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Opera Running on the OLPC 193

An anonymous reader writes "The Opera developers have ported their browser to the $100 laptop. Håkon Wium Lie writes: 'Seeing Opera run on the OLPC for first time was a revelation — no browser has ever been more beautiful. The resolution of the screen is stunning (200dpi) and Opera makes the most of the embedded DejaVu fonts.' Claudio Santambrogio writes: 'Opera runs beautifully on it. The machine is not really the fastest, but Opera's performance is excellent — the browsing experience is beautifully smooth: all sites load fine and quickly, and even complex DHTML pages with heavy animations do not suffer.'"
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Opera Running on the OLPC

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  • I still want one (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:44AM (#17300316)
    Great. So when can we buy one?

    When can we buy one at 3 times the target price to make a donation to poorer countries?

    Will this only ever be vapourware over here?
  • by Toby The Economist ( 811138 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:47AM (#17300376)
    I paid 700 quid for my monitor. The entire laptop is 100 USD. How exactly is the screen "stunning", in the slightly breathless tone of the article?
    • by ambrosen ( 176977 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:01PM (#17300514) Homepage
      You almost certainly don't have a 200ppi screen. My mobile phone has one, and it is indeed stunning. My laptop has a premium 127ppi screen, and that is nice, but 200ppi does look very good on a computer.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:02PM (#17300532)
      Technology moves on....

      I paid over EUR1600 for my LCD monitor, back in the day.

      200DPI is very high resolution for a monitor, 2/3rds that of the 300 DPI considered acceptable for print. Add in subpixel rendering, and it means the screen should near enough be clear enough to read comfortably. Due to windoze brain-damage, lots of computer users still think in resolution-dependent pixel sizes.

      But on a monitor, a font that is 10 points high (a real-world unit) should be the same height on a 640x480 display and a 2048x1560 one. It should just be far clearer on the latter.

      • by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <> on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:38PM (#17300932)
        The 200DPI is with sub-pixel rendering. The OLPC's LCD has a colour mode and a hi-res mono mode.

        You're right, a "point" is technically 0.35277... mm (and is the standard measurement unit in PostScript) but the definition has become altered by popular usage so that 1 point now means 1 pixel on screen.

        I usually put the line
        /mm { 360 mul 127 div } def
        near the beginning of all my PostScript documents. Then I can write things like 10 mm 10 mm moveto.

        I hope that the OLPC people stand their ground and refuse to allow a closed-source browser, however beautiful it may look, anywhere near this thing. For one thing, it's the thin end of the wedge; the world and his cat will be wanting their slaveryware on the machine. For another, it's the absolute antithesis of what the OLPC project is about; everything on the machine must be open if we're not to be encouraging dependency.
        • by mccoma ( 64578 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @02:26PM (#17302406)
          why worry about a closed source browser when they already have closed source drivers. that would seem to be a more fundamental problem.
          • by Chandon Seldon ( 43083 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @03:10PM (#17303122) Homepage

            Drivers are innately hardware defendant. Their only purpose is to expose hardware functionality. Proprietary drivers are *really obnoxious*, because they have bugs that you can't fix, but they are - by nature - a short term problem. When that hardware gets replaced, there will be different drivers. Free drivers are much better, but it's not as important as other software, because other software lasts much longer than one hardware generation.

        • by Fordiman ( 689627 ) <> on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @05:29PM (#17305344) Homepage Journal
          Not exactly. Adobe software assumes the screen DPI is 72, so when using Photoshop you are correct.

          Meanwhile, Windows is ubiquitously set to 96. As a result, a 10pt x 10pt rectangle on your screen measures 13.3 pixels square.

          A properly configured X system, on the other hand, can usually tell your screen's resolution in Real World Units, from the DPMS info. On a linux box, one point is one point, regardless of how high your resolution is. Still, things measured in pixels (non svg icons, the thickness of your taskbar) cause problems. I'd like to see an xfce patch to measure all things in points, and to autoscale icons some day.
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:05PM (#17300554) Homepage Journal

      How exactly is the screen "stunning", in the slightly breathless tone of the article?

      You'll be shocked when you see it.
    • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:30PM (#17300824) Homepage Journal
      The screen is small in total size, probably has a lot of dead pixels (which are tiny, so who cares?) and doesn't have good color accuracy or consistency. There was an article a while back about how the OLPC project visionary went to an LCD manufacturer and told them that the OLPC screen didn't need any of the features that make LCDs expensive to make, and did need a bunch of different features. They laughed at him, and then he told them that he wanted quantities of millions, and they were suddenly very nice.

      The number of LCDs which need to be produced to get a single LCD that works perfectly is exponential in the physical area of the screen, because defects are independant, based on the size of the crystal, and cannot be repaired. This factor means that a "stunning" tiny screen is a whole lot cheaper than a big screen of worse image quality. The OLPC computer is actually smaller than the pictures make it look, because the whole thing is uniformly child-sized.
    • by Brazilian Joe ( 514100 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:53PM (#17301094)
      Color mode is not 200dpi, but new development technologies allowed it to consume just 1 watt. This new tech is eventually going to be used on all LCDs, as its development was meant for both power consumption *and* production cost reduction.
      200 dpi mode is monochrome, e-ink mode for ebook mode, capable of being read comfortably even under direct sunlight. and yes, having pixels so small you can't see them without a magnifying glass DOES look nice.
    • by rbanffy ( 584143 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @03:10PM (#17303124) Homepage Journal
      Because technology moves forward.

      Your LCD uses more or less the same technology your 5 year-old LCD uses. The OLPC display has a LED backlight, higher energy and light efficiency due to an innovative non-absorbing color splitting layer and has a 200dpi reflective mode (transmissive mode is also somewhere around 200dpi, but it's a little more complicated than that).

      They are not really the same, so it's very hard to compare them.
  • Not too suprising... (Score:4, Informative)

    by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:50AM (#17300420)
    Not too suprising - the browser built into the Nokia 770 is a customized Opera, it works great...
    • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @02:58PM (#17302918) Homepage
      Not too suprising - the browser built into the Nokia 770 is a customized Opera, it works great...

      Beg to differ, but it runs like crap on mine. The 2006 OS improved the problems with constantly running out of memory, but seemed to make it crash a lot more. I can usually flip through a couple of article pages on /. before the OS freezes up and the device is forced to reboot itself. It also has a very tiny screen that often makes it difficult to select links. You tap and nothing happens. The only way to open the link is to hold down the stylus and wait for the contextual menu to appear. Opera may be great software but its implementation on the Nokia 770 -- alas, like most everything about that product -- leaves something to be desired.

  • by CDMA_Demo ( 841347 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:50AM (#17300424) Homepage
    For those who don't know, Opera has been the browser of choice for embedded platforms like Qtopia because of it speed and small footprint. I'm glad to see its full potential finally realized.
  • by wombatmobile ( 623057 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:52AM (#17300442)

    Håkon Wium Lie writes: 'Seeing Opera run on the OLPC for first time was a revelation -- no browser has ever been more beautiful. The resolution of the screen is stunning (200dpi) and Opera makes the most of the embedded DejaVu fonts.'

    dpi? fonts? OK, but how does he get from an appreciation of those elements to a "revelation" about the "browser" "being" beautiful?

    It sounds like he looked at some content on a high res screen with good fonts and said "wow. My browser is good".

    But if his browser really is standards compliant, the irony is that the browser itself is invisible.

  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan ( 757476 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @11:59AM (#17300486) Homepage Journal
    I think I'd be happier running free software, and giving free software to developing nations. Let them tinker, let them become experts, let them become self sustaining rather than start them on a path to dependency.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:16PM (#17300662)
      Unfortunately, Gecko is far too big and bloated for the OLPC. It doesn't run good at all on the machine, from what I've heard (even requiring extra memory to be installed), and frankly, I don't think it has its place there. Opera might not be the best choice since it's proprietary (although it's the perfect fit for such a device given the available resources), but perhaps something based on KHTML could have found its way to the OLPC.

      I think I'll post this anonymously... It's not good to bash Gecko on /. :(
      • by AVee ( 557523 ) <{slashdot} {at} {}> on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:41PM (#17300982) Homepage
        I won't post anonymous, but state it here load and clear: Gecko is far too big and bloated. Period. Plus, Firefox 2 is to buggy to be taken seriously for any use at all and standards compliance seems to be defined as 'just be a bit better than IE'. Frankly, most recent Mozilla stuff sucks big time, like most other commercially sucessfull software. There it is. Now mod me down please.
    • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:33PM (#17300872)
      I use konqueror for most of my browsing, it's "free" in both meanings, comes with full source code. In other words, the ideal browser for the OLPC.
      • by ajs318 ( 655362 ) <> on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:43PM (#17301004)
        Unfortunately, Konqueror is tied into KDE. You could maybe wrap the KHTML rendering engine in an alternate skin, but that'd be a huge project. It might be less bother to persuade Opera to open up their source code.
      • by xtracto ( 837672 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @01:31PM (#17301494) Journal
        Because then they will have to put a processor good enough to run Konqueror crap libs and they would have to include 512MB of memory in order to make it usable...

        Yeah, that is why Opera is so cool, I used to use it in the Navigator vs Explorer days, then I moved to firefox and just recently I moved again to Opera. I use Linux and I have used Konqueror and all the resource hungry KDE things but I decided not to touch any Krelated software as they are very unstable and resource hungry (from debian, fedora, mandriva and ubuntu experience over here).
        • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @01:50PM (#17301782)
          You seem to hate KDE for some obscure reason. I have used konqueror in a 16MB memory machine with no problem, I don't know where you get this "very unstable and resource hungry" thing. Of course, if you have the full KDE system in all its glory, with translucent menus and all that stuff, then naturally you'll need more resources, but KDE applications can be configured to run nicely in very modest machines.

          The problem with Opera is that it goes against the OLPC spirit, which is to give children a system where they can grow and learn. Those who eventually become involved into software would naturally have a big incentive in learning all about their own computers. Opera doesn't allow that because it doesn't come with source code, not even the "shared source" that Microsoft provides.

    • Linux is the path to dependencies.
    • Well, yeah, but as howcome says in TFA, since Opera is totally standards based, and can be swapped out for any free component at a later time, if it is the only full browser that will run on the system, it may be better than nothing. I think it is quite likely that Konqi can be fitted on it too, but Opera is a very flexible and good browser on a resource-limited system.
  • by ezh ( 707373 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:12PM (#17300622)
    Unles Opera open sources its browser, this news of little value. There is little chance closed source Opera will be installed on any standard OLPC distribution. The OLPC guys made such a huge issue out of close-source wireless Marvel chips, the only closed-source hardware component of the laptop that Marvel finally open source its drivers. So whoever thinks they would allow close-source browser on the 100$ laptops must be out of little mad...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:15PM (#17300648)
    As A/C - I've plenty of karma.

    Opera on the green machine

    On Friday, I received a call from Opera's accounting department. That normally means trouble. My warning lights starts flashing.

    There's a package for you waiting here. I'm looking for the invoice for customs purposes. Can I open it?

    Sure, I said, hoping to quickly return to whatever I was doing.

    There's no invoice inside. Strange. The value has been declared to be 100 dollars

    100 dollars?

    Yes. There's a machine inside the package. It's cute. Green.




    [] [] [] []--> [] -->

    As the alert reader has figured out by now, the machine inside the box was a prototype of the $100 laptop from the OLPC project []. Since then, I've kept the machine close to me, but lots of people around here have seen it. The Opera geeks gathered around it at the Friday night beer bash. Someone suggested testing to see if the machine could keep running in rough environments. For example, would the rubbery keyboard withstand beer? Better not try.

    Invariably, the machine gets attention. It attracts people more than any other unit I've seen. (Only Wii [] comes close.) People want to see it, touch it, and feel it. They want to know why the USB ports are placed where they are (on both sides of the screen), how the SD card can be inserted (the SD port is under the screen), and where the crank is. The crank, meant to generate power to run the machine, was part of an early design. It has been replaced with a foot pedal which is still under construction. However, it seems that people somehow got emotionally attached to the hand crank and want it back.

    Once the machine is turned on, a Linux boot sequence appears. Red Hat is one of the sponsors and the machine comes with a tuned version of Fedora. New boot images are published regularly, and the first thing to do was to install the latest build. All of this is documented at the project's Wiki []. The next thing to do was to find a shell. The magical key combination is Alt-Shift-F11. However, the keys don't have function numbers and finding F11 requires counting. When you get it right, a shell appears and you can start typing. Typing would have been easier if my hands were smaller. That's a feature, not a bug.

    For me, the next thing to do was to install Opera []. This is also the reason why the OLPC people are kind enough to send us an early prototype: we want to make sure the machine has a choice of good browsers. The browser is easily the most important application on the machine. In fact, a modern browser is more than an application — it could be the platform onto which OLPC applications are built, like Opera Platform [] is for mobile phones. OLPC has decided to only include open source software on the machine. I have discussed this issue at length with Nicholas [], Walter [] and Mako []. At Opera [], we think that what really counts is open standards. It's less important what runs inside the box as long as what crosses the wire is standards-compliant. They argue that, in an education project, students must be allowed to peek inside the box. That's nice, I say, but if Opera makes the difference between a usable or an unusable machine, perhaps you will reconsider?

    Getting Opera to run [] was quite simp

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:20PM (#17300706)
    I was expecting to see Opera running on one of the children... :(
  • mirror (Score:5, Informative)

    by davek ( 18465 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:30PM (#17300822) Homepage Journal
    The site has a robots.txt that doesn't allow a quick mirror. I had to cut-y-paste the image links into a terminal and use wget for each one. []

    The 4 images are there, though, which is probably what most people want.
  • Opera is everywhere (Score:3, Informative)

    by Yvan256 ( 722131 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:32PM (#17300856) Homepage Journal
    After playing with Opera for Nintendo DS since last friday, it doesn't surprise me one bit to see Opera running on the OLPC. After all, they even have a mobile version for cellphones, so they're used to make their software work with extremely limited hardware.
  • by Nachtwind ( 686907 ) * on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @12:32PM (#17300860) 6875-m.JPG [] Yes, that thing can display slashdot. Just what the third world needs, more geeks!
  • by Dorceon ( 928997 ) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @02:25PM (#17302384)
    Opera Running on the OLPC
    The PC in OLPC does not stand for Personal Computer. If it was
    Opera Running on the One Laptop Per Child
    the problem with this title would be obvious. It's bad form to rearrange other peoples' acronyms, so
    Opera Running on the One-Per-Child Laptop
    is right out. I suggest:
    Opera Running on $100 Laptop
  • by mmell ( 832646 ) <> on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @03:19PM (#17303282)
    The goal was never to send these things to developing nations.

    At some point, somebody realized that a super-cheap laptop could do 90% of what people want to do with laptops. How to get them made? Try to make it yourself, you'll end up like DeLorean - the industry'll see to it that you fail before you can upset their applecarts! So . . . yeah! Pretend you're trying to make it for third world children! Think of the children!

    CEO's, captains of industry, unaware of what they're doing begin working to be involved in making the last thing in the world they want to make - exactly what the consuming public really wants - a tough, reliable laptop computer suitable for on-the-go use at rock-bottom (true commodity) prices! I wonder if any of them are stopping to think that these things will have an impact on how we (collectively) see computers and computing, and the price associated with them? Just look around this post - half the comments are "I'd like one of those!". If I knew that the manufacturer was able to make 'em and sell 'em for $100.00, it'd sure make me think twice about plunking down $700.00 for a machine which, while shinier, is unlikely to do a lot more for me as a mobile computing platform.

    In a way, this could be vaguely akin to Henry Ford's contribution to the automotive industry - utility and pricing set to put one in every garage (on every laptop). You can have it any color you like - as long as it's green!

Failure is more frequently from want of energy than want of capital.