How to install / update your OLPC software

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How to install / update your OLPC software

Postby peter » Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:23 pm

Here's how to do some basic updating of the programs installed on your OLPC XO.

The OLPC Operating System

Your operating system is the software suite that allows the sharing of your computer system's resources (processor, memory, disk space, network bandwidth, and so on) between users and the application programs they run.

Determining Your OLPC XO Operating System Version Number
  • The easiest way to do this is to type the CTRL, ALT and "Group" (Three dots) keys simultaneously from your Journal. You'll get output looking like this:

Code: Select all
OLPC build 653[/B] (stream ship.2; variant devel_jffs2)
Kernel 2.6.22-20071121.7.olpc.af3dd731d18bc39 on an i586
xo-0D-39-78 Login:

Here we see the OLPC operating system is using build 653.

  • To return to your OLPC GUI, type the CTRL, ALT and "Home View" (One dot) keys simultaneously.

Upgrading Your OLPC XO Operating System

Here's how you can upgrade to the latest MAJOR Version
Code: Select all
$ su -
# olpc-update 653
Note: DO NOT POWER OFF YOUR XO DURING THIS PROCESS. Wait until it comes back to life fully just like before with the Journal etc. A premature shutdown can be fatal.

Note: Major upgrades can remove new custom activities you have previously installed using tar or yum.

The OLPC XO Firmware

Most computer systems come with a Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). The BIOS determines what a computer can do without accessing programs from a disk. On PCs, the BIOS contains all the code required to control the keyboard, monitor, disk drives, and a number of miscellaneous functions. In summary it helps to tailor a specific computer to the operating system. It configures devices to meet the basic needs of the operating system and then starts booting the operating system.

The function of the BIOS is so vital that the information on the BIOS is often stored on a chip separate from the hard drive to protect it from potential crashes. In the OLPC, the BIOS code can be modified to fix known bugs by upgrading the firmware programs that reside in it.

Determining Your OLPC XO firmware Version

Your firmware version can be determined using the olpc-bios-sig command as the root super user.

From the terminal activity, become the root super user by typing the su command. Then run the olpc-bios-sig command.

Code: Select all
[olpc@xo-0D-39-78 ~]$ su -
-bash-3.2# olpc-bios-sig
CL1   Q2D07  Q2D

Here we see the version is CL1 Q2D07 Q2D

Upgrading Your OLPC XO firmware

Instructions on how to upgrade your BIOS firmware can be found on the wiki firmware page.

Installing Activities

OLPC XO activities can be downloaded from a number of places on the Internet, but the easiest place to search is on the OLPC Wiki using the Browse activity.
  • On the Wiki, web pages describing the activity usually have a link to a file with a name ending in ".xo". Here is the description page for the Read activity.
  • Clicking on the link usually sends you to another page from which you can download the activity with a link to the true ".xo" file, usually at the very top. Here is the download page for the Read activity.
  • Clicking on the ".xo" file will start the download process to your OLPC XO. When it is completed an "OK" and/or "Open" button will appear near the top of your browser screen.
  • Click on OK and then return to your Journal activity.
  • The ".xo" file should be at the very top of the Journal. Click on the file and then choose "Resume".
  • The activity should now be installed and available in your activity bar.
Installing Other Applications

The Linux Home Networking website has a good page on installing Linux software. Here is a summary.

Using RPM Packages

Some Linux software is available in RPM package files. If you know the URL for the RPM file then you can use the rpm command to install it from the terminal activity. Here is an example.

Code: Select all
$ su -
# rpm -vi

Using Yum

The yum program will probe a list of predefined servers for RPM files. Unlike rpm, you don't need to know the software version or filename to install as yum figures that out for you. You just need the name of the application. In this example we're installing an application named "mc".

Code: Select all
$ su -
# yum -y install mc

Updating your Activities and Applications

You can update your applications and activities using the yum command. It will also upgrade those sub sections of your operating system that have changed since your last major upgrade. This is also known as a MINOR operating system version upgrade. Yum requires an Internet connection, so make sure you are connected.

Here is how you run yum from the terminal activity.

Code: Select all
[olpc@xo-0D-39-78 ~]$ su -
-bash-3.2# yum -y update

If you have any questions. Ask this thread!
Simiya - For Lovers of Caribbean Art
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Re: How to install / update your OLPC software

Postby laptopmom » Mon Feb 04, 2008 8:27 pm

This is the most brilliant post ever written and should go on the front index page for all to see!! thank you for this information so much!
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Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 10:30 am

Re: How to install / update your OLPC software

Postby OldDog » Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:20 am

Thanks for an extremely helpful summary of update procedures. I do have one question. Is there an update of BIOS which would allow booting from a USB stick? I want to have my cake and eat it too - that is, I don't want to modify my olpc but I would like to be able to boot from and run from a Debian Live usb stick to use other Debian packages.

The olpc-bios-sig command shows Q2D06 and the link you provided indicates this should be upgraded in any case. I will just do a standard upgrade if there is no possibility of booting from the usb stick.
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Re: How to install / update your OLPC software

Postby iamlamtoo » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:02 am

Excellent post.
I have another hint for you:
Remove any SD card, if any, from the SD card slot. In another word, make your machine's configuration as close to the "out-of the box" configuration as possible.
Also, when I tried the olpc-update command (653, I think), the firmware is NOT updated and I had to do that separately.

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Location: Boston area, MA

Re: How to install / update your OLPC software

Postby Sarah Elkins » Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:12 pm

Is there any way to block the spamplimenter? Spam compliments (linking to vendor site at the bottom, see example above) make it harder for the real forum members to find new messages which contribute to OLPC knowledge (or ask sincere questions).
Sarah Elkins
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Location: DC Area, US

Re: How to install / update your OLPC software

Postby jfbrown42 » Sun Nov 30, 2008 12:09 pm

Great topic! Truely pinworthy.
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Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2008 8:13 pm

Re: How to install / update your OLPC software

Postby KarenXO » Sun Nov 30, 2008 2:57 pm


Two ways to block the "spamplimenter":

1. Click the exclamation point in the triangle to report the message as spam.

2. Click the poster's username ("abuser4lif3"--how appropriate) and then click "Mark as foe."

I've nothing against a little self-promotion, but when the post appears to be nothing but an excuse to display one's own website, it's annoying.

Proud owner of a G1G1 XO Laptop
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Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2008 8:42 am

Re: How to install / update your OLPC software

Postby stevenmarcell » Sat Jul 25, 2009 1:08 am

Your information is very useful and really helpful i use this information and i can install my OLPC software. This information also very useful for those who want to update this software. This is a nice way to share this amazing information.
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 12:37 am

Re: How to install / update your OLPC software

Postby BoBraxton » Mon Dec 21, 2009 2:47 pm

We have SIX of the G1G1. In 2008 we updated to 703 just before going to Kenya. A year later we brought SIX back and since then have tried to update to 8.02
When I do this yum -y update everything goes for awhile and then fails on some missing dependencies. There must be a better place for me to find out how / what to do. I have the "blueberry" Sugar on a Stick but do not know for certain whether I can RUN (boot) that from our G1G1 systems. It looks beautiful on Windows laptop.
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Joined: Sun Jul 29, 2007 3:43 pm

Re: How to install / update your OLPC software

Postby ektoric » Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:06 pm

It looks like your systems do not have any files that need to be preserved (journal entries, etc.) In this case, you might consider
Support Team
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Location: Austin, TX

Re: How to install / update your OLPC software

Postby sandy|XO » Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:41 pm

If you are talking about trying the latest Sugar on your original XOs ( which you have tried via the Sugar on a Stick) then you need to carefully follow the links in this page:

Note, getting the latest Sugar back on the original XOs is a work in progress, so test an XO and come back to those pages for updates!
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Joined: Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:12 pm

Re: How to install / update your OLPC software

Postby AngelDust » Sat Jan 23, 2010 7:38 pm

Awesome post! I'm writing this down so that I can finally get started with the OLPC installation. Thanks! :D
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Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 3:31 am

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