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Creating OGG Video for the OLPC XO Laptop

The OLPC XO laptop is an excellent educational tool. The installed Sugar operating system comes bundled with numerous children program for all ages.

Unlike other operating system, which uses commercial and proprietary software, the Sugar operating system relies on completely free and unrestricted software. Therefore, the video format that the OLPC XO laptop supports is the OGG format.

"Ogg is a free, open standard container format maintained by the Xiph.Org Foundation. The Ogg format is unrestricted by software patents and is designed to provide for efficient streaming and manipulation of high quality digital multimedia." - Wikipedia

This article focuses on how to create OGG video for the OLPC XO laptops that run the Sugar operating system. It will attempt to explain how to play back the OGG videos on that platform as well. You can use this article to help your create OGG videos even if you aren't going to use it on the XO laptop. Just ignore the sections that pertains only to the XO laptop. If you don't want to create OGG videos, but you just want to play them back on your XO, read the later sections of this article.

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Creating OGG Video on Windows

This section attempts to explain how to create OGG video on Windows operating system, using free tools. It assumes that you already have a video on your hard drive. And it assumes that the video is already in DV (or MPEG) format. If you need instructions on how to create or capture DV/MPEG format videos, please refer to our articles in the Digital Video directory.

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Download Conversion Tool

Windows does not come with tools for authoring OGG videos. Therefore, you need to download a free tool to do the OGG conversion. One of the easiest free tool is the G-Frontend (ffmpeg2theora). The latest version as of this writing is v2007.2 Final. You can download a copy of it here: GFrontend (ffmpeg2theora) v2007.2 Final.

Although the title of this software sounds like the front-end of another software, which it is, it also included the other software in the package. Therefore, you just have to download this one software tool, install it, and run it.

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Convert Video to OGG

Converting video to OGG with G-Frontend (ffmpeg2theora) is easy. Simply load up the software, add the video files you want to convert, and click on the "START" button. It can't be any easier than that.

Keep in mind that the full DV resolution (720x480) is too CPU demanding for the XO laptop. You should resize the video by half (360x240) for the XO.

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Playing OGG Video on XO

Once you have OGG videos, you are ready to play them back on the XO. Before you can play back the video on XO, you must place the video files on the XO laptop. The OLPC XO has a SD Card slot and three USB ports. You can place the video files on a SD Card or a flash drive. Then plug the removeable device into the XO laptop. The device will show up under the "/media" directory. This is the preferred method to get the video files onto XO, because it doesn't take up precious internal memory of the laptop.

Another method to get the video files onto the XO is through the wireless network connection. This method is a bit harder and if you haven't inserted a removable device into the XO, could take up precious internal memory. The instruction on how to get your XO laptop onto your home wireless network is in the "Related Links" section below. How to transfer the video from another computer to the XO is a major topic of its own and will not be covered in this article.

Once you have the OGG video files on the XO, there are numerous way to play them back. The sections below will outline each one of them.

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Play Video with Browser

Playing video with the Browser is probably the most favorable method. The Browser is the very first few items on the Sugar GUI interface. And it's no doubt that your child will learn to use it sooner or later. This section assumes that you have placed the video files onto a removable device and have inserted it into the XO laptop.

To play the video back with the Browser, simply type this URL into the location bar on top of the Browser (without double quotes): "file:///media". This tells the Browser to look in the "/media" directory. Once you are "browsing" in the "/media" directory, you can click on the removable media name to browse for the video files. Simply click on the video file to play it back in the Browser.

You can easily bookmark the video files so that your child can start the video without browsing through the removable device.

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Play Video with Totem

XO also comes bundled with the advanced Totem media player. You can't get to the Totem player from the Sugar GUI. Instead, you have to use the "Terminal" program to launch totem.

In Terminal, you can type "Totem" by itself to start the player. From the player you can select and start the video files.

If you are good with the command-line, you can issue "Totem [file path]" to start the video play back directly from the command-line. Just replace "[file path]" with the path name of the video file you want to play back.

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