Brazil Requests 150,000 Um Computador por Aluno Laptops


Brazil has officially opened a request for proposals for 150,000 "educational laptops" for it's Um Computador por Aluno project (One Computer per Student, in Portuguese) and OLPC looks to be the preferred candidate.

Brazilian OLPC
Brazilian children's future?

Brazil's UCA Laptop RFP

As the law mandates, the RFP is open for anyone to bid in, but the way the official solicitation is written it becomes clear they already have a winner in mind. The bidding demands that the laptops must have:

  • A gnu-linux operation system
  • A video camera, microphone and audio output
  • Support temperatures between 5 and 41 degrees Celsius
  • A screen at least 7 inches, a minimum 800x600 pixel, not too much reflective on highly bright areas and have a high contrast in dark places
  • And the ability to mesh network with one another
If that does not fit the XO laptop description enough, the final winner will be chosen based on who comes with the lowest price. Proposals will be accepted between December 18-20 so if Intel wants to be in the game they have no more than a week to have a serious update on their screen and a mesh network capability.

There's only one requirement that may make One Laptop Per Child sweat: the laptops must have a minimum of 36 months of full warranty. That's far from the naive "kids will repair it" maintenance plan of OLPC, but is in line with the Brightstar promise to OLPC Uruguay.

Equal Distribution

The laptops are intended to be distributed in 300 schools throughout all 26 states of Brazil equally, independent of state population. For a contrast 4,600 thousand laptops will be distributed in the Amazon state where the total population is 3.2 million while São Paulo with it's population of 40 million will receive only 5,500.

Brazil is a country of over 180 million people with at least 8 million kids aged between 5-9. Just 150,000 might seem shy when compared to the 250,000 of Peru or even 100,000 for the smaller 2 million habitants neighbor Uruguay. But seen as a whole it seems that South America is seriously intending to be the forefront of OLPC for 2008.

And here is a preview of what Brazilian teachers might experience soon, when laptops start to invade classrooms. Professora. Tania da Escola Luciana de Abreu Fala in Luciana de Abreu School, Porto Alegre speaks about OLPC Brazil in her classroom:

Translated video from OLPC.TV.

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My impression of Brazil is that they can service every aspect of the XO themselves. With the exception, maybe, of some of the silicon.

Remember that some of the best and brightest Linux kernel developers live in Brazil, as is one leg of Mandriva.

So I think the OLPC is even less risky than anything running MS software (which they CANNOT service).


Winter, I agree Brazil does not lacks human resources to support the software. One of the OLPC head engineers is in fact a brazilian who was the main Linux Kernel developer when he was only 18 years old.

But probably the most concerns are for the hardware not the software. Prof Tania, ends the above video saying "to break things is a part of being a child"

Another factor I worry about besides hardware loss and breakage is the challenge of updating and patching the software. I would expect that there will be a lot of changes in the coming months, and if a school has a poor or slow connection, the teacher or person assigned to be the lead technical person will be very busy trying to keep current and ensuring that all the machines are running the latest software. How that will work smoothly is a puzzle.

I wonder if olpc will contact with a Brazilian firm to guarantee the 36 month warranty that is required.

Has anyone else been able to open the RFP document linked to in this article?

It appears to be corrupted.

In fact that's not something I worry so much. The Mesh network is also used as a P2P distribution to update the system. So if for example one teacher travels to another city with a good internet connection and patches his software, when he returns to his town all XO will start downloading the updates from him and so on. Of course there are some digital signatures stuff behind the scenes to make sure everyone has a legitimate uncorrupted patch.

Har! It certainly does seem as if the fix is in and OLPC has someone in a position to write an RFP that'll get signed off on.

I see Alexandre's gotten there ahead of me about the acceptability of sneaker-net to distribute patches and updates. High-speed internet connectivity'd be nice but hardly critical to the intended role of the XO.

Try the link now, I've changed it to a PDF:

The Intel role in Brazil will be to put WiMAX all over the country, as it does in Parintins, Amazon, not put laptops in children hands. In the next 10 years, all small cities in Brazil will have free WiFi/WiMax access.

Re: teachers fetching updates when they travel. I'm sure this will work better in some places than others. I would guess Brazil has better bandwidth than, say, Uganda. From my experience there even the networks in the universities in the capital were stressed, and the wireless networks were problematic (amp wars by providers). But people are resourceful, no doubt about that.

I think it will be interesting to see how well schools do with no Internet access. Seymour Papert speaking at the Media Lab in 2000 said it wasn't that important, assuming you had a computer that allowed a lot of experimentation and creativity. I guess the XO will fill that bill.

So that brings the number of confirmed OLPC XO orders to 815000, without counting on the probable 200000 that Uruguay will add on the initial 100000 upon confirmation that the project is a success. With this, Quanta, CMO and others who have invested most money in building or adapting those factories to build the XO can thus rest assured that there is over a million quite reliably confirmed orders for the XO by the end of the year. That is with the project having just started the initial mass production just a month ago.

So for sure the OLPC project has been delayed, and Nicholas Negroponte's initial plans of 6 countries buying a million each did not happen, but a more progressive momentum is certainly building. And it seems, as long as the first impressions from the children that are to get the first million XO laptops and as long as the initial implementations does not dissapoint or rather that everyone is impressed, then I think that it might be that whatever is the maximum production capacity of all the tech companies that are part of the OLPC project or that decide to join now, I think that going forward whatever is the maximum production volume they can achieve, that those numbers will be in demand. So perhaps the production capacity will reach 1 million units per month or more very soon, and so, if other companies like Intel and Asus join in the project, and adapt their factories to produce XOs, the amount of children getting cheap laptops could be in the tens of millions in a few months.

You people are so cool, you don't even know it.

The XO fails to meet three items in this RFP: it doesn't come with "logo" (not sure why the language's name wasn't spelled with a capital letter) nor with a spreadsheet, though I am sure both could be added in about half an hour. A bit more complicated is the demand for "DDR 333MHz or equivalent memory". The DDR 333 SDRAM in the XO only runs at 167MHz (which is the whole point of "double data rate", after all). I hope this will be fixed before the bidding, preferably by simply deleting this stupid item entirely.

The winner will have to deal with all the taxes envolved in the project and without changes to the current laws (and there is not time for that now!) these will be considerable. It starts with the 60% import taxes and grows in cascade from there.

80% of the payment will be on delivery and the remaining 20% after 60 days if a report confirms that the machine is still working perfectly. This is just one of the per machine reports and receipts that will have to be prepared so the paperwork costs will also be significant.

Welcome to the Real World, OLPC!

Concordo com a professora quando ela diz que o computador (laptop) é um facilitador da aprendizagem. Também concordo quando se refere à aprendizagem dizendo que é o aluno é que aprende, que esta aprendizagem é individual acontecendo diferentemente para cada um.
Parabéns professora!

Jecel said: 'it doesn't come with "logo"'

Well, seeing that Turtle Art ( has been heavily inspired by Logo I guess it will count too...

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