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No Windows (Officially) On OLPC

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the thinking-of-the-children dept.

Operating Systems 179

Kadin2048 writes "Despite reports last week in major news sources indicating that the One Laptop Per Child project was in negotiations with Microsoft to bring Windows XP to the low-cost platform, Walter Bender, president of Software and Content at OLPC, said in an interview with Ars Technica, 'We are a free and open-source shop. We have no one from OLPC working with Microsoft on developing a Windows platform for the XO.'"

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179 comments

Makes a lot of the previous comments (4, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970907)

re MS forcing the price of the OLPC up with their hardware requirements look very silly now doesn't it.

Re:Makes a lot of the previous comments (5, Funny)

spencer4554 (661744) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971059)

MS is at the root of all evils in the world. You look silly for not seeing the big picture here.

Re:Makes a lot of the previous comments (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971661)

And those were different from normal slashdot comments *how*?

Re:Makes a lot of the previous comments (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971929)

Don't worry, all the idiots around here will continue to make baseless ignorant accusations the next time they get the opportunity. It's the slashdot way!

Re:Makes a lot of the previous comments (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972409)

All it really seems to say is that OLPC staff aren't working on porting Windows, which no one, that I recall, ever claimed. The project has, however, also stated [theregister.co.uk] that Qanta, the company that is building the computer for the project, is working with Microsoft on Windows for the computer.

Re:Makes a lot of the previous comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18973385)

Yeah, but they actually turned out to be true, they ARE increasing the memory for some reason that hasn't really been made public... any idea why?

Heh... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970931)

If there's one thing you can believe coming from the OLPC people, it's when they acknowledge that they don't have something!

3 bucks? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970943)

Bender also indicated that Microsoft has not contacted OLPC regarding its $3 software bundling program, nor have any governments requested that the XO be outfitted with Windows.


I'm sure Microsoft did contact them, and asked for $50 in licensing fees per unit to ship it with Windows Vista Crippled Edition Ultimate, so Bender told them to bite his shiny ass.

Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (5, Insightful)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970949)

I am glad to hear that it won't be Windows. Open software is a much better choice when you are trying to distribute low-cost computers to every child. Windows would have locked them into the Windows upgrade cycle, required frequent net access for updates, and would have just hidden a lot of the internals from the kids.

Open software, while it also requires updates, gives them a much better platform on which to learn. They can explore *nix operating systems, add programs - almost always for free, plus it will build an open software user base around the world. Not that that isn't already happening as more and more countries and companies switch to open source software, but by bringing on a new generation, this will be the push to put open source over the top.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (-1, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970999)

It's also a great way of ensuring that they never threaten the jobs of any of us in the first world, since they won't have a clue how to use the OS that 95% of our businesses use.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971119)

It's also a great way of ensuring that they never threaten the jobs of any of us in the first world, since they won't have a clue how to use the OS that 95% of our businesses use.

Says the person who learns by rote. [wikipedia.org]

I'm willing to bet these kids will be exposed to more OSs than you & know more about general computing concepts than you when they're twenty.

The lucky kids will grow up with OLPC, be exposed to other linux flavours/Windows/OS X/whatever in other situations & end up know more about computer than you EVER will.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (0)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 6 years ago | (#18974089)

The lucky kids will grow up with OLPC, be exposed to other linux flavours/Windows/OS X/whatever in other situations & end up know more about computer than you EVER will.


And they will still be untrained on the computing enviroment that 95% of the world uses.

Since when does knowing about computing concepts make you more useful in anything other than computer science? My wife knows nothing about computing concepts and could care less, but she is VERY interested in how to operate Windows so she can chat with her friends, use graphic design tools and office programs. While most people use computers these days in middle class households and businesses, few of those people regard a computer as much more than a tool that they can also play solitaire on.

It reminds me of that silly math with the arrows instead of having kids just learn to use 1+1=2. Its not like you use that crap anywhere other than your kiddie math class. It was decent for basic set theory, but that's about it.

Still, I'm not going to criticize the project too much, and it would be awesome if you do want to teach young kids certain concepts, but a lot of the kids in these places would be best served by teaching them how to use computers as tools to improve their lot, and the lot of the people around them. In that capacity, you need to teach these kids how to use tools that the rest of the world uses to get things done. You may not need Windows to do that, but it certainly wouldn't hurt.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (2, Interesting)

Vihai (668734) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971245)

Oh... but since they ARE the new generation, guess how much your clue will be useful when 95% of the business will use ANOTHER OS :)

Anyway... don't worry... there is always market for "legacy systems support"

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (2, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972085)

Something tells me that the people that the program is targeting are not going to be doing many spreadsheets for a Fortune500 company.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972535)

Something tells me that the people that the program is targeting are not going to be doing many spreadsheets for a Fortune500 company.

Yeah, you say that now, but 10 or 15 years ago I bet you'd probably never have thought that some guy in Bangalore would be on the other end of the line when you called tech support...

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18972133)

Oh... but since they ARE the new generation, guess how much your clue will be useful when 95% of the business will use ANOTHER OS :) Anyway... don't worry... there is always market for "legacy systems support"

LOL! Looks like someone doesn't understand that todays generation will be the CIO's of the "new generation" and will be making the choice to stay with the platform that we are using today... Silly rabbit. Open source is for kids.



Hi, I'm Mac. And I'm PC. Hey, PC how come you can juggle and I can't? I'm sorry Mac. It's not my fault I was born with two mouse buttons. *Mac goes into corner and cries in fetal position*

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (5, Insightful)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972323)

Looks like someone is assuming that the CIOs of the future are idiots. Only an idiot latches onto one single tool and eschews all others. I'm a 100% hardcore Linux guy, but I don't avoid Windows or Macintosh. Why? Because I can use them all completely and thoroughly to do whatever it is I need. How is it that I can navigate multiple OS platforms so easily? Because I have a clear understanding of what it is that the system is doing behind the scenes instead of just memorizing how an application works. Gimp? Photoshop? Same thing in my mind. CMD is just sh's retarded cousin. "My Computer"? Finder? Nautilus? Konqueror? All identical concepts in my mind. There is NO difference if you're not a moron. Now wake the fuck up, get to learning and quit posting worthless shit on the net you asswipe.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972749)

Amen to that. Every time I hear someone talk about "retraining" it makes me think of how shitty their training must have been in the first place.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (2, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971257)

I suppose it's inherrant in /. that you equate OS usage with job ability.

The most important thing is that they are getting access to the internet, with all that that implies. As such it doesn't matter what OS they use, or realy which browser. But above and beyond that, anyone with any nous can swap between OS with little or no difficulty and it really doesn't matter if the office tools are M$ or OO, they both teach you how to use office tools.

And, cost wise, if it's a choice between an affordable system with OSF tools, or an unaffordable system with M$ tools....

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971321)

Yet, they'll know how to use a OS that increases their productivity, not decreases it... They won't compete direcly with you on IT, but they'll (everything being the same) out-compete you on every other area that they are able to affect. And that includes the people how pay your salary.

Of course, everything never stays the same. So, wait for big changes at the IT industry.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (-1, Flamebait)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971887)

Mod me troll all you like, ladies. You still know it's true.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (1)

Stormx2 (1003260) | more than 6 years ago | (#18973281)

Mod me troll all you like, ladies. You still know it's true.

That's the thing, it isn't. You're simply wrong. Go check the marvelous replies your comment has generated.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 6 years ago | (#18973401)

But it's not... you see, the only real reason to keep using one OS over another is inertia, and by introducing these kids to *nix, they are going to have inertia in that direction. Things won't stay the way they are forever, we can be sure of that because they never do, and the future is always shaped by the children, not the adults.

They'll keep using whatever they want to use, just like we'll keep using whatever we want to use; the difference being that they'll be alive well after we're dead and in the ground (or shot into space, or in an urn, or cryogenically frozen, or whatever).

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971279)

I am glad to hear that it won't be Windows. Open software is a much better choice when you are trying to distribute low-cost computers to every child. Windows would have locked them into the Windows upgrade cycle, required frequent net access for updates, and would have just hidden a lot of the internals from the 1% of kids who will care about the insides of a computer.

Open software, while it also requires updates, gives them a much better platform on which to learn. The less than 1% of the kids who care about such things can explore *nix operating systems, add programs - almost always for free, plus it will build an open software user base around the world. Not that that isn't already happening as more and more countries and companies switch to open source software, but by bringing on a new generation, this will be the push to put open source over the top.


There, fixed a few things for you. While these 'features' are nice to have for kids who might not otherwise have them, they are not major bullet point advantages.

Nothing like indoctrinating them when they're young (it's the easiest time). And exactly how is this different from any other movement that gets blasted for indoctrinating kids (like religion)? Oh yeah, it's because YOU already believe in it too, so that makes it OK.

that's fine (2, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971519)

The 1% of kids who care are the 1% who can do the most to power the economy. They are the ones worth supplying computers to, even at the effective $10000 per machine if you assume the other kids (99%) get no use out of their machines.

Spare me (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971329)

Open software is a much better choice when you are trying to distribute low-cost computers to every child. Windows would have locked them into the Windows upgrade cycle, required frequent net access for updates, and would have just hidden a lot of the internals from the kids.



Get real, these are not machines destined for upgrades and I seriously doubt a full blown version of windows would have ever be used.


Besides, if you want to get nit picky. Windows delivers updates very easily and wholly hidden should you choose. Its by far one of the easiest methods out there. Second, the people destined to get these machines are not going to care one whit about the "internals".


These PCs are not about exploring an operating system, its about getting to the end user the information they need to lead better lives. The last thing on the minds of the supporters is a war between unix and windows. They are more concerned with making sure these people can communicate with each other, receive information helpful to their daily lives (like weather), and provide education to children who may not have access to a teacher.


On a side note, I still think the OLPC is more feel good than do good. We are still relying on these governments actually doing what we want them to do with these tools and we still have the belief that people actually want them in the countries we are sending them too. My fear is way too many of these will end up along the roadside with the other trash.

Re:Spare me (1)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971967)

They are more concerned with making sure these people can communicate with each other, receive information helpful to their daily lives (like weather)

The OLPC is purely designed to be a teaching tool. That's it. This is the One Laptop Per CHILD program, not One Laptop Per Parent or Per Family. It has nothing to do with adults communicating with each other or checking the weather. It may be able to do that, but that's not what it is designed for. It will also never be a substitute for a real teacher, and is not intended to be. The idea is that teachers will incorporate the OLPC into their curriculum to improve how children learn.

See the website [laptop.org] for more info.

Re:Spare me (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 6 years ago | (#18974309)

Unfortunately, in many of the areas they plan to distribute these things, they'll be "many laptops per warlord" where the warlord will just gather them up and sell them on the black market or something for money to buy other stuff with (weapons) or use them himself for any number of things, including helping him run his organization better (communication to field troops, watching the weather, etc.).

Alternatively, we'll probably see many of them sold, by the same person who received them in the first place, to buy food or some other short term necessity.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971383)

I am glad to hear that it won't be Windows.


Read closer. He didn't say that. He just said OLPC doesn't have anyone working on it. Those words leave open the possibility that:
1. Microsoft has people working on it, and
2. They could still use it if MS handed over a fully functional OS.

wait strike that, #2 isn't plausible.
nevermind.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971695)

there is a very good reason for hiding the "internals". its called usability.

most people don't give a fuck about the "internals" of the operating system. windows just works. who cares how? leave that to the engineers.

on a side note...

i still dont get why people give a shit about third-world countries when our own country is so fucked.

Re:Open Software Would Be The Better Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18973519)

required frequent net access for updates

Is there a way to save a list of packages on a Linux PC, then opening it on one that has an internet connection and grabbing only the updates and/or new packages needed with dependencies resolved according to this list?

Is there a way to do this with Windows updates as well?

Ubuntu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970959)

They should definitely go with ubuntu in my opinion, then dell can outsource the technical support to 3rd world countries full of uber linux kiddies

Re:Ubuntu (1)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | more than 6 years ago | (#18973303)

No no no no, my dear chap. Plese to be posting in the correct formates.

1) Ubuntu on OLPC
2) Outourcing dell support
3) ...
4) Profit!!!! (for Dell)

Good to know (1, Insightful)

MatrixCubed (583402) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970963)

Windows has no place on a system built with the ideals for which OLPC strives.

Re:Good to know (4, Insightful)

Bob54321 (911744) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971077)

It is interesting to see that choice is good, unless someone may have the choice to install software from Microsoft. I know when I get a new computer, I like having the choice to run windows.

Given who the laptops are going to, my guess is that Microsoft would have to give away any version of windows that actually ran on the computer. It is not as if the owners a going to have spare money lying around to buy a license.

Re:Good to know (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971427)

Microsoft offered at the start to provide free-beer (mmm, free beer) licenses for Windows to the project. In the volumes these are expected to be manufactured, they will be a sizeable percentage (not a majority, but a noticeable proportion) of the total installed base in the next few years, and they would really like to keep hold of that. The decision was made that the entire project should be open.

One of the aims of the project is that local industries in developing countries will be able to start making clones of them. The blueprints for the hardware and all of the software will be available for download to encourage this. The most advertised aim is to use them as educational tools for children, but a significant secondary aim is to use them as a starting step to moving a country's economy to a more technological footing.

I am still a bit surprised that they went with Linux, however. Apart from buzzword compliance, I would have thought that OpenBSD would have been a better choice, since it is much lighter on resources and much easier to tweak.

Re:Good to know (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972331)

It's also very tricky for Microsoft, Vista monster would not run on that laptop while XP will cease to be "manufactured" at the end of this year.... what Windows do they intend to use? CE?

Re:Good to know (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 6 years ago | (#18973841)

It is interesting to see that choice is good, unless someone may have the choice to install software from Microsoft.

Sometimes, offering choice is good, sometimes offering choice is bad. For example, offering kids the choice of chocolate or crack is a bad choice, and you don't want people offering them that choice. In the same way, we don't want people offering kids the choice between open source software and an overpriced product from a convicted monopolist.

And for a given set of choices, some of the choices are good and some choices are bad. For example, when Im thirsty, being given a choice between having a glass of beer and a glass of toxic sludge is not a useful choice because the option of a glass of toxic sludge isn't actually a practical one.

So, I'm glad you realize that choice isn't always good.

Given who the laptops are going to, my guess is that Microsoft would have to give away any version of windows that actually ran on the computer. It is not as if the owners a going to have spare money lying around to buy a license.

That's selling products below cost with the intent of establishing or maintaining a monopoly or other advantage. US trade representatives get quite upset when other nations and companies do it, and they are right. Microsoft should not be allowed to do this; no company should.

Re:Good to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971909)

<bender>
Windows can bite my shiny metal @ss!
</bender>

Re:Good to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971997)

Windows has no place on a system built with the ideals for which OLPC strives.


Amen! These people need to get a roof first.

I don't see how this is any turnaround (5, Informative)

AEton (654737) | more than 6 years ago | (#18970985)

For unrelated reasons, I was reading the OLPC Wiki's Myths page [laptop.org] weeks ago and noticed this entry, which hasn't changed any in the time since:

The proposed $100 machine will run a Microsoft Windows operating system
True: Microsoft is working on a Windows based system that can be executed on the OLPC laptop. False: There is no strategy change. The OLPC is continuing to develop a Linux-based software set for the laptop in conjunction with Red Hat. But since the OLPC project is open we cannot (and maybe even don't want to) stop other people from developing and supplying alternate software packages.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971029)

Neither of these statements particularly contradict each other. Nobody on the OLPC project is working with MS to get Windows working on the machine. That doesn't mean that MS can't have a few people working independent of the OLPC project trying to get Windows to run on the hardware.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971051)

That still doesnt answer the biggest question: why did the RAM and drive space double at a cost well above $100? Linux doesnt need the extra RAM for such a low usage computer, the drive space increase could have had some standing point, but since its pushed the price to almost double what it would have been, i must question as to why it was necessary, Linux doesnt need the extra space, and at such a high cost i doubt many countries will think it offers and real benefits.

So OLPC, answer and answer truthfully: Did you upgrade the XO just so "third party" software (OS) makers (MS) can release their software for your laptop? You dident deny it yet.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (3, Informative)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971475)

They changed the processor from a Geode GX1 which uses SDRAM to a faster Geode LX700 which uses less power and DDR memory. I would hazard a guess that the difference between 128MB of SDRAM and 256MB of DDR RAM is minimal, and it will make a difference to Linux.

reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971583)

According to the OLPC news blog, a lot of the participating nations had asked for a secure digital card reader and they also noted that nand flash memory was dropping in price, so they wanted both updates before committing to huge orders, as a sort of future proofing, to make the machines viable for a longer time period. The geode processor didn't have a good enough flash memory reader, so they added an asic controller and did their own driver. Those upgrades fed the idea that eventually some flavor of windows could run on the thing (or other OSes down the road perhaps). You have to admit, the original specs were rather small, so having the ability to upgrade the ram and drive space makes some sense because it is optional now, as opposed to totally hardwired to the mobo/non upgradeable as per the original design.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (2, Insightful)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971617)

Here's a thought: perhaps the OLPC software does require the extra space? I'm really tired of the chronic mantra that "Linux/FreeBSD/whatever doesn't need memory/CPU speed/whatever" -- it's a classic piece of misdirection. Yes, Linux itself can run on a stripped-down system -- but GNU/Linux is a memory hog, particularly when GUI interfaces are involved.

I think it's far more likely that Negroponte followed the lead of his brother who believed in flowers-and-candy welcomes on the basis of a serial con-man he should have seen through. Go back to the early pieces on OLPC: how many people kept saying that (Nick) Negroponte was either deluded or lying about the cost, and that by the time it came out, the OLPC would cost almost exactly what a cheap laptop with Windows cost? Surprise -- that's exactly what happened.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (2, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971877)

Go back to the early pieces on OLPC: how many people kept saying that (Nick) Negroponte was either deluded or lying about the cost, and that by the time it came out, the OLPC would cost almost exactly what a cheap laptop with Windows cost? Surprise -- that's exactly what happened.

A cheap Windows notebook costs $175? Or am I missing something else? There aren't many notebooks under $500.

Linux used to be able to operate in small spaces with low power requirements, the same with Windows, NT4 was very compact and stable. The problem comes in when you start adding all the unnecessary eye candy and comprehensive desktop environments.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972815)

GNU/Linux is a memory hog, particularly when GUI interfaces are involved.

1) It's not called GNU/Linux, no matter how much you want it to be, until Linus changes the trademark.

2) When you're writing your own GUI, you can make it smaller and lighter than GNOME or what have you. Reference FBUI [comcast.net] which would run on a fucking game boy if you could get the rest of the kernel there.

Go back to the early pieces on OLPC: how many people kept saying that (Nick) Negroponte was either deluded or lying about the cost, and that by the time it came out, the OLPC would cost almost exactly what a cheap laptop with Windows cost? Surprise -- that's exactly what happened.

Yes, now they say it will cost $170. But the price will come down with production, assuming anyone actually ponies up the cash.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 6 years ago | (#18973013)

You're right: Linux the kernel isn't called GNU/Linux, which is why I differentiated between Linux and GNU/Linux in my original post. Linux plus the GNU toolchain, though? You know what? Stallman has every right to require that his fat, bloated, unstable, and poorly structured set of Unix tool replacements be credited. So I do so, when I'm talking about the whole mess.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 6 years ago | (#18973471)

Start working for change then, including using uClibc [uclibc.org] instead of glibc and avoiding other bloat-ware. Projects are still stuck using many bloated GNU tools but there are in fact replacements for some.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#18973659)

Stallman has every right to require that his fat, bloated, unstable, and poorly structured set of Unix tool replacements be credited.

No, actually, he does not. He gave up that right when he licensed them with the GPL.

If he wanted credit, then there should have been an advertising clause in the GPL that said you can require the use of your chosen name.

Since there isn't, he has explicitly given up that right.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 6 years ago | (#18973965)

No, actually, he does not. He gave up [the right to require acknowledgment] when he licensed them with the GPL.
I've read the GPL awfully closely, and I don't see a "you can't ask for credit" clause. You are certainly right that he gave up the right to require acknowledgment -- but there's nowhere that he gave up the right to ask for it.

And, if Linux is "just a kernel", as I'm often reminded, then there should be a distinct name for the kernel + userspace + toolchain, precisely for cases where they have different properties.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#18974149)

Stallman has every right to require that his fat, bloated, unstable, and poorly structured set of Unix tool replacements be credited.
No, actually, he does not. He gave up that right when he licensed them with the GPL.
I've read the GPL awfully closely, and I don't see a "you can't ask for credit" clause. You are certainly right that he gave up the right to require acknowledgment

That's nice, I'm glad you agree with all I said, since I never said he couldn't ask for credit, but only that he couldn't require it.

And, if Linux is "just a kernel", as I'm often reminded, then there should be a distinct name for the kernel + userspace + toolchain, precisely for cases where they have different properties.

Amazingly, there are a number of such names. For example Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, Ubuntu, Slackware...

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 6 years ago | (#18974303)

Amazingly, there are a number of such names. For example Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora, Ubuntu, Slackware...
And all of them have one thing in common: they're all particular implementations of GNU/Linux.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 6 years ago | (#18974001)

I'm really tired of the chronic mantra that "Linux/FreeBSD/whatever doesn't need memory/CPU speed/whatever" -- it's a classic piece of misdirection. Yes, Linux itself can run on a stripped-down system -- but GNU/Linux is a memory hog, particularly when GUI interfaces are involved.
When the wrong GUI interfaces, that are designed for more powerful desktop machines, are used then yes, the memory requirements increase. Then again this looks like a GUI to me [openmoko.com] , running just fine on a fairly stripped down device -- it has only as much RAM as the original spec for the XO laptops.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 6 years ago | (#18974113)

Have you looked at the hardware specs for the "fairly stripped down device"? The Samsung ARM 9 processor alone is quite a bit beefier than you appear to realize.

What these kids may ACTUALLY do (2, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972429)

*My* biggest question is "What are these kids actually going to DO with these computers anyway?" The sort of starry-eyed idealistic answer given by OLPC is basically "They're going to use educational software to learn, use the internet to better themselves, etc."

But take a hard, realistic look at countries like Nigeria and THEIR experience [cnn.com] with an impoverished population gaining access to the internet. When poor Nigerians got access to the internet, they didn't use it to primarily to better themselves--they used it to set up scams, relay points for identity theft, etc.

When you give a truly impoverished kid a computer, it's very nice to think "Well, he'll use that to go through years of education to get a job in a country where even IT professionals make a pittance." But, more likely, he'll see the MUCH more provocative possibility of using it to scam and steal from those with VASTLY greater resources than he has (i.e., us in the first world) with relative ease.

Even if he can just scam, spam, and ID theft his way into $40 a week, it's more than enough to bribe local authorities to look the other way, feed his whole family, and buy himself access to a world which was way beyond his reach before. To him that's a good thing. To the rest of the world, it's a huge pain in the ass. In a way, it's a warped way of leveling the playing field and "redistributing wealth," but definitely NOT in the way the OLPC expects.

Re:What these kids may ACTUALLY do (1)

cwgmpls (853876) | more than 6 years ago | (#18974123)

Distribute and read e-books, for one thing. Most developing countries can't afford enough books for their students. For the first time ever, all participating students will have access to large libraries of books and other materials.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972779)

Did you upgrade the XO just so "third party" software (OS) makers (MS) can release their software for your laptop? You dident deny it yet.


Yeah, actually, they did. They've already said the hardware upgrades were because the countries that have signed on (Libya and Uruguay among them) asked for more RAM and a faster processor to increase the useful life of the computers. It's also worth noting that while this is portrayed as a huge price increase, when the initial countries were signing on, the estimated cost of the early production machines was already up to around $150 each, not $100, and IIRC published reports had the MOU with Libya envisioning a price over $200 initially, so this isn't a "$100 laptop becomes $175". The $100 target from the beginning of the product had long since been accepted that it was going to be missed.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (2, Interesting)

vhogemann (797994) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971269)

Well...

If Microsoft manage to fit a XP/Vista compatible OS inside the OLPC, I guess many people will be purchasing it to install on their desktops.. It would be perfect for a gaming machine!

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971333)

It would be perfect for a gaming machine!

Yeah, I can't wait to get a machine that's capable of playing Solitaire, Minesweeper, and FreeCell...

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

vhogemann (797994) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971899)

If it is XP/Vista compatible, probably it will be DirectX compatible too... It's just a matter of installing it on a full desktop computer.

Re:I don't see how this is any turnaround (1)

sandesh247 (980335) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971911)

OLPC isn't bringing in Windows. Microsoft _may_ be looking to push it in.

Well, That's Good & Bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18970995)

Good that children won't have to suffer through Windows and end up using it later in life because they don't want to climb another learning curve.

Bad because I was hoping Microsoft would release a "base" version of Windows with nothing but the bare essentials ... I was hoping to run that at home for the few Windows applications I still need to use.

Does it matter ? (5, Interesting)

ceroklis (1083863) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971145)

They may not be collaborating with Microsoft on this issue, but this is not going to prevent Microsoft from porting Windows to the XO and trying to sell it (or give it away) to the governments that will purchase the laptops.

I am sure some countries will be more than happy to get cheap laptops on one side and then install Windows on them in exchange for a large discount from Microsoft for their government's Windows/Office licenses on the other. Thailand, I am looking at you.

Some countries involved in the program are serious about free software, but I am afraid others are just looking for a bargain. Not to be pessimistic but I will wait to see what happens before considering the OLPC project as an incredible boon for free software, like some people here.

Re:Does it matter ? (1)

griffjon (14945) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971437)

More specifically, and along the lines of previous commenter Aelion, OLPC itself (as Bender says) is not working on getting it installed, but they have given MS some test OLPC laptops to play with. I guess it depends on how you define "collaboration"

Re:Does it matter ? (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971625)

>They may not be collaborating with Microsoft on this issue, but this is not going to prevent Microsoft from porting Windows to the XO and trying to sell it (or give it away) to the governments that will purchase the laptops.

So? What ever happened to freedom to innovate and freedom to tinker? Oh right, that doesnt apply when you use MS (or whoever is the bad guy nowadays) software. Maybe it should only run signed code to keep the boogeyman away. Is the DIY/tinker ethic just for FOSS now? How much of the special kool-aid do I have to drink to agree with you?

Seriously, its a shame that people are willing to throw out their own ethics (not to mention make decisions for others) because of the MS-hate which now more or less defines the entire FOSS culture.

Re:Does it matter ? (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971875)

What ever happened to freedom to innovate and freedom to tinker?

It was killed by the Xbox lockdown hardware.

Re:Does it matter ? (2, Insightful)

ceroklis (1083863) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972807)

First, I have nothing against users or editors of proprietary software. As an individual user you can evaluate software on different criteria (functionality, price, familiarity, ease of use, supported platforms, use of closed or open file formats/protocols, code quality, existence of irritating activation/licensing/time bomb schemes, support options, ability to study/audit/modify the code, ability to distribute modified versions, ...) and make choices based on what is more important to you. Not everyone will arrive at the same conclusions and I have no problem with that.

What I was pointing out is simply that contrary to what some enthusiastic supporters of the OLPC project seem to think (particularly on this forum), it may not have that great an impact on the promotion of free software. This is important because many support the project not (only) because of its obvious goals of democratizing computers, facilitating communication, facilitating learning, encouraging development of indigenous technology, and the like, but because they believe that encouraging these countries to use free software is (one of) its most important quality/(ies).

And I am not suggesting that the OLPC project should do anything to prevent installing external software on their hardware. Choosing the free software path is a decision that only the participating governments can make, not the project. So I am not blaming it in any way.

Am I blaming the governments that may hypothetically put windows on these things ? Yes. Individuals can do what they want but a government has responsibilities. Rendering a whole country dependent on a foreign vendor is not a good idea. I am not saying free software is necessarily the answer but at the very least they should encourage development of a local IT infrastructure. India or China are exemplary in this regard. And I do think wasting money on windows licenses, forcing citizens to buy specific software to access government-produced documents, or taking the risk to loose these documents altogether if the vendor drop support for the only software reading the closed format their are written in, is not responsible. I also do think that requiring software used in schools to be free is not a bad policy if it can encourage students to get interested in software.

Re:Does it matter ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971739)

I am sure some countries will be more than happy to get cheap laptops on one side and then install Windows on them in exchange for a large discount from Microsoft for their government's Windows/Office licenses on the other. Thailand, I am looking at you.

I am guessing that the machines will not work quite as well with Windows as with the custom solution Red Hat is designing, since Microsoft is likely only putting forth enough effort to show that Windows can run on the OLPC, not optimizing it for the OLPC. If they're porting XP (and not CE), the Windows offering will probably wear out the flash drive faster, have a slower startup time, eat through the battery faster, not support the wireless mesh in powered-down mode, not support the alternate modes of the screen (portrait/landscape, color/low-power monochrome), not support automated journaling/backup to school servers, etc.

The key benefit of running Windows is that there is a lot of software available for it, but that's not a clear benefit in this situation. Most Windows software produced today is not designed for the low resources of the OLPC -- unless you count CE programs, which are largely not designed for kids or education. And most of that software costs money; the open source stuff will run as well or better in the custom OLPC environment.

So I'd expect some disappointment for the countries that choose the Microsoft option. It's sad that a country would jeopardize the success of its education program for discounted software, but -- you are right -- I could see that happening.

Think about the children! (2, Funny)

CdrGlork (1096607) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971215)

But everyone knows having a Windows OS teaches a child invaluable lessons in stress management!

Re:Think about the children! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18972871)

What doesn't kill you will only make you stronger.

Getting sick of these OLPC stories (1)

seaturnip (1068078) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971237)

I mean okay, it's a cool project, but can Negroponte stop being such a media whore for a moment or two? There's no reason to have a press release every time you make a design decision. In fact, this could be entirely under-the-radar.

Re:Getting sick of these OLPC stories (1)

miguelX (947939) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972585)

I guess he is as much of a 'media whore' as Steve Jobs, i.e. his every mumble is recorded and discussed upon.
I bet he would have preferred himself a lil' bit of tranquiity instead of the media coverage they got last week...

Who forced you to click? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18973451)

Did Negroponte himself force his way into your home or office and hold a gun to your head forcing you to click on this story and post a comment? Some of us give a shit, and if you don't that is fine, but why do you have to post whiny bitching about it?

That's too bad (3, Informative)

lakiw (1039502) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971253)

I was looking forward to using the "show code" button on Windows.

BTW, yes there is an actual "show code" button on the keyboard. It's really cool. You can edit the code of most of the included applications and apply changes on the fly. I know it's for kids, but I REALLY want one of these laptops. Check it out at www.laptop.org

Re:That's too bad (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971485)

Why don't you check out Squeak [squeak.org] for your desktop or laptop. There's even an OS in progress that runs Squeak on the bare metal [squeak.org] , with bootstrapping code in assembly and everything else in Squeak. Everything in Squeak is an object, including pixels in the frame buffer, and can have its code inspected and modified at run time. It should come as no surprise that Alan Kay is heavily involved with both projects.

i hope windows does not get in OLPC (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971343)

putting WinXP in OLPC would be like trying to stuff a hippopotamus in to a compact car...

Re:i hope windows does not get in OLPC (3, Informative)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971405)

There is TinyXP. it takes up 400mbs, and requires at least 40mb RAM. Google it as it will come up with information about it, and also download links. I'm sure posting links like that are violation of the rules here on slashdot, so I won't take that chance.

So much for.... (1)

madhatter256 (443326) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971717)

So much for OLPC for having its potential buyers in getting to use software that the majority of the world uses.

I think this project is a waste of resources. Why build new and crippled systems (hardware-wise) and sell it to third world countries and call it a humanitarian service when there are thousands of old computers that are in working condition, capable of running XP and other modern software, but are not being used at all or are being thrown out. We could be saving a ton of resources if we just had a program that went around our nation and other first-world nations gathering old computers, making them work and send them off to schools in third-world countries for little to no money.

There are many organizations out there that already do this and they do it all for free. Now that is charity/humanitarian work. Charging the poor for a crippled and exclusive non-standard system is by no means charity - just a publicity stunt.

Re:So much for.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18971873)

madhatter256... you are a genius.

I agree completely.

Re:So much for.... (1)

bahstid (927038) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972857)

Needs to run "Modern" software? You obviously never experienced the simple joy of telling your turtle to drive up 40 steps and turn left and haul itself another 40... beats the poo out of watching TV [wikipedia.org]

Crayons and sandpits aside this thing can do some far more serious things but only idiots think so. [youtube.com]

Crippled? I really don't think so somehow: Nine bazillion /.ers including myself want one of these, and the fact is we would probably even pay triple (or more) price to get our mits on one, thereby happily sponsoring a few poor starving children a freebee bears testament.... My super-duper 3G 3D Java/Brew-running 2.4Mbps penis-extension phone for which I paid a bunch more is the truly crippled (vendor locked) bollox that we are actually up against.

Maybe you are right about the publicity stunt, but if it gets this thing out into the world where we want it (and incidentally inspires a few third-world hackers along the way), I for one am all for it.

The world needs this thing and the world needs it to be open and available to all. Yes! give it to our deprived kids. Yes! Explore ideas other than aero/beryl/whatever. and even Yes! Get the idea on the front page of every single media outlet you possibly can, even if if someone else is takign credit for it!

The revolution will not be televised... but it might be hand-cranked.

electricity (2, Insightful)

zogger (617870) | more than 6 years ago | (#18973367)

All of those used computers and the displays needed you mention require being plugged into the mains, which may or may not exist where these little laptops are going. The laptops are self powered with a pull string generator charger. That makes a rather big difference one might think. They are also LAPTOPS, which means the kids can haul them to and from school, etc. They also have integral MESH NETWORKING, which your used desktop systems don't have.

And so on. Every one of these points has been brainstormed, and the project as it stands was determined to be the best over-all compromise for the situation and project, which is primarily an educational project, and the primary use of the proposed machines is for them to have the ability to have hundreds of books cheaply, and to be able to custom tailor what the various nations and kids need and want.

As for it being crippled, on the contrary, there are some spiffy new hardware designs coming out of that project, just the self powered part and the display innovations have made it worthwhile, as this tech will expand into general planetary gadget-dom. As to the expense, do some basic math, run the cost of hundreds of hard copy books plus shipping, etc, to each individual kid, compared to a lightweight upgradeable e-book reader that has the ability to keep pulling down new books as they come out, plus let the kids write,draw, create, etc and you'll see this option is way, WAY cheaper than the traditional methods, short,medium or long term.

If you think of it more as a decent networkable e-book reader/multi functional decent screen sized PDA that is self powered, then it makes more sense than thinking of it as a standard laptop or desktop replacement. The same tool could conceivably be a kids entire set of books and learning tools throughout their entire primary school years. It is going to be an economic *deal* for these nations, not a burden, it is going to drastically reduce educational costs at the same time as it expands resources, a win/win thing.

Re:So much for.... (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 6 years ago | (#18974301)

Charging the poor for new books is by no means charity. Do you think the poor should not have new books? Do you think they should all have to read books cast-off by the west?

Here we gooo... (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 6 years ago | (#18971949)

The funny thing is, with more than half of the people that it's targeting... the OS won't even matter... it will PROBABLY end up being a pirated version of windows anyway! I think that is a great choice to continue advancements in technology. NOT because it will be linux, but because it will force others to catch up with new technology and quit putting out crap. :D

Well, this will probably push MS to work on a linux based OS... and mark my words, it will happen.

Makes sense... (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972129)

I mean, I believe Windows still has a place in various environments where it's hard to find competing well-tried products, but if there's some environment I can't understand why one would use it, it's in aids for development nations. They don't need the hottest nVidia drivers for gaming, they don't need advanced CAD applications for construction, they just need the standard stuff, that many Linux distros today offers perfectly fine. They can even get full office suites, and then I think they're starting to push their needs for these low cost computers already.

I hate Windows as much as the next person... (3, Insightful)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972367)

...but that lack of Windows on the OLPC could be an issue.

Mainly because your average Joe Schmo is absolutely convinced that Windows is a program for writing letters on, or something equally stupid. The lack of interoperability with the rest of the world (however stupid the rest of the world is) puts people at a serious disadvantage.

For instance, we all know that ODT is the superior document format, but try giving one to someone (in the Joe Schmo category) who only uses Word. They look at you as if you had two heads. Same thing is actually quite common for the pdf format (I'm telling you, it happens).

The OLPCs are not going to people who are sitting on the side of a ditch oblivious of the wider IT world. They will have heard of Windows, and they will want to know why they are getting this 'second-rate' linux thingy. When they do business they will do it with some idiot who is blissfully unaware of anything outside of Office.

I wouldn't for one second suggest that Windows should be shipped with the OLPC. But there are perception issues that must be dealt with.

I'm reminded of the film 'The Shipping News' - when asked what kind of computer he wants, Quoyle says 'an IBM'. He didn't know whether it was any good or not, he just knew that it was the 'right' answer. And unfortunately, at the moment 'Microsoft' is the 'right' answer.

Re:I hate Windows as much as the next person... (1)

sherriw (794536) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972635)

Why are they getting this second rate linux thingy? Because the laptop costs $100 (or is it $175) that's why. Now say thank you.

There are some people (cough - me) who have been trying to scrape together money for a laptop for years. Too bad my car or PC keep breaking down. Where's MY $100 laptop? I'll take it with Linux in a second. ;)

Re:I hate Windows as much as the next person... (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#18972851)

The OLPCs are not going to people who are sitting on the side of a ditch oblivious of the wider IT world. They will have heard of Windows, and they will want to know why they are getting this 'second-rate' linux thingy.


IIRC, the Windows monopoly is a lot less strong in the market for "real" computers in places like Brazil, a major OLPC launch area, and the perception of Linux as "second rate" is considerably less than in the US. Further, the demonstrations have been well received by students, parents, and educators in the target markets, so I think your perception of what they will feel is, well, based on your own software biases, not any understanding of the target market.

Re:I hate Windows as much as the next person... (2, Interesting)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#18973151)

What is the people receiving these machines don't have this ridiculous bias towards Windows?

Gates Foundation to donate One Laptop per Child? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#18973913)

Imagine if The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated OLPC to even just each village in Africa. They could help humanity so much.
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