XO Laptop environment – Try it yourself!

I can’t help it, I’m too impatient. While waiting for my Zach’s XO laptop to arrive, I wanted to get a feel for what the environment was going to be like.
The XO uses a modified version of Redhat’s Fedora operating system, with a custom written ‘desktop’ called Sugar. Coupled with Sugar are several tools, including a music editor, video application, several programming tools, a web browser, etc etc. The environment had to be built in a way that non-english-speaking children could pick it up easily, and if the early reports are true, the team has done a great job at this.
But I wanted a chance to work with the environment before the laptop arrived. Fortunately, there’s a great series of pages on the OLPC Laptop wiki that describes how to set up an emulator, and run the laptop OS on your desktop machine.
After a little fiddling, I got it up and running, and was able to play around with the environment for a while.
First note – the emulator runs things -slower- than the laptop itself does, so I had to take into account I was seeing things at about half the speed a typical user would. But even with that, I was able to get a good feel for what the user experience was like.
I recommend anyone interested in this system to follow the emulator steps and take a look at it. I’m of the opinion that with several million of these going out to kids all over the world, the environment and tools are going have a major impact on the net at large. Opensource code (all written in Python, very good visual programming tools (like the Logo environment pictured here) – all will contribute to a new digital landscape over the next few years.