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New President for OLPC Organization

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the roll-the-dice dept.

Hardware 251

haroldag writes "After Walter Bender's resignation as president of OLPC, Charles Kane enters to take his place as the new boss. Kane says 'The OLPC mission is a great endeavor, but the mission is to get the technology in the hands of as many children as possible. Whether that technology is from one operating system or another, one piece of hardware or another, or supplied or supported by one consulting company or another doesn't matter. It's about getting it into kids' hands. Anything that is contrary to that objective, and limits that objective, is against what the program stands for.'"

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I agree with half of his reasoning. (0)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278418)

The OLPC project should not waste it's time porting code to a second rate OS if it's interested in getting them out and knowledge to children.

Re:I agree with half of his reasoning. (4, Insightful)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278494)

More importantly, OLPC should be putting software into the hands of these kids, not just a license to use a copy of some software owned by someone else.

--
Note: I am not a sock puppet, comments to that effect are not needed.

Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (4, Insightful)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278528)

RMS has blogged about the harm non free software will do to OLPC (summarized and linked to here [slashdot.org] ). He's urging developers to come to Sugar's rescue and for OLPC to keep acting as an advocate of freedom. I'm afraid that OLPC will be soundly thrashed in the market if they fall for the obvious trap that a Windows port is.

The last time Slashdot talked about this, Bruce Perens presented an excellent technical explanation of how non free software would harm the core mission of the OLPC project [slashdot.org] .

Given all of these good reasons for avoiding non free software, how can anyone take Microsoft seriously?

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (2, Interesting)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278652)

Look, M$ wants to try and compete here? I say let them, they are going to have to up the hardware costs of the machine to get an XP port running, and it will inevitably be significantly less functional than what is already available for less money. I sincerely believe that a foray into M$ for the OLPC will bring to light the inherent advantages of free software. However, I certainly do feel bad for any kids out there who end up with an OLPC running XP.

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (4, Insightful)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278754)

Look, M$ wants to try and compete here? I say let them
OLPC wasn't founded to give Microsoft a new market to compete in. It was created to give impoverished children access to self-maintaible technology. They made sure that you didn't need an ISP to communicate between laptops. They made sure that you didn't need an AC grid to operate the laptops. They made sure that you didn't need GeekSquad to fix your laptop.

By picking open-source software, then even made sure you didn't need a corporation to fix or improve your software. If they shipped with Windows XP, without it being open-sourced, then they are failing in their objective, because the operation system of the computer could not be maintained by the owner/operator of the computer, but only by Microsoft.

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279640)

The goal is to get the best software for the lowest price. The best way to get that is to allow for competition.

Publish a list of specs and requirements, and let anyone who can meet them submit their OS. Anything else and you're subsidizing a product that has no competition; that almost always leads to an inferior product.

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (3, Insightful)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279820)

Publish a list of specs and requirements, and let anyone who can meet them submit their OS. Anything else and you're subsidizing a product that has no competition; that almost always leads to an inferior product.
That's fine, as long as access to the source code, and authorization to freely modify and distribute is one of the requirements. If Microsoft makes a product that conforms to that, and works better and/or cheaper than Linux, then use it. If it turns out that BSD or Solaris is a better choice, go with them. It doesn't have to be Linux, it just has to be open.

OLPC should not waste time with M$ "Cooperation" (1)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278774)

What Windows will add to OLPC:

  • Hardware bloat - HD space that will cost more and would be better used storing kids work and free textbooks.
  • Licensing costs - a few dollars per laptop.
  • Time and perception - more critical than anything else.

The OLPC project needs to keep telling foreign governments that the XO is cheaper and better than other laptops because it has avoided Windows. When confronted with the question of, "Does it run Windows" the answer should be a firm, "No and neither should you." This is what they believe, ultimately. Had they thought differently the XO would already run Windows.

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279048)

However, I certainly do feel bad for any kids out there who end up with an OLPC running XP.

Letting Windows XP run in the OLPC computers is shit. Do you know who will end paying for the WinXP Licenses?, not the poor kids in PerÃ, but you and me, and the other people that donates money to the NGOs that develop programs and buy such computers.

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279222)

Look, M$ wants to try and compete here?

You're saying when running a charity, Microsoft should be "allowed to compete"?!? This is the same Microsoft that has been repeatedly convicted of undermining fair competition through criminal antitrust abuses? This is the same Microsoft that is still in the process of being prosecuted for ongoing antitrust abuses? This is the same Microsoft that is being investigated for bribing government officials and standards bodies?

I say let them, they are going to have to up the hardware costs of the machine to get an XP port running, and it will inevitably be significantly less functional than what is already available for less money.

Great, then the OLPC brand is poisoned and there is confusion about what the capabilities of the different versions are. Then MS can undercut others on price in order to lock in a new market early and then bleed them for the next twenty years like they have been other markets. I'm less than impressed with this idea.

I sincerely believe that a foray into M$ for the OLPC will bring to light the inherent advantages of free software.

You're assuming people will try both and objectively compare them on a level playing field, then choose what is best for the kids. Given MS's history, their piles of cash, and their incentive here, why do you think that?

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279492)

Good points -

You're assuming people will try both and objectively compare them on a level playing field, then choose what is best for the kids. Given MS's history, their piles of cash, and their incentive here, why do you think that?
I suppose I was seeing things a little rose - tinted, but I assume the advantages of no license fees - an already field tested product - and an OS which works remarkably well with the hardware would only become more visible if M$ was allowed to give it a shot.

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279590)

I assume the advantages of no license fees - an already field tested product - and an OS which works remarkably well with the hardware would only become more visible if M$ was allowed to give it a shot.
That would require that somebody _sees_ the MS licensing fees or an alternative OS that works remarkably well with the hardware.

If Microsoft gets XP shipped with even _some_ of the laptops, then they will be the ones selling OLPC laptops to 3rd world countries, and you best believe that the license will be bundled with the hardware cost (like it is here in the USA), any performance problems will be blamed on the "cheap" hardware, and nobody will ever be told that there is a better alternative.

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23279674)

when i grow up i want to spell microsoft with a dollar sign just like you, so everyone thinks i'm cool!

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (1)

initdeep (1073290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279732)

i believe the problem is that you have already grown up, therefore you do NOT "spell" it this way....

Is Sugar even the problem? (1)

Rob Y. (110975) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278684)

Sure, Sugar probably has lots of rough edges, but Negroponte was talking about porting Sugar to run on top of XP, so he apparently still thinks it's a good front-end to give to his target audience.

The main complaint I heard Negroponte voice was that certain Flash apps didn't work. And that was because they were using an incomplete clone of Flash. If they're talking about putting Windows on the OLPC, why on earth are they getting hard-line about using an open source Flash plugin? Why not put the latest closed-source Adobe Flash plugin on it? The OLPC is still X86, isn't it? Even if it weren't, don't you think they could lobby Adobe to recompile Flash to run there if only for the public relations value?

The problem is lack of orders (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279150)

In TFA, Negroponte seems to be saying that countries like Egypt are holding back from potentially massive deployment because the XO doesn't run Windows. For whatever reasons [wikipedia.org] , the customers are demanding Windows. I believe that orders for the XO have been less than hoped, and they're doing this to stay alive.

If that means running Sugar on Windows, so be it. My personal hatred for Microsoft was *violently* re-affirmed recently when I had to click the EULA for Vista's SP1 update. But the truth is, XOs running educational software on top of Windows will still provide a huge benefit. Hold your nose and click through.

That said, I hope FOSS hackers will rally around the Sugar/Linux stack and make it solid. Right now it has a lot of problems that are fixable with enough eyeballs.

Re:The problem is lack of orders (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279642)

In TFA, Negroponte seems to be saying that countries like Egypt are holding back from potentially massive deployment because the XO doesn't run Windows. For whatever reasons, the customers are demanding Windows. I believe that orders for the XO have been less than hoped, and they're doing this to stay alive.
If OLPC has to abandoned their reason for being in order to survive, and it shouldn't matter if they die.

If I founded an organization with a mission to "give free educational books to impoverished kids", and Egyptian authorities said they were only interest in Nancy Drew novels, I wouldn't suddenly change my organization's mission to "getting books in the hands of impoverished kids", I'd tell the Egyptian authorities that I don't sell Nancy Drew novels, and then explain how they will corrupt the morality of their children.

Re:Is Sugar even the problem? (1)

zmjjmz (1264856) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279424)

I believe Adobe opened up the Flash spec recently, so wouldn't that mean that the Open Source clone one would be greatly improved rather quickly.

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (0, Offtopic)

willyhill (965620) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279010)

Anyone posting on this thread should be aware that "gnutoo" is a sockpuppet account of twitter. He's just shilling his own posts to pretend someone agrees with him. twitter now has a grand total of eight Slashdot accounts [slashdot.org] .

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (2, Insightful)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279768)

Anyone posting on this thread should be aware that "gnutoo" is a sockpuppet account of twitter. He's just shilling his own posts to pretend someone agrees with him.
Which is ironic, because other people _will_ agree with him because, as trolls go, he at least produces original works that are mostly inline with Slashdot's demographic.

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (4, Insightful)

g2devi (898503) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279122)

It's actually worse than that. By changing the OLPC to fit a proprietary OS, they've:
a) Increased the cost of the hardware because Windows XP just doesn't run with the same resources as a lighter OS like Linux...especially since Windows XP already has it's own GUI that needs exist under Sugar.
b) Limited their ability to pick hardware, such as non-Intel chips, which Windows XP doesn't support.
c) Tied themselves to security updates and the release cycle of a third party of a foreign country.
d) Limited the ability of children to tinker.
e) Limited their ability to to provide an integrated environment that will actually help children...Sugar on another OS would inevitably have an impedience mismatch.
f) Alienated the community that was helping to build the OLPC project, thus reducing credibility and further contributions.
g) Lost any differentiation between the OLPC and the competing Classmates project, since Sugar should be able to run on Classmates.

Points (a) to (e) go directly against the OLPC mission. Point (f) reduces that chance of OLPC's success. Point (g) splits funds from other projects. Since each project has a fixed administrative cost, and the design split delays deployment decisions (like the HDDVD vs Blueray war hurt DVD adoption), this reduces the funds that are actually used to help educate children.

I can think of no reason to change the OLPC's original constitution. If proprietary stuff like "Flash" is required and Gnash isn't up to snuff (yet), doesn't it make more sense to as Adobe for a Flash port rather than throw the education deprived baby out with the bath water? At least with this solution, there's some hope that Gnash will eventually be fully Flash compatible or Flash will be superseded.

Re:Non free considered harmful to OLPC mission. (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279824)

If proprietary stuff like "Flash" is required and Gnash isn't up to snuff (yet), doesn't it make more sense to as Adobe for a Flash port rather than throw the education deprived baby out with the bath water?

The standard Flash binary distribution for Linux can easily be run and installed on an OLPC laptop, if Gnash is considered insufficient.

The problem is that existing Flash content targeted to desktop computers with multi-GHz CPUs and a gigabyte-plus of RAM doesn't perform so hot on a 433MHz machine with 256MB. While I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Adobe Flash + Windows software stack has certain optimizations which could improve performance slightly, we're still talking about going from two frames per second to three frames per second; still not tolerable for kids wanting to surf the Hannah Montana portal or adults to watch Homestar Runner toons.

Obligatory? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278434)

Rosebud...

Re:Obligatory? (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278584)

No, something decidedly more sinister [wikipedia.org] ...

Also Obligatory? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278678)

Bite my shiny metal ass...

Re:Obligatory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278794)

I don't get it.

Re:Obligatory? (2, Informative)

Comboman (895500) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279008)

Charles Foster Kane was the main character of the movie 'Citizen Kane' and 'Rosebud' is a significant quote from the film. To give any more away would be a spoiler; if you haven't seen it, please rent it. It is considered by many critics and film buffs to be the greatest American film of all time.

Re:Obligatory? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279226)

Yes, we should all be very careful not to post spoilers about a 67 year old movie.

By the way, I saw the movie after having heard the "spoiler" many many times, and still thought it was one of the best movies I'd ever seen.

Not thinking of the children here... (1)

backbyter (896397) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278454)

I sure wish OLPC will finally deliver my XO that I ordered on 11/12.

Re:Not thinking of the children here... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278758)

I (well technically my daughter) just got mine (hers) and I ordered Dec 24th from Canada. I waited patiently until April 8th then I got kinda of nasty with the OLPC call centre. XO arrived on the 25th and my daughter loves it. Not being in the Industry but just a computer hobiest, I've learned more about Linux in the last week that I have in 15 years by helping my daughter install apps and customize the machine. Oh, and my 3 year old has no problem with the Sugar GUI. She already knows where to find and launch all her favorite activities.

I sure hope OLPC ends the madness with M$ and remains committed to open source. That is the main reason I supported OLPC.

I thought it was about education. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278470)

And "empowering" the next generation through educating them about the technology.

Turns out it's just about getting toys to kids.

Re:I thought it was about education. (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278648)

Direct quote from the summary:

"Charles['Big Daddy'] Kane enters to take his place as the new boss. Kane says 'The...mission is...to
get...in the hands of as many children as possible. Whether that...is from one...or another, one
piece...or another, or supplied or supported by one...or another doesn't matter. It's about gett...in... it
into kids' hands. Anything that is contrary to that...is against what the program stands for.'"

Jesus, what kind of 'kane is being peddled to those impoverished youngsters?

Re:I thought it was about education. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23279728)

And "empowering" the next generation through educating them about the technology.

Turns out it's just about getting toys to kids.


You want to empower them... get them clean drinking water. Get them sources of food. Get them access to doctors and medicine. Get them freakin teachers!

In other words... it's only been about getting toys to kids from the very start.

this will end well (1)

trybywrench (584843) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278482)

"Whether that technology is from one operating system or another.."
That sound you hear is a million One Linuxlaptop Per Child zealots so besides themselves they can barely type.

Tripe (-1, Troll)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278490)

"It's about getting it into kids' hands. Anything that is contrary to that objective, and limits that objective, is against what the program stands for.'"

Screw the kids, where is my free laptop?

While I would like to see utopia, I recognize it's not going to happen. Instead of this socialist "FOR THE KIDS" crap, let's buy our own kids the things they need and put what we'd spend on strangers into our retirement or our own children's college education.

Handing a computer to a kid who's brain is damaged from malnutrition does nothing except add another life-long banner ad clicker to the Internet.

Re:Tripe (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278628)

Remember that when there is a famine, and some big hillbilly beats you so he can get his bread before it runs out.
Remember that when you are in a bar that catches fire and everyone tramples on you to make sure they aren't the ones burned alive.
Remember that when a colleague pushes the blame on you to keep from getting themselves fired.

It is every man for themselves. Life isn't fair, so why should you be? Right?

This is about bettering mankind as a whole. Not "What the hell do I get out of it?"

Re:Tripe (1)

Awptimus Prime (695459) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279284)

Actually, when things are down to the wire-- people rarely act in heroic fashion.

When food runs out, yes. It's time to get what you can get by any means to keep your immediate family going. In any event, someone's going hungry.

Name one instance of a large fire in a crowded building with restricted exits where people were, in fact, not trampled. Fires without lots of burn injuries don't count.

There's people at just about every company who do this. Most often it's a manager who just couldn't understand why his employees stopped performing their best after his patented "We've got to give 110% to up the sales this 1/4" stopped working two quarters ago.

Hell, go talk to anyone who has done Coast Guard rescue and they'll tell you how quickly anyone will go crazy and lose their mind when they think their number may be up.

Keep feeding us the socialist dream while I keep get modded down by our friends from the east. :)

Re:Tripe (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278636)

I was right with you, all the way... riiiiight up until:

Handing a computer to a kid who's brain is damaged from malnutrition does nothing except add another life-long banner ad clicker to the Internet.
Oops, you're an asshole.

Re:Tripe (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279052)

Oh, come on. You know you chuckled when you read that. If we didn't have that kind of brutal honesty,
The kind of Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and Dave Chapelle, then the world would be a much sadder place than it already is.

Re:Tripe (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278660)

Handing a computer to a kid who's brain is damaged from malnutrition does nothing except add another life-long banner ad clicker to the Internet.
Then I suppose it's too much to ask you to stop clicking on banner ads?

Bender Resigned? (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278496)

Bender Resigned? I guess that means Flexo's in charge?

Fry: Wait, hold on. I don't like the sound of that. Let's just go alphabetically.
Leela: OK. First Bender, then Flexo, then Fry.
Fry: Wait, let's go by rank.
Leela: OK. First Bender, then Flexo, then Fry.
Fry: Flexo outranks me?
Flexo: That's "Flexo outranks me, sir"!

Re:Bender Resigned? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279252)

That's alright, I wikied: Charles Kane

Charles Kane: Charles was a teacher at Gordon Boarding school, where he taught Lara [Croft] the subject of history for two years. He has a personal interest in the old Iron Curtain countries and with the advent of glasnost seized his opportunity to visit the Eastern bloc whenever he could afford the time. He also helped Lara [Croft] out in her mission in Russia in 1995.

That makes him the elder of a Tomb Raider!

Re:Bender Resigned? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279752)

I think Charles Kane can afford to fund OLPC for awhile using the income from his newspaper empire.

It's sad the Tomb Raider reference comes before the Citizen Kane reference. Philistines! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen_Kane [wikipedia.org]

When we lack principals we lose the objective (4, Interesting)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278506)

The OLPC is never only about getting technology to children, at least that's not what I heard when it started. It was about building up the poorer nations with education and technology, not just "get the technology in the hands of as many children as possible."

It was a mission to improve these nations and communities by making them competitive and independent.

I guess Microsoft's billions can corrupt anything they want. It's now just about building markets for Windows.

FUCK YOU OLPC!

Re:When we lack principals we lose the objective (1)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278720)

Ah, MS going after that coveted impoverished 3rd world child demographic - classic strategy straight from Sun Tzu's Art of War. Oh wait, no that's stupid

Re:When we lack principals we lose the objective (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278798)

MS going after that coveted impoverished 3rd world child demographic

No it is trying to lock in its monopoly in countries where they have no penetration. Hoping that when/if they become prosperous, they do not escape the Microsoft monopoly.

Slightly different, IMO. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278954)

Microsoft doesn't care if they ever become prosperous enough to afford Microsoft software.

It's the "barrier to entry" that concerns Microsoft. If the kids are given a laptop, then it is just up to them to learn to program with the FOSS tools for the FOSS environment that they've been given. The "barrier to entry" has been, effectively, removed. And NOT in Microsoft's favour.

Microsoft wants to keep the "barrier to entry" just high enough so that Microsoft platforms look most appealing to anyone who manages to cross that barrier.

Re:When we lack principals we lose the objective (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279018)

Huh? How exactly are laptops going to help build up poorer nations? So they can know everything and still not be able to use it because there are virtually no natural resources to use to build an economy?

Re:When we lack principals we lose the objective (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279796)

Huh? How exactly are laptops going to help build up poorer nations? So they can know everything and still not be able to use it because there are virtually no natural resources to use to build an economy?
The point is that you can build an economy on information resources, not just physical resources. Take a look at India's explosive economic growth over the last decade.

GUI (1)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278526)

Negroponte's selling out in poor style. The leaders he mentions are not high-tech. Most people in those positions refer to the GUI on a computer as "Windows" whether it's Gnome, KDE or FVWM. Kane seems positioned to do further harm or mitigate the harm.

Re:GUI (2, Insightful)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279054)

The leaders he mentions are not high-tech. Most people in those positions refer to the GUI on a computer as "Windows" whether it's Gnome, KDE or FVWM.

I don't know whether that's true or not.

What I do know is that if OLPC starts making hardware and software decisions based on what education ministry bureaucrats ask for, instead of what provides the best benefit to the students, they have already lost sight of their mission.

Honestly, I suspect that Windows XP/XO will never see a release. I think it's all just a ruse to keep OLPC distracted, and delay governments from making a purchase decision, long enough that a separate computing program for developing nations, centered on Microsoft Office for Vista no doubt, is ready for market. And what remains of the OLPC brain trust is falling for it.

What he's saying. (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278530)

Read: We'll be using a Microsoft OS.

Re:What he's saying. (1)

EvilRyry (1025309) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279436)

I hope not. Although this may sound rough, I really do mean it. By shipping Windows (or other proprietary software) on the OLPC, they are undermining the very ideals that the organization was built on. For doing so, the company deserves to die.

The Price Is Right (3, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278538)

Whatever Nicholas Negroponte's price was, Microsoft seems to have found it.

Re:The Price Is Right (2, Insightful)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278948)

I really wonder if there is anything Microsoft touches that doesn't get corrupted to its core.

OLPC was about empowering children. Now it seems poised to be about giving flashy black-boxes to kids.

Re:The Price Is Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23279338)

The drive to put a constructive, open system into the hands of the world's most under-educated and poor countries and let them build their own IT infrastructure and knowledge base, free of the controlling tentancles of the big IT barons was the OLPC's one dazzlingly ambitious feature.

Without that aim, the OLPC is a shitty underpowered notebook which runs Windows poorly.

Re:The Price Is Right (1)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279512)

Yeah, a price like "keeping the company running." Or do you have some other clever way to pay all the employees and costs? I'm surprised they stayed up this long, I've no idea where they got the money.

Technology is the least of it (1)

psydeshow (154300) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278564)

Wow, this attitude really sucks. Giving "technology" to kids means nothing unless you also teach them how to use and give them a reason to do so.

Anyone can give a kid a laptop. In 5 years will the child be using that laptop to enrich her life, or will it be a nice heavy doorstop? Software and teaching will make the difference. OLPC used to be about that, but apparently it's just going to be a numbers game now.

If it doesn't matter what OS they use... (2, Insightful)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278596)

Why don't they use OS X? I seem to remember seeing an article here on /. that Steve Jobs had offered OLPC a version of OS X for free, would definitely be closer to Linux than Windows XP.

Re:If it doesn't matter what OS they use... (2, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278998)

Why don't they use OS X? I seem to remember seeing an article here on /. that Steve Jobs had offered OLPC a version of OS X for free, would definitely be closer to Linux than Windows XP.

That would be much better. You can't have kids running around with ball and chains that aren't trendy, or all the people in the chat rooms will tease them. What kind of an iLife is that for a child?

Kane (1)

Coraon (1080675) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278600)

So Kane is now in charge... does that mean the new motto will be "Peace through power"? heh, although OLPC isn't as catchy as NOD

It's an education project, not a technology projec (4, Insightful)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278624)

It's an education project, not a technology project. The point is not to get technology into kids hands. The point is to create a system for better education of the entire world's children. If it could be done with books, then so be it.

what a crock of crack (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278640)

Charles Kane, you have single handedly assured the world that the OLPC project is irrelevant. Anybody can buy a PC from anywhere, and there's really nothing special anymore about the OLPC, now that you've made it manifestly clear that your objectives are no different than any other OEM. You are making 'Sugar' the digital analog of crack, for kids. Shame shame shame.

Re:what a crock of crack (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278844)

Perhaps if they stopped thinking of themselves as special (in general) perhaps
they would get farther with this. The idea shouldn't be how to create some highly
special purpose machine that will destroy the ecnomies of scale that come with
making PC's. They should find where their target demographic has commonalities
with people in the more developed world. They should have been making something
more like an Asus EEE PC to begin with. Fat and happy westerners go out into the
bush once and awhile too. Lots of gear that would be useful to someone stuck in
the middle of the Kalihari is sold lots of places in the west. This includes
electronics. There's an obvious military overlap too. ...and EEE PC in one cargo pocket and a big bag of peanut M&M's in the other.

Re:what a crock of crack (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279214)

They should find where their target demographic has commonalities
with people in the more developed world. They should have been making something
more like an Asus EEE PC to begin with.


So the XO laptop ought to have been just as rugged, but twice as powerful and also twice as expensive?

Would be great for us rich industrialized types, but it would have meant that the government could only afford to buy half as many, which would mean that only half as many children would be able to benefit.

Not to say there isn't some commonality between the needs of schoolchildren in the developing world and business travelers in the developed world -- for one, I'd love to see the XO's high-res transflective screen find its way into all kinds of hardware -- but in some aspects the requirements are entirely incompatible between the two.

If anything, the failure of OLPC so far has been a failure to create software yet that's as efficient and well-designed as the XO-1 laptop's hardware.

Re:what a crock of crack (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279382)

I think you mean FOUR times as expensive. It is already twice as expensive.

Throwing out the baby (4, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278724)

From the article:

Negroponte says [...] "The mission is learning and children. The means of achieving that were, amongst others, open source and constructionism. In the process of doing that, open source in particular became an end in itself, and we made decisions along the way to remain very pure in open source that were not in the long-term interest of the project."

Open source was not only a way to get cheap software for the laptop, it was also a means to enable constructionism. A key idea of OLPC, from the very beginning, was that children would have complete visibility into the software. At higher levels, Sugar and all of the OLPC applications are interpreted, so the "View Source" key on the keyboard allows for dynamic modification. At lower levels, of course, you need compiled code for performance (especially on the OLPC's low-power CPU), but with Linux kids who were interested in digging down to that level could.

Abandoning open source means abandoning constructionism to some extent as well, since whatever closed-source binaries you use are opaque and unavailable for exploration. If industry buy-in is necessary to get the machines deployed, and if using Windows is the way to achieve that, then fine, but it should be done with a clear understanding of what educational goals are being damaged by the decision.

"When I went to Egypt for the first time, I met separately with the minister of communications, minister of education, minister of science and technology, and the prime minister, and each one of them, within the first three sentences, said, 'Can you run Windows?'" Negroponte says.

I had to laugh a little bit at that part. I mean, there's no way the OLPC is going to be able to run the common Windows software packages that I'm sure the leaders think are desirable. It just doesn't have the storage, RAM and cycles required by those heavyweights. But if you run Sugar and the OLPC apps on top of a Windows kernel you've gained nothing at all, functionally or educationally, and you've lost some educational value.

Honestly, if Egypt is worried about teaching its kids to use Windows, then the OLPC is the wrong choice for them, regardless of what kernel it's running. They should focus on the Intel ClassMate. It's not as flexible or as cheap as the OLPC, but it is more powerful, powerful enough to run modern Windows applications, albeit slowly.

Re:Throwing out the baby (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279348)

"Honestly, if Egypt is worried about teaching its kids to use Windows,..."

Last I checked, teaching kids Linux was not the goal of this project either. Honestly, I'm getting a little tired of you OSS people whining about EVERYTHING Microsoft does. Ballmer takes a different route to work and you blame Microsoft for the Cuban Missile Crisis. Gates has a salad for lunch instead of a sandwich and all of a sudden Microsoft is to blame for worldwide food shortages.

Re:Throwing out the baby (2, Insightful)

oever (233119) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279596)

When Microsoft comes up with a cool project that is not meant to destroy all competition but to help people to learn to help themselves, we will not complain. However, Microsoft always works from the mindset that there can be only one operating system and only one company. They crush competition in the bud. Some competitors are allowed to live a bit to appease some governments that are not 100% under the companies influence.

So if children in the development world are not brought up with this mindset, they may become competition to Microsoft or otherwise weaken Microsofts position. This must be avoided. They must be brainwashed into equating computers with Windows.

Now the OLPC was not meant to teach children about linux or windows. It is meant to teach children whatever it is that children need to be taught. And teaching them that they need to use windows to use a computer is not what should be taught. No company should be able to force their products into any school. School should be a marketfree place.

Re:Throwing out the baby (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279634)

In his defense, the Middle-East in particular is fucking rife with Windoze lusers. Not because anyone particularly likes it, but because each country buys one legal copy and every citizen just pirates off that one. It's one of the few public services offered in the entire region.

For some reason, none of them have caught on that most Linux distros are free-as-in-beer in the first place.

So I don't blame the Egyptian minister for asking if it can run their pirated Windoze.

Re:Throwing out the baby (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279638)

Last I checked, teaching kids Linux was not the goal of this project either.
No but their goal was to empower the countries and not make them dependent on outside help, this simply isn't possible with any proprietary operating system.

Re:Throwing out the baby (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279694)

"Honestly, if Egypt is worried about teaching its kids to use Windows,..."

Last I checked, teaching kids Linux was not the goal of this project either.

WHOOOOOSSSHHHH

That was the sound of my point going right over your head.

Just for you, though, I'll try to make it simpler.

  • The goal is to teach lots of things, among them computer programming
  • Putting Windows underneath Sugar limits some of the programming education options. Unless, of course, Microsoft is willing to provide source code and permission to modify it and share changes?
  • Putting Windows underneath Sugar does not enable kids to learn applications that would be very useful on a more normal platform. It wouldn't enable them to learn to use MS Office, for example.
  • If Egypt's goal is to teach kids to use MS Office, etc., then Egypt should buy the Classmate, or something else that is capable of running Windows applications.

Honestly, I'm getting a little tired of you OSS people whining about EVERYTHING Microsoft does.

Huh? I said nothing about Microsoft's actions. All I addressed was the fact that using any closed-source operating system on the OLPC limits its utility in some ways, without the compensatory benefits that would come from running a more mainstream version of Windows, complete with standard GUI and application sets.

Re:Throwing out the baby (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279704)

Dang it. Why do unordered lists no longer work?

Re:Throwing out the baby (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279718)

Abandoning open source means abandoning constructionism to some extent as well, since whatever closed-source binaries you use are opaque and unavailable for exploration.

So what? The purpose of the OLPC is to provide the kids (and their families) with access to the tools and information they require to improve their economic lot. From that point of view 'constructionism' barely makes the 'nice to have' grade.
 
 

Open source was not only a way to get cheap software for the laptop, it was also a means to enable constructionism. A key idea of OLPC, from the very beginning, was that children would have complete visibility into the software.

No, that was never a key goal of the OLPC (which is described above). That was a key political/philosophical goal of the OLPC's backers and supporters. This forced Negroponte and the OLPC foundation to hew to that party line - the same way a show on nutrition might be forced to alter their viewpoint a trifle if their sole sponsor was McDonalds.
 
Negroponte is now admitting that might have been a mistake. And I agree with him - as I've pointed out before OLPC's competitors offer a choice of operating systems. OLPC is the only product in this market that forces the user to use only what is decreed by the manufacturer.

Re:Throwing out the baby (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23279756)

The purpose of the OLPC is to provide the kids (and their families) with access to the tools and information they require to improve their economic lot.
It is? Where did you read that? Not in any official OLPC verbiage.

I think I speak for everyone (3, Funny)

Evangelion (2145) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278736)

When I say that I hope this new president fosters growth within the OLPC organization.

Tomorrow's announcement (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278750)

Microsoft today announced a takeover bid for OLPC Inc. Management at OLPC is receptive to the idea and is negotiating a stock price that will ensure that its investors receive a fair value. "This is really the best outcome, because now we are all RICH! FILTHY STINKING RICH!" a company spokesman was quoted as saying.

typical bully. (0)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279084)

They could not land Yahoo so they have to kick around OLPC a while. It makes Steve feel better to crush something at times like this.

Yes, but at least I'm rich. [wikipedia.org]

In Soviet Russia (1)

InSovietRussiaTroll (1282606) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279700)

The Party bullies you!

One Sale Per Child (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278802)

I think it might be time to rename the project to better reflect the "mission".

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278806)

Nick threw in the towel because he's learned from his brother that it's better to torture and oppress people than to try to help them.

Ma'am, may I please have a bag? (1)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278810)

"It's about getting it into kids' hands."
Barf!

what is "technology"? (1)

jamienk (62492) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278872)

"get the technology in the hands of as many children as possible" is "technology" when you are given a black box and told how much you have to pay to stay on the upgrade path? Told you are breaking the law when you develop a competing product? Told...

I thought OLPC was about using technology to help kids to learn technology so that they can do any number of things that technology can potentially offer them. I though that that was why Free software seemed to make so much sense.

tag article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278874)

rosebud?

Rosebud (2, Funny)

wootcat (1151911) | more than 6 years ago | (#23278908)

Would his middle name be Foster? And does he want to give them technology-based sleds?

Re:Rosebud (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279138)

No, but you just gave away this guy's master password...

What will be next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23278932)

OOXML's standard status, OLPC, what will Microsoft's money buy next?

Simple reminder of their mission... (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279028)

The source code button on the laptops. Those won't be very useful once Windows and it's "free" selection of closed-source apps jump onboard. "My button is broken" "No, that's just Windows"

Re:Simple reminder of their mission... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23279398)

I have to sadly point out that that button doesn't work in most activities today. It's among many of the great concepts that haven't been fully implemented. (Things like instant suspend-resume for long battery life, activity collaboration, mesh networking that doesn't fall over, etc.)

What they're shipping now is more or less a proof-of-concept. It's a working demo that shows what the cool possibilities are, but they haven't been realized yet. To make a really bad analogy, this is like the Windows 3.1 era for Sugar and company.

Re:Simple reminder of their mission... (1)

jcenters (570494) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279432)

Oh, that's easy to fix: Just use it as a Windows key!

Re:Simple reminder of their mission... (1)

^_^x (178540) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279506)

I have a couple and so far it seems the button is unimplemented anyway. More importantly, absolutely fundamental features like the ability to save your place reading a textfile or PDF is not there in any shape or form (unless you hack Opera onto it, use it to read a textfile, and save your surfing session...)

Also it has the craziest touchpad of any system I've used - it's always going berzerk and taking off until I recalibrate it with the "four finger salute."

I think that for now it would greatly benefit from a little free, closed source software like Adobe Acrobat Reader at least until it achieves a bare minimum level of functionality. And I love the things anyway so it hurts to say this, but... like a typical Windows user trying Linux in the 90s I'm finding the free solutions are often dreadfully lacking so far. (Still, as they are they're at least half as good as the old DOS 286 I learned on so if we can get them into kids' hands as they are that's great!)

On the other hand, I only dabble with Linux about 3-4 distros every few years but "yum" (Yellow dog Updater Modified) is great and so easy to use. Even when it has run out of memory and failed installs, a little guessing let me roll it back manually and try again. One of the stickier harder to learn points - package installation, meeting dependencies, and removing software - is now extremely easy and straightforward.

In other words... (1)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279294)

... stop bitching and contribute to the project. The release schedule gets met, or the competition comes in.

Let them eat Linux! (1)

thanksforthecrabs (1037698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279298)

99% of the world's desktop's are running Windows. Let's alienate them more from the rest of the world.

Re:Let them eat Linux! (1)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279610)

Alienate? How does using different technology alienates? Even using incompatible technology doesn't alienate, although it is not very efficient (and this is not the case).

But what IS "the technology"? (3, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279340)

... the mission is to get the technology in the hands of as many children as possible.

I was under the impression that "the technology" included the source code. And "in the hand" included the ability to make improvements to it and build new things based on it (thus including an appropriate build, execution, and interpretation environment).

If this is not included, it is not "the technology" that has gotten into the children's hands. Instead they hold a product of the technology, while the technology itself remains in the hands of a rich foreign elite.

What will be next? (1)

Yogiz (1123127) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279386)

OOXML's standard status, OLPC, what will Microsoft's money buy next?

Their motives do seem quite clear. Last thing that Microsoft wants is a new generation of open-source hackers that actually dare to have control over their own computers. Logical move in their part, guess money buys it all.

P.S. I might have accidentally already posted this as AC but the post didn't seem to come through. Excuse me if that was not the case.

Software is not a commodity (2, Interesting)

Gunark (227527) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279498)

Whether that technology is from one operating system or another, one piece of hardware or another, or supplied or supported by one consulting company or another doesn't matter.
What Mr. Kane seems to be missing is that software it not a commodity. So lightly dismissing all the nuance in this issue reveals flat out ignorance... this is the sort of thing that may lead to the OLPC's ultimately failure.

For one, with each software platform comes a culture. Switching to Windows robs the OLPC of the much-needed innovation and freely-available talent attached to OSS. Most OSS developers just won't want to touch this thing, and with that dies much of the unrealized potential behind the OLPC -- without this, the OLPC is just another cheap, underpowered sub-notebook. It will almost certainly never move past its basic function, and as such can never become the disruptive technology it could have been.

Think of where this could have gone... software designed to take advantage of the OLPC's mesh networking could have formed the basis for a new communication network in developing countries. Can you imagine the potential in terms of free speech, and free-market growth this alone could have had? (Free-market, in the sense that for example it could have allowed new ways to communicate about pricing and availability of local goods between villages and settlements)....

Saved me from wasting $400 (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279632)

I intended to pick one up at Christmas, did not get around to it in time, was waiting for the inevitable re-introduction of the give-one-get-one program. Thankfully I can forget about that now and be $400 richer. Hmm, I think I will spend it on a Nokia n810 [wikipedia.org]

Short translation (2, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279648)

Stick a fork in OLPC. It's done.

They were hoping for 100M units this year. They've reached 0.5% of that. Turning over the entire leadership team to corporate pawns and stripping out everything that makes the platform special is not going to help.

With its social mission dead, I don't see any positive outcome for the product. I'll agree with the other poster who said it's an overpriced under performing subnotebook without the parts (including open systems) that made it special. With the market about to be awash in Atom mini-notebooks we won't remember this one two years from now. "A cute experiment. Too bad it didn't work out."

It's sad to see progress thrown so often under the wagon wheels of commerce.

Xanadu (1)

servitore (911830) | more than 6 years ago | (#23279722)

Welcome to Xanadu 2.0 :-)
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