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268 comments

Negroponte admits a mistake? (4, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759833)

Wow, my first thought was he must be on his deathbed and trying to scam his way into heaven. Then, I saw the first name.

Obvious (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28759859)

The biggest OLPC mistake was Negroponte.

Re:Obvious (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760079)

you mean niggerponte.

MS was its biggest mistake (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28759879)

Things whent downhill the second they started working with MS.

Seriously, they should have stuck to ultra-cheap durable laptops, rather then try to cater to MS's Windows. They lost their focus and thats the end of them.

Re:MS was its biggest mistake (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760353)

So until they chose to offer a machine that ran Windows you feel it was a widly successful project? You base this on what data?

Re:MS was its biggest mistake (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760461)

You base this on what data?

The data he pulled from his open (source) asshole.

Re:MS was its biggest mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760423)

True, but working with RedHat on Sugar was also a mistake.

Re:MS was its biggest mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760609)

They went downhill when they decided to use a piece of shit choade processor instead of ARM.

Re:MS was its biggest mistake (4, Insightful)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760637)

They didn't just lose focus, they lost a lot of goodwill by working with MS.

Personally, I think their biggest mistake was not selling it to first world consumers. I know a lot of people who would have liked to buy one, but couldn't. This was a fatal mistake since their plan required being able to produce large enough amounts of these to be able to sell them cheaply, and they were turning away the people who were willing and able to buy at the time.

Re:MS was its biggest mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28761189)

...and designing it to look like fisher price computers. They could've built it like the recent netbooks, but... eh.

Re:MS was its biggest mistake (1, Informative)

dominator (61418) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760937)

Their working with MS amounted to, what - adding a $2 MD card reader to the XO? I think that's all that it changed in terms of the hardware plan, anyway.

I have an XO. The card reader is bloody useful, if you ask me.

OLPC = One License Per Child (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28759889)

I don't want to be too negative, but the themes I have been reading in these forums and recent responses here make me almost compelled to write this. It seems clear that a large number of users on this site are either educational perfectionists or technical geeks with little understanding of how the real world works or how to manage people or lead any significant effort, group, team, or project in any meaningful way. At the first signs that your view of perfection will not occur, you bleed to death and go away. I guess that is to be expected that you will take your toys elsewhere and play by yourselves.

The reality is that Sugar, while fascinating in some respects, is poorly implemented at best and needs massive help that a handful of tinkerers on the side are not going to resolve soon. The only real negative to MS with a sugar app/UI is the cost impacts. It is one of several potential options. The goals of OLPC are education. Not software, not hardware â" both of those are only tools of which many are available. Anyway, after some thought about it, I highly doubt too much truly beneficial learning will be allowed in a number of the countries this is deployed to anyway. Kids will get the government approved ebooks on history or concepts of gov't, rules and law and on and on, which they will share among themselves since those governments will not allow open access to an unfiltered internet anyway, etc⦠So more might know what stars they are looking at or be better at math which is a start, but I highly doubt these 3rd world countries will suddenly become developed. Why? What 3rd world countries need most is democracy, free trade, personal & property rights.

You can all hate MS as much as you want, and I personally curse Bill at least once a week using office, but the fact that 95% of the 1st world uses it shows quite well that the software works quite fine (gee, if it didn't, the US & Europe, etc should be 3rd world countries by now from using MS? Get real).

Putting pragmatism into the equation will make things much more efficient for OLPC, and might actually get more than a handful of these into the world. 500K is not many when literally a billion are theoretically needed. How many posting here have any clue what it really takes to develop, test, build, distribute and support a billion devices? Basically I think a lot of folks on these forums need to grow up and stop whining. Perfection is a word in the dictionary, and in my experiences that is the only place you will ever find it. It does not exist in the real world. So, find a way to work as part of the solutions that emerge from the TEAM instead of being so stuck on your personal ideas of perfection that you bleed to death at the first sign that your ideas are not working out for the overall project. Make sure that sugar UI & apps turn out GREAT for education instead of the M$ way of being good enough, because you will wait forever by attempting any thoughts of perfection.

So "Niggerponte" is now suggesting that children should be given an operating system (Windows XP) that is functionally obsolete, by its manufacturers own insistence? If the limiting issue is the lack of a stable interface, then dump Sugar and use a stripped down Gnome or KDE. If the limiting issue is a bureaucratic insistence on running Windows, then I ask again, why is Sugar even an issue? Forgive me for being blunt, but the real closed mind idealism that appears to be holding this project back has nothing to do with whether the base OS is open source or not. It appears to be this bizarre focus on Sugar as the only possible interface. Dump Sugar, and the stabilizing and optimizing work on this machine could be done in months rather than years. Anyone with any real world experience in building software knows that anything with significantly complexity takes time to get right. Put Sugar on the back burner and do what it takes to get these machines into the hands of kids.

Re:OLPC = One License Per Child (3, Insightful)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759949)

Amazing how an interesting and informative comment can be totally ruined by pointless racism...

Re:OLPC = One License Per Child (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760179)

Develop thicker skin. You don't throw out all the good stuff just because you find one element offensive. If the U.S. government had told Von Braun to fuck off on his rocket ideas just because he used slave labor in his factories and was a SS officer, we wouldn't be celebrating the Apollo landing anniversary today.

Re:OLPC = One License Per Child (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760735)

I think we shouldn't celebrate this fact, that whole program was only there for propaganda purposes, not scientific.

Re:OLPC = One License Per Child (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760249)

I am not a racist, but I believe that you are behaving like a faggot sissyboy crybaby for whining about that.

Nigger != African American, and John Negroponte is not African American.

Re:OLPC = One License Per Child (2, Insightful)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759953)

The answer is very simple, and strikes at the heart of what is wrong with the open source movement: regular folks prefer products they can use without much effort. It's called "usability" and for-profit companies invest a lot of money and time always finding ways to make their products more "user-friendly".

It seems to me that open source developers have heard of that "usability" thing, just two examples here:
http://usability.kde.org/hig/ [kde.org]
http://library.gnome.org/devel/hig-book/stable/ [gnome.org]

And where did you get the fact that for-profit companies don't use open source development method? Just a one example, search here for 'Who is sponsoring the work'.
http://www.linux-foundation.org/publications/linuxkerneldevelopment.php [linux-foundation.org] . Personally I think that nobody wants this great OS is because people aren't ready to risk their existing pre-installed OS since switching an OS is a non-trivial risky thing which takes time, however good the new OS might be. And people are often content if something works just enough even tho something else might be more productive in the long run. "NOBODY in a for-profit company like Apple, Microsoft, Dell, Intel, IBM, ect., would ever let a new computer ship without the capability to install a printer and print from within applications out-of-the-box."

Can you honestly argue that every single device that you have plugged into a computer shipped by the above companies has worked out-of-the-box? If you can you're an extremely lucky individual. I myself have had nightmares with getting devices to work with, for example, Windows 98, ME and even WinXP even tho it has good hardware support. And computer/OS distributor can't have perfect hardware support because printers have drivers which need to be specifically programmed for a certain OS so if a device company decides so, it can make drivers for its device only for one OS leaving the others without support (which might be added by someone else who is willing to do reverse-engineering). "Open source projects are the opposite: they concentrate on pleasing the "experts", with the result that the products are usually good, but of no interest to the general population." The GNOME project, the other one of the biggest desktop environments for Linux, focuses on simple interfaces and actually annoys power users since cutting down on choices makes for less features. For example I am a power user and dislike GNOME applications and I also think that most open source applications are nowadays made for non-power users. As an example here, Mozilla Firefox is an open source project and it seems to be quite good for newbies too.

"One more example: installing applications on the XO often requires making use of the command line. well...99% of people out there have no idea what a "command line" is. How clueless can a team be?" I thought that 99% of people in the target areas also have no idea what a "graphical user interface" is. Command line is efficient, flexible, fast, consistent and lets user automate tasks easily so it might not be that horrible if people would learn it. But I agree that applications might be good to be installable with a GUI tool like synaptic.

(Sigh, you are a fucking troll..."Niggerponte" indeed...)

Re:OLPC = One License Per Child (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760023)

Hey, guy, I think most of your points are valid on some level - but why resort to a completely gratuitous racial slur. Making fun of people's names is what I would expect from 3rd-graders.

      Brett

Re:OLPC = One License Per Child (0, Troll)

Vaginal_flatulence (1153821) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760835)

brett buck
butt fuck
brit fuck
brett buck naked
buck fuck
buck nuts
buckwheat
buck naked butt nigger dripping blood from his freshly cut off buck nuts
nigger.

Re:OLPC = One License Per Child (1)

hkz (1266066) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760811)

Wow, you just went out and said it. For your information, the preferred nomenclature is American Ponte of African Descent, or maybe Pontifex Maximus in keeping with the whole ego thing.

Inherent Linux Problem (2, Interesting)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759933)

From the article(writer's words, not Negroponte's):

The "$100 laptop" term was the OLPC marketing failure. If the XO was again called the "Children's Machine", or better yet "the best educational tool for primary school children in the developing world", which isn't as catchy as "$100 laptop" but much more accurate, he would be crowing about multiples of millions of childrens, not just about one.

But calling it something like "Children's Machine" instead of "$100 laptop" might not have given it the chance of catching investor's or public's eye and might have died a death similar to many other types of custom machines. And running it on top of regular distros is not really feasible because the requirements for the OLPC were like 1 GB NAND flash drive and 256 MB. Run Ubuntu on a 8 year old machine now and you will realize that it's exactly very usable, even for web browsing.

Re:Inherent Linux Problem (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760271)

Xubuntu is runnable with 256MB of RAM.

Not great, as Firefox + flash will take its toll on such a machine, but otherwise it is great.

In the early releases you could switch between the sugar, or a more traditional environment too.

If you cut flash, and used a lighter weight Gecko browser I bet you could get a nice environment, except for maybe the CPU being too week.

Re:Inherent Linux Problem (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760997)

I'm running a stripped-down Debian distro on an embedded control box. IceWM is adequate. We've got 128MB of RAM and a 2GB flash card. The CPU is a 400MHz Pentium 3. (The box has to run on battery, so we're careful with power management.) Granted, I won't be streaming HD video with this rig, but that isn't one of it's tasks ...

Re:Inherent Linux Problem (2, Informative)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761133)

I ran Xubuntu 8.10 and 9.04 on a machine with 160 MB of RAM... 8.10 wasn't too bad, but 9.04 was quite sluggish (albeit much more attractive). Since the I couldn't get WPA working consistently on either release, I decided to give Win2000 a shot... that runs very well and makes the computer quite usable. I never personally used a Win2000 computer back in the day, and it does seem light years ahead of the 16/32-bit Windows branch in terms of stability. If anything, it makes me realize most of the good NT stuff is already present in 2000, and the later releases added more style than substance. It can still run the vast majority of programs and games, and if anything, can probably run them with better performance than the newer, heavier versions of Windows can. I'm a Linux convert, but I'll give credit where it is due.

Sugar? Vanilla? (2, Funny)

ThemsAllTook (1423911) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759937)

I now have an inexplicable craving for cookies.

I like sugar, and I like tea, but I don't like -- (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760073)

negroponte.

There's two lone things that'll make me puke,
and that's a EmacsOS and a ghostscript spoof.

You know, 'cause I crow it. Stick your GNU/Hippy head-out and I'll blow it.
And the FSF monopoly, wouldn't they like to get their hands on RMS-hatin' me.

Although it was nice... (3, Insightful)

Useful Wheat (1488675) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759965)

Its a shame Sugar didn't turn out to be as popular as it could have been. I know as a kid I used to play with the computer for hours on end, changing settings and playing with QBASIC (gorillas anyone?). By giving children an open source OS to play with (as well as some kind of instruction) they might have really had the opportunity to learn something.

However, in terms of the OLPC goal, they should of gotten on their knees and begged for Windows XP. Giving children all around the world laptops is the more important goal than spreading FOSS, and the lack of a windows environment is what helped its competition grow and crush the project. I remember at least one major sale was blocked because Intel's competing laptop (which was more expensive) had a windows environment. If they would of dual booted sugar, the children would of found it and learned it. If anything else, just to annoy their parents.

Re:Although it was nice... (3, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760165)

Sure, but in the end, only OSS can really take them out of poverty if they want to use technology as their primary way of making a living. Don't get me wrong, you can make money using MS's stuff, but only when you really have something else to offer. For example, a supermarket may use MS technologies to keep track of inventory, there a computer is a tool, not a primary means of living. If the goal is to teach children how to make a living with technology, F/OSS is the way to go.

Re:Although it was nice... (4, Interesting)

samkass (174571) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760483)

Can you actually cite some numbers here? How much money is being made in the FOSS world vs. in the MS Windows third-party software world? If my livelihood depended on it as an indie developer, I'd probably not pick either, but rather target the iPhone or some other niche where I could get better distribution and where advertising dollars might go further.

Re:Although it was nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760319)

I know as a kid I used to...

Hopefully you are still a kid, because otherwise your "should of"/"would of" grammar is atrociously pitiful.

Re:Although it was nice... (4, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760327)

> However, in terms of the OLPC goal, they should of gotten on their knees and begged for Windows XP.

No, that is a loser. Enslaving another generation to Redmond's crappy insecure products isn't doing anyone a favor. But anyone with a room temp IQ could have told ya Sugar was a sure loser.

1. It LOOKED like something Fisher Price (or perhaps VTech) would sell. Now FP does know a thing or two about building products for children so that isn't totally meant as an insult. But it made it damned hard to pitch the thing as a 'real' laptop.

2. It is only now approaching a stable state. Long after it's window of opportunity (at least in the OLPC project) is closed. The lesson here is that building a laptop 'from scratch' is a lot simpler than building an entire new user inteface and applications suite from scratch.

Then there were the additional mistakes of OLPC:

1. As others have noted, pitching a "$100 laptop' and then failing to deliver anywhere in the ballpark is an instant credibility killer.

2. Failing to understand that cutting both Intel and Microsoft out was going to make it all but impossible to sell to corrupt third world governments. It doesn't mean you can't do it but you damned well better have a real plan for dealing with that reality. If OLPC had any such plan it was to wave the Penguin banner to force Microsoft to give cut rate pricing. But it isn't even clear they were even thinking that much.

Re:Although it was nice... (4, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760459)

Giving children all around the world laptops is the more important goal than spreading FOSS

If you give a child a laptop, it'll last a few years. If you teach a child to use open source software, you've given her technology for a lifetime.

Ultimately, the hardware is going to be a trivial part of this project. We've already seen the price of commercial laptops (netbooks) come very close to the $100 price point on its own, and it's going to get cheaper. The value of software is much more stable. Whatever a spreadsheet program was worth to me in 1999, it's worth the same thing to me today. Especially if it's open source, which means that I've got the latest version without shelling out another $500. How much do you think the laptop I bought in 1999 is worth today?

Re:Although it was nice... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760733)

you've given her technology for a lifetime.

What is this goofy FOSS Zealot thing of using the female pronoun in examples of computer use? I'm seeing this everywhere these days.

Re:Although it was nice... (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761099)

If you teach a child to use open source software, you've given her technology for a lifetime.

If you teach a child to use open source software, you've given the child technology for a lifetime.

Additionally, please see this for further reference. [google.com]

Re:Although it was nice... (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760991)

> However, in terms of the OLPC goal, they should of gotten on their knees and begged for Windows XP

The equivalent of donating large amount of foreign food to Africa

Re:Although it was nice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28761001)

I think you're confusing the contraction "would've" with "would of"

wait... this is the same (4, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759971)

shithead who decided microsoft windows simply MUST run on the OLPC in 60 days?? and now his professional evaluation of the open source operating environment he wanted to replace is that it sould have been sitting atop vanilla linux??

whats left? a big bold redmond boilerblate on the case that says "fuck you red-hat" with clippy waving the bird?!

Re:wait... this is the same (3, Funny)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761051)

whats left? a big bold redmond boilerblate on the case that says "fuck you red-hat" with clippy waving the bird?!

Can I have a picture of that - I run Linux (Kubuntu) but I think it would be cool.

Compatibility vs Functionality (2, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759979)

Compatibility is a very, very important feature. And the more complex something is, the more important compatibility becomes!

Every technology has its "API" - the specific interface between it and its environment. And it's very, very, very important to ensure that this "API" is consistent with existing implementations of the technology in order to be successful.

We have many different models of cars, all with their respective features, at price points that range from $2,000 to $200,000 and this is OK because they all have steering wheels, gas/brake pedals for the right foot, and will fit on a standard road.

Take *any* of these basics out of the equation, and you suddenly have a non-starter. The interface between a car and the gas station is but one simple parameter, and yet electric car company startups have come and gone simply because this simple interface breaks.

When looking at an operating system, it's very, very important to maintain compatibility between the operating and applications, sure, but it's also important to maintain compatibility between the operating system and its USERS. It's vexing for users to switch from MacOS to Windows, or from Windows to MacOS, and both have long-established, entrenched interfaces that they are all *very* slow to change. Windows still has it's "X" window kill switch in the top right corner, etc.

With this in mind, it's not a surprise that a whole new graphical interface for a start up caused all kinds of problems. Sure, it's innovative, logical, easily learned, etc. The meta-language Esperanto has all these qualities, yet we all still speak English, with all of its spelling oddities and grammatical exceptions and cruft from its thousand-plus years of history.

Re:Compatibility vs Functionality (1)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760241)

Forget the X in the top right corner. The top left corner in Windows 7 is icon-free, as Windows has been since Vista. Yet you can still double click there and the program will close, just like it did back in Windows 3.1.

Re:Compatibility vs Functionality (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760259)

It's vexing for users to switch from MacOS to Windows, or from Windows to MacOS, and both have long-established, entrenched interfaces that they are all *very* slow to change. Windows still has it's "X" window kill switch in the top right corner, etc.

Right, because we all know the villages in Africa must all be using Windows XP and every kid knows how to use them. Sure when marketing this to the first world, you must keep that in mind, but that isn't the goal of OLPC. The goal is to take children who have only heard of computers, perhaps have seen a computer, but don't know how to use one. You aren't taking the average guy who works with Windows at work, uses Windows at home and giving him the Sugar UI, you are taking a poor kid with no knowledge of computers and giving them a computer.

Re:Compatibility vs Functionality (1, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760365)

OK, so picture this: pool kid in village gets computer from some rich guy where clothes with pockets. He sees his computer with Sugar, and sees rich guy using a Dell and WinVista. Right away, he's going to know that what he's got isn't the "good stuff", because if it was, Mr Richie-pants (whose pockets even have threaded styling... NICE!) would be using it too.

Sure, poor kid will take whatever he can get, but he sure won't hesitate to get to something that runs Vista if he can possibly arrange it. Nobody, no matter how poor, wants to feel second-rate.

Re:Compatibility vs Functionality (3, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760535)

So? Yes, the OLPC computers -are- second rate. They are second rate because its nearly impossible to get anything more powerful/rugged than the OLPC without costing a lot more money. A lot of humanitarian work has to be second-rate otherwise it wouldn't get done. All that work done cheap so you can help more people. I'm sure that we would think the water tastes funny if we were to go to a village with newly installed clean water treatments.

Sure, poor kid will take whatever he can get, but he sure won't hesitate to get to something that runs Vista if he can possibly arrange it.

Sure, but its an unreachable dream. To put it another way, I've seen people driving Ferraris, I know for certain I can't afford a Ferrari, instead I drive a used generic SUV. Is the Ferrari faster, does it have a better interior, yes. Sure, if I can find a Ferrari for $5,000 I'll buy it, but I highly doubt that I will ever see one that cheap. Does that make me feel "second rate" that I can't afford a car that costs as much as my house? In some ways, sure. But you live within your means. If that means having to use a OLPC laptop rather than a quad core with 3 gigs of RAM, something tells me that the poor person in Africa really doesn't care.

Re:Compatibility vs Functionality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760685)

So let's not give poor kids bikes because the rich fucks have Hummers, so Hummers must be better. Seriously, what the hell are you on about?

Fight! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28759981)

For OLPC vs. Against OLPC FIGHT!

vi vs. emacs FIGHT!

"Substituted Art for Sports in High School?!" (3, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760003)

Negroponte sounds like he was the kind of kid that even the geeks stuffed into lockers.

And what a shame, cuz he's always seemed like such a pleasant, down-to-earth, inclusive fellow...

Re:"Substituted Art for Sports in High School?!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760311)

Negroponte sounds like he was the kind of kid that even the geeks stuffed into lockers.

And what a shame, cuz he's always seemed like such a pleasant, down-to-earth, inclusive fellow...

FTFA:"Whenâ¦I was six years old, I went to see the headmaster explaining that my first-grade teacher should be fired--[she] wasn't good enough.

And I think the teachers would have looked the other way....

Re:"Substituted Art for Sports in High School?!" (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760713)

In my experience, many DO, because they simply don't care about students enough to get involved or are charmed by the budding young sociopathic bullies.

As usual, marketing was the problem (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760027)

First, advertising it at first as a $100 laptop was a mistake...it's stupid to announce a price before you figure out what your cost structure is going to look like.

Second, and more importantly, the distribution plan was flawed. Their big idea was to sell this thing to the governments of third world countries, despite the fact that most third world countries are led by corrupt governments that have little money, and use what money they do have to grease the palms of the inner circle of the government. Most charitable organizations learned decades ago that trying to get corrupt governments interested in doing something for the interest of their poorest citizens is a recipe for failure.

What they should have done is sold these things to charities that already work in these areas and have knowledge of the difficulties involved and would know where the greatest need is. They should have been dumping these things on charities as fast as they could take them, but instead they were busy trying to get these governments to distribute them, thereby assuring they were only going to be going to countries with relatively stable governments with experience delivering large-scale deployments of things like electrical power to their residents. This means the people that would get them were the ones least likely to benefit.

Third, they didn't do enough to get the American public interested in the project...sure, there were a bunch of stories in tech rags about how cool this was going to be and how no one could get them unless they were a poor person in a third world country, but that was it. This meant the people most likely to have the spare cash to donate to this cause didn't know enough about it, and never had a chance to get their hands on one except through the short-lived "buy one, get one" program.

The Internet is fast becoming what electrical power was 50 years ago: It separates the people who are able to participate in the global economy from those who can't. The so-called "digital divide" has been largely closed in this country, but it remains a huge problem globally. The OLPC program is and has been a great idea with a piss-poor implementation plan.

Re:As usual, marketing was the problem (1, Insightful)

h890231398021 (948231) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760229)

The Internet is fast becoming what electrical power was 50 years ago: It separates the people who are able to participate in the global economy from those who can't.

50 years ago? Electrical power IS STILL a huge separator today. Many "developing" countries have unreliable electrical service at best, and often NO electrical service to the poorest of their citizens. Added to all the other problems you said, OLPC should have realised that putting a damn computer in the hands of some country's kids is completely missing the point when the kids have probably no electricity, not even basic healthcare, no sanitation, little or no education, and perhaps barely enough food. Forget the computer ---- there are far bigger problems to solve first.

Re:As usual, marketing was the problem (2, Informative)

eosp (885380) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760499)

Added to all the other problems you said, OLPC should have realised that putting a damn computer in the hands of some country's kids is completely missing the point when the kids have probably no electricity, not even basic healthcare, no sanitation, little or no education, and perhaps barely enough food. Forget the computer ---- there are far bigger problems to solve first.

This objection has been raised several times, and is still wrong. OLPC isn't meant for the countries where feeding one's children is the largest problem. They're meant to target populations where (for example) food and clean water are generally available but the education is poor.

Re:As usual, marketing was the problem (1)

nog_lorp (896553) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760749)

Ah, but you miss the point. OLPC's are purely hand-crank powered, so electricity isn't a problem.

And the ultimate solution to ALL the other problems comes down to education, which is the point of OLPC.

Re:As usual, marketing was the problem (1, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760629)

Their big idea was to sell this thing to the governments of third world countries, despite the fact that most third world countries are led by corrupt governments that have little money, and use what money they do have to grease the palms of the inner circle of the government.

And that differentiates 3rd world governments from Detroit, DC, New Orleans, Chicago, NYC, the entire state of CA, how exactly? So that is not much of an explanation.

Most charitable organizations learned decades ago that trying to get corrupt governments interested in doing something for the interest of their poorest citizens is a recipe for failure.

Tada, there is the problem. Most ethnic minorities are poor because their government likes it that way... Some foreigner trying to make life better for a hated minority group, is never going to accomplish anything, ever.

Re:As usual, marketing was the problem (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760873)

Some foreigner trying to make life better for a hated minority group, is never going to accomplish anything, ever.

Just ask Oskar Schindler [wikipedia.org] .

mistakes (4, Insightful)

Digi-John (692918) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760031)

When your customized system takes 2-3 times as long to boot as Windows on the same hardware, you probably have made a mistake. Maybe next time don't write it all in python.

No, (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760041)

No, the biggest mistake that the OLPC mas that they didn't make cheap, rugged computers. If they had stuck with it, I would imagine they could end up turning a profit by selling cheap computers to the first world. Instead they decided to go with MS and now rather than having a usable, cheap rugged machine their new vision is using (relatively fragile and currently expensive) multi-touch screens for everything.

But Sugar has advantages (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760043)

I have to admit, I was convinced, and continue to be convinced by the logic behind Sugar.

The key to it all is that kids own their machine, so all the admin stuff (networking, power management, etc.) *needs* to work within a consistent, simple GUI.

More than just an eBook conduit, the device is supposed to be a collaborative learning aid - allowing kids to create and share over the network, conceivably creating learning communities beyond their own village.

Re:But Sugar has advantages (1)

sofar (317980) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760133)

The way the UI presents all the hardware to the user is independent from the implementation. A clean and segmented implementation allows for better maintenance, security, readability and a lot more benefits than a monolithic approach

I'm not saying sugar is bad, but the *implementation* certainly seems to be not looked into properly. For a system this complex, it should have been split up more.

Re:But Sugar has advantages (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760331)

I think we can agree there. I have no insight into how Sugar is architected. Fairly obviously, there are right ways and wrong ways it could have been done.

Re:But Sugar has advantages (4, Insightful)

Zey (592528) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760533)

``The key to it all is that kids own their machine, so all the admin stuff (networking, power management, etc.) *needs* to work within a consistent, simple GUI.``

That view, and the Sugar UI FWIW, stem from a completely flawed understanding of children. Kids are inherently quick at learning and highly adaptable. Give them a Linux or a Windows UI and they'll thrive, taking that knowledge with them and building on it to adulthood.

What Sugar did was try to lock them in a world of Fisher Price toy simplicity, as if they were intellectually retarded. None of the UI knowledge of Sugar would benefit them later. It thoroughly deserved to fail.

Re:But Sugar has advantages (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761157)

That view, and the Sugar UI FWIW, stem from a completely flawed understanding of children. Kids are inherently quick at learning and highly adaptable. Give them a Linux or a Windows UI and they'll thrive, taking that knowledge with them and building on it to adulthood.

Is that true, or does it only apply to the kids who are going to grow up to be nerds?

(That's a serious question. I'm entirely open to the possiblity you've got some research to link to.)

OLPC needs to be useful to the future poets as well as the future engineers.

He's probably right (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760045)

I'm not a Negroponte fan, but I partly agree with him. Not that Sugar was a total bust, but that overall utility would have been increased if Sugar had been an application running on a standard Linux distro, rather than a whole desktop environment. There might have been less griping from the G1G1 people who thought they were getting a "laptop" rather than an educational appliance which is what the XO is with Sugar as its desktop environment. Could have been an easier sell to governments as well for satisfying similar expectations. Then Sugar could have been allowed to do its thing in the classroom context it was designed for, while leaving open the option to use it more as a regular laptop outside of that context.

Re:He's probably right (3, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760105)

Sure, but name a desktop environment that would work that well on the OLPC's pathetic specs. Sugar was designed to be primarily single-tasking leaving enough CPU/memory in order to run those tasks well. The temptation to multitask with a traditional DE would end up ruining performance. You have to remember, this thing is more underpowered than the cheap netbooks that will barely surf the web on anything that has Flash.

Re:He's probably right (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760469)

Sugar is written in Python. It wasn't designed to be fast, at it isn't terribly, but rather discoverable and very tweakable.

I've had the XO running with ubuntu and KDE 3. Ok, perhaps with KDE 'running' isn't such a good term, but with XFCE instead it can function as a little netbook. The biggest drawback for me was actually physical, namely its little keyboard. You can extend its functionality loads with USB devices, including keyboard, but it winds up being an octopus [backofthebook.ca] that takes twenty minutes to set up and get going.

Re:He's probably right (1)

Logic and Reason (952833) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761091)

Sure, but name a desktop environment that would work that well on the OLPC's pathetic specs.

Why insist on a desktop environment? Why not a simple, barebones window manager like Window Maker, Fluxbox, or FVWM? They could be made quite easy to use with just a decent default configuration tailored to the OLPC.

Re:He's probably right (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760591)

The term Desktop Environment does not mean what you think it does. In the case of Sugar, it was not a DE but an OS (operating system). If they had gone with it as a DE like Gnome and KDE, running on either a stripped down Linux or BSD kernel, I feel that they might have gotten the cost down to that mythical $100.00 dollars.

Several Others have made the valid point that Sugar is an excellent educational environment and if the OLPC had pushed the damn thing world wide as an educational device with the ability to run apps from a USB stick and free development API, then I suspect we'd finally have a truly paradigm breaking system.

Yes I'm serious. I'd love to be able to keep my critical docs and settings with me and have the ability to simply plug into any damn system in the world and run my setup and this is what the OLPC could have done. Instead they got misdirected by MS and bogged down trying to do to many things. Becoming a JOATMON (jack of all trades master of none).

Too Different (1)

travisb828 (1002754) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760117)

Sugar is a great interface for new users, but it is way too different from what is out there already. M$ has established what a computer interface should look like. Even GNOME and KDE have elements that are similar to Windows. The decisions to buy into these laptops are being made by people that use a windows interface. When they see an XO, they see a toy not a computer. To them a computer has to have some kind of menu and windows.

Re:Too Different (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760595)

i mostly agree, the wheels and cogs that get added to Linux have been reinvented so many times it is ridiculous, i can understand choice but wow the amount of window managers today is incredible just google for xwinman and you will find a website that catalogs them all (besides the main three = gnome, kde, xfce) there are over a hundred little lightweight projects. out of all of them i use 2 window managers for their various qualities and strenghths besides kde for general purpose uses...

Who cares what Negroponte thinks. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760209)

The man is highly overrated.

He's a politician not a technologist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760223)

It's important to remember that Negroponte is a politician not some epic techie.

The mistake was Nicholas Negroponte. (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760243)

The big mistake OLPC made was Nicholas Negroponte. He's too much into his own self-importance. His thing was dealing at the national leader level and getting himself into the press. What was needed was somebody who knew how to get a low-cost product out the door and sell it in quantity.

The OLPC should have been in a bubble-pack in every Wal-Mart and Walgreens in America, in every souk in the Middle East, and in every market in India, selling at a small profit and dropping in price every three months. But no, Negroponte had to try to make big deals with governments. That might have happened after they actually had the product out there in volume.

Re:The mistake was Nicholas Negroponte. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760393)

The OLPC should have been in a bubble-pack in every Wal-Mart and Walgreens in America, in every souk in the Middle East, and in every market in India, selling at a small profit and dropping in price every three months

Surprised you knew souk but not bazaar

Re:The mistake was Nicholas Negroponte. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760489)

Without bothering to dispute your point, "The big mistake OLPC made was Nicholas Negroponte" is kind of a fun statement when you consider that he organized OLPC (or kicked it off, or whatever, it seems pretty indisputable that he was heavily involved in setting up the organization).

And when I say I am not disputing your point, I mean that I can see where a project for a laptop type device could have worked out in a fashion similar to what you outline.

Re:The mistake was Nicholas Negroponte. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760593)

1. Regarding Walmart, etc., you're absolutely right. It wasn't Sugar's fault, or the windup crank's fault, it was the fact I could not easily purchase them for my kids. I could not purchase them at all in fact until Negroponte made them unnecessarily expensive.

2. Regarding national leaders, you may be onto something. His brother after all is renowned diplomat and friend of dictators John Negroponte.

Re:The mistake was Nicholas Negroponte. (2, Insightful)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760695)

Exactly. If they'd just given all the money they've wasted to a bunch of Chinese backstreet hackers, this thing would be all over the place now.. Probably would also run "XP" just fine too...

Time to reinvent the $100 Laptop 2.0 (0, Offtopic)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760349)

maybe partner up with Google to use ARM processor based ChromeOS laptops and design in the OLPC design with the string pulled power charger and less expensive display, etc.

Each village gets a web server with wireless Internet access that can run Cloud applications in Google Chrome to save on storage space and invent new Cloud applications to run with Google Chrome. Each web server per village could have Google Apps for domain names installed or whatever software OLPC and Google develop for the developing world to use.

That way people and children with other laptops and computers can use Google Chrome or another web browser to tie into the village web server or school web server and share applications and data on the Cloud.

Linux without Sugar should be able to run Chrome OS and Google Chrome web browsers, and they have to redesign the Sugar apps to work with the Cloud and via a web server. OLPC is a neat project, but they need to learn from their mistakes and adapt and innovate their way out of this mess. I am sure the OLPC XO laptops can be reflashed with a Chrome OS build to replace Sugar and still use the old hardware.

Re:Time to reinvent the $100 Laptop 2.0 (1, Interesting)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760665)

I've been an OLPC skeptic from the beginning: it is a poor value option for the markets to which it is being directed (where the money could be spent more effectively just by paying for teachers), there are better options for less money (see the PlayPower project) and it is really about a very old model of aid, in which rich countries treat poor countries as little siblings receiving hand-me-downs rather than understanding their distinctive social dynamics. The PlayPower project also gives more opportunities to local economies to actually produce the hardware and software involved, something else relatively ignored by OLPC.

OLPC was crippled by hubris from its inception. I wouldn't blame its problems on Sugar.

Re:Time to reinvent the $100 Laptop 2.0 (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760953)

Why is this marked troll, its a good idea. The major problem I could see is keeping connectivity with the "cloud" even if it was (geographically) locally hosted.

Re:Time to reinvent the $100 Laptop 2.0 (1)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761097)

partner up with Google to use ARM processor based ChromeOS laptops (,,,)

Each village gets a web server with wireless Internet access that can run Cloud applications in Google Chrome to save on storage space and invent new Cloud applications to run with Google Chrome.

Exactly, but, HTML5 defines it so that servers are not needed for web apps to run. Each web app, could be 200kb, is cached and stored on the ARM laptop's memory according to how the Chrome Browser works. Each web-app only need to be updated when new versions are published. And web-apps also interact with a local database hosted on the $100 Chrome laptop itself.

As for what village servers should be, I think OLPC should develop $50 WiMax2WiFi, WhiteSpaces2WiFi and HSDPA2WiFi routers. Those routers can also have a few GB built-in storage, be able to host low power USB hard drives eventually as well (where the USB hard drive is only powered when data needs to be stored onto it from a flash memory based multi-GB buffer). Then basically one router only required per village, and OLPC needs to keep going the meshing WiFi systems to spread that Internet in each village.

Chrome OS needs to manage meshing as well, the setting should allow for Web apps and local databases of contents also to be automatically shared on Mesh networks.

Sugar is one of the best things OLPC did (1, Insightful)

bbasgen (165297) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760475)

Sugar has had it share of issues, to be sure, but this notion that OLPC should be a hardware company is quite absurd. Thanks but no thanks -- hardware is a commodity that you can get from anywhere. It is the creation of innovative software, specifically tailored to children, that makes the device interesting or not.

Re:Sugar is one of the best things OLPC did (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28761165)

Software won't make it run without a power grid.
Personally I was looking forward to getting one of those because of the promised energy efficiency and crank-operated battery charger.

The "mistake" was that Sugar wasn't very good (5, Interesting)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760497)

The meta-idea of rethinking UI from the ground up, and building something specifically directed at kids, was a wonderful idea. Frankly, the reason I bought a G1G1 machine was that I hoped to experience a fresh and wonderful user interface.

I think Sugar was a sad failure. I don't quite know what to make of the obvious riposte that I don't belong to the target audience. But an awful lot of the official Sugar documentation seemed to me to make too much use of "proof by repeated assertion." A file system organized primarily by recency (the Journal) instead of space (the Apple pre-OS-X Finder) or nested hierarchy (pre-GUI)? Wow, what a strange idea. What a fresh idea. I couldn't imagine how it could work, but all these people said it did, so after giving up on imagining it I paid $400 to experience it. Well, it sure didn't work for me.

And the claim that it works for kids because they "naturally describe what they are doing"--sorry, I just don't believe nine-year-old kids are going to type text tags and descriptions into every Journal entry so that they can find them again. Subject to correction by anyone who's actually watched real nine-year-olds playing with an XO and seen them tag and describe Journal entries, but the last several times I asked this online nobody said they had.

UI design seems to me to have peaked sometime in the early 1980s, when computer companies still needed to seduce laypersons who weren't already trained on computer usage. As "computer literacy" became more and more of a career necessity, computer companies were able to get away with more and more complexity. For me, an important downward turning point occurred when Microsoft violated Apple's UI guidelines, which stated that documents should always re-open with the insertion point positioned where it was when the document was closed--a special instance of the principle that things should stay where you put them. Microsoft couldn't be bothered; with Word, like Sisyphus, you always start with your insertion point once again having rolled down to the bottom of the hill. Other companies, eventually including Apple, followed suit, and this minor but significant point of UI design was lost, along with many others.

A fresh look at UI design is desperately needed. UI design is now in the hands of power-user snobs who revel in their ability to handle complexity. Ordinary people resign themselves to forever feeling that "I'm just a dummy when it comes to computers." The world desperately needs a user interface so simple a child could use it. A pity that Sugar isn't it.

Re:The "mistake" was that Sugar wasn't very good (1, Informative)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760845)

You are so right. I'm still trying to see the benefits of the latest Office 'ribbon' interface...
Trivia fans: Shift and F5 in Word will still take you back to the last point where you edited the document, (not where your cursor position was...unless you changed something there...)

Re:The "mistake" was that Sugar wasn't very good (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760963)

I couldn't imagine how it could work,

Sugar Journal works by search, just like pretty much any desktop search engine, this also happens to be the way that works best with how most people organize their files, i.e. not at all. The crux however is that Sugar records all Activities, not just those you save, but everything, so your Journal is always full of useless crap and there doesn't seem to be an obvious way to distinguish between Activity sessions used to created data and those that didn't produce anything. Another issue is that the Journal is pretty much unusable with foreign data, i.e. insert a USB stick with a hierachy and the Journal will display it as one long flat list, it will also polite the USB stick with some .olpc-... directory. A better way to work with legacy data storage would have been welcome.

On the whole I think the biggest fault with Sugar is that isn't self-hosting. Sugar Activities can't be developed in Sugar, you have to develop them elsewhere and then copy them over to the OLPC or by pass all of Sugar and develop with the Terminal. The cool source button feature that was announced very early on still doesn't work.

quit reinventing the wheel! (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760503)

every time some new way to apply linux to comes to fruition i find that the biggest part of it is just a reinvention of what is already available, its a waste of resources!

Re:quit reinventing the wheel! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28761029)

Yes it is, but reinventing the wheel and NIH syndrome are the foundational principles of any open sores project!

The software was the #1 problem... (1)

jeffehobbs (419930) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760517)

...followed quickly by the hardware at #2.

Seriously, they missed the boat on faster chips by about a generation, chips that would have been 'good enough' to do web browsing and video playback at a low power draw. The Geode (right?) in the XO is just too slow.

Re:The software was the #1 problem... (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761129)

The XO-1.5 will come soon and provide a good bit more CPU power, along with more storage and RAM. Overall, however, yes, the XO-1.0 is rather slowish. Its not to slow to watch video if you use mplayer and it is somewhat ok to browse normal webpages, but trying to watch Youtube video via a Flash plugin just doesn't work and using yum is completly ridiculous, that probably the lowest most unresponsive app I have ever seen. For quite a few of the border fade-in effects that are part of Sugar it also seems rather underpowered.

Negroponte is Right: Sugar WAS a Mistake! (4, Insightful)

careysub (976506) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760859)

I am in an excellent position to evaluate this issue, having purchased one of the first XO OLPCs through the give-one-get-one (GOGO) program for an 11 year old child, and then obtained an Asus Eee PC netbook running Xandros Linux (a window-ized interface to Debian Linux, along the lines of Ubuntu).

The 11-year old's verdict: thumbs down for Sugar, thumbs-up for Xandros. She gave up with fiddling on the XO after a few weeks, but loves to use the Eee PC. As the network support resource for my household, I can further point out that Sugar shipped with unusable wireless security (WEP only), which some months later was upgraded to WPA, but with this fatal flaw: every time the computer is powered up the user has to reenter the entire passphrase to get wireless access. Since a rather lengthy and obscure passphrase had been previously selected to provide household network security, this was an intolerable nuisance to an 11-year old. And dumbing-down the household security for the convenience of one cheap product is unacceptable to this network support resource.

Perhaps the passphrase remembering problem has since been fixed (since the XO is not used by its target audience any more I am not inclined to upgrade the OS to test it) but it illustrates the fatal problem with the Sugar approach: writing a decent OS is hard work, and taking a quick and dirty stab at it gives a foundation of sand for the whole offering. Absolutely they should have run a solid robust proven OS (Linux) for the system, adding on what ever they felt was needed.,/p>

Re:Negroponte is Right: Sugar WAS a Mistake! (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761055)

Perhaps the passphrase remembering problem has since been fixed

The problem still exist. In most cases you can just hit cancel on the password dialog box and then just click on the access point again and it will work, as the password still seems to be saved somewhere deep down in the Sugar internals, but getting the dialogbox is really annoying.

Re:Negroponte is Right: Sugar WAS a Mistake! (2, Interesting)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761143)

Eeepc consumes 10x more power and costs upwards 2x as much. Not sunlight readable, not sand/water proof, not shock proof, not mesh networkable so many other things that are absolutely required in those places the 1.2 Million OLPC laptops have so far been delivered.

Actually, not bad for Prof. N (1)

adriccom (44869) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760885)

Seriously, as public statements and press coverage go that is about the best interview of Prof N about OLPC I have ever seen. It was sneaky that the bit the FA is named after is in a pullout outside the main article.

The OLPC XO effort was fantastic and developed some great technology AND a really neat little computer with the most open specifications ever. Sugar's software architecture is still not portable enough and that is a problem, but it is one that could be solved with programmer hours. You buy those with money, and SugarLabs is a charity. So, go code or donate, eh? I'll throw in on a bounty to increase Sugar portability. Get it to build and run natively (not X Window, mind ... there's some native GTK stuff) on Mac OS X 10.3 or newer and I've got $100 USD for you. I expect some other folks will chip in for a similar offer for a version that runs natively on Win32/64 (also no X Window, native GTK exists).

Now, where the heck is My TouchBook! On that note, how does Sugar work on armel, hmm?

I have an early OLPC and Sugar sucks (1)

evil_arrival_of_good (786412) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760941)

I'm a guy thats had 3 linux boxes and all the rest OS X Apples, so I'm not a MS-friendly troll. Sugar just sucks. The array of educational apps are totally fine. I've been tempted to overwrite the OS with Ubuntu, but actually desire the edu-focus for my toddler, who has already inherited this machine. Now that Windows is in the picture I see this whole project as a curse on those its trying to help. My understanding is Sugar was unlike most of the FOSS movement, written by a Temple of one/few people rather than a Bazaar of multiple-minds. An object lesson in failure.

Anyone who got a techinal description of sugar (1)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761047)

Reading this quote made me think:

"But what we did...was we had Sugar do the power management, we had Sugar do the wireless management--it became sort of an omelet. The Bios talked directly with Sugar, so Sugar became a bit of a mess."

I always thought that sugar was the graphics interface(Window manager, desktop and widgets, something like kde or gnome, but lighter).

So is he confused about what sugar is, or is sugar really a kind of mini os, operating on a linux kernel? Why should sugar for example include a wireless driver as part of sugar, instead of including the wireless driver as a standard linux driver, and then letting sugar communicate with it, as it would with any other driver.

Problem was Sugar INTEGRATION, not Sugar (2, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761123)

Before we all jump on the OLPC/Sugar hater bandwagon, let's read the actual quote:

"Sugar should have been an application [residing] on a normal operating system," he told ZDNet Asia in an interview. "But what we did... was we had Sugar do the power management, we had Sugar do the wireless management--it became sort of an omelet. The Bios talked directly with Sugar, so Sugar became a bit of a mess."
Negroponte added: "It should have been much cleaner, like the way they offer [it] on a stick now."

So it sounds like the problem, as Negroponte see it, was the Sugar was written as a pseudo OS/large chunk of user space when it should be acted more like a kiosk application on top of more traditional software to run things like power management.

Sugar it's self, as an interface, still seems like a good idea to me. It's a good idea to give people a simplified user interface for basic tasks. Why should kids in Nigeria or Malaysia have to learn a "traditional" interface? Remember our "traditional" interface exists because of historical storage limits (which for OLPC don't matter, you don't need everything on a 50kb disk, you have hundreds of megabytes free) and user training (they were familiar with CP/M, DOS should do files the same way. They were familiar with DOS, Windows should do files the same way...).

It's very hard for us to switch off of 20-30 years of average people being used to files onto something more like a journal or database, but something like the OLPC was the perfect chance to get computer users who weren't saddled with all that (at least initially).

Sugar: Good idea, implemented in a way which broke the layers of abstractions it should have been built on.

The hardware sucked too (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761185)

I was at a trade show and saw the OLPC a couple years ago.

In theory you could pick one up and play with it.
In practice, all were broken in one way or another -- missing keys, broken mice, frozen software, broken wifi antennas, dead screens...

If you can't even get your stupid device to work at a *trade show*, then you've got problems. Why would I buy something that clearly doesn't work?

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