Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Thin Client With OSS for Developing Nations

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the spreading-the-penguin-love dept.

Software 252

FridayBob writes "The BBC has a story on a new, ultra-thin client that a group of not-for-profit developers, Ndiyo, hope will open up the potential of computing to people in the developing world. Not surprisingly, their system uses open source software. The system runs Ubuntu Linux with a Gnome/KDE deskto and OpenOffice. From the article: 'Licences for software are often a significant part of expenditure for smaller companies which rely on computers. But a recent UK government study, yet to be formally published, has shown that open source software can significantly reduce school budgets dedicated to computing set-ups.'"

cancel ×

252 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I have bad karma anyways (-1, Redundant)

ian rogers (760349) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389436)

First post?

Montreal? (0, Offtopic)

Montreal!!hahahahaha (880138) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389446)

hahahahaha

Thin clients for models (5, Funny)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389439)

What about thin clients for models? They regurgitate whatever information you feed them.

Re:Thin clients for models (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 9 years ago | (#12390035)

But most of the geeks on Slashdot are too thick to be aware of that fact.

Nice (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389445)

Glad to see a full desktop think client and not another Simputer.

That really is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389452)

...a novel [simputer.org] concept [mit.edu] .

The third world need wireless mesh. (5, Informative)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389458)

A better solution for the third world is a bootable cdrom image that comes up with a minimal system including:
  1. Wireless mesh software and drivers from widely available and now very cheap 802.11b cards.
  2. A web browser with good javascript/xsl support.

Such a bootable cdrom (based on Slackware) is already available from LocustWorld [mirror.ac.uk] .

Maybe the Ubuntu guys should port it over from Slackware.

Re:The third world need wireless mesh. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389512)

this is actually a flasher cdrom that will write an image to a hard driver (immediately and without much warning or fanfare)...

You may be right but... (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389679)

I would have expected the flasher to be downloaded from the flasher directory [mirror.ac.uk] .

Probably the best thing for folks to do is just subscribe to the MeshAP user list [locustworld.com] and ask questions.

Re:The third world need wireless mesh. (5, Insightful)

stubear (130454) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389622)

No, the third world needs a source of clean drinking water, democratic governments instead of tinpot dictators and warlords, education on how to grow crops instead of remaining nomadic herders, better housing, and public schools to name a few things. Computers don't even rate on any list of things the third world needs.

Re:The third world need wireless mesh. (3, Funny)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389745)

"No, the third world needs a source of clean drinking water..."

Yeah, it's such a pity that OSS developers can't write clean water.

Re:The third world need wireless mesh. (2, Interesting)

homer_s (799572) | more than 9 years ago | (#12390013)

So, a poster here at Slashdot knows more about the needs of the "third world" than the people who live and work there. Hmmm, maybe you should just stick to Soviet Russia and Korea.

Re:The third world need wireless mesh. (1)

another_mr_lizard (608713) | more than 9 years ago | (#12390098)

Please quote the part of the linked Beeb article that says low cost OSS thin clients are more important than fresh drinking water, sanitation and affordable housing because I must have missed it.

Re:The third world need wireless mesh. (2, Insightful)

grolschie (610666) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389633)

I've been waiting for a bootable CD-ROM that does only this:

1). Detects simple hardware i.e. video, mouse, lan, enough for 2D X Windows.

2). Gets an IP address via DCHP and generates a unique computer name.

3). Boots to a Remote Desktop login screen without needing to know beforehand a list of computers. Simply, the same as MSTSC where you enter the username, password and computer/server name/address.

This would cut down many licenses and make Windows thin client networking a breeze. I guess there are numerous systems that can do all this, but either they are complicated to setup, or have extra stuff that is not wanted (i.e. an entire operating system and desktop apps). A simple MSTSC bootdisk would be ideal.

Re:The third world need wireless mesh. (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389758)

The problem with your idea, and it is a good one excepting this: Windows TS requires a license for every connection to the server. win2k/xp+ have that license built in, but anything different and you need to install licenses on the server to accomidate them.

Which typically will run you around 150-200 per seat.

First Post! (-1, Offtopic)

serialXP (840856) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389468)

Yes!

Re:First Post! (1, Offtopic)

mvdw (613057) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389480)

Yes!

No.

interesting approach (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389472)

I read their white paper. It's not a diskless boot setup. Rather it sends the screen image over Ethernet.

Re:interesting approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389545)

Do you have a link to the white paper?
Thanks

Re:interesting approach (1)

Urusai (865560) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389820)

You mean, like X? How is that news?

Wow (4, Funny)

Lukesed (880145) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389473)

I have no idea what this story is about. Seriously.

Re:Wow (1, Troll)

EinarH (583836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389592)

It's only in USA that clueless people get rated as interesting and funny...

[/trollmode]

Re:Wow (1)

Lukesed (880145) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389614)

I'm sorry, but what on earth is a "Thin Client"? Lots of other people are probably thinking the same thing. I understand the other stories...

Re:Wow (3, Informative)

EinarH (583836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389721)

No problem. A "thin client" is a computer or terminal that displays software that is running on a server and/or is running software from a flash based disk or a CD-ROM. On most thin clients the data processing occurs on the server.
In most of the tradidtional cases a thin client is a networked computer using software such as Citrix.
The advantages (according to the Citrix folks) are cheaper clients, lower TCO and easier administrations.

Re:Wow (1)

KaptNKrunchy (876661) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389852)

" It's only in USA that clueless people get rated as interesting and funny..."

Firstly, It's only in the USA... ;you non-format sticking ESL reject.

Secondly, were you to have any sense or humor, the post was both slightly funny, and interesting.

Thirdly, no it's not ok to fuck squirels you sick fuck!

Proposed new mod (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389629)

-1: Google is your friend

Re:Proposed new mod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389643)

http://justfuckinggoogleit.com/ [justfuckinggoogleit.com] Yeah.

Bandwidth? (1, Informative)

two-tail (803696) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389484)

Hmmm. Many many thin clients, all trying to do stuff (the same stuff) at the same times. Any bandwidth problems that could come up? I would guess that unless utilization is carefully watched, with overflow capacity readily available, it could be a problem. It would also require that the "thin server" (or maybe it's "thick server") be not too far away?

RTFA (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389559)

This is answered in the presentation; 30 users consume less than 100Mbps.

Re:RTFA (2, Interesting)

NtroP (649992) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389579)

We have one location with over 200 thin-clients on a 100Mb network. The impact is minimal. With QoS and propper VLANing you can to much more than that. Just web-surfing and email take up more bandwidth than the thin-client traffic on that network.

TCO (3, Funny)

xx_chris (524347) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389485)

100 pounds!? Don't they understand that by using open source software their total cost of ownership will be much greater than if they used Windows. Get with program, poor people. Make Bill richer.

Re:TCO (-1, Flamebait)

wilgaa (866575) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389538)

Mod Parrent Down!!!!! Seriously, this is the biggest bunch of FUD that I've seen yet. PS. First Post!

Development begins at home (5, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389501)

Why are these cheap entry-level systems always targeted at the "Third World", rather than poor people here in the US? They'd have much better chances of success in our society, already geared for computer-readiness, in becoming popular - or gaining entry at all. Poor Americans have less of a culture gap to close to become computer users, and are much more able to bootstrap themselves into becoming unsubsidized computer consumers like the rest of us. And American products filter out to the rest of the world after they're out of fashion here, so feeding the American poor would eventually feed the foreign poor, too. Without setting up the foreign poor as better competitors to our domestic poor, upon whom we all depend. The products would be easier to produce and distribute. Aren't our own poor people worth helping?

Re:Development begins at home (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389532)

Why are these cheap entry-level systems always targeted at the "Third World", rather than poor people here in the US?

Because the barrier to entry really isn't much of a barrier in the US. Dell sells a $300 machine, Walmart a $200 one. If you can't save up for that $200 Walmart box, you can't save up for the $100 one either. The only other option would be 'free'.

Re:Development begins at home (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389583)

There are plenty of Americans who can't afford a $100 computer, just like the many foreigners. And the difference between even a $100 and $200 computer is $100, which is double, either here or abroad. Poverty means not having enough to eat, let alone invest in a computer, regardless of which currency you lack.

Re:Development begins at home (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389618)

Right. And as I said, the next option would have to be 'free'. A $200 machine here in the states is already 'low cost'.

Meanwhile, thousands of perfectly serviceable PC's are literally thrown out every year by companies in the states. Let's use those.

Then we get into what the machines in the article are to be used for. Company desktop replacments, networked to a central server. Not standalone home use.

Re:Development begins at home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389654)

There are plenty of Americans who can't afford a $100 computer,

The thing is, there ARE projects to create cheap or free computers like this. The commercial ventures have all failed because nobody will buy the computers.

Some computer recyling shops have been moderately succesful, but they frequently shut down due to lack of volunteers & funding.

Re:Development begins at home (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389662)

Nobody will buy the free computers?

Re:Development begins at home (1)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389720)

People won't buy the cheap, refurbished computers.

And believe it or not, there are tons of free, refurbished computers sitting around.

Re:Development begins at home (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389762)

The main features of the foreign computer aid programmes to which I'm referring is not so much the cheap computers, but rather the programme itself, which helps people get and use the computers. Poor people are no different from the rest of us, primarily needing support to use these machines at all. Most poor Americans are poor because they're disorganized or socialized in a way that excludes activities like computing. While poor foreigners are prohibited by other factors, like actual unavailability of machines. So the programmes are even more important to helping poor Americans, along with affordable machines.

Re:Development begins at home (2, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389682)

Well, if $200 is $100 too much for you to afford a computer, you probably can't afford $10/month for Internet access. There's other stuff you can do with a computer of course -- but for those purposes you can get a computer for $100, and a lot less, since so many old computers are floating around. If you can hook up with the right charity, you can get an old machine running Window 3.1 or Linux for free.

Re:Development begins at home (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389698)

The poor foreigners are in an even worse Internet situation. Why are they a better target for these programmes?

Re:Development begins at home (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389763)

Because cheap computers are in abundance in the US. You want cheaper than the $200 Walmart box? Go to eBay, and plug in PII. $69 Dell and Compaq PII/300 laptops.
$25 PIII/550 desktops.
A Compaq PIII/1.0ghz currently bidding at $57. Hell, that is faster than MY main PC was until a few months ago.

Cheap PC's are very easy to get in the US, if you want one. And if you want the free option, the local library usually has one.

Re:Development begins at home (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389840)

And, how are these poor people who want computers going to even know about eBay, exactly? The whole point is that they don't have computers or Net connections already...

Re:Development begins at home (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389898)

They live in a vacuum? They have no friends or relatives? I understand your point, but there are vey, very few in the western world who can't find someone to ask where to get an inexpensive PC.

Re:Development begins at home (1)

AussieVamp2 (636560) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389882)

hah, my linux running let the wife surf the internet PC is a PIII/800 :) good thing about these lower power machines is noise (or lack thereof) for one

Re:Development begins at home (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389899)

All good examples, but you neglected one -- that old P133 box your neighbor gives you for free so he won't have to pay a recycling fee.

Re:Development begins at home (2, Interesting)

kiore (734594) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389710)

Perhaps because this system is being developed in the UK where they have a long tradition of developing cheaper computers. Clive Sinclair, Alan Sugar, and many of their emulators hail from there. The simputer was IIRC developed in India, which is in the third world.

Re:Development begins at home (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389727)

There are plenty of poor Britons, too.

Home is taken care of (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389728)

Computers cheaper than the ones we already have can't be made commercially -- there's just no way to do it and make a profit. So the vendor has to be a charity. Now, if you're a charity and you think more poor Americans need to have computers, you're not going to subsidize the development of a new kind of computer. You just going to go out, buy standard computers, and sell them at a loss. Or (more likely) give them away. I believe some charities already do this.

If you read past the headlines, you see that point of these projects is not just to make cheap computers -- though cost is certainly a factor. It's to design new computers that are better suited to local conditions.

Re:Home is taken care of (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389835)

And how is that scenario any more applicable to foreigners than to Americans?

Re:Development begins at home (2, Insightful)

Yankel (770174) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389812)

I think you're confusing "cheap computers" with "cheap computer access."

TFA pointed out that the target users couldn't possibly afford to put any type of computer in their homes. Not even a $100 thin client, monitor, keyboard and mouse. Besides, buying a thin client won't suffice as a stand-alone home computer. You need a server to run it from. This isn't an entry-level desktop computer.

The 'thin client' system (see www.ltsp.org for a more detailed explanation) plugs one or two dozen of these thin clients into a fat server -- at a community centre, school or internet cafe. That's when the cost savings kick in. One $1500 server and twenty $100 clients are cheaper than purchasing twenty $300 desktop computers.

Thin clients are already being used in schools, libraries and community centres throughout North America. Most of them run Windows. It's the concept of a really, really cheap one running open source software that's making it accessible to third-world countries.

Re:Development begins at home (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389875)

And there are plenty of American communities without them. What many poor people in America, as anywhere, lack, is a group of people to shepherd them through the process of becoming users, in addition to access they can afford. There's no confusion, except the confusion of
"worthy poor" with "foreign".

Re:Development begins at home (1)

fiddlesticks (457600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389918)

News just in. This isn't an American company [newnhamresearch.com]

And perhaps the 'foreign poor' *should* be competitors to the 'American' poor.

'And American products filter out to the rest of the world after they're out of fashion here, so feeding the American poor would eventually feed the foreign poor, too. '

so naive. when's it going to happen then?

Re:Development begins at home (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389956)

News to you: most of these projects have been American, and I referred to the projects as a group. More news: I have no interest in subsidizing foreigners to compete more effectively with my neighbors. Another revelation: poor foreign neighborhoods are awash in old American castoffs, from clothing to TV to movies - as any traveler in these places knows well.

So deluded by your own preconceptions. No more free clues for you.

Re:Development begins at home (1)

fiddlesticks (457600) | more than 9 years ago | (#12390054)

> most of these projects have been American, and I
> referred to the projects as a group.

A group of unrelated projects?

Re:Development begins at home (4, Informative)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389947)

Why are these cheap entry-level systems always targeted at the "Third World", rather than poor people here in the US?

Well first off, this article is about people in the UK. These thin clients are also designed for a centralized computer center, school, or business; not home use.

Second of all, in urban areas of the US, there ARE projects like this. Unfortunately, they don't get alot of news coverage-- not sexy enough I guess. They are small, poorly funded, poorly organized, stuck in politics, stuck in government bureaucracy, and there aren't that many of them. But they do exist.

There are also projects which can help in this sort of realm:

http://www.ltsp.org/ [ltsp.org]
http://www.osef.org/ [osef.org] (They've been quiet for a while).

Looks like you are NYC, and I don't know what's available over there.

There are projects. And yes our own poor people are worth helping, but that doesn't mean you can't help the poor people in developing nations.

Re:Development begins at home (2, Interesting)

jcorgan (30025) | more than 9 years ago | (#12390103)

Aren't our own poor people worth helping?

There sure is a lot of us vs. them in your comment.

Personally, I am a citizen of the world--the extent to which I feel charitable toward the poor does not follow along national government borders.

If "our" poor are worth helping, what are you doing to help them?

Who's behind this.. (1, Funny)

swab79 (842256) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389504)

I wonder if Mark Shuttleworth has anything to do with this? What with the Ndiyo being another african word...

FPGAs vs. SOCs (2, Interesting)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389544)

I wonder if their FPGA-based design is really cheaper than using a Geode or Xilleon.

Re:FPGAs vs. SOCs (1)

mvdw (613057) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389609)

I don't know the answer to your question, but I also wonder if their FPGA design will also be open-sourced?

Re:FPGAs vs. SOCs (1)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389887)

But are there good OSS programs to implement the Verilog or VHDL into a format that can be loaded onto the FPGA?

Thin Clients are great (4, Insightful)

NtroP (649992) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389561)

We use Thinstation [thinstation.org] thin-clients here connecting to either Win2k3 Terminal servers or Xandros Terminal Servers.

The benefits of thin-clients are many. First, the client can be really bare bones (i.e. no HD, minimal RAM, low-end graphics, low processesor speeds, etc) so they can be cheap ($170 + monitor from WalMart or donated machines). Second, to upgrade all your workstations (perfomrance-wise) all you need to do is upgrade or add another server - not hundreds of workstations. Third, to upgrade all you clients (software-wise), you just upgrade the software on a few servers. Managing one or two Win2K3 servers for viruses, patches, malware, etc, beats the hell out of 200 WinXP workstations!

There are other benefits, but these are the ones that have really made a difference for us. Don't get me wrong, thin-clients aren't the answer for everything. There are many situations where you need to have a fully functioning workstation. However, with the money you save on thin-clients, you can afford to get really good workstations, which in turn can be turned into thin-clients when they are needing to be upgraded.

Most of our users simply need a means of doing basic office tasks like word-processing, spreadsheets, email, web-surfing, etc. Those are perfect for thin-clients.

What would I want to have to make it better? Easy. First, get OpenOffice to work properly on a Win2K3 terminal server, It's not real good in a multi-user environment like that (unless I'm doing something wrong - possible). And the number 1 thing that would make it better: can you say "Tiger Terminal Server Edition"?

Tiger Terminal Server Edition (1)

Your Average Joe (303066) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389808)

If Apple decides to do this MS is in for some serious problems. That would be the BEST presentation layer for 95% of users.

Re: Thin clients cheap? (3, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389844)

First, the client can be really bare bones (i.e. no HD, minimal RAM, low-end graphics, low processesor speeds, etc) so they can be cheap ($170 + monitor from WalMart or donated machines).

Yep, thin clients are great, when used in the right places. And they have many advantages. But... price isn't one of them. Not yet, anyway.

Where I live, PC's up to around 200 MHz. (original Pentium and below) are effectively free. You want one? Look around, hand over a sixpack of beer, and you have one.

Now with a $170 budget, I can get you a (used) PC that includes monitor, and beats the crap out of any thin client you can find for same money.

How come? Well, we all know electronics today are 'cheap' thanks to the sheer numbers they're produced in. Apparantly in today's world, a standard beige box with off-the-shelf components, is still cheaper (to produce, or second-hand), than a book-sized thin client produced in limited numbers.

For a business, the numbers may differ. If you'd use old hardware in a thin-client like fashion, you might have to hire someone, to manage parts, build and repair boxes fulltime. In that scenario, it may be cheaper to spend $170 once on thin clients, and very little after that on managing the hardware. But the savings here are not hardware, but management costs. Which I think is the advantage of thin clients anyway.

I hope some day (maybe soon) these economics will change, and make smaller/smarter boxes cheaper than equal performing WalMart beige boxes. Because they have many advantages, and I happen to like small+smart boxes. Even if they're still a bit bigger, like Mini-ITX or Shuttle XPC's.

More of the same NON-SOLUTION. (2, Insightful)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389632)

I have never understood the idea that "third world" people want, need, or have to settle for "miraculous" $100 computers or thin clients. The truth is that in "third world" countries, bare bones PCs that run your choice of Windows or Linux simply don't cost a hell of a lot more than $100, and often less. It's all about what the market will bare. This thin client bull shit is just more of the same non-solution looking for a non-problem. People in "third world" countries that want computers have them, and those that don't know that they "need" them can get REAL computers cheap. And, thin client or not, it matters little if there is nothing to connect them together. You know, like phone lines, fiber, dish, wireless? Think about infrastructure, than give them REAL computers.

Re:More of the same NON-SOLUTION. (5, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389751)

"The truth is that in "third world" countries, bare bones PCs that run your choice of Windows or Linux simply don't cost a hell of a lot more than $100, and often less."

Welcome to the land of Generalisation, where one anecdotal observation trumps any need for actual data!

Sorry to be so crude, but what you're saying is so hopelessly wrong that it just about made me jump out of my chair. How do I know it's wrong? Because I'm sitting right now in a developing nation that adds a 40% duty to all imported computer goods. I cannot buy a new PC of any kind for less than USD 1000. (That's about 6 times the legal monthly minimum wage.)

I've spoken with officials from the department of trade, and they've been extremely receptive to the fact that high computing costs are a huge barrier to development. In fact, they're in the process of lowering those barriers. But even then, the best we could expect would be a roughly $4-500 computer, which still represents a huge amount of money for the average person. When you're earning very little money, every dollar has to count.

So guess what? We used 8 year-old Pentiums to operate as thin clients to connect to 'modern' PIII 450s running Ubuntu. Here's the press release [www.news.vu] we just published.

In fairness, there are a number of countries where computer hardware is cheap. But the fact that some developing countries have cheap computers does not mean that 'the developing world has cheap computers'.

Nonsense. (0, Troll)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389813)

I cannot buy a new PC of any kind for less than USD 1000. (That's about 6 times the legal monthly minimum wage.)

Jesus. What kind of box are you trying to buy? $1000 US? Maybe you should set your sights a little lower and realize that not everyone needs a game box.

Re:Nonsense. (4, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389948)

"Jesus. What kind of box are you trying to buy? $1000 US? Maybe you should set your sights a little lower and realize that not everyone needs a game box."

I wasn't going to reply at first, but then I realised that you genuinely don't get it. The country where I live cannot survive on income tax revenues, because the cash economy is almost non-existent. This means that it relies on import duties, business license fees, etc. for its revenues. This means that things like computers have hugely inflated prices. PCs, for example, have a 40% duty slapped on them. Vendors also add large markups because they pay extremely high business license fees.

All this means that a low-end computer that would cost about USD 4-500 ends up costing not less than USD 1000 when it arrives here. Is it clearer now?

And stop calling me Jesus. 8^)

Boiiiig! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389764)

I live in a third world country, just south of the border and computers cost a lot more than $100 dollars. Even if they cost $100(if you can get me this price then buy for me 1000 units), most of the population has to work 2 weeks to earn this money.

In the other side, we don't have problems with software's cost, piracy is almost legal.

Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389774)

"Just south of the border"? Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, or any number of countries SOUTH OF MEXICO. So go fuck yourself.

Re:Bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389786)

No moron, I'm in Mexico.

Really? (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389803)

What are you talking about? I can get a P3 with a decent hard drive right here in the USA _right_fucking_now_ for damn near $100. If you are suggesting that a P3 is not a "real" computer, and that no one could possibly make use of one, than you are a snob. However, having been to certain parts of Guatemala (admittedly, the more inhabited parts), I can tell you that an adequate P3 box with monitor will in fact cost you around $100. Sure you can't play the latest video games, but you know? So what, it's a REAL computer, not some bull shit thin client or glorified PDA.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389824)

But people in Guatemala have $100 to spend on a computer?

Re:More of the same NON-SOLUTION. (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389768)

" The truth is that in "third world" countries, bare bones PCs that run your choice of Windows or Linux simply don't cost a hell of a lot more than $100, and often less."

Can you cite an example of that? It seems to me that shipping alone would cost most of that.

Note: I'm ignorant on this topic. I'm not challenging your point.

WTF is Electricity??? (1)

Your Average Joe (303066) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389866)

They do not even have reliable electricity. More important is immunization, clean water and facilities for waste disposal. NOT COMPUTERS!

Pointless story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389642)

WTF is a thin client ?

A hardware platform ?
A browser ?
An malnourished third world inhabitant thanks to his corrupt backward government ?

Oh and a govenment study said OSS is cheaper. Well DUH.

crap crap crap

Great... (4, Insightful)

Eyeball97 (816684) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389647)

Another bunch of do-gooders who think developing nations need cheap PCs. I'm in Africa, my local hardware store's damn near as cheap as I can find on Pricewatch.

The people you're targeting get paid $50 a month, my friend, and their kids go to a school which is basically 4 walls, a floor, and a roof if they're lucky.

Oh yes, a server and some thin clients is really what's needed there.

Not paper and pens. Text books. Teachers. Electricity (what are they planning to plug these things into?).

The thing about developing nations, is not that they're poor, it's that the divide between the rich and the poor is vast.

At the other end of the scale, here, you have your rich, your ex-pats, etc - and you have your $5,000/term "International School" organisations who have wireless internet, computer labs, international standard teachers, and they don't need this. Nor do the businesses, most of which are thriving, thank you very much.

I'm sitting here next to a 3Tb server in my office and a server room full of Dual Xeons next door reading about how developing nations need some sort of solution for cheap computing?

These people have so lost direction they couldn't find it with both hands and a map.

It actually looks like a nice system, that would be ideal for reducing costs in schools and some businesses world-wide, I have NO idea what they're doing thinking they're doing this for the good of the "third world".

If they really want to do something "not for profit", try volunteering for an aids project, a humanitarian project, or a teaching project.

Sometimes I look at my driver - I pay him $65 a month, and I wonder what he would have been if he'd had the education I did. HE would be sitting in this chair, for a start. I could teach him in front of this PC for a month of Sundays, and it wouldn't make up for the fact he has no basic education.

Re:Great... (1)

EnronHaliburton2004 (815366) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389708)

Ah, I see. Your solution is for someone else to fix the problem or volunteer for a humanitarian project, yet you quite concisely point out the problem here:

it's that the divide between the rich and the poor is vast.

From your description, these people need a revolution to redistribute the wealth. Obviously the rich people in your country don't really give a fuck.

Re:Great... (2, Insightful)

Eyeball97 (816684) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389804)

"My country" is Scotland, as if it matters.

I don't recall rich people anywhere in the world giving a fuck, generally speaking.

Revolution? Yeah, that'll work. Gather up every cent in the country, and redistribute it, bring the entire population up to $100 a month instead of $50. I can see how that would help.

Re:Great... (1)

emm-tee (23371) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389712)

Score:6, if you ask me.

Trickle down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389981)

Good point.

So match parent up with the earlier article, which said the place cheap systems are really needed is in lower-class American schools. Add to that American shoe-string startup companies that don't have venture capital. And add American state and federal government departments that are downsizing.

Then add the lower classes in Japan and the EU, where people do have working powerlines: I just got back from a year as an exchange student in Sapporo. One friend of mine there has extra PCs to throw away, and it would have cost him--so I took and got them all working with decent software for students. Guess what: I had no trouble finding plenty of classmates with no computer of their own, who were more than happy to have something in the sub-$500 range.

The lower classes are alive and growing in "rich" countries. And if those lower classes aren't encouraged to get cheap computing access, where is B-b-b-Bill [and friends] going to get his next batch of Microserfs? How will they continue turning IT into a McJobs industry?

Yawn, Sun already has this technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389667)

In case you don't get it, there is not enough power in third-world countries to boot up your super-cool cases (with those nifty case-mods, of course), along with your 10,000 rpm disk farms and 2X power-sucking CPUs. Don't talk about bootable CDROMs as a solution and open your minds a little and consider that not every country in this world can afford rectangular foot-warmers for each of their computer users - if the "box" has a fan, CPU, or disk drive, it is not practical in large scale in third world countries.

Sun has had its ultra-thin (I hate these descriptions) client for years. No state at all maintained on the box, and very low power consumption. Sure, to be fair, you have to add in the power consumption of the server in the back room. But, these solutions do indeed make sense for power-deprived nations.

Re:Yawn, Sun already has this technology (2, Informative)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389797)

Too bad a Sun Ray costs more than a diskless PC.

I see danger lurking (2, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389668)

The system runs Ubuntu Linux with a Gnome/KDE deskto and OpenOffice. From the article:...

Pay attention to the beef which is OpenOffice. I am afraid that SUN may pull the plug on java, which OO.o has come to heavily rely on of late. SUN could simply change its license. Let's remember that SUN is practically in bed with M$ after having received some big cash ftom M$, and has never criticized SCO for its actions.

I personally advocate the forking of OO.o portions that are GPLed so that we can finally be free. How about that?

Re:I see danger lurking (1)

scotlewis (45960) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389794)

Sun is in the middle of making it's chief operating system open source. They've just started an initiative to get as much of the company blogging as possible to make the company more transparent. They keep the Java name (that's right, just the name) so that they can guarantee anything called Java will actually be compatible. So there's very little chance of them taking Java away. And even if they did, the JVM, class libraries and whatnot all have publicly available specifications, so it's not like compatible replacements couldn't be produced.

And, let's not forget that the 'big cash' from MS was basically Microsoft paying Sun to stop running around calling it an anti-competitive monopolist.

Reality check: Sun's in the Open Source game for the long haul. Just because they don't worship at the altar of the GPL doesn't make them evil.

Re:I see danger lurking (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389839)

>And even if they did, the JVM, class libraries and whatnot all have publicly available specifications, so it's not like compatible replacements couldn't be produced.

If this is the case, why won't some parts of OO.o run with IBM's java implementation? IBM has tried to make its implementation work but things are not as smooth as the real java.

Ideal American school/library client (3, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389683)

I don't know about the 3rd world, but the ideal client for most libraries and schools would be:

1) video, keyboard, mouse, optionally local removable read/write storage
2) operating system, e.g. Linux, with essential utilities, e.g. firewall and antivirus software
3) web browser
4) most common lightweight apps, e.g. low end word processor, and perhaps software specific to the given installation, e.g. front end to a card catalog or other database.
5) remote access to heavyweight, lightly-used apps like OpenOffice, running on a nearby server

with hardware just beefy enough to run the local apps plus a few web browser windows plus a few remote-access windows.

All of this would boot from a read-only, or at least read-only without administrator action, medium, to all but eliminate the threat of malware and end-user malice - reboot and the damage is undone.

Nice fonts (0, Offtopic)

malraid (592373) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389759)

Anybody has used a thin client linux distro with nice (ttf support) fonts? I've used LTSP, and while it works nice, the fonts look butt ugly. There seems to be a way to enable ttf, but it seems overly complicated last time I checked.

Re:Nice fonts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389884)

You're kidding, right? If your video cards are supported by Xorg then you get pretty fonts by default -- check your hardware ...

Please use the Coral links (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389828)

Windows or Linux, who cares? (0)

tftp (111690) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389859)

People who want a $100 computer probably don't care if their Windows is not exactly properly licensed (such as, installed from a CD bought for $1 at a street corner.) Linux or BSD does not help in this aspect.

Furthermore, an old and cheap PC may not be good enough for a modern UNIX-like system, but an old Windows 95 system will be fine on it. Can we recommend Redhat 3.0 to anyone, going back in time? Can we suggest to run it in console mode only, without X? But Win98SE is not a bad choice, given the old PC in question. I still have Win98SE on an old notebook; it runs very snappy. But when I tried RH (8 or 9) on the same notebook it was visibly sluggish, and generally the usability of the system dropped.

Re:Windows or Linux, who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389902)

It's not ownership of the computer that matters, it's connecting it up to the Internet. Your average poor person doesn't have the money to afford the connection, assuming the consumer infrastructure exists. Hence the popularity of Telecentros in Brazil for example. Somebody knowledgeable keeps it running and thin clients make it easier. And just try to connect a roomful of W98 computers to a router and wait for the license sharks and viruses to arrive.

Re:Windows or Linux, who cares? (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389921)

And just try to connect a roomful of W98 computers to a router and wait for the license sharks and viruses to arrive.

People in all countries face this issue, not just in developing nations. Besides, Win98 with Firefox is probably more secure than WinXP with IE... Win98 has so few networking capabilities it may be safer than all the later UPnP bells & whistles :-)

Nothing wrong with cheap computers (1)

Tekime (541514) | more than 9 years ago | (#12389862)

It took a government study to figure out that open source software is cheaper? The setup looks pretty smart for that price though. Will this actually make any difference for third-world countries? I have no idea.. but I don't see anything wrong with computers becoming available to more people for less money.

ooffice? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389881)

With all due respect OOo is huge. Why not consider Abiword, the 2.2.x versions and up are considerably improved.

Also props to these cats! It's nice to see some geeks out there both care about the world and are not all wrapped up in greed or a post dotcom hangover. Keep up the foreward thinking!

Pixel Transmission (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389922)

I like the idea of removing all of the intelligence from the client.

Essentially they have set it up so that the client processes a compressed stream of pixel updates.

The idea is eventually the entire thing is one ASIC and the supporting doodads required to interface with the I/O and power.

Sounds like a great solution for POS and remote displays.

US english support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12389931)

If not then how can they use it?

There are no thin clients in U.S. ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12390012)

I'm sick and tired of anti usa flame.

LTSP (3, Informative)

diwadm (765932) | more than 9 years ago | (#12390126)

Here in our university [upd.edu.ph] (UP), we've been using LTSP [ltsp.org] to create thin clients. We run a powerful server (2ghz, 1gb ram) and it can host up to 20 Pentium computers.

What's nice about the thin client setup is that once an application is loaded, it boots really fast on all the clients. For instance, we start OpenOffice on the server and it boots with a second on a client.

Another advantage with this setup is control. Since all the clients run on the server, we can restrict access and prioritize security.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?