What to do With an OLPC?

My OLPC XO-1 is staring at me.   It is appealing to my creativity.  It wants to be utilized. The problem is that I just can’t find a use for it.

This is the second one that I had purchased.  I bought one way back in the days of the original give one get one campaign.  That was before everyone was introduced to the netbook craze.  It served me well while I owned it.  It re-introduced me to the original Sim City 🙂 .  But, I had a laptop so why did I need this other device that didn’t have 1/3 of the power my laptop did?  I sold it about a year after purchase.

The hardware is still the best cost to benefit ratio that exists.  There are no other devices that have the same level of versatility and build quality.  That’s why I’m so confounded by the fact that after selling my original XO-1, and buying another a year later, that I still haven’t found a good use for the thing.  At this point, all I’ve done is give someone a free laptop and make several small donations to eBay.

The intent of the re-purchase was to provide a bastion host to my home network.  The USB ports would provide ethernet (with an adapter), and a USB hub with some USB to serial adapters could transform it into a cheap console server.  The low power usage of the device would mean that running it 24/7 wouldn’t cost much.  The great battery life makes it act as though it has a built-in UPS.   It was perfect for that particular task. That was the plan, anyway.

The reality is that having a bastion host on my home network is overkill to the power of 17.  At the moment, my personal time allocation prohibits me from taking on tasks that are larger than overkill to the 15th.  It didn’t take me long to see that if I was going to alter my home network to add a bastion host, the path to the Internet for every other device would have to change as well.   It just didn’t seem worth the cost of admission.   This is doubly true when I already have a sweet router setup running OpenWRT (a post on that setup is in the works).

The latest builds of software for the XO-1 are great.  The best change is that the software is built from the Fedora base (currently, Fedora 14).  That doesn’t mean much if all you want to do is install the base set of software.  However, if, say, you wanted to install a Zabbix agent for monitoring or OpenVPN to turn it into a VPN server, you can.  The possibilities are quite large.

But, it is still sitting here; just staring at me.  Perhaps it would be put to good use as an education tool for someone not fortunate enough to own a computer…

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