Mine the Harvest

Tag: Boot Hanging

Lint Mint 6 XFCE on OLPC

by on Jul.14, 2009, under IT Adventures, Linux, Netbooks

A while back when Linux Mint 6 XFCE (based on Ubunut Intrepid) was released and reviewed on The Linux Action Show I thought of what a good platform it could be for the OLPC. (The Linux Action show is a great pod cast by the way!) I had previously installed Ubuntu Hardy on the OLPC, but the extras the Linux Mint guys added to XFCE sounded pretty cool. Especially considering I am thinking of giving the OLPC away to someone who is a newer Linux user, having Mint as the OS was pretty appealing. And oh, my old Hardy install was utterly nuked on the SD card anyway – who knows. I might have tried to recover the partition tables with TestDisk, etc. but really – who cares. Time for a new OLPC adventure anyway!

In fact I had hardly touched my OLPC in nearly a year, since buying my Acer Aspire One – which I really love. And although the Aspire One is obviously far better performance wise, there are certain characteristics of the OLPC that I really like, such as:

Monochrome Screen Mode: This is absolutely awesome. The screen back light turns completely off saving big time power. Sunlight goes through the LCD and is reflected off a panel, making the screen extremely readable in direct sunlight. It is really fantastic and I wish ALL netbooks had this feature. It is hard to describe how legible it is, even in harsh direct light.

Battery Life: Especially when running in monochrome mode, battery life is quite good.

Mesh Networking: Interesting stuff – and oh, the wireless net supports injection. Hacking opportunities for kids the world round.

Case Design: Everything folds up to protect ports. Integrated carrying handle.

Open Firmware: Yea, it’s kind of different and fun to play with. Similar to the Open Firmware in the pre-Intel Macs, but far more fun than that was. Since we will be seeing a lot more systems using Open Firmware in the future it is good to play with it now. By by BIOS – you served us well.

Philosophy: Providing technology that would otherwise be unavailable to kids in remote places does not at all seem like a bad idea to me.

HAM Radio: I am thinking the OLPC, with the above features, seems a perfect candidate to use with packet radio. Communicate with friends after the coming apocalypse. Run it for years, and never worry about the back light burning out – you don’t need it.

(As a note: It was great seeing a few people recently at Toorcamp with their OLPCs – I saw two or three there, as well as two OLPC billboards on the trip to Seattle.)

Okay – enough extolling the OLPC virtues. How to install Linux Mint on it.

How to Install Linux Mint 6 XFCE on the OLPC

0) Pre-install Steps

0) First off, you do not need to go through exotic hoops to get this to work. Some guys have had success installing Mint onto an SD card first and then installing Hardy over the top of it and ended up with a working Mint install. Using the following method you can simply install Mint and it should work fine. (If you do want to install a vanilla Hardy, I would highly recommend using this method using compressed files instead.)

00) I suggest you update the OLPC firmware and Fedora base OS before installing Mint. Simply connecting to a wireless network and running #olpc-update as root will download all updates and update the firmware as well. (Have it pluged into AC or the firmware upgrade will be skipped.) BE PATIENT – the upgrade rsyncs several hundred megs over your wireless connection. It takes a very long time.

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