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Ivan Krstić Says Negroponte's Wrong About Sugar and OLPC

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the who-is-this-krstić-guy-anyhow dept.

GUI 137

Not many days ago, we mentioned ZDNet's interview with Nicholas Negroponte, in which Negroponte had some harsh things to say about Sugar and its connection to the slower-than-hoped uptake of the XO. Ivan Krstic (formerly head of the OLPC's security innovative subsystem) responded to Negroponte's claims, which he says are "nonsense." Among other things, he mentions that Sugar "was the name for the new learning-oriented graphical interface that OLPC was building, but it was also the name for the entire XO operating system, one tiny part of which was Sugar the GUI, and the rest of which was mostly Fedora Linux."

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137 comments

Feature creep killed the XO (3, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831495)

In particular, trying to cram yet more hardware into it to meet the demands of the Microsoft lobby.

If they'd just made the widget, put it into production, and focused on the sales, they would have made a difference.

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (4, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831607)

IIRC, they didn't do _that_ much for Microsoft and pretty much just added the SD card. But, they did let Microsoft take up their time and even some of their office space. It really wasn't an easy hardware kit to build considering it was supposed to work outside, by kids, and be very energy thrifty. Nobody has even come close to what the XO does and only the Kindle can be read outside in full sunlight.

The Microsoft stuff misdirected the marketing of the project once it was determined that Microsoft and Intel successfully blocked many of the sales they had MOU's for.

LoB

OLPC is doing little to zero work with Windows (1)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 4 years ago | (#28834751)

All this Windows-OLPC debacle is rather unfair.

Actually, what the guys at OLPC did was to ensure that the OLPC XO-1 laptops would still be able to dual-boot to Linux in case Windows was installed.

See this email [laptop.org] from the OLPC Developer mailing list from Mitch Bradley, one of the developers at OLPC:

At the moment, OLPC is doing approximately zero work on Windows. That wasn't true last year. I spent several months last year making it possible to boot Windows from Open Firmware. The reason I did that was to prevent Microsoft from "taking over" the XO machine. Their plan was to purchase machines and instruct the factory to reflash their SPI FLASH boot ROM with a conventional BIOS - which would have prevented OLPC's Linux from working. It would have been possible to boot a different Linux distro from that BIOS, but it would not have been bootable from NAND FLASH, the OLPC security would not have been available, OLPC's special power management would not have worked, and the OFW-resident management features like diagnostics and NAND update would have been lost. Essentially it would have been a one-way ticket to Microsoft land.

That one-way road was unacceptable to Nicholas. He insisted that, if any machines were to be able to run Windows, they must be able to dual-boot.

In fact, this shows Negroponte is actually pro-linux.

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#28835125)

IIRC, they didn't do _that_ much for Microsoft and pretty much just added the SD card

That, and used an AMD chip that was more expensive, slower, and used more power than the ARM chip they were considering.

OLPC was interesting, then Microsoft strangled it (2, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831617)

Just before the netbook explosion too... which started out Linux... until MS squashed that threat... in America at least.

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (2, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831623)

please provide a link proving this, all i see is that they went into this with stars in their eye's and got burnt.

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28831667)

Problem: People refuse to uses Linux because it sucks
Solution: Lets find some oogabooga jungle bunnies and make them use Linux
Failure Analysis: It was all Microsoft's fault!

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (3, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831897)

If they'd just made the widget, put it into production, and focused on the sales, they would have made a difference.

They built the widget. They put it up for sale. Nothing much happened.

Confirmed sales to date about 1.4 million:

Uruguay 300,000
Peru 290,000
Columbia 165,000
Rwanda 100,000

Sales outside the Americas have been pathetic.

G1G1 167,000 [Distributed in seemingly random 3 to 20K clumps. I can't bring myself to take this part of the program seriously.]

Summary of laptop orders [wikipedia.org]

The demand for Windows came from the third world education minister - the guy who is expected to sign the purchase order for 300,000 units.

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831957)

time to market.. heard of it? They hyped up their product then dragged their feet, by the time it was ready, alternatives had been found. This is the reason why the stealth startup was invented.

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832193)

This is the reason why the stealth startup was invented.

The stealth start-up demands stealth funding - usually from someone on the inside.

OLPC needed at minimum a public commitment from an Asian OEM to design and build the display.

No way that was going to happen without hyping sales prospects into the millions and tens of millions of units.

No way that tech wasn't going to surface later in less charitable-minded projects.

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832229)

Ya, so: rock OLPC hard place.

Hopefully everyone else learnt the lesson. If you want to compete with Microsoft/Intel/etc you have to strike quickly.

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#28834901)

Hopefully everyone else learnt the lesson. If you want to compete with Microsoft/Intel/etc you have to strike quickly.

I've never been quite sure whether Negroponte saw his primary mission as facilitating basic education in the grade school classroom or leading the third world masses into the Promised Land of Linux and FOSS.

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (4, Insightful)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832169)

Feature creep killed the XO, but it had nothing to do with the Microsoft lobby. A few things to consider:

The XO was originally intended to be a replacement for textbooks. It was not intended to serve as a general purpose computer. This feature creep meant that the XO needed additional hardware, higher performance hardware, and experimental hardware. None of this feature creep had anything to do with Microsoft. If you ever used Sugar on the XO, you would be more than aware of this because the performance is substandard. Not only is the system slow due to running interpreted software on a slower CPU, but the software is prone to failure due to there being insufficient memory. (There is no swap space, and two Activities will easily consume all of the RAM.) In other words, and internal desire for more features meant that the hundred dollar laptop would never cost a hundred dollars to build and that the software would never be reliable.

Just to re-iterate, the failure of the XO has positively nothing to do with Microsoft. It did not significantly alter the design of the XO. Nor did it significantly alter the software development process on the XO. About all that it did do was cause some in-fighting between bystanders who would never contribute to the project in the first place.

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (5, Interesting)

mrcparker (469158) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832459)

I think that I must be the only person who actually purchased an XO, because all of the reasons given for the poor sales are not pointing out the one problem that the OLPC XO had on launch: it was (and still is) sluggish. It is a pain in the ass to use, since doing things like reading PDFs is slow as hell.

My OLPC is sitting in my office unused because, as much as I wanted to use it to read PDFs and browse the web, Sugar is slow and doing things like moving from page-to-page in the reader take a looong time.

On the development side, did the Sugar APIs ever get mature enough that the documentation was stable? Is it really ready for third parties to write software in Sugar without having to worry that large sections of their code will have to change on the nest upgrade? Looking right now at the docs, there are still parts of the code that do not have stable APIs.

How can you take a sluggish device with moving APIs and expect to sell it to countries on a large scale? Will governments really be willing to spend millions of dollars on something that is clearly unfinished design-wise and second-rate?

Microsoft and Intel did not kill the OLPC. The OLPC was enough to kill itself.

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832587)

It's because the dumb fucks wrote everything in python.

Python is great for many things, but writing GUI toolkits isn't one of them.

Re:Feature creep killed the XO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28832827)

My XO-1 was sitting unused, until I installed debXO. I used the xfce version. I'm very happy with its performance as an on the road machine. I also use it as a mobile graphical X terminal, to display a desktop from my desktop machine, using Xephyr [freedesktop.org] over an SSH tunnel. Very nice. With a bit of compression applied by SSH, over my LAN it's almost as responsive and as pleasant to use as the console of my desktop.

OLPC: CPU too slow (1)

sick_soul (794596) | more than 4 years ago | (#28834657)

I also bought two OLPC, using the "give one, get one" program,
and gave the one sent to me as a Christmas gift to my nephew.

He used it and is still using it, but the main problem is: it is painfully slow.

The CPU in the XO-1 is an AMD / 433 Mhz and integrated graphics, with 64K Level 1 and 128K Level 2 Cache: I think that it simply cannot keep up with the amount of computation that its software components require.

And I do not think that Python is necessarily to blame here.
I cannot say for sure without profiling, but I think that for most interactive uses the perceived performance problems are not in tight Python logic loops, but in rendering and other basic stuff which mainly happens in C libs.

Re:OLPC: CPU too slow (1)

Sam Douglas (1106539) | more than 4 years ago | (#28834783)

And I do not think that Python is necessarily to blame here. I cannot say for sure without profiling, but I think that for most interactive uses the perceived performance problems are not in tight Python logic loops, but in rendering and other basic stuff which mainly happens in C libs.

Precisely. The problem is the othe crap that runs on it. It has a large amount of a Gnome and Fedora system. On top of that, there are shitty problems with it that aren't getting solved any time soon, such as with Evince. Open a PDF, zoom in (and out if necessary, back out). Out of memory, segfault. It's a problem with Evince, allocating space for each zoom level and rendering it. The Gnome guys weren't interested in fixing it (most desktop systems have enough memory it isn't a huge problem), the OLPC people aren't patching it. It's stupid.

Aspies burnt to death (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28831499)

Aspies are fucking bastards lets burn them all to death along with jews and mac users.

Who are you? Who who? Who who? (5, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831519)

Who is Ivan Krstić? Is he related to Little Bobby Tables [slashdot.org]?

Re:Who are you? Who who? Who who? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28831657)

Not sure why parent got modded troll, but there are serious problems with /. and UTF-8. Take a look at the title of this page for example.

Re:Who are you? Who who? Who who? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832389)

I don't know why either. It shows up fine in the site itself, but that's how it reads in the RSS.

Re:Who are you? Who who? Who who? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832405)

Ahh durr, I put the article link instead of the xkcd link somehow. >_<

That is because slashdot strips out UTF-8 (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832443)

If you look at the code for slashdot, there is a function that strips out anything that isn't pure virgin ASCII. In other words, if it ain't A-Z, a-z 0-9 and a handful of other symbols blessed by the Queen, it ain't gonna get displayed.

Why do they do this? Probably as a way to partially sanitize user input. Probably 'cause slash was written before the dozens of CPAN modules came along who did a way better job of filtering nonsense out of untrusted user input. Who knows. But it is rather tiring, I agree.

Re:Who are you? Who who? Who who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28832633)

ha! it's funny cuz his names foreign!

entirely not the problem (4, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831571)

Correct. The XO's problem isn't sugar or as far as I can see really anything to do with its specifications but rather how it was sold and marketed.

Re:entirely not the problem (5, Insightful)

StreetStealth (980200) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831653)

Getting OLPC off the ground was a huge undertaking whose backers did not all share the same vision.

The whole point of Sugar was to make the XO a universal, personal educational computing device, free of the cultural barriers and prejudices that are inherent in something like Windows. The people who pursued this vision of OLPC were the idealists.

Then there were, to use a generous term, the pragmatists. They didn't see the use in building a new, universal education platform. To them, the developing world may well have just been millions of children waiting to grow up to work at offshore call centers, and getting them familiar with The Way The World Works was the first priority.

Obviously, the latter won, and to be honest, I don't think their tamer, "more realistic" vision of OLPC will ever make the same mark on the world that a Sugar-powered XO would have.

Re:entirely not the problem (2, Informative)

PaintyThePirate (682047) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831805)

Are you kidding? There are ~900,000 Sugar-powered XO's in the hands of kids around the world. There are a few hundred Windows powered ones.

Three million Windows XO laptops for India (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#28835147)

There are a few hundred Windows powered ones.

I'd really like to see sources for your numbers here. Because three million Windows XO laptops are being distributed in India:

A movement to get rural poor children learning on the screen using a state of the art laptops has begun in the country.

Every fourth child in the world who needs screen based learning environment is in India.

A US-based non profit organization called One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is planning to distribute three million XO laptops, each costing Rupees 11000, among children entering schools by the end of 2009.

It has already distributed 1000 laptops in 20 schools in UP, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on an experimental basis.

Its ultimate mission is to ensure that all school children, aged between five and 12, are able to effectively engage with their own personal laptop.

Each XO PC comes with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office pre-loaded, besides many other features.

Satish Jha, President and C.E.O, OLPC India, said the project is funded by a number of sponsor organizations, including AMD, Bright star Corporation, eBay, Google, Marvell, News Corporation, Microsoft, SES, Nortel Networks, and Red Hat.

Each company has donated two million dollars. Microsoft is contributing through its features that are fitted into the XOs. US-based outfit to distribute three million laptops to poor Indian rural kids [smashits.com] [July 10, 2009]

I can't even begin to imagine how this story got over-looked. It's a huge, crushing - decisive - win for Microsoft and Negroponte.

Re:entirely not the problem (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832055)

The problem was the unwillingness to tap the first world. Back in 2007 you can bet that the would would have somewhat embraced a laptop that cost only $230, even if the specs were somewhat pathetic. Add that into the fact the machine is nearly indestructible and can be read in sunlight and you would have had a fast selling machine and made $30 on top of it. But of course the OLPC said no to that and instead came up with "give one get one" where for $400 you could effectively get the same laptop and make a $200 contribution to the OLPC fund. Hm, would I rather buy a $400 durable laptop that has about the same specs as my ancient PIII locked in my basement that I never use, or buy a laptop with a decent CPU and a usable amount of RAM.

Just look at how well the iPod touch sold and it cost $300 in the same time period and at launch had 0 apps. An iPod touch with a keyboard would have sold very well when priced even lower. The unwillingness to sell the OLPC computers to the first world was a huge mistake.

Re:entirely not the problem (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28832091)

I heard Negroponte speak at a conference a couple years ago. One thing was evident: the OLPC was a lot more about Negroponte's ego than anything else. Nearly the entire speech was a list of all the powerful and famous people he hangs with.

The entire thing just seemed too complex to really work. All of the special built custom parts and new GUI around Linux seemed to add little to the over all value.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Re:entirely not the problem (2, Insightful)

Phoe6 (705194) | more than 4 years ago | (#28834447)

You probably are right. I have heard Negroponte a couple of times and have had the impression. I also have a couple of facts to illustrate that his vision is not shared by prominent people.

  1. India did not participate in the OLPC project itself. If it had caught in India, it could have been a different story altogether. There are thousands of kids in India, who in couple of years come to grasp with technologies. Government of India, did not feel that OLPC was a viable thing to do for India schools. Instead of backing off, OLPC should have worked out a solution for Indian market. Considering that India is a third world country and where technology catches up pretty quickly and students catch up with the learning curve easily (British gift of English and Infrastructure being one reason)
  1. Even before OLPC initiative, Negropontes Media Lab initiative suffered in India. Then minister Arun Shourie (who is a recognized leader and thoughtful person in his own right), felt that Negropontes Intiative's were not very convincing. Even if it had a tag of MIT.

Also I tend to trust Ivan KrstiÄ more than Negroponte. Those were the guys who sweated it out to bring OLPC. It was sad to see all the tech guys back off the project.

One more thing, If you beat your drums before you have something, you are basically full filling your ego, nothing else. OLPC did that from the first day.
It was also called 100 dollar laptop. Is it available for 100 dollars yet?

Re:entirely not the problem (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#28835207)

I heard Alan Kay talk about it at around the same time, and it sounded great. A shame there was more Negroponte and less Kay in the leadership. Sugar looked good at the start, back when it was meant to be based on top of Squeak, but then they decided that Python was a better choice than Smalltalk, in spite of being harder to learn and having a slower VM (the latter very important on a comparatively slow device).

They started measuring success in terms of the number shipped, which lead me to believe Negroponte didn't really understand the concept. In Kay's vision, the point of making everything - including the designs - open was that countries like India and China could use their own factories to produce them (or a modified version) in-country.

Re:entirely not the problem (2, Interesting)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832269)

The problem with the idealists was they saw the OLPC and Sugar as a new eduational model. New educational models have been successfully introduced into different countries around the world on numerous occasions, but OLPC tried to do it in a retarded way. Instead of conducting studies, refining the system and demonstrating academically its use in small scale studies, they blew their load all at once. They dumped it on the market assuming everybody would share their idealism. And when people came back and asked 'why is Sugar better than Windows?' they didn't have any data to support their assertions.

Re:entirely not the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28832173)

The XO's problem isn't sugar or as far as I can see really anything to do with its specifications but rather how it was sold and marketed.

You (and everyone else who talks about PR and marketing as the major failure of OLPC) obviously haven't used a real live XO. Take it from someone who has. Or at least listen to one guy (TFA) who was neck deep in the project instead of just parroting some lame bikeshedding.

no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28832257)

Sorry not trying to flame or troll. Marketing and sales sucked but lets be honest: The machines hardware was amazing, the software was and is not a compelling educational tool. That is to say it does not out of the box provide an education. If it is the education project they claim it to be they have failed. I have one through give one get one. Amazing piece of hardware. Total shit for education. Gave it to my little sis to see what she thought of it: she didn't have any idea what it would be good for. If there was a amazing suite of software books and lessons built in an organized fashion (game or just plain old progression style) they might have something. Elsewise its just a fools errand

Alternative (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831595)

I think they should have looked more toward the Nintendo DS as inspiration, honestly. That thing can survive in 3rd world countries no problem; it survives 8 year olds. It's powerful enough to browse, the touch screen allows for a ubiquitous interface; just add a stripped-down linux and allow it to read/run from external memory SD and USB drives.

Re:Alternative (2, Interesting)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831651)

It's powerful enough to browse

The DS is indeed awesome, I had my first encounter this year with it by buying a DSi for myself with several games for an extended work trip with many hours (with a colleage) in a car. I recall the days of the original game boy and how it didn't change for an entire decade, and this is light years from that... However, do you use something else to browse besides the opera DS browser? That is one software I found severely lacking on the DS. On a fast wifi connection, it's just painful.

And yes, I further set it so it doesn't download pictures, etc. And consider the latest DSi has 4x ram (and more CPU power) than the original DS/DSLite - 16mb vs 4. Maybe we go to different pages, but if Nintendo spared an extra dollar, it probably could have been bumped to 64-96mb ram and been a much better and actually viable browsing experience.

Otherwise, I'm happy.

Re:Alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28834609)

It's powerful enough to browse, the touch screen allows for a ubiquitous interface; just add a stripped-down linux and allow it to read/run from external memory SD and USB drives.

Powerful enough to browse? My 10-year old Nokia cellphone does a faster and better job of surfing the web. The DS is nowhere near the mark in terms of processing power. Apart from that, the DS screen is pretty much impossible to see in the sun, and most third-world countries tend to be quite sunny.

Re:Alternative (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#28834837)

As a parent with 3 kids (6, 9 and 12 year olds) and 4 DSs (1 classic, 3 lites), I can say they aren't that durable at all. All 4 have broken at least once. And at the moment, only one is actually working, and it is one that I did a top LCD panel replacement myself. We've used the Nerf Armor, and even then the top screen of one of the units cracked after a typical drop onto the floor.

The lack of a physics keyboard would make the DS a non-starter for OLPC.

I'll tell you what's wrong with Sugar. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28831603)

It's code is a mess, it's supposrt is rubbish, it's written in PHP, and there are far better CRMs out there. Steer clear! Oooh, you meant the interface for OLPC? Gotcha.

Wingnut (4, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831605)

A far bigger problem than Sugar, if sugar is even a problem, is having a wingnut leading the company. Negroponte's most visible activity wrt the OLPC is to torpedo it. Ditching him would be a much better start than ditching sugar.

Re:Wingnut (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28831643)

The whole thing was an ego-trip in the first place. OLPC wouldn't even exist if Negroponte wasn't sitting around jerking it while fantasizing about winning the nobel peace prize.

I'm not sure that's fair. (4, Interesting)

EWAdams (953502) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831737)

I'm not a big fan of Negroponte, but both Intel and Microsoft went out of their way to kill this project -- telling outrageous lies to potential developing-world customers in order to put them off it. When did either of them make a product with a fraction of the innovation and convenience that the XO exhibits? Negroponte did a deal with the Devil in order to keep the thing afloat, and it went wrong on him, as deals with the Devil usually do. But the fact that two gigantic for-profit corporations were so greedy that they were prepared to kill a charitable little startup just on the off-chance that it might deny them a few low-margin sales, is simply disgraceful. If they'd had any heart at all, they'd have said, "Great! How can we help?" and turned it into a big PR bonus for themselves.

Mind you, it doesn't surprise me coming from Microsoft; I've had dealings with them in the past. But I thought better of Intel.

Please, whatever (4, Informative)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832003)

I'm not a big fan of Negroponte, but both Intel and Microsoft went out of their way to kill this project

This is only according to those stricken with Linus's so-called Microsoft-Hater Disease. It is my understanding that both of those companies *and* apple offered to hook them up with stuff and were declined. Why? Politics. It would be seen as selling out to the other backers--the free software crowd. That would make their Slashdot Karma go down. So rather than except the offer, he declined and when all the other players wisely decided to make their own products, rather than realizing his mistake he choose to shift blame and pin it on those "big evil corporations trying to screw the little guy".

If they'd had any heart at all, they'd have said, "Great! How can we help?" and turned it into a big PR bonus for themselves.

By my recolection, they did say "how can we help" and were declined. The OLPC guys tryed to turn it into their own PR bonus.

In other words, OLPC was its own worst enemy. It had no clearly defined goal. Was its goal playing politics for Free Software? Was it playing high-stakes international politics with so-called developing nations? Was it a laptop company? Was it an education company? Who knows. They sure didn't.

If I was on that board, I would have tried my hardest to force them to pick one and go with that. Obviously they aren't a political football for Free Software, so they should go with whatever OS their customers want installed. Now the question is should they be a hardware manufacturer or an education provider? If they are hardware? Build their own rig from scratch and install Linux, OSX or Windows and let others do the software. If they are education? Outsource the engineering and work on sugar and good software. Doing all at once while wasting time worrying about their slashdot karma was what did them in.

Saying Microsoft and Intel is solely to blame is letting your disease take control. Not good.

Re:Please, whatever (1)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832573)

The fact is their is plenty of distrust and hatred for Micro$oft in the Linux/FOSS world. God knows they earned every little bit of it. The fact is that Negroponte knew the FOSS guys in camp weren't going to be happy when MS was brought on board. If he wanted an MS system he should have built one...or pulled one off the shelf.

Re:Please, whatever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28834435)

Fvsk the foss people! They were turning the whole thing into an anti-microsoft troll fest rather than a serious attempt to help people in underprivileged countries. From the very start the foss shitbags were more concerned about promoting their beloved Linux than actually helping people. They hyped it up right at the start and then it took them so long to develop the systems that it they were deprecated before they even shipped anything. The whole netbook industry are strides ahead of XO and not much more expensive. As usual the FOSS tried to find some way to blame Microsoft for their own failure to promote their own products.

Re:Please, whatever (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#28835283)

Politics. It would be seen as selling out to the other backers--the free software crowd

If you believe this, then you're missing the point of the OLPC project. Building the product was only originally intended to be a demonstration. The idea of having open designs was to encourage other groups to produce their own versions. If the Indian government, for example, had decided they wanted to build them using native production capacity then they could take the designs, take the software, modify either in any way they wanted, and start producing them. While having OS X on them might have been nice in the short term, it would have made this impossible.

Having Intel produce competing devices wasn't a problem, it was an original project aim (at least, according to the talk I saw from one of the project instigators a few years back). They wanted Intel to undercut them. They wanted Chinese companies to produce clones. And they wanted these clones to be as good as possible, copying as much of their code as possible, because the aim of the project was to get laptops to children, not to make a profit or ship a certain number of units.

Re:I'm not sure that's fair. (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832265)

It wasn't "a few low-margin sales" they were after. Here's what Suger and XO really presented: computing to a large portion of the world in a way that wasn't at all dependent on them. Look at it this way - if kids grew up in Africa, South Asia, and South America with XOs, they'd grow up with a clear alternative to buying MS and Intel products when they wanted computing power. Should those kids ever become successful enough to make computers part of their daily living, they'd start using and advocating such anti-capitalist travesties (from the point of view of MS and Intel) as Ubuntu Linux running on home-grown hardware. Then first-world countries would start noticing that the third-world countries have figured out a way to get computers to every child without spending as much as the first-world countries, and start clamoring for the same stuff. Then first-world kids also grow up without Windows being the first thought when they think "computer", and thus look seriously at alternatives for their family's computers, their business's computers, and so forth.

In short, from MS's and Intel's point of view, had the OLPC done what it had set out to do, the whole mindset of the general public towards their products would have changed, and their businesses would be destroyed. That's why they were aggressive jerks about this. Of course, they could still lose this fight in a bunch of other ways, but that's why in the minds of Ballmer and the like the OLPC project had to be destroyed at all costs.

Yeah, whatever (4, Insightful)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832495)

. Look at it this way - if kids grew up in Africa, South Asia, and South America with XOs, they'd grow up with a clear alternative to buying MS and Intel products when they wanted computing power

OLPC failed, in part, because they went out of the way to please people like you rather then their potential customers. You aren't their customer, you are an arm-chair quarterback. All you have done is added a thick layer of zealotry and politics that have zero place in the business OLPC was in.

I know this isn't going to make me popular in these parts, but at first I was excited when I heard about OLPC until I read their mission statement. The second I read "Free Software" and "GPL", I knew they were horribly unfocused and would eventually fail. The politics of Free Software(tm) have no place in a non-profit that was supposed to put computers in the hands of children. Pushing those goals in parallel with trying to build a computer from scratch, put together an operating system from scratch, putting together a whole new method of education, and *finally* convincing governments to buy said devices from said organization was asking for way to much. Adding "GPL" and all the baggage that goes with it did nothing but bring out the trolls and zealots and stole only shred of focus the company might have had.

Sadly, my prediction was 100% correct. Had they been merely a non-profit trying to put laptops into the hands of kids in developing nations, while they wouldn't have been on slashdot or any other linux rag much, they probably would have had a much better chance to fulfill their mission. A shame, really.

Re:Yeah, whatever (2, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832649)

I don't care about "these parts" and I suggest you shouldn't care either.

They wern't trying to just put computers into kids hands - you don't need a nonprofit for that - if you wanted to do that, you could open your checkbook and talk to Dell. The interesting task they were aiming for took most pieces of the puzzle they put together - the degree to which they made their own hardware may have been a mistake, but having a separate branding and having a different software platform for ultra-lowcost computing makes a lot of sense if they're aiming to open the door to community-friendly computing. Windows would not have been a good choice there.

Of course, what they were trying to do was very hard, and I predicted as well that it would not likely make it (particularly as until recently the software stack was rubbish - only the more recent builds have made it nice). The GPL really wasn't a problem, although they did not leverage it well because it was so hard for the OSS community to get the devices to work on them.

Re:Yeah, whatever (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832679)

The GPL wasn't a problem from a low-level stand point--it might in fact be a very pragmatic license to use. It was a problem because the GPL is perceived to be a very political license and thus drags in all kinds of nonsense that the OLPC guys really didn't need.

I think what he means (2, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#28833597)

Is that deciding that it MUST be free software is the problem. There's a big difference between wanting things cheaply, which free software might be able to do for you, and insisting that it be all GPL'd. For a project like this, OSS zealotry had no place. The emphasis should have been on low cost. Whatever gets you what you need at the lowest price point is what you go with. That may well be OSS in a lot of cases but you use it because it does the job well for a good price, not because you are an ideologue.

So I agree with the GP, I felt the same way. When I heard that it was going to be all GPL I said "Well this is fucked." Reason is that means they weren't being pragmatic about it. They were putting ideologies on source code before the goal of getting computers to kids in poor countries. Also when you start making the GPL a focus, it bring out some of the worst zealots, you get people like RMS who want to tell you what it is going to be. That is NOT what your project needs.

What they needed to do was take any and everything that did what they wanted at the lowest cost. If that was MS or Apple provided, fine, if it was GPL, fine. They needed to say "Here's the requirements," and take what met them the best. If people or companies tried to play politics they needed to say "We aren't interested in that, you provide us with what we need or you don't, we aren't going to do something your way for political reasons." You take the real pragmatic approach of doing what you can to deliver a product that your customers want. This also means focusing on the needs of children, not the needs of geeks. Geeks may think a hackable kernel is a must, children in a 3rd world country probably just want something that is easy for them to get a book on.

That's why various netbooks are succeeding in first world countries. They are NOT concerned with ideology, they are concerned with making a product people want. What people want in 1st world nations is different, I'm not saying you could ship an EEE PC to Africa and have it succeed, but it is the design idea behind it. They give people what they want. They don't care what that is. You want Linux? Fine. You want Windows? Fine. You want a cheaper computer? Fine. You want a more capable computer? Fine. You get to have what you want. They aren't saying "No, this is the One True Way(tm) that netbooks must be done!" They figure out what the customers want and do their best to deliver that.

Had that been the focus of the OLPC project, it might have worked. Instead they played politics heavily, and not just in terms of OSS, and they came out with a POS that nobody was interested in.

Re:Wingnut (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28831781)

In all fairness to Negroponte, you can't expect him to admit that the project failed because he's an incompetent boob, and blaming Windows would be the equivalent to that since he pushed for it. He HAD to blame something else. Sugar was the only reasonable thing to blame, and enough people will believe him.

True (1, Insightful)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831615)

Part of OLPC had always been that the entire software stack could be modified, and that users could learn about it and share ideas to make their own platform better.

Re:True (2, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831865)

I think the part you are thinking of is the part where, any criticism of the system by pointing out that it doesn't do a job well is countered by "that isn't what the system was designed for". I can't count the number of times that the failings of the OLPC as a 'learn to program' platform was countered with claims that it was never intended to be a tool to teach programming. In fact, the OLPC website never really said what they were really trying to accomplish. Just a bunch of marketing buzzwords.

Re:True (5, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832057)

Part of OLPC had always been that the entire software stack could be modified, and that users could learn about it and share ideas to make their own platform better.

The Afghan girl risks her life learning how to read and write.

It is the basics of a grade school education which transform and modernize a society.

In these simple things are the roots of independence, power and survival.

That is where your focus needs to be.

The geek builds a machine that reflects his own needs and values and thinks that he has created something universal.

sugar wasn't the problem (5, Insightful)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831673)

I don't think sugar was the main problem.

Negroponte couldn't seem to make up his mind on the device. First it was supposed to be small, cheap, and completely open-source/user-modifiable. Part of the point was to make the entire platform a learning experience.

Then the hardware specs started changing to make room for Windows... Why exactly? Who knows... Microsoft wanted a piece of the pie, and Negroponte accommodated them.

But then the device wasn't nearly so cheap, and the entire platform wasn't an open learning experience. The cost lost them a few customers... And the lack of openness lost them a few more...

And the marketing? Horrible.

There are plenty of netbooks out there now... Stuff from MSI and Dell and HP... Some ship with Windows, some ship with Linux... They're selling just fine. There's no reason the XO couldn't have been a successful product.

Kickass analysis, Good Citizen! (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832245)

You truly give an awesome, spot on and kickass analysis, and am in full agreement, Good Citizen.

Re:sugar wasn't the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28832345)

I mean... have you ever talked to people from the MIT Media Lab?

They're all generally very friendly and idealistic (if a bit conceited) people. However, while there are a few wonderful researchers working in the true spirit of novel artistic research in the interactions of people and computers... the rest are the kinds of people who are looking to make a pretty demo, get sponsorship, and make out like bandits on the "value" of their IP.

A few great companies come out of their outstanding alumni (instructables, e-ink, etc), but most of them just seem to be looking for the first opportunity to sell out.

Krstics an ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28831715)

All of his bug references are just bugs, but he makes it sound like their are fundamental flaws in the product, e.g. his smack at Microsoft for a bug in the wireless vendor's driver.

For the want of a nail (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831769)

Sugar was the name for the new learning-oriented graphical interface that OLPC was building, but it was also the name for the entire XO operating system, one tiny part of which was Sugar the GUI

It was one hell of an important part.

OLPC was presented to the third world education minister as a take it or leave it proposition:

The kid friendly hardware, the constructivist philosophy of education and the Sugar UI which was supposed to bring it all together.

To question the UI exposes the fragility of the entire project.

The competition's argument:

"We have a laptop and a software bundle that wouldn't look out of place in the higher grades, the Internet cafe or at work."

"The UI is based on the standard desktop metaphor, which kids tend to pick up very quickly."

"The rest is up to you."

"We aren't going to tell you how your teachers should teach - we aren't going to tell you what they should teach."

A lot of things combined to kill the XO (4, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831787)

A lot of things came together to kill XO.

1. Sugar. It still isn't ready for primetime. Building a whole new UI proved a lot harder than designing a laptop for the 3rd world. But worse, Sugar LOOKED like a toy instead of a computer. Basically it was a PR failure even had it been ready to deploy in time.

2. x86. Unless the whole goal was teasing Microsoft into cheap licenses by waving the Penguin flag there was no reason to put an x86 into it. The power problem would have been so much simpler with ARM and the Sugar stack would have ran equally well on it.

3. Failure to understand the customers. The customers were never going to be the children. Neither was it going to be the educators who would have to relearn pretty much everthing to adopt them. The customers were third world kleptocrats.

4. Failure to clearly convey the whole new educational method XO implied and to get any buyin on it. Yes we on /. got it but most MSM reporting on it failed to get it even in the US.

Re:A lot of things combined to kill the XO (4, Insightful)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831965)

5. They wanted to create an experimental "mesh" networking system to get all the OLPCs online. This is at least as difficult as making an entirely new UI, perhaps more so.

6. They refused to leverage existing application software, preferring instead to reinvent every wheel for their Sugar system. This was an incredibly bad idea. Compatibility with existing Linux apps should have been a priority to make up for the things that the Sugar apps couldn't initially do.

7. Generally: the project ran on wishful thinking. They set crazily ambitious goals and totally underestimated the time, money and human effort required to achieve them. Intel and Microsoft didn't need to move to kill the project, it would have withered away anyway because of the vast discrepancy between Negroponte's dreams and his abilities. The fact that they tried anyway shows how well the PR machine worked. It was the only aspect of OLPC that was in any way successful. Unless OLPC can claim credit for the netbook revolution, which is doubtful to say the least.

Finally - I expect, if it had been ARM-based, then Microsoft would have been pushing WinCE. However, it is a myth that ARM CPUs are lower power than x86. The instruction set architecture has little or no relevance to power consumption. It's all about the materials used to build the CPU core.

Re:A lot of things combined to kill the XO (2, Interesting)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832087)

You guys a so wrong. OLPC is alive and strong. A million children are using it every day, and that number is increasing steadilly. Quit talking about it in the past tense.

Mesh networking is crucial to OLPC:

- Children in poor areas with NO internet connection can still collaborate on projects, share data.

- Children in poor areas with LITTLE internet connection, can all share the same hotspot thus providing much cheaper Internet access, down towards $0.20 per child per month. This works.

ARM Processors consume ALOT less power than X86. With ARM you are talking milliwatts of power used to run the laptop, not watts.

Re:A lot of things combined to kill the XO (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 4 years ago | (#28834903)

8. Governments and aid organizations have a hard enough time getting food into the hands of people that need it in 3rd world countries, even with their massive distribution systems. Food is stolen, resold, or grabbed up by local thugs who leverage it to meet their own goals. How likely is it that the One Laptop Per Child's XOs would actually end up in the hands of children?

Anytime somebody says "MSM"... (1)

coryking (104614) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832063)

or worse says "sheeple", god kills a kitten.

Yes we on /. got it but most MSM reporting on it failed to get it even in the US.

Perhaps the OLPC folk clearly conveyed their new education method. Perhaps the "they" who don't read slashdot understood what that method was and how it might work.

Perhaps the fault doesn't lie with OLPC not clearly stating their new method, nor does it lie with the "MSM" either. Perhaps the real fault is that the idea just sucks.

Kinda like Ron Paul supporters. Always blamed the "MSM" for failing to convey his "brilliant" message when in fact maybe, just maybe, we all knew what his message was, but thought that it wasn't a good one.

Blaming the MSM for failure to communicate is usually a sign of denial. Perhaps we all know your message, but we just don't agree with it. Either tune your ideas and message so they are acceptable by more people, or simply accept being the underdog and live with it. But never deny what is reality--it isn't the media's fault nobody agrees with whatever it is you are trying to sell.

OLPC is a success (5, Interesting)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831843)

Quit posting about OLPC being a failure. It is absolutely not.

Thanks to OLPC, we have soon 50 million netbooks in rich countries.

Thanks to OLPC, children have soon millions of cheap lower power laptops in poor countries.

Thanks to OLPC, the PC/Laptop industry's interpretation of Moore's law has totally been reshaped, every 18month now PC/laptops will be half the price instead of 2x more powerful and with 2x more bloatware.

Sure, I would have been happier, and so would most other Linux geeks if OLPC had shipped 100 million laptops to poor children by now, and not just 1 million units. Reason for that not happening yet in multi-hundred million scales though are several:

1. Intel will do anything it can not to be killed off by a non-profit laptop technology revolution. Including abusing of monopolistic situations and corrupting politicians.

2. AMD is not much interested in helping OLPC succeed in lowering the cost of laptops and PCs. Lower cost also means less profits and margins for AMD, and AMD has enough problems with profits and margins as it is.

Looking forward, to reach those 100 million poor children sooner rather than later:

1. OLPC needs to find an alternative to AMD as soon as possible. VIA is planned for XO-1.5 which could hopefully ship a few millions of units in a few months time, if VIA supports this move of OLPC creating a cheaper and lower power market using their processor. XO-1.5 could reach the $150 pricepoint soon and enable dozens of commercial netbooks using the VIA processor and also copying on the way OLPC is using the VIA processor.

2. OLPC needs to implement the worlds best ARM processor based laptops for XO-2 working with Google to implement the so called Chrome OS on those. Cloud computing can work also for places without stable internet access, HTML5 supports offline web apps and offline databases. OLPC needs to push Google to make it work on WiFi Mesh networks as well. XO-2 can start at $100 when released and reach the $50 price point, when manufactured using any of half a dozen ARM processor companies chips. All of TI, Qualcomm, Marvell, Freescale, Nvidia and Samsung, all those ARM processors should fit in the XO-2 design. Competition will bring the prices down faster.

Re:OLPC is a success (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831901)

The OLPC project was a failure for a few reasons. For one it never got to the promised $100 price point. And not even close to there, its current price is ~$200. Another reasons it was a failure was because it was meant to bring the benefits of F/OSS software to places where both free as in beer and free as in speech software was crucial. However, they compromised on that point too. Then was the fact of feature creep, they wanted it to do more, more and more. While perfection is always good, it can harm the project by not letting the price fall. Then was the failure of the give one get one program, it would have been better to give the masses a cheap PC while making a profit to further development. At the time of its release, a $220 netbook would have sold like crazy because no other computer would have been cheaper. Today though other simply as a donation why would I get an XO-1? I mean, its specs are pathetic (256 MB of memory, 1 gig SSD and an underpowered CPU). The first world sadly was an untapped market that could have raised a lot of money for the cause.

Re:OLPC is a success (4, Interesting)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832021)

OLPC always said they'd reach the $100 price point by selling many millions of laptops. Initial goal was at least sell 6 million units to reach that price goal. Now, with "only" 1 million units sold, and an unsupported AMD Geode based hardware that uses non-optimized anymore components, you can't expect them to be able to lower the price.

Though OLPC is launching XO-1.5 based on the VIA processor in the next few weeks or months as you can see in the videos on my http://olpc.tv/ [olpc.tv] Using this new lower power VIA processor, OLPC can speed it up 4x as well and still lower the cost and lower the power consumption.

You complainers about Windows support need to learn that it's BECAUSE OLPC is an open platform that Microsoft is able to port Windows XP for it. You are completely ridiculous not understanding that for OLPC to not support Windows XP, they would have had to build a closed proprietary system. Since specs of XO are opened, and it's X86 based, Microsoft is obviously able to read the specs on the Wiki and build a port of Windows XP for it. It's just plain stupid to keep asking for OLPC to somehow block Microsoft.

Give 1 Get 1 program was not a failure at all. Tens of thousands of laptops were given for free in dozens of countries. To create those dozens of hundred or thousand-laptop OLPC pilot projects. Those projects would not have been financed if it wasn't for the G1G1 program.

Now sure, you can critisize OLPC for not having found more money if you want. I find it that considering they are just a 30-employee non-profit, finding $200 million to fund those 1 million first XO laptops is pretty decent achievement no matter what. Sure, I'd prefer if they had access to billions of dollars to help millions more children get laptops. People in rich countries are greedy, they only care to pay for stuff that they can get for themselves.

Re:OLPC is a success (2, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832109)

You complainers about Windows support need to learn that it's BECAUSE OLPC is an open platform that Microsoft is able to port Windows XP for it. You are completely ridiculous not understanding that for OLPC to not support Windows XP, they would have had to build a closed proprietary system. Since specs of XO are opened, and it's X86 based, Microsoft is obviously able to read the specs on the Wiki and build a port of Windows XP for it. It's just plain stupid to keep asking for OLPC to somehow block Microsoft.

I don't think anyone's asking for OLPC to block Microsoft. The claim, which I don't have enough information to evaluate, is that the OLPC accommodated Microsoft by upping the specs on the device from what they had originally intended to something that could support WinXP better, which raised its price point.

Re:OLPC is a success (1)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832285)

Nah, XO1 is sluggish with Linux as well. OLPC did not change any hardware to accomodate Microsoft. The main problem with the XO is that AMD did not help much improving the Geode processor to fit with more cost effective RAM and Flash memory components.

But in 2007, OLPC did not really have a choice. Intel was crapping on the whole project with all its monopolistic corporate clout, and ARM processors did perhaps not seem ready enough for it.

I could perhaps argue, and I think I did ask the question often, why OLPC wasn't directly choosing the ARM processor back then in 2006-2007 for XO-1, I would have argued even an ARM11 processor would have been good enough.

Though, if you had to choose X86, I don't think OLPC did any mistakes in terms of hardware choices. Intel are absolutely impossible to work with and would have never wanted the netbook market to grow as fast as it is. Intel's profits are down 95% in 2008 compared to 2007 because of the netbooks cannibalizing the sales of more expensive processors in more expensive laptops.

Re:OLPC is a success (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832111)

You complainers about Windows support need to learn that it's BECAUSE OLPC is an open platform that Microsoft is able to port Windows XP for it. You are completely ridiculous not understanding that for OLPC to not support Windows XP, they would have had to build a closed proprietary system. Since specs of XO are opened, and it's X86 based, Microsoft is obviously able to read the specs on the Wiki and build a port of Windows XP for it. It's just plain stupid to keep asking for OLPC to somehow block Microsoft.

The problem isn't that MS can port Windows to it, it is the fact that the OLPC is effectively marketing Windows and bending the specs to fit Windows. Very similar to how Dell bundles Windows with its computers. There is nothing wrong with MS deciding one day "Hey I feel like porting Windows to this" but they didn't, they changed the direction of it.

Give 1 Get 1 program was not a failure at all. Tens of thousands of laptops were given for free in dozens of countries. To create those dozens of hundred or thousand-laptop OLPC pilot projects. Those projects would not have been financed if it wasn't for the G1G1 program.

But if they were to simply sell the laptop they could have made more money in the long run. We are talking about 2007, back then even an iPod touch cost $300, a device with a keyboard that could have apps and surf the web and sold for $230 would have sold like hotcakes.

People in rich countries are greedy, they only care to pay for stuff that they can get for themselves.

Exactly, so leverage it to your benefit. If they would have sold individual laptops at a slight price premium ($30-50 dollars) and than invested that into more computers and better components it would have helped them in two ways. One they got money and for another they sell more so they get cheaper hardware so they can distribute more. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Re:OLPC is a success (1)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832235)

"bending the specs to fit Windows"

That is BS. The specs were updated from 128MB RAM to 256MB RAM, not for Windows only, but for Linux as well. Same thing for the 1GB storage instead of 512MB.

With XO-1.5 they are improving the processor significantly upwards 1Ghz, with 4GB storage and much better DDR2 RAM memory. All this without increasing the cost, because VIA simply supports their new processor better and AMD has stopped developping for Geode years ago and don't support those latest cheaper and better components.

Last, your complaint about commercialization of OLPC to rich people like you. OLPC cannot do that cause they are a non profit. If you have them products on your market, you have them having to give 25% to resellers, paying for transportation, taxes, and none of the components would have been provided in the same way. And volunteers would not have contributed to the project in the same way.

AMD could have found some OEM and some brand to sell commercial versions of it if they wanted. But they did not want to. The commercial versions of OLPC are the Intel based netbooks. Those Intel based netbooks WOULD NOT HAVE EXISTED if it weren't for OLPC forcing Intel into that market.

Being a non-profit, OLPC's goals are not only to build and sell laptops themselves, but most importantly to influence THE WHOLE MARKET. Which OLPC so far has done amazingly well and will continue to do with VIA based XO-1.5 and especially with ARM based XO-2 coming soon with Chrome OS probably.

Re:OLPC is a success (2, Funny)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831905)

Also, to reach those 100 million children, OLPC needs to have more than just a couple dozen engineers working on the whole optimizations of hardware and software for the project.

What OLPC managed to build in XO1 and XO-1.5 with 30 employees and the little budget that they could get is absolutely amazing.

But what OLPC probably needs for XO-2 to absolutely work and sell laptops soon at $50 to revolutionize education worldwide, is thousands of engineers and the support from Barack Obama and the European Union.

So OLPC's political agenda definitely needs to be more targeted towards the politics of education and aid of the USA and Europe and with much more ambition to make things happen in huge scale as quickly as possible.

Re:OLPC is a success (2, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#28833295)

Thanks to OLPC, the PC/Laptop industry's interpretation of Moore's law has totally been reshaped, every 18month now PC/laptops will be half the price instead of 2x more powerful and with 2x more bloatware.

Halving the price of computers every 18 months is simply a fantasy, it's just not a sustainable rate. Costs do go down, but I don't think it can go down anywhere nearly that quickly for long periods of time.

Moore's "law" was really an observation not on power or software, but just silicon complexity, you can't just take the time period and just randomly apply it to some other technology and assume it will work at the same rate.

I wonder if the netbook idea is approaching the problem from the wrong direction anyway. Instead of somewhat bulky notebooks, why not cell phones? That way you can start cheap and expand the device rather than start expensive and work the price down. Heck, Palm used to sell PDAs for $100.

Re:OLPC is a success (1)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#28833389)

If you can double the amount of transistors per chip every 18 months, then you can also halve the size of the same amount of transistors. Thus you CAN halve the price every 18 months. The reason Intel isn't halving the price of their processors every 18 months is not because they cannot, it's because they don't want to. Doing whatever it takes to keep the prices high is the speciality of Intel. Old slower processors are being DISONTINUED by Intel before they are able to be manufactured for cheaper. Just look at the average cost of processors sold by Intel. They kept the average sold processor costs steady between 2000 and 2007, and since the netbooks of 2007, the average price per processor sold by Intel has nearly halved.

Re:OLPC is a success (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#28833713)

Thus you CAN halve the price every 18 months.

You can't. The cost per chip is for most part constant. They get faster over time, but not much cheaper. Its easy enough to buy a PC that is 1000 times as fast as one 15 years ago for the same price, but you won't get one as fast as 15 years ago that only a thousands of the original price.

The amount of work and quality control per chip doesn't change all that much with the transitor count. It however does change with the size of the chip, but those don't half every 18 month.

Re:OLPC is a success (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#28834141)

Sadly, computers are not only transistors on a chip. Looking at costs, they are not even **mainly** that.

Niggerponte... tee hee (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28831933)

n/t

which side it is right one to hit boiled egg first (0, Offtopic)

HollyMolly-1122 (1480249) | more than 4 years ago | (#28831939)

Which side it is right to hit boiled egg first ? That's a question for Pygmies!

woo hoo (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28831945)

Hey Ivan, want to buy a fucking vowel with your last name? Stupid piece of slavshit thinks a consonant needs an acute accent.

Ivan agrees with Nicholas, I don't get the fuss (1, Interesting)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832143)

Basically you read Ivan Kristic's post, he starts off saying he's always been against the Sugar UI.

Where in Nicholas Negroponte's interview does it say he thinks that the core Linux hardware/software development was the mistake?

Where in Nicholas Negroponte's interviews does he say he thinks Windows support on the XO is better than optimized Linux?

Talking about working for the evil empire, I'd say Ivan Kristic working for Apple should not have too much to brag about.

He's a genius for sure, and the work OLPC engineers have done for XO-1 was simply amazing considering the very small amount of engineers employed by OLPC, but I simply don't get why Ivan doesn't simply recognize that an open platform like XO simply cannot and should not try to block Microsoft from doing whatever they want if they want to port Windows XP for the unit as well.

Simply put, how can Ivan be working like this on an OPEN X86 based project and then demand that Microsoft not be allowed to port their Windows OS to it?

Re:Ivan agrees with Nicholas, I don't get the fuss (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832219)

No one says there is anything wrong with porting Windows to the X-O laptop, the problem results from when you bend over backwards to add in things simply to please MS so they can use XP and when you start making it with XP.

Re:Ivan agrees with Nicholas, I don't get the fuss (1)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832363)

OLPC has NEVER added things to please Microsoft.

Nicholas Negroponte has always argued that OLPC would only work towards Open Firmware supporting Windows on the laptops. Because he ALWAYS talked about Dual-boot support if ANY Windows Support at all!!!

Windows-only machines would never had been supported by OLPC funds.

Some Governments demand Windows support on the machines before they invest millions of dollars into such a project. That is why OLPC has worked on the open source Open Firmware ONLY, NOT ON THE HARDWARE, to support an eventual Windows port dual-bootable from a USB stick or from an SDHC card.

I hate Microsoft just as anyone else on Slashdot. Yet I also really hate when Linux fans act like complete idiots and bash on the worlds single BEST Linux hardware project EVER. Just because their totally open hardware somehow supports a Windows port also which Microsoft invested a lot of engineers for more than a year to have it working.

As much as I hate Microsoft, I would LOVE IT if Bill Gates announced tomorrow that he will finance $1 Billion to ship 5 million XO-1.5 in Africa running Windows (if he insists) but totally Linux dual-boot compatible as well, since THAT IS HOW OLPC MAKES THEM (providing each class with Linux USB sticks to either install a Linux dual-boot or to replace Windows eventually is easy).

Re:Ivan agrees with Nicholas, I don't get the fuss (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832291)

An extremely shallow reading of the first few paragraphs might give you that impression.

His problem with Sugar (rightly) was that it was far too ambitious for the timeline and budget the OLPC had. However, he acknowledges that the end result is increasingly worthwhile.

From his description of the debacle, it has nothing to do with the OS. The hardware is crap, and neither Windows nor Linux can change that.

And it sounds like only in a fairy land is this an open x86 project. Binary blobs and nothing resembling a functional API. (The latter being far more important than the former in my book.)

Re:Ivan agrees with Nicholas, I don't get the fuss (1)

Charbax (678404) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832461)

The hardware may have problems, but you can't expect it to work better, given AMD did not support the project well enough to keep Geode up to date with the latest cost efficient components. And given OLPC only could afford the amount of engineers working full time that they could afford.

I absolutely don't see where Nicholas Negroponte should have been complaining about the Linux core developed by Ivan Kristic and the other engineers.

Although I am NOT an engineer and I do not know the details of what the actual work has been to make XO-1, I think Ivan Kristic is suffering from some type of frustration having done IMMENSE work, being the software genius that he is, but simply not having had the ressources required to realize all the visions perfectly thus far. And somehow feeling perhaps that his brilliant Bitfrost security mechanisms don't work yet as are intended.

That might lead to the choice Ivan Kristic then made to work for a much larger company Apple. Apple definitely has the ressources in those $20 Billion they have in the bank, to give Ivan whatever he needs to make his visions work.

The difference between having 12 engineers working with or for you (if Ivan was or wanted to be the CTO), and potentially 200 at Apple, means all the difference for him if he has to hack at code all by himself at OLPC with insanely tight deadlines that are always pushed back or to work more comfortably at Apple, get much more sleep, be much better paid.

Anyways, I'd much prefer if they'd all just agree that the evil is not within OLPC but that it has always been that the rest of the world does not let the OLPC vision become reality just that easily. And that it will take more punches to the industry to make it work for the Children and not only for the banks and shareholders.

Re:Ivan agrees with Nicholas, I don't get the fuss (2, Informative)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832707)

given AMD did not support the project well enough to keep Geode up to date

No. This is correctly pronounced "AMD had no financial incentive to refresh Geode because nobody, including the OLPC project, was buying enough to make it worthwhile for a company that is absolutely hemorrhaging money."

He is owned by Billy G . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28832215)

Negroponte is a sell-out and should be ignored.

Policy Blunder (2, Insightful)

fmorton (1606145) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832491)

+1 on other remarks that it was not a technical issue

I'd say it was more than marketing, though. It was more along the lines of policy. I think they had an (barely) underlying agenda that this was not about the United States but about trying to bring the world on the same level technically.

I tried to talk with them about buying batches of computers for disadvantaged kids I work with in the US. These kids have no possibility of having their own computer, either. Some of them would also use it as a lighting device since they have no power at times to their house/apartment. But there was no interest on their part.

There are probably 1000s of organizations in the US that would buy 10 or 100 or 500 low-cost computers and would be willing to understand that there isn't much technical support from the seller at those low prices.

They made a really basic miscalculation about the potential audience for the machine.

It was Negroponte's fault (2, Insightful)

mookiemu (1268090) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832593)

The OLPC is a perfect example of what happens when business challenged intellectuals try to do something. The OLPC was and still is so ahead of it's time and it could have been such a huge success had it's release to the world not been so mismanaged. Every techno-geek I know, including myself, would salivate everytime an article appeared regarding the OLPC. And my mouth still salivates when I read about the OLPC II with dual opposing touchscreens. Had they not made it so difficult to get one, with the limited time offer and the buy-one-get-one-free policy, This thing would have completely taken over the market instead of the eeepc. Then they would have had the funds and the market demand to make them for under $100. And they would have been able to head off the MS threat. So blame Negroponte. His heart was in the right place but he bumbled it with his economic stupidity and as a result lost the window of opportunity to get this remarkable product out into the world. I think there is still a chance with the OLPC II. How many of us here can honestly say we wouldn't pick one up if it were available? I would buy two!

Re:It was Negroponte's fault (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 4 years ago | (#28832719)

When the OLPC first came out, I probably would have bought one.

But these days, I can get a netbook, now, that better serves my needs without breaking the bank. It makes no sense for me to buy one.

And, from what I've heard, the only place Negroponte's heart was actually in was "how do I get a Nobel" territory.

Re:It was Negroponte's fault (1)

mookiemu (1268090) | more than 4 years ago | (#28833045)

Lol! I think you're right. And had it worked out he might have gotten a Nobel for this. I have a netbook too, but seriously, wouldn't you want one of these? http://www.engadget.com/2008/05/27/olpc-xo-2-to-include-multitouch-and-possibly-haptic-screen-from/ [engadget.com]

Re:It was Negroponte's fault (1)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 4 years ago | (#28833547)

Not really, actually. Even on a netbook I do a lot of typing, and would want a real keyboard.

Plus, that doesn't look too Windows-friendly, and for desktop use I'm not much interested in Linux.

Nicholas Negroponte (1)

Device666 (901563) | more than 4 years ago | (#28834477)

Nicholas Negroponte has proved a visionary and a thoughtleader in his field "Being Digital", he has to be credited for that. The OLPC was a nice idea. However clearly he doesn't have any talent for leadership and management. For leaders it would be better not to wine about what went wrong, or how people messed up. He should be clever enough to have learned his lessons, do what he's good at and looking to the future instead of the past. That past has become increasingly boring. It is hard to believe anyone is interested in Nicholas bitter stories.
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