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$100 Laptop Platform Moves On

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the things-are-sweeter-with-sugar dept.

Education 100

The BBC is reporting that Sugar Labs is planning on taking "Sugar," the XO laptop's innovative interface, to the next level and distribute to a broader audience. "Sugar is a user interface that allows children to collaborate even when working on different machines. For example, they can write documents or make music together. The open source software also contains a journal and automatically saves and backs up all data. [...] Sugar Labs will work closely with developers from the open source community to develop the user interface for other computers and operating systems. It has already been bundled with the most recent releases of the Ubuntu and Fedora Linux operating systems."

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100 comments

Loose translation: (3, Funny)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#23440800)

"We've royally buggered things up, software porting to Sugar is limited, quality of code is limited, and developers are leaving, so we'll outsource management of the project to someone who can handle it. Besides, it'll be easier to keep Microsoft happy, if we can deny all responsibility for Sugar working and Windows not."

Re:Loose translation: (3, Funny)

BadHaggis (1179673) | more than 6 years ago | (#23440828)

2009 will be the year of the Suger desktop.

Re:Loose translation: (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441932)

Well that'll just make the keys stick and the desk feel yucky.

Re:Loose translation: (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 6 years ago | (#23444268)

My desk feels like that, but it's not caused by sugar.

Re:Loose translation: (1)

bob.appleyard (1030756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23447740)

What, Suger, the 11th Century monk who wrote about Louis VI and VII? How is that relevant?

Don't worry, I was already leaving...

Re:Loose translation: (1, Interesting)

rtechie (244489) | more than 6 years ago | (#23440966)

Doesn't Windows run on the OLPC? I don't get this. I take this more as "We're abandoning Sugar because it sucks".

Re:Loose translation: (4, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441090)

No, this is... OLPC + Microsoft sucks, but Sugar is still a good idea.

Re:Loose translation: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23441532)

Is it a good idea to give kids lots of Sugar?

Re:Loose translation: (3, Funny)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441838)

It is the best thing for them and you've got to know, just a spoon full of Sugar will make the Windows go down in the most delightful way.

LoB

Re:Loose translation: (4, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23442544)

just a spoon full of Sugar will make the Windows go down

You don't need Sugar for that.

Re:Loose translation: (4, Funny)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23443114)

Sugar only helps when the medication is oral, windows is much more like a large placebo suppository, it hurts to use and it doesn't do actually anything.

Re:Loose translation: (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23441530)

In surprising news to opensores losers who never leave their basements, it has been discovered that even starving nignogs want to run the same software as everyone else on the planet.

Efforts to discover an alien race which might be receptive to the linux desktop are ongoing.

Re:Loose translation: (1, Interesting)

rtechie (244489) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441856)

I know I got modded down, but my experience has been that most of the people that like Sugar have never used it. Nor do I understand the attack on Microsoft. If MS is willing to provide an operating system with more functionality (better foreign language support strikes me as a big deal) at low cost ($3 is pretty cheap), why is this "bad" other than Linux fanboyism? Why hasn't Redhat, Novell, Canonical, etc. stepped up with a Linux distribution?

Re:Loose translation: (5, Informative)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23442224)

Let me see if I can give you a couple of clu^H^H^Hanswers....

1) MS is not offering their software from the beneficence of samaritan spirit. They are offering it at that price to ensure that even the 5th world will be hooked on their constant upgrade and pay to play cycles. $3/CD is better than zero, and it will lead to sales later on. In the marketing world it's called a loss leader... http://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/lossleader.asp [investopedia.com]

2) More functionality in this case includes wasted battery usage through OS issues, BSODs, virus prone applications, upgrade cycles that are longer than the XO will be a viable product (read no upgrades)

3) No matter what language it supports, XP still has the same problems, so this is not much of a bonus, here is some data to see what the real language support is:
http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Linux_language_support [laptop.org]
http://www.microsoft.com/globaldev/handson/dev/winxpintl.mspx [microsoft.com]

Now, when it comes down to it, neither is likely to support a dialect that is spoken by only several thousand people in the world, but both support a large number of languages making this an odd point to harp on. I've given you a couple of links, perhaps you can point out to the rest of us what huge advantage XP offers over Linux in general and the XO's original system in particular.

3) Redhat, Novell, Canonical et al were not asked to step up. OLPC chose their operating system and MS 'convinced' them to re-choose. I say convinced with all the irony that I can muster in this life and the next. MS is offering a raped version of XP, and not the version you are obviously used to.

Sugar OS was just right for the OLPC and with a few tweaks would have been very nice for the goals of that project.

As for your general attitude in your comment, I offer this review as rebuttal. It's from http://www.engadget.com/tag/olpc [engadget.com] and the emphasis below is mine.

It's been a controversial decision, but it looks like the OLPC XO has completed its transition from revolutionary education project to just another tiny Windows laptop with a useless keyboard -- albeit one with a pleasantly whimsical design. Yep, it's official: Microsoft and OLPC just put out a joint press release saying that XP-loaded XOs will be available starting in August or September, with some countries to get the machines as soon as next month. Users will get all the regular functionality of XP -- it's basically the same build as on the Eee and other ultraportables -- but Microsoft's spent over a year developing specialized drivers for the XO's various features like e-book mode, the writing pad, and camera. (We're pretty certain that doesn't include mesh networking, but WiFi is supported.) XP is too big for the built-in 1GB flash chip, so it'll come preloaded on a 2GB SD card, leaving just about 1.5GB free total for apps and media. It seems like Microsoft is thrilled about this partnership, but it's a not going to make NickNeg's search for new vision at the top any easier. As for Sugar? You'll still be able to get it, but we have a sinking feeling about its future. Demo video after the break.
I realize that you seem to have been throwing down the gauntlet for the Linux fanbois, but you would be wise to remember to bring more than a knife to a gun fight.

Re:Loose translation: (3, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#23442698)

In the marketing world it's called a loss leader...


No, its not a loss leader. With a loss leader you lose money or don't make any, MS isn't doing that. A copy of XP costs exactly $0 for MS to produce. Granted, XP did have some costs related to development but now, we are around 6 years into XP and we can assume those have been paid off. With a physical product each copy costs money, in parts, in time, in shipping. With software each copy can be recopied an infinate amount of times without any loss in quality or any increase in cost, compare this to a gallon of milk where each cow can only produce so much milk. Whereas a gallon of milk has costs related to packaging, software doesn't have this problem with downloads where the price of bandwidth is tiny to almost unnoticeable and using more modern P2P technology makes even those costs go away, likewise shipping is free.

This is not a loss leader for MS, a copy of XP costs them exactly $0 to make, and they get $3 for each copy so that is a direct $3 profit for each system with XP sold.

Re:Loose translation: (4, Insightful)

FrankieBaby1986 (1035596) | more than 6 years ago | (#23443346)

I dislike MS as much as anybody else here, but they did put forth time and money developing drivers and the like specifically to make XP run on the XO. (hmm, would be easy to make that a typo)

Additionally, there are costs associated with maintaining XP with security updates and bugfixes, running product activation servers, knowledge base servers (all of which need to be maintained) and all kinds of other expenses such as licensing of media technologies.

Don't get me wrong, I greatly dislike MS, but to say there are no costs associated with it is dead wrong. These cost do, however, often apply to open source companies as well, and most certainly some of them apply to OLPC. It may well be that going with MS's deal is just cheaper than doing it all in-house.

Re:Loose translation: (2, Interesting)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23443748)

Additionally, there are costs associated with maintaining XP with security updates and bugfixes

Do you honestly think that they are going to support a discount platform with security updates and bugfixes to an operating system that has been earmarked for extinction [apcmag.com] ? The plan is to trap people into the vicious cycle of OS dependence, not liberate them. Linux can do anything XP can do and probably more given $100.00 hardware.

Re:Loose translation: (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23445264)

Funny, I've been using linux distros for years...free updates, upgrades, software, whatever I want, whenever I want...for all my computer courses that I teach.

However, the idiotic, criminal,unaccountable school board I work for pays M$ about $400,000 A YEAR for the so-called "Software Assurance Program", which essentially is meaningless, since school windoze labs are still crashing, full of BSODs, malware, etc.

There is NO comparison. M$ junk is a huge money sink compared to anything open source.

Re:Loose translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23455468)

Right, Microsoft is planning to support XP for a good few years yet, they will also be selling a version of XP to run on the ultra low-cost laptops for the next couple of years so those costs you gave examples of are costs Microsoft would have to bear anyway. What media technologies do Microsoft have to licence for XP anyway? If there is anything, MS can easily strip it out for this version.

Are you sure you dislike MS as much as anybody else here? Because if you really do, you need to put more effort into it. ;)

Re:Loose translation: (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23445936)

I'd hate to be picky about something this minor; but, it is not $0. Microsoft does spend some money on logistics: Thier asinine authentication schemes, distributing the actual copies, and "convincing" certain high ranking people to use XP on the XO. That costs money.

Granted the total spread across the copies is probably less than $1 per $3 licence. But, it's not free. And, no, it does not invalidate your point. (Sometimes people think that because I contradict them that I must oppose them.)

Re:Loose translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23462196)

3) Redhat, Novell, Canonical et al were not asked to step up. OLPC chose their operating system and MS 'convinced' them to re-choose.
Well, to be factual, Red Hat has continuously "stepped up"... Red Hat donated money to the project, the OLPC operating system is a modified version of Fedora Core, and a number of the key system developers (including some on the "new" Sugar Labs team) are Red Hat employees, who I believe are allowed to work on the project during company time.

Re:Loose translation: (1)

rtechie (244489) | more than 6 years ago | (#23523692)

Well, there you go. I heard that a number of engineers from Red Had had contributed, but I hadn't heard about cash. Kudos for Red Hat.

Re:Loose translation: (1)

rtechie (244489) | more than 6 years ago | (#23513864)

1) MS is not offering their software from the beneficence of samaritan spirit.
Prove it. It strikes me as extremely optimistic to think that, as you put it, "5th world" nations will magically become 1st world nations in short oder and begin providing significant revenue streams. So if this is a "loss leader" investment they must be thinking in the long term, like 100 years. Pretty odd thinking from a company with a constantly-changing 5 year roadmap.

3) No matter what language it supports,
If you can't read the text on the screen, a laptop isn't much good to you. According to OLPC, on the site you linked:

At the moment, the laptop is 100% English, 68% Spanish, 53% French, 48% Portuguese, 40% Japanese and 30% German. All the other languages are 5% done at best.

which is exactly what I saw when I used the OLPC. NONE of these are the native languages for any of the target markets of the OLPC. OTHO, Windows XP supports MOST of the languages for the OLPC's target market.

If you look at this page on MS' site:
http://www.microsoft.com/globaldev/reference/oslocversion.mspx#winxp [microsoft.com]

It shows, quite obviously, that Windows supports far more languages than Linux.

3) Redhat, Novell, Canonical et al were not asked to step up.
According to the people I talked to at LinuxWorld several major vendors were asked for help and they turned the OLPC people down cold. They didn't want to invest in a money pit and/or they didn't have the cash of charity projects. I can't prove this, since I heard it verbally. Why don't you ask Redhat, etc. why they aren't involved?

I say convinced with all the irony that I can muster in this life and the next.
Please present evidence that Microsoft coerced OLPC into using XP, especially give that the OPLC founder and spokespeople have said otherwise.

MS is offering a raped version of XP, and not the version you are obviously used to.
I haven't seen it, but I suspect it's basically WinXP for Legacy PCs, which aside from limiting the number of apps you can run, is basically Windows XP with the Classic skin. The screenshots I've seen certainly look a lot like XPFLP.

I offer this review as rebuttal.
Stallman is obviously biased. He wouldn't used Windows if it cured cancer. I don't trust Bill O'Reilly for objective political commentary either.

XP is too big for the built-in 1GB flash chip, so it'll come preloaded on a 2GB SD card
Presumably newer versions of the OLPC will start shipping with 2GB of memory to accommodate the new OS. The SD card is presumably a stopgap.

Re:Loose translation: (4, Interesting)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441082)

I was under the impression that this was more of a voluntarily, albeit unwanted, exodus from OLPC by the devs who actually care about Sugar

Re:Loose translation: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23441124)

Does you believe in ufos too?

Re:Loose translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23441144)

undoing stupid incorrect moderation

Re:Loose translation: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23442116)

I'm sure they "voluntarily" decided to create a UI that is slower than Windows XP on a $200 computer too.

"sugar" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23440836)



so itll make your kids fat lazy and rot their teeth out.

Cool (5, Interesting)

story645 (1278106) | more than 6 years ago | (#23440862)

Love that they a)wanna focus on usability b)are still keeping to the project aims c)recognizing that people will happily use sugar on anything if it's good. I think sugar is adorable, wanna throw it on my laptop when I babysit, so I think this could be a good teaching tool. One interface with clicky pictures is easier to work with when teaching, even if there are all sorts of games separately-look at the whole jumpstart line of games. So I'm really psyched, though it'd be nice to have a live usb/live cd version.

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23442046)

Re:Cool (4, Informative)

amram9999 (829761) | more than 6 years ago | (#23443128)

Actually, the Fedora based LiveCD is out of date and there are better options available. More details can be found on the OLPC wiki: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/LiveCd [laptop.org]

The next level. (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#23440944)

Sugar Labs is planning on taking "Sugar" to the next level and distribute to a broader audience

It will also be renamed HFCS [wikipedia.org] to increase marketability. :-)

Re:The next level. But, will it be... (3, Funny)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#23440970)

-Equal
-Neutral(trasweet), or
-(Aser)Tame?

If they add Sugar CRM, will it be SCHWEET?

Re:The next level. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23445954)

I thought Microsoft already trademarked that as the Sugar-like, but not quite compatable Microsoft alternative.

don't you mean the $190 latptop. (4, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#23440964)

why the fuck do some people insist on calling it the $100 laptop? did they not pass grade school maths?

Re:don't you mean the $190 latptop. (2, Informative)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441180)

Because the OLPC group promised a $100 laptop, and delivered at twice the price.

Re:don't you mean the $190 latptop. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23455524)

Well, there are reasons behind that, but since they haven't reached that target yet and the laptop has a proper name, why not use its name and save the $100 laptop moniker for the first laptop to reach that price.

Included in distros? (2, Interesting)

kernowyon (1257174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23440984)

According to TFA -

It has already been bundled with the most recent releases of the Ubuntu and Fedora Linux operating systems

I just fired up my Kubuntu 8.04 system and, looking through the available packages from the Ubuntu repositories, I can find no trace of it. I tried various searches - sugar,olpc etc - but nothing. Can anyone discover the alleged bundled sugar interface?
I have run it in VMs in the past, but would have liked to have another fiddle with it.

Re:Included in distros? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23441028)

In 8.0.4

aptitude search sugar

aptitude search sugar | grep XO | wc -l
19

Re:Included in distros? (2, Informative)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441614)

It's got a ton of dependencies (at least, on Kubuntu 8.04):

$ sudo apt-get install sugar
[sudo] password for hardy2:
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
    gnome-media-common gstreamer0.10-alsa gstreamer0.10-plugins-farsight
    gstreamer0.10-plugins-good libavahi-gobject0 libblas3gf libcamel1.2-11
    libebook1.2-9 libecal1.2-7 libedataserver1.2-9 libfarsight0.1-2 libgfortran2
    libgnome-media0 libgnomecups1.0-1 libgnomeprint2.2-0 libgnomeprint2.2-data
    libgnomeprintui2.2-0 libgnomeprintui2.2-common libgtksourceview-common
    libgtksourceview1.0-0 libgtop2-7 libgtop2-common libhippocanvas-1-0
    libjinglebase0.3-0 libjinglep2p0.3-0 libjinglexmllite0.3-0
    libjinglexmpp0.3-0 liblapack3gf libloudmouth1-0 libmatchbox1 libmetacity0
    libnautilus-burn4 liboil0.3 libshout3 libtelepathy-glib0 libtelepathy2
    libtotem-plparser10 libwnck-common libwnck22 libxres1
    matchbox-window-manager metacity-common python-avahi python-gconf
    python-glade2 python-gnome2 python-gnome2-desktop python-gnomecanvas
    python-hippocanvas python-json python-numpy python-pyorbit python-telepathy
    python-xapian sugar-artwork sugar-base sugar-datastore
    sugar-presence-service sugar-toolkit telepathy-gabble telepathy-salut
    telepathy-stream-engine
Suggested packages:
    python-gconf-dbg python-gnome2-desktop-dbg python-gnome2-desktop-doc
    python-gnomecanvas-dbg python-numpy-dbg python-numpy-doc python-pyorbit-dbg
    xapian-doc
Recommended packages:
    gnome-media gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg gstreamer0.10-x gnome-mount python-gtk2-doc
    sugar-activities
The following NEW packages will be installed:
    gnome-media-common gstreamer0.10-alsa gstreamer0.10-plugins-farsight
    gstreamer0.10-plugins-good libavahi-gobject0 libblas3gf libcamel1.2-11
    libebook1.2-9 libecal1.2-7 libedataserver1.2-9 libfarsight0.1-2 libgfortran2
    libgnome-media0 libgnomecups1.0-1 libgnomeprint2.2-0 libgnomeprint2.2-data
    libgnomeprintui2.2-0 libgnomeprintui2.2-common libgtksourceview-common
    libgtksourceview1.0-0 libgtop2-7 libgtop2-common libhippocanvas-1-0
    libjinglebase0.3-0 libjinglep2p0.3-0 libjinglexmllite0.3-0
    libjinglexmpp0.3-0 liblapack3gf libloudmouth1-0 libmatchbox1 libmetacity0
    libnautilus-burn4 liboil0.3 libshout3 libtelepathy-glib0 libtelepathy2
    libtotem-plparser10 libwnck-common libwnck22 libxres1
    matchbox-window-manager metacity-common python-avahi python-gconf
    python-glade2 python-gnome2 python-gnome2-desktop python-gnomecanvas
    python-hippocanvas python-json python-numpy python-pyorbit python-telepathy
    python-xapian sugar sugar-artwork sugar-base sugar-datastore
    sugar-presence-service sugar-toolkit telepathy-gabble telepathy-salut
    telepathy-stream-engine
0 upgraded, 63 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 12.1MB of archives.
After this operation, 68.2MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]?

Re:Included in distros? (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441690)

Uh, I cannot log in with Sugar. The machine just freezes and needs four seconds worth of begging on the Power button to shutdown. For some reason I suspect that I have either a conflict with Compiz-Fusion, or the proprietary ATI driver.

Re:Included in distros? (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 6 years ago | (#23444764)

It's got a ton of dependencies (at least, on Kubuntu 8.04):
Yes, it does.

Re:Included in distros? (5, Informative)

Tomun (144651) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441052)

Its in universe.

sugar:
Installed: (none)
Candidate: 0.79.0-0ubuntu3
Version table:
0.79.0-0ubuntu3 0
500 http://gb.archive.ubuntu.com/ hardy/universe Packages

Re:Included in distros? (1)

kernowyon (1257174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441118)

Thanks for the replies. I must admit that I hadn't checked out my apt sources.list and,although I had updated, the gb archives were not working for some reason. Once I removed the gb, then updated the system I spotted the sugar components!
Note to self: Check all is up to date before querying TFA :)

Re:Included in distros? (5, Informative)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441882)

just do this:

1) sudo apt-get install sugar sugar-activities xserver-xephyr

2) create xephr-xinitrc file in your home directory with this line in it: exec /usr/bin/sugar

3) run this to start it in a windowed xserver:
xinit ~/xephyr-xinitrc -- /usr/bin/Xephyr :1 -ac -screen 800x600 -dpi 72

LoB

Re:Included in distros? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23443360)

"sudo apt-get install sugar sugar-activities xserver-xephyr" Haha, the year of linux on the desktop is just around the corner!

Re:Included in distros? (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#23443784)

Then use the Synaptic Package Manager. I figured well trained computer users knew how to type and if they don't, Sugar on Ubuntu isn't going to help them. BTW, you typed more characters in your response than the instruction/command required to install all those parts. Was that really so difficult?

LoB

Re:Included in distros? (1)

neomunk (913773) | more than 6 years ago | (#23445602)

Heh, here's the MS version:

"Buy an XO laptop with the XP built in"

Now which one seems the more obnoxious? Right. If you're gonna troll, try to stick to trollable subjects, oh Anonymous Shitstain.

Another wm? (-1, Troll)

rtechie (244489) | more than 6 years ago | (#23440990)



Yeah, that's exactly what Linux needs. Another window manager that's completely different from the others and uses incompatible toolsets. That will TOTALLY encourage gui development for Linux.

Re:Another wm? (2, Informative)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441102)

Yes, because Sugar is supposed to be a general purpose window manager, as opposed to an environment targeted at kids with no specific experience with any operating system.

attention racist slashdot posters (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23441062)

For the last time, the man's name is Nicholas Africanamericanponte. I've learned to expect a little racism in Slashdot articles, but when even the story submitters are doing it, things have gone too far.

And whatever you do, don't respond to this post with your favorite humorous variation of Mr. Africanamericanponte's name. That would be truly depraved.

P.S. My "captcha" word is "enemas". No joke. This place is sick.

Re:attention racist slashdot posters (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23441238)

Niggerpony

Re:attention racist slashdot posters (4, Funny)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 6 years ago | (#23442180)

by Anonymous Coward

It really should say "by courage-challenged person of an alternative identifier."

Asus got it right (0, Flamebait)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441156)

OLPC got it wrong. Too bad.

Re:Asus got it right (5, Insightful)

kernowyon (1257174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441406)

As the proud owner of two Asus EeePCs and someone who has experimented with the Sugar interface in virtual machines (I live in the UK, so no G1G1 option was offered here or I would have bought the XO machine as well), I think that is a little unfair.
If nothing else, the OLPC project was responsible for the low priced UMPCs which we can now buy - remember the price of a UMPC a year or two ago? It was cheaper to buy a pretty high spec (but full size) machine.
The OLPC project has lost its way - perhaps because of Negroponte, perhaps because of Intel or maybe pressure from other (Redmond?) forces. Whatever, the OLPC original idea was great - create a functional, robust laptop and include a user friendly interface, a simple peer to peer networking system to allow sharing of files between these machines, an OS which allowed you to learn how things worked etc.
Because of the political infighting which has taken place, the project seems to have lost the support of those who would be of most use to it - i.e Open Source enthusiasts who could have worked on the XO machines and the Sugar interface to create new programs. So the folks behind that Sugar interface have taken it to the community in the form of this new effort called Sugar Labs - intending to develop, with the assistance of the community, the interface and make it available for other small UMPC machines - including the EeePC.
IMHO, this is to be applauded and I for one will certainly have a look at it again. The only small snag at the moment is that it doesn't seem to like running in my VM install of Kubuntu. But I am sure I can find a spare drive here somewhere to install (K)Ubuntu 8.04 or another supported system and fire up the Sugar interface.

Stop repeating this bullshit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23444024)

"If nothing else, the OLPC project was responsible for the low priced UMPCs which we can now buy"

The OLPC happened at the time a cheap mini-laptop became feasible. End of story.

OLPC did not make a cheap mini-laptop feasible. They did not make Flash this cheap. They did not LCDs this cheap. They did not make batteries this small and cheap. They did not make low-power CPUs this cheap, or RAM this cheap, or cameras this cheap.

OLPC did not scare hardware manufacturers into making it.

It became possible, so it started happening. That is all.

Re:Asus got it right (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#23444148)

Suuure you're going to find a spare drive to install a new OS in order to install a VM to run a UI that won't run natively on any hardware that you can buy. Even if you lived in a region in which Negroponte graciously condescended to sell you a "$100" laptop for $400, delivery would be "when we feel like it, you ungrateful capitalist swine" and support would be nil.

Don't get me wrong, I too like the idea of OLPC, and it's good that it's (arguably) driving down prices, form factor and power consumption of bottom end portables, but OLPC has done nearly everything possible to shoot itself in the foot, even to the extent of grafting on new feet when it runs out of targets. Installing Sugar now would be an exercise in futility; it's a dead OS. Actually developing anything for it... well, some people still developer for RISC OS, so I guess it takes all sorts.

Re:Asus got it right (1)

kernowyon (1257174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456388)

Just a quick update to say that I have got the Sugar desktop running in a VM install of Hardy. It was a bit of a pain to get it going - there were several dependancies not mentioned in the package requirements. Although I am using a virtual install of Kubuntu, which meant I had to install some Gnome components to get the Sugar interface running, the missing dependancies would not have been there in a standard Gnome system.
Once I get a few minutes, I will draw up a list of those other odd deps and send them to the devs.
Sugar runs very well in the VM to be fair to it - I can even connect to Slashdot using the modded Firefox browser.

Hat trick? (0, Redundant)

ozbird (127571) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441360)

For example, they can write documents or make music together.

Piss off Microsoft? Check.
Piss off the RIAA? Hmm, probably.
Please, please, please: let the kids make movies together.

Obligatory SOAD lyrics. (-1, Troll)

bXTr (123510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441378)

How do I feel. What do I say. Fuck you, it all goes away.

Wild Fire (2, Interesting)

saibot-k7 (1242596) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441456)

The Asus Eee was quite successful and so were the Linksys wrt54/wrt54gl routers. We know the reason those units sell like wild fire. What I'm wondering is why Google didn't initiate a project like this? They have the money to resist being taken down before their product reaches the market.

I don't like Sugar (2, Interesting)

bogie (31020) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441474)

I realize this design is trying to be as universal as possible but I think they missed the mark and made it somewhat difficult to use. Oh and be sure to watch the kids struggle to open it the first time they get their hands on it. Finally for web browsing it is just really slow, painful if you've surfed the net on a PC less than 8 years old.

I like the idea of OLPC, I like the hardware, but as someone who has used pretty much every OS out there I personally just didn't grove with the OS. I hope that the intended audience feels differently.

Re:I don't like Sugar (4, Insightful)

story645 (1278106) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441560)

I think they missed the mark and made it somewhat difficult to use. Oh and be sure to watch the kids struggle to open it the first time they get their hands on it.
I agree completely-it looks like it could be sparkly and fun for kids if it's cleaned up, tested, and streamlined. That's where I think breaking off from OLPC and really trying to stand on it's own is a good thing. It allows for a change in structure and resources that could lead to more development of a friendly UI 'cause the focus is shifted back towards education in the like. Plus, I'm hoping that reaching for a larger audience will also give sugar strong nudge towards better UI, 'cause the average user just won't put up with sugar as it is now-they'll stay with jumpstart and all the other education suites.

Re:I don't like Sugar (1)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 6 years ago | (#23442748)

Ditto. I have a two kids (a four year old and a five year old). They're currently allowed to play games at Nick Jr and Cartoon Network, plus locally installed games. They like Tuxpaint, Gcompris, and Ktuberling, are using Kubuntu,and seem to "get" computers more than my wife does. However, KDE is a less than ideal UI for a four year old (I like, it and use it myself, but my kids are a very different audience). I think it would be cool to run the Sugar UI on top of $DISTRO. In developed countries (at least; probably other places, too), that may do more to create a generation of Free Software/Linux kids than OLPC itself.

Re:I don't like Sugar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23441564)

> Oh and be sure to watch the kids struggle to open it the first time they get their hands on it.

Didn't you get the memo? All kids find it easy to open, it's us adults who've lost the ability to see magic fairies and open laptops.

I tend to think nothing at all about OLPC was ever tested or is being verified now. The whole educational concept is one big assertion. When it craters, they'll be able to claim it's because it wasn't done right; this claim is always helped when you never define "right" in the first place.

Re:I don't like Sugar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23441872)

So, if you hate it so much, can I buy yours cheap? Or will the opening mechanism be different each time I open it? In that case I'd want it even cheaper.

And about the educational concept: Yeah, nobody ever learnt anything on their own or with friends at a computer. You should sell yours really really very cheap. (this paragraph was meant as sarcasm, which means meaning the opposite of what you're saying.)

Re:I don't like Sugar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23442254)

((oh, and with the talk about buying your XO (which ease of opening you criticize), I'm implying you don't actually have one in your hands. Also, by explaining carefully and in detail, I'm implying you're stupid.)

ps. english is my third language, so please don't give me a hard time for bad language (as in spelling, syntax, grammar and/or whatchamacallit, biotch).)

Re:I don't like Sugar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23442682)

No, instead we'll just ask you to shut your fucking face.

Re:I don't like Sugar (1)

neomunk (913773) | more than 6 years ago | (#23445664)

Hey, -I- was amused. GP certainly trolls better in his/her 3rd language than you do in your first (and likely only) language.

Re:I don't like Sugar (1)

KGIII (973947) | more than 6 years ago | (#23451316)

Heh... I even woke my g/f up by yelling, "AC fight!" I was greatly amused, she was not.

Release earlyish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23441482)

Could a move to multiple platforms and push for mainstream too soon be hazardous? Maybe [large evil rich] will throw a plethora of developers at a proprietary plagiarism of this concept and the end users will loose the openness?

Re:Release earlyish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23441650)

(Instead of "openness", what I meant to say was, of course, "freedom".)

Music (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441566)

they can write documents or make music together

Get that damned "ARCHIES" tune out of my head!!!!!

"Moves On"? (2, Insightful)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441660)

The /. article title implies that Sugar is leaving OLPC behind, but the BBC article says only that Sugar will be available elsewhere than on an OLPC laptop. Am I missing something?

Re:"Moves On"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23442858)

Microsoft has bought its way into OLPC, (after buying foreign officials who then kept clamoring for windoze), so that it can enslave the next generation of 3rd world children. Quite sad, actually, now that Negroponte has sold out and is no longer credible in any way. And government officials/bureaucrats are notoriously computer illiterate, so they don't mind enslaving the children to M$, (especially when it lines their pockets.) Personally, I have dropped all involvement with the OLPC in any form. Microsoft should reimburse/pay all those who have developed software/hardware, etc., as it would when buying a company. This shameful takeover of OLPC by M$ is yet another dismal chapter in the history of enslavement of the computing masses. M$, I expect you to PAY for the software that has already been developed. Your theft of the OLPC project work is abominable, at best, uncharitable at least.

Re:"Moves On"? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#23444118)

It's perfect simple. Now that OLPC has decided to see other UI vendors on the side, Sugar is also free to "move on", to a park bench, where it will lie huddled under a pile of OLPC manuals, swigging Sterno from a brown paper bag.

Sugar is dead. XO/Linux is dead. XO/XP is the only viable platform, as most neutral observers concluded from day 1. The bulk purchasers of the XO don't want to teach their countrys' children to "learn", just want to turn them into productive MS/Office(tm) drones. Sugar was never going to deliver on that.

Cost effective (1)

Haoie (1277294) | more than 6 years ago | (#23441898)

But will kids, or more importantly their parents, buy into it?

it will move on... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23442124)

to the children of the nations of the Non-Aligned Movement. Where it will be misappropriated and sold on the local grey market with a different OS, and no Sugar. Half decent / somewhat rugged hardware that could potentially run half decent business software... doesn't stand a chance... kids are not the only ones waiting for those to arrive.

Why Sugar? (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 6 years ago | (#23442138)

Anyone know why they chose the name of an existing OSS project [sugarforge.org] ?

Re:Why Sugar? (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#23442356)

Try asking that question to the Phoenix web browser devs.

Re:Why Sugar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23442940)

Why Sugar? Because if you add Java, it will be delicious.

Inexpensive laptops are important, Sugar is not (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23442402)

Having spent a considerable amount of time with Sugar, I've come to the sad conclusion that Sugar is the weakest part of the entire OLPC project.

I'm ecumenical when it comes to operating systems and user interfaces. I use Sugar, Macintosh, Windows (both XP and Vista), Red Hat Enterprise, Ubuntu, Nokia IT OS (Debian variant), and iPod Touch on a daily basis; plus a couple of others on a less-frequent basis. I'm pretty well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each of these platforms. I have my preferences, but am no fanboy.

Sugar's interface fails on a number of points. It is very reminiscent of the old MIT interfaces of the 1970s where hackers built what looked good to them with little/no effort to have a professional designer tell them what to do (much less say "no" to bad UI issues).

The icons and graphical elements are poorly considered, and design decisions seem to be based more on "be different from anything else" than what makes sense. Typical are the icons for "Erase" and "Resume" in the Journal; these icons look like "do not enter" and "stop".

The use of color is quite poor; most of the Sugar interface is monochrome except for the little user indicator, which you can almost, but not quite, make look like what is on the lid of the XO if you do scary stuff at the UNIX shell level. The activity icons in the main interface have the same two additional colors.

Now, if they had any sense, the little user indicator would graphically match what is on the lid (presumably keyed by serial number) without impacting other icons. Even if they're limited in the main color palette (e.g., due to power considerations) they could have done that.

The actual activity icons are terrible. Some are alright (e.g., Browse and Write), but others are bizarre:

A comic strip balloon for Chat.

A snake for the Python development application (cutely called "Pippy").

The RSS application has a common RSS icon, but it's called News Reader. I can't imagine how a kid with no prior computer experience would interpret it.

Acoustic Tape Measure is an activity to measure distance between two OLPCs using sound. A cute toy, but the icons is a dolphin with sound coming out of its snout.

Additional things wrong with Sugar:

As noted about, many of the activity names are silly or simply bizarre.

There are four music activities: TamTamJam, TamTamEdit, TamTamSynthLab, and TamTamMini. These should be consolidated into a single Music activity.

There's a toy oscilloscope. OK, kids like talking into a microphone and seeing his voice show up as waves. We all remember going to the science museum as little kids and doing that. But this application is called Measure, which implies something quite a bit different.

Memorize is a sample game. Games ought to be under a general fun-and-games category.

The Terminal emulator and Log Viewer both ought to be under an advanced mode. Not necessarily hidden, but from the main activity it should be a something that indicates that you're getting into the internals (perhaps a screwdriver and pliers as an icon) and not pedagogical work.

Speaking of the log viewer, there's a lot of scary error messages in the logs suggesting that the software isn't very well debugged.

Then there is what is missing. Since the focus seems to be for education, the paucity of bundled references and the assumption that you can get what's missing from the Internet is astonishing. What is bundled seems to reflect the interests of the OLPC developers rather than pedagogical purposes.

The mouse control is idiotic and annoying (to put it mildly). In many of the activities, controls are near the edges of the screen, but if you put the pointer too near the edge Sugar takes over and you have to move the pointer back and wait.

There is no consistency in controls between activities. Every activity does things its own way, based apparently upon the individual programmer's preference. Sheesh, this is the same sort of thing that the old ITS systems (remember those?) did.

The upshot of all of this is that Windows for the OLPC is perhaps OLPC's only hope for salvation. I can easily see how an OLPC with a special version of XP and bundled with Encarta, etc. would outsell one based upon Sugar.

Lest I be accused for being a Microsoft apologist, I would say the same thing if Apple coughed up a version of Mac OS X for it. Steve Jobs isn't as altruistic as Bill Gates so it won't happen, but it would be a good thing.

For that matter, a special education packaging of Ubuntu would also be a good thing.

Anything but Sugar. Sugar is a dead end, and will end up on the scrapheap of dead ends.

Re:Inexpensive laptops are important, Sugar is not (3, Interesting)

tmalone (534172) | more than 6 years ago | (#23442808)

Sugar has some issues, mostly with applications. Too many of them are half finished. Then again, what are they going to do on XP? Play Solitaire and write notes in Wordpad? Most of the issues you listed were not with Sugar itself, but with the applications. You're right that Terminal should be hidden (new versions of the OS allow deployments to choose their own bundles of activities). Yes, there should be more reference materials included. There is an app that is being worked on that bundles portions of Wikipedia for offline access. That sort of stuff needs to be localized though.

As far as the touchpad goes, it does need some work. There has been a lot of work on drivers lately (forcing re-calibration more often) that should clear up some of those problems. Again though, that isn't really Sugar's fault. That is a driver problem which is the fault of either the kernel or X11.

The issue with controls being on the edge of the screen is something I've noticed. You can turn off the automatic frame thingy though (and just use the frame button to activate it). This should be the default.

There are some good games available. Tetris and SimCity are both fun. One is even sorta educational.

Some of the icons are bad, same with Windows, same with MacOSX. Why for instance is the icon for Photoshop CS a quill on a blank white square? Or my new favorite is the icons for page down and page up in Publisher 2007's print preview. You can just barely tell that there are arrows on those icons, if you look really closely.

I think it has some potential; it's certainly not perfect yet. I like the journal (though I don't like how often entries get duplicated, and activities should ask you to name them when you hit the keep button to save). All in all though, it wasn't that hard to get used to, and after having installed some non-sugar apps on it, I can see why they shied away from the traditional GUIs. I would say that their fear of overlapping windows is a bit intense, especially in Browse where it actually renders many pages unusable if they require a usernam/password prompt in a dialog(perhaps having dialogs that work like ones in MacOS X, where they slide out of the titlebar would work).

Also, I believe Apple offered MacOS X for free but they were turned down.

Re:Inexpensive laptops are important, Sugar is not (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23450526)

Then again, what are they going to do on XP? Play Solitaire and write notes in Wordpad?

Let's be honest here. The back list of titles available for the Windows OS is enormous. Under all software licenses.

Re:Inexpensive laptops are important, Sugar is not (1)

tmalone (534172) | more than 6 years ago | (#23452616)

How much of that software is open enough or written by benevolent enough people to be translated into all the languages that OLPC needs? Is "100 Shareware Memory improvement games funpack Volume II" available in Mandarin? Ethiopian?

Pretty soon, once you start paying all the fees, you're looking at a $900 laptop. There is Open Source software for windows, but a lot of that is stuff that comes from Linux.

Now, maybe with this XP deal Microsoft is willing to take on the translation task for more than just the core OS. That would be cool. I still think Sugar is useful as an educational tool.

Re:Inexpensive laptops are important, Sugar is not (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23452950)

How much of that software is open enough or written by benevolent enough people to be translated into all the languages that OLPC needs?

one suspects a good deal more than the geek is willing to admit. how else do you explain the world-wide dominance of the Windows OS?

Re:Inexpensive laptops are important, Sugar is not (2, Interesting)

Hucko (998827) | more than 6 years ago | (#23445142)

Having spent a considerable amount of time with Sugar, I've come to the sad conclusion that Sugar is the weakest part of the entire OLPC project.

...

Sugar's interface fails on a number of points. It is very reminiscent of the old MIT interfaces of the 1970s where hackers built what looked good to them with little/no effort to have a professional designer tell them what to do (much less say "no" to bad UI issues).

...

...

...

The actual activity icons are terrible. Some are alright (e.g., Browse and Write), but others are bizarre:

A comic strip balloon for Chat.

As far as I remember, kids like this kind of thing.

A snake for the Python development application (cutely called "Pippy").
As far as I remember, kids like this kind of thing.

The RSS application has a common RSS icon, but it's called News Reader. I can't imagine how a kid with no prior computer experience would interpret it.

Fair enough, but a kid is more likely to ignore a name or icon and just see what it does. That is in line with the constructivist ideology. The name or icons meanings is learnt by associative comparisons.

This often demonstrated by people (non tech) wanting to write a letter (as a common task) who sit down to a computer with an icon of a notepad or pen an paper. The one first questions 'how do i write a letter?'. They haven't learnt that icons represent things and good icons illustrate their task. Too often they never seem to get it. So we fall back to the adage about training a child for the first 7 years of its life, and you have them for life.

Acoustic Tape Measure is an activity to measure distance between two OLPCs using sound. A cute toy, but the icons is a dolphin with sound coming out of its snout.

Additional things wrong with Sugar:

As noted about, many of the activity names are silly or simply bizarre.
As far as I remember, kids like this kind of thing.

... There's a toy oscilloscope. OK, kids like talking into a microphone and seeing his voice show up as waves. We all remember going to the science museum as little kids and doing that. But this application is called Measure, which implies something quite a bit different.
As far as I remember, kids like this kind of thing. Just kidding... I agree, that sounds like a weird name for the said app -- except if you can in some way calculate/scale the size of the generated waves... That would teach a form of measurment, and provide an introduction to maths -- "How many boxes high is compared to . How many long... does it change when..." etc.

... ... ... Then there is what is missing. Since the focus seems to be for education, the paucity of bundled references and the assumption that you can get what's missing from the Internet is astonishing. What is bundled seems to reflect the interests of the OLPC developers rather than pedagogical purposes.
Yeah, I agree it seem rather poor on that side too. Are the Arabic numerals virtually(sorry) universal? My quick glance at it Sugar didn't seem to have any numerals. eh, Asian languages probably use a different symbol set... though I've never met any Asian who couldn't understand Arabic numerals. Damn clever little buggers

... ... The upshot of all of this is that Windows for the OLPC is perhaps OLPC's only hope for salvation. I can easily see how an OLPC with a special version of XP and bundled with Encarta, etc. would outsell one based upon Sugar.
Selling a product doesn't mean it is beneficial for individuals or the populace... reference smoking.

Lest I be accused for being a Microsoft apologist, I would say the same thing if Apple coughed up a version of Mac OS X for it. Steve Jobs isn't as altruistic as Bill Gates so it won't happen, but it would be a good thing.
Apple was rejected when they offered earlier in the piece because they weren't free(libre) enough. Now the poster child for closed source is given the back door key.

For that matter, a special education packaging of Ubuntu would also be a good thing.
reference Edbuntu. Though that had a lack of packages too from memory -- good idea though.

Anything but Sugar. Sugar is a dead end, and will end up on the scrapheap of dead ends.
And that is a shame... because as a constructionist teacher, I found its aspirations exciting and inspiring. I hope that convergent evolution is going to come into play. Imagine a generation of people not requiring a step by step process to use a computer for general tasks, but able to work it out for themselves! (and no, the 'digital natives' are not there... they are better than Boomers or GenX, but not there..)

These are not bad icons. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23445628)

The "talk bubble" icon for chat is pretty standard online, and pretty easy to understand. Calling RSS feeds "news" is also pretty standard... these kinds of programs started out being called "news readers", which made things really tough for people looking for GUI Usenet "news readers".

But talking about bad user interface design...

There is no consistency in controls between activities. Every activity does things its own way, based apparently upon the individual programmer's preference.

Sounds like Vista to me. The older Windows GUI design was one of its great strengths, but starting as far back as Windows '98 Microsoft has consistently been undercutting their own biggest technical advantage by adding new, poorly thought out, and inconsistent user interface details. I put my foot down with Windows XP. I use Windows 2000 at home, and at work I've disabled as much of the XP "enhancements" as I can.

I would say the same thing if Apple coughed up a version of Mac OS X for it.

They did. Negroponte refused it:

We all know how much Jobs likes the education market, so according to the Wall Street Journal he did a very magnanimous thing and offered OS X up to Nicholas Negroponte for his $100 laptop for developing nations. But not even bothering to discount the vast technical difficulties with getting OS X to run on this kind of machine, Negroponte and his team apparently canned the whole idea because OS X is a closed-source OS, and they believed it fundamental to their system to use only totally open, completely modifiable software. Yep, this all sounds about right to us. Jobs gets positive PR, Negroponte & Co. get to up their cred; win-win all around! -- Endgadget [engadget.com]
How do you feel about Windows on OLPC now?

Re:Inexpensive laptops are important, Sugar is not (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23446214)

"Measure" activity can measure AC and even DC input in the microphone jack, it's just by default connected to the built-in microphone so it always has some signal to show.

Re:Inexpensive laptops are important, Sugar is not (1)

lordlod (458156) | more than 6 years ago | (#23459224)

I'm not a fan of Sugar either, I think it's a nice Beta but I don't think that it's ready for prime time.

I do think that your complaints are off target though. For example I don't really care about the icons or names of the programs, that's easy to tweak.

The colour scheme is deliberately fairly monochrome, the laptop screen has a monochrome mode and the interface has to work in that state.

I found all the OLPC distributed activities followed the interface guidelines. The share combo is always in the same place, the close button is always in the same place. The only exception I've found is the Simcity activity which I had to install myself.

There are some serious issues though.

I've tried to reserve judgement on the journal until I tried it for a while and got used to it. I think I've waited long enough to decide that it just doesn't work in it's current state. I can't see any way to do something like take a bunch of pictures of friends a view them in a gallery.

The tool tips look like menus. I've had a number of people using the laptop trying to click on the tips and getting frustrated.

Applications take forever to load. Even something as simple as the terminal takes about seven seconds.

The XO unique features mostly aren't implemented. The resistive touch pads still don't work. The only application I could get collaboration working on was chat. This is a shame because the collaboration in particular looked like a fantastic feature.

Sadly the Sugar interface looks like it suffers from some serious feature creep. They tried to reinvent the engine, chassis and wheel all at once (compulsory car reference, tick). I don't think that XP is going to fit the XO any better though, I don't think that multiple windows is really appropriate given the screen size.

I'm remaining hopelessly optimistic about the OLPC project though. If they can outsource the GUI it might mean that they will be able to focus on better distribution and making all the other unique features of the XO as fantastic as it's battery life.

Re:Inexpensive laptops are important, Sugar is not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23472874)

Small icons and single word names are always going to be fairly random. (though the balloon and dolphin seamed particularly good to me - personal choice I suppose). In the end you are going to have to learn somebody else's choices, so as long as they are distinct it don't really mater what they are. (Yes the names of TamTam fail this, but as you suggest the is likely to be consolidation here).

Thier are two problems with Sugar:
  1. It needs LOTS more work (i.e. 10x more just to get started). This is obviously solvable.
  2. The screen edges are by far and away the most valuable areas. The top of the screen probably the most valuable. The current Sugur interface dedicates this to duplicating buttons that are on the f-ing keyboard!
    Most activity's are already forced to also provide their main interface at the top of the screen, leading to much frustration. Fortunately this allows the simple option of removing the useless top frame and specifying that all activities should provide their own.
    Note it would also be a good idea to split the four frames so only the edge you want comes up. The OLPC is power staved and the reflowing to accommodate the site frames wastes a lot of time when you may only want the bottom menu.

The Sugar Labs home page (5, Informative)

_bernie (170285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23442876)

Surprisingly, nobody posted the URL yet: http://www.sugarlabs.org/ [sugarlabs.org] .

Re:The Sugar Labs home page (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#23444130)

It's not really surprising. Sugar is, well, niche. Really niche. Would you actually choose to install it on your *nix machine? Maybe for laughs, but to actually use it for daily tasks? To choose it as a development environment and target? Never going to happen. Sugar is on life support now. Welcome to RiscOS's world.

Re:The Sugar Labs home page (2, Informative)

_bernie (170285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23445170)

Not for myself, but if I had kids, certainly. Sugar is a desktop choice on Fedora and Ubuntu. Not sure about Debian.

Why is Sugar gone from the XO? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23443872)

Why did Negroponte decide to go with Windows, at $3/license no less, when Steve Jobs offered OS X for free? Negroponte claimed he wanted an open platform. Why the change of heart? What the hell is going on?

There's an ugly pattern here (2, Interesting)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 6 years ago | (#23444170)

[ As most of us know, Microsoft's behavior goes much further back than just this year, but this year has enough examples to make the point ]

2008:

Monopolist buys local bureaucrats to ensure passage of OOXML as a "standard", in many cases overriding overwhelming votes to the contrary to railroad the standard through a corrupt and now discredited process.

Monopolist buys local bureaucrats to demand monopolist's products rather than free alternative (Sugar, OS X), railroading their OS onto what was an open, educational platform to which many had donated a great deal of time and money, subverting and discrediting the project.

Recently, Blender has received overtures from Microsoft on how they might "help the project". Anyone who dares mention Microsoft's behavior these last few months, particularly with the OOXML debacle, is labeled a Microsoft basher, hothead, etc., with Microsoft proponents then labeling themselves "cooler heads" which "prevail."

Interestingly, the historical points of Microsoft's behavior are never addressed, rebutted (though in their initial contact they did reference OOXML as an open standard of the type "to which [Microsoft] is moving"). It's a clever if disgusting ad-hominem [wikipedia.org] attack, aimed to smear open source and free software supporters for daring to point out these kind of unethical and destructive behaviors.

It's been a bad week. I'm starting to worry about the future of free software and open source projects, and wonder how many are going to be approached in the way blender has, and how many Microsoft might quietly absorb, subvert and sabotage from within, etc. It is certainly a strategy to gain influence over the direction and priorities of free and open source software projects, and I worry if it might not be something more ... perhaps the embrace/extinguish protocol taken to a whole new, much more personal, level.

We may find ourselves particularly vulnerable to this kind of thing in economically distressed times like these, where a chunk of money (or gratis software, or sponsorship) from a large corporation might appear to be the answer to a project's difficulties, to the point where we might not even notice the strings that come attached.

So, why would Negroponte take $3/license for Microsoft's OS over $0/license for OS X? For the same reason he dumped sugar--because it gets his product through the bureaucratic doors Microsoft paid to have shut in his face otherwise. The project has been subverted and made meaningless, just as the ISO standards process has been, just as other standards have been, which has been Microsoft's intention all along.

Expect to see some of the flagship free software and open source projects "engaged" in similar ways, with "sugar" (money/support) when they deem it appropriate, and with legal and bureaucratic sticks when bribery and embracing fail. This is just getting started, folks.

Re:Why is Sugar gone from the XO? (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23448824)

Why did Negroponte decide to go with Windows, at $3/license no less, when Steve Jobs offered OS X for free? Negroponte claimed he wanted an open platform. Why the change of heart? What the hell is going on?

The OLPC laptop hasn't been selling in anything like the numbers the idealists expected.

The price just keeps edging skyward.

Meanwhile, the designer of OLPC's display has moved on to greener pastures. In a year or two, perhaps three, the XO's hardware will be out-gunned by every budget laptop on the planet.

The Intel Classmate [wikipedia.org] is already in its second generation.

If you are shopping for a dynamo and solar powered radio, your choices now extend far beyond the Freeplay [freeplayenergy.com] .

Given enough time, the precision manufacturer in Asia will beat you on tech and beat you on price

- even with an OEM Windows install.

It is very, very, hard to stay ahead in this game.

The OEM doesn't have to design for the fantasy of local production and service. The manual assembly and repair of an out-sized clockwork mechanism. That sort of thing.

He can sell his product in any market he chooses to enter. The case doesn't have to lime green.

[and given the trendy designer colors of the latest mass-market Dell laptops, that should stand as the most naive and short-lived anti-theft device ever conceived by the mind of man.]

Most importantly, he doesn't have to conform to a constructivist philosophy of education or the geek's ideology of free and open source.

What place these have in the primary grades, how well they serve the student in the higher grades and in vocational training, are decisions he can leave to the education minister.

Which, from the minister's point of view, is where they belong.

If he wants Squeak, he can have Squeak. If he wants Coding4Fun [msdn.com] he can have Coding4Fun. If he has doubts about Sugar, if he thinks that understanding the Windows GUI and MS Office are marketable skills, he has an alternative.

The geek forgets that arguments about lock-in can cut both ways.

Apple's worldwide share of the PC market [appleinsider.com] was 3% in late 2007 - and probably closer to 2% when OSX was being offered to OLPC for free. In the third world the visibility of the Mac can be as close to zero as makes no difference.

The pragmatic choice, if you went for the proprietary OS, was always Windows.

Sugar on other platforms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23445766)

Someone had half an idea in the OLPC + XP article. Sugar and Linux on EEEpc, Nokia N770, Nintendo DS and even Psion 7 could produce some pretty nice results. The fact that Bender is carrying on with Sugar and putting some financial backing to it for the benefit of the open source community means that we have something new to work on. Maybe Sugar isn't quite there yet, but that's what we're here for.

As for sub $100 laptops, the technology and the materials are available but we need some innovative minds to put it together, not some megalomaniac with a self-donated Microsoft advertising degree.

More Grand Delusions (3, Insightful)

vorlich (972710) | more than 6 years ago | (#23446176)

Neither this software nor any other, nor cheap laptops will ever have any impact on the education of children or anyone else. The reason the Socratic Method of teaching (questioning and debate to greatly simplify it) has existed for more than 2000 years is because it works. When Socrates used it he had an arena of interested students who in their search for knowledge questioned him and proposed arguments. Their collaboration in producing documents on wax tablets or playing the lyre communally had the following measurable impact on their learning: zero.

We learn by asking questions that are important to us. Teaching leads the child to ask questions that may or may not turn out to be important to them (although I'm going to give you a free pass on calculus) but will equip them with the skills required for employment.

This is the fundamental purpose of the industrialised method of teaching children on the grand scale where they are incarcerated in school from the age of 4 to 16 (I'm using my native Scotland as the model here, other rates may vary.) I am a teacher, I am not terribly impressed by a lot of my colleagues but in their defense - no machine or application can do what a teacher does. This is why so many great creative minds were produced in the last century in the post-war period - people had the freedom to think.

Of course by the sixties school boards were squandering valuable financial resources on TVs, movie projectors, film loops and other idiotic assorted garbage to the detriment of spending money on traditional classroom resources - books, desks, chalk and teachers and by this time the career was held in such contempt and so poorly paid that the schools were filled with the empty-headed using sociologically based - learning by screaming or whatever dumb theory of the day was popular and all conducted in the language of political correctness.

A quick look at some figures (freely available on the Scottish government website) shows how much the Scottish states spend on education from a GDP of approximately 56 billion GBP.
  • expenditure per primary school pupil 2700 GBP total =18900 GBP from P1 to p7 amounting to almost 8 billion GBP for the nation
  • annual expenditure per high school pupil 3900 GBP total 19,500 from year 1 to year 5 amounting to 6 billion GBP for the nation


Have a look at any private schools (curiously called public schools in Britain) where the paying customer determines what is considered a successful curriculum.

The have computers where they should be, in the computer classes.

Re:More Grand Delusions (1)

DerangedAlchemist (995856) | more than 6 years ago | (#23446896)

The laptop does not replace the teacher, it replaces the text-book. It can replace and/or complement books on many subjects and allow educational material to be distributed at no marginal cost (unlike books). At the same time it can replace the TVs, film projectors, and entire, very expensive encyclopedias for a low price.

But no, they will never be a substitute for good teachers.

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