Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education Businesses Portables Hardware

OLPC 2.0 — One Laptop Foundation Reboots 187

Posted by timothy
from the mouse-keeps-roaring dept.
Greg Huang writes "In early January, the One Laptop Per Child Foundation laid off half its staff and shed work on the Sugar graphical interface. Now, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte and president Chuck Kane for the first time detail the foundation's new plans, describe how the XO laptop will do what netbooks can't do, and share their hope to keep working with Sugar developer Walter Bender, who left OLPC last year."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

OLPC 2.0 — One Laptop Foundation Reboots

Comments Filter:
  • Dead horse vapour (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 29, 2009 @02:56PM (#26656745)

    Stop vaporising this dead horse.

    Now based on a discontined CPU, and renamed because they never hit the price target; hijacked by Microsoft's department of evil, I really think they need to give up.

    • Re:Dead horse vapour (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:20PM (#26657087)

      They also sabotaged their own efforts by NOT offering these units to the general public. Their limited "Buy One Give One" program was too little, too late.

      If they had allowed the sale of the units to the general public, or even domestic markets (which I think they eventually did let one school district in the USA buy them) they would not have had such difficulty securing the minimum orders to secure their price point. They would also have had a revenue stream to sustain themselves and subsidize units for distribution in poorer areas. And they could STILL have remained a non-profit business while doing so.

      Instead, Negroponte decided that it wasn't enough to give learning computers to underprivileged children in third-world coutnries - he also had to ensure that anyone who could actually afford them would be denied.

      But the window of opportunity is now closed: The Asus Eee PC and similar products are satisfying the market the XO only teased. Sure the XO has a few features that other netbooks don't, but the novelty that could have taken them "over the hump" has worn off and now they're screwed.
      =Smidge=

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by colonslash (544210)

        ...he also had to ensure that anyone who could actually afford them would be denied.

        The conspiracist in me jumps to the conclusion that they were forced into this. Maybe some company they deal with didn't want their profitable markets taken away. It is hard to believe they would be this stupid out of principle.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by davolfman (1245316)
          The intent was to prevent the OLPC's from being stolen. In order to do that they had to make it so that there was no such thing as a legitimate second-hand unit. If they allowed a market in the first world it was reasoned that all the student machines would get swiped and sold. As it is, with no actual proper supply chain built, there's little proof that's not what happened anyway.
      • Re:Dead horse vapour (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday January 29, 2009 @05:37PM (#26658945) Journal

        Add in the fact they blew the chance to get the economies of scale on their side, they pissed away any help they were getting from the FLOSS guys by kissing up to MSFT, and putting Windows ANYTHING on a flash, much less WinXP on a machine with a lousy 256MB of RAM(what are you nuts?) means the swapping will kill it deader than Dixie, I could go on but why bother. The OLPC was a great idea that was completely destroyed by the arrogance of one man, and that was Negroponte. He had a good idea and a device that if it were sold to a company that had a brain could still move enough product to get the price down low enough every kid in the first AND third world could get one, but frankly he just pissed it all away.

        I just hope when they shut the doors that someone else will come along and buy the designs. Because from what I have seen it is a rugged little laptop that with a good Linux optimized for the specs could still make a great learning tool for the children of ALL nations. Let us just hope they don't let the designs die along with their badly run charity. Although after seeing the arrogance with crap like "give one get one" I wouldn't be surprised if they just let it die.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ILuvRamen (1026668)
      wait, don't get up yet. There's one last hope! They can start making them completely out of edible materials so children in 3rd world countries can eat them instead of just learn to write viruses, steal identities, and send e-mail scams. I think we can all agree that that's what they really need.
    • by westlake (615356)
      hijacked by Microsoft's department of evil, I really think they need to give up.

      OLPC was the product of the western media lab and the geek mind-set.

      OLPC's market was the third world education minister - who was expected to sign the purchase order for 100,000 units --- but otherwise keep his big mouth shut.

      Come hell or high water ---

      OLPC would implement a constructivist philosophy of education.

      It would run Linux, the Sugar GUI, open-source apps and only open source apps.

      The Windows alternative was the Cl

  • by Janek Kozicki (722688) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @02:58PM (#26656761) Journal

    I have preordered the Pandora console [openpandora.org] and I'm happy. It gives me about 10h of running Ubuntu on an ARM cpu in a mere 0.3 kg of weight.

    Oh thre's also an unofficial blog [wordpress.com] and a video vault [kultpower.de]. You might like the forums [gp32x.com] too.

    • by fastest fascist (1086001) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:15PM (#26657019)
      You've preordered it and you're happy? Did you actually receive one also or are you just happy with the specs?
      • by mdm-adph (1030332)

        He probably means he preordered it back when it was available to be preordered, and has since received it and is happy with it.

        It actually seems like a pretty cool device.

        • by Janek Kozicki (722688) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:54PM (#26657535) Journal
          They will ship somewhere around April or March. That's the whole point of pre-ordering. See the videos, like for example the last one, of a prototype [openpandora.org] (there are other movies as well, with working ubuntu, openoffice, gimp, etc.. - see the links in OP), which is now heading into mass production.

          The OpenPandora guys were wise enough to not take any loans from banks, and so they are safe now despite the worldwide financial crisis. Instead they let people to make preorders about three months ago. People who don't trust, were not required to preorder ;) Their servers almost overloaded when preordering started, anyway. They sold about 1000 units in first 10h (or so [gp32x.com] - this post was written 17 hours after preordering started). And the first batch is just 4000 units. If you keep your eye on it, maybe you will be lucky to get one from the second batch, there are lots of people who want it.
          • by Cally (10873)
            Judging by the foxy geek chick on the front page, I, uh,... wha'..? Move over, Asus Eeegirl, nerds everywhere have a new pinup. Nice move, SeedyMarketingPloyMan!
          • by catxk (1086945)
            So, people are pre-ordering moderately expensive tech gear from a company who can't keep their servers running under the astronomical load of roughly two hits per minute. Funny you should mention the financial crisis, gee, wonder what kind of market behaviour got us into that mess!
          • by Duradin (1261418)

            I pre-ordered the Pandora once already. Then their lack of foresight with credit card transactions shut down my and many others' order.

            Now they won't take my money except in manners that leave me no recourse to recover it in the event something happens.

            Guess I'm waiting till they get into actual stores.

      • Oh, I just noticed that Pandora is on engadget [engadget.com] now.

      • by syousef (465911)

        You've preordered it and you're happy? Did you actually receive one also or are you just happy with the specs?

        If he's happy with his pre-order, boy do I have a deal for him! For a limited time only you can pre-order this bridge [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sexconker (1179573)

      "2009 will surely be the year of the Pandora."

      LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL

      We all know the Pandora's only marketable feature is that you can run emulators on it out of the box. Can't wait for the lawyers to jump on that one (and they will, since that feature is being promoted heavily).

      • by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

        Didn't bother the gp32 and gp2x, which preceded it. From the looks of the links this is just the natural succesor.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        Why would lawyers give a crap about emulators for 10+ year old game machines like SNES? Hell we have had emulators for old machines for years. And don't forget that they could just use the torrent defense if any lawyers did start bitching. After all there are plenty of PD and homebrew games that are absolutely free and freely distributable that run on those emulators. So as long as they aren't saying "And by the way all the commercial ROMs for emulator x can be had at TPB" then I don't see any lawyers actua
    • by tgd (2822)

      Who keeps funding these companies?

      It amazes me that someone thinks that would be viable outside the Linux hacker market (which isn't big enough to sustain a product like that).

    • Interesting, if they'd brought it out last year I might have bought one to replace my beloved Psion 5mx which finally succumbed to cable failure.

      I think it's about the same size, though I don't see it mentioned anywhere (there's a photo with some but it isn't a lot of help).

    • Are you an 11 year old living in a third world country. If not, who gives a shit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blind biker (1066130)

      That thing is not cheap at all. And while it's small, it's also quite bulky, due to the thickness of the device.

      I can think of better ways of spending EUR 212/$330, if I want an ultraportable.

    • I have preordered the Pandora console and I'm happy.

      Great! I'm sure when children in the developing world go to school, their teachers will be happy to know that their computers can emulate every video game console prior to Nintendo 64.

      OLPC isn't -- or shouldn't be -- a laptop hardware project. It's about enabling learning; the gadgets involved are at best incidental. This new interview didn't do anything to convince me that Negroponte understands the importance of communicating that fact, or even that

  • by bornagainpenguin (1209106) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @02:59PM (#26656803)

    This is significantly more than a simple reboot. The goals of 'OLPC' are entirely different than the plans of this new 'OLPC 2.0' as far as I'm concerned and I imagine it is this way for many others as well. We watched and applauded as OLPC began only to watch in dismay and tears as they project allowed itself to be taken over from within.

    There are all kinds of points that could be made here, but I'll let the others bring those up. For me the complete 180 they've done has made me write them off completely as a useless relic of what happens when you completely lose sight of your goal to the point you start to believe the ends justify the means. RIP OLPC.

    --bornagainpenguin

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Lord Apathy (584315)

      We watched and applauded as OLPC began only to watch in dismay and tears as they project allowed itself to be taken over from within.

      No, some of you watched and applauded. Most of us just stood on the side lines and shook our heads waiting for the train wreak. Most of use knew it was doomed to failure from the start. The basic concept itself was flawed. It the idea of giving free laptops to children in africa and asia before you have the infrastructure to support it? The 100 bucks spent on that laptop for one child could have gone to set up the basic infrastructure to feed a whole village, forever.

      Feed the children, teach them b

      • Did you read TFA? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:52PM (#26657515) Homepage Journal

        Silly of me to ask, I know.

        They have collocated 1 million machines.

        The bloody point of these machines is to require as little infrastructure as possible.

        Where they failed is:

        - Never trying to harness economies of scale.
        - Internal political squabbling (mostly brought by Negroponte and his silly decision to use Windows, thus becoming a collaborator with the expansion of the Windows monopoly).

        - The failure to harness the impetus of the FOSS community in order to obviate many of the production costs related to software. The bare minimum to achieve this would be to ensure a free OS is at the core of the project.

        Sort out these issues and you will have many takers, even in the poorest countries there are children with access to some infrastructure that would benefit enormously with such a device.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DerekLyons (302214)

          The problem is this - only your first point of failure is a failure of their own goals. The remaining two are only failures by the lights of a community that projected their politics and biases onto the OLPC project.

        • Fully agreed. What could be worth a warning to others is to watch how Negroponte got separated from reality and then into the Windows deal. Everyone knew it was DOA from the moment they signed on with Micro$oft.

          No one has ever survived a deal. More to the point, it delayed the project greatly just on technical problems. That alone may have been enough to kill it. Adding extra RAM and other junk to accommodate outdated M$ technology just added further damage.

          So a big question I have is how did an

      • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @04:21PM (#26657877)

        And thats where some of us argue.

        I believe that tow things are keeping these countries of people back.
        1. Bad government.
        2. Us "donating" goods, hereby destroying what commerce they had before said dumping.

        Any country run by corrupt and/or bad government is going to stay bad and corrupt until the people rise up and stop it. Before that, you'll have pockets of people who do make a living, albeit barely, until the government demands tax. Then its the beginning all over again.

        And about the donation of goods: I saw a few documentaries on local TV and GoogleVids proclaiming that donation is also hurting them severely. When you dump 100 ton of clothes, you ruin any chance of making money in textiles. Same in any other industry, except this monopoly is done in good faith. Honestly, buying African made goods would bring them out of poverty rather fast. But their government wouldnt let them do that.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by marnues (906739)
          This is not clothing. Clothing is very old technology that is saturated the world over. Yes dumping clothes does destroy any chance of a market economy based on selling clothing. You certainly take it for granted that other perfectly viable and probably better alternative economic models exist. Corrupt governments are only part of the problem. Subsistence living is the real natural enemy of capitalism as no company is able to exist without massive government support. Half of the problem is corrupted o
          • Talk about an uncoordinated block of text. Aside from grammar-nazism..

            ---Yes dumping clothes does destroy any chance of a market economy based on selling clothing.
            ---We are instead trying to stop them from being subsistent by giving them free time that they would be spending on making their own clothes.

            So, are they destroying the economy, or "giving them free time"?

            Everybody has a niche, and from many people make a community. From that, commerce. If you kill of segments of the community by freebie stuff (li

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "It the idea of giving free laptops to children in africa and asia before you have the infrastructure to support it? The 100 bucks spent on that laptop for one child could have gone to set up the basic infrastructure to feed a whole village, forever. "

        Unless the people are changed by learning they will perpetuate their defective behavior choices that are the cause of all their problems. I'd rather educate a few than feed them all. Feeding them accomplishes nothing except helping sustain large litters they s

        • by MrNaz (730548) * on Thursday January 29, 2009 @07:19PM (#26660281) Homepage

          "Defective behavior choices" hey.

          First world arrogance is fascinating to observe. Which group of people is wantonly engaging in a reckless, profligate, short-sighted, wasteful and totally unsustainable cultural lifestyle that will ultimately have a negative impact on every living creature on the world?

          Certainly not those "defective" third worlders. Think about that next time you buy your first world products with their excessive packaging and drive your car a short distance that could and should be walked or biked.

    • by JustinOpinion (1246824) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:56PM (#26657569)
      Indeed. This part of TFA interested me the most:

      In the 2007 holiday season ... the [G1G1] program took in $37 million. This past season, the foundation partnered with Amazon to sell the laptops and increased its advertising and marketing efforts substantially--to two or three times what they were in 2007, or close to $20 million, virtually all of it pro bono. Yet, sales fell off a cliff, coming in at about $2.5 million. Negroponte attributes "almost all" of the falloff to the poor economy, though others have theorized that the computers themselves had lost their appeal.

      The fact that the second G1G1 failed despite significant marketing to the public-at-large, whereas the first G1G1 succeeded using only word-of-mouth and grass-roots marketing is quite telling. I'm sure there are many reasons (including the economy), but I believe the shift in values of the OLPC organization was a significant effect. I was super-keen to participate in the first G1G1 program: both because I felt I was helping an organization aligned with my ideals (free distribution of knowledge; free software, etc.) and because I felt that I was buying-in to a vibrant community (because all kinds of hackers and kids would be programming fun stuff for the platform).

      But then I felt let-down by the changes in OLPC. The switch in emphasis (including the shift to Windows) meant that many enthusiasts and volunteers lost interest. And this devalued the whole platform to many people, since it seemed like the community was disappearing (or least fracturing and changing). So I stopped 'spreading the word', advocating for them, and didn't participate in the second G1G1. I'm sure many others felt as I did.

      Obviously 1st-world enthusiasts and hackers are not the target audience for the XO. And yet I believe they were quite important in building and supporting the platform ($37 million from the first G1G1 is quite impressive), and that by neglecting that community OLPC has lost some of its most useful supporters. (Then again, I could be totally wrong; wouldn't be the first time someone over-estimated the influence they had on a particular sequence of events.)

    • by Cally (10873)

      what happens when you completely lose sight of your goal to the point you start to believe the ends justify the means.

      More like, what happens when you let a Professor from the "Media Lab" (the biggest shower of vacuous tossers ever to discredit the name of MIT) try to run a business, rather than sticking to spewing bullshit in Wired magazine, where he belongs... :)

    • by syousef (465911)

      We watched and applauded as OLPC began only to watch in dismay and tears as they project allowed itself to be taken over from within.

      Perhaps YOU did but WE did no such thing. Toughen up, princess!

  • by Experiment 626 (698257) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:03PM (#26656859)

    and share their hope to keep working with Sugar developer Walter Bender, who left OLPC last year

    I anticipate Bender will tell them to bite his shiny metal ass.

  • OLPW?? (Score:5, Funny)

    by vudufixit (581911) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:04PM (#26656887)
    One Layoff Per Worker? Perhaps they should extend the "two for one" and just close the company...
  • too late (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lord Ender (156273) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:06PM (#26656903) Homepage

    You can already buy eee PC 900A laptops for $200 at BestBuy. Those suckers have 9 inch screens, Atom processors, and a gig of RAM. So who needs this OLPC stuff?

    • Re:too late (Score:5, Insightful)

      by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000 AT yahoo DOT com> on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:29PM (#26657207)

      You can already buy eee PC 900A laptops for $200 at BestBuy. Those suckers have 9 inch screens, Atom processors, and a gig of RAM. So who needs this OLPC stuff?

      I wonder what effect the OLPC had on the eee PC. If because of the OLPC businesses like Asus start making low cost, and portable, computers then I think OLPC will have done a lot. Now if only Asus would include a similar power supply, pull a cord to generate power.

      Falcon

      • Re:too late (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:31PM (#26657233)

        I think it had a lot of effect. I think it told Asus where people were looking, and Asus followed the money.

        And good on them. Thanks to OLPC and Asus' following them, we now have many companies competing to bring low-priced laptops to the market, instead of hovering comfortably in the $1500 range like before.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by gbarules2999 (1440265)
          People like cheap computers. I think that's the message here, and it's kind of bizarre no one's tapped into this yet. We're seeing profit because of it, though, and it's going somewhere. People don't need Vista and four gigs of RAM; give them Ubuntu and a cheap $200 machine and they're set. (Now it's just a matter of educating the Ubuntu noobs...where's that built-in tutorial mode, Canotical?)
      • so called "netbooks" have been available in Japan, Taiwan, and (the wealthier) parts of China for years. ASUS didn't see OLPC and decide to make a small laptop, though it may have convinced them there was a market for it in the US/Europe.
    • Re:too late (Score:5, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:37PM (#26657301) Journal
      I have an OLPC XO-1 and have logged a fairy decent amount of time on eee PCs(contract job, an outfit was looking to make citrix thin clients out of them).

      My comparision: eeePC is notably more powerful, no question. It also feels more like a "real" computer, probably because of the hard top, rather than rubber, keyboard(also the color, obviously). The screen, though, is something else entirely. With the backlight off, or in bright sunlight, you get a 1200x900, very sharp, very readable, 200dpi, reflective LCD screen. With backlight on, or in lower light, you get color at somewhat lower, though still adequate, effective resolution. The screen is the big deal. In color mode, it is as good or better than a standard netbook screen. In greyscale, it is by far the best electronic reading device I've ever used(e-ink might be better; I've not seen it). The mesh stuff is cute; but not something I've had a chance to play with much. Sugar is interesting; but other linuxes work as well.

      I can certainly see why netbooks would be largely preferable in many situations; but they cannot touch the OLPC screen, for my purposes, nor do they have any of the cute collaborative stuff(whose utility I cannot comment on).
      • Re:too late (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sukotto (122876) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @04:05PM (#26657697)

        It often seems to me that the engineering was the only thing that OLPC got right. Everything else was like a lesson in how NOT to do it.

      • by redxxx (1194349)

        With the backlight off, or in bright sunlight, you get a 1200x900, very sharp, very readable, 200dpi, reflective LCD screen.

        If I could have purchased one for less than $400, I would have done so mostly for this feature. It seemed very attractive at a price of around $200.

        I don't believe there are any commercial products out there with a similar display, which is kinda a shame.

    • Re:too late (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Da_Biz (267075) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:44PM (#26657423)

      You can already buy eee PC 900A laptops for $200 at BestBuy. Those suckers have 9 inch screens, Atom processors, and a gig of RAM. So who needs this OLPC stuff?

      I think Negroponte said it best:

      In the case of netbooks, he says, "You could arguably say we really created the netbook market. But if you look at the netbooks, they really copied the easy part. They didn't copy low power, they didn't copy mesh networks, they didn't copy sunlight-readable displays. All three things are absent from every single netbook."

      I've personally used an OLPC before. While I'm not ready to buy one, I'm impressed with just how fine the design and build quality is for its intended purpose.

      Seems like Slashdotters get regularly stuck in a mindset of "geez, it wouldn't work for me, therefore it must be crap." There are several billion other people on this planet, a sizeable number of whom might like it just fine.

      • Re:too late (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hansamurai (907719) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Thursday January 29, 2009 @04:22PM (#26657879) Homepage Journal

        You're right to point out that netbook owners can power their own netbook with a crank or whatever the OLPC ended up using, but the interesting part of the quote is "we really created the netbook market." Hilarious how they'll say that now, when they refused to sell the OLPC to anyone that actually wanted one in the US or Europe. Now that they can buy EEE's, there's (basically) no reason for someone in a developed country to even consider the OLPC.

        If they had marketed the OLPC to everyone, they not only would have created the netbook market they would have owned it, while subsidizing their efforts in Africa. Instead, Asus jumped in where OLPC wouldn't... and here we are where we're at today. Asus is making a killing while OLPC has essentially folded.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        You can already buy eee PC 900A laptops for $200 at BestBuy. Those suckers have 9 inch screens, Atom processors, and a gig of RAM. So who needs this OLPC stuff?

        I think Negroponte said it best:

        In the case of netbooks, he says, "You could arguably say we really created the netbook market. But if you look at the netbooks, they really copied the easy part. They didn't copy low power, they didn't copy mesh networks, they didn't copy sunlight-readable displays. All three things are absent from every single netbook."

        Of course he says that as it's the points he has left. My opinion on it:
        Low power and unreliable power can be the same, but far from always. 20W is a lightbulb and isn't much power at all IF you got power. The lowest of a residential circuit here in Europe 220V/10A could power 100+ of those netbooks, just to point out what Negroponte considers "high power". For unreliable power you have the battery, so the only places this is important are the ones where you're really permanently out of electricity with not

      • by shess (31691)

        In 2007, I got a G1G1 OLPC for my kids, and an Eee 701 (or whatever, original) for me. Honestly, the OLPC has left me feeling let-down. My kids enjoy it, but I don't think they're really learning much of anything, though they do seem to have figured out how to reboot the thing as needed. Whereas the Eee certainly isn't teaching them anything, but it's definitely more useful to me. So they really are different beasts.

        I think where OLPC has really let things down is in concentrating so much on the hardwar

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thelasko (1196535)

      You can already buy eee PC 900A laptops for $200 at BestBuy.

      Can you provide a link to that? I can't seem to find it. The cheapest one on BestBuy.com [bestbuy.com] is $329.99.

      • $199 eee 900A at BBY. [fatwallet.com]

        I ended up paying more for the Samsung NC10 (8hr battery, stereo bluetooth), but I'm not a third world kid, so I can afford to be picky.

      • You can already buy eee PC 900A laptops for $200 at BestBuy.

        Can you provide a link to that? I can't seem to find it. The cheapest one on BestBuy.com [bestbuy.com] is $329.99.

        I can't find a link for his eee 900, but I was shown one last week by someone who paid 99 EUR. That's about $200 USD today ;)

    • Re:too late (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @04:29PM (#26657971) Homepage

      So who needs this OLPC stuff?

      Off the top of my head:

      • 3rd-world countries who need 10+ hours of battery life.
      • Computer illiterates who can use the icon-based OLPC interface and built-in social networking stuff
      • People who don't have network infrastructure and wnat to use the built-in mesh network instead.
      • People who need to run their laptop off of a bicycle, solar, or Ox.
      • People who use the laptop outside and need something rugged, but can't spend $1000 on a Panasonic Toughbook

      The cheap eee PC laptops still don't serve those purposes. They probably never will, since it is a very specialized and likely unprofitable market.

      • So who needs this OLPC stuff?
        * 3rd-world countries who need 10+ hours of battery life.

        The charge time of the OLPC XO-1 has been somewhat exaggerated. (No hard feelings; it's marketing.) With a stock OS build, I can get 2-3 hours off a full charge; with some of the more experimental builds, it increases to 5-6. If anyone can get 10 hours out of a single charge, I'd plotz.

        The XO-1 does have lower power consumption than typical notebooks, yes, but also a smaller battery.

        * Computer illiterates who can use th

    • Re:too late (Score:5, Insightful)

      by enrevanche (953125) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @04:38PM (#26658105)
      I wonder why anyone mods this as insightful. The OLPC was not designed for people who shop at BestBuy. It was designed for children in the third world who often don't have power and rarely have an internet connection. It was designed to be rugged, easily repairable and to be used for years. Netbooks are just the next version of consumer throwaway junk.
      • I'm sure there are many (most?) who would prefer the performance capabilities of a netbook to the low-power and durability of OLPC.

        But you're right, people without access to power or even generators would prefer the OLPC.

  • From TFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:07PM (#26656913)

    The most vivid example of this philosophy, to me, was Negroponteâ(TM)s comparison of the XO and netbooks. XOs cost about $225 apiece. Netbooks, which are produced by companies like Acer and Lenovo, among others, run about $300 to $450 but offer more memory and graphics power and larger screens. So, one could ask, wonâ(TM)t the normal, cost-curve-squashing evolution of computers obviate what OLPC is trying to do, and more efficiently than a non-profit? Negroponte replies that OLPC is not trying to compete with commercial computer makers but instead asking, "What are the things the normal commercial market wonâ(TM)t be pushing?"

    What won't the "normal, cost-curve-squashing evolution of computers" include? Well, I don't see a huge rush by Acer, Dell, Lenovo, and others to include cranks, solar panels, and other alternative charging options to their units. I don't think the "normal commercial market" has decided to go that direction yet. Also, I doubt highly that these same companies will ever make their equipment repairable by children [com.com] as this would cut into their profit margins too much if they had to stop making computer equipment with proprietary and hard-to-replace components.

    The underlying, subconscious goal (in other words, whether they realize it or not) of the OLPC project is to prove that reliable, hardy products don't have to cost a fortune. It's the mentality of the business world today to produce cheap crap that is then sold at a premium in order to finance yacht parties and private jets for the upper echelon of their employee-base. the OLPC is just one of the few outfits out there trying their best to disprove that particular business model.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:07PM (#26656921) Homepage

    The XO is more rugged, but its not really lower power than netbooks. Most Netbooks are using things like the Atom, which is very low power and with sub-ms sleep states. The XO's only real power-advantage is the non-backlight mode on the screen.

    Does the mesh networking actually work in the XO? And the mesh networking, how useful is it anyway?

    And the XO's G1G1 is hardly "poor economy", its that the XO early adopter-types got them the first go-round (and realized how useless they are: the keyboard is abysmal, the trackpad flakey, and teh software an abomination in the sight of God and Man), so there was no one LEFT in the second.

    • power-advantage (Score:3, Interesting)

      by quax (19371)

      The OLPC screen really rocks. Only device I can comfortably surf on sun bathing on the deck.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by tgd (2822)

        The OLPC screen really rocks. Only device I can comfortably surf on sun bathing on the deck.

        I have to admit I have a bit prejudiced view of who the average Slashdotter is and what they likely look like...

        And that vision just turns my stomach! ;-)

    • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:59PM (#26657611) Homepage

      but its not really lower power than netbooks.

      Fully agree on that, the thing last 3 hours on normal use, thats nothing special, far from it. They still haven't even enabled the power saving stuff in the default configuration and the checkbox for that only made it their in the last release and of course it doesn't exactly work great, since the switching between sleep mode and normal one is very noticable. At least normal standby is now working, but even that took a long long while to implement.

      Does the mesh networking actually work in the XO? And the mesh networking, how useful is it anyway?

      In the type of setting for which the OLPC was designed for (i.e. school with plenty of OLPCs around), very useful I guess. In the western world on the other side: rather useless, since you have a hard time finding anybody with a OLPC to mesh network and instead just connect to the next best WLAN access point.

      And the XO's G1G1 is hardly "poor economy", its that the XO early adopter-types got them the first go-round, so there was no one LEFT in the second.

      I think the failure was a simple matter of price, you can today buy a better machine for less money. The $400 was never a competitive price to begin with (for refernce: thats the same one as Sonys PS3 has), but in the first round they didn't have competition, in the second they had plenty. By making the offer time limited and the price twice as high as needed they certainly ruined their chances and gave the competition plenty of room to get solid offerings on the ground.

      All that said, ruggedness and sunlight readable screen are great and still something that no other laptop has. But slow development on the software side and complete failure to properly sell the thing to consumers just couldn't lead to a happy ending.

      • by Charbax (678404) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @06:36PM (#26659741) Homepage

        the thing last 3 hours on normal use

        That's just not true. In full backlight mode and WiFi you might get 3 hours on the OLPC, but in black and white outdoor sunlight readable mode, in ebook mode without WiFi, you get 12 hours on the OLPC while netbooks get below 2 hours with a similar sized battery.

        Fact is OLPC chose a lower capacity battery using a new type of technology which, doesn't pollute, doesn't explode (like netbook batteries potentially do), and most importantly the OLPC battery lifetime is much longer. A normal netbook Lithium-Ion battery lowers it's capacity already afte 500 recharge cycles, after about 1500 charge cycles, a normal netbook lithium-ion battery usually is totally dead. While the OLPC battery keeps its charge capacity for moe than 5000 recharge cycles. Which means the same OLPC can last more than 5 years with the same battery capacity while netbook batteries last only about 1-2 years.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by XMode (252740)

          Really?? 2 hours on a netbook? I get almost 5 out of mine, with the screen and wifi on full time.. It doesn't actually increase much when the wifi is turned off, but if you use it sporadically and have the screen set to turn off after 5 mins and hibernate after 10 it can go for 2 or 3 days without charging..

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Charbax (678404)

            You are probably using a big fat heavy 6-cell battery to get that type of battery life, thus a normal 3-cell battery on a netbook is 2.5 hours.

            It's a fact the OLPC XO-1 consumes less than 10x less power than an Intel powered netbook.

            The question shouldn't be only about the battery life of the battery, it should be about if the kids can recharge the laptop using a hand crank, using a bicycle or other human power generator system.

        • by grumbel (592662)

          That's just not true.

          I speak from real life experience.

          but in black and white outdoor sunlight readable mode,

          Black&White mode is unusable in-doors, there just isn't enough light, so its not exactly a practical thing to do most of the time.

          in ebook mode without WiFi,

          How do you disable WiFi? Its not a thing that happens automatically when you twist the display. When I remember correctly in the default setting WiFi stays even enable when you go in standby.

          you get 12 hours on the OLPC while netbooks get below 2 hours with a similar sized battery.

          I certainly get nowhere near the 12 hours out of the OLPC.

    • by rqzmeeu (1228044) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @06:01PM (#26659307)
      My -- that is my *daughter's* -- XO is very low power. Whether it's the power savings across the whole chipset, the ability to enter certain sleep states while keeping the display on, no hard drive, whatever: it's got a tiny power supply, charges quickly (bonus: with a wide range of input voltages!), and never gets hot. Seems really freakin' low power to me.

      Of course, others have pointed out that it's rugged. (If you haven't handled one, it's easy to fail to appreciate this fully.)

      The keyboard is fine. Not great, but fine. And certainly tough. If you're a kid, it's great. No, you're not going to break any world records for typing speeds, but that's not what it's for.

      But all this ignores the software. I'm not a fan of Sugar, but I do see just how much it buys you from an educational perspective. If you wanted to get a kid to start learning to program, this computer is *ideal*. The programming activities are just begging for you to tinker, and the fact that it's all Python means that as you learn, you can start modifying the interface.

      The basic activities draw in even very young children very quickly. My daughter at 2 liked hitting keys on the keyboard of the mac and the linux Thinkpad. She *loved* playing with the music activities, or even the simple text-to-speech program, on the XO. Sure, you could replicate the functionality on a netbook with linux. Unless you installed Sugar, however, you would have a *lot* of work to do to make it as inviting.

      Again, I say this despite the fact that I don't like Sugar. IceWM and no journal trying to index 8 gig flash drives suits me fine. But to get kids seriously involved in computing, the software is as impressively put together as the hardware.

      It's easy to say they should have sold them at $250 each. They thought they were going to get millions of orders from developing countries, and they didn't want to get distracted trying to serve the developed world. They didn't realize that Microsoft/Intel would undermine their efforts in the ways that they did. They were idealistic and focused and didn't foresee certain things. I'll cut them some slack, since their focus did result in something so beautifully engineered.

      Bummer if they don't ship many millions of XOs, great that they showed what is possible in the neighborhood of $200-$300.

      Even with the dropping prices of netbooks, I'd still say that an XO is worth $400. If your child would otherwise get a PS3, no question.
    • OLPC runs at below 2W all included, even below 1W in ebook reading mode, Netbooks need at least 20W all included.

  • by xzvf (924443) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @03:09PM (#26656935)
    As long as they don't restrict the product to less developed nations the uptake will happen. It can be argued that OLPC started the netbook category, when ASUS and Intel saw the outpouring of support. If they create a product, allow it to be sold world wide, and the developed nations will create demand and volume for the charity work.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In the 2007 holiday season, Negroponte told me, the program took in $37 million. This past season, the foundation partnered with Amazon to sell the laptops and increased its advertising and marketing efforts substantiallyâ"to two or three times what they were in 2007, or close to $20 million, virtually all of it pro bono. Yet, sales fell off a cliff, coming in at about $2.5 million. Negroponte attributes âoealmost allâ of the falloff to the poor economy [...]

    Or maybe it was because Nicholas N

  • Overbudget? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OberonX (115355) on Thursday January 29, 2009 @05:44PM (#26659041) Homepage

    I thought this quote from the article was quite scary:

    "The Rwandan leader initially ordered 10,000 XOs, then upped it to 100,000. The program now makes up a large fraction of the countryâ(TM)s education budget, according to Negroponte."

    I'm all up for the use of computers in a developed world, including the OLPC initiative but considering most of these countries don't have a basic deployment of schools, teachers, books, etc isn't it unwise to spend a "large fraction" of your budget on OLPCs?

  • Just imagine how much more funding they'd have if they sold it to the general public at a profit, and then used those profits for R&D, paying their employees, and creating more OLPC laptops? And their public sales figures would definitely help sell their laptops to leaders of 3rd world nations.

    The buy-two-get-one was a pretty dumb business decision, too. I have no clue why anyone thought that would've gotten them out of the hole.

    Instead, they decided to move to Windows (which made no sense from a cost

  • Horse not so dead (Score:5, Interesting)

    by garyebickford (222422) <gar37bic AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday January 29, 2009 @09:00PM (#26661181)

    OLPC has shipped (IIRC) 1 million machines, a number of pilot programs have gone well and will soon probably turn into larger purchases, the number of volunteers doing support, local training and infrastructure continues to increase geometrically.

    OLPC doesn't have a bunch of market droids making sure that the PR is out there, but IMHO they have done, and are continuing to do, great things.

    I don't think OLPC is over yet - quite the contrary.

    And in answer to the 'poor folks don't need computers' - that is just stupid. The OLPC is one of the _answers_ to the problems of not enough books, schools, teachers, etc. For my own part, if I had had an XO when I was a kid, I could have taught myself at more than twice the rate that the schools worked at.

    For real students, the net is the key to breaking out of the straitjacket of public education, which (like a team of horses) can only go as fast as the slowest person in the room. A networked laptop has the potential to provide a kind and level of freedom most people could not have dreamed of a few decades ago - the freedom to learn, to understand, to communicate and to compete.

    Many developing nations are foregoing the expense of wired telecomms, using cellular instead - it's cheaper to do unless you already have wires in place. By adding a simple Wi-Fi hook at appropriate places, these countries could support the XO's networking at minimal extra cost.

    Think of it this way - a developing nation with a computer-savvy young cohort, that is used to living on dirt, could become the biggest competitive nightmare that the developed world has seen yet. In ten years, we could have budding computer and bio-tech gurus coming out of Rwanda, like Steve Jobs and the other Silicon Valley geeks came out of the SF Bay Area in the 1970's.

    Those kids will have the potential and the tools to break the cycle of cultural suppression that Africa has long suffered, to break the traditions of tribal conflict and to join together in creating new 'Black Tiger' national economic engines, like the 'Asian Tiger' nations of the 1980's.

    And that will be something to see. I look forward to it.

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly. -- Donald Douglas

Working...