Access point (AP)

A device that connects wireless devices together to form a network. Usually connects to a wired network and relays data between wireless devices and wired devices. Several APs can link together to form a larger network.

Active kill

A mechanism  for remotely shutting down a laptop that has been reported stolen when the laptop connects to the Internet.


In order to use your laptop for the first time (or after a “reflash” of the operating system), it must be unlocked by an activation key.

Activation key

Key that unlocks an XO laptop.


An application that has an icon in the taskbar, e.g., Write, Record, Browse; Activities engage you in taking a picture, reading a book, creating a page, annotating a page, animating a drawing, making sounds and music, measuring and sensing, sharing your favorites, inviting your friends, surfing on the web, etc. has .xo suffix

Activity view

A view used by the current activity that is running on the laptop.


The OLPC security platform.


A version of the operating system, designated by category and number; e.g., Ship.2-656; Update.1-698; Joyride-1792.


The action of positioning the cursor over an object such as a menu item or icon and then pressing and releasing a "mouse" button. To "left click", you click with the left-hand mouse button. To "right click", you click with the right-hand mouse button.


The books, music, movies, photographs, drawings, etc. that are created on the laptop or downloaded to the laptop. Stored in an .xol file.


Component that manages the access to the data displayed in the Journal; these data are stored in individual files; an index that contains the metadata and speeds up searches

Developer key

If the boot firmware sees a developer key, it makes the XO laptop work just like any ordinary PC-style laptop, in the sense that it will let you interrupt the boot process and enter commands; and it will try to boot and run any program you supply to it, no matter whether the OLPC organization has tested or signed it. (The laptop also works this way if its firmware security is disabled.)

Double click

Click two times in rapid succession. In many graphical user interfaces, double click is used as a different gesture than two separate single clicks. Sugar does not use double clicks.

Drag and drop

The combination of dragging an object and then dropping onto a region of the screen. To drag an object: (1) position the cursor over the object; (2) press and hold the mouse button; and (3) move the cursor without releasing the mouse button. To drop an object, release the mouse button. In Sugar, drag and drop is used to move items from the clipboard into an Activity.

Email list

A collection of email addresses—an efficient way to send email to a group of people who share an interest

Firmware, Wireless

The wireless firmware is software that controls the operation of the wireless radio. It is downloaded into the wireless radio by the operating system.

Firmware, System

The system firmware is made up of two parts: The EC and OFW. The first part is the software that runs the embedded controller (EC). The EC handles the processing of the keyboard, touchpad, game buttons, power button, and charging the battery. The second part is OpenFirmware (OFW). OFW is responsible for initializing the hardware and booting the operating system. OFW also handles boot security so that it will only load “official” OLPC operating systems.


The Frame, which can appear in any view, holds system status (battery, network, etc.), a clipboard, the list of open activities, navigation controls, and list of “buddies” (collaborators);

Group view

A view of your friends with whom you are working on shared projects.

Home view

View of installed activities from which you launch them—the Home view is the starting view on the laptop.

Hover over

To move the pointer over something on the screen (such as an icon) and leave it there for a moment. Often, hovering over an object's icon activates a menu of options for that object.

Infrastructure mode

Network connectivity through a WiFi access point, e.g., 802.11b.

Internet Relay Chat

IRC/chat real-time text chat used by the development and technical support communities (and hopefully the learning community as well)


A protocol that the laptop uses for collaboration.


Activity where you can see your previous work. You can also resume the work done at those activities.


A small, external storage device that plugs into one of the USB ports on a computer. They can store between 16MB (enough to hold several music files) up to 4GB (enough to hold several high quality full-length movie files) and a wide range in between. Jump drives are easily purchased at any electronic store starting as low as $5 to $10.

Key generation

Process of generating both activation and developer keys.


When a laptop is activated, the activation has an expiration date. The period between activation and expiration is the lease period. The lease period is determined during the key-generation process; the laptop can be reactivated after the lease has expired.


Content that is created on the laptop is accessed through the Journal; preloaded content is stored in a library and is accessed through the Browse activity.


Malware is software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner's informed consent. Linux is relatively robust in light of malware and Rainbow provides additional protections above and beyond the standard Linux defaults.

Memory stick

See Jumpdrive

Mesh Channel

The laptops use three channels for communication: 1, 6, and 11; in simple mesh mode, the laptops can only see other laptops on the same channel; in a School Server mesh, laptops on all channels are visible.

Mesh Network

A wireless mesh network is a communications network made up of radio nodes in which nodes can forward information on behalf of each other so that even nodes that are not in direct radio contact can communicate via nodes that are between them. The collective coverage area of the radio nodes working as a single network becomes a mesh cloud.

Mesh Mode

Network connectivity through a mesh network, e.g., 802.11.

Mesh Portal Point

A mesh node that serves as a gateway (portal) to a network external to the mesh.

Mouse button

Originally  referring to a button on a computer mouse, the term is now used to refer to a button on any pointing device, such as a touchpad or pointing stick.

NAND Flash

Internal storage in some laptops, including the OLPC XO. 

Neighborhood View

A view of who is on the network with you and what activities and content are being shared.

Operating system

(OS) - The low-level system that manages the various files, processes, etc. needed to operate the laptop; the OS used by the XO laptop is the RedHat Fedora distribution of Linux.


A black box that appears when the mouse hovers over an object; a palette can contain the name of the control, some details about it or some related actions.

Passive kill

Currently unsupported, this is a mechanism that uses the lease mechanism to require laptops to periodically ask for a renewed activation. Without the renewal, the lease will expire and the laptop will be locked.

PO file

A file containing the instance of translated strings for a single language based upon a POT file


A server that is used to store and manage translation templates and files.

POT file

The master translation template for a projec.

Power adapter            

Each laptop comes with a power adapter to allow it to be plugged into a power socket.


A discovery service for finding other laptops on the network.


Rainbow implements the isolation shell implicitly described in the Bitfrost security specification. This means that it isolates activities (and eventually system services) that it is asked to run from one another and the rest of the system.


The process by which a fresh build is installed in the laptop; reflashing overwrites all files, including files in the Journal and /home/olpc. And so, it should be done with caution.

Request Tracker (RT)

Web site: This is a Support ticket tracking system. Read: for more information.


To return to a normal state of operation after suspending.


See Hover over

School server mesh mode

A mesh network that is mediated by a School Serve.

SD card

Secure Digital (SD) is a flash (non-volatile) memory card format used in portable devices, including digital cameras, handheld computers, PDAs, and mobile phones. SD card capacities range from 8 MB to 32 GB.

Signed/unsigned builds

OLPC produces both "signed" and "unsigned" builds of the operating system. Signed builds are release builds that have undergone QA testing. Unsigned builds are development builds, which are used for testing new features and bug fixes. You cannot run an unsigned build in your laptop unless you have either a developer key or security has been turned off (as in the case of the G1G1 laptops).

Simple mesh mode

A mesh network that is running between laptops without a School Serve.

Single click

Click one time. In many graphical user interfaces, multiple clicks are used as a different gesture than single clicks. Sugar does not use multiple clicks.

Sugar UI

The Sugar user interface.  It consists of four views, the Frame, and the Journal.


To cause a computer go into a standby state in order to save power.

Thumb drive

See: Jumpdrive


An user-interface element that can contains several buttons, text entry fields, drop-down menus, etc. that is usually contained in a toolbox; common examples of toolbars include: Activity, View, Edit, et al.


An user-interface element that appears in the top part of most activities and contains one or more toolbars.


A protocol for passing data between computers.


The process by which incremental changes to system software are installed. 

USB drive/USB stick/USB storage device

See: Jumpdrive


Instaed of a desktop, Sugar maintains four views: Neighborhood, Buddy (Friends), Home, and Activity.


A computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer without permission or knowledge of the user, a type of malware.


A collaborative website that allows for community contributions and editing, e.g., and


A low-cost, power-efficient, durable laptop computer designed for education in developing countries by One Laptop per Child. The XO-1 features mesh networking and a dual-mode, low power, sunlight readable display.

XS school server

An XS or school server extends the amount of  storage available to children.  It also serves as a local library and a mesh portal to the Internet.

Author : Glossary
© David Farning 2006, 2008
adam hyde 2006, 2007, 2008
Janet Swisher 2008
Seth Woodworth 2008
Walter Bender 2008

License : General Public License

Produced in FLOSS Manuals (