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OLPC Israel’s New Debian Based System for Pilot February 7, 2009

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, Hamakor, ITU, linux, olpc, open source.
OLPC Israel Debian running the epiphany browser and a shell

OLPC Israel Debian Desktop View

Hey All,

I am Happy to update we have now a working prototype OS for the OLPC pilot here in Israel.

As explained in my last post, we have only B2/B1 laptops that are not compatible with the current sugar version. Because of this we had to develop our own OS that we will put on SD cards and in to the laptops (in the full project we want to use sugar, we did this for the B2s only really).

This system works well also with the normal OLPC units. And I’d be glad if anyone would like to use it copy, and modify.

The system is based off Debian and runs on XFCE. The B2 laptops work with only 128 RAM so we really reduced the memory usage. The kernel on the system is from build 711, which is the last to work with the B2. Still, it works fine on any OLPC. I hope we will have Kernel Headers for the release someone in the future.
I’d also like to take the opportunity for give a huge thanks to Ram-on Agmon who really got the system up and running.

You can download the latest build here.

To dump the image on to a 2GB sd card simply dd it as so:

dd if=/path/to/image of=/dev/sdb conv=sync


  • This will destroy all data on the card.
  • The path to the sd-card device is the partition table, because the img file includes also a swap partition.
  • You will need to have at least firmware q2e20.
  • The distro only works on an SD card.
  • If you are running a modern OLPC system you will also have to include your developer key in the right place.

One last unrelated thing (before pictures of the OS): There are updates on the web that OLPC has stopped the “give many program”, if anyone is worried about that effecting our pilot then i can assure you I talked to OLPC and it is related only to people that want to buy laptops regardless to intent and where they are in the world. Not to mention we are working as volunteers with a university to get this project to people who need it.

Hope to update soon, however I might not because I have a big test in physics the next week, and the ones after.


Here are more photos:

OLPC Israel Debian Desktop View

OLPC Israel Debian running the epiphany browser and a shell

OLPC Israel Debian running the epiphany browser and a shell


1. ChristophD - February 8, 2009

Thanks for the update! I’m sorry to hear that you are still stuck on B2s, I’ll definitely rally for OLPC to send you some MPs machines like you had requested via the Contributor’s program.

2. GuySoft - February 8, 2009

Thanks ChristophD,
The problem is we are pretty full here with time, and not have time to make our voice heard in the Contributor’s program (he typed in the university getting ready for a test).
Logically OLPC rather send laptops to other places than over here to Israel. So they are not so enthusiastic to upgrade them for us.

What we hope is to get a pilot here with good results by the end of September, and order laptops for a full program. When that happens any OLPC contribution would make the program bigger.

Still, I’d be glad if you lobby laptops for us here, its the resource we mostly lack of.. We have the technological manpower here, and the kids to teach.

3. vaxincity - February 9, 2009

פוסט ממש מעניין. האם אתם עדיין צריכים עזרה בהכנת המחשבים לשימוש?

4. GuySoft - February 9, 2009

כן עדיין יש לנו הרבה מאוד עבודה בעיקר התאמה של המערכת שתהיה יעילה וכמה שיותר שימושית לילדים. אם למישהו יש זמן ואפשרות לעזור שיצור איתי קשר בבקשה.

Yes we still have a lot of work, mostly tweaking the system to be more efficient and have as much services as possible for the children. If anyone has time and can help then please contact me.

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