Lee Hewes

is totes becoming a teacher…

Setting up your OLPC XO to display on an IWB.

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For the past year, stage 1 one students at my school have each been allocated an XO laptop for class use. They’re pretty cool little laptops, with a bunch of ‘activities’ installed’ on their ‘Sugar’ Operating System for students to use. Some of the activities I use most frequently in class are ‘Speak’ – a text to voice application with a funky interface which speaks out any words that are typed into the machine. I find it useful for students to use during guided reading activities. Any group that I am not reading with can type in unfamiliar words and have the Speak activity say the word for them, without me having to be alongside them to help them. Of course, this doesn’t help them know what the word means, but for that, I get them to keep a log of the words they don’t understand, either in their books, on some paper, or using the Write application (below).


The Speak activity (image credit: http://one.laptop.org/about/software)

Write is basically a simple word processor for students to write with. For guided reading, students have a file called ‘Tricky Words’ into which they can type any words that they don’t understand for us to clarify together later. Of course, students can use this for any writing activity to be saved for later as all student activity is automatically saved in the machine’s journal until deleted.


The Write activity (image credit: http://laptop.org/en/laptop/start/activities.shtml)

Another activity I really enjoy using, particularly later in the year is Scratch, for teaching basic programming skillls in a really kid friendly way, but I’m guessing (and hoping) that most of you have heard of that.


Scratch activity (image credit: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scratch_(Programmiersprache))

Anyway, as good as some of the activities are, I find that mostly we use the XOs for accessing the internet so that we can get to our class Weebly or log in to our blogs in order to draft and publish posts. To teach stage one students how to do this, as well as any other work that requires a step-by-step process, it’s quite handy to have the teacher XO displayed on the IWB so that students can follow along and learn how to do it. This prevents the necessity to bolt around the class, trying to assist each student one by one.

To display your XO on the IWB requires a minor install on the machine itself, through some basic commands in Terminal and depending on whether you use Mac or PC, installation of some Virtual Network Computing (VNC) software.

In the interest of helping you out, here’s what you will need to do.

Most of the process is outlined on this wonderful post, but there are a few additional steps that I will outline below so that you are all set to go!

1. Firstly you will need to download Vino, the package that allows you to open up your XO for screen sharing through Terminal. You can do that here – just download the latest one.

2. From here you need to istall Vino by running the following command in Terminal:

sudo yum –y install vino

If you are with the DEC, you will need to do this whilst connected to your network at home or through a hotspot on your phone.

3. Once installed, you then need to run the following command through Terminal:


and modify the settings according to the post I linked to above.

I have found that you also need to add the requirement in preferences that users require a password in order to connect. I’m not sure why, but I’ve found that without adding that requirement, I have been unable to establish communication between the devices, and I have connected several now at work.

4. Once you have done that, you need to go back to Terminal to find your ip address by typing the following command:


This brings up the following info. The only thing you need to know is the number string highlighted.


5. The next step is to open your XO for screen sharing. That’s right, through Terminal again! Using this command:


You can then hit F3 to get back to the Sugar home screen.

6. If you are using a Mac, you then need to connect to your XO by screen sharing through the Finder -> Go -> Connect to Server menu. Type in your XO’s ip address which you found in step 4, and make sure you include vnc:// at the beginning.

If you are using a PC, you need to download and install some screen sharing software. I have been using RealVNC Viewer, just follow the installation and connection instructions provided when you download it.

OK, so now you should be good to get your XO up on your IWB. Hope it helps! 🙂

Note: you will need to go into Terminal to find your ip address each time you want to connect to your XO, by typing


You will also need to open up your XO for screen sharing via:


If you’re not using Terminal very often, you should be able to do this simply by pressing the up arrow, finding the right command and pressing enter.

Happy XOing!

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