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Novel OS Drives the '$100 laptop'

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the not-novell dept.

Operating Systems 174

jrwr00 writes with a link to a CNN story about the $100 laptop's unique operating system. We've discussed the OLPC's UI before but the article offers a few new piece of information on the project, which is expected to roll out this year. From the article: "The XO machines are still being tweaked, and [OLPC UI] Sugar isn't expected to be tested by any kids until February. By July or so, several million are expected to reach Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan, Thailand and the Palestinian territory. Negroponte said three more African countries might sign on in the next two weeks. The Inter-American Development Bank is trying to get the laptops to multiple Central American countries."

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Novell OS? Whoops (5, Insightful)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17466914)

I read this story on CNN first as well, and my first thought at seeing the headline was nightmares about a Novell operating system.

In any event, it doesn't really sound particularly novel to me.

Re:Novell OS? Whoops (2, Funny)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467010)

I read this story on CNN first as well, and my first thought at seeing the headline was nightmares about a Novell operating system.

Could be worse. I read through the whole article waiting for the point where they'd explain how SuSE was involved. Then I finally looked back at the headline and realized I'd misread it.

Re:Novell OS? Whoops (3, Informative)

rholliday (754515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467020)

Yeah, me too. I don't think "novel" is the best choice of adjectives in the OS world.

OLPC Sucks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17467146)

OLPC needs to die in a fire.

Re:OLPC Sucks (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467266)

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

Re:OLPC Sucks (0, Troll)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467408)

You can't expect any commitment from a coward like him.

Personally I think the whole $100 laptop thing is a huge marketing gimmick to prime the populations of third-world countries for consumerism (Linux aside, $100 cost aside, it still falls victim to engineered obsolescence). You and I can do a lot more by donating to charities or 'adopting' a child through a group like World Vision.

I used to work for an electronics recycling company, whose business was increasing partially because of SB20 and SB50 and partially because a lot of companies were no longer being allowed to ship their junk computers (many components of which are toxic waste) to third-world countries to be disposed of or scrapped, as opposed to properly recycled stateside, for a fee. We got all kinds of junk, from Dreamworks to Viewsonic, but I couldn't handle the third-world pay anymore.

I think the "OLPC" is just a first wave in a new corporate strategy to "legitimately" dump difficult-to-dispose-of old hardware and then sell new hardware in developing countries.

Re:OLPC Sucks (2, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467554)

"it still falls victim to engineered obsolescence"

How do you know? Have you inspected the hardware?

I've never understood the concept, really. How does one engineer a product to work properly through the warranty period, but magically fail when it's out of warranty? Certainly, some manufacturers use inexpensive parts when they think they can, and sometimes those parts fail, but it's hard to imagine that's an intended effect.

Maybe I'm naive.

Re:OLPC Sucks (2, Interesting)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467660)

How does one engineer a product to work properly through the warranty period, but magically fail when it's out of warranty? Certainly, some manufacturers use inexpensive parts when they think they can, and sometimes those parts fail, but it's hard to imagine that's an intended effect.

What you are describing is not "engineered obsolescence" but "engineered failure," and indeed is hard to imagine manufacturer's doing. Obsolescence != failure.

Engineered obsolescence means that the manufacturer's product roadmap is such that the product bought today is superceded by better products in a relatively short timeframe, enticing people to keep buying over and over again.

Re:OLPC Sucks (2, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467776)

So basically, computers should stop getting faster so that you won't feel bad because you bought one?

Uh, no.

Computers do not lose capability over time. (Except for Windows machines.)

Re:OLPC Sucks (1)

QRDeNameland (873957) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468726)

So basically, computers should stop getting faster so that you won't feel bad because you bought one?

Did I say that? Uh no.

Computers do not lose capability over time.

Did I say that they did? Uh no.

Did you offer any justification of your initial comment which describes "engineered obsolescence" as meaning that something is designed to *fail*, showing that you don't understand the difference between "obsolescence" and "failure?" Uh no.

Three strikes and you're out.

Look up "obsolescence" in the dictionary. It has nothing to do with failure, nor does it imply losing capability over time (other than through becoming outdated in comparison to newer better products).

Re:OLPC Sucks (2, Insightful)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467668)

Forgive me if I use the term 'engineered obsolescence' a bit more broadly than I should have. I don't mean component failure specifically, and certainly not with respect to warranty duration.

Do you know if this $100 laptop is upgradable? I'm sure that as the lustful fires of consumerism awaken in these nations' loins, they'll want harder, better, faster, stronger laptops that these corporations will be all too happy to *sell* them, as the OLPC simply doesn't meet the gluttonous standards of a modern consumer. It looks to me kind of like what a drug dealer might do with 'free samples'.

Re:OLPC Sucks (2, Insightful)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467740)

"Do you know if this $100 laptop is upgradable?"

Do you know that it isn't? Do you know if it needs to be upgradeable? I've got a laptop that's several years old, and I wouldn't even consider upgrading it.

"I'm sure that as the lustful fires of consumerism awaken in these nations' loins,"

OK, holy cow. Could we please dial back the rhetoric a little bit?

"they'll want harder, better, faster, stronger laptops that these corporations will be all too happy to *sell* them"

Yeah, sell them for $100. And these people who may or may not want upgraded laptops either will either buy one, or not. Or they might set up a cottage industry to upgrade their neighbors' computers, thereby earning money. You know, kinda the way the rest of us do it.

I find that a lot of people who argue about the evils of consumerism are more interested in telling me what I should or should not do with my money than actually looking out for peoples' best interests.

Re:OLPC Sucks (2, Insightful)

dan828 (753380) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468206)

...they'll want harder, better, faster, stronger laptops that these corporations will be all too happy to *sell* them, as the OLPC simply doesn't meet the gluttonous standards of a modern consumer.


Oh good God. The point is they can't afford standard consumer electronics as it is. That's what the whole project was about-- provide a low cost computer to people that can't afford current computers. Great insight there. With out a doubt OLPC will soon be trying to sell the latest core 2 duo laptops to the children of Bangladesh. Hell, they'll probably start a new campaign, One Widescreen HD Plasma TV Per Child (OWHDPTVPC), next, just to sucker those unsuspecting s fools in even more.

Re:OLPC Sucks (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17467620)

You and I can do a lot more by donating to charities or 'adopting' a child through a group like World Vision.

Fuck charity, we need to change the global economy. If you want to help the poor in the third world then don't give them charity unless they are literally starving. If you want to help you should buy what they produce, lobby your government to write off the debt they made them take on and lobby your government to remove trade restrictions. Your country is fucking the third world in the ass and given you live in a democray they are doing it in your name. You need to stop the fucking, not start the giving.

Re:OLPC Sucks (1)

muszek (882567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467764)

Don't you just love posts full of f-words that are 100% right?

I really hope OLPC project will create a situation when 3rd world countries will be able to produce services that we'll want to buy and won't cost us $0.01 per work hour. I believe OLPC is a huge opportunity.

Re:OLPC Sucks (2, Informative)

psy0rz (666238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468738)

I think the "OLPC" is just a first wave in a new corporate strategy to "legitimately" dump difficult-to-dispose-of old hardware and then sell new hardware in developing countries.
Please read the OLPC wiki before you start rambling, especially this page: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/OLPC_myths [laptop.org]

Re:OLPC Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17468208)

Best comment EVER!

Re:OLPC Sucks (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467390)

Then ask Sony to make the batteries for it.

Got r00t? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17467358)

We can only hope the security on it is better than Lunix or Apple. Otherwise there are going to be a whole new legion of pretty pink pwnies, charging out of the third world.

Sun should take a lesson. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17467486)

Most of Sugar, the OLPC's desktop environment, is written in Python [python.org] . The source is here:
http://dev.laptop.org/git.do?p=sugar;a=tree [laptop.org]

I just tried it out, and I am pleasantly surprised! It's amazing how much faster Python is for desktop applications than Java is. Even when using IBM's SWT for developing Java applications, they still feel far more bloated and slower-responding than OLPC's Python-based GUI applications.

I would have expected Python to be slower than Java, but apparently that is not the case. It could be that the layers upon layers that make up Swing really slow it down. Maybe it's time for Sun to take a page from OLPC's Sugar project, and develop a UI framework that is fast and easy to use.

Re:Sun should take a lesson. (3, Interesting)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467994)

Sugar apparently uses PyGTK, so all the heavy lifting is done in C. wxPython works the same way, and it's what I write most of my GUI tools with. Even with lots of callbacks into Python code, it still runs fast. It's amazing how much you can do with just a few lines of code and no need to compile.

Re:Sun should take a lesson. (1)

JavaPunk (757983) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468252)

Sure, but do you know what Sugar actually is? They just use a lot of custom GTK+ widgets. It's a glorified GTK binding. While I love python, I don't think thats the cause of the speed. I'm pretty sure that if you used whatever GTK java bindings your application would be just as fast.

SWT is basically a GTK+ binding for Java. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17468630)

Umm, you do realize that SWT on Linux is built directly upon GTK+ or Motif, right? It is essentially the same as PyGTK, in many respects. Yet it still feels far slower. The only thing I can attribute such degraded speed to is Java. GTK+ applications written in C and Python are very responsive and lightweight, while equivalent applications written using Java and SWT take far longer to start up, consume a lot more memory, and are nowhere near as responsive.

Go whoops yourself. (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467834)

I think I'm tired of all the posts from people who think their own inability to read is extremely funny. And did you bother to (mis)read past the headline? They've invented a new UI metaphor, one that sounds pretty interesting. Novel enough.

Insightful? (1)

BarnabyWilde (948425) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468258)

THAT'S what passes for insightful here?

Gack. Ick. Urk.

Most insightful thing I've read in a while (4, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 7 years ago | (#17466976)

From TFA:
"In fact, one of the saddest but most common conditions in elementary school computer labs (when they exist in the developing world), is the children are being trained to use Word, Excel and PowerPoint," Negroponte wrote in an e-mail interview. "I consider that criminal, because children should be making things, communicating, exploring, sharing, not running office automation tools.
Go on my son! Kids should be exploring, not training to become the paper-pushers of tomorrow. Computers have so much more to offer than that.

Re:Most insightful thing I've read in a while (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467174)

Where these kids are, they'll be lucky if they get to be paper pushers. I doubt that kinds in a modern developing third world country have a lot of education that's not vocational.

Re:Most insightful thing I've read in a while (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468760)

Whoah. You have an absolutely Colonial attitude. Did someone brainwash you into becoming a British Corporal in 1920's India or something? Are you saving your money so you can go on a safari to Africa and give out hersheys bars to the 'natives'?

Good grief.

You're just a troll, correct?

Re:Most insightful thing I've read in a while (2, Informative)

Apotsy (84148) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468958)

Ever been to sub-Saharan Africa? I have. I've seen Massai living in mud-and-cowshit huts out in the middle of the savanna. Everywhere you go, poor kids beg you for pens. Yes, pens, as in Bic. Having simple supplies for writing is a big deal to many people in the world. Maybe his attitude is "Colonial", but it appears to me at least to be based somewhat in reality.

Re:Most insightful thing I've read in a while (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17469038)

What he implied was that the kids were living in cultures where 'all the education is vocational.' Which is quite offensive. Children everywhere can learn more than a vocation. I am certain that there will be some very good fiction written on these machines after they're out and widely available. Good poetry, too.

Re:Most insightful thing I've read in a while (1)

djdavetrouble (442175) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468916)

Little do you know that one of these kids has been chosen by by the matrix to be "The One",
and the OLPC project is an elaborate plan to locate and train "The One" for his ultimate battle......

Most underinstalled thing I've not used in a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17467292)

"Go on my son! Kids should be exploring, not training to become the paper-pushers of tomorrow. Computers have so much more to offer than that."

Guess that means they'll not be running OpenOffice on these computers?

Re:Most underinstalled thing I've not used in a wh (2, Informative)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467842)

No actually, the closest they'll get is an enhanced derivative version of Abiword.

Re:Most insightful thing I've read in a while (2, Interesting)

Mogster (459037) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467414)

I agree entirely kids should be using computers to build and develop their imagination, not become fledgling cubicle monkeys

The $100 laptop hardware may be designed and destined for the 3rd world - but the interface could be put to use anywhere

Anything which allows kids to explore and extend their imaginations whilst learning should be embraced wholeheartedly.

Re:Most insightful thing I've read in a while (1)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467460)

I can agree that it's basically worthless to teach elementary school kids Excel and PowerPoint (or any spreadsheet/slidshow app) ... there's absolutely no reason for an elementary school kid to use either. While there's a small case for PowerPoint (e.g. photo slideshows), the alternatives are far better at fostering creativity.

Word processing is a different story. I feel that every kid should know how to write, and know the basics for writing in at least one word processing package. I'm not talking weeks of training, just how to open/save documents, how to change font sizes, bold, tabstops, etc. Probably a week of 45 minute classes for a kid.

Re:Most insightful thing I've read in a while (1)

griffjon (14945) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467884)

Also, the OLPC has a target audience of 6-16 year olds. Sure, 6 year olds shouldn't be locked in to learning spreadsheets, much less Excel specifically, but, for the upper end of the spectrum, some actual marketable skills for the kids not interested in programming in Scratch or whatever other wonderful things might come out of playing with the OLPC, just might be useful.

Re:Most insightful thing I've read in a while (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468800)

Word processing is a different story. I feel that every kid should know how to write, and know the basics for writing in at least one word processing package.

It includes Abiword, a very capable word processor.

Re:Most insightful thing I've read in a while (1, Troll)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468162)

Computers have so much more to offer than that.

Like inexpensive, never-ending pr0n!!

Re:Most insightful thing I've read in a while (0, Flamebait)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468532)

REUTERS:

After learning that the OLPC batteries are manufactured by Sony, the Palestinian Authority decided or order a few for their country.

The Saudi king, still not comitted, continued his enquirings regarding the laptops' support for the latest flight simulation software.

Re:Most insightful thing I've read in a while (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17469008)

I wish I had mod points.

The "Stick Figure" icon sounds offensive... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17466998)

...to fat kids and may cause eating disorders.

Re:The "Stick Figure" icon sounds offensive... (1)

Kelson (129150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467060)

Not likely. But it does bear a disturbing resemblance [laptop.org] to a pirate flag.

Re:The "Stick Figure" icon sounds offensive... (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468326)

So what?

Ethiopian kids could use some diet!

Better internationalization support than KDE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17467000)

A laptop like this, meant to be used in African and Asian countries, will need to have excellent internationalization and localization support. Even just within India, there are a great number of languages and character sets that need to be supported.

Currently, KDE is generally acknowledged to offer the best internationalization and localization support of all the open source X11 desktop environments. GNOME has a greater percentage of applications translated, but many of the translations (especially of African and Asian languages) were quite rushed and are of a poor quality. The general consensus is that KDE does not have as much coverage as GNOME, but what is there is more correct and comprehensible.

In any case, we have to realize that it has taken years upon years of effort to get KDE to the excellent point that it is now, with regards to internationalization and localization. I have trouble believing that this laptop project could offer an alternate desktop environment offering the same (or better) level of support, with only a fraction of the resources of the GNOME project, let alone the KDE project.

Re:Better internationalization support than KDE? (2, Interesting)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467356)

If a country buys a lot of OLPCs, say 1M, that's $150M. I think they can throw in another million for i18n.

Re:Better internationalization support than KDE? (1)

psy0rz (666238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468888)

Most of the software they use will be created specially for this project, using python/pango/i18n. The minimalistic desktop environment focusses ONLY at the features that are needed. It also seems to use a lot of icons, so it probably doesnt need a lot of internationalization. I think this will be a very promissing project. I just spended an hour or so reading a lot of stuff at the wiki. A lot of the difficult work already has been done.

Quote FTFA (4, Funny)

dayid (802168) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467004)

"It doesn't feel like Linux. It doesn't feel like Windows. It doesn't feel like Apple," said Vota, who is director of Geekcorps, an organization that facilitates technology volunteers in developing countries. He emphasized that his opinions were his own and not on behalf of Geekcorps. so we have: a) kernel b) operating system c) hardware vendor It doesn't feel like any of those? Wow.

Re:Quote FTFA (1)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467144)

This would have been even funnier in 1998 or earlier, when b) wasn't even an operating system, but a hacked-in DOS shell.

Thanks for nothing Apple (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17467022)

It's clear that Jobs hates the poor and non-whites alike.

Where are the apps? (2, Interesting)

guanxi (216397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467118)

Just because I like to repeat myself every time an OLPC story is posted, I'll ask again: Where are the apps for this platform? Can anybody name one app, accessible to end users (e.g., no recompiling required), that is compatible with the Sugar UI, mesh networking, low-end specs, and other unique features?

A platform exists only to run the apps, not visa-versa. BeOS was a great platform, too. Many excellent gaming platforms have failed, because they lacked apps (i.e., games). Linux desktop is getting nowhere, despite it's technical excellence, because it lacks key apps (i.e., Office). Pull a few key apps from MacOS X (e.g., Office, Photoshop, etc.) and see what happens to adoption.

And all those platforms have far, far more apps available than OLPC (just look at sf.net, download.com or cdw.com). I know OLPC runs a flavor of Linux, but no known Linux apps are compatible with the specs above (Sugar, mesh networking, etc.). Go into a shopping mall and give a random person an OLPC -- what would they do with it? Sure, it has some included apps, but that can't be sufficient to meet the needs of millions of kids with every need and in every environment imaginable.

I hope OLPC works out great, but I can't imagine anyone who has ever designed systems looks at this and thinks anything else but -- great platform, but for what applications?

Re:Where are the apps? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467202)

It comes with all the apps kids need to form open and interactive communities, and write applications for their own needs.

Re:Where are the apps? (2, Funny)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467280)

You're right, but I don't think that this thing was designed to ever do anything beyond what it does out of the box. It's primarily just a chat platform, which is supposed to be useful, somehow...

I can only imagine that Negropointe envisioned (after his own media attention, of course), that kids on opposing sides of local wars would IM each other and work things out, and that it would later be portrayed in a movie starring Keanu Reeves (playing Negropointe), produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

Re:Where are the apps? (2, Interesting)

BobNET (119675) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467418)

Linux desktop is getting nowhere, despite it's technical excellence, because it lacks key apps (i.e., Office).

Bluh? Is OpenOffice.org that bad on Linux? Admittedly I've only ever used it on Windows and OpenBSD, and can't really compare it to Microsoft Office since I've never actually used that (mostly because I've never had to)...

Re:Where are the apps? (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468450)

> Is OpenOffice.org that bad on Linux?

It's not. BTW, at work i prefer to access our SSL web app using a 400 mhz ubuntu spare box instead of the 3ghz windows workstation as the former is more responsive. Workstation is probably borked after one year of installation and running a handful of non-pirate apps, with av and firewall for the whole subnet. If they won't go with linux next time we have to upgrade i'll push for macs.

Re:Where are the apps? (5, Interesting)

uwog (707498) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467440)

AbiWord. We have kicked abiword into a library, with the GUI stripped off. This allows one to build a GUI on top of it in python, like the rest of Sugar is. Seamless integration. This will be the writing Activity the children will use. Then we are working on special import/export filters for abiword to read/write the 'fileformat' of choice of sugar: crossmark. This will allow perfect integration with the Journal. Neat trick is that you can even embed abiword in mozilla to do inline editting.

Also, a collaboration plugin for abiword is being worked on, that will use the mesh infrastructure and sugar presence framework to find and communicate with other users. This will allow realtime collaboration on documents (for example, 2 or more children working on an assingment simultaneously).

So there you have an application that takes full use of the offered platform.

Shouldn't it use the ODF for word processing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17468438)

Damn! The ODF is now an international standard and these guys muck up the waters with a _new_ format? What's wrong with using ODF?

Re:Shouldn't it use the ODF for word processing? (2, Interesting)

psy0rz (666238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468966)

Bloat, and dependencys. This should be a very MINIMALISTIC system, with out any bloat like XML. Furthermore the main document-exchanging will be between those laptops.

They are already here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17467462)

You now, there is a LiveCD available you could have used to see for yourself before posting.

There are vmware images available you could have used for the same purpose.

You could have taken a look at the site of the project, where you would have found answers to your questions.

Instead you chose to post your nonsense on /.

But to answer your questions, there are some apps that were specifically written for the OLPC, but most are simply modified Linux apps (for example abiword and firefox).

Re:Where are the apps? (4, Insightful)

Nazgul_Cro (868869) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467562)

OLPC can give kids Internet connection where they would usually have none.
Web browser is, overall, the killer app. The pure difference in being able to access the Web, and not access it is remarkably huge. By giving children access to Google, Wikipedia, Slashdot, and billions of other sites and web applications it is the single most useful tool a child could have. It also comes with RSS reader, chat, AbiWord and eToys along with several games.

Mesh networking is the point by itself, as its main function is not only to connect OLPC laptops together, but to also connect them to an Internet gateway, which will be provided by schools... This will have an overall effect of propagating Internet access through OLPC-targeted countries.

I just don't see what would children "need" Office and Photoshop for.

In developed countries, a child will have its computing needs satisfied already, by having access to regular computer. OLPC targetted child has no such privilege, and a difference between owning an OLPC laptop and not owning it will be huge.

Porting software to OLPC is not hard. While Sugar is the interface, it is still founded on X Window System, and it runs Python apps as well... And newer versions of OS will have more apps that are already announced.
Plus, judging a platform for not having enough software for it when it hasn't actually been released to its end-users yet isn't really fair. I predict it will create a very decent software library of its own, and that we'll see first of it quite soon after it goes fully public. It has happened to pretty much every platform around during the last 50 years.

Re:Where are the apps? (2, Insightful)

muszek (882567) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467930)

By giving children access to [...] Slashdot [...]
... you give them one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn how to calculate maximum amount of pr0n that fits on any cutting edge storage devices.

Re:Where are the apps? (0, Troll)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468378)

This laptops are for CHILDREN, you sick fuck.

Re:Where are the apps? (0, Redundant)

1310nm (687270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467942)

This "mesh network" idea is pretty pie-in-the-sky for the technically barren regions the idea is being pushed on. Is someone going to establish transponders or regenerators, bridges, etc for Internet access? If so, there's going to be much better 802.11 coverage in Africa than we have here. How far away are the schools? Does anyone even know if the schools are going to participate? Sometimes I think a bag of rice would be better spent on these areas than air dropping pastel, wind-up computers.

Re:Where are the apps? (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468204)

This "mesh network" idea is pretty pie-in-the-sky for the technically barren regions the idea is being pushed on. Is someone going to establish transponders or regenerators, bridges, etc for Internet access?


The point of the mesh networking is to enable certain network applications without a persistent connection to the internet, but yes, a company has developed and will be making available a satellite earthstation designed especially for rural village and donating satellite time to provide internet access to accompany the OLPC project.

Does anyone even know if the schools are going to participate?


The purchasers of the laptops in the involved countries are the national ministries of education, who tend to be the people that run the schools. One might surmise, then, that the schools will participate.

Sometimes I think a bag of rice would be better spent on these areas than air dropping pastel, wind-up computers.


And, if you want, you are free to send a bag of rice to any region you think needs it. There are even many charities that you can contribute to that will take care of most of the logistics of providing food aid for you, so you just can give them money. OLPC will continue working with interested countries to develope and deliver educational tools that both the people behind OLPC and the countries to whom they are being sold, rather than air-dropped as unilateral gifts, believe will be useful to those countries educational systems. The two kinds of projects are not opposed to each other.

Re:Where are the apps? (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468742)

Sometimes I think a bag of rice would be better spent on these areas...

Perhaps you should learn something about Africa then.

Re:Where are the apps? (5, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467610)


Where are the apps for this platform?

How about a web browser, or an e-book reader? Those certainly sound like important apps for learning. Or how about a scientific graphing calculator? Perhaps some interactive learning software? There's already apps that could be very usefull. Really the hard part isn't really the apps, it's the content and curiculum that're more important.

  Can anybody name one app, accessible to end users (e.g., no recompiling required), that is compatible with the Sugar UI, mesh networking, low-end specs, and other unique features?

You're asking the wrong crowd here as there's not many people on slashdot develop for, or familiar with this machine. Just because no one has given you an answer means very little.

Go into a shopping mall and give a random person an OLPC -- what would they do with it?

Huh? What does a random person in a shopping mall have to do with the needs of someone in a 3rd world country that's never even used a computer have to do with each other? I think you're really missing the point here.

Hardware has always suffered from a chicken/egg problem. You need interest in the hardware to generate interest in developing software, but you need available software for the hardware to do something.

My guess is the hope is that more specific apps will be created for the purposes of learning. But using a pre-existing OS will bring enough apps that're already available for Linux to make the thing usefull from the start. Personally I'd be more worried about the curriculum and infra-structure for kids to learn how learn from these things.

Re:Where are the apps? (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468302)

There are several very good calculator programs on Linux. But with all that you said about learning, I'm curious why this project didn't work together with Edubuntu in the first place.

Re:Where are the apps? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468634)


I'm curious why this project didn't work together with Edubuntu in the first place.

Different hardware requirements. The OLPC is a specific piece of hardware with lower memory, disk space, and a specialized screen.

Re:Where are the apps? (2, Informative)

Starji (578920) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467654)

How about Opera?

http://people.opera.com/howcome/2006/olpc/ [opera.com]

Re:Where are the apps? (1)

Louis Guerin (728805) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468376)

by Starji (578920) Alter Relationship on Friday January 05, @09:38AM (#17467654)
How about Opera?
===
Yeah, because proprietary software is what this project is all about.

L

Re:Linux Doesn't Need Your Apps (2, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467734)

Linux desktop is getting nowhere, despite it's technical excellence,

1. It's very easy to argue it's getting somewhere because of the variety of distros out there. Just because NetCraft or whatever research name you look to for credibility can't/won't measure or validate the progress means absolutely nothing.

2. Putting together a coherent desktop is difficult to say the least. Your average Linux desktop won't be competing directly with apple/microsoft, but you will find pragmatic IT people deploying them everywhere. No, none of those people have been the subjects in desktop market share research either.

because it lacks key apps (i.e., Office). Pull a few key apps from MacOS X (e.g., Office, Photoshop, etc.) and see what happens to adoption.

This is a well-worn and ultimately invalid opinion. History shows us repeatedly that the switch happens when one platform has something a consumer **really** needs. Making look-alike office and graphics apps is not the answer. The answer is a little deeper. Maybe openoffice.org might have something really great lawyers would switch for. Maybe gimp has features that animators want they can't get from Adobemedia. (filmgimp?)

We know it hasn't happened yet, but it's already begun. Proprietary software companies like Microsoft and Adobemedia will tighten the noose by raising prices and offer progressively less innovation. History shows this over and over again.

Re:Where are the apps? (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467790)

Go into a shopping mall and give a random person an OLPC -- what would they do with it?


Last I checked, the target market for the OLPC was not "random people in shopping malls".

Sure, it has some included apps, but that can't be sufficient to meet the needs of millions of kids with every need and in every environment imaginable.


Correct. Many things that children might conceivably want out of a computer will not be provided by the OLPC. It will not be a game platform to rival the PS3, for instance.

Its an educational tool being marketed to national ministries of education with a common application set being developed focussed on that market, optional accessories (like the satellite downlink system and donated satellite time) related to the role it is envisioned filling in providing a system for delivering educational content.

That it is also a general purpose computer for which other existing applications can be adapted and new applications developed is, of course, a bonus for its capacity to be adapted to different environments and to its ability to be supported and customized apps provided by the large institutional purchasers to whom it is being marketed (or third-parties), but its not being marketed as a general solution to all conceivable computing needs (which, at its price, shouldn't be a surprise), or even a general competitor to existing desktop and laptop commodity computers for mainstream use (which, again, given its price, shouldn't be surprising.)

Purpose! (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467910)

There are no applications because running applications is not the platform's purpose [laptop.org] .

Re:Where are the apps? (0, Troll)

asuffield (111848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467934)

You have to realise that this is not a "computer" in the sense that you think of one.

This is an abnormally large cellphone. Its feature set is roughly equivalent to what you'd find on a modern 'smart' phone.

They don't market it like that because you'd have a hard time justifying giving free cellphones away to kids as a way of improving their lives. They sell it as a 'laptop', even though it really isn't what people think of when they use the term. It could never survive in a free market - this is a monopoly-based device. Like any device targeting a monopoly market, it is less than ideal.

Frankly, I think the OLPC project's vision is rather small. It could have been so much more.

But hey, you know what they say - give a man a fish, and he'll be fed today. Teach a man how to fish, and he'll sit in a boat and drink beer all day. For some reason, people think that is an appropriate objective, and aim no higher.

Re:Where are the apps? (3, Insightful)

wall0159 (881759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468022)

Where are the apps for this platform?

The OS is Linux, so it will run anything that runs on Linux (subject to computing power, RAM, etc).

no recompiling required

There will (hopefully) be hundreds of millions of these machines. I think someone can make binaries for the kiddies if they want.

Linux desktop is getting nowhere, despite it's technical excellence, because it lacks key apps (i.e., Office).

Ahhh! so you really mean commercial applications. I don't see why 'perfect' compatibility with Word documents is so important to children.

Look - it comes with applications: Broswer, RSS reader, text editor, and others. And it has a compiler, so kids can write their own applications. This computer is about liberating these kids, and giving them computer expertise - it's not about making them consumers of software. Difficult to understand, I know.

I like to repeat myself every time an OLPC story is posted

Well, saying the same thing many times doesn't make it more true or relevant.

Re:Where are the apps? (2, Insightful)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468624)

And it has a compiler, so kids can write their own applications.
Perhaps a little ambitious, considering these children are probably seeing a computer for the first time.

Re:Where are the apps? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468734)

Where are the apps for this platform? Can anybody name one app, accessible to end users

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Software_components [laptop.org]


Applications on B1
a web browser built on xulrunner
a simple document viewer based upon evince
TamTam, a music synthesis tool
Memory, a musical memory game written in Csound that exploits the mesh network
eToys (see above)
PenguinTV RSS reader
Abiword, a word processor
a simple application to demonstrate the camera by putting its video onto the screen.

Applications (and ports) under development for B2
Any of these applications may not be available in time for B2, or necessarily preloaded onto the systems.
a journal
a wiki with WYSIWYG editing, using Crossmark as its markup language
OpenDocument Viewer to read documents in OpenDocument format, a highly-compressed format that is a fully open international standard (ISO 26300)
VIM, a text editor
Helix, an open-source multimedia environment
other video tools, such as a video wiki
an image map tool
OLPCities, a virtual world programming environment
FACIL, a webpage editor developed to be used by children. (In English at http://wiki.laptop.org/go/EASE [laptop.org] )
Musical Editor, a music composition toolkit
Drawing Workshop, a shared graphics space
some other simple graphics software, perhaps based upon tuxpaint
a Tetris-like game that exploits the mesh
chat, serverless linux instant messenger http://cspace.in/ [cspace.in] , VOIP, email
a shell and debugger

Re:Where are the apps? (2, Informative)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468792)

Why don't you try [vmware.com] it [tuttlesvc.org] for yourself ?

Then you can have an opinion.

Re:Where are the apps? (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17469022)

I also mirrored the XO vmware image here [headru.sh] .

~ 140MB

Re:Where are the apps? (1)

that this is not und (1026860) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468796)

These machines are targeted to be communications tools, e-books, etc. They are not general purpose computers in the sense that we have come to think of.

Re:Where are the apps? (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468972)

Just because I like to repeat myself every time an OLPC story is posted, I'll ask again: Where are the apps for this platform? Can anybody name one app, accessible to end users (e.g., no recompiling required), that is compatible with the Sugar UI, mesh networking, low-end specs, and other unique features?


It's Linux. It's running on a 500MHz Geode processor, which is 32-bit x86 compatible, and 128MB of DDR266. If you replaced the 512MB Flash drive with a suitable hard drive, you could run Windows XP on it. The machine isn't *that* anemic, and since it's running a heavily customized version of Fedora Core (and by customized, it's most likely in the form of stripping comments from libraries, and taking the Zen approach to OS design in having one app per task, and by picking apps that are generally lightweight), I sincerely doubt that there's going to be any trouble finding apps for it. It supports USB removable storage, so you could probably run apps like Firefox, OpenOffice.org, or GIMP on it, too. And the display is reasonably high res, too, at 1200x900.

A platform exists only to run the apps, not visa-versa. BeOS was a great platform, too. Many excellent gaming platforms have failed, because they lacked apps (i.e., games). Linux desktop is getting nowhere, despite it's technical excellence, because it lacks key apps (i.e., Office). Pull a few key apps from MacOS X (e.g., Office, Photoshop, etc.) and see what happens to adoption.


Hmm. It lacks MS Office, yes. But there's ways to run it if you really need it, through systems like Crossover and Wine. There's also counterparts to everything you mention. I prefer GIMP to Photoshop, both in feature set and interface. There's alternatives to MS Office that are far superior from a technical standpoint, too. There's a reason that an increasing number of organizations are migrating away from MS software.

You can't even throw gaming in its face, actually, because the laptop in question doesn't have the juice to run any modern games, regardless of what OS it's running. Quite aside from the fact that gaming is quite possible under Linux. Just this afternoon, I was playing GuildWars, and I played some Oblivion yesterday on my Linux-based gaming rig.

And all those platforms have far, far more apps available than OLPC (just look at sf.net, download.com or cdw.com). I know OLPC runs a flavor of Linux, but no known Linux apps are compatible with the specs above (Sugar, mesh networking, etc.). Go into a shopping mall and give a random person an OLPC -- what would they do with it? Sure, it has some included apps, but that can't be sufficient to meet the needs of millions of kids with every need and in every environment imaginable.

I hope OLPC works out great, but I can't imagine anyone who has ever designed systems looks at this and thinks anything else but -- great platform, but for what applications?


It's Linux. There's no shortage of apps for Linux. Besides which, I'm willing to bet that an overwhelming number of computer owners only use them as glorified typewriters. They do e-mail, they surf the 'net, they do some basic word processing, and that's about it. Gamers make up a pretty small portion of the computer market by comparison, and that's even a non-issue, since the OLPC doesn't have the power to run most modern games. All the OLPC needs to be successful is to fill those niches, and from what I've read, it's going to do that.

You'd do well to read this: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Software_components [laptop.org]

This just in (-1, Flamebait)

inviolet (797804) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467168)

Nigeria has filed its request for OLPC laptops. A cursory review of Nigeria's application has uncovered an astonishing correllation: by sheer coincidence, Nigeria appears to have the exact same number of children (28,913,720) as the number of adults eligible for service in its military.

Nigerian president Obasanjo was contacted for comment, but was reportedly away at a military planning session. A spokesman for his office later asked when the OLPC laptops would begin arriving.

Where can I find the "Sugar" Windowmanager or DE? (1, Interesting)

poopie (35416) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467182)

Surely, it must be possible to build the same "Sugar" interface on any full install of a moder Linux OS... Where are the OS packages? Where is the SVN respository?

Re:Where can I find the "Sugar" Windowmanager or D (4, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467246)

Surely, it must be possible to build the same "Sugar" interface on any full install of a moder Linux OS... Where are the OS packages? Where is the SVN respository?


Look at the OLPC wiki [laptop.org] .

The 'Novel' part scared me a bit (0, Offtopic)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467330)

For awhile there I thougth devs had totally changed their mind on things and were going to use Suse as their upstream distro instead of Fedora. Not that I have anything agaist Suse...just Novel, the tech. company.

Re:The 'Novel' part scared me a bit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17467410)

uh...the company that you're probably thinking of is Novell, not Novel.

So how does Novel Fit in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17467400)

Ironic that everything in the article says Red Hat except the title. Is Novell even a part of this project or am I mistaking the title? Is it just saying its an interesting idea?

Re:So how does Novel Fit in? (1)

dreddnott (555950) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467472)

I can't believe I am admonishing an Anonymous Coward for reading the summary and the article but not the first post and its thread...

But here goes: shame on you, and the poster above you too!

"Novel" here means simply new or unique, a fresh way of doing things, a word with very positive connotations. Small wonder that Novell coopted the word by adding an extra "l". It doesn't seem extremely novel to me, as I've already said - it seems like a fancier version of Tandy's DeskMate shell. But then I haven't tried it out myself yet.

yeah great (0, Troll)

keeboo (724305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467544)

By July or so, several million are expected to reach Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan, Thailand and the Palestinian territory.

Oh, fantastic... There goes my hard-earned taxpayer money.
Nothing like a populist solution for a stuctural problem.

Screenshot (2, Interesting)

youngerpants (255314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467552)

http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Sugar_design_review_3/ [laptop.org]

Lameness filter is a lameness filter

Re:Screenshot (2, Informative)

Mike89 (1006497) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468108)

This one works better [laptop.org]

OS is Fedora based (2, Informative)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467736)

The word "OS" is not mentioned in the article.

screenshot (0, Flamebait)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 7 years ago | (#17467792)

I took the liberty of drawing up an artist conception based on exactly how the article describes the Novel OS for the OLPC.. Download it here [asciichat.org]

Pricing is made up in the 1st place (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468070)

I took a look at Koobox PC's. Sure it starts out cheap. But then you have to replace the 40GB drive and quadruple the RAM. And by the time you're done it's a $600 unit. They price a harddrive upgrade for 120GB @ more than a hundred bucks. They want $129 for the RAM. I'd be happier if they didn't include anything at all. Straight retail mail order would be cheaper for the parts.

So I'm pretty sure we could all have $100 laptops if pricing was semi rational.

Re:Pricing is made up in the 1st place (1)

psy0rz (666238) | more than 7 years ago | (#17469074)

Why got the parent modded up?? Did you actually took the time to look at the OLPC wiki, to see whats going on??? Or did you just started googling for 'cheap laptop hardware'? This project has NOTHING to do with huge amounts of ram or big harddrives. This project is focussed on building a CHEAP laptop from scratch, to be used by childeren in poor countries. It's not about l33ching pr0n and playing WoW.

Where can I get one? (1)

calstars (562543) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468110)

I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to get my hands on one of these. Why don't they make them available to the Western world at double the price, $200, and put the profits towards making more of them for the 3rd world?

Re:Where can I get one? (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468324)

I think there's a planned deal where you can buy 3 of them, get one for yourself, and send two of them to the 3rd world. I'm not sure if this is still true, or if it was ever true, but I know it was brought up in a previous OLPC thread.

Re:Where can I get one? (2, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17468336)

I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to get my hands on one of these. Why don't they make them available to the Western world at double the price, $200, and put the profits towards making more of them for the 3rd world?


Because a major reason for the low price is that they aren't doing the kind of packaging and marketing, etc., they'd need to do for individual sales, the cost would be significantly higher than $100 (or even the $150 that looks like it will be the "early adopter" cost) if it were sold to individuals, without any excess to put toward a subsidy.

That being said, OLPC is looking at making a somewhat more expensive and capable derivative system for sale to the public in the US and other advanced countries, but its a secondary priority.

bi7ch (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17469046)

ofone single puny UniTed States. new faces and many
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