2007-03-27

Aw, "But I Want One"

I feel it's necessery to point this out, as every so often I talk to someone about the olpc project and a major misconception is discovered. So I am going to say this as plainly as I can. I should also say that while I'm a developer, I don't actually work for the One Laptop Per Child project, and I don't speak for them.

The One Laptop Per Child project has no plans to commercialise the product.

You will not, as a first world high flying pay $500/week on gadgets software developer sysadmin engineer be able to buy this gadget[1]. There is significant doubt as to if you will even be able to buy them on ebay second hand off a third world arms dealer.

However, if you are an open source fanatic and love the idea of being able to educate little people in the third world, have good ideas and the required time to implement them, you can help the project.

You can run the sugar interface in emulation. There is a livecd you can boot, there are qemu and vmware images. There is even the ability to run the software under a linux such as Fedora or Ubuntu. See the wiki for more information.

There is also a program where you can apply for a laptop to be given to you so you can do development on them. See Developers Program page on the olpc wiki.

[1]It is not a gadget, it is an educational machine.

6 comments:

Justyn said...

Fine, but I've yet to hear a truly convincing reason why versions of this machine, sufficiently different to avoid the green $100 ones ending up on the gray market without stigma, aren't being sold to the legions of adoring gadgeteers and developers. The price would be higher so it would not be abusing the free market in any way, and the proceeds would be used to reduce the cost of the machine for developing nations.

We're happy to have a play with an emulated interface for a few hours. But sell us an actual device and we'll be playing, bug-fixing and writing code for this thing indefinitely.

Stephen Thorne said...

If you want to develop software for the One Laptop Per Child education project, you can be /given/ a laptop to develop on.

See the information about the developer program in my post.

If you just want a funky small machine, get an N800 or a PepperPad. They're faster and have better software.

Robert Daeley said...

Hi, Stephen. I'm a little confused by the seeming discrepancy between your post and this morning's article on Ars Technica:

http://tinyurl.com/ywqkf6

Maybe I'm missing something. :) Is it the difference between OLPC doing it vs Quanta doing it? Thanks.

Stephen Thorne said...

Robert, Thanks for the heads up. I felt it necessery to post again on the same topic with a link to that article.

There is indeed a difference between olpc and quanta doing this. I look forward to seeing what quanta will produce. Hopefully something with a reasonable keyboard.

Justyn said...

Sorry Stephen, but you've completely missed the point.

Firstly the N800/PepperPad are just not comparable to the XO (/whatever). "Better software"? That's hardly the point, we can change the software on all these things.

Secondly, what about the extra income OLPC are missing out on by not blatantly overcharging, to people who in this case are happy to be overcharged, for a commercialised version.

Most important though is this: you're a developer and definitely going to develop for this project. Great. But for every committed open source developer who enthusiastically wants to put in real work on the the OLPC, there are a hundred more hackers who could, and some of them will once they've begun to experiment.

The majority of the buyers of this commercial version will only bugfix (perhaps just bug-report), sure. And lots of the rest will be contributing in other small ways. But isn't this part of the point of open, collaborative software? Many people helping in little ways to create something great?

And lastly of course there is the proportion of these buyers who, despite having bought this device not knowing exactly how involved they want to be, get really enthusiastic once they get it in there hands. They'll become real, hardcore developers. But they won't ask for a free one right now, because they can't afford that kind of commitment up front.

Matt Brubeck said...

I may be a "high flying developer," but it's not for myself that I want an XO. It's for my daughter. There is no decent children's computer available to individuals today. The XO would be almost perfect to introduce my own children to computing.

The Sugar UI on commodity hardware is a start, but many of the OLPC innovations depend on the hardware platform too. If OLPC won't bring those to individuals, I hope someone else will.