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News On Laptops For Education

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the battle-of-the-cheap-and-rugged dept.

Education 121

AdamWill notes a Mandriva press release with the news that the government of Nigeria has selected Intel-powered classmate PCs running Mandriva Linux for educational use in a nationwide pilot. About 17,000 machines will be involved at first. We can only wonder at the maneuvering and negotiations that went on with the OLPC project. The latter had its first announced order for 100,000 XO machines, from Uruguay, with a potential for 400,000 over time. The bigger news out of OLPC is that Microsoft is porting XP to the platform, and chairman Nicholas Negroponte says that's fine with him: "It would be hard for OLPC to say it was 'open' and then be closed to Microsoft. Open means open."

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Open (0, Flamebait)

ls -la (937805) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175523)

chairman Nicholas Negroponte says that's fine with hin: "It would be hard for OLPC to say it was 'open' and then be closed to Microsoft. Open means open."
But 'open' DOESN'T mean that the XO project should have doubled the specs and cost of the OLPC so Microsoft would have an easier time porting to it.

Re:Open (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175817)

If Vista is ported for the OLPC project then we might have something amazing on our hands. In its current state Vista would probably never respond on the platform. But if Vista is shrunken, code-bloat is removed, functionality re-thought and re-implemented. They might be on to something... Something that I might be interested in.

Re:Open (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175951)

And it will never be available for you except with one of these machines.

Now, I like these machines and I like the goal of the project, but they're not really what most people in much of the European and north American people want, in mass. Sure, a few people wil get them to play with, but they are the exception.
OTOH, maybe they will start putting them on American shelves as 'computers for kids' or some such and charge 100 bucks. For the record, I hope they do.

Re:Open (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 6 years ago | (#21180979)

But if Vista is shrunken, code-bloat is removed, functionality re-thought and re-implemented.

BTW, I don't mean this to be funny, but isn't there a point where it isn't really Vista any more?

However, I DO hear that Windows 7 is aiming to be greatly streamlined. It will take a lot of elegance to get a Windows product on the OLPC and actually make it useful.

Re:Open (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 6 years ago | (#21182325)

I think you understand what I'm getting at. If there is a functional version of Vista or Windows 7 or anything like that can run on the OLPC products, then I want to run that on a cheaper laptop (or an older laptop). These things are running at 433MHz. It's got 256MB or RAM and 1GB in place of a HDD. Way under spec for Vista. It'd barely run Windows 2k. Throw this theoretical OS on a newer machine (1GHz and up, all the way up to dual-core) and you've got a super simple OS that should be capable of a great deal.

Do they get a support contract? (1)

xorbe (249648) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175895)

Too bad Mandriva suffers from the same laptop hdd head unload/load issues!

Re:Do they get a support contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21175977)

The answer: there is no HDD, only SSD

Re:Do they get a support contract? (1)

bulled (956533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176029)

Expect that the only CMPC models currently available use flash only. No harddisks until next year.

Re:Do they get a support contract? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176069)

Yes, but I or thousands of others could fix it. Not so with MS.

Re:Do they get a support contract? (1)

tumbleweedsi (904869) | more than 6 years ago | (#21181503)

Yes, all Linux enthusiasts say that but how many of them *actually* do fix bugs? You'd think that with all the developers who apparently *can* make changes and improvements to Linux that it would actually be a contender by now. Unfortunately the Linux projects which actually get anywhere are the ones which have been adopted by corporates like Novell rather than the ones which rely on guys with ponytails in their mom's basement.

Re:Do they get a support contract? (1)

AdamWill (604569) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176773)

the stock Classmate configuration does not even *have* a hard disk, it has a (small) Flash storage unit.

Re:Do they get a support contract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21181839)

That issue was only a problem with some drives, and could most likely be considered a hardware issue, albeit one which has a software workaround that can be implemented. Also as others have pointed out, this laptop doesn't have a fucking hard drive so it is a non-issue.

Re:Open (3, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175965)

But 'open' DOESN'T mean that the XO project should have doubled the specs and cost of the OLPC so Microsoft would have an easier time porting to it.

It didn't double the specs or the cost to do that. The cost is still less than double the $100 target, and it was projected to be over that target in the early production runs even before they increased the specs to meet the needs that the countries looking into buying it had communicated. Yes, some of that was probably related to ability to run Windows, but so what? The OLPC project isn't working to advance the interests of developed-world Linux fans, its making a machine to meet the needs of real people in the real world. And if the countries aren't going to buy it if it isn't capable of being repurposed to run Windows (which, if nothing else, gives the countries more options if they buy the machine and later change their mind about the software/content provided by OLPC and its partners), then OLPC needs to make a machine that addresses that concern.

Re:Open (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21176405)

If they're concerned about the real world, they would have used an ARM processor (less expensive, faster, less watts, better durability, etc than the piece of shit AMD geode (rhymes with choad) they're using).

Re:Open (2, Insightful)

sssssss27 (1117705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178949)

Reminds me of a quote by Chuck Palahniuk, "Why have I sold out? You think I'm supposed to grow old, beating some trite old protest drum that people don't hear anymore? Please; protest is now just a backdrop for a Diesel clothing ad in a slick fashion magazine. My goal is to create a metaphor that changes our reality by charming people into considering their world in a different way. It's time -- for me, at least -- to be clever and seduce people by entertaining them. I'll never be heard if I'm always ranting and griping."

It's better to "close" the OLPC a little bit then it is for it to never take off.

Funny definition of "open" (0, Flamebait)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176373)

"It would be hard for OLPC to say it was 'open' and then be closed to Microsoft. Open means open."

So when is Microsoft going to release the source? Or does "open" mean "closed"?

Not just flamebait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21179315)

...but borderline stupid.

Microsoft are NOT the makers of the OLPC.

Re:Not just flamebait... (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179543)

Never said Microsoft were the makers of the OLPC. What should be clear is that installing closed-source software on any PC makes it less than an system, same as welding the hood shut on the car. Sure, you can open the doors, trunk, etc., but you can't fix the engine yourself, or get someone else to - you have to wait for the software vendor to fix it.

The only "borderline stupid" is calling something open when it isn't. An OLPC with Windows is NOT an open system, any more than any other computer with Windows on it would be. The software would come with many restrictions - EULAs, no source code, no reverse engineering, a bunch of DRM, restrictions on transfering the software, etc.

Heck, TIVO is more open - at least they give you the source, even if you can't really use it, you're free to study it, adapt it to other devices, give it away, etc.

Open for everybody (4, Insightful)

xzvf (924443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176431)

XO is an innovation in software as well as hardware. What I would like to see is the laptop in the hands of "rich" nation's school children. Yes, we can afford normal computers, and some school districts have deployed them, but not in an innovative way like the XO project proposition. With a truely open distribution model and relatively rich customers we might find the economies of scale that allow the laptop to cost $100.

Re:Open (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21177009)

The XO specs and price were not doubled to support Windows. You are probably referring to the addition of the SD card slot, which Negroponte likes to say was added just for Microsoft (as in one of the articles). At that point in the design process, the laptop was already costing over $130. The increase to the current $190 is partly due to further changes in design and partly due to the precipitous fall of the dollar.

As for the real motivations behind the SD slot, here is what Walter Bender [laptop.org] had to say:

...the first-hand history of why there is an SD-card slot on the machine is: (1) We needed to add an ASIC to improve NAND access; (2) We took this as an opportunity to add a video camera contoller at minimal additional cost; (3) At essentially no additional cost, we added an SD-card slot to give the kids more options re storing their videos (at the time, we were only planning on .5G of on-board NAND. While it is probably a cleaner solution for MS to take advantage of SD rather than USB, there was not and still is not room on-board for Windows and there has been from Day One external expansion capability.

Why not Vista?? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175545)

I'll probably get mod'ed flamebait or something, but I think it's really telling that Microsoft isn't attempting to create a software load based on Windows Vista as the starting point. And they have already stopped retailing XP... and though they prolonged XP OEM sales, it's still set to be cut off in a relatively short time.

Frankly, I think they'd have better luck bringing back Windows98 to put on the OLPC/XO machine. I can't begin to imagine how badly it would perform, but judging from some of the WinXP hack-loads I have seen, perhaps there's a chance it could work, but I can't imagine it will work terribly well or suit any particular purpose.

After all, Linux wasn't selected followed by a purpose. It was the purpose that was formulated followed by a selection of an OS which just as easily could have been BSD or even Windows if it was best-suited. And let's face it, if some charity activity asked Microsoft for backing through giving away their software, I think they'd be very inclined to do it.

Re:Why not Vista?? (0, Offtopic)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175649)

From what I've read lately (I'm too lazy at the moment to look up the articles. I believe it was in a dead tree publication that I get), Microsoft is trying a new approach for the next OS. They're making it more module based, starting with a core set of functionality and then adding on the appropriate modules for the various editions.

It's a good idea that's been used by a number of operating systems in the past and it's about time that they got around to trying it. I hope it succeeds. It should cut out some of the bloat and possibly make backwards compatibility even easier.

Re:Why not Vista?? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21175733)

Microware's OS-9 comes to mind when you're talking about modular functionality. Linux essentially does that now with so many drivers and functions being made available as a kernel module rather than part of the monolithic unit. Granted, it's not for the same purpose or intent exactly, but it often gets used that way.


Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21176851)

What's the matter, Stevie? Did we mod all your karma away? You can't post with your account [slashdot.org] anymore? Are you scared that we'll flame you?

Posting AC doesn't work for you Stevie. Anonymous does not forget. Anonymous does not quit.

Quit being so arrogant and prideful. You don't know anything. You have no marketable skills. You are a stain on the face of the planet. Get a job and do something productive with your time.

MODS: As always the parent, Stevie, doesn't know what he's talking about. Mod down.

Re:Why not Vista?? (3, Insightful)

MikeUW (999162) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175757)

Add to this the problem that XP on a low cost laptop becomes the initial hardware price, plus $X for the OS, plus $Y for useful productivity software (assuming MS pushes that too), plus $Z for who knows what else. I know there's no reason anyone would be forced to buy extra software just because their machine runs Windows, but you have to admit that it helps reinforce the mindset that software should be purchased from a company like MS. Try to imagine that mindset combined with the perspective of new users in developing regions where computing is still not so ubiquitous as it is in more developed places. OTOH, Linux (BSD or whatever) on a low cost laptop is the initial hardware price, plus $0 for the OS, $0 for useful productivity software that is often pre-installed, plus $0 for whatever else...and of course, it opens up greater possibilities for for those that move past the point-and-click stage of the computing learning curve.

Re:Why not Vista?? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21175789)



Vista on laptops is a non starter. You call that an OS? I've taken dumps that are more stable and secure. Vista? More like Wishta. Wish'd I never installed that heap of shit on my computer.

You don't have to like it, but you will learn to LOVE. IT.

wooooo woooooo

Re:Why not Vista?? (4, Funny)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175831)

Are you serious? Even Microsoft knows better than to submit 3rd-world kids to "the wow is now..."

Check the specs from http://www.classmatepc.com/ [classmatepc.com] ... 900Mhz, 0 L2 (prominently featured on the page for some reason), 256MB RAM, 1 or 2GB flash, 800x480 screen. Somehow the 2GB version incredibly manages to fit XP Pro (why Pro?) and MS-Office.

Vista would look at this configuration and show a screen of Bill Gates laughing at the user. Hell I doubt even M$ could trim Vista down enough to run in such a configuration, given the bloated piece of crap Vista is. (I wonder what Vista's "experience rating" would be--0.2?)

Re:Why not Vista?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21177037)

Don't those specs sound exactly like the first gen release of the Asus Eee?

Re:Why not Vista?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21177701)

Avtually, XP strips down to about 88 megs, with much of the crud removed, and is both surprisingly functional and rather well performant. I've also managed to strip down Vista Home Premium (via vLite) to just about a half gig (that's with things like wmp codecs, Active directory and IIS7 left in), with similar results, the only catch being that it won't complete the install on less than 256mb of RAM.

Okay, sure, nLite'ing XP/Vista installs is probably not exactly legal, but just because Microsoft doesn't retail uber-slim versions doesn't mean they aren't possible. It very much ca be done, painlessly, at that, and with impressive results. Give sufficient incentive, Microsoft can and will trim down either O/S to fit the system.

You'd be amazed at just how much of Windows is 'optional', but included in the base install not because of necessity, but out of convenience (WMP, IE, the Explorer shell itself, AD, IIS, SUA, Legacy compatibility (or 16-bit and XP applications), Those stupid wizards, TS, RD, etc, etc, etc).

Bottom line is, propaganda is propaganda, which side it comes from is of no consequence.

Re:Why not Vista?? (2)

AmaDaden (794446) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175847)

I'm guessing that XP already has some drivers and changes that XO needs that 98 doesn't and that Vista is so heavy to run that it would be more work to take it all out then to just use XP. The funny thing is that they do have Windows CE http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_ce [wikipedia.org] that is made for this kind of thing. The only reason I would guess they are not using that is because it looks "too 90's" or something.

Re:Why not Vista?? (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175989)

Putting Win98 on anything in this day and age is one of the worst possible things you could do, and even Sony wouldn't be dumb enough to pull Win9x from the grave. It's DOS-based, insecure and unstable (whose reputation still hangs over Windows to this day) and a dead end as far as OSs are concerned. Win2k (or NT5 if you want to think of it like that) would be a much better choice, as I believe it fits their specs well enough (or is at least a good enough starting point)

Re:Why not Vista?? (3, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175991)

It was the purpose that was formulated followed by a selection of an OS which just as easily could have been BSD or even Windows if it was best-suited.

Part of the requirement had to do with licensing, so barring Microsoft releasing their OS under an open-source license, it couldn't have been Windows. Microsoft, IIRC, tried to get to be the OS supplier, and didn't start bad-mouthing the OLPC project until they were rejected based on licensing terms.

It could have been BSD, though.

Re:Why not Vista?? (1)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176005)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but why use a system who demands that much hardware in a simple computer? Another point: since the main idea is use this for educational purposes, I don't think is necessary too much in terms of eye candy. I'm not saying that this is bad, but the machine resources should be used with care. And I'm not even talking about money... :)

Re:Why not Vista?? (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177899)

Why not 2K + (if they really, really, really must) ClearType? In fact, if they ported the 2K kernel and claimed that it was XP, who'd know the difference?

Windows CE (or whatever that is called today)... (1)

knarf (34928) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178031)

I'd think that if Microsoft wanted something to run on the OLPC the best candidate from their current lineup would be Windows CE (or whatever that is called nowadays). It is supposed to be lightweight an so should fit the hardware nicely. Software would have to be ported for it but they might as well face the fact that OLPC is not made nor meant to run Office & friends...

Re:Why not Vista?? (2, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179137)

I'll probably get mod'ed flamebait or something, but I think it's really telling that Microsoft isn't attempting to create a software load based on Windows Vista as the starting point. And they have already stopped retailing XP... and though they prolonged XP OEM sales, it's still set to be cut off in a relatively short time.
You're not serious, are you? I was all set to post a joke about "Yeah, I'm not impressed; port Vista, then I'll be impressed." These laptops are severely underpowered by today's standards; bear in mind that today's software is bloated and requires such overpowering. The OLPC machines are more like PDA's on steroids than laptops as we think of them -- but that's a good thing, because today's PDA's are pretty powerful. I have a Palm Tungsten that's great for word processing if I hook it up to the external IR keyboard. No hard drive, simple display, long battery life, what's to hate? I can play a frickin' Command and Conquer clone complete with digital sound effects. And this is all on a PDA that's a few years old. And you all know how powerful the Nintendo DS is for a handheld. My Blackberry is just as capable as the desktop I had ten years ago. The only limitation is the screen size. OLPC runs a stripped down OS, no fluff and no cruft, that's how they can use a low horsepower machine with extended battery life, low cost, and high durability.

I would be very surprised if they got XP running on that thing. Vista? Unthinkable. I would have expected some manner of Windows CE port.

I ask for your advice (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21175643)

I just got an email from son of the former Education Minister of Nigeria.
In the mail he states that he has recently acquired 17000 classmate laptops
(seventeen thousand US laptops) and he is trying to get them out of the country.
He is asking for my assistance and I shall be rewarded greatly (5000 laptops).
To cover up the expenses he is asking me to send five Packard Bell notebooks
with Windows Vista Home Premium.

What should I do? Is this some kind of scam?

Re:I ask for your advice (2, Funny)

sammyF70 (1154563) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175743)

I'd be carefull if it didn't have any spelling errors in the mail body. Legit offers of that types are recognized by at least 3 typos or grammatical errors/paragraph.

Re:I ask for your advice (0, Flamebait)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175959)

It takes one to know one?
I'm not the least bit surprised that someone high up in Nigeria raised a finger and said "wait a minute" when there were plans to buy tens of thousands of portable devices from the brother of the US national intelligence czar, and who also coincidentally just happened to be on the ethics committee for the newspapers who have praised and hyped the XO, and similarly coincidentally just happens to be a board member or consultant for several of the parts suppliers for the OLPC project...

"Charity" and "at cost", my ass.

Re:I ask for your advice (0)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176107)

You should write back and tell him that his Pentium 75Mhz notebooks loaded with Vista are on their way but you wonder if Packard Bell is a good choice since their out of business and all the laptops laying around are just a little under spec for Vista.

Re:I ask for your advice (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179159)

To cover up the expenses he is asking me to send five Packard Bell notebooks
with Windows Vista Home Premium.

What should I do? Is this some kind of scam?
Totally a scam. You were actually thinking of sending him Packard Smell notebooks? What a jerk.

OLPC open? (2, Interesting)

the_brobdingnagian (917699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175669)

The OLPC is suppost to be completely open and user maintainable. But the wireless drivers are blobs. From the OLPC "Core principles"

There is no inherent external dependency in being able to localize software into their language, fix the software to remove bugs, and repurpose the software to fit their needs. Nor is there any restriction in regard to redistribution; OLPC cannot know and should not control how the tools we create will be re-purposed in the future.
I like the project, but I wish they could stick to their core principle. I would really like a completely open computer, especially such a cool looking, low power, rugged laptop.

Re:OLPC open? (3, Informative)

samkass (174571) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176317)

The "open" comment quoted in the summary kind of implies that Microsoft is working on a port on a level playing field with the "open" folks. If you actually read the article, though, you find that the OLPC folks are actively working with Microsoft, sending them first-run hardware, and otherwise favoring Microsoft in order to get XP onto their system. That's not just "letting it be open", it's actively working towards getting a more closed OS onto the system.

Also, I vaguely recall a rumor that Apple offered MacOS X for free and it was declined, so I'm not entirely clear on OLPC's motives here.

Re:OLPC open? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21181887)

"open means open?!"...and you put Microsoft in the same sentence/paragraph/article?!!!!!

How can putting a closed system like XP on a computer be open?

Methinks the poster needs a vocabulary review...

Re:OLPC open? (1)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176363)

Not true, the wireless card has a processor on it, that runs a program that no source is provided for. However the specification to interact with the card is open. If Marvel provided the chipset with the firmware set in ROM on the chipset mask would that offend you as well.

In the same way my laser printer has a processor that takes PCL and turns it into dots on the page. I don't have or need the source code for that, and my printer is just as open.

I really don't understand the obsession with demanding that firmware be open sourced now device drivers download it to the device. 10 years ago it all came in flash/eprom etc. on the device and nobody cared.

Re:OLPC open? (2, Insightful)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178797)

Ironically enough, rms got the idea for free software when he couldn't get at the source code to the printer in his lab.

I do agree with you, though. You can think of the blob as some microcode for controlling the hardware. It could have been integrated into the hardware, but it would be slower and harder to work with. If it were in the hardware, nobody would be clamoring for its source. If we are really paranoid about drivers, perhaps they too could be boxed-in like SELinux does with applications.

Given that the wireless radio must be constrained differently in different countries, and the regulatory agencies of said countries don't want people to muck with certain radio settings, you can put all those constraints in hardware, which seems like it would be difficult to maintain, or you can do it in a binary blob.

Re:OLPC open? (1)

ISurfTooMuch (1010305) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176381)

But is the core purpose of the OLPC to build open laptops or to build inexpensive laptops? Remember, they chose Linux because it was inexpensive. Having open drivers would certainly be nice, but they have deadlines to meet, and they probably figure that, if the drivers work for their intended purpose, then their job is done.

Besides, if you want open drivers, then you're free to write them yourself and make them available.

Re:OLPC open? (2, Insightful)

the_brobdingnagian (917699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176699)

On the olpc wiki site, there is a page called "Core principles" (http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Core_principles/lang-en). This page lists five "principles" that, judging from the page titles seem to be the core principles of the project. The fifth "core principle" is titled "Free and Open Source", from wich I got my quote. Maybe they should create a page called "things that would also be nice" and put "Free and Open Source" on that page. My opinion is that the page of core principles is actually correct, but they could not find a practical solution that fits all their needs and decided too loosen their principles.

Re:OLPC open? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21176765)

Their primary goal is an effective education program, not a totally open-source laptop; open-source is a secondary goal. And they actually do quite well accomplishing it: As I understand it, you've identified the one piece of software on the entire laptop that is closed-source.

Re:OLPC open? (4, Informative)

iabervon (1971) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176889)

The wifi driver is GPL (and included in the mainline linux kernel already). The wireless chip firmware is the proprietary part. But, of course, that's more open than most of the chips in the system, which can't be changed in the field at all, and when can't be modified without a chip fab. People are actually working on reverse-engineering the chip specs (it looks like an ARM920T with a radio peripheral), but it's perfectly reasonable to consider the chip as a device with a detailed specification [laptop.org] that has a very long, particular, and incomprehensible (but carefully documented) startup sequence.

Narf Narf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21175683)

The bigger news out of Orphan Rescue is that kidnappers will be targeting the children under care, and chairman Nicholas Negroponte says that's fine with him: "It would be hard for Orphan Rescue to say it was 'open to all' and then be closed to kidnappers. Open means open."

DEAR SIR (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21175737)

My NAme is Mutumba MUgaTI,

I am writing to you with an urgent matter. My uncle, General MUGATI has come into possesesion of 50,000 laptop computing devices valued at nearly USD$700 Million. If you help me smuggle them out of the country...

I have a bad feeling about this (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175749)

I don't know if I like how this project is being rolled out. For example, the Nigerian government has said they will pay for these laptops with part of the proceeds from a bank account containing $500,000,000 left by a rich oil baron who was killed in a car accident and left no heir. However, they are asking Negroponte to pose as this guy's heir, and also to give them a few thousand dollars for documentation fees and the like. I just don't see this thing turning out well.

Re:I have a bad feeling about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21175871)

But first he needs an American's help to transfer the funds and in return he will give you a percentage.

Re:I have a bad feeling about this (3, Interesting)

kingduct (144865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176337)

In a serious sense, even were the OLPC (or the Intel machine in this arcile) what was needed to improve education in the third world, the reality is that I highly doubt the distribution will ever be fair.

Having lived in a poor country myself for a number of years, I suspect that some member of the ruling oligarchy (which controls a party as well as controlling much of business) in most countries will end up becoming the "importer" and in order to "recover costs" and "include taxes" and "shipping and handling", will find that the poorest people should buy one for 600 dollars, which will still be much less than other cheap laptops there are.

People will be offered microcredits to buy them for their children (maybe they will be required to do so), and will do so, because they think this cute little machine will advance them into the future. Of course, the wealthy friends of the oligarchs will get them for free. In the meantime, the end result will be a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

Now, some of you will say, "No! There are protections to do that. These things are set up to avoid that." However, "transparency" is just a word that the systematically corrupt trot out -- when third world leaders/governments/systems claim to be transparent, you know that they just stole money. I know this is a pessimistic post, but it is based on a lot of experience. I hope that places like Uruguay are slightly better on this issue -- certainly better than most of Latin America, but I have little doubt that that is what will happen in Nigeria.

The money made will truly end up in some bank account. The Americans who will benefit are the stakeholders in the factories designing and producing these things, and poor Nigerians will still be poor, and no better educated.

Re:I have a bad feeling about this (1)

nwanua (70972) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179377)

> Having lived in a poor country myself for a number of years, I suspect that some member of the ruling oligarchy

Ah, but Nigeria isn't a poor country (per-capita not withstanding):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal) [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita [wikipedia.org]
read the bbc notes about Nigeria's informal economy which is estimated to be at least twice these official numbers:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/1689165.stm [bbc.co.uk]
http://rru.worldbank.org/Discussions/Topics/Topic18.aspx [worldbank.org]

"Nigeria, is set to lead mobile phone market in the continent by December 2007, surpassing South Africa".
http://emergingworld.blogspot.com/2006/11/nigeria-another-giant-in-mobile-market.html [blogspot.com]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communications_in_Nigeria [wikipedia.org]

How many poor economies of oligarchs can support 40 million cellular phone subscribers? (from a total of 140 million)?

Just saying, the view that Nigeria is poor is sorely outdated and outmoded. I'm actually surprised they ordered "only" 17,000 units.

Re:I have a bad feeling about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21180139)

Hmm, that explains the stories I read about how Islamists were using text messaging to set up lynch mobs to kill Christians. Beautiful country that way. I figure that the machines will be taken away from children (must control their thoughts) and used to train terrorists in computer skills.

I thought open refered to the software (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175777)

not to whoever will kill the project with close sourced software. Perhaps this means they plan to open the source code for WinXP! That way they can claim the "community will support it" and they'll focus on Vista/Longhorn

Re:I thought open refered to the software (2, Insightful)

ISurfTooMuch (1010305) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176473)

How will an XP port kill the project? Does it precent Linux from being run on it? No. Does it raise the cost of the laptop? Only if MS charges for XP, and it's mandatory that every machine include it.

People would be screaming bloody murder if the OLPC folks had initially selected Windows for the laptop and then refused to allow Linux developers to have a look at it so they could port Linux to it. I fail to see the difference here. Fair is fair.

LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21175785)

and the first games the children will play is Super Mario Galaxy

The Ultimate Nigerian Scam.... (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175811)

"Dear SIR,

Our kind lawyer has advised us to purchase 100,000 notebooks with Linux....
we have placed the funds of millions of dollars worth of gold for you in a Swiss account, but need you to advance us a small forwarding fee so that we can get that money to you..."

Free and Open Environment (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21175827)

From the OLPC Wiki (http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Core_principles/lang-en) -- "Give me a free and open environment and I will learn and teach with joy."

Sounds good, but wait ...

"It would be hard for OLPC to say it was 'open' and then be closed to Microsoft. Open means open."

So you're open to the idea of making the OLPC closed? Well done! I'm not sure what the heck OLPC is about anymore. At first it seemed great, then the price went up, they chose a non-open manufacturer for their network chip, and now Windows? Give me a break. I bet they'll use "the children" as an excuse for their actions this time aswell.

War is Peace (1)

scooviduvoctagon (801935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175879)

Freedom is Slavery Ignorance is Strength ...aaaaannnd according to Negroponte: Open is Closed

you forgot one (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#21180511)

and Slashdotters are intelligent.

Giving someone freedom means they might do something you don't like. If you restrict them to only doing things you approve, they don't have freedom in the first place.

Negroponte is doing the world a favor (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175891)

On the one hand, the OLPC is open, so let MS port their OS. On the other hand, the chances the MS will port any of the bloated MS products to work well on the OLPC will convince a great many people that MS OS products are not necessarily the thing that they *MUST* have to be relevant in the world of computing.

I would have thought that Windows CE would be the better choice for the OLPC. XP??? What are they thinking?

Sure, it might be possible, but it is a move that is so far in the opposite direction of where MS products have been going you have to ask yourself if it is a joke? Even with their flagship OS, the latest great update has been the kind of success that you wish on your competition. How in the hell are they going to make XP fit on the OLPC? It's performance has not been lauded around the world as THE shining example of how an OS should work on a laptop.

Re:Negroponte is doing the world a favor (1)

cerberusss (660701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176623)

Well I expect they just take XPs kernel and strip it until it's bare naked. You can do that with the linux kernel and if you have the source, you can do that with the XP kernel as well. Then you put a thin graphical shell on it. Voila XP on the OLPC.

lightweight xp installs (1)

mckwant (65143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176653)

I've run xp acceptably (no games, of course, some patience involved on various load times) on a 900MHz athlon. The clockspeeds are comparable, but we all know how little that matters.

RAM's going to be an issue, and I think the 2GB of "HD" is going to come back to bite them pretty quickly. At least on the eee, the OS and apps take up about 75% of that. I'm sure the damnsmalllinux guys are deeply amused.

Classmate PC (3, Interesting)

Woek (161635) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175901)

When I looked into the Classmate PC I read on Intel's site:

Developed to address gaps in education found by Intel's extensive ethnographic research,...

Riiiight... It has nothing to do with the positive response on the OLPC project.

Heh... (1, Funny)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175925)

Between here and Reddit, I probably picked up 50 negative moderation points during 2007 for daring to question OLPC's predictions of 13 jillion computers shipped by year's end. (The fact that Nicholas Negroponte seemed completely oblivious to whether the governments with whom he had shaky agreements (Thaksin, Hamas) were even still in power was a tipoff.)

I predict that 2008 will provide similar opportunities to bleed karma; also, it's going to be The Year Of Linux On The Desktop!

Microsoft sees competition... (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176233)

"They'll learn to use something other than Windows! It's competitition!"
I think the goal of OLPC is "Teaching Children", not "Teaching Children to use computers". While I'm sure some children exposed to computers through this program might wind up taking up the craft, the majority probably won't. The real question is: Can Microsoft, once done porting, use the full force of its might to create a superior system for Children, the way it has for Businesses? (people who think OOo isn't a peice of shit need not reply)

Re:Microsoft sees competition... (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176351)

I think the real issue is how Microsoft can differentiate the two systems (OS's made for XO vs conventional computers.) If they could get it so that Office works on these computers with (relatively) rediculously low specs, then they may have found Windows 7. Unless they just stick to Windows XP. Would that mean that they are going to continue support for it then?

Open??? (2, Insightful)

kgskgs (938843) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176287)

"OLPC" stands for "One Laptop Per Child", open or not.

If Negroponte said open, only because it made it easier to deliver the envisioned product. If it makes sense to go "Close" and get one laptop per child, then so be it.

You care about "Open" only when you have enough of "Closed". For those who have none, what matters is having something.


I predict: (3, Funny)

E. Edward Grey (815075) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176389)

In 10 years, every IT department is going to say "Why buy Windows servers, when I can get a free or nearly free server OS that's more stable, run it on cheaper hardware with half the horsepower, and hire a Nigerian immigrant who knows it inside and out to administer it?"

Re:I predict: (3, Funny)

tzhuge (1031302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176471)

Also: "Why use grid power, when that same Nigerian immigrant can hand crank that server?" Server admins typing with one hand will be even more standard than it is now.

Re:I predict: (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21177867)

Why wait for the Nigerians? If all that is required to administer a server is an IQ in the ballpark of 67 and little to no English skills, there must be a horde of latent IT admins flooding across the Mexican border every day. As a bonus, these people are positively geniuses when compared to the Nigerians, and are currently wasting their time picking fruit and washing dishes.

http://www.lagriffedulion.f2s.com/sft.htm#gdp%20table [f2s.com]

Flash Drive? Swap File? (2, Insightful)

Plekto (1018050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176535)

I noticed that it has a 2GB flash drive. I wonder how long it will take for windows to burn it out with with its swap file.

Why not Win2k? (2, Insightful)

eniac42 (1144799) | more than 6 years ago | (#21176663)

Wouldnt Win2k be a better target for conversion than XP? It was *designed* in the days of 2Gb HDs, and can actually do useful work from 64Mb RAM..

Has anyone out there managed to get it to boot and run off Flash?

One $10 laptop per child (1)

viktoro (891111) | more than 6 years ago | (#21178007)

"Times of India is reporting about the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development's progress on the $10 laptop per child. Considering the OLPC price has slipped to $200 from the initial $100, it would be interesting to see the price if/when it lands in the hands of the children. From the article : Having rejected Nicholas Negroponte's offer of $100 laptops for schoolchildren, HRD ministry's idea to make laptops at $10 is firmly taking shape with two designs already in. So far, the cost of one laptop, after factoring in labour charges, is coming to $47 but the ministry feels the price will come down dramatically considering the fact that the demand would be for one million laptops. "The cost is encouraging and we are hopeful it would come down to $10. We would also look into the possibility of some Indian company manufacturing the parts," an official said.

Dear Honorable Nigerian Linux User... (1)

bratwiz (635601) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179107)

October 30 2007

FROM: Mr. Ben Ahore
Central Bank of America
New York, NY

TO: Honorable Nigerian Linux User

Dear Sir:

                I have been requested by the American National MacroSoft Company to contact you for assistance in resolving a matter. The American National MacroSoft Company has recently concluded a large number of contracts for softwares exploration in the sub-Western region. The contracts have immediately produced moneys equaling over US$40,000,000. American National MacroSoft Company is desirous of softwares exploration in other parts of the world, however, because of certain regulations of the American Government, it is unable to move these funds to another region.

                You assistance is requested as a non-American citizen to assist the American National MacroSoft Company, and also the Central Bank of America, in moving these funds out of America. If the funds can be transferred to your name, in your Nigerian National account, then you can forward the funds as directed by the American National MacroSoft Company. In exchange for your accommodating services, the American National MacroSoft Company would agree to allow you to retain 10%, or US$4 million of this amount.

                However, to be a legitimate transferee of these moneys according to American law, you must presently be a depositor of at least US$100,000 in an American bank which is regulated by the Central Bank of America.

                If it will be possible for you to assist us, we would be most grateful. We suggest that you meet with us in person in New York, and that during your visit I introduce you to the top representative of the American National MacroSoft Company, Mr. Gill Bates, as well as with the top official of the Central Bank of America, Mr. Tinus Lorvalds.

                Please call me at your earliest convenience at 212-555-1212. Time is of the essence in this matter; very quickly the American Government will realize that the Central Bank is maintaining this amount on deposit, and attempt to levy certain depository taxes on it.

Yours truly, etc.

Ben Ahore

Re:Dear Honorable Nigerian Linux User... (1)

cjalmeida (1148679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21182293)

Stop it!
It's the fifth time I see the "Nigerian e-mail scam" parody here.
And even the first one wasn't funny...

isnt "ubuntu" an african word? (1)

deftones_325 (1159693) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179183)

I'm glad Mandriva is getting some face time. I swear if you use it for a couple minutes.. well.. I can only say its my favorite.

Re:isnt "ubuntu" an african word? (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21180093)

Some has a sig which reads "Ubuntu is an ancient African word for 'I can't configure Debian'."

Windows for it is O.K. but so is the competition (1)

specific_pacific (904746) | more than 6 years ago | (#21182061)

I know a lot of people might disagree that this is good, but I believe Bill Gates is doing great, charitable things.

He has access to make this happen and he believes in Windows OS; So good on him! Not everything has to come from marketing executives. He doesn't live by those rules any more and his wife who also deserves a mention believes in this as much as he does. He just happens to have a lot of money and influence to carry it out. I don't use it or like it, but I doubt very much my nerd ego matters if it offers a better OS (despite negative advertising as some would see it).

I just hope some other companies provide alternatives to buyers :) Roll on global economy.
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