Report: Ubuntu Intrepid on the OLPC XO-1

I have a setup that I'm quite pleased with on my Ubuntu machines, so I recently installed Ubuntu to my XO-1, thinking that I would get more out of the machine than I have with Sugar/Fedora. I bought a 4GB SD card to use with the machine and followed these instructions, which call for installing to a disk image within Qemu and then copying that disk image to an SD card.

I installed an alpha of Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 without any major hitches. It works. I'm using Openbox as my window manager, which keeps touchpad use to a minimum.

Some remarks on what hardware works out of the box, with Ubuntu Intrepid:

  • Wireless works.
  • Display works. According to glxinfo it is doing direct rendering. glxgears runs at a whopping 22 frames per second.
  • The brightness and volume keys don't work out of the box. The volume keys ("F11" and "F12", really) can be configured through GNOME. I do not know whether there is a quick way to get GNOME to also recognize the brightness keys ("F9" and "F10", really).
  • X recognizes the game keys but not the rocker.
  • The touchpad works, but is hyper-sensitive and registers taps all the time when you are using it. To disable tap-to-click, add a line reading options mousedev tap_time=0 to your /etc/modprobe.d/olpc.conf.dist. (Source)
  • The microphone light is on all the time. I wonder if this is causing some power drain I don't want (apart from the light itself).
  • Cheese does not recognize the webcam.
  • Ubuntu does not know how to suspend-to-RAM the machine. It claims to be able to hibernate, but I haven't actually tried it.

It's a little poky, but more than adequate for using Emacs, reading mail, and browsing the web.


  1. You will not be able to hibernate the machine unless you have at least 256MB of swap space. Which, of course, is a bad idea unless you are booting from a USB hard drive.

    Even so, I somehow doubt they've built hibernate support into the kernel.

  2. Also, I was able to get rid of the microphone by adding my user to the "audio" group, like this:

    $ sudo adduser jeremy audio

    When GNOME starts, the microphone light goes off. At least, it does for me.

    I haven't checked Cheese, but in gstreamer-properties, the webcam works fine. (But it didn't work for me in Gentoo and Ubuntu 8.04, which is interesting.)

  3. A quick question. I tried to follow the instructions here:

    But I ran into a problem when trying to install sysvinit. apt-get told me that this package was not in the repository though other packages referred to it. Is there a repository that I need to add to be able to install sysvinit on 8.10?

    Since the author of the post got 8.10 working I'm assuming that I'm just missing something simple.

    I look forward to any and all replies.

  4. Anonymous: sysvinit is in main, so you shouldn't need any extra repos. I don't remember having to do anything special to get it. Make sure your sources.list is correct and you have run "apt-get update"?

  5. I've just installed intrepid on an XO and have both the mic and webcam lights always on. Adding my user to the audio group didn't help the mic and my camera doesn't work in cheese.

    I tried the xawtv tool v4lctl but it says Device or resource busy, which seems to make sense with the light being on.

    Does anyone have a working solution to this?