Might OLPC Inspire Dell to Open Source Laptops in USA?

   
   
   
   
   

If you, like I, want to buy OLPC XO "$100 laptops" in retail stores, then you may get another choice for clock-stopping technology to become available. If the new Dell IdeaStorm website is anything to go by then Dell may be having a rethink on what their customers are after.

olpc dell linux
Symbol of the future?

According to a post on SlashDot:

"Within only a few days of Dell opening a new customer feedback website, they discovered that the feature most requested (by an almost 2-to-1 margin!) is an option on all new Dell PCs: pre-installed Linux. (And the number 3 request is pre-installed Open Office.) I believe they'll have a harder time now with the tired old mantra 'There's no customer demand for Linux'."
After reading through some of the ideas that people have posted it's obvious that the OLPC initiative has struck a chord with computer users. People want Linux operating systems preinstalled and green, energy efficient computers.

Maybe Dell needs to look seriously (I'm sure they are anyway) at the future implications of millions upon millions of small wireless education based laptops being unleashed upon the World. If I was Dell, or in fact any other computer company I'd be shaking in my corporate shoes. This post on the Dell IdeaStorm site is typical of what people are asking Dell for, even if right or wrong, the OLPC XO will not be in USA schools:

olpc sj klien
Catalyst for change?
"Although the OLPC program is doing great things, i think that Dell should get involved in North America and help literacy programs and under-privaled kids by offering $100 laptops with subsidies and easy payment options like $9 a month for a year or $1 a month for 100 months".
Perhaps the Dell IdeaStorm site is a knee-jerk reaction to both the imminent introduction of Children's Machine XO laptops and to the returning to the helm of Dell by Michael Dell, the company founder.

It certainly seems that the company is looking for ways to connect with their buyers and a $100 laptop $150 laptop for education of children may be the way to do it. Just read Michael Dell's remarks on technology in schools.

Brand knowledge is a key marketing advantage and getting the Dell name in front of five year olds as they learn on their Dell laptops could be an extremely important move for the company. It's also possible the technology now being included in the One Laptop Per Child machine will propagate across to mainstream production where Quanta can produce an education machine for Dell.

Small and light laptops with no hard drive and bright, clear screens that are designed for classroom productivity could be in our schools and being used by our children before the decade is over. Will Dell be the name our children see every morning at school?

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10 Comments

People talk a lot about how oplc should make a version to sell in the US. But if oplc is open source hardware and software, wouldn't Dell or some other company be free to produce a clone without oplc have to initiate it? So if there is a demand in the US, it seems to me some company would just step up and meet it -- that is, after all, how capitalism works.

We would so hope, Eduardo, but I don't think such will be the case. Sugar/Linux, the UI/OS is very hardware specific - it would be quite crippled on any non-OLPC laptop.

In addition, I keep asking for Open Source hardware, to no great avail:
http://www.olpcnews.com/hardware/production/open_source_olpc_harware.html

The demand-for-linux claim is crap. The only people who waste time posting on such sites are users with too much time on their hands, typically directed in droves from sites populated by linux users like digg etc. This is really the extreme of selection bias, a 100x magnified version of the classic Dewey-defeats-Truman paradox.

Dell is a smart company; I'm sure they will ignore this and focus on their bottom line, as they should, and not get mired in the muck of linux laptops. That's just going to be a nightmare in terms of compatibility testing and support calls.

Vocal minorities have all rights to present their case. Dell opened very democratically a website for suggestions. If someone picks up the opportunity, why would you blame him?

The request people are making about linux on Dells is legitimate, considering MS practices and lately Vista. Maybe their number is exagerated, nevertheless is worth for Dell considering. And what do you know, maybe in few years Linux is cool, "a la iPod"...

Have you ever wondered how many Apple fans would have asked for a stability of UNIX in their OS at the times of the Classic MacOS? Not many. However OSX is one of the most unix systems currently available. Lots of people would like Dell to do the same with Linux.

Dear nutbearer, try as I might, I cant see how thousands of people that bothered to voice their opinions on the Dell site can be ignored. Worst case, Dell offer a marginally cheaper No-OS option for those that have their own Windows or Linux distro.
The idea of the site was, after all, to capture public opinion.

Unlike you Mr Nutbearer, I have read through a lot of the posts people have made on the IdeaStorm site. Many are just ordinary computer users that have found Linux 'just works' and love the security features of the operating system.

If Dell choose to ignore the signs they'll be wondering where their market share went. As I stated, having the Dell name on laptops used by elementary school children is an important marketing advantage. In a few years you may hear eight year olds referring to their laptop as a 'Dell' rather than a computer.

I'm pretty sure that Dell, Gateway, Toshiba and every other laptop seller out there is VERY scared by the competition of a laptop (OLPC) that:

1. Doesn't exist yet in the market
2. Has no obvious use beyond the nebulous "children will learn learning"
3. Has not been proven to work as advertised
4. Has no defined price
5. Will, most likely, fail
6. Can't be used as a regular, retail laptop

As for Linux-based computers? A few dozen anti-Microsoft nerds a market do not make...

wayan, when I said oplc's hardware is open source, I meant that it is made from standard parts and the design is not patented or copywriten. But maybe I am wrong about the design. Still, even if it is, I think it wouldn't be very hard for a big manufacturer to design a laptop that would be a clone -- not an exact copy, but having similar functionality. It seem to me the only really new piece of hardware is the display, and I imagine that oplc would love to license it since that would earn them some money.

nutbearer, why are you so sure that hardly anyone would want an oplc laptop? In some ways it is inferior to other laptops, but in other ways it is superior -- cheaper, much more rugged, very thrifty with power, has built in mesh networking, and a very innovative gui. I bet a lot of people would like one, if not for themselves then for their children

yeah. isn't it possible to modify the open hardware and maybe use sth else than sugar UI... for other laptops that maybe companies like dell will be making?
after all, there isn't much to stop them from doing that too...

please i need a seller who can sell me laptops and ipods should please contact my mail

Dell have just started a survey asking people some basic questions about Linux on Dell computers.
Looks like they are taking the Linux world seriously.

http://direct2dell.com/one2one/default.aspx

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