely reason for removing mesh has to do with the inability for OLPC to deliver on functionality that they promised… that continues to be missing years later. For example: They released the XO without support for the stylus areas that allowed children to use a simple stick as a stylus. That support never materialized.

      The mesh network probably didn’t live up to the promises and claims that were made. Some hard limitation might have been discovered… and rather than deal with it, they removed it.

      1. There are two types of Wlan chipsets. One which is able to TX and RX simultaneously and then there are others which can only receive.

        My guess was that the ones that can receive only are cheaper.

        1. can you specify what those are? i would really like one that does both. i’m guessing you’re referring to 802.16 and 802.11, but if, not please specify. there is a very interesting project done by Netsukuku, which has software, but is in an early stage (hopefully it won’t be discontinued.

          1. error, i meant 802.11s (as opposed to a/b/g/n), but i don’t know what the difference in hardware or software is between ad-hoc in the latter and the configurations of the former.

  2. OLPC XO 1.5 laptops don’t support mesh networking… Perhaps do to XP’s higher requirements? The necessary development that had to go into making XP work, stole some of that dream? It sure drove away many former believers. Jump off Negroponte!

    1. No. XP is the bogeyman that keeps getting trotted out. Many former believers of the XO were nothing more than anti-Microsoft, pro-linux fanboys. They were led by their emotions which blinded them to the deficiencies of Sugar and the underlying Linux distro. Dissenting opinion in the XO user community was not tolerated. Dissenters were accused of being Microsoft shills.

      If you can’t objectively examine the areas where one is deficient then there is no chance of those issues being addressed.

      There were a few of us who bought into the greater vision of OLPC… technology into the hands of children of the less fortunate as a way to empower them and educate them… we didn’t care if those devices ran Linux, Windows, OSX, or AmigaDOS. We were in the minority.

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