[OLPC XO] Original UI , Unique Operation [Part 2]

Jan 18, 2008
Nikkei Electronics Teardown Squad
The formation of the Home screen. Inside the gray frame is the XO screen.
The formation of the Home screen. Inside the gray frame is the XO screen.
[Click to enlarge image]
The Frame displayed during Activity operation. The operating Activity is Journal. A list of operation results is displayed in this manner.
The Frame displayed during Activity operation. The operating Activity is Journal. A list of operation results is displayed in this manner.
[Click to enlarge image]
An Activity menu. The paint program is being operated. The screen is displaying icons of available tasks (from the left, Undo, Redo, Copy and Paste) when the Edit menu is chosen.
An Activity menu. The paint program is being operated. The screen is displaying icons of available tasks (from the left, Undo, Redo, Copy and Paste) when the Edit menu is chosen.
[Click to enlarge image]

We turned on the XO. If a user name is registered, a display like the photo on the right shows up. This is the XO's user interface (UI) called "Sugar."

The XO basically uses Linux-based software and features X.Org Foundation's X Window System GUI. Its window manager is called "matchbox." The XO is embedded with the proprietary Sugar UI in addition to these standard items.

In the Sugar, the initial display, in which the XO icon is surrounded with a circle, that shows up when the PC is turned on is called the "Home" screen. On this screen, users can switch the operating program, shutdown the system and so on. The screen works as a kind of a control center.

The circle surrounding the XO icon is divided into several parts, to which icons of running programs are allotted. If a user clicks one of the icons on the Home screen, operations will switch to the corresponding program.

Programs that can be called and used using the Sugar are called "Activities." Clicking icons lined up at the bottom of the display, you can start Activities. Activities are displayed across the screen. Hence, to make it easy to switch back to the Home screen, the XO is equipped with a key to call the Home screen as well as a key to return to the program that was used most recently.

The black frame around the Home screen is called the "Frame," and it can be displayed even when an Activity is being operated. You can display the Frame by moving the mouse cursor toward any of the four screen corners or pressing the key at the upper right end.

Icons indicating tasks that are currently available are displayed in a line on top of the Activity page. Under those icons is the menu to switch the kind of tasks. In other words, task icons are lined up instead of so-called drop down menu. The "Activity" menu corresponds to a standard file menu, but there is no "name and save the file" task even in the word processing software, for example.

In fact, the Sugar does not have a concept of files. As the PC is based on Linux, data are virtually located in files, of course. Nevertheless, the Sugar is basically designed to store every operation result as a "Journal."

In addition, we need to download screen data to edit such an article. The Sugar automatically downloads the whole screen if both Alt and "1" keys are pressed. The XO also automatically recognizes a USB memory device if it is inserted. Using these capabilities, we took out and used screen data for article editing.