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OLPC, Microsoft Working Toward Dual-Boot XO Laptops

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the what-about-vista-and-sugar-dual-boot dept.

Portables 231

Ian Lamont writes "The OLPC Project and Microsoft are developing a dual-boot system to put both Linux and Windows on the laptops, according to an interview with Nicholas Negroponte. The article is thin on details, as the OLPC/Microsoft talks are apparently at an early stage. Could this be the end of the OS wars in Nigeria and other developing countries?" While Microsoft has been working on an OLPC-capable version of Windows for some time now, the interesting thing here is the dual-booting provision, rather than forcing users into an either-or choice.

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XO is the look on my face (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21974184)

when Bill Gates rams my butthole!!

Delusional (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974188)

It's a brand new development for the XO laptops, as the low-cost notebooks are known, and came about because of Microsoft's friendlier attitude toward open-source software.
Dear Dan Nystedt of ComputerWorld, the English language lacks the proper words that I need to express how wrong you are. I only wish I knew German so I could scream the rest of this post at you.

What caused you to write that sentence, I will never know. Was Stevie B. holding a firearm to your head when you wrote this article? Or simply placing a sack with a large green $ on your desk?

Seriously, this is an all out attack on open source software. They are vying for the young minds of every single child in developing countries. What is so special about this that GRUB or LILO cannot be used for the dual booting? Is Microsoft developing the code to dual boot? I would be shocked if they were.

If you claim Microsoft just wants to make sure the kids get the best operating system for learning, why weren't they handing out free copies of Windows and Office to 3rd world children/schools before the OLPC project started? Because they'd rather give away their product than let a competitor fall into the hearts and minds of these children. Linux has always been free to everybody. Think about it.

Microsoft has embraced the open-source community over the past few years in a very different way than before, Negroponte said. "And that really helps, because it's become a little bit less religious than it was a few years ago and that's really good. In the end, I think, the more people that have software and hardware out there, the better."
Has the whole world gone mad? I'm all for getting the children any operating system they want, in fact I'm glad they will have that choice. But to say that Microsoft has embraced the open-source community is ... strange at best. They may have created their own pseudo-open source community within their company but little more.

Those 419 patent violation accusations [slashdot.org] ... that's "embracing" someone?

It may have become a little less religious recently but only so far as the ends justify Microsoft's means. They are interested in profit, nothing more. I would love to applaud them for coming around and realizing that open source software is a viable solution for making money--and even improving a product! But I cannot say that today. They only actively threaten it in underhanded ways.

Of course MS embraces OSS (2)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974278)

Something like how a python does (snake, not the language).

There is nothing really new in this from the OLPC side, Negreponte has always wanted MS onboard. Any change of heart has been from the MS side. MS was rubbishing OLPC only a few months back.

Re:Delusional (5, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974364)

I think I can decrypt that for you:

Microsoft has embraced the open-source community over the past few years in a very different way than before

My daughter's cats have embraced mice over the past few years in a very different way than before. Previously they would lay the dead mouse by my dining room chair, now they just eat the mouse.

Don't forget Microsoft's mantra: Embrace, extend, extinguish. Much like my daughter's cats; mantra about mice.

Re:Delusional (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21974480)

Much like my daughter's cats; mantra about mice.
That's a nice analogy. Now I'm going to go home and swallow some heart worm eggs and sit outside Steve Ballmer's office. Does anybody have any butter?

At least my death will not be in vain ...

Re:Delusional (1)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974866)

Microsoft embraces the open-source community like a dog embraces a leg.

Re:Delusional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21974928)

Microsoft embraces the open-source community like a dog embraces a leg.
So the solution is to get Microsoft "fixed." Got it.

Re:Delusional (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974984)

Okay, here's my best:

Lieber Dan Nystedt von ComputerWorld, die Englische Sprache manglet die rechte Woerter auszusagen, wie falsch Du's hast. Ich wunsche, dass ich Deutsch wusste, damit ich das Reste schreien konnte.

Was Dich das letzte Satz zu schreiben verursacht, weiss ich nicht. Sie kampfen fuer die junge Sinne von jedem Kind in entwicklungen Laendern. Was ist so besonders ueber dies das GRUB oder LILO fuer Dualboot nicht koennen bentutzt werden? Schreibt Microsft das Code fuer Dualboot? Das waere mir eine Ueberraschung.

Wenn Du behaupst, Microsft will nur, das die Kinder das beste OS fuer lernen bekommst, warum geben sie keine kostenlose Kopien von Windows und Office zur dritte Weltlichen Kindern bevor die OLPC angefangen hat? Weil sie lieber die Ware ausgeben wuerde, als ein Gegner in die Herzen und Sinnen den Kindern fallen lassen. Linux ist immer jedem frei gewesen. Denk daran.

Okay, that's enough for now.

Re:Delusional (2, Insightful)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975080)

There's a lot of unknowns here. Will this be a stripped / unlicensed version or what?
He says, "We are working with them very closely to make a dual-boot system so that, like on an Apple, you can boot either one up."
But Apple doesn't provide Windows for you.
It would appear that Negroponte is in need of further funding. That would explain the Intel involvement. Their departure has been noted. Now Microsoft is on board, no doubt bringing cash. Personally, I think this is a mistake. There are millions of PC's with Windows already on them. M$ has had 2 decades to do this. They are far less concerned about getting Windows into the hands of the needy and more concerned with making sure no one runs any other OS but Windows. Get that crack into a new generation so we can ensure our business model. Good business you say? Maybe. But OLPC was supposed to be about charity, not business.

Re:Delusional (5, Interesting)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975340)

for a good example of this, there was the Thailand laptop deal. In that, HP was providing Thailand with inexpensive laptops with Linux and OSS on it and the government was providing them cheaply to the public. This was such a hit that HP could not keep up with the orders and so Dell was brought in. Microsoft caught wind of this and contacted the Thai government. Soon after, Linux and OSS was replace with a crippled version of Windows and MS Office at what was claimed to $3/laptop. There was likely also provided some millions in donated training by Microsoft or something like that to help fund this shift.

So yup, Microsoft's involvement is only reactionary because the project leveraged the cost savings and efficiencies of Linux and OSS. From what I've heard, even the Bill/Melinda Gates Foundation computer donations come with restrictions on usage of Linux and OSS. So they still want Linux and OSS destroyed and helping kids is only PR. IMO.


Re:Delusional (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975854)

I don't see what the children gain or lose from a dual boot system.

It seems to me that the 'view code' button will still be able to show application source code under windows, and that etoys-like environments etc. can be easily supported in Windows (look at scratch). After all - it's not the OS you're looking at, it's the application.

I also don't see what the OLPC project has to lose - MS will pump in money and quit blocking the distribution of these devices by spreading FUD.

Surely though, MS would do better to fill the memory that XP would take up with applications that actually add something to the user experience rather than supplant something that's perfectly adequate already.

It saddens me that MS will likely push to have the linux side of the Flash wiped prior to deployment. But I think Negroponte has made a calculated choice to make MS a backer not an enemy and focus on facilitating education for the children. I'm sure he's able to exert some pressure, even on the mighty MS.

Um.. . . (1)

Limburgher (523006) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974222)

. . .why would MS want one that did that? To show the world how poorly Windows compares to Linux on equal hardware?

Re:Um.. . . (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21974330)

Yes, I'm sure buhobba in East Gawanga is more worried about whether he gets Linux or Windows on his 64mb crapbook than wether or not he will get food, forced into military service, or be killed. When will people learn that only a few people really care about Linux? Linux is in the same category as the greenpeace people who worry about the extinction of the Ucombian white horn snake. But that's fine. Keep your head in the sand and proclaim this is the year of Linux over and over again. That way nothing will ever happen.

Re:Um.. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21974536)

Well I' guess its not his fault that he's ignorant and doesn't see the forest from the trees. He's like the rest of the lemmings that jump of the cliff and scream "I love windows" all the way to their death! LOL Retards....

Re:Um.. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21975054)

Now I'm sorry that there's no "-1 stupid" mod point...

Re:Um.. . . (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974366)

From what I recall, the version of Linux running on the OLPC machine is slightly watered down because of hardware limitations. I doubt those computers will be running Vista Ultimate. It's more likely they'd too be running a watered down version of Windows.

Re:Um.. . . (1)

k33l0r (808028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974502)

No, it's to get the little kiddies really, really confused. You think that an under ten year old will understand why he has to play around with two different systems?

Re:Um.. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21974930)

A) Dual booting is rarely dual. When someone gets going with one OS, the other one gets very little use. This will force what will amount to a one-time choice for the vast majority of users.

B) As we see in the rest of the computing world, when a choice of OS is given the vast majority of people will go with one OS and the other OSs will have only a small percentage of users. There are a lot of reasons for this that have nothing to do with dirty tricks by Microsoft. Probably the biggest reason for this is that people like using the same kind of computer as their friends, but "picking a 'winner,' availability of the software you want, and having a larger pool of knowledgeable assistance all come into play.

C) I don't really care what OS Nigerians use as long as they don't have an email client. I don't know how many additional "I need to move $4 million dollars with your assistance" emails it will take to destroy all the good Karma OLPC is generating, but there is a limit.... yesiree, there is a limit.

Simple. (2, Funny)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975536)

<sarcasm>... and later, should a service pack "accidentally" sabotage the boot process for the open source operating systems on the machine leaving clueless young users assuming that its a "Linux problem" and turning to the "more reliable" Windows for basic communication... no I don't see any way they could profit from this at all.</sarcasm>

Re:Simple. (2)

JohnVanVliet (945577) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975640)

i run a duel boot xp and Fedora 8 --soon triple Gentoo seeing as the MS windows installer DOSE NOT SEE MY FEDORA 8 INSTALLATION and will gladly( Very,very gladly) reformat my ext 3 HD to ntfs . The M$ installer thinks that there should be ONLY ONE and ONLY ONE os on a box

Re:Um.. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21975678)

if that's the case, why wouldn't we want them to try? show everyone who horrible thier software is right?

So how could MS lose with this scenario? (5, Funny)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974248)

Microsoft may figure that if the OLPC can boot to either OS that users may end up preferring Windows over Linux. And for most users they may very well be correct. In addition, they will be able to more easily show off areas where Windows excels in comparison with Linux.

Re:So how could MS lose with this scenario? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974324)

Please, mod parent funny for "Where windows excels in comparison with Linux". I want my UT3 on OLPC as well! I'm sure the specs are close enough! Or maybe we can play Zero Wing [wikipedia.org] on it! /snicker

Zealot alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21975360)

Zealots make me laugh. Get in touch reality.

Re:So how could MS lose with this scenario? (2, Informative)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974486)

But the entire point of the OLPC is education. A computer that shows you its code, so you can learn and create with it. This is entirely the opposite of EVERYTHING M$ does. Programming aside, just being able to customize how you use the damned thing is difficult in Microsoft's world. They. don't. get. it.

Not all code needs to be made visible (1, Insightful)

sracer (534850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974630)

While it is true that point of the OLPC is education, and that presenting source code is one way of doing that, it doesn't mean that the source code to the underlying OS needs to be exposed. There is nothing preventing an XO laptop from running a very trimmed down version of Windows (XP, CE, whatever) and supplying applications that can have their source code available.

Re:Not all code needs to be made visible (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974678)

I agree. But do you really think that M$ is going to provide a solution that does this, let alone with elegance?

Re:Not all code needs to be made visible (2, Interesting)

sracer (534850) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975284)

Why not? Most of those posting anti-MS comments seem to think that if any version of Windows makes it to the XO, then MS will completely control the whole shebang. For some reason I don't think that would happen with OLPC. And as much as many applaud the selection of Linux as the underlying OS, I think that GEOS would've been better. I'm trying to get DOS booted on my XO to see how Geoworks Ensemble (or New Deal Office) would run. Performance-wise, it should run MORE swiftly than WinXP does on the latest and greatest hardware.

Re:Not all code needs to be made visible (5, Interesting)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975592)

Why not? Most of those posting anti-MS comments seem to think that if any version of Windows makes it to the XO, then MS will completely control the whole shebang.

But isn't that what MS has done with computers until 2 or so years ago? Until 2 years ago or so, it was nearly impossible to go to a major manufacturer such as Dell and the like and get a computer with a non-MS OS on it. Whats to say that the OLPC won't turn out this way? With Intel leaving, OLPC needs cash, MS has a lot of cash, if MS for the next model of computers by the OLPC decide to pay OLPC say 50 million if they ship with Windows CE on them rather then Linux, how are they to complain? It always starts out small with MS, then before any non-geek knows it, MS controls it. If OLPC turns to MS, you can bet that freedom will get restricted.

Re:Not all code needs to be made visible (2, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974950)

There is nothing preventing an XO laptop from running a very trimmed down version of Windows (XP, CE, whatever) and supplying applications that can have their source code available.

Sure there is, it's called Microsoft's desire to stop open source software. In Microsoft's eye( Sauron ) there can be no existing with OSS. Any statements of cooperation and the like are misdirection since publicly stating the goal of ending any love between corporations/businesses and OSS would harm their existing position in the market. IMO.


Re:Not all code needs to be made visible (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975666)

Its not necessarily the use of a closed-source OS but of MS's OS. In the proprietary world, you are nothing more then a statistic, a customer, you have no input beyond bug reports that *may* be added in some service pack or the next "patch Tuesday" and nothing more. With open source software, you can do whatever you want to with it, you can easily become a sysadmin, tech support or in computer repair very quickly, and those are higher-paying jobs. Although right now, the developing world has little need of these, in 5-10 years they could become essential. Also, with pre-installed operating systems and a monopoly on operating systems, the operating system IS the computer, if you don't have the code to the OS, you don't have the code to the computer. In addition, given MS's past reputation with monopolizing hardware/software, whats to say that they don't make a deal with OLPC that on the next laptop they make they will give OLPC 50 million if they don't add Linux? That is a very real possibility. MS is a very untrustworthy company and nothing trying to help software grow should be a part of them.

Re:So how could MS lose with this scenario? (2, Insightful)

ChatHuant (801522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975232)

But the entire point of the OLPC is education. A computer that shows you its code, so you can learn and create with it.

That's a very Slashdotesque point of view and a good example of missing the forest because of one tree. You need to see the source only if you want the kid to become a programmer or maybe a sysadmin. The third world countries targeted by the OLPC have much higher and more urgent priorities. They need educated people in many other areas, not only programming. They need better, more knowledgeable farmers, workers, manufacturers, engineers, teachers, physicians, accountants, even managers and lawyers. Very, very few of the kids playing and learning now in those countries need bash or python. They do need however to learn how not to dig the outhouse near the well, how to avoid malaria, how to get more wheat out of their crops, how to start a business, how to sell their product in an increasingly globalized world. They need to learn how to access expertise already existing elsewhere, and they need to be able to do so easily. I'd argue that they even need to learn Windows, and thus get access to a whole variety of jobs where they use computers (non-programming positions, of course).

The source code is irrelevant for all those scenarios, which I believe are the core ones for the OLPC project.

Re:So how could MS lose with this scenario? (2, Funny)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974508)

Don't worry Negroponte is no fool he's insisting they dual boot to a full copy of Vista.

Dual OS on laptop/pesktop (2, Interesting)

anandpur (303114) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974260)

Where is MS's "trade secret" agreement with Dell etc. that prohibits them from give option for other OS while selling MS Windows. They can sell different Ubuntu and Vista laptops/desktop but you can not choose between either OS on same laptop/desktop.

MS need dual boot on OLPC!

Re:Dual OS on laptop/pesktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21974748)


Just watch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21974298)

Now MS is somehow going to get sued for translating Windows into some African language.

XO is already dual-boot (3, Interesting)

Minstrel Boy (787690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974308)

Even without the developer key to unlock OpenFirmware, the XO design supports booting an alternate OS by holding down a button during startup. I have Debian installed on mine.


Re:XO is already dual-boot (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974468)

the XO design supports booting an alternate OS by holding down a button during startup. I have Debian installed on mine.
Cool! How's that working out for you?

Re:XO is already dual-boot (4, Informative)

Minstrel Boy (787690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974888)

Actually I don't use it very much. It has ended up being much simpler (four yum packages) to just install xfce on the XO Fedora build, and run it in place of Sugar as the window environment. I don't have a profound preference for debian vs Fedora, so it's easier to just leverage the XO kernel/userspace development. It's nice to know I *can* run an alternate OS if needed, but I don't find myself needing to do it as much as I anticipated.


Re:XO is already dual-boot (-1, Flamebait)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975192)

But ... but ... in the whole Ubuntu fiasco I went through ... EVERYONE who spoke on the matter, repeatedly emphasized that loading an alternate OS by holding down a button during startup is an ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE OPTION, and that's why being locked out of all OSes in Stage 1.5 (where I can't give it any commands) was 100% unavoidable for me in dual-booting Ubuntu, and There Was No Other Way.

Read my sig if you don't believe me!

Then, mod me down for stating facts and having the audacity to complain that people hold non-Linux products to different design standards!

Re:XO is already dual-boot (2, Informative)

Minstrel Boy (787690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975328)


What can I tell you? It's a documented part of the OpenFirmware in both the shipped and current upgrade version. I was able to install Debian by following a rather trivial set of directions on a XO without developer access. Note that some people are of the mistaken impression that dev access is required, but that is not the case: dev access is only needed to alter OpenFirmware settings or access the OF command prompt to specify arbitrary boot files. You can Google OLPC Debian and come up with the wiki page describing that install.


Good Move for MS (1, Troll)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974322)

This is a good move finanicially for Microsoft. It should give them significant visibility in these developing countries. On the other hand, it should be a good test for the open source community. They'd be going head to head with MS with people who have legitimately never used either interface. It would be interesting to see which OS they pick.

Re: Dual Boot Tricks (2, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975610)

Could MS sneak a trick in whereupon when it loads Windows it sabotages something that the Linux boot needs, so when someone runs them back to back, the Linux install tanks?

In the seven seconds of space when a nasty salesman is spreading FUD about the Linux half, even a Linux expert might not find the poison pill in time for the emotional hysterics to win the day.

Maybe this would be a use for stray batches of Vista code.

Re:Good Move for MS (1)

CambodiaSam (1153015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975842)

I can tell you which one they will pick: Microsoft. Here's why, speaking from experience in a 3rd world country: Intellectual Property has ZERO respect. No one enforces it, so as a result, all software is sold at the cost of the CD. They even kindly burn the crack along with the app on the CD. I know of several shops that cater to this market in the town I visit. Remember, not all third world countries are dirt-poor with people starving in the streets. Many have some kind of economy, technology, and even basic infrastructure. Yes, a lot of folks live on $1 a day, but in a place like this, $100 a month is living very well for a family of 4.

So, the local computer shops sell PCs with a ton of apps installed on a Windows base. Why not, it doesn't cost anything! Average price for a used Compaq: about $200 fully loaded. Plus, it's virtually the industry standard OS, so any app you want to run will be tailored for Windows.

For the XO (I also own one), I can see the Windows load displacing the Linux load in no time.

"Could this be the end of the OS wars in Nigeria?" (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974344)

Is this like one of 'em proxy wars? (No web-cache jokes, neither!)

Dual-boot beta. (5, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974358)

Currently, the dual-boot beta system is an OLPC with a Dell XPS duct-taped to the back of it. To Boot Windows, you turn the thing over... A Microsoft spokes-droid stated that the beta solution only raises the cost "slightly", but won't give an exact figure.

Re:Dual-boot beta. (1)

Gordo_1 (256312) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975270)

In all seriousness, anyone who's actually used an XO would be able to tell you that it's not gonna handle XP very well... I know Microsoft is trying their darndest to slim it down to a footprint that will run on the XO, but let me tell you... even with the exceedingly lean Fedora base, the XO is sluggish by today's standards. For example, it can't run Flash animations/videos with smooth playback -- not that the system really needs to be able to do any of this to achieve its pedagogic goals. I'm just trying to illustrate how monumental the effort will be for Microsoft to achieve suitable performance with this hardware. In the short-run, this effort *might* help OLPC sell to Nigeria and a few other countries who would prefer a more standard platform like Windows to teach kids on, but I believe political and bureaucratic barriers are an even greater concern for OLPC within these countries.

I think the renewed interest in Windows stems largely from the half-finished thought that is the current state of the Sugar UI. It needs a lot of attention. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who's developed an operating system UI before -- these things are big, complex and usually require years of development to achieve a user-friendly experience. Not to belittle what the Sugar devs did here, I just think OLPC bit off a piece bigger than it could chew in trying to revolutionize the user interface. IMHO, OLPC would be in less of a bind had they chosen to customize a more conventional, yet resource-stingy desktop interface like xfce rather than trying to create one from scratch using highly experimental, unproven interface design elements.

This is good (0)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974370)

Teaching teens to use commercial software is important occupational training - if the OLPC does both then it can address more than one kind of education need. The classmate system, with its low cost library of a large number of applications filled this need.

I only hope that this is the start of an OLPC with expanded flash space so that it can have all of the packages that the classmate has PLUS the full set of OLPC software.

Re:This is good (1)

Minstrel Boy (787690) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974460)

1) The XO isn't designed for teens (the keyboard in particular).

2) There is an SDHC slot already built into the device which supports up to 256GB cards (if they existed). This space can readily be mounted permanently (fstab) or semi-permanently (alias) into the directory structure, as I've done with my 8GB card.


Speed Considerations? (3, Interesting)

jea6 (117959) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974388)

My boss got an XO through the B1G1 program and I found that it ran slowly. Can a stripped down version of XP perform reasonably on a platform that isn't designed for it?

Re:Speed Considerations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21974522)

Q: Can a stripped down version of XP perform reasonably on a platform that isn't designed for it?

A: No.

Re:Speed Considerations? (1)

ksheff (2406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975742)

The version that will be able to dual boot will more than likely have more RAM and a faster processor than the current production models.

Re:Speed Considerations? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21975746)

Part of the problem is GTK. It's horribly, horribly slow - and it got even slower with the introduction of Cairo.

And no.. Qt is not an option due to Trolltech's use of the full strength GPL for a library.

Please don't do this. (4, Insightful)

lazyforker (957705) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974444)

I only hope this is total BS. The last thing this project needs is "help" from M$FT. The XO is a fine product and well-suited to its purpose: a platform to introduce people to technology, programming, etc. Nothing but the imagination, ingenuity and creativity of a child is needed. The only reason Microsoft are interested is that they want to poison the minds of the XO owners. Asshats.

First Intel attempted, and now Microsoft is trying to torpedo this project because they realize it's a threat to their future markets. Imagine a whole generation of Linux-schooled programmers writing the next killer apps, or buying last year's hardware to run Linux desktops (or servers!) - now imagine how Wintel feel about that.

Re:Please don't do this. (2, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975162)

If Microsoft can delay this project for a year or two, they'll have done a great job at killing it. No extension to the G1G1 is going to provide enough cash to keep the project going without some large contracts.

Combine that with how Intel and Microsoft are paying original OLPC customers to go Classmate PC with Windows and you've got another project with its air supply being cut off. This project is far cheaper to kill off then say Netscape was. It's a non-profit so there's not much cash for it to to begin with. Unless someone like Google or AMD decide they'd better step in and provide the marketing money keep it going.

Anyways, I don't see putting Windows on the XO as anything but a ploy to destroy it. That is how they address ever other threat so this one should be no different. Well, unless they buy out Negroponte and Linux and OSS is totally removed from all XO devices delivered. THAT option is the only one Bill and Microsoft would accept and still allow the project to continue. IMO.


Re:Please don't do this. (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975410)

Well I, for one, don't think it's a bad idea for windows to be offered as an alternative OS. They'd be competing on even terms (so long as Windows doesn't boot automatically if you fail to choose your OS in the allocated time), and the people who actually use the machine could tell which one they prefer. Then they'd probably have to delete the other partition for the space.

Why, again, is Windows desirable for this market? (5, Insightful)

OgGreeb (35588) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974450)

I'm not sure I get it. Regardless of whatever discount Microsoft will provide, Windows costs more than Linux, needs more hardware resources to run properly, requires more and deeper technical support, is highly susceptible to malware and, for the intended audience (children aged 8-16 in technology-under served poor communities) either overkill or harder to work with in general. It's not just the OS, either. Many of the third-party programming and application tools that come bundled with the Sugar/Linux environment cost more with the Windows OS. The only semi-cogent argument I've heard supporting Windows being deployed in this environment is that the children will somehow be disadvantaged when they grow up and take on jobs that will use Windows. Meanwhile there is every indication that the primary office tasks expected of any information worker (word processing, spreadsheet, Internet browsing and communications) will be migrating to Web-based appliances in the near future, almost certainly by the time the kids are ready to move into those jobs, and further diminishing any value of using Windows as the OS.

To my mind, Windows seems like an expensive and unneeded distraction for these children.

solitaire + minesweeper = productivity-- (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974758)

To my mind, Windows seems like an expensive and unneeded distraction for these children.
It's an educational project: They'll learn their lesson ;-)

Re:Why, again, is Windows desirable for this marke (2, Insightful)

paxgaea (219419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974816)

"The only semi-cogent argument I've heard supporting Windows being deployed in this environment is that the children will somehow be disadvantaged when they grow up and take on jobs that will use Windows."

As far as I am concerned, you touched on THE key point as to why Microsoft thinks it is a good idea (in fact, they should view it as near essential to their survival in these areas of the world) to work with the OLPC. If you have a generation of children who grow up knowing open source operating systems and software inside and out, there is no need for Microsoft, at home, in their offices, anywhere. These countries will not touch Microsoft products within a generation, because it will not be 'the coin of the realm', since the entire technical portion of their economy will only know open source....unless of course if Microsoft gets a foothold, and the OLPC is a good place to start.

Pretty damn good business decision, very forward-thinking (in a 'there is profit to be made here' sorta way), if you ask me. How many companies do you know that think 2 decades into the future. Most operate with short term gain in mind.

I personally think it is a bad thing overall, but who am I to deny the 'children' their right to choice? (don't do it kids! it's a scam!)

Re:Why, again, is Windows desirable for this marke (1)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974924)

This thing easily has adequate specs for running Windows XP or FLP. It just won't have the cool collaborative sugar UI.

Re:Why, again, is Windows desirable for this marke (1)

delire (809063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975568)

According to TFA [computerworld.com] the stripped down version of Windows runs very fast on the hardware. To quote Negroponte:

The version that's up and running of Windows on the XO is very fast, it's very, very successful.
MS will do whatever they can to ensure it is more appealing and better performing than Linux. there is simply too much to lose otherwise. Whether they are successful is another thing. I don't doubt that whatever mutation of Windows they put on the thing, it will fly.

This dual-booting project, of course, isn't about co-existance, it's about providing a future opportunity for Windows to be the sole OS on the OLPC, with Microsoft being a major investor. This is clear. All it takes now is a few visits to governments talking about education and being competitive in a "Windows world" and Governments will soon opt in for a Windows only install. The question being: "Dual boot or Windows with extra disk space?"

Think ... (-1, Offtopic)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974612)

1. Establish a charity-project to secure good-will from a variety of sources. Use 'open-source' flag as a catch for the proper targets.
2. Exploit good-will
3. Collect marketing intelligence while on the way
4. Fork for profit businesses as you go along
5. Discard 'open-source' if profits are in sight
6. Start collecting ROI


Eww (4, Insightful)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974742)

The OLPC project, as originally conceived, had huge collaborative potential. Put an open platform into the hands of many, many people. Let them figure out what direction they want to take it.

Close that platform, and suddenly it makes no sense at all. It's no longer an extensible means of cultural and technological expression but just another consumer product, good for nothing more than keeping the Third World in its place, right at the bottom.

Thanks, Microsoft, for staying in character.

Re:Eww (2, Funny)

jiushao (898575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975226)

Yes, we should do everything we can to let people take their own direction. Except give them the option of running Microsoft software. Because we certainly can't have people going around making choices we don't like now can we?

Re:Eww (2, Insightful)

starfishsystems (834319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975404)

A choice to drink the Kool-Aid is not much of a choice. Especially if the drinker isn't in the position to understand that it's been poisoned.

Re:Eww (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21975734)

Especially if the drinker isn't in the position to understand that it's been poisoned.
Ah, so because you think you know better, you would deny people the choice to use MS products? For their own good, right? Because if someone chooses something you don't like, the only possibility is that they are ignorant and uninformed?

The amazing/scary thing is you (and many other slashdot users) probably don't see anything wrong with that way of thinking.

Re:Eww (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975552)

Seems I read (misread?) somewhere that many of the developers and engineers on the project threatened to jump ship if Microsoft was involved.

Re:Eww (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975818)

Perhaps the best possibility is that teachers will be directed to tell children not to use Linux. There's nothing that makes my children more determined to try something than denying it.

Seriously, I told them they couldn't have broccoli once, they ate lots of it as a treat.

please, have mercy! (1)

Tom (822) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974832)

It is bad enough that people in the 1st world have become so used to the abomination that is windos that they seriously defend it as something one can actually use. Let's not inflict that pain on the children in the developing countries, please?

And I am serious. I know a few people whose first computing experiences were not windos. To a man (or woman, in some cases) when they "met" windos later on they found it horrible and hard to use.

So please, let's at least give the untainted a view on what computers could be like.

Re:please, have mercy! (1)

nsteussy (619745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975094)

actually many of us, beyond a certain age, grew up with the DOS or Apple CLI. Windows, after 3.1, was rather a nice change. But now it and MacOS have grown rather monster like, and want to hide things so as not to spook GrandMa or the CEO. Fortunately LINUX came along about that time to offer an alternative. duke -writing on his xo laptop- out

Re:please, have mercy! (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975238)

And I am serious. I know a few people whose first computing experiences were not windos. To a man (or woman, in some cases) when they "met" windos later on they found it horrible and hard to use.

And my first computing experience was not a Mac. And when I "met" mac OS 7 or whatever, I found it horrible and hard to use. It made sense, and was better designed in some ways, but I would have given up on it if I had not been forced to use it. Change is hard. The idea of chording the keyboard and mouse is good, but is different from what most people use.

I use a QWERTY keyboard, because I type quickly on it. If I learned to use a DVORAK keyboard, it might be faster, but learning curves are expensive.

The point I am trying to get to is that there is no "untainted" view, and to imply that people dislike something different makes it worse is a horrible argument. And a horrible argument makes it sound like you have no better ones. Surely you don't mean to imply that...

Re:please, have mercy! (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975468)

Perhaps your definition of "use" isn't typical. For the vast majority of people, "usable" means they get their work done at the end of the day.

A configuration of Linux does not exist that satisfies everything I require of a computer. Windows does. Windows 2000 Professional specifically, though if I upgrade to anything with more than 2 CPU cores I'll be forced to go at least as far as XP Pro. If it was possible to make Linux do everything I need and want to do with my computer then I'd probably use it, and to those whose needs are met by it I extend my best regards.

All your bitching and moaning does absolutely nothing to make Linux half the OS you believe it is. This doesn't mean I'm a Microsoft fanboy or think Windows is the best thing ever... it certainly has its problems and so does Linux. Franky, though, your type of juvenile software ideology can eat a bowl of dicks.

Also, are you deliberately misspelling "windows" or are you just retarded?

That said: unless Microsoft is going to subsidize the costs of the hardware - not even offering the OS for free, but actually PAYING OLPC for doing this - then OLPC is going to get anally raped by the whole deal some time in the very near future.

OLPC Principles compromised??????? (2, Interesting)

haroldag (962342) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974896)

Excuse me, but I am confused. From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olpc [wikipedia.org]

OLPC espouses five core principles:
  1. Child ownership
  2. Low ages. The hardware and software are designed for elementary school children aged 6-12.
  3. Saturation
  4. Connection
  5. Free and open source
How is this free and open source? Are these principles that flexible?

Not the worst of it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21975118)

OLPC wants you to:
1. own children
2. own young children
3. saturate yourself with young child slaves
4. connect with other young child slave owners
5. share your young child slaves and the name of your young child slave dealer with other like-minded inviduals

I'm sorry, but I for one will not support an initiative that backs child slavery.

I guess MSFT isn't behind intel (2, Insightful)

blitzkrieg3 (995849) | more than 6 years ago | (#21974934)

I guess that rules out this theory [slashdot.org].

Re:I guess MSFT isn't behind intel (1)

jpetts (208163) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975696)

Unsafe assumption. Just because one division in MS might be looking at getting Windows on the XO does not mean that another division is not trying to help Intel deep-six the XO. And further, don't assume that if this is the case, either or both of the two divisions is ignorant of the other.

I thought OLPC didn't have enough storage ... (1)

novakyu (636495) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975230)

... for Windows alone [slashdot.org].

I mean, Microsoft was suggesting that OLPC make a major change, just so that it can run Windows by itself, but a dual-boot system with two operating systems on it? Either OLPC project caved in and agreed to make its XO notebook more expensive (i.e. more built-in storage), or ... well, I guess this could be a good thing---Microsoft might finally be forced to cut the fat and make its OS lean.

this will be funny (1)

timrichardson (450256) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975252)

Tonight I helped a friend set up openoffice. The laptop was quite a new Acer. The download speed was really slow then I realised that power saving was turned on even though I had plugged in the power (and throttling the wifi). Finally I got it working. Clicking on the task bar thing at the bottom caused pop-up menus to be drawn that didn't properly erase. Using the internet browser seemed really sluggish. So what OS doesn't handle changes in power states, leaves rubbish on the screen, has a slow web browser ... it was Windows XP. Debian is really so much better. The only good thing that happened is the openoffice database from my wife's Mac worked immediately on the Windows machine. So it was a very convincing evening of open source superiority. Seeing Windows running on the OLPC hardware is going to be something to see; I'd almost pay for the entertainment value.

Windows kills the OLPC (4, Insightful)

gillbates (106458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975282)

The problem with installing Windows on the OLPC is that it destroys the original purpose of the device: to educate children about how computers work. With Windows:

  • They won't be able to see the source code, to figure out how it works.
  • Or, if they are allowed to see the source code, they will be never be able to work in the OS/Office Suite/whatever market.
  • They won't learn computer science, or even proper programming practices. They'll come to believe that writing bug-free code is impossible, and that every computer crashes from time to time. They'll learn that viruses are a normal part of owning a computer.

If Windows goes on the OLPC, the project has failed. It's that simple.

Re:Windows kills the OLPC (1)

ksheff (2406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975856)

If the Sugar interface is written in python, would there be a reason that it can't run on Windows? As far as I know, the "show source" button only displayed the source of the python script being run, not the underlying OS.

The real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21975296)


Now I know the real reason there's an MBR vulnerability in windows--so that when the poor children boot Vista and notice it's laggy, they can slap a rootkit into it that will destroy the regular software ( http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/01/08/0154227 [slashdot.org] )

It's all so clear to me now! I have seen the light... The cat's out of the bag now...

And so the stupidity spreads. (3, Insightful)

delire (809063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975322)

It's reasonably likely the OLPC will become a Windows-only machine in short time.

It will start with older children assuming Windows looks more 'serious' and grown up, like the computers people in images and movies they see online use. Governments will be taught to prefer Windows on the basis of it being more 'competitive' because Windows is "more like" what people in wealthier economies use.

The result of this is that more kids will learn to be bored by computers and computing, believing that they are opaque appliances with western graphic metaphors (what's a 'desktop' to someone that's never sat at a desk?) that seem to get slow over time. Just a small segment of the truly curious seeking alternative operating systems. Governments that bought the machines will wonder what went wrong when they see little or no innovation in the IT sector yet a massive outsourcing industry to faltering IT giants like the U.S.

Negroponte has always wanted to work with Microsoft on his terms. Windows will certainly enjoy a long and prosperous life.

Negroponte, you're being an idiot.

OLPC is now just an underpowered Windows PC (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975346)


Within one year OLPC is dead in the water. Why? OLPC is now a laptop project. It will be judged by how well it runs Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer. No other software will be available for the OLPC for Windows for a reasonable enough price that it can be included with the OS, even if it is donated, the donation will not include software auto-deployable on all OLPCs. All OLPCs will have slightly different packages, the culture will be fragmented, and it won't be about education anymore but about begging commercial software companies to give software to developing countries that will mostly be run on recycled desktops anyway. All the geeks contributing will stop contributing and move onto other projects. Even with all the security features OLPCs will be hacked and stolen for use as cheap windows laptops.

Narrator: In A.D. 2008, war was beginning. (0)

ssstraub (581289) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975372)

OLPC: What happen ?

Third World Country: Somebody set up us the bomb.
Third World Country: We get signal.

OLPC: What!

Third World Country: Main screen turn on.

OLPC: It's you!!

Microsoft: How are you gentlemen!!
Microsoft: All your base are belong to us.
Microsoft: You are on the way to destruction.

OLPC: What you say!!

Microsoft: You have no chance to survive make your time.
Microsoft: Ha Ha Ha Ha ....

Third World Country: Captain!!

OLPC: Take off every 'ZIG'!!
OLPC: You know what you doing.
OLPC: Move 'ZIG'.
OLPC: For great justice.

Almost Meaningless (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975496)

This seems like an almost meaningless technical gesture. It reminds me of those stories about how someone got some version of Linux to run on a digital camera or other generally unlikely device. It may be interesting, but not very useful. Being able to dual boot Windows on an XO laptop seems like nothing more than tech PR without any real substance. The target audience has no need for this.

Why can;t the rest of us have the version? (2, Insightful)

xs650 (741277) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975514)

The version that's up and running of Windows on the XO is very fast, it's very, very successful. We're working very hard to do both," said Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of OLPC.

Why can't the rest of us have Windows that works like that?

Wanna see one? or three? (1)

dominux (731134) | more than 6 years ago | (#21975776)

from the Won't-somebody-think-of-the-children? dept.
If you are in the UK then get down to Olympia where the BETT technology in education show [bettshow.com] is running now until Saturday. Entry is free and if you go to stand SW105 (upstairs in the small hall where Linuxworld was) you will find The Open Learning Centre where we have three lovely little OLPC laptops meshed and ready to play with. We have had an amazing day today. Everyone wants to see them, people are queuing up just to hold them and see the screen.
Once you have had your little green laptop urges satisfied please go round every other stand and ask them if their software/hardware solution runs on Linux :-)
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