olpc's "sugar" operating system takes the cake for the most unresponsive OS ever, and that's saying a lot! this is a pic of me trying to open an activity bundle, an ".xo" file. As i type this, nothing has changed. ctlr-alt-f2-ing over to a real, honest-to-god terminal shows me that unzip has eaten my XO's rather limited AMD GEODE processor for now. WTF?
Steps to cause users great software discomfort:
1. Use redhat's fedora core, and alter it almost beyond recognition - the result is "sugar", an awkward operaring system that steals valuable devel time from the OSS world.
2. insist that every previously-written piece of software must be "sugarized" to work with XO. Generate buzz and intial devel activity that result in lots of orphaned software projs.
3. write a new browser. nevermind many decent ones already exist.
4. Refuse to play nice with anyone, or admit mistakes *ever*
I've been trying to use sugar for about a year now. It's still terrible. It's more terrible than i can summarize in the requisite 1000 characters of an MMS, so i now continue my diatribe from the green machine itself.
Other things i hate:
* No man pages - the most flagrant sign that "it just plays linux on TV"
* No swap, since it has a flash "hard drive" that would be degraded by swap's frequent writing. Too bad linux on 256MB ram *really* needs swap. Eric's performance hacks, especially the incredible compcache greatly alleviate this evil (keep an eye on compcache - changing the nature of linux computing!). Still, it's non-trivial to permanently enable compcache. Another example of "it just plays linux on TV"
* No mp3 capability by default; installation must be done via commandline. I'm no fan of mp3. I used ogg for years before i finally admitted defeat. We're stuck in an mp3 world. As such. the XO is a victim of idealogical zealotry.
* Battery life - claims of 10-12 hours were a major selling point for me. A year later. sugar's best power saving features are still *experimental*, for god's sake! 3.5 hours today from full charge, 1/3 of that with backlight off, reading by sunllight.
* No hibernate, nor the possibility of it. On my thinkpad, i can press a button and suspend my machine to disk, leave it my backpack for weeks, and get my in-use desktop back with the press of a button. With OLPC's emphasis on power, i thought the XO could at least match this feat.
Nope. At best, it goes sleep. Leave it asleep on the shelf for a month or two, and the battery gets so dead that it WON'T CHARGE. A special EC program (batman.fth) must be used to flash the battery. All this requires an easily-obtained developer's key. What's secure about requiring this key???
* Ebook reading still not functional. Flipping through pdfs is painfully slow. Hit the wrong button and *surprise* you're at the end of the book, you've lost your place, and it will take 5 or 10 minutes to get back.
Overall, the XO's software sucks. Bad.
The hardware is amazing. I've put the keyboard under running water. It's 3 pounds, had a nice handle, and a small powerwart. I can read the screen in DAYLIGHT!
So what's a geek to do? Buy a 16gb SDHC sandisk extreme II (15mb/s) card ($40 at writing) and install ubuntu. That's what i'm doing.