The OLPC User Interface Revealed
November 24, 2006 6:13 PM
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The XO Frame and Desktop
Very simplistic word processor
Web browser is Firefox
OLPC interface simple but lacks enthusiasm
More updates have been released on the OLPC XO machine which has yet to be fully deployed in any country but is still going forward.
The XO machine itself
is already commencing production in China, and the project is on its way to be test-deployed across several countries. Despite all the recent news about the XO however,
the user interface remained at large, until now
A video on YouTube revealed the Linux-based XO machine to have somewhat of a clean interface, although perhaps too clean. The interface is comprised of two main parts, the desktop and the "frame." The frame is the main interface mechanism for applications and system navigation, which appears around the edges of the screen. From the frame, an XO user can launch a word processor, messaging client, web browser and a host of other applications and games.
At first, navigating the system seemed to be quite user friendly, but some applications appeared to be toned down in terms of usability. The word processor for example, was very simplified and it did not appear like tables, charts, and other more advanced elements could be created. Basic text formatting and page formatting functions were available but other than that, the application seemed sparse. Despite the simplicity, the target audience for the XO may not ever require more features.
The web browser that the system uses is Firefox, and appeared to work quite fast. Most web browsing controls appeared in tact although it's unclear whether the system has much in terms of storage capacity for downloads. Other things included with the system include a number of typical games such as chess and a version of Minesweeper.
With initial first impressions, the user interface appeared simple and easy to use. Considering that the XO is targeted towards young school kids however, the interface appeared to be cold and lacked any sort of color coding. Almost everything is black and white, which makes the machine appear more like a simple terminal than an actual user friendly computer.
previously reported that
Thailand backed out of the OLPC project
despite being one of the first countries that expressed interest. Representatives from Thailand mentioned to reporters that it was considering developing its own OLPC-like project. On a positive note, Brazil is now expressing interest in the XO, but the country has not yet released a confirmed order.
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Worst GUI ever
11/24/2006 8:45:15 PM
That looks absolutely bad for a modern GUI.
It's like something from the 1980s.
But 1980s computers had some good guis like Acorn RISCOS, Amiga workbench and Atari. They managed it on less processing power than the OLPC has.
The frame is lame and wastes the already scarce pixels of the screen. They need something that comes and goes like a hidden windows taskbar.
The only good thing about that screenshot is the google homepage.
It's all very well to make a cheaper less powerful pc, but is bad to cripple it with something so unattractive and dysfunctional. I was hoping to see a standard linux desktop environment like KDE or gnome.
Similarly there is no need to install and teach cut-down apps when people can use the real thing.
RE: Worst GUI ever
11/25/2006 7:56:41 AM
i think it's highly likely that the reason that they made it the way it is, is that it might be helping when it comes to using the monochrome display (which i believe they use to save battery and increase sunlight readability?)
RE: Worst GUI ever
11/25/2006 11:00:41 PM
Yes I'd thought of that possibility of supporting mono.
However, monochrome can be grayscale shades it doesn't have to be black and white. This reminded me of the amx mouse menu driven icon interface for my old bbc micro, all black or white. The mono colour scheme in windows 3.1 showed what can be done with greyscales, it was usable.
In any case it should be adaptive. In mono power saving mode it can use mono, but when the rest of the desktop is being used in full colour like firefox, the rest of the gui ought to take advantage of it too. I still maintain that it's inefficient use of desktop real estate to have these frames.
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