Posts Tagged ‘OLPC Opera’

Thank you Opera

We installed the OLPC Opera package today.  Opera is an alternative web-browser that is “out in front of the pack” when it comes to the OLPC project.  They have released their software to run on the device – and, in my opinion, is a vast improvement to the default browser the machine ships with.  Here’s why:

  1. Tabbed Browsing – you can open up multiple websites through the single browser.
  2. Handles popped-up windows (through tabbed browsing) – many websites these days pop-up content or other websites.  I know there are web developers out there who cringe at this – but it is necessary to support!
  3. Defaults to a (although shrunk) 1020 pixel width.  Most modern sites (cnn.com, nytimes.com) these days have designed their websites to fit on a larger screen than the OLPC default browser supports.  Opera fixed this – and also has zoom-in / zoom-out features.
  4. Bookmarks – enough said.
  5. Options to configure plugins/java and a web proxy.  MANY school systems go through a web-proxy and filter these days.

Here’s the installation instructions off of the OLPC wiki:



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We are still patiently waiting for our first shipment of XO machines.  Ok, not so patiently waiting.  So in the meantime, I discovered the OLPC livecd that has been floating around out there.  What it lets you do is run the OLPC operating system off of a CD on your regular PC.  Everything boots off of the CD – so when you’re done, just pop it out, restart – and your back to your regular operating system environment:


So I was playing around, and here are my initial reactions:

  1. Very confused for 30 seconds
  2. Had a “I see moment” and then it was really easy to use as a student (after you figure out how to navigate)
  3. Pleasantly surprised by the back-end “admin” interface
  4. Realization that I need to figure out some linux if we’re going to configure these machines at all

I then went through and tried to setup some external browsers (Firefox and Opera) just to see what the process would be.  You do have to learn some basic Linux commands to get the packages and then install them – but it is not the end of the world.  What will be frustrating is figuring out how to integrate those applications into the student interface.  Firefox (as we know it) doesn’t have an integration for this – however, the default XO browser is Firefox-based…so it might not be worth the trouble.  Opera DOES have an integration package.  And the Opera browser rendered pages much better (and faster it seemed).  It also had many more features and configuration options.  The one issue was getting the flash player to work through it – which wasn’t immediately obvious or easy to do….still working, however I think Opera has the most potential for working in NYC classrooms and through the NYC proxy.  Here their link to the project page:


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