If computer keyboards were musical instruments, I'd type on a xylophone. --a really Big Xylophone.
I realized that shocker a week or so ago when my XO at long last arrived and I had the failed (but inspired) idea that I could write a post about my new XO on my new XO. While I'm sure that the nimble fingers of the child that received the other XO I bought have no trouble pecking up and down the slick green keyboard, my clumsy American fingers have all they can handle to click-away at a moderate speed on the sizable keyboard of a MacBook Pro.
The XO certainly had some distribution problems. I ordered my pair of XOs in late November, 2007. Christmas and New Year's Day rolled by without my XO. All of January disappeared and I still had no XO. I sent several e-mail messages to the people at Laptop Giving and received responses promising that I'd be alerted when my XO was ready to ship but those responses came a week or more after each inquiring e-mail I had sent.
The last e-mail I'd received (about February 20th) was an offer from the Laptop Giving people to refund my money if I had gotten too tired of waiting for my tiny computer. I resisted the urge to cancel the whole thing and, unannounced, a week or so later, I received the XO. And a week after that, I received the promised shipping notification and tracking codes. The FedEx tracking information assured me that I had already received my XO a week earlier. It was all worth the wait.
The XO came with printed instructions about how to install the battery. Beyond that, the XO adventure was left to the user's personal devices. There are, of course, internet instructions about how to use the X0, but it seemed as though I was very far from the internet at that point.
To my surprise, though, the internet was just around the corner. The laptop powered up in about 90 seconds, recognized my local encrypted wireless network, prompted me for the network passphrase, and connected with no further input from me.
The XO supports both conventional wireless networking through a gateway to the internet and it also supports mesh networking. Mesh networking allows a group of XO machines to connect to each other even when there is no route to the internet. Resources can be shared among the connected computers on the mesh network: ideal for instruction in an isolated classroom environment.
The XO has many creative features designed for primary and secondary instruction but it also sports the flexibility of the Linux Fedora 6 operating system as its backend operating system. From the built-in terminal, I was able to add the telnet utility program and connect to networks that don't support the included secure shell protocol, connect to remote servers and perform administrative tasks, redirect the displays from remote servers to the XO and display alternate desktops like KDE.
The XO that I donated was shipped to a child in Mongolia. I don't think that the child in Mongolia's first exploration of the XO will include remote access and remote display forwarding, but I just don't know. The XO doesn't limit any user to just programs and utilities in a child's computer's toolbox. With its remote access and networking capabilities, you get the keys to the whole factory.