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The OLPC XO is a budget laptop incorporating new and emerging technology in a package designed to operate off the grid and withstand extreme environmental conditions. I.e., it was designed to be used by children in developing countries.

This document serves the OLPC XO in both hardware support and installation of Gentoo GNU/Linux. Any questions not answered here can be discussed on the OLPC XO thread in the official Gentoo Forums.

There are 3 methods of running an alternative operating system on an XO.

  • dual boot from a high capacity SD card
  • dual boot from USB drive
  • overwrite the provided 1024 MiB SLC NAND flash

For now we will pursue the first method.

An SD card fits conveniently into the XO and can subsequently be mostly forgotten. Because the folding "bunny ear" antenna design requires that the usb ports be covered when the laptop is closed, a USB drive must be inserted and removed each time the laptop is opened or put away. Finally while it is possible to run Gentoo on a system with 1GB of secondary storage, paring Gentoo down to fit the bill is a bit more involved than we want to get into in a first port of Gentoo to the OLPC XO.

Note: Discussions related to the contents of this page, should take place on the Talk page.

Models Included

  • C2 (Mass Production 11/2007-[present]) - 433 Mhz AMD Geode LX-700@0.8W, Marvell Libertas)


Get a Developer Key and Security

Subsequent steps involving use of the stock OLPC distribution require developer key privileges. Follow the instructions at Activation and Developer Keys to install a developer key and disable security

Upgrade to the Latest Firmware

The OLPC XO uses | Open Firmware. Instructions on how to determine what version of OFW is installed and how to update it can be found at | Manual Firmware Install. At the time of writing, the current version is q2d16. You can find release notes for this version at |

Disable Suspend and Power Management

Currently, there is a bug related to suspend and power management code which can corrupt SD cards. At the time this was written a kernel patch has been made available to work around the problem. It is possible the bug will eventually be resolved in Open Firmware. Until this is resolved the quickest workaround is to turn off suspend/resume. On the stock OLPC XO as root type the following:

touch /etc/ohm/inhibit-suspend
Note: To quickly access a root terminal use the [Ctrl]-[Alt]-[Network Button] 3 finger salute.

>= 8GB High Capacity SD card (SDHC)

For the purpose of this installation we will assume that you have an SD card with >= 8GB capacity.

The SD slot is on the bottom side of the screen underneath the power button. The easiest way to insert a SD card is to open the laptop up until the keyboard and screen are at right angles, then twist the screen so the side with the power button extend beyond the handle on the base.

When you insert the SD card you should feel and here a slight click. Likewise to remove the card, press it in until it clicks before attempting to remove it. Note: Getting SD card out isn't exactly easy. It requires either strong fingernails, tweezers, or the equivalent.

SD Dual Boot Installation

Installation Media

We're going to use the Minimum Install CD.

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Last modified: Wed, 16 Jul 2008 09:36:00 +0000 Hits: 1,380